The statue stood in the center of the temple’s atrium, a tall stern-browed figure, its left arm holding a bundle of scrolls while its right hand reached down to rest upon the head of, and scratch behind the ears of, the wolfish bandal sitting by its side. With the doors thrown open, the hundreds of fine glass chains fringing the statue’s robes tinkled quietly in the morning breeze.
“In the beginning,” said the priest, “of the First Legend, there was a man and a bandal. Their names are lost to history. Who they were is lost to history, as everyone tells this legend differently. In Selenaria, they say they were one of the first moon-priests, and one of their nighthound guardians. In Cestia, an Alatian mountain-man and a retired wardog. In the Crescent, a Telirvéss aman-ship captain and his water-dog. And on the steles that record the Hal!ast Fragments, he hunts with a lone wolven ancestor while the Winter of Nightmares howls around them…”
“And in the Deeping?”
“Here in the Deeping, we know that all these legends are true. Fundamentally.”
“Regardless, man and bandal lived a long and full life together, whether it was guarding the lost moon-temples of Iselené, hunting and mining, trading and raiding, or finding food and warmth amid disaster; true partners in life, sharing plenty and lack, joy and sorrow, mélith. But time gnaws at us all, and few shrug it off as our kind does, and with the passage of years, the bandal was the first of them to die.”
“And soon thereafter, amid the dark waters and leafless white trees of the Fugue, under its misty skies, the spirit of the bandal approached the gate of the Twilight City, and the exarch Ivrél, the guardian of that gate, spoke, saying ‘You have no place here, spirit; the Fugue is not for you, nor yet the city. Return to the Moil set aside for you, and rebirth.’ But the spirit of the bandal made no answer, and sat itself down to wait before the gate.”
“And Ivrél spoke again, saying, ‘By Heaven’s law, you may not enter here. Get you gone from this threshold!’ And the bandal‘s growl rumbled in the air, shaking the leafless trees and setting the still waters to trembling.”
“And Ivrél, whose strength was undefeatable for so long as he stood on the City’s threshold, did not press the matter further.”