Long ago in the time before the Lords, there was wise king in the lands of the north.
She ruled well and protected her people from both invaders and the villains from within.
Her people loved her and the gods blessed the name of King Slange.
Like many powerful monarchs, she struggled to find a suitable helpmeet, a man who would support both her and her kingdom and be able to provide her with an heir.
Many men approached her, but none could be what she and her people needed from a consort. Some were good commanders but little else, some were lovers who lacked the skills to rule, many sought to take her power, and many more were entirely unqualified.
A sad few, though, they were good men with strong spirits and warm hearts, but could not provide the heirs Slange and her people needed.
Heart broken after turning away another of these suitors, Slange petitioned the gods of her people.
She asked not for the perfect helpmeet, but for heirs, resigned as she was to that man not existing and wishing to no longer have to turn good men away.
The gods listened, and two descended in the form of animals, offering to give her children to bear.
Both wished for the child they granted to be her heir, but Slange was as fair to gods as she was to men, she asked to bear both children as twins and would choose her successor from between them.
The gods agreed, each confident that their child would be fit to rule Slange's kingdom.
Using their magic, they granted Slange the gift of motherhood.
The people rejoiced the announcement of her quickening, and a great feast of many days was prepared for the birth of the twins.
When they blessed day came, the first born of the twins was a son Slange named Svan, and she named his sister Alga.
The children grew to be healthy and strong, and Slange was happy in her motherhood.
As the twins learned to read and write, a man came to court who caught Slange's eye.
He was a handsome man who was also wise and caring, and saw no issue with opposing Slange when he did not agree with her.
She grew more attracted to him by the day, and one day she invited him to her private chambers for a meal.
As they ate and drank, she confessed her interest in him, and he replied that he too was attracted to her. He'd come to her court out of admiration and had since, he believed, fallen in love.
The two began a short and passionate courtship and it seemed to all that knew them that they would be wed within the year.
The seasons changed, and much sooner than before, Slange felt the quickening.
Before the sun set, the father gods of Svan and Alga descended in animal form once again to confront the pair.
They spoke of betrayal and lies, not of Slange, but of her paramour. For he was a god in disguise.
The lie cut Slange deep.
The father gods of Svan and Alga presented the god with an ultimatum from their king, either the god was to return to heaven and never return to Slange's side, or he could give up his godly powers and status to live along men.
In a heartbeat, the god gave up everything, becoming the man that Slange had believed he was.
This act of sacrifice proved to Slange that he never wished to hurt her and she felt that she could forgive him.
The father gods of Svan and Alga left them, their task completed.
Once the pain of the lie had faded, the pair wed, their honeymoon blessed with Slange's third child. A son she named Earn.
For many years the family lived happily, until the twins showed signs of adulthood, it was then that they began to compete for their role as heir. The following years saw their competition turn to rivalry and then to fighting.
Slange and her husband tried to stem their conflict, but by the time Earn had earned his manhood it had become irreconcilable.
Svan and Alga could barely stand the sight of each other and their skills in war and rule were evenly matched.
Slange could not choose either of them to take her throne, and her promise to their father gods prevented her from taking the suggestion of Svan and Alga themselves and select Earn as her heir.
Instead she split the kingdom between them, into the land of Alga bordered by Svan's kingdom.
With no land of his own, and wishing not to choose between his beloved brother and sister, Earn struck out his own path west.
Over the sea he found an island of two nations, with kings who fought and warred constantly, with his experience gained from serving his mother and the fights of his siblings, Earn began to create his own kingdom. He took lands as payment for fighting the northern king for the western one, and his people prospered as they claimed the land.
Before long, he rose and army of his own and pit the kings against each other enough to take as much land as he could before he began to push them back to the north and the west. His success continued until the terrain prevented his expansion to the north and the sharp bite of magic to the west.
His mother, father and siblings were proud of his accomplishments, and Slange lived out her life the mother of three kings.
Her fate was not the one she had wished and hoped for, but she could not have been happier with it.
This story is incredibly old, it was old even at the time of the arrival of the Lords, an event recorded as happening two and half thousand years ago.
The scholars of the Slangebarn believe that the spirit of the story is true, that there was a group named the Slange and it split into the Svani, Algmen and Earnmen, with the latter striking out to establish a kingdom between the borders of Damhtir and Maharentir.