Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Tale of Acai, as told by Micah to Abigail

“Listen, Abigail. I have a story to tell. It is about the King, about his Enemy, and about the roses that mark his love.” Ilifted his voice in a chanting rhythm. “This is the Lay of Acai, one of the best-loved songs among the Roni’im. Though there are many versions of Acai’s story, the oldest say she was orphaned by a fire when only eleven years old. She left her home and wandered through villages, ignored by many and teased by some. One day as she was traveling, she met a stranger at the well. His travel cloak was crusted with many days’ worth of dust, bugs, and leaves, but he smiled at her. ‘Are you thirsty, Acai?’

“‘How do you know my name?’

“’We’ve met before,’ the man began pulling the bucket up. ‘Give me your cup and I’ll fill it.’

“Acai reached into her pack for her clay mug. The man finished pulling up the bucket and poured water into her mug. Acai drank deeply, ignoring the droplets trailing down her chin like rainbow gems in the sunlight. The stranger drank from his cupped hands, letting the rest slip through his fingers. ‘Are you hungry?’ he asked.

“’All I had today was a crust of bread.’ Acai looked at the stranger. ‘And I don’t think you’d have anything better.’

“The man laughed. ‘Come with me; there is a feast waiting for you.’ Acai shrugged and followed him up the hill to a long, low house. When he opened the front door, she gasped at the sight. Wooden platters of vegetables surrounded fish fillets and dripping roasts. Baskets of warm bread and juicy fruit completed the display, with pitchers of creamy milk, fresh juice, and cool water sitting on the side. The man pulled back a chair. ‘Sit down, don’t be shy. There is more than enough. Don’t worry about saving any for tomorrow; you can stay as long as you want.’

“Acai did not need a second invitation. She dipped her hands in a basin of water that was to the left of her setting before drying them on a nearby towel. She filled her plate with steamed beans, half a chicken breast, and a loaf of strawberry bread. ‘It’s good,’ she commented. ‘Just like my mother…’ Her face crumpled. ‘Like my mother made.’

“The man knelt by her chair and laid his hand on her shoulder. ‘What happened, Acai?’

“’There was a fire in the barn. Father was trapped…we heard him screaming. Mother tried to save him, but it spread to the house. My sister couldn’t get out.’ She buried her head in the man’s cloak. ‘Ma’or… I couldn’t stay. But I didn’t have anywhere to go.’

“The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. Acai took it and dabbed her eyes. ‘Thank you.’ She looked up at him. ‘You look familiar. What’s your name?’

“’I never said, but I think you can guess.’ He loosened his cloak, revealing a design of three crimson roses on the hem of his white tunic. ‘I am the King.’ He pressed a three-budded rose lay into her palm.

“Acai stared for a moment. Then she flung herself into his arms, weeping with joy and pain. No one knows how long she wept, for the King’s embrace is outside time and without parallel, and neither words nor music may describe it.

“‘My family,’ she whispered. ‘Where are they?’

“ ‘In my garden. Oh, it is beautiful beyond imagination. The Melody whispers in every wind and the colors are greater than mortal eyes may see.’”

Tears trailed down Abigail's cheeks. The story soothed some unknown wound deep in her soul, a healing balm for an ancient ache. I took a cloth from my sleeve and wiped my eyes. I didn’t say anything, but merely waited.

“Is there more?” Abigail asked.

“Yes. At that moment, the door slammed open. Remember that I said the King has an enemy? This enemy, called Deathroot, burned with hatred as he saw the King embraced Acai, and was determined to destroy her. When he entered the house, his steps sounded like thunder. ‘Well, well, what a pretty sight.’ But the King did not answer.

“’Leave my daughter alone,’ the King replied.

“Deathroot snatched the rose, drawing thin lines of blood down Acai’s palm. ‘This is what I think of your precious daughter.’ He dropped the blossom and ground it beneath his heel.

