The legend is that two tribes came to settle the mouth of the river at the same time. After a day and night of fighting, the leaders met across the river at the "Trudemor" or "Midpoint" and agreed to decide the right to settle the land by the winner of a competition. The first tribe was made much of fisher folk and hunters, and they proposed that a race that would trace the river and continue through the forest further into the mountains. The second group had many lumberers and smiths, who agreed on the condition that they have five full days of preparation each, and that they each would be allowed to choose the competing member of the opponent's group. "This is a fair challenge, we await you at the peak of dawn in two days," said Delera, leader of the fishers and hunters. Delera pointed to a young redheaded man who was carving behind the lumberer and smith crowd. "They will be our opponent."
This surprised the man, who was one of the few carvers and tinkerers of his people, and a noncombatant of his tribe. His leader Greynore sent him a glance, before pointing across the river at an old grizzled fisher saying "They will serve as our opponent in this race." There was an uproar of laughter from the fishers and hunters as they began to express their excitement, the enemy having chosen what was one of their most respected trackers and a fisher capable of handling a boat alone. This could allow them to follow the river path in a faster method than simply walking and take an early lead that they were confident the lumberers and smiths could not compete with.
To solidify that there would be no call of foul play, Delera shouted "You will not stop us from using our tools to traverse the path will you?" Greynore's face began to drop as he realized what the fisher's leader was planning. He was about to respond when Delera spoke again quickly, saying "Even if we use our tools, we will be required to follow the river fully and will travel backwards at times to remain in the stream. This is advantageous to you. Will you accept this?"
Again before Greynore could respond a clear voice cut through the air across from behind him. "Only if you will not stop us from also going backwards on the path." All turned in surprise to the young man chosen by Delera from the lumberers and smiths. Greynore began to get angry, while Delera grew concerned at the insinuation that perhaps the chosen rival was skilled with sailing vessels, but this quickly faded as her confidence in their group's skilled elder rose again. "This is acceptable. At sixth dawn we meet again" said Delera, turning and leading her group back to their camp to prepare.
Greynore began to order his lumberjacks to seize the young man who had spoken above his leader. The young man immediately began to call to Greynore, stopping him. Greynore turned back to the young man saying "How do I see so much confidence on the face of someone with twice less the lifetime of his opponent?" The young man came closer to his leader. "Woodskeeper Greynore, the enemy has chosen well. The opponent is skilled and has much experience in the river, in the forest, and probably in the mountains as well. They also have arrogance in abundance, and have underestimated the wit of craftsmen." Greynore tilted his head to one side in puzzlement, saying nothing. The young man continued, "They have such confidence in their tools to follow the river currents, but once they reach the forest their pace will slow from the incline of the forest as it ascends to the mountain. They said they would be going backwards on the path of the race, so I made them promise to accept our own victory by following the path in reverse."
Greynore began to understand. "The path will be less tiring in reverse! Good thinking!" The young man gave a soft smile and cautiously spoke again. "That is not all Woodspeaker, we have our own tools and skills as well." The man brought out a small carved cart, a toy he had created as a model of the carts used by the lumberers to move their cut trees from the forests to their carvers. He also pointed to the ground where he had been sitting when he was first called. In the ground near a stump was a mound of dirt creating a hill against the stump, a small groove in the ground. He sat the small cart into the groove, letting it roll within it down the incline, before looking up at the awestruck lumberers and wide eyes of the smiths. Greynore began to shout orders, picking up a shovel off the ground as the camp burst into action.
With alternating shifts, the lumberers quickly confirmed the two points of the race path with their opponents, clearing the straightest path between the two points of trees, and beginning to dig grooves for the two sets wheels of the cart. The smiths began to build a larger and sturdier cart. This went on for days, and the young man spent much time in the mountain clearing at the path's end point, having only requested that he be assisted by two other men in preparation for the race. By the middle of the final day of preparation, substantial grooves had been dug, confusing the hunter and fisher tribe. The cart being assembled piece by piece in the clearing at the top of the mountain was completed as well. The young man appeared to Greynore with his assisting men, explaining that their preparations had been completed. The young man had constructed a canoe from a tree near the top of the mountain, and had mounted it to the cart as a seat for once the momentum of the cart had run out. He headed back out to walk the pathway of where the cart would travel, taking a small bag with him.
