Months passed into years, and the shock of their ruined lives dulled into an ache that the four remaining in the vale carried in their hearts. But life went on. Rayôn and Qeyrah had another child: a girl whom they named Rowyn. After this they had a son whom they named Jákowyeh, and another son they named Sheflen.
Then Qeyrah carried twins in her womb, and she gave birth to two daughters, Jérðia & Palólasheh. After them she bore a son, Gelen; a daughter, Lilowny; a son, Galtor; a daughter, Teretha; and then once more she bore twins: sons, named Oren (which means light) and Jema (which means truth).
Now Rowyn was the first child born to fallen parents, and she was like them: from the moment of her first cry, she thought only of herself. She cried angrily for food, for love and for attention. All these things her parents eagerly gave her, but as she grew and began to crawl, and then walk, her selfishness grew with her. When her parents denied her something she wanted, she would scream in rage – once she even tried to hit Qeyrah with her little baby fists. She was too small to hurt her mother, yet it grieved Qeyrah deeply. The ruin she had started, when she chose her own path instead of Áronyeh’s – this wicked bent had full sway of her little daughter. It grieved Rayôn as well, for he knew that it was he who had passed on his selfishness to Rowyn. What would happen to their daughter? How could they teach her right and wrong when she yet could not even speak? They cried out to Áronyeh for mercy and wisdom, and he gave it to them. Rayôn and Qeyrah did their best to not gratify Rowyn’s fits, and to teach her through consequence that her selfishness would always be punished, but her obedience would always be rewarded. And through it all, they showed her that they loved her. And even when Rowyn drove them to frustration, they restrained themselves from speaking to her in anger.
And so it was that Rowyn, and her brothers and sisters after her, learned to love and respect their father and mother, and as they learned to speak and understand, they listened as their parents told them of Áronyeh, and His Creation, and His love – and their disobedience. They told their children to put their trust in their Creator, and wait for his promise to deliver them and restore the world they lived in.
Vúnyeðel and Shereynah watched their nieces and nephews as they grew into their childhood – and they watched their own child as well. Élonel grew into a boy who resembled much his father: fair and lean, serious and thoughtful. His parents delighted in him, and he loved them perfectly: for he was the last child born in the Vale who was free from the falleness of his father. He was kind, and thought always for others. For this, many of his cousins – the children of Rayôn – loved him, although at times if they were doing wrong, they would be angry with him when he confronted them. Vúnyeðel pondered sadly to himself that his wife and son were the only two in the land who were perfect. He wondered if they felt a sense of loneliness.
Many years passed, and the eldest of the children began to grow up. Élonel was now his father’s height, and looked almost like his twin. Vúnyeðel and Shereynah had two more children, a boy they named Bórenel and a girl they named Lenórah, each born seven years apart. Vúnyeðel was reminded of Áronyeh’s words: “Your seed will be few, and shall not be numbered as the sons of your father.” Both Bórenel and Lenórah were marked by the selfishness and corruption of their father, but he had done everything he could to teach them what was good. They loved Áronyeh, and strove to do what was right.
Of Rayôn’s children, Rowyn had grown into a beautiful young woman – though remarkably short; her two brothers Jákowyeh and Sheflen were not finished growing, and yet already they towered over her. She was also of a thick build, in a way that recalled her lost brother Durfil.
When Oren and Jema were still only a few years old, Áronyeh came to Vúnyeðel at night and told him to return to the land beyond the islands, where he and Shereynah had ceased tracking their brother. “Durfil is returning,” said Áronyeh. “You will meet him there. He has fallen as you have: he was tempted, and in the end he rejected wisdom. And behold, he has turned from his error, even as you have: but now he suffers from what he has done to himself, even as you have. Go, and comfort him, and help him.”
In the morning, Vúnyeðel told his wife of Áronyeh’s visit, and once again they packed supplies and set sail for the islands and the coast beyond.
When they came again to that land, they found it as they had left it. They pulled their boat up on the beach and walked inland. “The last time I was here,” thought Vúnyeðel, “I had not yet fallen.” He felt the familiar ache well up in his stomach. Such a great sadness had entered his life. Shereynah sensed what he was thinking, and reached out and held his hand. “I love you,” she said.
They walked on, and then they lifted up their eyes and saw a strange looking man, sitting on a rock next to a river. He was short and stocky, and hairy – his arms and legs were covered with hair like his head, only not as thick; his face was hidden by a great brown beard that fell into his lap. And in his lap he held three clear stones.
