When the Dara Happans decree that a dome be erected over the empire, the horse nobles of Nivorah say no. Hyalor, champion of the city's cavalry, rides to the sky to find the tablets that will show his people a new way of life outside its walls.
Elmal's wife, Nivorah, had finally died. The walls and streets of what had once been a living city were now her mausoleum. Elmal was gone, off on a quest to restore the sun's warmth, when bells rang and drums boomed. A procession entered the city, sent by the throne of Dara Happa. As always the legates of the ineffective Emperor came to us when we were starving, and offered to feed us only nonsense.
Manarlavus the Emperor had proclaimed himself the Roofer. He would build-meaning everyone else would build for him- a dome over the entirety of the empire. It would be an egg, from which later generations would hatch, when the ice was gone. This was the sort of idiocy imperials spouted as the world grew dark. The chief legate, Avilraru, demanded to know who was in charge in Elmal's absence.
Avilraru said "When will you start building?"
Together Hyalor and Samnal replied, "All we will make for Manarlavus is your headstone."
"And not a very good one at that," Samnal added.
Hyalor was surprised, for Samnal was not normally given to witticisms. But then this was not a normal time.
When his first ambassador returned to him in shame, Manarlavus sent another. This one said that Manarlavus would curse the name of our god, which would never again be remembered.
"Our god is Elmal, and will always be Elmal" Hyalor and Samnal said together. "And he will never be forgotten."
When the emperor's second ambassador found us no more pliant, the demons of Alkoth cried for war. But the Emperor restrained them, fearing what would happen when the Riders and Wheels were united.
Hyalor said "The Emperor may not come for us, but the ice surely will."
"My charioteers will not budge from this place," Samnal said.
And so again, after a time of brief accord, the two were at odds. The Wheels convinced themselves they could stay and withstand enemies forever, and nothing would ever really change.
We knew there was nothing left worth fighting for.
But how would we live, away from our city? Would Hyalor, who still looked a hundred and fifty years younger than he really was, become our king? If not, who would lead us, and how would we choose him? How would he be advised? How would we remember who we were, and what would we become? What would we eat, how would we make war, what would our laws be?
Hyalor said these answers would only be found in the Sky World. He told us to pack everything we owned, then throw most of it away. Take only the things we would need to survive in the wilderness. Then he climbed onto Gamari's back and rode into the sky.
We were confused, until Ostalar, descendant of Hyalor from his second wife's line, came forward and told us what to take and what to leave. Thus he became Ostalar the Sorter, our first chieftain.
Ostalar chose six advisors to carry his instructions to everyone. From each of Hyalor's six bloodlines he picked one person. He picked women as well as men, which we found strange, until he said we would have to rely on everyone's wisdom from now on. The advisors stood in a circle to speak with him, so our council became known as a circle.
By the time Ostalar was ready to go, we wondered if Hyalor would ever come back, or had been slain in the Gods War.
Meanwhile the Wheels had done nothing but ready themselves for another fight.
Ostalar was bout to give the order to depart when Hyalor rode down from the sky, atop Gamari. In his hand he held a golden tablet. "It contains the rules of your new lives, which you will need to survive," Hyalor said.
"Are you our king?"
"Riders never will have kings," Hyalor said. "Kings will get big heads, and try stupid things, like covering the empire in an eggshell. Instead Riders will learn to think for themselves. This tablet contains your freedom."
And so we clamored to see it, and he smiled, and turned it around.
Both sides were blank.
Immediately we understood. In this new freedom, we would make our own rules.
We departed the dead city to the rumble of approaching ice.
The Wheels realized they could not withstand the ice wall and fled in haste. A ravening brood of Rams intercepted them on the way out, costing them lives and treasure.
And that shows how we prepared for a new life with new rules, and how they cling tight to as many old ways s they can, even when those customs prove as ungainly as their dreadful carts.
When we were well clear of the doomed city, Hyalor gave the tablet to Ostalar.
When the One Clan split into Four, each chieftain rode to the sky with Hyalor to get a new tablet.
When the South Clan split into five clans, those chiefs rode into the sky to find Hyalor for a tablet
On the third split, our ancestors did this again, and here is the <Your clan name> tablet. Still glowing with our freedom.