Part One: In the Beginning...
“Tell us a story!” the children chant.
The Domani girl smiles indulgently. “What story would you like tonight?”
“Tell us about the beginning,” one child pipes up.
“The beginning of what?”
“Everything.” The little girl makes a sweeping gesture. “The universe. The Wheel of Time. How did it all start?”
“Ah, that beginning.” The older girl takes a book from a nearby shelf and sits down by the fire, opening the book on her lap. “Gather round then, children, and listen to the story of the Beginning. Once upon a time...”
Once upon a time, there was nothing.
Long, long ago, in a time before time, the universe was empty of all matter, filled only with the dreams and games of three children, children who remained children because no time passed for them to grow up. And the oldest of these children was Shai’tan, and the second Shai’ariel, and the third the Creator, who called himself that because he hated his real name, which was ‘Bob.’
One day (although it was not a day, of course, because there was no sun, or earth, or for that matter any time, but for convenience’s sake we’ll call it a day) Shai’tan and Shai’ariel were playing ball (with an imaginary ball) and Bob the Creator had wandered off sulking because they wouldn’t let him play. And it happened that while wandering, he tripped over an old wheel that someone had left lying around, and because he was still sulking (and had just stubbed his toe tripping) he kicked the wheel and sent it rolling.
And so the Wheel of Time began to turn...
The Wheel of Time turned, and Ages came and went, but Shai’tan and Shai’ariel still wouldn’t let Bob play because he was too little and scared of the Dark. So Bob decided to get revenge, and went off with his blocks and Lego set, and built a prison that he said was indestructable.
One day (although it still wasn’t really a day because the sun and earth had yet to be made) Shai’tan and Shai’ariel quarreled with each other about what game to play and stormed off in opposite directions. Shai’tan just happened to storm off in the direction of Bob, and the following exchange took place:
Bob: Look what I made!
Shai’tan: Get lost, kid. (walks off)
Bob: (follows him, whining) You guys are so mean. You never let me play. Just because you’re older and bigger, it’s not fair. It’s not -
Shai’tan: (rolls his eyes) Oh no, not this again...
Bob: It’s not fair. You’re so mean. Both of you are. It’s not fair. You won’t even look at what I made. You’re just jealous that it might be better than anything you can do. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not -
Shai’tan: (hoping to shut him up) All right, all right, what have you made?
(As Shai’tan leans over to look at the prison, Bob pushes him in and slams the door.)
Bob: Ha ha, can’t catch me now!
(He runs off)
And that, children, is how the Dark One was imprisoned by the Creator.
The girl closes her book, and is immediately besieged by protests from her audience.
“What happened next?”
“What did Shai’ariel do?”
“How did Bob create the world?”
“Enough! Go to bed. If you behave yourselves I’ll tell you some more tomorrow.”
“But, Sundara -”
“Go to bed, I said. And don’t even think about pillow-fighting.”
“If you and Eval can have a pillow-fight, why can’t we?”
“Because I’m a Dark Sister and you’re not. Now go to bed.”
Sighing, the children go upstairs to their rooms. When they are all gone, Sundara curls up closer to the fire and starts reading the second chapter for herself. The heading of the page reads, in gilded, elaborate lettering:
Part Two: The Creation
The girl by the fire reads her book, seeming oblivious to the children clustered anxiously around the door. Finally one, bolder than the rest, ventures to speak.
The black-haired girl looks up with well-simulated surprise. “Yes? Shouldn’t you children be in bed by now?”
The children wear expressions of dismay. “But you said you would tell us the rest of the story tonight...” the first one begins.
A few lips quiver, and the eyes of the smallest children brim with tears. Seeing them, the older girl relents. “All right, all right! Stop crying.” She flips pages back in her book until she comes to the beginning of the chapter. “Where was I up to?”
“The Creator imprisoned the Dark One.”
“All right, then...”
As you can imagine, Shai’ariel was not pleased. Maybe she quarreled with her brother sometimes, but that didn’t mean that pesky brat of a Creator could imprison him and expect to get off scot-free! She stormed off again - this time in the direction of Bob. The Creator looked up from his Lego set and saw a green-eyed, red-haired fury coming toward him at roughly ten times the speed of light. For once in his eternal life, Bob did the smart thing. He ran.
So now you know why the Creator never makes an appearance, anyway.
Shai’ariel stopped, realising that Bob would keep on running whether she chased him or not, and wandered over to her brother’s prison instead.
“You in there, big brother?”
A muffled shouting was her only answer.
“I thought so. I’ll try and get you out, brother, but I don’t know how to open this thing. I don’t suppose you do?”
She listened closely, and managed to pick out a few words. “His Lego set? What does Bob’s Lego set have to do with anything?”
