The Guide To Onyx
I: The Zooki Bird’s Tale
A time and a time and a time ago, back before the gods, and before there was even anything else at all, the Zooki bird flew alone in the Void. She flew alone not because she wanted to fly alone, but for the simple fact that there was no one else to fly with. And after flying alone for a long time in the dark, silent, empty Void, she began to feel lonely.
“If only I had someone to talk to and keep me company,” she said to herself, “then would I be truly happy. Somewhere in the Void there must be someone else: someone who can make my heart light with joy: someone whom I can call ‘friend.’ I will search the whole of the Void for this one who can ease my loneliness. To its endless lengths, and to its secret fastnesses, and to its very depths will I go to find my companion.”
So the Zooki bird flew to the ends of the Void and searched its depths and hidden places. She found only a silent, empty darkness. There was no one there at all to be her companion. She flew next to the furthest ends of the Void, and searched its deepest depths and its most secret fastnesses. And still she could find no one, only empty silence and dark silence. Then she flew at last beyond the furthest ends of the Void, and searched past its utmost depths, and knew all of its unknowable secrets. But all that was, was emptiness, dark and silent. Nowhere in the Void was the companion of the Zooki bird’s desire.
The Zooki bird despaired. She had flown everywhere and she had searched everywhere, but she had found no one. Was it possible that she would never have a companion, that she would never find a friend, that she would have to go on, alone and lonely, the only creature in the Void for all eternity?
After pondering her dismal fate for a long while, the Zooki bird hatched an idea. “A Zooki bird is nothing if not ingenious. And I, by virtue of being the only Zooki bird in existence, am certainly the most ingenious Zooki bird of all. If the perfect companion for me does not exist now, then I shall simply have to create it myself.”
So the Zooki bird sought about the Void for the six ingredients to make her companion. But of course, no matter where she flew, she didn’t find anything at all: the Void, as always, was dark and silent and, especially, it was empty.
“Well, this is a fine how–do–you–do,” she thought to herself. “There is no one at all here in the Void except for me. There is not a single friend to be found; no, there is not even a single enemy to be found. And there is no other thing else in the Void either, except for me. There do not even exist the six ingredients necessary for creating a friend. How will I ever create my companion now? How then can I ever meet my heart’s desire? I will surely be lonely forever.” And the Zooki bird became very sad at this thought.
“Nothing except for me?” she thought suddenly. “Well, by my beak that never gets dull,” she cried, “By my feathers that never fall out,” she chortled, “I am truly a silly bird! If I am the only thing in the Void, then I will have to make my companion out of myself. I will make an Egg from which my companion can hatch!”
So the Zooki bird laid an Egg.
And after she had laid her Egg, she nestled up against it to shield it from the bleak chill of the Void. She stayed wrapped up with the Egg until it began to quiver. The Egg gave a bump, a thump, and a jump, and suddenly, the shell of the Egg cracked open to reveal three Zooki chicks.
And what chicks they were! The three Zooki chicks were all healthy and happy, clear of eye and nimble of mind. No one could have asked for more perfect children. Then the Zooki bird said to the chicks, “I am going to give you each something that will make you different from everything else in the Void. I will give you a Name.” So the first chick she named Kialla, the second she named Ysanne, and the third, Myirié. Then after naming her chicks, she sang them to sleep with a Zooki song.
“What a wonderful day!” sighed the Zooki bird. “I would have been content with but a single chick to keep me company. But now that I have three, I will certainly be the happiest Zooki that ever lived!” And she laid down with her chicks for a short nap.
II: The Zooki Chicks’ Tale
The Zooki chicks, meanwhile, had not had such an exhausting day as their mother had. For this reason, then, the chicks all woke from their refreshing sleep well before their mother did. They looked around at the dark, silent, and empty Void and thought that it looked like a fun place to play. So slowly, quietly, they crept out from under their mother’s wing and went to explore the Void.
The three chicks flew about the Void. They peeked into its crannies. They soared over its abysses. They gamboled from one end of the Void to the other. But after a while, the fun in such exploration began to pall: after all, any one region of the Void was pretty much the same as any other region.
Kialla, being the eldest by a few scant moments, was the first to notice how very dull the Void really was. “By my shining feathers,” she said to her siblings, “the Void is such a dull place. There is nothing here to see or do.”
“By my unbreakable beak and by my unquenchable blood and by my sweet breath, you are most right in your observations,” piped Ysanne, who had also noticed the dearth of excitement to be found in the Void. “Something should be done to make the Void a beautiful place, so that it may give glory to our honored mother. But how shall we do this? We have neither tools, nor paints, nor sequins. How then may we create beauty?”
After some moments of thought, Myirié finally brightened. “By my dreams,” she sighed, “our wise mother has already solved this riddle of the Void. The beauty we desire we shall create from ourselves! Let us each go forth and create such virtue as we deem necessary, so that the Void may bring forth honor and joy to us all.”
