Linda P. Baker

The Irda: Children Of The Stars


Song of the Ogre

The Keeper of the history of the Ogre stood alone and unassisted on the platform, though she was as ancient as the stone walls of the castle. She had buried the bones of all her friends, of her children, and still she lived, because of the Gift, which she alone possessed.

She opened her mouth, and it came, the Gift of the gods. A voice as pure and clear, as bright and beautiful, as stars shining in the darkness of a night sky. The ribbon of sound pierced the air. The words wove the History of the World, of the Ogre, firstborn of the gods.

By the hammer of the gods, the universe was forged from chaos.

From the sparks of the anvil, the spirits were scattered,

Cast to glimmer and dance in the heavens.

From the forge of the gods, the world was wrought,

Playground of the gods.

The spirits were singing, their voices like starshine,

Shining like the gods themselves, pieces of the heavens.

The gods looked upon them and found them most wondrous.

The gods looked upon them and coveted their souls.

The world shuddered.

Battlefield of the gods.

The High God looked down upon what his god children had destroyed;

His wrath was mighty, his pain transcendent.

From the fire of his anger,

From the divine breath of Takhisis,

From the heart of the flames, the races were born.

Takhisis, Sargonnas, Hiddukel, gods of the Dark,

Made the stony Ogres.

Gifted with life, gifted with beauty,

The Ogres turned their faces earthward.

Children of the stars.

Firstborn of the gods.

Paladine, Mishakal, Those of the Light,

Made the willowy Elves.

Cursed them with goodness, cursed them with virtue.

Those of the middle, Gilean, Reorx, Gray gods all,

Made the plodding humans, set them to serve.

Watchers of the darkness are the mighty Ogres,

Cast down to rule the world from the lofty mountains.

Hair colored of the shadows, eyes like the moon,

Fairest of all and truly immortal.

Singers of starshine, masters of all created.

Rulers of the low ones; the animals, the elves, the humans.

Within our hearts, all dreams are dark.

Within our souls, all pain is pleasure.

We turn our faces upward.

Born of the stars, chosen by the gods.


A Good and Perfect Gift

“My dear, you know tbat magic, beyond tbat necessary for daily needs, is forbidden to all but the Ruling Families.”

Lord Teragrym Semi, eldest of the five Ruling Council members of the Ogres, considered by many in the royal court to be the most powerful, plucked a piece of fruit from the bowl sitting at his elbow.

“Yes, Lord, I know. But… there have been exceptions.”

Eyes cast down, the young Ogre who kneeled before him allowed her voice to trail off. Her eyes, so strange and black, stole upward, then back down too quickly to give offense.

Teragrym pretended to examine the fruit, searching the fuzzy red skin for blemishes, then tossed it back into the bowl with a sneer. He did not deem it vital to mention that the punishment for disobedience of the law was death. He assumed she was willing to risk death.

Magic danced in the air about her, well concealed but barely controlled. Powerful enough so that he could sense it without casting a “seeing” spell. Just that feeling, coming from one not of a Ruling Family, was enough to condemn her.

Her fingers twitched, and he imagined he could see the spell she was longing to cast dancing between them. It would probably be something spectacular, designed to impress. No doubt she knew more than just spells of fire and water, of mischief and play.

For a race renowned for its beauty, she was striking and exotic, dark where most of the Ogres were silvery. Pale of flesh where the norm was emerald and indigo and raven black. Her black eyes were almost elven, and there was a warmth to the gem-green paleness of her skin that reminded him of the pale-pink flesh of humans. It was an almost repellent mixture and strangely compelling.

With her billowing robes spread about her in a perfect fan, she made a fetching picture. A perfect, ripe flower, offering herself. “You are very beautiful. Young. Healthy. Well placed at court. You could make a brilliant match. Be secure. Why do you risk telling me this?”

“I can make a match for myself, yes,” she whispered. “Or my uncle will make one for me, and himself. Perhaps it would even be a brilliant one, with a well-suited family. But I do not wish to be some family’s adornment.”

Teragrym snorted, almost laughing in her face. This particular Ogre did not strike him as being malleable enough to be anyone’s adornment.

“I would never be allowed to learn magic as I wish to.” She glanced up, smiled with beguiling sweetness. “Please, Lord, families have been known to take in someone who showed promise, who could be of use… who would vow undying devotion in exchange for… considerations.”

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