Challenge #02043-E219: Through th' Crack's Mirror
Humans had lost against the Fae. The Orcs, and Fairies, Gnomes, and Centaurs, all the "mythical" creatures had banded together and drove us to near extinction. But unlike us, they weren't monsters. We had after all started the war. And the small group of survivors, stripped of magic, were sent to a reality where no natural magic existed. Banished to the fringes, that's where our stories came from, an attempt to keep the history before alive. And remember the times that the odd curious Fae King would come to check on us, challenge us, test us, see if we had changed. -- The Pirate
Tyr Na'Nog tells stories of Humans. Legends. Tales of the Old Times when the Xenophobia Wars raged and these magic-less apes were the most dangerous creature in the world of many. They had short lives, but they learned fast. They learned from the worst of things that happened, and grew unbelievably strong. They bred fast. They made tools that could work as well as magic.
Some say that the Gods made Humans as a joke. And like so many jokes, they were unintentionally painful. They could not unmake what they had made. They could not eliminate Humans completely from the world. So all the intelligent creatures, large and small, banded together. A type of Pax Humanis. Dragons worked with Dwarves. Elves worked with Gnomes. Centaurs and Gryphons and Faeries grouped their skills.
Together, they made a door. And washed the Humans through it in a gigantic flood. So the stories say. Tan'reath found it unlikely that such creatures existed, and had the gall to doubt his teacher openly. That was when Ul'daath the Wise took him to the Library of Horrors. Where the Mirror to the Otherworld rested.
It was made from a polished fragment of the Door, which had cracked as the last of the Humans went through it, lest they find a way to come back before they had changed their ways. It was a dangerous thing, like all the dangerous things in the Library of Horrors. It was kept under guard for a distant time when intelligent creatures could possibly be ready to handle them responsibly.
The young prince Tan'reath stood in front of the mirror as Ul'daath the Wise activated the mirror and said, "Let us see."
Once a century, some ruler or prince or princess would stand where Tan'reath now stood. Doubting that the stories were real. Doubting that it had once happened. Doubting that things like Humans could exist. Some had tested them. Some had merely seen. Most had been terrified.
The last one to See had been an Unseeliegh prince, who had tested the humans and even brought a few into Tyr Na'Nog for a day or a night. He was overthrown for his cruelty, in the end. But now Tan'reath stood there. Looking into an unfamiliar world.
They made towers so tall they broke the clouds. They made flying machines so large that they created clouds. They made vessels that could reach the moon, and then made stories to tell themselves that it never happened. They made telescopes that hung in the vastness of the unbreathable void, so that they could see the stars more clearly.
And they made war.
So many wars.
There was not a day of the year, not a moment, when one band of Humans was not killing another band of humans. For resources. For faith. For land. For a set of ideals that made little difference. They fought each other. They killed. For a skin colour. For a right they did not possess. For a bauble. For a person. For control.
Prince Tan'reath was left trembling, tears pouring down his cheeks. He was a young Elf of twenty five, and he would remember this day for the rest of his nine hundred years.
Ul'daath the Wise returned the mirror to its harmless blank normalcy. "Now you have Seen the truth I could not bear to see again. What have you to say?"
Tan'reath took twenty minutes to find his voice. "We thought we were being kind, giving them a world of their own," he quavered. "We thought we were being merciful." He retched, but retained his composure. "We were so cruel to them, leaving them with nothing but each other to teach them."
Ul'daath the Wise loaned Tan'reath the warmth of his cloak. "They would have become that with or without us, young Prince. There is still the hope that they will, in time, learn to be kind."
"It's been a hundred of our years. Thousands of theirs. When will they learn, wise one? When will they learn?"
Ul'daath the Wise lead the young Prince Tan'reath towards the kitchens for some Fae-made pastries and mulled honey mead. The boy needed some comforts, now. "Even I cannot foresee that day, your grace. But... we can still hope. We can still hope."
Let the boy weep, for now. Let the boy mourn. The man would become a kind and gentle monarch in his time. Ul'daath knew, because that mirror showed the truth in more ways than one.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / ueuaphoto]
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