She listened again. “Oh, he made something that can get you out? But you have to wait?”
She walked over to where Bob had been playing, and looked with puzzlement at what he had made with the blocks of cosmic Lego. It was something very strange, but she could see how it could produce people in time, and how one of them could be manipulated to open a door to Shai’tan’s prison... Interesting. Lying beside it there was a roughly scrawled label in Bob’s never too tidy handwriting:
“The universe,” Shai’ariel mused. “Well, why not? Strange name for it, but then Bob was always a strange one.” A wide smile spread over her face. “Since he’s not here, I’ll just have to look after his little universe for him...”
“The end, for tonight.” To prevent argument, Sundara Gated herself and the book up to her own room, leaving behind the inevitable queries of “But what happened next?”
As she finally heard the children settling down to sleep, Sundara smiled and Gated back downstairs to show the new story to her family...
Oh, and Cat - if you need someone to kitten-sit your three...
Sundara the story-teller
Part Three: The Promised Land
Now - it's been ages since I posted 1 and 2, so if you haven't read them, or want to re-read them, I think Ulrike has them in her library. [You see, I do have them! - Ulrike]
“So what happened next,” the Domani girl continued with her story, “was that Ariella came to the BBS -” She paused. “No, that’s not right. The BBS hadn’t even been created then. Where was I last time?”
“Bob was running.”
“Shai’tan was complaining about being imprisoned.”
“And Shai’ariel was deciding what to do with the universe.”
Shai’ariel was indeed deciding what to do with the new universe that Bob had created. In the end, she decided to leave it alone for a while and see what developed. All kinds of amazing things did - stars, planets, moons, and eventually life. At that point, Shai’ariel went to sleep - even omnipotent Dark deities need to take a nap now and again, you know.
The Wheel of Time turned, and Ages came and went, leaving memories that became legend. Legend faded to myth, and even myth was long forgotten by the time the Age that gave it birth came round again. In one Age, an Age - you know the rest - Shai’ariel woke up, and was as astonished as an omnipotent being can be at what the sludge and slime of life she remembered had turned into.
Some of it was still pretty sludgy and slimy, of course.
But what the rest was was very interesting. It seemed her brother had been at work through his prison, for there was now a not inconsiderable following of those who called themselves the Friends of the Dark. When Shai’ariel, out of curiosity, went to see him, she found a huge mountain, a pit of fire, and a row of forges making so much noise she wondered how he could stand it.
“Nice place you have here, brother dear, but don’t you think -”
SISTER? The voice that boomed from the flames was thunderous. WHERE IN SHAYOL GHUL HAVE YOU BEEN?!?!?!
Shai’ariel frowned. “I thought this was Shayol Ghul?”
WELL, YES. Shai’tan sounded slightly abashed. A SAYING IN THIS AGE. IT BECAME A HABIT. BUT BACK TO THE POINT, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
SLEEPING?!?!?! I’VE BEEN STUCK IN HERE FOR AGES - LITERALLY - WHILE YOU WERE TAKING A NAP?!?!?!
“That’s right. You have a problem with that, brother? I can always go to sleep again.”
DON’T DO THAT! The thunderous voice sounded alarmed. I APOLOGISE. I NEED YOUR HELP, SISTER.
“Well, you have it, of course. That’s what family’s for. But what’s the problem? Didn’t that silly mortal woman bore through to your prison after all?”
SHE DID, BUT THEN ANOTHER SILLY MORTAL GOT HELP AND CLOSED IT.
“Well, what did you do about that?”
I DROVE THEM ALL MAD. Shai’tan’s voice was definitely smug. BUT I STILL CAN’T GET OUT.
“How inconvenient. And what did you want me to do about it?”
CAUSE CHAOS, SISTER MINE. THIS BARRIER WILL WEAKEN IN TIME, BUT ONE THEY CALL DRAGON INTENDS TO REMAKE IT BEFORE THEN. I WANT YOU TO KEEP HIS FORCES SO BUSY THAT HE GETS NO CHANCE.
“Ah.” Chaos, hmm? Well, that was her specialty. “And how -”
THERE IS A PLACE CALLED THE BBS...
“And so Ariella came to the BBS.” Sundara finished up. “I knew that was in there somewhere. She changed her name, so no one identified her too soon. And the results you can see. Chaos.” She gave a satisfied smile.
“And the Dragon will never seal Shai’tan up again?”
“That’s right. He’ll be far too busy - trying to work out whether Taim really is Demandred, or just an ordinary ex-False Dragon.”
“That was your work, wasn’t it?”
“Someone else thought it up, but yes, I spread the story on the BBS. It worked better than I thought it would, too, with almost everyone arguing about it for months.”
“Is Taim Demandred?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out...”
Sundara the story-teller