Silent Night

She was mute. Her vocal chords didn’t develop right. If she’d been born 1,000 years earlier or 1,000 years later it would have been better, but she had no choice in the matter.

Her parents thought she was a witch, or cursed by a witch—they were inconsistent on this point—and they left her at the alter of the monkey god in a wet, dark cave deep in the woods.

The monkey god didn’t want her, but the bear god did.

She learned to ride atop a megakodiak. She learned to walk with footsteps as silent as her voice box. She learned to hunt, to hibernate, and to take what was offered without hesitation. She became fierce, and held no affection for humans, though she understood their potential.

A mute girl became an offering, who became a student, who became a warlord.

They called her the Ursa Priestess, and her reign the Silent Night. The capital cities fell one after another as she rode across the land with her kodiak army, raiding town after town in the dead of night without so much as a war cry. The silence became her war cry, her harbinger, her bannerman, and her legacy.

For forty years that Silent Night lasted. You can see it in the maps: the names of our cities, the sites of our alters. And even more so than those under her reign, no one was more resentful than the monkey god.

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