Nursal

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Nursal is a mythological hero from Dingirran legend, symbolizing many of the qualities Dingirrans consider important: courage in the face of seemingly impossible tasks, the ability to rise above your station, and most of all, the will to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals.

There are several hundred stories about Nursal, and Dingirran storytellers are probably making up new ones all the time to entertain their audience, but the oldest three of these both establish him as a character and serve as a world creation myth.

In "The Tale Of The Boy Who Listened", there is no world yet, just the stars and the cold black void between them. To entertain themselves, the gods throw a few of the stars through the void, and as they collide and shatter, from the shards the first men are born. They live in the eternal cold darkness between the stars, afraid to approach any of them because the gods might fling the stars at them if they see them in the light. All the men are nameless, since no one ever gave them a name.

Among the men, there is one boy who is different. He is not afraid of the gods, and the next time he sees them throwing stars around, he sneaks up on them and listens to what they are saying. He finds out that the gods are only throwing the stars around out of boredom, not malice, and that they are actually only looking for some entertainment. He also hears them refer to each other by name, which is a concept so alien to him that he cannot understand it, and to understand it better, he steals a few pieces from the gods' names, little enough for them not to notice, and crafts the name "Nursal" for himself.

With this name, he returns to the other men, who stand in wonder at the now named boy and his story, and allow him to give them names too, which he now can, since he has a name of his own.

"The Tale Of Nursal And The Believers" directly continues the story. After Nursal has told them of the gods and given them names, the men are sitting in council over what to do now. As Nursal is not yet of age, he isn't allowed to speak before them but is granted permission to stay with the council as they are making their decisions.

One of the council, an elderly man Nursal named Min el-Mout (which is Old Dingirran and loosely translates to "afraid of death") suggests going before the gods and trying to appease them because if they can be provided them with the entertainment they want, they may offer the men protection in return. Nursal, even though he is not allowed to, raises his voice thrice during Min el-Mout's speech and tries to convince him that this is a bad idea, but the elders do not listen to him and eventually, after the third time he has raised his voice, throw him out.

Seeing how foolish they are, Nursal decides to leave the other men and goes looking for another place to live between the stars. In order not to get lost, he builds a road out of stardust behind him (the Milky Way) and sets out for new grounds, but, even though he searches the entire sky, he cannot find a place for himself, nor any other creatures. Upon realizing this, he sits down and cries, singing the song "I searched between the stars but found nothing but myself" (a popular lullaby in Dingirra even today).

Disappointed, Nursal returns to the other men only to find that they have indeed went to the gods and offered to entertain them. Unfortunately, the gods took that offer, and while they allowed the men to live close to the stars, they are now forcing them to fight against one another for their entertainment. Still, the men are convinced that they are doing the right thing, because if they can prove that their devotion to one god or another is great enough, that god will certainly bless them with good things. Nursal sees this is foolish and no matter what god they follow, they will all be asked to kill one another, but when he tries to convince the other men to stop their follies, the gods catch him in the act.

Angry that he tried to sway their followers from them and even angrier that he stole his name from them, the gods throw Nursal to his fellow men and tell him to fight them too, only giving him a curved knife to defend himself. However, Nursal doesn't fight; instead, he uses the knife to cut a hole into the sky and escape through that hole. He leaves behind the knife, and the gods curse the knife for allowing Nursal to escape, forcing it to constantly change shape and lose and regain its edge so that no one ever uses it again. Thus, the moon is created.

With Nursal gone, the gods are angry at the men for not being able to kill him. They leave the sky, forever disappearing into a new world they are creating. Once again, the men are left to their own devices, in the void between the stars.

The world-creation myth is completed in "The Tale Of Nursal And The Four Djinns". The story describes how Nursal, after escaping behind the sky, finds himself at the border of four great new worlds, the worlds of fire, earth, air and water. He adventures into each of the worlds hoping to find a new home but comes to the conclusion that none of the worlds is inhabitable: the world of earth is cold and dead as a grave, the world of fire burns his feet, the world of water nearly drowns him, and the world of air is torn by winds that throw him around.

Eventually, he realized that the four worlds are each governed by a Djinn, a powerful elemental spirit. To his surprise, the Djinns are good friends even though they are so different from each other. He comes to the conclusion that a union of all four elements will be in such a perfect balance that it will make a new home for him.

To find out whether he is right, he goes to each of the Djinns and steals a large wealth of their elements from them. He goes unnoticed by the Djinns of Air, Earth and Water, but the Djinn of Fire sees him when he's stealing from him and immediately calls the other Djinns. All four come together and surround Nursal, asking him what he is doing. When Nursal explains himself, the Djinns of Air, Earth and Fire praise him for his ingenuity. Unfortunately, the Djinn of Fire is still enraged and throws more fire at Nursal. Nursal dodges the attack, which burns a hole into the ground, and Nursal quickly slips out through this hole, finding himself on this side of the sky again, between the stars.

Nursal continues with his plan, combining all four elements, and from this union, the world is created. As the men see this new world, they come to it, thinking that the gods have forgiven them and made it for them. Nursal tells them the truth, but only a few believe him. Most simply call him a liar and start populating the world, still believing and worshipping their gods. Nursal finally sees that they don't want to know the truth and decides to build a house for himself on the world he made, far from other people. Only the few who believe him make their homes close to him.

Unfortunately, the Djinn of Fire has followed him to this side of the sky. Seeing how Nursal has built himself a house on the world he made from the stolen element, the Djinn curses the fire on the world to burn and injure anyone who touches it. Then, as his final act of revenge, he creates a large ball of fire directly above Nursal's house so that Nursal and those who believed him have to live in perpetual heat. Thus, the large desert where Dingirra stands today is created.

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