Cranky. That’s the word best describing the Lord of the Spires. Harnor resembled the stereotypical wizard, stooped and bent over, holding the staff Sidarius, wearing grey robes, a long point hat, and a permanent scowl. Picture Gandalf the Grey after a bad bout of hemorrhoids.
I never met Harnor, but sometimes it felt like I had. Tarik spoke about Harnor in such detail, you’d have thought he actually knew his grandfather, but he never met the crotchety old fart. Tarik did have the benefit (some would call it a curse) of growing up in the Grove under the tutelage of his parents, the three Harnae. For the record, they did have names – Atar, Nim and Harrah – though others usually just called them “the Harnae” or “the Triad”, like they were one person instead of three.
Tarik was Harnor’s grandson and, I’d liked to tease, a mistake. The Harnae were never meant to have him. When Deridean was planning the Elder Races, Harnor lobbied to include Dragons. The Lord of the Spires imagined them as great flying sorcerers, wielding the power of the Spires like no others, but Deridean said nope, sorry, no room for them Harny, catch you later and Finbardin would not override him. When the time came, Deridean said, Harnor was to stir in his gifts (language and sorcery) then step back and let Deridean do the cooking.
So, Harnor tried to backdoor it and made the first dragons gods instead of an Elder Race, but that backfired on him when the Seeress pronounced her doom over Dracorys and Davyrma. Still, Harnor got in the last word when he ladled the unauthorized Harnae out of the Pool of Life. They looked almost Elven, but without slanted eyes or pointed ears. They almost looked, dare I say it, human! Finbardin couldn’t put them back in the Pool, what is done cannot be undone, but he could punish Harnor by ordering Lillandra to withhold her gift so no Harnae would follow Atar, Nim and Harrah. Aerdran had had it up to here with Harnor’s antics and refused to bestow his gift upon the Harnae too. As far as he was concerned, if Harnor thought earthsong cheap magik, then his children could survive just fine without it.
The incident at the Pool was just one in a long string of difficulties between Harnor and the other Craeylu. They’d been feuding off and on since just about day one and Harnor started most of them with his insults. There’s just no other way to say it – he was a bigot. He was irascible and intolerant and infuriatingly intelligent. He built the Spires of Thought to capture light coming through the Girdle from the Flame and transform it into arcane energy that would be like a high protein shake to Sangrar’s sorcerers. Afterwards, he strutted like a peacock, crowing about the many miracles sorcerers would perform, all of which was fine and dandy, until he took things too far by refusing to acknowledge any other power.
The first hint of Harnor’s total disdain for Spirit’s magik came at the end of the Battle of Molten Fire, when Nyllen first sang music into the scarred earth. The other gods all marveled at earthsong, but not Harnor. He studied the ruins of Erlik’s retreat rather than listen. That wasn’t the worst of it though, he sank even lower with his reaction to the World Walker. Annumbra returned to Heaven after wrapping Erlik and the Darkhold in chains of earthsong. Sangrar free of Sorrow until love gone wrong and all Harnor could say was “cheap magik”.
Those two words summed up Tarik’s feelings on earthsong too. Cut rate, second tier, sideshow material, that’s all it was to Harnor. Never mind the miracle of Annumbra’s world walking. Forget the prayers channeled in the Stones. Ignore the wonder of Earthmagery, none of them made a difference. To Tarik, they were just parlor tricks. Why? Because he was a bigot, just like his grandfather. Harnor thought sorcery the ultimate power in the Girdle and passed his beliefs on to his children, and the Harnae passed them on to him.
My friend’s prejudice was so deeply engrained that he couldn’t see it. He’d regularly put down earthsong as a second tier power, or the gods shepherding it as second class citizens by repeating his grandfather’s famous insult and think nothing of it. During our debates in my Arvon apartment, he’d try to convince me that earthsong didn’t even count as magik, but he argued with emotion, not evidence or fact.
Throughout the Years of Glory, the Harnae stayed put in their little slice of Heaven, the Grove of the Silver Birch, and when I call the grove a slice of Heaven, I mean it, literally. The silver birch wasn’t really a birch tree, it was a Sildar transplanted from the Singing Forest in Heaven and it glowed with light stemming from Arra, not the Three Suns. The Harnae only left the grove three times that I know of. Once, to rescue Nammath after his battle with Karandal. If not for them, Nammath would have lost more than his arm, but thanks to their timely interference, he escaped and, on the only happy note from that day, gained a new talent, far travelling, which came in handy more than once.
