November 7, 2013

The Garden

A large, black crow flew over the landscape, surveying all below it. He was feeling pretty proud of himself, even without knowing why. He liked this place. He liked everything he saw. He couldn't remember how he got here, but that didn't really concern him. He was simply glad to be here.

It was when he saw the clearing, surrounded by a grove of trees and flowering bushes in a variety of hues, that he decided to stay. He glided down into the clearing and walked around. This would be his home.

The crow lived there, quite happily, but eventually he got lonely. That was when he decided he needed some companions. Perhaps some pets would be in order? The problem was, he didn't know where to find one. He sat there, on a branch, brooding but focused. He wanted to find a pet so badly! What could he do?! And in that moment, a powerful white stallion gently galloped into the clearing. The crow smiled at himself. Had he just done that?

He swooped down and landed on the horse's nose and stared him in the eyes. He told the horse that this clearing was now his home, and the he should never leave. It was a dangerous world out there, but he would be safe here. The crow said he would protect the horse. The horse nodded his head and moved about, exploring the clearing. The crow, quite pleased with himself, perched on a branch, surveying his home, and feeling quite smug with himself.

As the days wore on, the horse became bored. He had explored every nook and cranny of the clearing, and was constantly asking the crow what else there was to do. The crow grew quite agitated and annoyed, and decided that maybe what the horse needed was a companion. But he didn't want another horse, as he was growing bored of constantly staring at this one. He needed something different, something more beautiful to look at. But the crow couldn't think of any ideas. He watched the horse trying to scratch his neck against a tree, getting more irritated. A few wisps of the horse's white mane came off and fell to ground, getting blackened by the dirt and mud. The crow took interest in that. He thought it looked like a feather, at least from a distance, and that gave him an idea. He concentrated and concentrated and concentrated, and all of a sudden, an elegant and beautiful black swan walked into the clearing. The crow was, once again, quite pleased with himself.

The horse immediately took notice of the swan, and they quickly became best friends. They explored together, ate together, and curled up together when they slept, for warmth. One morning, the swan was up early and went to gather food. She noticed a new bush that she had never taken notice of before. It was covered in wondrous flowers and exotic fruits, the likes of which she had never seen before. Thinking it would make a fine breakfast, she reached for it, but was stopped by the horse as he walked up to her. He told her that this was the crow's favorite bush and the fruits were reserved for him. He told her that he expected that the crow would be furious if anyone else ate his fruit. The swan, though puzzled, moved on and found suitable food elsewhere.

But each day that went on, the swan became more and more curious about the exotic fruit. It shimmered in all manner of colors. It looked plump, juicy, and so sweet. Each day, she told herself that she would resist. And each day, her resistance weakened further. One day, she was a short distance from the bush, staring at it, fighting her desire for the fruit. When all of a sudden, a tiny green snake slithered right up to the swan, arched its body up so it could look the swan in the face, and told her that she herself had tried the fruit before, and it was delicious. The swan was quite interested and asked whether the crow had gotten mad, but the snake assured her that, although the crow might become a little angry, the delicious prize was quite worth it. Well, that was the last bit needed to completely erode the swan's willpower. She walked up to the bush, plucked a fruit, and bit into it. It was such a joy! She savored every morsel, and then went to pluck a second one to take back to the horse.

But in that instant the crow swooped down out of the sky, screaming in anger at the swan. The he saw the snake and questioned where she had come from, how she dare she to invade his clearing. The swan suddenly realized that she had not even realized that she hadn't seen the snake before. The swan backed off in fear, as the snake explained that she was here merely to help the horse and the swan, but also to help the crow. The crow fumed that he needed no help, and about how he was bitterly hurt at this betrayal. He ordered the horse, swam, and snake to leave his home. He would make new pets, ones that would respect him. And so they left, half scared to be going into the unknown, and half relieved to be away from the temperamental crow.

The snake told the horse and the swan that she knew of a safe village, some distance away. Over the next few weeks they traveled to the village. Once they arrived, all the animals there seemed different somehow. None were happy. Some were injured, some were scared, some were afraid, and many were sad. Asking what was going on, the snake found out that while they were traveling, the crow's influence had grown. No longer content with his little clearing and pets he created for himself, he had decided he would take over everything. The villagers told stories of swarms of bats, locusts, and ravens ravaging the countryside and terrorizing the other animals.

Life went on for years like this, the horse and swan doing the best they could to survive in a world falling apart. But even though the horse and the swan banded together, along with the rest of the village, life seemed to be getting more and more difficult. The snake had left them long ago, and nobody had heard from her for years. The crow's power had grown considerably, and secretly everyone wondered if the snake were even alive anymore. But one day, beaten and bruised, the snake slithered into the village. She confessed that she felt responsible and told the villager that, much like the crow's ability to create new animals, she herself had the same ability. And one regretful day, long ago, she had accidentally created the crow.

Desiring to right her wrongs, the snake said she wanted help and had contacted a friend of hers for assistance. He would be arriving soon. So they waited and waited. Then, in distance, a small flying form could be seen. As it got closer, they saw that it was a small white dove. Incredulous that such a fragile, small creature could protect them against one such as the crow and his minions, the villagers mocked the dove. They mocked the snake.

The dove didn't seem to care. He explained that their freedom didn't lie in another creature defeating the crow, for the crow could never be defeated. He said he was here to teach them to help themselves, to show them how to release themselves from the shackles that the crow imprisoned them with. But again, they laughed. So the dove went off. They saw him mock the ravens. They heard him laugh at the bats. And they watched him ignore the locusts, as if they were beneath him.

Frustrated at his defiance, the crow came to challenge dove, but the dove refused to fight. He stood there, tall, and in defiance. They all saw he was not afraid. But yet, he still did not fight. The crow flew into a rage and viciously attacked the dove. He flung the dove into the nearby sea. And laughed as the dove's body sank beneath the waves.

But a strange thing happened. Some of the animals in the village took notice. A hound wondered aloud if a single dove stood up to the crow, what would happen if they all stood up? A butterfly pointed out that the ravens, and the bats, and the locusts did not outnumber the rest of them. A fox began to coerce the villagers to stand up, not to fight, but to resist. To stand tall against the crow, like the dove had done, for he said that the crow could not possibly fling them all into the sea. The snake joined him, and pledged her help.

The crow ordered his minions to attack the village, but the bats were hesitant. The ravens were afraid, and the locusts were confused. They approached the village, then second guessed themselves. They paused. Then they fell back, retreating. The crow raged and raged, yet he knew he was mostly powerless without his minions. The crow flew back to his clearing, to plan. He would have to gather strength and come back another day. But until that day, the villagers were free. They rejoiced! And as they did, they noticed a tiny form in the distance. A single white dove, rising from the sea, and flying into the sky.

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