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Only A Story

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The First Quill is only a story, they say, but they tell the story anyway.

It is long ago, they say, before there is anything but a darkness so complete it cannot be imagined, a darkness deeper than the spaces between stars, a darkness colder than the First Fear and longer than all of time. There is nothing in this darkness, except the First Nest. The First Nest waits, and waits, and waits, and within it the First Quill waits, and waits, and waits, until the time is right.

And when the time is right, she awakens, and she is angry, she is hungry, she is powerful, and she knows she must fight. And fight she does, fights her way out of the the First Nest, and her exit is so powerful that it flings the lattice of the First Nest far through the blackness, and where these sticks strike off each other a fire is started, and these fires are so powerful that they still burn today and bring light to all, and we call them stars.

When the First Quill is free of the First Nest, she looks around, and by the light of her fires she sees that there is little around her, only blackness and the young stars, and she decides that this will not do. So she returns to the First Nest, and takes the rest of the sticks that are its lattice, and takes the mud that is its foundation, and takes the fur that is its lining, and with these materials she crafts the world. From the mud she makes the ground, and with her claws she raises the mountains and levels the plains, and she strikes hard and sure to make them stand forever. From the sticks she makes the trees, and the plants, and with her breath she gives them the will to grow strong and proud and to survive through defiance, for they cannot run. From the fur, she creates the animals, the ones that run and swim and fly and crawl, and with her breath she gives them the will to fight and die and breed and travel the world to make it their own.

And then she looks upon the world, and she knows that it will not last, that it needs more, and so she takes her claws and rips out her heart, and the gushing of her blood creates the rivers and the oceans and the first rain, and through this act our world remains alive, for there is nothing without water, nothing that is not nourished by the blood of the First Quill. And before her body is dry, while there is still life left within her, she crafts her heart into the next Quill, and curls around her, so that the body of the First Quill becomes the second nest. And as she dies she sings, sings a song that can never be recreated, can never be heard until the end of all things, but from this song comes the knowledge that is born into all Quill, the knowledge of Life, and the knowledge of Death, and the knowledge that without one there is not the other, and the knowledge of War, and all of these we carry within us.

So powerful is her heart and so strong her will that not one, but eleven Quill burst from that nest, and her body is their nourishment, and from her legacy they grow strong and fierce, and they hunt the forests and swim the seas, the knowledge of Life and the knowledge of War allowing them to fight and to life and to be glorious. But the time comes when the knowledge of Death comes upon them, and they know that it is their time, and they make their own nests, and give their bodies to their own children, and so it has gone for all the generations in between. And each generation is given the gift of their mother’s strength, and so each generation grows stronger.

Why do you tell us this story? This is the question all Quill ask, when they are young, We know it is not true.

This is not the answer, but it is an answer: it does not need to be true to be important, to tell us of what matters, to teach us of what is important, to help us understand what we feel in our bones and our blood.

This is also not the answer, but it is an answer: others wish us to not tell this story, and so we must. Others would take it from us, as they would take everything, our lives and our minds and our wills, and so we must keep telling it.

This is also not the answer, but it is another answer: no story ever exists without some truth behind it, no tale stands alone in the darkness.

This is not an answer, but it is more important: There are many stories, so make your own.

———

The Cabinet of Souls is only a story, they say, but they tell the story anyway.

From the beginning, they say, it has always been that every Rhodian has been blessed with the light of creation, a remnant from the first moment, from that time when order came from chaos, and something came from nothing. This light is a connection to everything in creation, a link to all Rhodians and to all matter beyond Rhodians. In Rhodians, this light is our soul, and in life it is the task of every good Rhodian to keep that soul just, to act as we should, to do our duty, to keep to the tenets of Rhodian society and law and justice, to obey that which must be obeyed, and to act only with just and moral actions.

And in death, it is the reward of all good souls to carry on, to be brought to a plane where there is no pain, no struggle, no death, only companionship and peace. Souls that are not good enough are lost, forever, never to be found again, falling into unending darkness, forever alone. This plane for all good souls is beyond our imagining, a place where the souls of our people are safe, where every Rhodian is present, and every soul - every good soul - is with every soul that they knew in life, and every soul that they have not known, where there is eternal peace and comfort and contentment. This plane is beyond all size, and beyond all knowing, but it is also contained within that most sacred, that most important, of all objects, the Cabinet of Souls.

And in this Cabinet, where the unknowable and the eternal is brought to understanding and to our world, in this Cabinet there is both eternal life, and eternal death.

For it is told that when Rhodia is in peril, when all Rhodians are faced by the greatest of threats, when we are in our hour of direst need, there shall emerge a hero. And that hero will not only be able to use the Cabinet as a weapon to rain death down upon our enemies, but through that act, through their courage and their pure soul, so shall all Rhodians be reborn again. From the brink of destruction shall come a new age, a better age, a golden age, where there shall be no sorrow, only joy, and where all shall be good and light and just.

But if the Cabinet is used when Rhodia is not truly in peril, used in an unjust manner or at the wrong moment, if it is used by one who is not brave enough or good enough, one with clouded intentions or a lack of true belief, then it can only be a weapon, and it shall only bring death, and there will be no golden age, only the loss of the Rhodian souls, the loss of the eternal lights, and destruction will be all that is known.

Why do you tell us this story when it is only a story? This is the question all young Rhodians should ask, but very few do.

This is the answer: it is the truth.