A Multavian Fable
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Before the mountain river reached out to the forest, before the Multavian walls stood mighty, and before the Crow King's, then Crow Prince's, hunt for the Archaine Pansophical, there was a brook.

There was nothing special about this brook. It bubbled out of the side of an insignificant hill into an insignificant hole full of insignificant water. All around were the mysteries of the Meloth forest, yet the mysteries cared not for the brook.

The brook, however, hardly noticed its very prominent trait of not mattering, instead enthralled by the simple beauty of the little world around it. The brook marveled at the leaves on the trees softly moving in the wind, at the skeleton that passed it by at the same time every day, and at the faint whispers of spirits past. The best part was the silence. Yes, there were the whispers and the wind, but all faded away in the peaceful sounds of the brook basking in its own burbling.

"Hello, Brook."

If the brook had eyes, it certainly would have widened them. The brook scanned the area. Every tree, rock, mushroom, and hole was where it was before. So who broke the silence?

The brook called out, "Who said that?"

"Over here, beside you," said the diminutive voice

The brook looked down and - yes, there it was. A tiny plant growing right on the edge of the brook's banks.

"Hello, Seedling. I'm fairly busy at the moment, so you'll have to excuse me."

"Oh! Sorry."

As it looked back to the forest, the brook felt strange. It could feel the seedling staring.

The seedling piped up again, “You don't seem very busy. What're you doing?"

The brook almost snapped back sarcastically but paused. What does it do? One second there's nothing and the next it's staring up at the stars, just a newly formed puddle but destined for so much more. It had spent all of its life to get to this point. There must be a purpose to its place.

Coming up with the best answer it could, the brook said, "The same thing you're probably here to do. Watch the world around us."

Sometime later, a new coating of snow dusted the forest, and patches of ice broke upon the stones in the brook as it and the seedling sat in silence. Not long after the first conversation did talking fall out of things the brook wanted to do. At first, the brook had tried to be nice, but the questions and constant talking were so tiring. During this period of silence, the seedling did some thinking of its own.

In a facsimile of clearing its throat, the seedling's trunk popped and creaked, before saying, "Hello, Brook"

This was the fifth time the seedling had tried to start a conversation that month, and the first time it used the right name, not "strean" or "seam" or whatever useless name it came up with. The brook supposed the seedling would keep trying until it was answered, so it begrudgingly prepared itself for another inane question.

"What do you want to know now?"

Looking again, the brook realized the seedling was no longer a seedling. The brook, for all its watching, didn't realize the plant had grown, because in its place stood a hardy sapling, roots beginning to spread into the brook's waters in addition to forming somewhat of a burrow on the side of land, who was not much for talking thankfully.

"Remember when we talked about our purposes? I think I figured it out. A family of rabbits lives between my roots now and I provide shelter to them while they provide sustenance to me. Definitely better than just sitting around and watching."

The brook sighed, "Just because some animal has taken root underneath you doesn't mean you have a new purpose. They're simply passing through and won't remember you."

Flexing its branches in frustration, the sapling tried again, "You can't deny you have a purpose, though. The same rabbits drink from your banks. Doesn't that mean anything to you? You quench countless animals' thirst."

"I don't have a say on whether animals drink from me or not. In fact, I don't have to do a thing for this to happen, so how is that a purpose? The simplest answer is that it's not. I exist to exist, and that is how I like it."

It was the saplings turn to sigh, but it did not try to persuade the brook again, at least for now.

The brook watched. It watched its surroundings just as any other day, but recently it had noticed something. The clouds were forming very interesting shapes today, but stolen glimpses toward the sapling were all it could focus on, despite how hard the brook tried to ignore it.

The brook wondered if it was a sapling still. It had been a significant amount of time, and it was reaching heights comparable to the other trees, who spoke to each other at the highest altitude, only looking down to look down on those stuck on the ground. There was no doubt, however, that it wasn't a sapling anymore, so a tree would most likely be the next stage. Growing was still a difficult concept to understand for the brook, but it was pretty sure it had figured it out.

Regardless, a woodpecker had the attention of the brook, as it pecked away at the tree's bark. It could hardly believe it, but the thing that had been eluding the brook finally dawned on it while watching the bird. It was bored. Gone were the days of mystery and discovery, when each day brought a new surprise for the brook, instead replaced by all too familiar sounds and sights.