“I knew you would come,” the man said. He looked up at the couple with listless eyes, and they recognized their brother.
“Durfil!” they cried, and they fell on him and wept.
Durfil raised his voice and cried. “Forgive me, oh beloved brother and sister! Forgive me for my folly! And forgive me for my disobedience! And pity me also; I am ruined, forever ruined.”
Much time passed before they could speak again, so overwhelmed they were with emotion. But at last Vúnyeðel said to his brother, “Fear not brother; we are not ruined forever. Did not Áronyeh tell you that he would redeem those who have faith in him?”
“Aye, he did. But, oh, what a broken world we now have, and how much evil we have wrought!” Durfil suppressed a sob. “Here are the stones, the orlôaven I carved with my fingers and my heart. Our mother’s, our father’s, and mine: behold, the light is gone – it is gone out of them forever. Oh Áronyeh forgive us!” And Durfil wept again.
Vúnyeðel and Shereynah did not ask Durfil how he fell. They saw the torment in his face, and knew not to ask. His soul was scarred deeply, and only years later would he find the strength to tell all the story of his pride and his undoing. They also did not ask him how he recovered the stones of their parents – meaningless and empty as they now were – from Ordéash.
At last, Vúnyeðel spoke. “Come, Durfil; let us return to the Vale. For so long we have desired to see you again; our mother and father have longed for you, and the children they have since born would see their brother, as ours would see their uncle.”
“That is all well and good, brother,” said Durfil, still gazing down at the empty stones in his hands. “But I shall not see them.”
“Surely you don’t mean, you will never return home?” said Shereynah.
“I will return with you,” said Durfil, and he looked up at them. “But I shall not see you, nor shall I see those who await us.”
And then Vúnyeðel and Shereynah saw that their brother’s eyes were not looking at them but seemingly past them, if it were possible. His expression was dull, as if he did not even see them.
“Durfil,” said Vúnyeðel, “You are not… surely, you are not…”
“Blind.” Durfil spoke the word, and it was the first time the word was ever uttered in Arah.
“Blind.” Vúnyeðel tasted the word on his tongue. He did not like it. Shereynah’s eyes widened in added sorrow for her brother.
“Yes, I am blind,” said Durfil. “It happened when…” his voice trailed off, and he was silent for a moment. He swallowed. “Ordéash knew he had won. He laughed at me, and mocked me and derided me. He no longer needed the orlôaven; they had served his purpose. I saw the light go out from mine; I beheld it in horror: my stone dead, along with the dead stones of my parents; the dead stones, the dead stones! It was all I saw; and when I turned my eyes away at last, I saw nothing, and nothing since. I was alone!” Durfil paused to shudder. “For years I wondered in the dark cold places where I had followed that worm, searching for a way out. I found none. At last I cursed my pride and cried out to Áronyeh. He brought me out and set me on firm earth, and I felt the warmth of the sun on my face once more. But still I see nothing.”
Without a word Shereynah stood by her brother and wept over him, grieving for all the pain he had endured and for the loss of his sight. Her tears fell on Durfil’s face, and into his eyes.
But Durfil gasped in amazement, for as the wetness hit his eyes, he saw light. For years he had been without it; how bright it was! He squinted, and blinked. The light filled his vision, and it gained color: the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, the reds and yellows of the flowers, the browns of the trunks of trees – and the forms of his brother and sister who stood over him. “Shereynah,” he said at last, “what have you done for me?”
Shereynah looked down at him, confused for a moment, but then comprehended what had happened. Her weeping turned to laughter. “Praise Áronyeh! This is his doing, not mine.”
“You see again, brother?” said Vúnyeðel.
“Yes!” said Durfil, and he leapt up and embraced them, and then did something else he had not done since his parents fell. He smiled.
Thus Durfil was reunited with Vúnyeðel and Shereynah, and began to heal from the terrors his soul had endured. The three of them returned to the Vale, and Durfil once again saw his parents, and they wept for joy to see him again. Durfil met the children of his mother and father who had been born in his absence, many of them now grown. They met him, and most did not know what to make of him – he was a man strange in manner and appearance. Most of them were shy of him, save Rowyn. She saw that Durfil was lonely, and that he still struggled with the pain he had endured. She had compassion for him, and became his friend, and they grew to love each other. A few years after his return they were married.
Here is what I have of the next installment. It still needs some editing. You will also notice some names of sons who become nations mentioned in the "excerpt" I published in January: Oren, Jema, and Galtor.