“The King sprang to his feet. ‘You have no power here. Leave us!’

“ ‘Why would you want such a scrawny waif?’ Deathroot blasted a discordant phrase that shook Acai like a leaf. The King sang a simple tune, a child’s chant that took Deathroot’s strongest notes and wove them into its own melody. Melodies clashed like oil and water or fire and ice.

The King’s song filled the room like rain filling the desert. Finally, Deathroot fled. The King touched Acai’s cheek.

“ ‘Are you hurt?’ He plucked the trampled rose from the floor.

“ ‘Not much.’ Acai gazed into the King’s eyes. ‘Who was that man?’

“’He is not a man, but Deathroot, my greatest enemy. He knows I am stronger than he is, so he attempts to hurt me by wounding my beloved children.’ The King held Acai tightly. ‘But nothing can change my love.’

“Here the oldest of the lays end, and the others splinter into different legends. Some say that Acai’s rose was darkened by blood, and is the origin of the King’s Emblem, but the Emblem is older than the Lay. Others claim that the King took Acai to his garden forever, while some say she had a brief visit before she found a new family. A few wild tales say that she still wanders the world, waiting for a time known as the Mem, but those are dismissed by most as inventions of eager storytellers. ”

“And Deathroot?” Abigail swallowed uneasily.

“He is still active.” I answered grimly.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Insights: Blueberries and Love

Galadriel walks into the room, merrily humming to herself, and sets a ice-cream bucket of blueberries on the counter.


Hello. I just discovered some things about this story while I was picking blueberries. Repetitive jobs tend to do that to me--if I'm lucky. See, originally Elizabeth dies of Kadosh at the end of the first section, but now--oh, I've worked out how Micah can survive to the end of the story, and who stands up to the invaders.

(giggles in a high-on-inspiration way)

So, I'm sorry, Elizabeth, you are going to have such a moment of awesomeness. And then die.

(giggles, stops, wonders if she should be doing this)

Sorry. It's just that--

Micah walks into the room.


What is so funny, my scribe?


Um...nothing. Would you like some blueberries? Not as good as raspberries, but still delicious. I froze 20 cups today. All before 9 am, I'll have you know.


I suppose. But I doubt that's why you're laughing so hard


I learned something about you today. Well, you, Joel and Abigail.


And what might that be?


The strength of love. That's what this story is all about. Joel needs to learn that nonresistance in love is not weakness, while Abigail needs to understand that love can make you stand up for others when you wouldn't stand up for yourself. And you--




I don't understand that last sentence.


You're very good at sharing words of wisdom, but sometimes people just want you to listen. As in, not saying anything. Not even songs.




Words can't solve everything.


That is why there are songs.


Yet is it not a saying, that what is not word is song, and what is not song is silence?


How do you know this?




That does sound like something she would say, certainly.

Galadriel stuffs another handful of blueberries into her mouth.


Want some?


No, I have other tasks to complete.

(Micah departs)


Good. I couldn't wear that daft grin in front of him.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Tale of Seneh

The King rejoiced in the company of Ahava and Avidan, coming often among them to instruct them in the ways of wisdom and enjoy the beauty of their song. Oft times the Abir would come as well, yet only when the King was present did they have discourse with the twain, preferring otherwise to merely observe the new-made marvels of the world.

Now it came to pass in that one of the Abir rebelled against the King, seeking all glory for himself. The rebel’s name has ne’er been spoken since that day, and it has perished from all memory, save the King’s. And since that day, he has been known as Deathroot, and his followers are called the Rovinih, those in opposition to the Roni’im. Deathroot entered into the world, seeking to claim it as his own, yet most of all he did wish to destroy Ahava and Avidan’s happiness.

Yet the couple knew none of this, and continued to live in joy and peace. Ahava gave birth to a child, a son. Some say that he was hatched from an eggshell, or delivered by Abir. Other legends tell of a beast that ascended to become a man, or a blossom enclosing a child. But oldest songs claim it was a simple birth, yet without the pain that is the lot of women. The king held the child in his arms, and the Abir sang a song of welcome.

