Mace Black, Page 362-365 by Wolfenshire ()
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Mace Black, Page 362-365
Zil came around her in a rush, his smile broad and happy. “The wolf didn’t get in,” he announced.
Jasai nodded. “That was a teaching story,” she said. “It’s about building on a solid foundation to ensure a prosperous future.”
Zil nodded and shot off to find another story. She was bored with this book and followed him. They had been walking through this storybook forest for hours, and Zil was still just as thrilled as the first moment they had arrived through the Bridge. He stopped at a scene of a boy sleeping next to a haystack while a flock of sheep meandered idly around in a field beyond. Zil plopped himself down cross-legged fashion and watched. A wolf appeared at the far end of the field and tip-toed in among the sheep. The wolf, walking on two legs, because apparently all wolves in storybook land walked upright.
The wolf grabbed two of the sheep and stuffed them under its arms. Zil jumped up, and pointing at the wolf looked at Jasai. “The wolf is getting the sheep,” he said.
“Yes, this is another teaching story,” said Jasai. “It’s about taking your responsibilities seriously or there may be dire consequences.”
Zil tried shouting at the boy to wake up. The boy did not wake up. Zil angrily wagged his finger at the boy. “Bad boy, bad boy,” shouted Zil.
Zil stomped off, disgusted at the lazy boy. Jasai giggled and followed. An elderly man in a suit of armor in terrible disrepair appeared next riding on a donkey that had seen better days. The donkey was being led by an overweight Squire with a haggard expression on his face.
The Elderly Knight lowered a long lance at Zil. “Ah, dear maiden,” said the Knight. “What foul demon is this that has captured you, I shall vanquish it back to the dark world it has come from.”
Zil batted the lance away and the Knight fumbled and dropped the lance. “I am not a demon,” said Zil.
“Don’t hurt him,” said Jasai. “This is a human book about an elderly Knight that no longer sees the world as it truly is. If I remember, he travels around fighting wind mills he thinks are dragons.”
The Squire scrambled to pick up the lance and handed it back to the Knight.
Zil frowned sadly. “Oh, that’s sad. I don’t like this story.”
“I don’t really understand the purpose of this story either,” said Jasai. “On Darai we would never let an Elder wander off, but human stories can be so confusing sometimes.”
The Knight and the Squire continued on their journey. Zil shook himself and went off to find another story. Jasai turned her head in time to see a little boy dressed in rags and carrying a bowl step out of the woods. The boy held his bowl up to Jasai. “Please, Sir, may I have some more?”
Jasai had no idea what this story was, but she wasn’t about to give food to a fantasy apparition. She turned away and ran after Zil. She caught up with Zil already watching another book unfold. Jasai gasped and put her hands over her heart.
“Oh, this is a Darai story,” she said. “I love this story.”
A Hawk prince and a Falcon princess were embraced under a full moon. Their wings spread out majestically in the pale moonlight. It was actually late afternoon, but in the little clearing off the path where the story was playing out, it was darkened like night, but still light enough to see the scene. The families of the two young lovers arrived, one family from stage left, and the other from stage right. The families were all wielding swords and shouting. The two young lovers were pulled apart and dragged away.
The scene shifted and the Falcon princess stood on a balcony. The Hawk prince stood below, declaring his love for the Falcon princess. Jasai nearly swooned at the beauty of the moment. Zil turned to Jasai with a dubious expression on his face.
“This is boring,” said Zil.
“This is the greatest story of all time,” said Jasai.
“Can I go watch another story?” he asked. “Look, there’s a story over there.”
Jasai glanced the direction Zil was pointing. Across the path three Hawks dressed in the ancient uniforms of the Hawk King’s personal guard were battling overwhelming odds to protect their King. She knew the story, it was a good story, and probably more interesting for boys. “Of course,” she said, and turned back to the story she was watching.
The story was reaching its final scene. The Hawk prince, unable to be with his love, lifted a vial of poison to his lips and drank. The Hawk prince collapsed on the ground and died. Jasai wiped at the tears in her eyes. The Falcon princess arrived a moment later to discover her lovers body. She kissed the Hawk prince and was poisoned herself in doing so. She collapsed across his body.
Jasai was bawling now.
