A man named Rumnabi lived on a modest-sized island known as Nobecchi. He loved his home and the pleasant weather dominate there: warm but not hot, few clouds, mild humidity. However Nobecchi was subject to a rainy period often lasting a full two months. Rumnabi was unhappy with this split of weather, concluding that the damp months were a blight not to be tolerated. He vowed to alter this.
One peak summer day, Rumnabi called upon Iambir, god of atmosphere, also called in the vernacular The Cloud Herder. He did so first by placing smooth stones in a precise circle within which he arrayed tributes: the colorful feathers of a bird of paradise, ashes burned from branches of a fruit tree, and the blood of a first-born goat in a bronze chalice set direct in the center. Then he lifted a placation to Iambir, praised his beneficence and bid him: “Take from us these rainy months. We ask for no greater favor than unencumbered skies, a simple wish for simple folk such as we.” Of course he spoke only for himself.
The rains came the very next day and came again day after day for almost three months. Rumnabi became terribly angry that his request not only was rejected but also appeared turned on its head, and he was arrogant enough that at the end of this rainy period he called out a curse upon the god he’d once humbled himself before. “I have given a gift,” he thundered. “A generous gift. And I have been given something terrible in return. You are not a great being or worth an ounce of worship nor tribute. I will denounce your name in every corner of this land.”
Iambir heard every word hurled at him, and while the Cloud Herder was not given to anger, he favored cruelty as a response to insolent behavior. He sent down a sign to Rumnabi that the storms would not pass over or near Nobecchi for the foreseeable future. However though he kept the inclement whether at bay he did not disperse it, merely kept it in a robust loop slowly circulating through the air miles and miles from the shores of Nobecchi. As more storms joined the loop their clouds became darker and began to whip and crackle with a terrifying energy.
Rumnabi was only aware of the blue skies above him and indulged their warmth greedily. When truly the pleasant weather seemed as if it would last without limit, he let words of praise pass from his lips. “Praise be to this glorious weather,” Rumnabi exalted. “I shall never see blue nor feel warmth without the name Iambir on my tongue.”
And so the Cloud Herder decided then to reveal the full scope of his efforts. When Rumnabi fell asleep that night he began to feel as if he were rising into the sky. Soon he had a bird’s eye view of the sea around Nobecchi. To his horror he beheld the ring of storms the Cloud Herder had wrangled and was now spinning into a fury. Rumnabi continued to watch in a terrified silence as the storm chain was nudged out of it loop and set loose upon Nobecchi itself.
Rumnabi awoke in a cold sweat, gasping for breath. “Is this real?” he placated above. Fierce winds began to saw through the darkness. Trees toppled over. Homes shredded and crashed to the earth. Even the temple to the gods themselves buckled and collapsed. Rains flooded the whole island, washed its fertile soils, its livestock, even its people into the agitated sea. Jagged ropes of lightning struck countless times, searing black gashes into whatever still stood.
The next morning Rumnabi walked wordless through the island’s devastation. His home had stood but most had not. He did not recognize this land he ventured in. It was not where he he’d been born nor lived his entire life. Hours later when he returned to his home he felt saturated with grief, despondent. He thrust his arms upward and wailed. “Why? Why do this? Why at all?”
After a long, aching silence, Iambir’s voice floated down to him. “There is a price for everything.”
For many nights afterward when Rumnabi laid himself down to sleep, he was beset by visions of the storm chain that had wrecked Nobecchi as it continued on a swerving path over the many seas and decimated other lands. He became so wrought with sadness that in time he could barely sleep at all. He took to roaming the beach near his home at night and staying shuttered in his home by day.
In the end, on his last nighttime walk, he came upon a small boat moored to the shore and decided to take it out upon the salts. He didn’t know how many miles he’d gone over the waves before he leaned out above the water, murmured a brief and desperate prayer, then dove into the dark sea never to be seen again.
The remaining denizens of Nobecchi however carried on as best as they knew how. Their endeavor to restore their way of life was slow and arduous. Homes were rebuilt by community effort. The fields in time regained their fertility. The island’s climate fell back into its old circuitry.
The only lapse in the renewal process was the persistent absence of the temple to the gods. There was an unspoken consensus among the Nobecchians that it did not need rebuilding. Perhaps out of pride they believed that the gods in their violence against the island had forsaken its people. Nevertheless the survivors each continued to say their own private prayers and were grateful as well. They had been spared, and the great storm was long gone.
On the night one year after the tragedy had occurred, a stone obelisk appeared on the former site of the temple. No one in Nobecchi would admit responsibility for the structure or who might have laid it there. On its surface was carved a single sentence. “Life goes on no matter the cost.”