There was a time long ago when sparrows had no personal names. They all addressed one another as “Sparrow,” which caused no end of confusion; in fact, legend held that sparrows did not flock in those days but were strictly solitary, never associating with one another save to bear young. The elders spoke of these as dark days, when four-leg and two-leg predators had their way and no sparrow stood a chance once it had attracted their baleful gaze.

Then the hero known as Ellw discovered the secret to personal names, to telling one sparrow from another, and flocking together for protection in numbers from the four-legs and the two-legs. The tales disagreed as to how Ellw came upon these secrets, and the storytellers were usually at pains to share the different interpretations–the debate it provoked served to draw their listeners in further. Some said that Ellw had discovered these things through natural genius. Others claimed that he had learnt to speak with another creature, such as the cooing bob-heads or the shrieking whitings, who had revealed the secrets. There were even those who claimed Ellw learned to listen to the two-leg striders–to base predators, llew–in a corner of a far-off island, stealing their names for righteous use.

Regardless of which version of the tale was offered, the end was the same: Ellw’s teaching spread far and wide in the World Beneath, and today he was regarded as the father of all sparrows in spirit if not in fact.  Some rejected Ellw’s ways, others sought to improve or modify them, but rare indeed were few isolated sparrows who had not heard them.