The Foolish One
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As you have no doubt come to learn, among the mortals there are mischievous predilections in bounteous numbers. In their cities of modular rock and clay there are daily attempts at stretching the bounds between what is dutiful and what is not, and blurring those lines. There are popular records of expropriation by the poor from the even poorer, who have no natural defenses against such an unkindness. I will be no apologist on the matter — it is their duty to account for the unaccountable — but I will let you in on some secrets whisper’d among mortalkind.

To illustrate the thinking of the mischief-maker, it was first seen fit to scour like the Limbless upon the dirt among the poorer folk in the countryside, and study the ways of their most desperate. And so, I will tell you about one of these mischief-makers: A boy, on the cusp of adolescence, known by the common mortals simply as Giucà.

Giucà was a cunning and odious one, but within his core of intellect you will find naught but cobwebs and scurrying little spiders. Often, he was sent along into the towns to do things for his old mother, who spent much of her youth and adulthood polishing the domiciles of the rich, breaking her back. You will come to see that for all her son does, he cannot resist mucking everything up in ways unheard of. Yet he also cannot resist skirting the price that ought to be paid by those responsible members of mortalkind.

One day his mother had come up with enough twine to weave together a cloth, a fine cloth, and she decided then this cloth would be so fit as to sell in the marketplace. (A place where small proprietors give up their wares at bargainous prices, but in large quantities, to benefit both themselves and the many. Such was not uncommon before the Hanging; but now, at a time when all can give and receive in plenty, an unnecessary practice). In the morning she gave him the cloth, saying, “You will take this and travel into the town at the bottom of the mountain. There, you will sell it, and then bring what you have made back to your mother.” All the wiser to her son’s mischief, she added, “Take doubleplus care and sell to those who are taciturn and talk little,” and sent him along. (Some others in the Cerise residence believe she said this so as not to send her son to bargainers, who would force the price down to mere coppers).

With the cloth tied ‘round his neck, he entered the town square and called to all who would hear: “I have cloth! Who wants it?”

The mortals in the square came to him in a crowd, admonishing him and the cloth’s quality, or talking him up and making all sorts of deals and strange gestures. After a time, he refused to sell and fled further into the town.

He roamed a long time before entering a dark court deep in the town’s heart. Inside the court a figure stood in plaster, tall with marvelous sinuousness. Giucà called at once to the figure, “Do you want this?”

But the figure, statuesque in its stance, spoke not.

Giucà realized this was the type of mortal his mother described. “Because you do not speak, I will sell you this.” After calling out prices and doing much in the way of arguing, he finally untied the cloth from his nape and strung it on the figure. “Fine. I return on the morrow for my pay,” and he skipped away.

On the morrow he ventured again into the town and again found the courtyard, and the figure, but not the cloth. “Where is it? And where is my pay?”

But the figure, grey and with a stony mug, spoke not.

The boy knew this was another thing his mother warned him about, long ago, and sought to exact vengeance on this strange figure who took what his mother had laboured over. (Eye for an eye, this is called, or a variation). And so, he searched the town and came across an unattended workbench, and, stealing the hammer of sledge that lay, he skipped back to the courtyard, muttering, “Pay! Pay!”

He came back to the figure and, without a moment’s notice, drilled the hammer again and again, into its limbs, its head, its chest, over and over until it broke inside. And inside was a heavy pail of coins. Noticing this, he removed his shirt and placed the coins inside and tied it up, and skipped again up the mountain.

“Mama!” he called, finally reaching the threshold at their hovel, and she stopped him at once.

“Giucà, you fool, where is your shirt? And where is your pay?”

“Mama, I found a strange, silent man, and tried selling him your cloth. But he spoke little; he refused even to disclose whether he had any money! This is theft — and so I thought it best to kill him, and found what he was hiding.” He untied his shirt and dumped the coins on the ground at the door.

His mother shushed him and, closing the door, whispered, “Speak not of this. This is ours now. We will make use of it, you will see, bit by bit.”

Now, this was a meagre amount of coins to the common mortal, but to this poor family in their hovel, it would last a very long time indeed. So long, in fact, that they would subsist for weeks and weeks on this one find, neither the wiser as to the consequences.

Another day, when the family was hungry and found their subsistence had dwindled to only a few coins, the mother sent her Giucà out again. “When it is dark at night and the farmers cannot look over their fields with sharp eyes, you will go and gather herbs,” she ordered, “and we will make tribute for the portents in the church.” (Here she refers to a place where mortals worship. Not at all unlike the King’s court, where the fanciful dance and make idolatry of the many boons He has pilfered from those Realms amongst the Nevermeant — but you mustn’t know more).

Off he went, and when he had too many herbs filling his arms, he scurried from the fields back home. But along the way, he caught glimpses at the anguished moon hanging in the sky-tarn, and could not do but stare at it in its brilliance.

Having lost track of the time, he hurried now, and came across strange men in the night removing the skin from a poor calf. They were in the fields, as he was, and just as he was, they were scurrying about in the night, and so he decided these were not farmers. But he didn’t know who or what they were.

To find out, he asked, “Do you not see the anguished moon? How it hides in the clouds and comes out?”

Thinking him a farm boy telling riddles, they went off in fear, but left their implements there for the taking. Giucà, noting the calf and the tools, dropped all his herbs and picked up the sharp ones, deciding to cut the calf as the strange men had, to bring home for mother.

And when they noticed what Giucà was doing, they returned and, taking the tools from his foolish hands, hacked him in the night.

This, indeed, should serve as a cautionary tale for all who would do as he does.

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