Rise of the Kingdoms
Tale of the Burnwillows (play)
Lights up on base of a mountain, part of stage left is set up as the inside of the mountain, Furani’s forge. Inside there is an anvil and a large furnace (upstage left). It is best if the forge is raised and on wheels. Outside should be evidence of disaster caused by flames, burnt trees, grasses, etc. Furani removes a smith’s apron, sets aside her hammer, and exits her forge carrying something with her. She is dressed in red and gold leather clothing, bearing her symbol, the flaming hammer on it.
Furani: (Joyfully) Finally! Many a year has passed toiling in my forge, hammering the flames together to create this marvel for my love! Oh, Len’ean! Come see what I have created for you! (Reveals a crimson and gold bird, the Phoenix, that she is carrying and holds it up before her. Len’ean storms onto the stage from stage right wearing a green, leafy dress.)
Len’ean: Finally you leave your cursed forge, Furani! Do you know what you have done sending sparks and fire leaping forth from it? (Gestures around her.) Your forge spewed flame and molten stone and the land is now destroyed! I couldn’t get anything to regrow here for the entire time you were in there smashing your hammer against that anvil!
Furani: (Distraught) I- I didn’t mean to. I only wanted to make you a gift, something to show how I feel about you. (She lowers the phoenix to the ground.) I didn’t know what was happening, I was so caught up in creating.
Len’ean: You have abundantly shown your feelings and lack of attention! (She gestures around again.) This place was once full of life, now all gone to Odryna’s realm! Some of it will never be again! Their creation was a one-time event! No matter what I and the others do, this land will never be the same!
Furani: I’m sorry! I will make it up to you! (She flees back into forge, leaving the phoenix behind.) I’ll make something that will make this right; that you can put in your Grove forever! (She slams the door shut. Lights dim on forge.)
Len’ean: (Grumbling to herself.) What you did can never truly be fixed. (She goes and picks up the phoenix.) This is a pretty thing though, what was she going to call you? Well, she’ll come out one day and reveal the information, but until then, despite the fact that she (glances angrily toward door) made you, you are still a living thing so I must care for you. (Lights dim to dusk levels.) What now? It is near noon here, where is the sun? (Exit stage right. Lights come up in the forge, while dimming further “outside.” Furani is putting on her apron again, still obviously distraught.)
Furani: I will try to make it right. I must create something far greater, a reflection of her beloved Grove perhaps? No, what? What!? Also, I must not create this disaster again. The flames of my forge won’t burn hot enough though if I plug up the top. So what should I do? (Pauses and paces.) The Sun! It is already where it no longer needs more air, so that is not a problem. My brother and I put our joint creation, the Sun-moon, on the horizon so there would always be light, so that is also not a problem, and as a god I can easily bring down the Sun to my forge! Now, just to figure out what to create… (Exit stage left).
Lights fade to black
Lights up on Len’ean is wandering around the stage (in the same set up), forlorn. It is dim, as if at dusk. Lights on the forge are dark. Distant hammering of metal on metal comes from off stage. Len’ean’s dress is similar, but is brown.
Len’ean: One year. One year to the day since she took down the Sun to use in her forge! Many plants I have been forced to send into hibernation as if it were an unending winter! Many times have the other gods gone to her forge to ask her to leave and return to the world. Many times have dragons and elves have begged her to return the sun. “Oh Furani, Bringer of Summer and creator of the Sun, leave your forge and return the Sun to the sky! Let the world be bright again!” they pray. Yet, still she does nothing! Huran’s dwarves break to the surface, discovering a world of perpetual night and dusk. They question the stories they hear from Ilensia’s children, the elves, of a world of bright light, the brightest they have ever seen is the light of the Sun-moon on the horizon. Yet she remains cloistered in her forge! Despite what Gatran tries, without his sister’s warmth, the ice spreads southward from the poles, forcing creatures from their homes, sending many to Odryna and her realm. Yet still she focuses only on whatever she is doing in that blasted mountain! (She kicks a rock in frustration.) What’s this? (Bends down.) A small vine? From what? Nothing grows here now. (Examines plant.) Is that a Silberneich? Furani’s “creation process” wiped them out… Perhaps something good did come of that eruption. (She starts digging around the area.) Here! And Here! The plants, they’re coming back! (Pauses) They will not survive long in the dark that we live in now. I must get Furani to come out of there! Oh, what have I done?! (Len’ean brushes herself off and exits stage right.)
Lights fade to black.
Lights up in a small, reasonably well lit room. Ilensia is sitting at a table set up center stage with a second empty chair, Thyn is sitting at another table upstage right. Both have drinks in wooden mugs. A door is set up downstage right. Ilensia is wearing green and gold robes and has a staff with intricate markings at her side, Thyn is in leather clothing and has a slightly yellow face. He is playing with a dagger absentmindedly with a grin on his face. Len’ean enters, looks around, somewhat disgusted, and sits down with Ilensia.
