Date: August 22, 2011
Our finest gifts we bring…
"Once Upon A Time - Little Piper Boy"
Ye Olde Stable
Times were tough. They were always tough for Aburei, being an orphan, but even he was feeling the pressure a little more than usual. You would think that having tons of people coming into town for the registration would mean windfalls for a street performer. But no, it was simply too crowded and busy for a pipe-player to hold anyone's attention. Besides, nobody was in a festive mood. They resented being forced to travel here, simply to be counted so that the invaders could be sure the taxes were being paid in full.
Aburei chose not to dwell on it. He sat in an out-of-the-way alley, beneath a lamp someone had placed on their windowsill, and read once again from his copy of the holy texts. Some careless temple worker had spilled oil on it and thrown it out to avoid punishment, but it had worked out for Aburei's benefit. It was his priceless treausure, providing comfort and hope in a world that offered little. Tonight, Aburei read a passage which foretold a coming King, who would right all wrongs and establish a kingdom that would last for all time and beyo —
"He's here! Come and see!"
Aburei looked up. A man was hurrying along the street nearby, stopping to speak to everyone he passed. "It's the answer to all our troubles! He's just been born! It's just like it was written across all those centuries! Come see!" Aburei's eyes grew wide. Immediately, he scrambled upright and ran after the man.
The man led Aburei and a small crowd of others to a stall on the outskirts of town. Quite a few wrinkled their noses at the animal smells within and turned to leave, figuring they had been brought here as some sort of prank. Aburei was accustomed enough to such stenches, and even the prospect of being shoved face-first into a pile of dung would've been a small risk to take for knowing the truth. He slipped through the more hesitant people and entered.
Inside, Aburei found a strange sight. Three men dressed in expensive travelling gear knelt in the dirt, peering fascinated into a feeding trough. The contents of that trough proved to be not only hay, but a newborn baby, peacefully sleeping. Nearby lay a woman, probably the mother by her bedraggled appearance. She looked exhausted but happy, with her husband sitting attentively by her. Aburei had to admit, this wasn't the sort of arrival into the world he'd have expected for the Eternal King, but the ancient writings often were fulfilled in surprising ways, and evidently these rich travellers thought him regal enough.
"Oh, we almost forgot! The gifts!"
The three men got up and began opening up the saddlebags on their horses. From within they pulled bottles of exotic perfume and spices from faraways lands. Aburei wasn't an expert on such items, but he knew they represented more money than would probably pass through his hands his entire life. o.O Then the man who had led Aburei here came in, carrying a spotless lamb. "She's not much now, but if you take good care of her she'll give good wool someday," he said, laying the creature down. n.n
The baby began to stir, and Aburei suddenly felt inadequate. What could he possibly give that would be worthy for the King? His holy text? It's a bit damaged, but maybe they would look at the heart of it instead of — no wait, he left that back in the alley! x.x Aburei gripped the pipe on his belt anxiously, torn between running back to get it and — wait, his pipe! Aburei's always had an uncanny knack for playing it. People often said they could almost see the things he played, beautiful images dancing in the music. What better gift could he give than a bit of that heavenly gift given to him? He could play a tune that would give tribute to the glorious future of the Eternal King, how he would unite his people once more, drive out the invaders, and reign in peace and justice forever. Aburei lifted the instrument to his lips and began to play…
…only the song did not turn out as he imagined it. It began sweetly enough, bringing to mind a young man who walked across the land, speaking to great multitudes. They were amazed by his wisdom, and he did things nobody thought possible. But he never spoke of gathering an army and driving out the invaders, and when he did talk about his kingdom, it was in parables that made no sense to his listeners. As the tune went on, it took a mournful turn. Aburei suddenly recalled passages about the Eternal King he had seldom thought on for long; 'A Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.' He saw the man being turned over to the invaders, accused of attempting an insurrection which many had hoped of him but he had never tried. He was condemned by his own people, and the invaders made an example of him in the most ugly and torturous way they knew how. And then…he died.
He died? That was it?!?! But what about all the promises of an everlasting kingdom, and joy that wipes away every tear, and…and even as the tune finished playing itself, Aburei saw it. Just a tiny glimpse in those last fleeting notes, of a throne which ruled all the earth, and sitting upon it was indeed that Eternal King, the same man who had been killed by the invaders, still bearing the scars of his execution, yet breathtakingly and undeniably ALIVE.
Aburei found himself leaning on the trough for support. He felt light-headed, as though he had been sleep-walking. He didn't understand what he had just seen; certainly it had not come from his own imagination. Then the baby turned his head toward Aburei. Though his eyes had not yet opened, he seemed to know Aburei was there…and though Aburei still did not understand it all, he somehow knew that the promises would indeed be fulfilled.
And he smiled at me, fah ri fi fi fife…
Me and my pipe.