*This is a myth from my novel, expanded for your enjoyment. Birds in Mulnaran culture are sacred; this myth explains why.*
Long ago, when humans still had their tails and the newly born world spun quickly in her path, the Great Heron looked down on creation with the waters of the earth in his eyes and sorrow in his heart. He was yet a god then, pleased with all he and the other gods had brought to life. But one new form had fallen away from them: mankind.
The Great Ape had given mankind their long arms and legs, to move quickly on land, or in the trees, or in the world's large waters. The Great Fox had given them brilliant minds, to create beautiful things and speak beautiful thoughts. And the Great Heron himself gave them a light in their spirits, for though man may never fly on his own, they would always look to the heavens and dream of being more than they are.
So did the gods bless mankind, and mankind was grateful. But much time passed, and things once passed from parent to child were slowly forgotten; the history of the world fell aside. Mankind recalled the Great Ape, who gave them their limbs and silent strength. Mankind remembered the Great Fox, who blessed them with knowledge and cunning. But their spirits were lost among the years in a rush of tears and darkness.
So did mankind revoke the Great Heron.
This god was benevolent in his understanding. The creatures he had blessed most had forgotten whence their blessings came, but he knew this was not their intent. The past is often forgotten, even now, because we are blessed with a multitude of happenings. And so the Great Heron did not punish mankind, who still remembered a heron was a sign of great blessings to come.
In time, these beings began to do unknowing evil. Being human, they sought nourishment, previously sought only on the earth and in the water, as taught by the Great Heron. But blessed as mankind was to look ever beyond themselves, they sought their food in the birds of the air, which in those days were still few.
These birds, blessed by the Great Heron to attain a different lightness, cried out to their creator. "Oh father of all birds," they begged, "your creation, mankind, takes us down from the sky to fill their bellies. Our numbers dwindle and they will destroy us if nothing is done. Protect your creation!"
Now the Great Heron dwelled over the water, where the whale-road stretched for miles in all directions. He heard the call of the birds from so very far away, and he traveled. From his flight high in the air, he saw a careless hunter down below, who took aim with his bow and shot the Great Heron. He shot the Great Heron, who had given him cause to look up in the beginning, when mankind was still new.
When the hunter realized what he had done, he was overcome with grief and sadness. The Great Heron told this man the history of creation again in the moment before his death, as gods are able to do, and the hunter was saddened at how much had been forgotten.
The Great Heron did not fall to the ground, as other birds had done. He was imprinted in the sky, a symbol in the stars to forever remind the hunter and his kind where they came from, so they would never forget again. And mankind vowed never to hunt the birds of the air again - for wasn't it their beautiful flight mankind sought for themselves?
So now does mankind remember the light in their spirit, and seek to become more than they are.