How the Seasons Came to Be
Serefina, wise goddess of love and healing was not always ruler of the seasons. Truth be told, there was only one season with ever warm weather, allowing always for plentiful harvests and a thriving populace. The lands of Azadeah never lay in poverty and there was little, if any grief.
Serefina, like all deities, was a sight to behold. Tall and lithe like the willow tree, with eyes like emeralds flecked with gold and gleaming silver hair that flowed like a river to her ankles. She was a caring goddess who hated to see her people upset or in any kind of pain, thus always kept the weather in a prosperous condition. Her love was a mortal by the name of Solomon, a wise man considering he was a human. For two years their love was kept a secret, but as most secrets are, this one too was discovered. While most unions between the gods and mortals were frowned upon, this one was celebrated. None of the immortals, gods and goddesses alike, would have Serefina and Solomon separated. Soon after the discovery of their love, the two were wed. It was a simple yet grand ceremony to which all of the divinities attended, all joyous over the marriage save for one: the god Ceritof, ruler of the seas.
Enraged at their union, Ceritof left the celebration early to plan his vengeance. After several days of isolation spent thinking, he decided on his course of action. He would lure Solomon to the sea without Serefina's knowledge. Once Solomon was ensnared in the sea, he would drown him with raging waters, feed the corpse to the leviathan, and banish his sould to Prismera (much like Limbo), to ensure his permanent entrapment.
Ceritof put this plan to action two weeks later when he heard that Serefina would be gone for the day with Eithne, goddess of fire. With a sweet, enchanting song sung by his nymphs, Ceritof drew Solomon to the sea, farther and farther until he could no longer stand. With a malicious grin, Ceritof encased Solomon in a coffin of waves, making sure to keep him inside it until his lungs filled with water and breathed his last. Solomon's soul flew out, destined for Arcace but it was intercepted by the god of the dead, Eristnad, who forced it to Prismera, the perfect world where the dead could neither move on nor return from whence they came. They could only look at what they lost, trapped for the rest of eternity.
Upon returning to their home, Serefina sought out her love, Solomon, only to find him gone. She panicked and began to search frantically, overturning things left and right. After weeks of searching and still unable to find him, Serefina scorched the world with her rage, creating unbearable heat for her people. For four months this lasted, and the people lived off what little grain and fruits they could harvest.
Ceritof did not reveal his evil doing, choosing rather to try and comfort Serefina. She cared nothing for his words, however, and only unfeeling emptiness filled her. The weather cooled and the trees began to loose their foliage and bitter frosts bit at the already dying fields. This too lasted four months but Serefina, in her grief, noticed nothing. Even Ceritof began to worry as the frigid weather grew ever colder with Serefina's heart. When she wept, her tears froze and covered all of Azadeah with ice and snow.
The people were left with naught but barren fields, little food, and barely enough warmth for comfort. Near the end of the sixteenth month Ceritof's guilt grew, slowly eating away at him until at last he admitted to Serefina what he had done.
"Serefina, I love you, though I know you will never return me that. My love for you is what drove me to commit the terrible crime I am about to tell you. I killed the man you so desperately seek and banished his soul to Prismera, an action that cannot be undone," he confessed as he dropped to his knees before her. "Forgive me! I beg of you: control yourself lest you kill the people that you so deeply care for."
He stood and showed to her what had become of Azadeah, covered in ice, snow, and frostbitten fields; he showed her the suffering and dying populace. Serefina shook her head, bitter sadness in her eyes. "I can do nothing while I mourn my late husband," she cried. "I can neither see him nor comfort him and he can do neither for me as his soul is trapped in Prismera, somewhere even I cannot go."
"I am sorry with every particle in me for the wrong I committed against you, but I can do nothing to make this right. Even Eristnad himself cannot change this." He paused, falling to his knees once more. "I know I have no place to request this of you, but please, stay your mourning! Feel you no pity for their suffering? If you do not do this for me, or the people, do it for Solomon! He would not want to see Talluah like this. He would not want to see you like this," Ceritof pleaded with her.
Serefina stared at him, tears clouding her vision. She nodded slowly and then spoke in a melancholy tone.
"For my people's sake, as well as Solomon's, I will do as you ask. At the start of the first month I will abandon my misery and allow my people to live again. However, at the start of the ninth month, I will mourn Solomon until the last day of the sixteenth month," Serefina swore, bowing to Ceritof who stood and stopped her mid-bow.
"My love, I thank you," Ceritof whispered, bowing to her. She flinched at his pet name and he immediately bowed again in apology. "Forgive me, if you can find it in your heart to do so," he implored of her.
"I am sorry, but that is something I cannot do," Serefina said shaking her head. "Not while I grieve for the love I lost. If I speak to you at that time, my heart may shatter as a glass cup that has been dropped might. During the eight months I am out of mourning, I will speak to you, but only as is needed. Nothing more than that."
Ceritof looked crestfallen at her answer.
"I understand and will accept your terms," he sighed. With a last bow, Ceritof vanished to his seas. The other gods, after finding out what Ceritof had done, decided his punishment would be that during the eight months of warmth, he must remain in his seas, barred from the lands. This, they all agreed, would be punishment enough.
From then on, there was a cycle of four seasons, each four months long and each allowing a transition to the next. Three of the four (one of medium heat, one of extreme heat, and another of in-between heat) would allow a time for gathering to prepare for the arctic weather of the last season, making them as they now are, and will be until the end of time.