World Walker is a pretty grandiose title to live up to, but Annumbra managed just fine. Most people who care about these things think of the Earth Mother first when they think of the Stones, but really the credit belongs to Annumbra. Without her, there wouldn’t have been an Earth Mother. Annumbra was third in the succession of gods with dominion over earthsong. Spirit was first, she set the ley lines into the world and though her magik didn’t hum with music, it was potent nonetheless. After her came Lillandra and Aerdran, who took up one spot on the roster between them. They studied the ley lines with Spirit and learned as much as they could from afar. Annumbra was next and she learned from Lillandra and Aerdran and also from Majestrix, but Aerdran taught her the most important lesson. After Annumbra came the Earth Mother, last and most remembered in earthsong’s succession.
When Annumbra was born, Majestrix asked to hold her, but Finbardin was mad at her for snatching Erlik away after the Battle of Molten Fire. Handing over his daughter to his mother was the last thing in the world (or Heaven) he wanted to do, but how could he refuse, she was his mother and the mother of the gods! The golden one did as commanded, but when he put Annumbra in her arms, he called her Majestrix, not Mother, that’s how angry he was, and the tighter she held Annumbra, the more he hugged Numra.
Majestrix proved a better grandmother than mother and a special bond developed between her and Annumbra. Annumbra went often to Tar-Devalle, where Majestrix tutored her in Spirit’s magik. Never mind that Majestrix had been holed up in Tar-Devalle most of the time, she knew everything there was to know about the ley lines and then some. You couldn’t keep anything from her. Finbardin hated it. He thought his mother a bad influence and didn’t want his daughter spending so much time with her, but Deridean kept him so busy reviewing plans for the Elder Races that Annumbra had nowhere else to turn. Majestrix always made time for her. Abandoned by her mother, having a distant father and cared for by an aging grandmother, it’s a miracle Annumbra turned out as well as she did.
Under her grandmother’s tutelage, Annumbra became familiar with each ley line and learned the notes and chords issuing from every intersection, but eventually listening from afar frustrated her. She could only take things so far while stuck in Heaven. To become the ley lines’ true mistress, she had to journey to Sangrar, but the Ban prevented her.
It took Aerdran to find a way through the impasse. As I’ve mentioned before, he was quiet but oh so sharp. Luckily, Lillandra was nearby and able to translate his flashes of thunder and lightning for Annumbra. Employing the same logic he used with his rabbits, he argued that the Ban didn’t apply to her since she wasn’t Craeylu. Annumbra agreed, on the merits she said, predisposition had nothing to do with it and then it hit her. Majestrix had known all along what Aerdran would propose.
What she didn’t know was that Majestrix had ulterior motives. Her grandmother had known Aerdran would find an excuse letting Annumbra come to Sangrar and that was just fine with her. Secretly, she hoped granddaughter and Erlik would meet and fall for one another. Erlik had been alone in the Darkhold for some time, and like any mother, Majestrix worried.
When she landed on Sangrar, Annumbra reached out to Spirit’s magik right away, which didn’t go unnoticed by Erlik. One-Eye was building his strength in the Darkhold in the center of the world, which at that time was his stronghold, not his prison, and didn’t appreciate the intrusion. Since the Battle of Molten Fire, the gods had left him alone. He lashed out with shadow and taunted Annumbra that soon she’d follow her uncle Lindivar into death. The fact that she was his enemy’s daughter, the offspring of golden Finbardin who had taken his eye, made it all the more delectable. Erlik’s first salvo pretty much torpedoed any chance for a happy ending between those two and sunk Majestrix’s plans.
But Annumbra was no pushover. She’d learned from the best of them and could manipulate the ley lines like no other. When she called, they answered and Annumbra used them to wrap the Darkhold in chains of earthsong. She held the ley lines in the palm of her hand like they were reins of power and walked the earth seven times, sealing Erlik tighter with each orbit. By the time she’d finished walking the world, she’d shunted the entire Darkhold to a fold within the Girdle that both was and wasn’t part Sangrar. Spirit’s magik now formed a wall between the worlds and Annumbra was now the World Walker. I know I shouldn’t admit this, but every time I pound out the phrase “World Walker” on my keyboard, I hear the song from Wheel of Fortune playing in my head. You know the one I’m talking about … the one that keeps repeating “wheel watcher” over and over.
Annumbra wasn’t content to stop her handiwork there. Whereever ley lines intersected, they formed a nexus of power. She topped off the nexuses (I thought the plural was nexi, which sounds better, but nope, it’s nexuses) with rings of Stones to keep the wards strong. The ley lines were ribbons wrapping One-Eye into a package, and the Stones were bows, neat knots to keep the surprise from spilling out. Leyrantha was the most famous, but just one of the hundreds of rings of Stones Annumbra raised across the face of Sangrar. The number of Stones at each nexus depended on how many ley lines intersected – the largest nexus had the most Stones. Where geography didn’t cooperate, Annumbra grew creative. In the seas, an unseen hand guided her to the great coral reefs, which she transformed into Stones. Deep in the mountains, she raised more Stones but left the centers empty for the Forge Folk to fill later.
Imprisoning Erlik in the Darkhold was a major step in the right direction as far as the other gods in Heaven were concerned. Finbardin was upset that his daughter had defied the Ban and worried about what punishment Father Zuras might hand down, but there was none. Zuras did, however, amend the Ban, this time making sure there weren’t any loopholes for Aerdran to exploit. The only one in Heaven upset with her was Majestrix. The Primal didn’t care that she’d broken the Ban (she’d wanted that all along and besides, Zuras had enacted the Ban, not her), but was furious that Annumbra had used her teachings against Erlik, which told Annumbra that while her grandmother’s love for her was true, she’d always take second place behind Erlik.
It ended with Majestrix disowning Annumbra. Disgusted with the lot of them, Annumbra quit Heaven and went to live in Belecontar the Winking Star with the Lady of Esel, and she stayed there until the end of days.