Long ago, in the days of the Old Kingdoms, there lived twin brothers. It was said that King Audens, the fair one, had been born just as the last drops of sunshine fell, and Umbra, the dark one, born just as the first rays of moonlight peeked over the horizon. These two brothers dwelt within an ancient forest that was whispered to be magicked, and it was soon apparent that this magick had blessed the boys each with long life and strength.
Audens was wise, and travellers often came to him, risking the dangers of the forest, to seek his counsel. He never turned anyone away, for he was also kind and full of compassion. Umbra, though he was not thought cruel, was far more solemn than his brother, never smiling and rarely seen. Few came to seek him out, and his days were frequently spent in solitude. Over time, he began to hide in the caves deep within the forest, only surfacing in the light of the moon to converse with the stars and creatures of the night.
It was in the light of the moon that Umbra came across a young woman, who had lost her way in the forest. She was badly wounded from a fall, and as Umbra looked upon her, he fell deeply in love. Umbra carried her back to his brother, and together they tended to her wounds and healed her hurts.
The woman, though knowing that Umbra was entirely besotted by her, could not return his devotion. She was grateful for his help and showed him every kindness and courtesy, but she loved only Audens. For all the attention and care Umbra showed her, she could not be dissuaded in her adoration of his brother.
It was not long before Audens grew to love her in return, but for the love he bore his brother, he refused to reciprocate her affection for him and when she was able to travel again he sent her away, commanding that she leave and never again return to the forest.
Umbra, heartbroken and enraged that his brother sent the woman away without his knowing left, refusing to listen to his brother’s pleas of reason, abandoning Audens and the forest they both loved so deeply.
Alone, and anguished at the loss of both his brother and the woman he had grown to love, Audens also left the forest and discovered a majestic Kingdom that resided within the valley bordering the forest. The Kingdom had been in want of a ruler for many years and the people pressed Audens unrelentingly until he consented and was crowned King.
His reign was filled with peace and prosperity, and he was renowned for his wisdom. Just as many had come to him in the forest, many now came to him in search of righteous judgements for wrongs done, and it was during these times that he once again encountered the woman that he had fallen in love with.
Audens’ affection for the lady was too strong to disregard further and as her love towards him had not altered or swayed, the two were married. It was not long after that the Kingdom joyously expected the arrival of their first child.
Months passed, and rumors of a dark and terrible shadow reached the Kingdom. Many neighboring villages and towns were brutally destroyed at the hands of men from the salted waters, barbarians who showed no mercy to the weak, led by what was hailed as a black demon, cruel and filled with hate.
Audens knew that the shadow was his brother, and was not dead as he had previously feared. He called to himself a great army. Men of honor gathered to him, offering their lives in service to their King, but as the day of battle came, Audens saw his brother from afar, and was filled with pity and love. Loath to harm him, Audens opened the door of his Kingdom to Umbra, hoping that his act of kindness and welcoming would sway his brother from his wicked deeds.
As Umbra entered the throne room, he lifted his eyes and saw Audens’ wife who was nearing her time to give birth. Rage and jealousy filled him, but he took great pains to hide it. He bowed low before Audens to offer his regret for his past sins. Audens, too blinded by his affection for his brother readily accepted his false repentance and lifted his brother to his feet to embrace him. Umbra, seizing the opportunity, thrust a blade deep into Audens’ side, and as he fell to the ground, Umbra turned to his brother’s wife and ran the blade through her heart. Satisfied at his revenge, Umbra left them to die, and his army locked the people of the Kingdom into their homes before setting fire to everything that would burn.
Audens watched helplessly, holding his wife, trying to stay the blood that poured from her wound. With her dying breath, she gave birth to their daughter, who wailed and wept. Her cries joined those of the Audens’ people who cried out in their anguish from the great fires that overtook their homes.
Desperate and also dying, Audens beat his chest and cried out, blindly calling out for anything that might bring about their deliverance. As his people began to perish, their spirits spread across the ground to seek out safe haven for their beloved king and princess. The spirits came to the forest, and offered themselves to the Elements that they might be of further service to Audens in death as they had been in life.
The trees of the forest creaked and groaned to life, lifting their roots from deep within the earth and the winds whispered their love of their king and they rushed through the leaves. The waters of the rivers and lakes rippled in unison and the fires that burned in the kingdom were extinguished as they professed their loyalty to the throne. The forest began to move, desperate to save Audens and his newborn daughter, desperate to protect them. The trees overtook the stone walls, crushing them to dust, the houses leveled. The waters flooded and were a healing salve to the burned grasses and plants within, and the wind blew away the stench of death.
Within the throne room, the trees surrounded Audens and his daughter and the Spirits of his people tended to their sovereigns, healing his wounds and swaddling his daughter. As the Elements ministered to Audens and the infant, a unique markings burned into the skin of their palms; a blue teardrop of water encircling a single tongue of red fire. Within these was the green tracing of a vine leaf which embraced a small white spiral.
Thus, King Audens and his newborn child were granted the ability to wield the Elements, within which resided the Spirits of his beloved kingdom and subjects, and thus was born a new race, the Elementals, Sons and Daughters of the Old Forest , People of the Earth.
But, as King Audens was gifted with these abilities, so was his brother, for as twins they shared in both their weaknesses and strengths and as Umbra retreated with his army, he saw the markings forming on his own palms. Not knowing what they meant, he thrust his hands away from him in alarm, only to discover that fire bellowed from his hands as they did. Umbra, quickly discerning that some great magick had befallen him, turned his face to the Kingdom that he had destroyed and beheld the forest moving to save his brother. Filled with jealous rage that their beloved forest would go to his brother and not to him, he slaughtered his army with fire and with his newfound power, forced the Spirits of his barbarians into the Elements so that they might travel back to the forest and destroy Audens and his people.
As Umbra’s dark shadows rushed down to meet the trees that surrounded him, Audens held out his palm, and the markings glowed with brilliant white light. The trees rose up and stood tall against their foe and the water rushed up from within the earth to smite them. Winds blew and tongues of fire licked at Umbra so fiercely that he was forced to hold his hands up to his face, his hold on his dark army loosed. The souls of his men scattered for lack of leader and they dissipated into the far corners of the Forest, inhabiting trees that had not heard the cry of King Audens, dwelling in waters that were cold and dark, resting in the fires that dwelt deep in the belly of the earth and catching the winds that hissed over tall rocks.
Umbra, seeing his army disappear before him, fled to the mountains, calling to him what Elements had remained faithful to the shadow, and vanished from the memory of men. King Audens, seeing that he and his daughter were safe at last, rested in the Forest, nursed back to health by his cherished trees. Decades past and his daughter grew into a young woman, as beautiful as her mother, as ageless as her father. King Audens named her Lilium.