The Great Western Stag
|The Great Western Stag|
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|One day, Eothas was sitting on a wall, watching a cat play in the sun. A crystal, hung in a nearby tree, had fragmented a sunbeam and scattered small motes of light on the ground. They danced around the cat, sliding over him as he frantically batted at them. He spun in place, following one as it rushed past him, and leaped on it, trying to pin it down. Eothas smiled, amused at the animal's tenacity. The cat landed on a spot, placing his paws over it only to watch it flit away again. Eothas watched the cat's tail twitch and slap at the ground, annoyed that his prey could not be pinned.
‘Why must you tease him?’ a voice said from behind him, accompanied by the crunch of sandals on gravel.
‘I merely bring the dawn,’ Eothas responded. ‘I don't stoke the hunter's heart. That's your responsibility, isn't it?’
‘True,’ said a second voice, ‘but neither to you quell it. If the hunter could not see his prey, would he still hunt?’
‘So philosophical, Hylea,’ Eothas said and turned to greet the two gods that approached him. ‘Have you come to debate the parallel between sight and desire?’ He gestured to the wall, inviting Hylea and Galawain to join him. They sat in silence, watching the cat who continued to hunt the sun, fruitlessly swatting at another mote and then rolling onto his back.
‘I have created the ultimate prey,’ Eothas said finally, breaking the silence. ‘It can be tracked. It can be followed. It can be seen. But it can never be caught.’ Galawain laughed lightly. ‘You don't agree, Galawain?’ Eothas asked.
‘While it's true that your creation is elusive, it hardly can be considered the ultimate prey because it never can be caught.’ He paused, his brow furrowed in thought. ‘If that mote of light had substance, the hunter could subdue it. Otherwise, it's merely a dream - truly a fruitless endeavor.’
‘All creatures spend their lives chasing fruitless endeavors,’ said Hylea. ‘It is the way of mortality.’Galawain laughed again.
‘I could create a creature - a living creature of flesh and blood - that could never be caught. I make your dream a reality.’ Now it was Eothas's turn to laugh.
‘You propose turning a fruitless dream into a fruitless reality! How is this any better?’
‘A life spent in the pursuit of an attainable goal far exceeds any other.’
‘But you just said no one could catch this creature! This is not attainable!’
Galawain smiled. ‘Humanity has surprised us before. Indeed it could surprise us again. I will create a great white stag and I will set it free in the world. It will have grace, resilience, and tenacity. It will exist solely to be pursued for all its days, and it will never be caught. It will serve to inspire the hunt for generations to come. All those who wish for glory will invoke my name. All those who hear its story will ask for my blessing in finding it.’
Hylea shook her head, and threw Galawain a bemused look. ‘I do not believe this is possible. So I, too, make an offer. To the person who catches this stag - and they will catch the stag - I will bestow upon them its grace, resilience, and tenacity. Thrice blessed they will be. They will ask for my blessing on the hunt so they can obtain my boon.’
Galawain and Hylea took up arguing whose name would be invoked more when the hunt was on. Eothas sighed, a small smile playing at the edges of his mouth. He stood and looked to the sky. The sun had already started to hide itself behind the mountains. The cat, long ago tired of the stalking the motes, had fallen asleep beneath the tree. He turned and looked at the other gods, deep in debate, and sighed again.
‘I merely bring the dawn,’ he repeated as he made his way down the path, ‘it is up to you to see what I reveal.