The brook thought about speaking to it, but immediately had second thoughts. Would the tree even accept it? The brook had burned quite a few olive branches, even more branches than the tree had when it just started out.

Nothing could be done to reverse the flow of time, though, so the brook decided to reach out a branch of its own.

"Hello, Tree."

A couple of acorns splashed into the brook's waters and tapped on the forest floor, fallen from the tree's impressive flora. The tree thought that it must be hearing things. The brook had never talked to it first, and yet the tree could feel the attention directed towards it.

"Hello? Brook? Was that you who said that?"

Last chance to back out, thought the brook.

"Yes. It was me," said the brook, already more nervous than before speaking. It hadn't considered what would come next after saying hello. Not knowing much about the tree, the brook grasped at one of the few facts it did know, and said, "Are…the rabbits doing well?"

The tree paused for a moment, but responded, "I lost track of the generations, but yes, they're doing well. Even you'd be impressed at the tunnels they've constructed."

The brook was actually talking to the tree! This was good, great even. But there was something else, an underlying coldness from the tree, chiller than the brook's waters during the coldest winter. The brook thought that perhaps an apology was owed.

"Tree, I've been rude to you for a long time. I should've given you a chance, and when I didn't I never truly heard you out. I apologize."

The tree's leaves felt like they were changing color, and before schedule too. Maybe this could be the start of something new.
They would have to work at it, but it could work.

"I'm glad you want to talk. It's strange how lonely one can be when someone is right beside them."

Years and years of silence contributed to a less than smooth start. There were long stretches of days where the brook would refuse to talk to the tree, and there were days where the tree refused to talk to the brook. They argued and fought, but they also learned to laugh. After all this time, the two found they had much in common. For example, they both were naturally curious about the forest around them, how it could be dark and misty one day and seemingly normal the next. They wondered who left their skeletons to be animated and how they forgot their voices that still whispered to this day, although they both hadn't been able to hear the whispers for quite a while.

The tree still grew, and for once the brook was happy for it. It worried that once it grew to the height of the other trees, it would stop talking to the brook. While the tree still hadn't reached that height yet, the giants took notice of the tree. The tree would tell the brook all about what they speak about, most of which the brook couldn't follow, but there was great celebration when they told the tree it was an eversheen, and it would grow to be beautiful.

It was a day like any other, the two silently enjoying each other's presence, when a thought came to the brook's mind.

"I miss the skeleton that used to pass by me."

The eversheen gave the brook a strange look, which it could pull off somewhat well with the hollow that had formed recently.

"Which one? We've seen plenty of lost souls over time," said the eversheen.

"The one that would pass by at the same time every day. It just disappeared at some point."

The eversheen couldn't help but wonder if the brook was telling a joke. Surely they knew what happened, both of them would have witnessed it, the brook even more so.

"If I'm thinking of the same soul you're thinking of, then you must've forgotten what happened. The skeleton fell into your waters, and the current was too much. The bones were scattered and broken on your rocks."

"What?" It was impossible, the brook reasoned. It wasn't large enough for anything but a leaf to fall in, just a stride across. Before the brook was somewhat lost in thought, but now its full attention was on the eversheen.

"Death is nothing to joke about. What actually happened to the skeleton? You and I both know I am too small to even put a dent in bone."

The eversheen slowly breathed in, a disturbing experience for any not familiar with the sound, and breathed out. If the brook wanted to get into this again, it was fine by the eversheen.

"This is the problem with you. While you're aware of your surroundings, painfully aware even, you're unaware of yourself. Why don't you realize you're a-"

Cutting the eversheen off, the brook angrily responded, "Painfully aware? What is that supposed to mean? In case you haven't noticed, there isn't much to do other than be 'aware of my surroundings' as you so gracefully put it."

"That isn't the point I was trying to make at all. If you would just listen."

The brook's current grew slightly faster.

"Hold on, let me guess. 'You need to find your purpose! Like me! I'm just so much happier and better because I made up some arbitrary rules for existence!' Well, I didn't buy it then, and I won't buy it now."

Its roots flexing in annoyance, the eversheen decided this wasn't going anywhere good. It would be better to just drop it.

"Look, these insults won't help anyone. Let's just agree not to talk about this type of thing."

The current moved even swifter.

"Well, now you get to act all noble, taking the high ground making me seem like the mean one when you started this. If you can't back up your claim just say so."

