When men still lived in the forests, the first and greatest among them was Ravanna. There are seven hundred and seventy seven songs about his deeds and his graces. This is not the song of how he chained the first wolf, that ate his children. This is not the song of why the moon fell in love with him, or why he knows the secret name of fire. This is not the song of how he broke the glaciers and made a spear from the bones of the ice giants.
This is the song of his sin.
In those days, the great serpent impregnated the sky, and she grew pregnant with dark clouds. The sun could no longer see the hearts of men and in the shadows that fell over them, they grew sinful and weak and lazy.
And Ravanna said to them: "How can you be like this? Am I not Ravanna, the king and greatest of kings, and you my people? Is it not for you to toil in the fields and make wonders in the workshops and build my monuments and sing my songs? This is the land of seven streams, the greatest that was and is and will be."
And they replied: "O King, how can we make wonders in the workshops, if the people of the hills under the morning sun always make greater? They say in their workshops, they have made a tiger of glass, twenty spans high and one and filled it with fire, so that its roar tears flesh from bone. And they have made golden birds, that fly and all manners of wonder besides."
Ravanna thought about this for three days and said: "These are mere trinkets besides what we have made. I will go out and show you this."
And he went to the hills that lie under the morning sun, where he met the king of the little people that live under the hills.
"Little King", he said. "They say you have made wonders that are greater than anything my people have made. I call you a liar, for all your work is empty, mere baubles that serve no function save to impress those of weak minds."
The little king smiled, for this was and is how the little people show fury. And he wove a spell of thirty three parts and four and awoke the tiger of glass that slept beneath his throne and the hills shook with its steps and when it roared, all the trees east of the morning sun burned to ashes.
Ravanna knew the secret names of fire and so, he looked at the tiger and said: "Fire, shatter the glass". And the fire in the tiger's glass belly shattered its body and the shards of glowing glass that exploded to all sides dug seventy six deep valleys in the Eastern hills that are still there to this day. The seventy seventh shard and flown out and pierced the little king's heart.
Then, Ravanna turned to the little people and said: "Behold, I have slain your king and his bloodline is no more. Now you will all come with me to my city and work in my workshops and build wonders for my people to see." And he enslaved all the little people of the hills.
Again he spoke to his people. "Do you see how I have enslaved them and they build me wonders? Do you see how we are still the greatest land that was and is and will ever be? Now build my monuments again and sing my songs as you used to."
And they replied: "O King, how can we build you monuments when the people who live under the mountains under the noonday sun always make greater? They say they have carved all the mountains of their home into statues of their ancestors that reach from the bones of the Earth to the vaults of the sky, and the throne of their king has forty rubies and emeralds and diamonds, each bright enough to blind a man, and all manners of other monuments besides."
Ravanna thought about this for three days and said: "There is no glory in these monuments, for none of the people they show are as great as me. I will go out and show you this."
And he went to the mountains that lie under the noonday sun. where he met the king of the stout people that live under the mountains.
"Little King", he said. "They say you have made monuments that are greater than anything my people have made. I call you a liar, for about me, they sing seven hundred and seventy seven songs and the names of your ancestors, no one will remember in a generation."
The stout people were much less subtle than the little people and he showed his fury not by smiling and weaving spells, but by drawing his axe and rushing at Ravanna. But Ravanna had his spear made from the bones of ice giants and he caught the axe and from the cold of the ice bones, the axe shattered and the shards pierced the stout king's eyes, and heart, and tongue. And then he called the glaciers down from the north to the south and the mountains of hte noonday sun and before their might, all the statues that were as tall as mountains were shattered to dust.
Then, Ravanna turned to the stout people and said: "Behold, I have slain your king and his bloodline is no more. Now you will all come with me to my city and work in my quarries and build monuments for my people to see." And he enslaved all the stout people of the mountains.
Again he spoke to his people. "Do you see how I have enslaved them and they build my monuments? Do you see how we are still the greatest land that was and is and will ever be? Now sing songs of my glory as you used to."
And they replied: "O King, how can we sing songs of your glory, if the people of the forests under the evening sun always sing greater? They say their queen can sing the stars to shine and the tide to turn and the storms to quiet to a breeze and that all who hear her weep and fall in love and dash themselves on the cliffs of the oceans for they can never have her."
Ravanna thought about this for three days and said: "There is no glory in these songs, for they sing of old things that have lost their fire since the first days, of storms that came and went and forests that are now fields and stars that shine no more. But our songs are of men, who are young and still have a fire in their hearts greater than the fires of creation. I will go out and show you this."
And he went to the forests that lie under the evening sun to seek their queen. But the tall people of the forests are old and wise and their queen did not confront Ravanna as the others had. She smiled and stepped from shadow to shadow and for seven days and seven nights, Ravanna hunted her and never saw her and only heard her song, as she sang of what no longer exists. And on the seventh day, he was exhausted and paused and finally he listened, and shed a single tear, for the beauty of things that had passed.
And the queen stepped before him and smiled and as she had more grace and beauty than any woman and he desired her greatly. And she said: "O Ravanna. No other has heard my song for seven days without despairing. Truly, you are a great King. Will you not bow your knee to me and lie with me in my bed and be my consort?"
At these words, Ravanna stood straight and proud and shook his mane of black hair free and, looking her in the eye, he sang his own song. He sang of minds of steel and hearts of fire and the will to conquer the earth and the pride of men and not of things that once were, but of things that will be. For Ravanna would never bend his knee.
And as she heard this song, the queen fell in love with Ravanna too, and they embraced under the stars of that land and made love on the hillsides for three nights.
But then, when they were lying together on the grass, the queen smiled and said: " Look at your people. They forge no wonders, for you have enslaved the little people of the hills to do it for them. And they build no monuments, for you have enslaved the stout people of the mountains, to do it for them. And they sing no songs, for you have enslaved my tall people of the forests, to do it for them. Truly, they have become small of body, and twisted of mind and there is no fire in their heart anymore. There is one that is always greater than you, and that is time. All Empires fall in time, and the time of yours will soon come, when your wonders are rust, and your monuments dust and your songs forgotten."
At this, a mighty rage grew in the king's heart. "I AM RAVANNA, HE SAID, GREATEST OF MEN! TIME WILL NOT TAKE MY EMPIRE, FOR IT IS ONLY FOR ME TO TAKE!"
And he took his spear and he clad himself in orange flame as his armor and the head of a great best as his helmet. And he walked out among his people and said: "I see now that there is none of you that still knows of fire and glory! You are weaklings, grown proud and fat on the labour of slaves, yet doing nothing of worth yourself." And he broke the marvels of the workshops and shattered the monuments and slew all that knew the songs. Then he scattered the slaves to the four winds and said: "Remember me, for I am Ravanna and my glory will never be lost to time."
Glowering over the ruinshe looked upon the queen and said:
"I am Ravanna, and I am the greatest of men. I said that the land of seven streams was the greatest that was, and is and ever will be and so I will make it. I will topple all empires to come, to show that none may rise higher than me."
And so he left the land of the seven streams and went out, to bring low all the glories yet to come.