“By tomorrow afternoon, we should reach Granttan,” said Jessica as the sun began to set. “Until then, we should rest and set watch.”
“Of course,” said Libus, already reclining on linens salvaged from the cargo. “But first, there is time for something else.”
“And what would that be?” asked Jessica.
“What I promised Cinis long ago, when we were still simply acquaintances,” responged Libus. “Tell me, Cinis, do you remember?”
Cinis thought back to when Libus had given him the knives, when the tax collector Avalinious had come to the tavern, and what Libus had said as he gave him the coin.
“You said you would teach me,” Cinis said. “That you would give me an education.”
“Yes,” whispered Libus into the falling night. “An education. As I said, Rearden did well teaching you the inner workings of what mattered within Querkus. But outside of that, he taught you little. And that is what I intend to teach you.”
“What do you mean, exactly?”
“There is much you need to learn, Cinis. Despite what I’ve said, you’re not stupid or dull. You’ve just never been exposed to the outside world. But I’ll begin with the simplest first. A bedtime story, which fits well into our current situation. Our explanation of how the world came to exist in its current state. Let us start at the beginning.”
And Libus began to speak, his voice melding with with rushing water as Cinis listened. Jessica repeated the story in her mind, where it was engraved from the thousand times she had heard it.
Many years ago, before Corpia was divided and the races named, there existed but one people, the ancestors of all who walk the land. Their powers were incredible—by their hand were the mountains raised, rivers carved, and the stars shifted into the constellations. Solely and unopposed they ruled the land, and Corpia was said to be beautiful like no eye has seen since. They were the keepers of the secrets of old, guardians of that which is pure and true.
But they were not alone.
There were other forces, demons of power that became present in Corpia, forces from outside that were not of this place, though whether they were from the sea, sky, or earth it is not known. A great war was born, a war that lasted for centuries with casualties great on both sides. And in this war, the great secrets were lost, the demons banished, and the guardians faded. Out of the ashes, a new world was born, a world that was merely a shadow of its former glory.
But this world, too, was troubled. A great demon had escaped the wrath of the guardians and lay hidden for years as his strength returned. Without the guardians, Corpia’s defenses were weak against this demon, and the wars resumed. For years the people wallowed in despair, watching their land slowly fall under the rule of the demon, until a hero emerged from their midst.
Tymik, the greatest mage the since the guardians.
He escaped the demon and wandered the earth, where he slowly rediscovered seven of the lost secrets whispered to him by the spirits of the guardians. Returning to fight the demon, he destroyed him with the seven secrets in a battle so monumental it was said the earth itself trembled in fear, and he was crowned king of Corpia. The fairest lady of the land, Myria, became his wife and queen, and together they ruled and healed Corpia.
Soon Myria gave birth to a set of twins, and Tymik took each child and, taking them to his room, whispered one of the guardian’s secrets to each, those of Light and Darkness. The secrets entered their beings, changing the children into representations of the secrets and giving them great power. As Tymik continued to rule, Light and Darkness aged and grew jealous of their father’s great powers, of which they each only possessed a seventh. Then Myria again became pregnant with child, and Darkness schemed to steal the secret that was to be given to this child.
“Come,” said Darkness to Light, “let us sneak into our father’s room and listen to the next secret.” Light, being too prideful to allow Darkness to possess a secret he did now know, agreed, and they heard the next secret, that of Earth. When the next child came, they hid again and heard of Fire, then Water and Air. But as Tymik was about to grant the seventh secret to the seventh child, he stopped and instead addressed them from within the room.
“Light and Darkness,” he called, “since the beginning, I have known that you have heard the secrets of your brothers and sisters. You have taken what was not your right. As my eldest children, you will become leaders of my lands and I would have revealed them to you. But now as punishment, I will hold back this one last secret from you, the secret of Life, and share it with your brother only. You will be subject to death instead of immortality, and in this way your reign over your brothers and sisters will be restricted, as you have shown you are impure and cannot reign over them forever. Each of you know five of the secrets and are equal, neither greater nor lesser than the other, and will therefore each receive half of my lands.”
He then whispered the last secret so that Light and Darkness could not hear, the secret of Life.
Light and Darkness then became the ancestors of the royal races, the kings and queens of Corpia. Their successors became some of the greatest leaders, warriors, and poets, and though their numbers were always few, they held great power.
Earth, Fire, Water, and Air then formed the great races with abounding numbers. Their children built the great cities and civilizations while forming a great populace to inherit them.
Of Life, his end is unknown. Some say that his offspring mingled with the other races. Others, that Life never existed at all, and that Tymik never shared his last secret.
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