Zikru the Poet, Whose Tongue Shamed Ashlala

Zikru was once a beautiful man, a poet of great skill. So great was his ability with his tongue that he never slept alone, and often with the chiefs of his tribe. But, drunk one night on a subtle wine, he boasted that his knowledge of the Language of Names was greater even than that of Ashlala, the Great Name of the People of the River Uklal.

Ashlala, itself, rose from the river, water gushing in cataracts down the reeds of its hair, its horns piercing the limb of the moon above, and demanded that Zikru persuade the mighty Great Name with his skilled tongue, or bow down and pledge himself to its service forever.

Zikru asked what Ashlala would offer, should he so persuade the Great Name to spare him. Ashlala’s words dripped with contempt:

“I will make your tongue the greatest in all that floats above the Waters of the Underworld.

Zikru sits high, the master of the people of the Uklal.
Zikru sits high, the master of the people of the Uklal.

The poem Zikru composed moved Ashlala, indeed, coaxing tears of pearl from its many eyes. In shame, Ashlala fled the River Uklal and made good with its promise, saying, “You shall have a vision to see into the hearts of earthen-beings, and the tongue to move them.”

The people of the River Uklal, having already seen the horror of their Great Name, stood frozen as Zikru’s beautiful face erupted with a third eye, his smooth brown skin became thick and scaled, and his tongue, the treasure of his people, grew forked.

Zikru lives among them to this day, commanding them as a Great Name might, unable to cry for his own lost beauty.

This story and its illustration are a part of the xenoglyph Patreon project. Please help me make more things!

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