Once upon a time, the great god Nehran looked down upon the world and saw that he took no delight in it. This saddened Nehran, for he had loved his creation. But time and responsibility had made him too weary to see its beauty any longer. This was painful to Nehran, so he determined to withdraw until such a time as he could look on the world he had made with love once more.
Now, Nehran knew he could not leave the world with no one to care for it, but he had also learned all that he had taken on for himself was too heavy a burden for one alone to bear. So, he gathered all his children to him and divided his duties amongst them. To Airini he gave to the Sun and to Rinne the Moon. To Sileann he gave the rivers and to Daigh the untamed oceans. Dophry he set to guard the gates of the Underworld and Aio he charged with guiding lost spirits home. All his children were given a task suited to their skills and temperament and all pledged to be faithful until Nehran returned. At last, there was only one more task to be set. To Liom, most fickle and capricious of his children, Nehran gave charge of the Weather.
The last of his powers discharged, Nehran withdrew and left the care of the world in the hands of his many children, content they would look after all that he had made. With Nehran gone, the new gods set to their work and found what there was to love and what there was to hate within the work their father had given each of them.
Liom, who had dreaded the responsibility Nehran would force on him, instead found that he loved his new realm. He delighted in the winds, gloried in the rain and even remarked upon the splendor of Airini's sunlight when he allowed it to fall unimpeded. For many years he traveled the world Nehran had made and laughed at all the silly mortals as they wondered at every change in the wind, every bout of rain, every hint of unexpected sunshine. They should know by now, he thought to himself, that they cannot predict me.
One day, looking down from the clouds he had called to rest upon, Liom saw a Lady within a walled garden, smiling up at the sky he had filled with leaden clouds. Liom was bemused, for no mortal had ever smiled at his clouds. He left that day to seek other sights, other amusements, but the changeable Liom, found himself drawn back to walled garden. She was beautiful, this Lady, Liom decided, even more beautiful than his sister Anstine whose business it was to be so. Liom roamed far across the wide world as ever, but he had now a place to return to. Even if it was only a cloud, or a wind, or a drop of rain over a small, walled garden.
Anstine, who had heard her brother claiming there was a mortal more beautiful than she, visited Liom one afternoon as he watched the Lady read in a shaft of sunlight he had graciously allowed her.
"Her name is Oireann," Anstine said. "She is the daughter of the king who rules here."
"Oireann," Liom, repeated. It was a good name he decided. "How do you know her name Anstine?"
The goddess shrugged, sending her golden hair rippling. "I listened to the conversation in the castle." She turned to regard Oireann with Liom. "She is lovely, but not so lovely as I. You have been misleading the others with your wild stories again, Liom."
"She is beautiful," Liom insisted. "You are only jealous."
Expecting his sister to be angry, Liom was startled when Anstine smiled, slow and sly. "You are in love with her."
"What?" Liom turned to his sister, aghast.
"You are in love with that mortal. Why else would you return to this drab little garden to watch her? Do not make me call Cularin to prove I'm right."
Liom grimaced at the mention of their doe-eyed younger brother. "She is a ... strange mortal. But I am not in love with her."
"She smiles at clouds."
"You smile at clouds," Anstine pointed out.
"I am not a mortal."
Anstine shrugged and left to find her own amusements.
Liom frowned and considered Anstine's strange assertion. He twitched a hand and a breeze sprang past Oireann so she lifted her face from the book. For just an instant it was as though she was gazing straight at Liom where he rested, invisible to her. It was ludicrous, really. What god would love a mortal?
And yet, Liom found himself drifting closer whenever he returned, to hear what Oireann might say; to her father, her siblings, to the women who attended her.
Those conversations were strange and interesting and full of mortal things Liom had no comprehension of. Soon, overheard moments were no longer enough. Liom wanted to speak with Oireann himself. But, as a god, he could not appear before a mortal unless he was called.
So Liom determined to make Oireann call out to him.
First, Liom summoned clouds and hung them about the castle. It was fitting, he thought, since clouds were what first called his attention to her. He left them for days, then weeks, casting a grey pall over the castle. Though the other mortals complained, Oireann only cast the occasional absent smile upwards. Bemused, Liom crafted instead a fierce storm. It howled around the towers, pelted the stone walls, rattled the glass windows, broke branches from the trees and tore the heads from the flowers in the garden. The mortals of the castle cowered and pleaded. Oireann regretted the destruction, but in her secret heart she loved the wildness of Liom's storm and instead of cowering, sat by her fire and listened to it shake her windows and batter her walls. Annoyed by his second failure, Liom next carried a wind from the southern deserts and set it to blow through every room in the castle. It found Oireann immediately where she sat in the grand hall, and tore the jeweled pins from her hair, scattering them about her father's somber ministers like stray flower petals.
Surely, Liom thought, Surely now she will have something to say to me. But Oireann instead smiled and laughed.
Again and again Liom tried to force Oireann to call out to him but every attempt failed for Oireann, like Liom, truly enjoyed all the varied forms of weather he brought and would complain of none of them. At last, Liom was exhausted by his efforts and had to concede defeat. He would not get to speak with his fascinating mortal and so he left in a sulk to find something else to occupy his mind.
When he returned, for even having failed he could not stay away, Liom found Oireann weeping in the walled garden. He drifted closer on a breath of wind and learned from her attendants that Oireann was to be married in three days time to a nobleman named Maith who had recently found favor with the King.
Liom frowned. It did not seem right, for Oireann to be married to this other mortal. Liom looked for Maith, and found him to be a large creature, with hard eyes and rough hands. He wore metal like cloth, he neither laughed nor smiled and was casually cruel to his many attendants. No, Liom decided. Oireann could not be married to this ... man.
But he was still bound by his father Nehran's laws. He could neither appear before nor interfere with any mortal if they did not first call him. For the first time in his long life, Liom felt powerless.
There was one thing left to try, but Liom had no guarantee that it would coax Oireann - who had never opened her mouth to curse or praise or cajole any god - to do what storms and winds and clouds could not.
For the next three days Liom gave the castle perfect, beautiful weather. And with each bright, clear dawn, Oireann grew paler and more withdrawn. Her attendants fussed around her and a gown was made; pure white froth that floated around Oireann like air. Ribbons were tried and discarded, jewels polished and flowers arranged. The king's halls were hung with garlands and Maith's metal clothes shone.
On the day of the wedding, Oireann woke silently. She was silent as she allowed her attendants to dress her in the frothy gown and remained silent as they coiled and pinned her hair and painted and powdered her face. She left her room and dismissed her attendants with a wave of her hand. Silently she stood in the walled garden and stared at the blue of the sky.
"Why," Oirrean, whispered. "Why are you clear now? Why can you not give me a wind or a storm or a - a cloud." Her voice broke on a sob. " A single cloud. I am sure he would not allow himself to be married if there were clouds, if it were not perfect."
Her knees bent and she sat on the stone bench where she liked to read, dirtying her gown as tears made a mess of her face.
The sound of her name being called, made her look up. A man stood in the garden where it had once been empty, dark of hair with bright, shifting eyes.
"My name is Liom. I am a god. And I love you."