Len’ean: Ilensia! Kathrán did get my message to you!
Ilensia: Hello Len’ean. Why did you ask to meet me here? It is obvious you do not like this place.
Len’ean: True, I do not enjoy being inside, let alone inside of a place made up of dead trees. I hoped that it would help convince you to come, and I have grown tired of the perpetual dark of the world. But that is not really why I am here. I am here to ask you about Furani.
Ilensia: What do you hope to learn about Furani, Len’ean? Though you claim that you did nothing wrong, you still caused her to flee back into her forge to try to please you. Do you hope to learn new ways to hurt her? That is what you did that day, Len’ean. I’ve heard the tales on the winds. Do you hope me to use some magic to force her out? What Len’ean?
Len’ean: Yes, I now realize what I have done and Wissen explained what Furani intended. So, I am sorry for my actions. I do not think that I have earned this much anger from an old friend though.
Ilensia: My children suffer from this perpetual darkness! Aphrak worms his way further amongst them with every passing day! I must light the greatest of their cities in a false mimicry of the Sun! Of course I am angry and it is all your fault!
Len’ean: And I am sorry, but I need your help and knowledge. I was wandering what I thought were wastes near her forge.
Ilensia: Why do you torture yourself so? You kn— (Len’ean raises up a hand and cuts Ilensia off.)
Len’ean: As I was wandering, I came across a small seedling. It was of Silberneich, which I thought was wiped out in the inferno during Furani’s work. There hasn’t been a seedling of that plant in centuries. There were more seedlings of all sorts around. (With barely contained excitement.) The flames removed the old growth, so new could rise. While that size of conflagration still probably caused more harm that good, Furani inadvertently helped the world grow greener and stronger through those flames. I your help getting inside her forge. (Thyn stops playing with the dagger for a moment and shifts closer to Len’ean and Ilensia.) Wissen would not tell me anything on how to get in, saying only that what was meant to be would be or something like that. So I came to you. (Pleading) Please. You know the secret ways better than anyone else. Can you help me?
Ilensia: I don’t know of a way into Furani’s forge, Len’ean. Nor can I get you inside, either through creation of a new entrance or another form of travel. That is beyond my power if Furani does not wish anyone to enter. She will not leave until she has participated in the creation of something that she feels would replace what she destroyed.
Len’ean: But no one can talk to her! She created space for new life! Is that not enough?
Ilensia: Not unless she has changed. (Thyn gets up and walks over to Len’ean and Ilensia.)
Thyn: I hear you need to get into a place where you are unwanted. Perhaps I can be of assistance?
Ilensia: Off with you, Thyn! Your help would be to steal anything of value as a massive trick of some sort on Furani!
Thyn: (Puts hand on chest in a display of mock injury.) I am insulted noble Ilensia. How could you ever believe such a thing of me? I only steal what needs to be stolen, and not just for any prank. Like the time I took Jotaen’s—
Len’ean: Could you steal an ember from Furani’s furnace?
Thyn: Yes, but why would you need that? I see no reason for it. That would not put out her forge, even if
Len’ean: Ilensia, you said she would come out if she was part of creating something to replace what was destroyed, correct? (Ilensia nods.) Well, if I were to plant an ember from Furani’s furnace and have it grow to something new, would that not count as something she participated in creating?
Ilensia: (Thoughtful) It might. (Raises a finger firmly) Might!
Len’ean: Thyn. Will you bring me back an ember from Furani’s furnace?
Thyn: Of course I will. I am now debating the creation of my own race and I do not wish them to grow up in the dark. Too little opportunity for jollity, however needed it may be. But as you (gestures towards Ilensia) know, I need approval from Jotaen and Wissen to create a new race, and I am not sufficiently sure that my word alone would carry enough weight. You must put in a good word for me.
Ilensia: Do not trust him, Len’ean! His is too much like his cousin, Aphrak for my tastes.
Thyn: I am hardly similar to Aphrak in any way.
Len’ean: Thyn’s pranks are generally harmless, as is most of what he does, but do I have much choice if the world is to be lit again soon? Go, Thyn and bring me a coal from her furnace. Do not be seen by Furani as she will question you and I wish this to be a happy surprise for her. While you are gone I will speak with Jotaen. Wissen will take council on the matter of the races from none.
Thyn: Away I will go then. (Dramatically bows.) Meet me outside Furani’s forge in three days’ time and I will have the ember in my possession! (Exit through the door.)
Fade to black
Back on the original set up with lights still low on the “outside” while inside Furani is working at the forge, her back to the audience. The forge is well lit with the furnace “lit”. Enter Thyn, sneaking towards the door to Furani’s forge and carrying a large, heavy, leather glove.