The second time was during the BUN, after Kandol came to the grove and begged them to help. After Erlik Darkened the Suns, the grove was the only place on Sangrar still lit because the light in the grove came from Arra, which for the time being remained beyond One-Eye’s reach. At first, the Harnae were reluctant to leave because their spells were keeping darkness from swallowing the grove and those spells might fail if they weren’t there.
Tarik provided an explanation for their hesitation. If the Dark Lord was victorious, the Harnae might have rebooted everything so long as light remained in the grove, but if they left and the light failed, then all bets were off. Even then, when the fate of the world was hanging by a thread, the Harnae couldn’t resist taking a dig at Spirit’s magik. They reminded Kandol that though the Stones had fallen, the Traitor’s treachery hadn’t affected the Spires in the least and they retained all their power. Kandol had known that, doh! He was a sorcerer too, trained in the grove by the Harnae themselves and knew as well as them that the Spires still functioned, but he pretended to be impressed (I never told that part to Tarik) and then asked if a starving man came upon food should he save it for later, just in case he survived. The Harnae laughed and said of course not, so Kandol told them to get their butts in gear and lend what aid they could or there might not be a world left worth saving. Kandol clinched it by invoking the Balance. He said that the Necessity demanded their help, that only they could counter the Erlikarrin.
Kandol never knew it, but the Harnae weren’t persuaded to leave entirely by his oratorical skill. They’d had another visitor to the grove earlier in the form of Kandol’s brother, Nammath. The Forest Elf, as the Dark Ones called the one-armed warrior, had come a calling beforehand and told the Harnae to expect his brother and to listen to what he’d say. Tarik told me all this later, over shots of his favorite brandy. Despite everything, the Harnae might have stayed in the grove if not for Ren. Kandol brought his friend with him to the grove. The little rabbit hopped out of Kandol’s pocket and when Nim saw him, she took it as a sign that she, Atar and Harrah were meant to leave the grove, and once Nim made up her mind, Atar and Harrah inevitably came around to her way of thinking.
With their help, the siege at Nammovalle was broken and Morkanis the god-brute vanquished. Then Numra Rekindled the Suns and day returned to the world, breaking the unending night. For their efforts, Lillandra rewarded the Harnae with a gift card they could redeem for that whatever they most wanted, and that is how Tarik came to be born.
Some said that uttering “cheap moment” was Harnor’s defining moment, but they were channelers and Earthmages eager to show that they could give as good as they could take. The truth is, Harnor did a lot for the Elder Races and later for Mankind. Without him and the Spires, sorcery would never have taken off like it did. Sorcery was as common in the Elder Days as fast food is to you. Everyone relied on it, for everything. The world was full of Mickey Mouses playing sorcerer’s apprentice and for those with talent and training, Esel was the limit, and it was all because of Harnor.
During the Age of Man, sorcery wasn’t as widespread. Not many could tap the Spires and those who did went through the Towers of Sorcery, which Harnor erected during the Reckoning. The Towers lowered the voltage flowing from the Spires, making them safe for humanity‘s frailer sorcerers. The Spires were what made it all possible, as sorcerers discovered when the Long Night drew near. Time flowed funny there at the end. In Heaven, not much time elapsed between the Spires toppling and the Gates of Heaven crumbling, but on Sangrar years went by during which sorcery slowly unraveled. Most of those practicing magik went mad, not delusional, megalomaniacal mad like the God-Emperor, more like your stark raving, foam at the lips mad, and not many emerged from the rabbit hole.
Language came from Harnor too and I think that a more potent gift than sorcery, but what would you expect from a writer and someone who taught at Colcester for more than thirty years? When the Firstborn landed at Jahar, they all knew the same language. Over time, some races put their own twist on the ancient tongue. Of the languages existing during the Age of Man, the Elvish spoken at Pel Aesylle most resembled it. Elvish was the most widely spoken tongue in the Elder Days and most modern Sangrarian languages were based on it.
Harnor’s name was known everywhere in the Age of Man, in every nation on every continent. He had a few temples here and there, small affairs for the most part, but that’s understandable. “God of Magik” wasn’t broad enough to attract hordes of devoted followers. As Lord of the Spires, he was right up the alley of the pointy-hatted folk, but most wizards (wizard, sorcerer, whatever, there weren’t many of them no matter what you call them) didn’t have strong religious inclinations. Harnor really made a splash as the patron of learning. You could find his name plastered all over the walls of every school, library, or place of higher learning.