Binding Light: Day Everlasting
Day... night; summer... winter. Time flows as it has since the first dawn and beyond, back into oblivion. The Walker, ancient ancestor of Man, the first to stand above the four-legged beast, seeks, scrabbling across rock and soil, grass and plain. He seeks the bounty of the land, the fruit, and the seed. Grains harvested in meager fistfuls and the scraps gleaned from carcasses abandoned by the Great Beasts. They abound, the Beasts. They ravage the Walker; they whittle away his sick and his elderly. They pick apart his offspring and promise a swift, violent end to his days. In the unfathomable dark, the Walker retreats. He takes to the trees and the cliffs, huddling for warmth among his kin against the sharp cold winds; ever fearful of the glowing points of light reflected from the eyes stalking the night below. Darkness, cold, fear; these are his companions in the early days. They are almost as certain as the dawn to come, if it is not robbed of him by the death that prowls in the blackest hours.
In these, the first days, the Walker knows great terrors. The consuming light of the Searing Winds, they blow across the land consuming everything. Even the Great Beasts know to flee before the horrors of the Searing Winds. Where they rage and flow the trees are stark and ashen husks, unfit to provide safety against the night. Where they glow and roar the grasses and grains wither away, unable to bear their gifts of food. Strange it seems to the Walker, that the blessed light and warmth given each day by that great and unknowable being of painful brilliance in the sky would cause such death and destruction as it races across the face of the land. Some have been close enough to this Armageddon, when ash and smoke yet choke the air, to see the aftermath laid out before them. They tell stories of sticks and grasses that still bear the heat of the sky being's presence; of branches that still shed a faint glimmering of the painful brilliance above. Even still, this small remnant of the horror consumes. These branches and broken limbs are devoured by the dancing lights, throwing off angry heat. As the host is consumed completely, so does the light die. The Walker risks much, risks life and limb to marvel and wonder at these smoking remnants of the great forests. And there, it begins.
Independently, across the plains and basins the Walker gathers his courage and takes hold of these, the smoking children of the Searing Winds. Back to his homes, his sanctuaries among the trees he takes this strange power. These first courageous ones pay dearly for their bold attempts to harness the celestial powers. These scraps of heat and light painstakingly fed and nurtured across the long miles give birth to new Searing Winds. These ancestors are yet naive and careless. In their innocence and unknowing they feed these tame remnants too much, or leave them uncared for among the grasses and trees of their homes. Among the lucky are those who go out to forage, and return to find the fickle branches cold and dead, consumed completely. The unlucky, return to find their sanctuaries destroyed; trees and loved ones alike consumed by the pitiless heat grown beyond control.
The Walker grows, and learns. He whispers of these tamed remnants of the Searing Winds to his kin and his young. The tales grow into legend, and in the mind of the Walker become a yearning. The young ones want to see this living heat, they want to shelter in its warmth through the cold night. They want this power over darkness and night; they want to drive off the hungry and terrifying beasts that stalk in the dark. Heedless of their elders' fears, heedless of their tales of the betraying nature of this power, they seek. Across the plains they seek, following the black clouds, chasing the silver-blue slashes of terror, light and booming sound in the biting rains. They march on, towards the pillars of smoke and ash rising through the forest canopy, seeking their deadly prey. They brave the open world beyond the shelter of their trees and cliffs to harness this power. Atop the lives of countless predecessors, many of the seekers are sacrificed in their quest. They die by injury and disease; they die by predator and the merciless torments of nature. Yet, in small groups, spread across the meager band of the world known to our distant ancestors, success is accomplished.
Dearly bought, these glowing branches and brambles are captured. The Walker has learned since the first days, he remembers bitterly the mistakes of the past and shelters his fire in the caves. Safe from the threat of wind and rain, fire prospers. The Walker sets watch over fire, like a fitful and ominous child. He feeds fire, and takes care that it does not escape the confines of where he intends it to reside. It is a risk to spend the nights out of the trees. The Great Beasts roam the fields and cave-dens at night; but he has purchased his safety. Around the precious few tame fires the Walker and his kin gather. They huddle around this mysterious power and are filled with awe. By this power they find freedom from the sting of the cold, they find power over the bitter death brought by the northern winters. His eyes are now blessed by this power, for in its presence he is gifted with the sight of day. Even dark night, dreadful and impenetrable is fought back by this living light. The Great Beasts, ever fearful of these remnants of the Searing Winds, groan and growl with agitation as they pad back into the darkness, and away from the soft flesh of their once easily bought prey.
This is the dawn, a dawn that has lasted 800,000 years, a dawn ancient beyond knowing. This is the Day Everlasting that the Walker has paid so dearly for. This is the Binding Light aside which he and his kin gather, for protection, for warmth; for light, and for companionship. His descendents have grown considerably since then. They have adapted fire for endless purposes, from fire-hardened wooden spears, to early sanitation, sterilization, and cooking. From boiling water and soot paintings, down to this day he has progressed. We have come far since that day. Though only 200,000 years old, modern man has recently harnessed electricity. For the previous century, that terrible silver-blue slash of light and booming sound has been our light. Electricity has become the new flame, but we have never forgotten the power of fire. In an age of technological marvels, in an age of Atomic powers where the sun itself surrenders its gift to us, we still depend upon crucial processes attainable only through fire. Our predecessors paid dearly for this terrible secret, and it has given us power over the world. Indeed, fire may be said to be one of the first great conquests of our ancestor's insatiable curiosity.