The men he left behind began to describe what they had help him make. It was a very strange canoe, leaving much of the diameter of the tree intact in the back, creating a circular flat section much like an archery target as a tail, and having fins on either side of the seat like a fish with the pointed nose protruding from the front. Greynore simply shook his head, watching the redheaded young man walking back up the pathway.
The dawn of the last day, the tribes again met at Trudemor. An opponent was assigned to each of their enemies to monitor and verify that the entirety of the path was traveled. The young man spoke to Delera saying "This is a flare, set it off in 3 hours time to signal the start of the race. Your man will verify that I will start at an end of the path on first sight of the fire in the sky, and our man will do the same for your elder." Delera received the small tube with a wick, looking it over, before nodding an affirmative. Her puzzlement showed as the young man and her equally confused liaison began to walk the path towards the end of the path. "He wants to start from the other end of the course" Greynore said, "he does not have the endurance to climb as we do, and so devised this route to better suit him." Delera became both impressed and slightly mocking of the plan, now seeing the motives in the young man's words in their agreement days ago. "It will not matter. Our tools will bring us along the path faster than any man could run." Greynore's face did not change as he replied. "What you will soon understand, is that the flare in your hand was the first of our tools used to signal his victory."
Delera waited the allotted time, and then gathered all by the river point where their fastest sailing boat was moored by their elder. She gave a countdown, and then lit the flare off their cooking fire, pointing it to the sky as a small pellet rocketed up several hundred meters, ultimately sending a large shower of sparks and multicolored smoke into the air with a resounding crack which rolled across the landscape. The elder pushed off from the moorings and began to direct the quick craft along the river, making quick progress along its winding path towards the forest. The smith set to monitor the elder fisher rode along on the vessel, not assisting but not interfering. The boat continued to be blown steadily towards its destination to the sound of cheers by the hunters and fishers. The lumberers watched the forest edge earnestly, hoping to see their own cart or some hint of progress in the distance.
After 10 minutes both groups were greeted instead with a rumbling and cracking from the direction of the mountain, as the faint rising of powdered snow from the face of the mountain began to shift and collapse along with the rock below it. Both camps began to run towards the mountain, fearing for their tribe members. Within a few minutes both tribes had to move away from the bank of the river as massive waves much wider than the river began to flow downstream. After ten minutes of frenzied running and avoiding waves, the boat of the elder came back into view, pointed in their direction towards where it had started. Delera was first relieved to see the boat somehow floating and what that likely meant for the life of the elder. Soon however, she became once again confused as her tribe members began to report four figures on the boat. Soon, the figures' faces were clearly in view, three looking very pale, and one looking pleased under his fiery hair. The boat continued to move quickly back towards the beginning of the path, the two tribes shouting to the figures on the boat, following them.
Once the boat reached the beginning of the path, the elder and young man directed the boat to the shoreline where the tribes now waited for an explanation. First the young man helped his pale liaison onto the shore, and then the elder. He then stepped off and stood beside them, ushering the hunter to explain what had happened. In between large gulps of water, the hunter said "They have won, and we have lost this race. When you hear how, there will be no doubt in your mind." A murmur throughout his fellow hunters and fishers was quickly silenced by Delera, who urged him to continue. "I went with this man along the river to a clearing near the base of the mountain where the river comes to a large and deep lake. I then followed him up the pathway the lumberers cut and dug along up the path. I thought it would make it easy for our elder to track to the end of the path and give us an additional advantage. We climbed the mountain to the clearing, where I was surprised to see a logging cart like the lumberers have been using in their camps. It was much larger than their other carts with wider wheels, and a strange object on its top. I then followed him down a pathway further up the mountain along a small and winding path. I saw that at many layers of the mountain there were cracks in the stone that had filled with ice. He stopped at the start of a larger ice filled crack near the edge, pulling off his satchel and taking out a carving knife to then lean down and carve out a small groove in the ice. He then uncorked a flask and slowly began to pour the contents of the flask into the indentation, which quickly disappeared down into the crack as the ice melted downwards creating a cylinder into the heart of the rock."