The eversheen lashed out, practically spitting the words, "Say it however you want; noble, high ground, any term works because I have always been more mature than you. Do I have to remind you which one of us had to apologize? Drop it. Now."

The water was churning at this point, the brook not caring if what it said next was truthful or not.

"I never meant that apology. I only talked to you because I was bored."

The eversheen's silence was like thunder, rumbling across the clearing, coating the area with a quiet fury. This silence would endure, and in fact, would be the last time the brook and the eversheen ever talked again.

That night, a night unlike any other, a wild wind whipped through the tallest trees. This wind carried with it dark clouds filled with fury as if it was attracted to the hate that had been shared between the two beings of nature. A flash of light arching through the sky was all that served to warn the forest below, quickly followed by the storm's roar. Rain slashed through leaves, pelting the water like a barrage of sharpened stones intent on exacting revenge for an act unknown. The lightning lashed down upon the trees, blackening their bark before the rain snuffed out the flames. The wind did not continue on its way, pulling the storm with it. Instead, it elected to fly through the forest, pulling one way, then changing directions at the drop of a hat.

While the rain did sting, the brook knew the storm couldn't touch the brook in a way that mattered. It shouldn't have been possible, the wind and thunder and debris creating a cannonade, but the brook heard something, something distinct. It was a creaking, a crackling incredibly unnatural. The brook wasn't scared of the storm, but this sound made it second guess. Despite their argument, the brook looked to the eversheen to see how it was faring and discovered the awful source of the sound.

The eversheen listed away from the brook at a dangerous angle, but before a single thought could pass through its mind, the wind shifted. The eversheen swung towards the brook just barely stopping at an even more drastic angle over the brook. The brook tried to call out to the poor eversheen, but whether it heard the call or the brook couldn't hear the response made no difference to the storm. Despite whatever prayers the brook offered up, the eversheen lurched towards the brook again, roots torn from the ground. It was all the brook could do but watch, frozen, as one final gust of wind crashed the eversheen to the ground, lying across the gap of the waterway.

Just as quickly as it began, the storm ended, moving on to terrorize the next forest, but the brook hardly noticed. Its view of the sky, half of all its life had ever known, was covered by its other half, the eversheen. The memory of the argument they had echoed in its mind. That tree could be insufferable, but the silence left behind was unbearable. Quickly replacing the sadness, a bubbling rage came up from inside the brook. Yes, they argued, but no one could understand the centuries, decades even, they had been together reminiscing on life. It wasn't fair.

Almost without the brook realizing, water began flowing outwards from it, more water than could ever be held by a brook. At first, it was slow, a wave of roiling anger, but once the brook realized the pure power it possessed it became a roar, churning water surged along the lines of the waterway that created a wave of destruction carrying debris. This outburst felt good, like the destruction rolling through the forest was justified, like everything had to feel its pain.

It was then that the brook felt something it had not felt before. A life, the life of an animal, snuffed out. In its path of debris now swirled bodies. Bodies of squirrels, of lizards, of… rabbits came with the flood the brook created. Quickly realizing what it did and was doing, it desperately tried to pull the waters back, but to no avail. It was as if the water had gained a mind of its own.

Then, far away, yet strangely close, came a new death, a mortal life drowned by the flood. No one lived in the forest, questioned the brook, so how did a mortal die? Perhaps a hunter caught unawares, but then there was another death and then a few deaths and then more deaths any excuse could be made for. Throughout the lands, strange debris fell into the brook, carved wood and stone, dry sand, strange mechanical beasts.

The brook, overwhelmed at what it had caused, shakily looked down at itself, an action it could not recall doing since its earliest days, and saw not a brook but something much larger. Taking away the floodwaters, the brook could feel a large bed, and it could sense its full-length extending all the way into something with more water than it could possibly imagine. It looked back, and was startled to find the hill that it had sprung from was no more, and at some point, it had connected to a river coming from the mountains.

A River.

It had been a long, long time since the brook was a brook. It had been a brook, then a stream, then a creek. Now - now it was a River. Of course, the eversheen had known, the River had simply ignored it, practically forcing it to call the River by a cowardly name, the River too scared to accept its duty. The River served all the people, the animals, the magicks of the land, perhaps even the gods. It served to help create, not destroy like this. It served to quench the thirst of anyone who asked of it. If it was there for the beings of this world, the beings would be there for it. The River understood now.

The River had a purpose.

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