Cat and Hound
Cat and Hound, a tale of Stomra by Lowell Kempf
Long ago, after Stomra climbed the mountain and married the daughter of Turgrid but before they gave birth to the race of man, Stomra would still sometimes climb down from the mountain and walk in the fields and in the forests.
On one such journey, while walking by the Salmon River, Stomra plucked up a hollow reed and carved it into the first flute. He had already created music when he had given song to the world as a child and created the first drum when he was a youth, before he had climbed the mountain.
The music he created on that first flute was like that of the wind through the grass but he gave that sound purpose and meaning. He took the sound of the wind and Stomra gave it a shape.
However, even though he had grown to manhood, Stomra was still in great danger when he walked the land. Queen Gralfreya’s hatred of him was great. She viewed his choice to go to Turgrid as a betrayal, even through she had first betrayed Stomra by stealing him from the Heavens. All of her creatures knew Stomra’s name and face and cursed them in the name of their queen.
As Stomra gave voice to the first flute, a host of her creatures came from the woods and the gulleys, from the shadows and the caves. They were all twisted and tainted by her touch. Where their hooves and paws touched the grass, the grass would wither and turn brown. The sun itself would hide its face from their forms and their voices were like that of shattering stone.
Stomra stood there as they circled around him. They spat at him and cursed him with the voices that had been given to them by Queen Gralfreya. They snarled and barred their teeth at him and bucked the air with their malformed and jagged horns. All the while, they stalked in a great circle around Stomra, preparing to pounce upon him and rend him limb from limb.
Yes, as they did so, Stomra did not stop playing the first flue that the world had ever known. He created a new song in that hour. It was a song that spoke of an older time, a time before Turgrid was the mountain king and before Gralfreya’s touch had poisoned the land and those who lived upon it.
As he played, the creatures ceased their curses as the music filled their ears. The music went deeper than that, it sank into their hearts and spirits as well. They ceased their stalking and instead, still in a circle around Stomra, the creatures of Queen Gralfreya began to dance.
Faster and faster, Stomra played the tune and faster and faster, the creatures danced in their circle around him. As they did so, they began to change. The music and the dance began to transform them. Dark shadows were cast off of them, shaken away and vanished. Their twisted forms began to straighten and become whole.
When Stomra set down the first flute, no longer did creature’s of Queen Gralfreya stand in a circle around him. Instead, clean and true animals of the world stood there, born as the world intended for them to be, not as Queen Gralfreya had remade them.
Then and only then did Stomra speak to them.
“Brothers and sisters. Too long have you been cursed by the queen. I give your true selves back to you and I give you back to the world.”
The animals of the field and the wood bowed down before him.
“Father Stag. To you, I give rulership of the forest. Uncle Wolf. To you, I give command of the hunt. Brother Raptor. To you, I give stewardship of the sky. Grandfather Snake”
And so it went, Stomra giving each of the newly reborn animals their name and their place in the world. However, when he was done, there were two animals who had stood apart from the others and they came and knelt at his very feet.
One was small, with eyes as bright as stars and a tail that moved like a snake. The other was larger, with strong jaws and a nose that could smell any scent on the wind.
The first spoke to Stroma. “My lord, I am Sister Cat. I know I am small but my teeth and claws are sharp. If you will allow it, I would live in your home and keep it safe from any vermin the queen would send to you.”
The second spoke to Stomra. “My lord, I am Brother Hound. I would hunt with you and range freely with you. I would be your companion and your guardian as you walk the world.”
And Stomra said to them. “Truly, your gifts are worthy. Such gifts as these are as precious as the rain. Both of you, come with me to my home and to my family. I did not ask these gifts of you but I will gladly accept them.”
With Sister Cat on his left and Brother Hound on his right, Stomra climbed back up the mountains to his bride.