Javern Spithorn and the Sunset Leap (2001)

Javern Spithorn was a household thane of Kallyr Starbrow and noted for his recklessness, experimentation and great luck at surviving accidents and foolishness. He was beloved by Orlanth, who had sent winds to save him when he was an infant, an oversize alynx when he was a young warrior, and also a great strength in swordplay many times. Javern was devoted to the Great God too, and spent many days and nights doing his “deer walks,” wandering alone over the hills and forests, leaping from cliffs to glide in the hands of his god. He always gave a portion of his food to the god, he always whspered prayers to him when he was travelling, and he always gave credit to the Victorybringer for his successes. Javern ‘s slogan was “The Old World is over. The New wind is Rising.” He was an early prophet who warned of the Hero Wars. He was so crazy with his experiments though that some people blamed him for actually causing (or at least contributing to) them. They said his magical interpretations of the sacred way were “blasphemous and contrary to the traditional way of Orlanth.” Certainly he did things no one had done before, and he also was in a great number of earth shaking events. The priests went to his leader and complained, but Kallyr herself was supportive of anything that might assist in her desperate attempts to overcome the massive Lunar presence. She said, “But what is cause and effect in such matters? Want your Lawspeaker to come debate Minaryth over this?”

Javern was dedicated to be holy because he knew he could survive and help his people better if he was close to the gods. He knew many feats of Orlanth, and he wandered often in the train of the Storm when it blew across the realms of gods and heroes. Javern didn’t just learn feats, though, but learned what lay behind them as well. Like most warriors he had a few favorites that he preferred to use. One of those was the now famous Sunset Leap.
Javern’s clan was desceded from the great ancestor Heort, the founder, who was as everyone knows, of the Winterdeer Clan. Javern had learned and experienced how Heort had invented the Winterdeer’s Sunset Leap when Kyger Litor tried to grab it. The Devourer rarely missed such a grab, but Winterdeer leapt into the setting sun so that the Mother of Terror was blinded. Many people in the clans descendant from Winterdeer learned this feat, and they occasionally used it collectively through their wyters to escape their enemies when they needed to. These clans were known to be especially dangerous in their evening ambushes, from which they nearly always could escape even against great odds, by leaping towards the setting sun. Javern participarted in many ambushes against huge lunar armies like this, and then escaped into the sunset.
Javern was skilled at this, and he could leap a half a mile from a standing start, if he had time to pray beforehand. If he worked with his band he could (once) bear all of them away at once for several hundred yards, even though they were fighting, healing or doing something else. He did this whenever Kallyr told him to do it, and it was one of her band’s special escape tactics.

Javern also worshipped the Winterdeer. He called this his “deer walking” and said sometimes he was stalking his ancestor, at other times merely collecting spoor, at others fleeing from stags or hungry, pale deer ghosts; and once he confided to friends that he’d grown antlers one time, after which he had to be purified by the priest. He said that this improved his leaping and gave him insights about the feat. To those who could understand, he said he thought that they actually leapt through the godworld when they escaped, out of the ordinary world and then back in, when they invoked their leaping powers.

Javern on day was borne away from a battle by Sareren, and even through his wounded haze he recognized the Sunset Leap. But he wasn’t a deer, and he didn’t go to the god world, and it had been noon a moment before. Sareren eventually explained how it worked to him. “It’s the Sunset Leap,” she said. “It was done by my ancestor, Hereren the White, when the Iron Vrok fell upon the clan. He invoked the Blood of Sunset and the clan went to the sunset, though everyone lost some blood too. Yo bled enough for both of us to get here, four hours later.” Then the sun set.

“What does it mean?” wondered Javern afterwards. And when Javern wondered, he wandered.
One time Kallyr was attacked by trolls in the afternoon. The trolls were shielded from the light by a Lunar priestess, and they were led by a Lunar Hell Man. The war band was overwhelmed and desperate, and even though it was only late afternoon Javern decided to perform the Sunset Leap. He prayed hard, taking himself out of the combat to concentrate, and with a tremendous burst of light he leapt away from the battle, arching through the air towards the west. No one else went, just him. The light of his surprise sunset blinded the trolls and so Kallyr and her remaining household together slew the demigod Hell Man and his priestess. The trolls ran away. When Javern came back to their camp that night another weaponthane accused Javern of cowardice, but he calmly ask, “Were the trolls blinded?” which proved he knew what he was doing, tailoring the effect. Kallyr recognized the truth of course, and gave him a silver lightning arm band.

Javern later experimented with other jumping into the sunset when it was not at the sunset time of day. He discovered that he was better than normal people at this. He could visualize the sunset before him and jump, even if the sun was setting atop a cliff, on a tree, or across a river. He could that way jump in any direction. None of these leaps were nearly as powerful as his actual leap in the direction of the setting sun, of course.
Javern grew more powerful as the breath inside him grew. Once, with preparation and backed by others, he leapt five miles towards the setting sun. He began to think how he could use his feats in other ways. He began to work on a way to make sunset with his leap, in effect changing the time of day or else moving the sun. He said, “The New wind is Rising,” and spoke long hours with Minaryth, a wise Lhankor Mhy priest. He even considered learning to read, but Minaryth warned him that the gray sages would no longer help him if he did. His friend Berra, the blue-haired Vingan, encouraged him towards his objective because it would let them finish the day and get to the mead at its end much faster. Javern was so serious about his work that he didn’t even recognize this as a joke and scolded Berra, and lectured about triviality being the enemy of piety. At least until the horns of beer came around.
Javern tried this feat when Kallyr had to find out where the Lunar thieves had gone when they had the Iron Quill of her Ring. Her Sage quickly prepared his divination, and the band backed him through their daimon so they could overcome the sophisticated defences and erasures that the Lunars had used. Kallyr told him to make the time faster, and a quarter of her support went to help him. Javern did his best, but this power was not within that of Orlanth, and it failed entirely. The effort was wasted because it was impossible, and the participants were left tired and sore.

The ultimate use was when Javern leapt to Deathgate to intercept Berra’s soul. After the Battle of Queens Javern found his friend’s body and nearly succumbed to grief, but decided instead to try his feat a new way. He looked to the setting sun and there saw not this time to be the fiery orb that was Ehilm’s chariot, but instead it was the gateway to the land of death. With a plea to Orlanth he leapt, and he found himself at the edge of the cavern through which Orlanthi souls pass to the Court of Silence. There he wrestled with Berra and he was aided by Orlanth’s strength, and so brought her soul back to vitalize her body. She was grateful for this, and she never suffered from the death sickness.

Alas, this type of leap also proved his undoing. Javern was cut down on the field of battle protecting his queen. Berra, repaying a favor, tried to intervene with Orlanth but before she could carry her prayers to Orlanth Javern had passed beyond, having long ago leapt to the gateway and beyond.

Latest revision: 28 Jan 2001

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