III: Kialla’s Tale
Since Kialla was the eldest, she was the first to try to create beauty for the Void. She flew off a little ways from her siblings and began to think. What could she create that would enhance even the inkiest blackness of the Void?
The Void was silent and empty; but above all, it was dark. “My,” she thought to herself, “the Void is certainly bleak. Even if there was anything here interesting to look at, all the darkness would hide it completely. What it really needs are some lights to make this place seem nice and cozy. I shall therefore create some lights to illuminate this eternal darkness, and then the Void won’t be so dreary anymore.”
So Kialla pulled the glints and glimmers off her shiny feathers and polished them with her soft, downy wings. As the small glistenings were carefully rubbed and buffed, they grew brighter and shinier, until waves of the purest radiance cascaded from each one of them. Then when she saw that they would continue to shine for all time, she set them spinning through the Void in stately dances. Finally, when all the lights were set in their proper places in the firmament of the Void she gave each of them its own name.
For the first time in all of time, there was light in the Void. Thus were the stars created.
IV: Ysanne’s Tale
Ysanne then flew off a little ways from her sisters to think about how she too could beautify the Void. The Void was now lit up by the myriad freshly minted stars, but it was still silent, and it was still very empty. “Well, the Void is surely a dreary place. Praise be to my sister Kialla, there is now light to see by, but sadly there is nothing at all to look at. What the Void really needs is something quite large, to fill its spaces and to make it seem cozy and nice. I shall create nineteen worlds to fill this vast emptiness, and then it will not seem so bleak here anymore.”
With a delicate touch of her ever–sharp claws, Ysanne pierced her side, so that the shining blood ran from her soft breast to pool at her feet. The pool of her blood was very large, enough for a goodly ocean, yet the loss of it from her body did not make her weak or faint. Then she chipped off from her beak a sliver. The sliver was nearly as vast as the entire Void itself, huge enough for an entire world, yet her beak was not diminished in size or beauty with its passing. Upon the fragment she carved mountains and valleys, and when she was done carving, she set the fragment afloat in the ocean of her blood. And Ysanne blew upon her handiwork: and where her sweet breath encountered the blood, there was the blood turned to water; and where her fragrant exhalations caressed the carven beak, there was it turned to earth. Thus, with air, water, and earth she created a world.
Eighteen more times did she do this, to fashion the nineteen worlds of Onyx. When she had finished with these labors and saw that the worlds were set properly in the Void, she gave each one its name. In such manner were created the nineteen worlds of Onyx.
After Ysanne had thus fashioned the nineteen worlds, she saw that there remained still some unused beak fragments and blood droplets and zephyr breathlets. So she took the remnants and formed from them creatures for the nineteen worlds. She then placed plants and animals upon all the worlds: the animals to run on the land and to swim in the seas and to fly in the air; and the plants for the creatures to eat the fruit, and to enjoy the flowers, and to sit in the shade. And when she saw that the animals and plants were well made, she gave a name to each and every one.
Thus was life brought to the Void.
V: Myirié’s Tale
Through the efforts of Myirié’s sisters, Kialla and Ysanne, the Void was filled with stars and seas and worlds, and the seas and worlds were filled with all manner of plants and animals. Why should she still feel lonely then? “Perhaps there is more to creating than what can be seen or touched,” she murmured to herself. “For the things we have created so far will not sing with us the paeans of glory to our esteemed Zooki mother; neither will they revel with us in the joys of existence. What the creatures of the nineteen worlds need are souls: that they may be like us and may partake of true happiness: that we may never be alone.”
Having resolved herself upon this course of action, Myirié spun her dreams out about her, as a spider casting her web. Then, trailing her dreams behind her, she visited the stars, and the nineteen worlds, and all of the plants and creatures of those worlds. To some of those she encountered, she gave of her dreams as much as would fit inside a sesame seed; and to others, as much as would fill a great heart; and yet to others, nothing at all did she give them.
At once those stars and seas and mountains and trees and creatures who had received a strand of Myirié’s dreams gave a great shout! For he has a soul who dreams, and all those who were newly gifted with souls were of a sudden struck joyful at being. Kialla and Ysanne and Myirié were made glad at this sound and they begin to sing praises, and all those who had souls joined in the singing.
In this manner was the silence of the Void shattered forever.
Well, all the singing woke up the sleeping Zooki bird. At first, she was a bit cross, but the beauty of the song that her children and all the creatures of the Void did sing quickly soothed her annoyance. Then when she saw what her children had done while she lay sleeping, she was beside herself with joy. Where the Void had been dark, there were twinkling stars to shed light; where it had been empty and forlorn, there were seas and worlds to fill it up with life and beauty; and where there was only silence and loneliness, there were uncountable thousands to give tongue to happiness. The Zooki bird then called her children to her, and they nestled together, so that they might enjoy the company of each other and take delight in their creations.
And the Zooki bird and her chicks were never lonely again.
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