Deathroot saw all, gnashing his teeth. Yet he bided his time.

When the boy was just beginning to walk, Deathroot entered the garden, concealing in his garments a single rose saved from the destruction of his soul. For the Abir have not roses as men do, though their soul is shown in that form. Yet their roses have not thorns, for they bear not the sorrows of men. And at that time the thorns were not sharp, nor did they cause pain. Ahava and Avidan greeted him warmly, seeing nothing strange in an Abir’s visit.

Encouraged by this success, Deathroot returned, again and again, always disappearing when one of the Abir—or the King himself—visited. Under the name Eli, he became close in council with Avidan and Ahava, until—without noticing it—they anticipated his visits with greater joy than the King’s, always seeking his council first. So it came to pass that one day, when their son was chest-high to Avidan, Deathroot sparked his plan.

In those days all the roses were one color—deeper than black, richer than crimson. Known as King’s Heart, they were honored as symbols of his love. Yet Deathroot pulled out his own blossom, having cast illusions to make it shine as gems in the sun. “Wherefore do these things of beauty have thorns, which have no purpose nor cause pleasure. See, mine bears them not, for they are the mark of feeble men.” And he spoke cunningly unto them of heaven’s wonders, of newborn stars and mighty mountains, glistening light and wonders beyond mortal ken. Though all he spoke was true, yet it twisted the yearning of every man—the longing for union with the King—to evil purposes.

Lured by his words, Ahava spoke first. “What must we do?”

“Cast away these thorns. Cut them off, and burn them in the fire. Only then shall you be free.”

Ahava and Avidan followed his decree, and so great was their fall that Ahava guided her son to cut away the thorns, and Avidan gave him the flaming brand to start the fire. At first they knew now what they had done, yet the thorns began sharp, digging into their palms and releasing blood that dripped onto the wood. And the smoke of that fire reached the nostrils of the King.

He knew they were free to make their own choices, yet his anger mixed with sorrow. His tears are not as ours, for though he may appear as a man, his ways are beyond imagining. His tears are spoken of as the Sorrowful Rain, the Storming Cloud, the Mournful Violin and the Crushed Petals. Yet the Abir did not understand his sorrow, nor could they see the joy of hope.

In the garden, Avidan was the first to say what they all knew. “Fools we were, and fools we are, to exchange the glory and blessing of the King for pain.” They were too terrified to seek forgiveness; yet the King did not abandon them. He put on the likeness of a man, for they could no longer see his true form. When he entered the garden, they trembled in fear, but he took the thorns from their hands and stopped the bleeding with rose petals. The boy recovered first, staring up with huge eyes while his parents clung to each other.

The King spoke first, setting his hands on the child’s head. “Seneh.” he named the boy. Thorn. Judgment was passed in the name. He knew their wrong, yet he also knew of their love. “You have attempted to destroy the mark of my favor; therefore you must leave the garden, and can no longer walk with me daily. Henceforth all roses shall bear thorns as a testimony against you.” He said many other things, yet not all were understood, and some were lost. Yet he knelt and kissed them, and with tears in his eyes, ordered the Abir to rent the garden, setting them on a distant shore.

And on that distant shore, Ahava gave birth to her second child, another boy, and named him Mechudash. He was the firstborn of a fallen world, born in unimagined, unanticipated pain, and his birth is a byword for a rewarding but painful event. But there are times where pain brings only more hurt, and no healing at all, at least none that man can see, though there are others who can rejoice at the sight.

All shall be revealed and seen aright in the King’s presence.

Scribe's Note: After the First Tale of Men last week, I discussed some things with Micah, and learned that this story is a essential element of the Feast of Fields, though it is known by a different name. Therefore I share it with you now, before we move on to the next tale.