A Fable.

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An attempt to pen a fable using the traditional tenets and style of fantasy and children’s literature, yet hopefully conveying a slight twist in the denouement. Your comments, in any form, would be greatly appreciated. ********************************** Qanisqineq Though the men and women of the land of Ihnenes were as different from each other as night is from day, they were bound together by a single memory. It shone in some like the light of a newborn star, whilst in others it was as hazy as their first view of the world. But nonetheless, it was there, shimmering through them. The memory of a time when the land prospered; when each drop of sweat from the backs of sun-scorched labourers made a hundred valleys fertile, every furrowed brow of the land's greatest thinkers limited only by the edge of the universe, and pride flowed abundantly, filling every crevice, streamed through every vain. How was it possible that this place was once so blessed? The Light of Qanisqineq! Or so this mystical artifact had come to be known, though no one could remember where it came from or how it came to be in the Rillivane Temple. Its light could be felt in the furthest reaches of the land; it's surface crackling with unbridled energy. Fear too had been banished from the land; if no hand could grasp The Light, who could ever take it from them? But one day, someone did. A very evil man (or a very wise man, the debate still rages on among the people) plucked The Light from among them and placed it on the highest peak of Mount Kraag. With no light to hold it at bay, the shadow of Mount Kraag fell across the land. Chaos crept like a ragged beggar from the discarded corners of their minds, throwing off his musty cloak, the reek of uncertainty permeating their every thought. At night, with the stars ever eager, they could still behold the taunting glimmer of The Light. And this destroyed the people: that now The Light of Qanisqineq leered at them. "Claim me...", it whispered, but they knew they could not. Hearts empty, their thoughts drifting as small leaves on an infinite lake; from the moment they awoke to the moment sleep set them free from their living nightmare, all they could do was stare at the precipice. Men of renown journeyed from far and wide; champions for the cause of the people of Ihnenes. Armed with protection bought from the wisest of mages, the mastery earned from dragons slain and the resolve born of nights adrift on an endless sea. The means to grasp The Light? Why some had gloves woven from the rarest of fabrics, imbued with resistance to fear, immunity from heat. Others had fantastical mechanical arms, charmed bags....one had even caused quite a stir amongst the locals with his supernovaspectrascope. And as dawn spread her wings across the land, they watched each hero set off for Mt. Kraag. At first, many gathered to welcome the adventurers back, eyes ablaze with hope. But the eager welcome was never deserved. Hope transformed to dejection and the days between returning heroes stretched on. Dust still greeted the occasional lonely figure, but they were no longer the figures of champions, only desperate men. It was in this bleak time, certainly no time for a child to grow up, that a very special child was born. She was 'special' in the eyes of the people too; any child who could walk through the city smiling and dancing must be different! They would be polite as she passed by, but her absence was filled with consoling words for the parents of such a difficult child. In the coolness of the evening, while men and women courted misery, she could be found whispering to the wind, allowing the light of the stars to dance on her fingertips. Soon, envy replaced the polite smiles. They wept, each tear a desperate plea; could they not also be so afflicted, to be as simple as the girl, ignorant of how deprived the own lives were? Of all seasons, winter was the hardest. The nights were darker, clearer and The Light of Qanisqineq glowed more brilliantly than the sun. The sky became a theatre for its light, a pantomime of that almost forgotten time when Ihnenes was on the lips of men in all corners of the world. Shutters were closed and doors bolted. No one cared to notice a small figure as it made its way out of the city, cloak wrapped tightly, hood up against the wind. But an old man passed the figure whilst collecting firewood. It was a dark spot against the vast ocean of white, but he knew who it was. Barely noticing the wood clattering against his feet, he rushed back. It was the girl! Minutes later, the silence of the town had been shattered. Murmurs slowly grew in expanse and strength. Expectant faces popped out of windows like newly sprouted blades of grass and clattering footsteps echoed off the cobblestones. Frowns turned like sour milk to looks of astonishment; had the girl's dementia finally driven her away? But no one gave words to the suspicions they all nurtured. Could she really be drawn by The Light? A voice scattered amongst them like a startled flock of birds. Everyone turned to see the source of the shout pointing. His arm seemed set in stone, directing their open-mouthed gasps to Mt. Kraag. The Light! It seemed to be moving! Dare they even consider the possibility? With trembling eyes, they followed the light as it descended from the mountain like a falling star. It had happened! Madness had at last begun its siege upon the people, a mighty and overpowering army, hallucination its greatest general. But if this was indeed madness, the people wished it would remain with them forever. This sudden rush of hope and anticipation threatened to drown them, but rather that then continue in their hellish reality. As if to herald their final moments, the light approached rapidly. It was now just below the horizon; they closed their eyes, awaiting madness' final kiss. Eyes blinked open......only to be greeted by the sight of a small girl, making her way up the winding path as if this were no particular day. And in her tiny hands, cradled like a new born baby, was The Light of Qanisqineq. Some cried out. Others opened their mouths to speak, but their lips just flapped open and shut like dying fish. Most just fell to their knees, faces streaked with tears. The girl stood among them, The Light held aloft, the one true beacon. If they looked hard enough, they could almost see the promise of the glory to return reflected in its perfect surface. The girl closed her fingers and the Light blinked out of existence, as if it had only been an optical illusion. A grim stillness seeped from the ground, into their feet, through their bodies, melting into their bones. It was as silent as before the world was created. Then, a voice like the sound of a butterfly's wings resonated in the still air. "To what will you look now?" And with that, the girl turned and made her way home. Without The Light of Qanisqineq to gaze upon, the people began to look to each other. When one spoke, the other listened. As they learned from each other, so they grew in an understanding of themselves. The prosperity of ages past never returned to the land, but the people did not want it so. Ihnenes was not reborn the city of reverence among men, but the people did not care. They were happy. And at night they would whisper to the wind, the light of the stars dancing on their fingertips. **********************************

2 Responses to “A Fable.”

  1. Blogger Fence 

    I like that. The ending is great. How should Qanisqineq be pronounced? Couple of suggestions, feel free to ignore:
    "It shone in some like the light of a newborn star, whilst in others it was as hazy as their first view of the world" - I really like this sentence, but I'd maybe take out the whilst. Contrast the two images without comparing them.

    "pride flowed abundantly, filling every crevice, streamed through every vain" - here I have a slight problem with the filling every crevice. I think you need to either change the tense, or stick an it in after that section: "filling every crevice, it streamed through every vein." or possibly as it streamed?

    "It was as silent as before the world was created" - Maybe "It was silent. As still as before the world had been created" course then you'd have passive voice coming in, so not too sure there.

    All in all makes for a good read, and with a message too :)

  2. Blogger banzai cat 

    Very fabular. Reminded me of Ursula K. Leguin or mmmm Angelica Gorodischer. Likewise your 'wise' ending-- as all endings of fables should be-- is excellently done.


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