The hunter shuddered, taking another long drink of water before continuing. "Out from the satchel came another flask and what looked like a red candle. He looked down the hole in the rock, dropped the candle down it, and then sat next to the hole and stared out towards the coast where the flare would go off. We sat there for fifteen minutes before we saw the fire in the sky and heard the crack from the coast, and I agreed that the race had started. That was when he grinned at me, pulled the cork on the second flask, and started pouring it down the hole, spilling some around the entrance, and then quickly backing down the trail as he left his own trail of the liquid towards the path's end. He seemed to be wasting his time with foolish tricks and so I didn't think anything of it. When we got back to the clearing he pulled out a cigar and asked me for a light. I gave him one, and he took a quick puff. He then said 'If you don' t want to die in an avalanche, I recommend you do as I say.' He then leaned down and touched the cigar to the liquid trail, which immediately blazed a trail back up the way we came. Then was when I realized he was a lunatic. I panicked and followed him to the cart, which he hopped up on, and then pulled me onto. At the back of the cart, he cut a rope holding the cart which began to quickly pick up speed down the mountain, rolling and bouncing along within the cut grooves in the ground as we both hung onto the object on the cart for dear life. After the tenth bruise I just closed my eyes until I heard a shout over the racket, whipping my head in his direction, where he was sitting in the middle of the object. He was holding an oar, and that was when I realized the weird fish object was supposed to be a boat. By some miracle we reached the bottom of the forest cut grooves and roughly bounced along, finally coming to a stop. He yelled at me to help him, and I was too deep in shock to understand, but I was smacked out of it by the huge racket coming from the mountain behind us. He was cutting ropes holding the weird boat to the cart and gesturing to the river. I looked up at the mountain and realized that the nearby face of it was starting to collapse, and that running wouldn't get me out of the way in time. He grinned at me and started dragging the boat into the river at the clearing, and I realized that he was trying to escape in the boat. I quickly helped him pull the boat into the water, and got into the open seat of the now floating boat. I started to grab the oars but he just shook his head and pointed toward the lake. I turned my head and was horrified to watch large pieces of the cliff-face drop into the lake, creating massive waves which now rushed right towards us. I dropped back down into the seat and clung on for dear life as I felt the lurch and shove of the water behind us, pushing us rapidly along with the waves at a horrific speed. The only thing louder than the rushing water and cracking trees along that river was the laughter of this lunatic as we went like a bolt out of a crossbow. At some point I passed out and he woke me up, pointing out at our sailing boat and elder Terthur, who was trying to keep it from being pushed over by the waves."
Both Delera and Greynore looked from the storyteller to the young carver, and then to elder Terthur. The elder commented quietly, "They sailed past me in a big wooden fish. I was fighting the waves and assumed something had gone wrong and that the race was off, so I picked them up on the way back."
Delera's wide eyes turned to Greynore, not bothering to ask whether this had been their plan from the beginning once she saw her own expression mirrored on his face. With a whisper she spoke out "You have won this race," glancing at the young man and beginning to turn, "and we will leave this place to the lunatics."
Many of the fishers and hunters were amazed at the spectacle they had seen and decided to join the victorious tribe instead of leaving with their old tribe. Greymore renamed the young man Rheiden meaning reverse, after how he had taken the path in reverse and won them this land. His renown grew and his group became known for their clever craftsmanship and push for greater tools to build the city, Ahpla. The family became known as the Rheidenasi, or the "Backwards people''.
( updated 2021-10-07 )