Thyn: (Talking to himself.) Ah, now this will be an easy job to complete. Now to think about my race. (Reaches the door and pulls out some small tools to pick the lock.) This world needs more jollity. Jotaen’s dragons are much too focused on gold, Ilensia’s elves are much too high and mighty and Huran’s dwarves are much too dour. And now I hear that Kathrán is creating his own race. Knowing him they might enjoy some light-heartedness, but still be too focused on work and what needs to be done. (The door opens slightly and Thyn peaks in.) Now just to wait for a chance… (He slips a glove onto his hand.)
Furani: (Raising something up in a pair of tongs to look at it.) Perhaps this might work? Hmm… No. It is too… (She searches for the right word) inorganic. This will never do. (Tosses object into furnace.) I need something else. (Exit stage left.)
Thyn: Perfect! (He slips forward and reaches into the furnace.) Let’s see if Kathrán’s glove works… (He withdraws a small piece ember and slips outside again, making sure to quietly close the door as Furani reenters the stage.) Now to get this ready to give to Len’ean. (He sits down next to a burned tree, and fiddles with the ember before falling asleep. After a short time, Len’ean enters stage right and hurries up to Thyn.)
Len’ean: Thyn! (She shakes him awake.) Thyn! Did you get it?
Thyn: (Yawns and stretches.) Of course I did. It is an insult that you even need ask! Don’t tell me that you doubted that I could! (Thyn reveals the ember.)
Len’ean: While I did not doubt that you could, I wondered if you actually would. But if you have it then I see that I had no reason to doubt at all! (She reaches for the ember.)
Thyn: (Withdraws the ember.) Wait. I did my part, did you do yours? If you doubted that I would do what I agreed to, then I doubt you would have a reason to keep your end of the bargain.
Len’ean: I met with Jotaen and spoke to him about you and how helpful you planned on being and once this is done I will go and tell him more of what you did! (She reaches out and grabs the ember and wraps it in some leather.) Now I must go. Thank you, thank you, thank you! (She hugs Thyn before running off stage right.)
Thyn: Well now to head off and propose my idea to Wissen. This should be entertaining. (Exit stage right whistling.)
Fade to black.
Lights dark except for a light of Len’ean. The forge is still set up stage left, but is entirely dark. The sound of running water comes from offstage. Len’ean is bending down over a small mound (downstage right), with her hands just over it.
Len’ean: Now begin to grow little ember-seed. Grow large and strong. Bring a new wonder to this world. Grow to bring a reminder of the mistakes of a god and her apology to another. Good. Good. Grow swiftly with the energy I spend on you. (She stands up and begins walking toward stage left. As she does so, bring up the lights slightly and have the sound of water fade away. When she reaches center stage bring lights up to full inside the forge where Furani is sitting, knees drawn up, head down, and her hammer tossed aside.)
Furani: Alas! I shall never create anything that Len’ean shall view as even remotely comparable to what I destroyed! But, still, I must try. I caused all that destruction and I must make amends. (She stands up and retrieves her hammer as Len’ean reaches the door.)
Len’ean: Furani? (She knocks on the door.) Furani, can you hear me?
Furani: Here to curse at me more? I know what I did and I must solve it. But I have nothing yet, so go!
Len’ean: You already did create something. Now I have helped you create something far greater that what was destroyed. Please, come out and see it.
Furani: Only for a moment. (She exits her forge.) Where is this creation?
Len’ean: Not far. Follow me. (She leads Furani toward stage right. As she does so, pull the forge off stage. Once it is gone bring a small willow tree, not much taller that either Len’ean or Furani on stage from stage right. The willow is black but should have red lights along its branches, currently unlit. Bring back up the sound of running water.) While you worked, I had Thyn bring me an ember from your forge, one of your unfinished or unbegun creations of sorts. Once I had it, I came here and planted it and made it grow. (She gestures towards the willow.) Now it only needs your touch to be finished.
Furani: Won’t it burn and wither? (Len’ean shakes her head and brings Furani closer.)
Len’ean: Just give it a touch of warmth and flame, Furani. This came from your forge, now all it needs is a little something from you. (Furani hesitantly reaches out and touches a branch. When she touches it, turn on the willow’s lights, lighting it up as if it were aflame.)
Furani: (Gasp.) It-it’s beautiful… And you said that it was from an ember of my forge?
Len’ean: Yes now all it, and everywhere else, needs is the sun so that it will grow and more will form here. (Furani throws her arms around Len’ean.)
Furani: I will go now! (She glances back for a moment and points.) The Phoenix! It came here, to the perfect place for it! A grove of… of… Burnwillows! (Laughs and then runs off stage left. After a moment bring the lights back up slowly.)
Len’ean: Well then. One problem solved and something new to go and figure out. Furani! Come meet me in my Grove! Or no, I shall come to you now that the world is bright again! Phoenix. What an interesting name for your gift. Well, may they thrive here in the Grove of the Burnwillows. (Exit stage left.)
Lights fade to black