The families of the two lovers arrived next, but too late, their blind hatred towards each other had taken from them the very children they loved. Jasai wiped her face with the edge of her cloak. This story was probably the most important story on Darai and had brought about the reformation that resulted in the founding of the Common Wealth of Darai and united all the Great Houses if not in peace, at least in a cessation of all but minor hostilities between the Houses of Darai.
“What did this story fail to do?” asked a voice.
Jasai startled and spun around to face a tall woman in a black robe. The woman’s eyes were as black as night and drove through Jasai’s soul like a knife. Jasai felt the woman in her mind, pulling her. Jasai knew this feeling and let it take her. She closed her eyes and drifted into the collective consciousness of the Darai. She opened her eyes and was standing in a river flowing around her. The woman was staring at her, waiting, she wanted Jasai to answer the question.
“The story united the Darai towards a common goal of advancement and the need to return to the lessons of genetic diversity,” said Jasai.
“That tells me what the story did, I want to know what the story failed to do,” said the woman.
“I…umm…I think…,” Jasai stuttered. What had the story failed to do? She wasn’t sure, she had never thought about it from that side before. “I don’t know, I only know what it did for Darai.”
“Do you speak for the Darai?” asked the woman.
“No, of course not, I could never do that,” said Jasai. “I don’t know how a Hawk thinks, or a Falcon, or anyone except the Jackdaws and Ravens…and maybe a few other sister races descended from the Merula, like the Crows and Magpies.”
“Are you a Jackdaw, or a Raven?” asked the woman.
“I’m both, sort of,” said Jasai. “My race is Jackdaw, but the Ravens are my cousins. And really, we are originally Rositite, so, yes, I’m a Raven, and a Jackdaw.”
“Now answer my question. What did the story not do?”
Jasai’s eyes narrowed. She didn’t like this woman very much. It felt like she was…ohh…this was the interview. There was something Jasai was supposed to say or she would be denied access to the Library of Shadows and never find the Raven Law.
Jasai smiled, she knew the answer. “The story taught us the need to unite for the common good of Darai, at least genetically, but it didn’t teach us the need for laws. The Hawks figured it out on their own, they have very little crime because they have a strong legal system. But, the Ravens are Children of the Night. We’re murderers, thieves, cheats, and liars. That’s just our nature. Law is a tricky thing for us and we have very little in the way of laws. But, we’ve also brought more technological advancement to Darai than anyone else. So, are you judging us, is that what you’re doing?”
“No, I do not judge you,” said the woman.
“Good. I’m a Child of the Night, as all Ravens are, but that doesn’t mean we’re evil,” said Jasai. “There can be no Day without the Night, but there does need to be order. It’s wrong to murder the innocent, or steal from the poor, but right now it’s pure chaos in Raven and Jackdaw Province. I need the Raven Law so we can build an Empire that can defend Darai. The Crows failed to protect us from the Cettise because they got all morally goody goody and weren’t ready when real evil came. The Ravens won’t make that mistake, we’ll be a dark force that no evil can defeat.”
The woman nodded. “Are you ready to begin?” asked the woman.
“I am,” said Jasai.
The woman lifted a very large book and held it out to Jasai. Jasai rolled her eyes. She was getting used to things not being there, and then suddenly being there. The woman had not had this book in her hands a moment ago. Jasai stepped forward and took the book. Jasai’s heart leaped. The book was massive, and bound in black leather, and on the cover it read: The Law of the Raven.
She had found it, the Law of the Raven. This was the book she needed to bring the law to the Raven Temple and build the greatest Empire the Universe would ever know. Jasai reverently opened the book to the first page. It was blank. She turned the page, but it was blank also. She flipped through the pages of the book, every page was blank.
Jasai looked up, but the woman was gone. The river faded away, and the forest faded away with it, and she was standing in a desolate wasteland of shadows looking at the largest building she had ever seen. The building was at least several miles tall, and looking to the left and right, she couldn’t even see the end of the building. The building was made of grey stone, a fortress really, sort of, and above the massive arched doorway were the words, The Library of Shadows.
“Hey, I was watching a story, where’d it go,” protested Zil.
Jasai looked at him. “All the stories are inside this building,” said Jasai, understanding what she had to do now. She had to write the Law of the Raven, and all the books she need to do so were inside this great library.
“Come on, Zil, I think we’re going to be here awhile,” said Jasai.