It is told in the Scriptures of Balance, that there is a place in the Endless Stream where the Beginning and the End are united for one single moment; and with them there lie Light and Shadow, Magic and Technology, Order and Chaos. Waiting for the time, where they can endure the ages in an eternal exchange, in increase and decrease, in life and death.
And so Death would be the one, that unites everything.
Arcadia during the era of the Thirteenth Guardian
Somewhere in the loneliness of the Western Ocean
The forest of the Dark People hovers over the waves, wandering with the tides, his crowns in the silver light of their own eternal dawn.
A place like this is rare in these modern days, where the people of Arcadia lay their eyes on the future, searching for the innovations that could bring order and comfort in their uneasy lives. So only a handful of people is still looking for the Great Library, hoping for knowledge and enlightenment from an overbearing past.
The Dark People have no feelings in this regard. Though they experience a certain pride in their own achievements, they know of their never-ending task: to contain every written word since the Beginning, every story, every bit of wisdom, until... the last wave clashes on the shore. The unknown shore beyond the big veil.
Because that’s their look on the world – every existence, even that of history itself, is a ship that crosses the depths of the unseen, parting fogs and passing cliffs, and only very rarely finds safe ground. While drifting, each ship creates waves contrary to these of the ocean, that influence other waves of other ships. And so a life’s stream is carried on and on, and even when the ship never reaches the land, its waves may succeed.
Right now, one of the Dark People’s vessels lies on a Shadow Quay between the roots of this forest. Though it may not look particularly seaworthy – in fact, it resembles an abandoned bee hive – it may leave the harbour soon and fly over the waves, faster than any ship of men, barrying only things they can exchange for knowledge.
Without any word – they communicate within a collective mind – the Dark People are carrying their cargo on board, when suddenly a fearful cry tears apart the unreal silence of this place.
The voice of a woman – the woman – that calls this place her refuge.
One after the other the faceless cloaks rise their heads to the origin of this cry – the Library Tree. They are listening, but who can say to what?
For some seconds a strange excitement lies in the air – some of the shadowy sailors even tremble, for once resenting the force of a collective thought. Their unusual individuality carries on to their neighbours, almost exposing the thread of a question.
But then suddenly, every thought vanishes. A thunder-like cry invades their mind and fills the whole measure.
The big day is near... so near. The Dark Flame calls them.
There’s no time to be uncertain.
Far above them, a little dark-blue bird lands on the top of the big root that borders the harbour.
He is coughing in terror, shaking the little dark head, and stares down on the Dark People that dwell in the excitement of the big call.
„M-m-..rd.r“, he stutters, struggling with his words, „..ld-bl..ded bl-bl..d. m..der.”
“Sh..’s b..n m..rd.rd”, he cries angrily. „The Wh..te Dr...g.n. W…ke .p, y.. r..t.rd.d b.st.rds – W..KE .P!“
But the Dark People still don’t react.
Maybe I wasn’t polite enough for these … very slow sons of prostitutes, the bird thinks to himself.
He opens his wings and floats down on one of their cloaks.
There he starts picking – though very politely – and repeats every word with utter clearance.
“Mrrrr...drrr! Th... Whhnt … Drrr-gnnn! Yuhhh… mssst… hlpp… HRR!“
But it’s hopeless as the bird realises that nothing but breathless consonants have left his beak. He, the witness of evidence for an unspeakable crime is quite literally silenced, and the killer would be able to flee the crime scene.
This makes the poor Crow stamping in frustration on the thick-headed Dark Person’s head. But as his luck goes further down-hill, this is the moment when the Dark People finally make up their “choice”.
As far as it can be a “choice”, where none of them sees any other option.
They turn away from the tree, throwing poor Crow down to the barky pier, and enter their ship.
Everywhere in the forest the same order is given, the same plan is handed out. The few people resting in the chambers of their hive wake up and flow down to the quays, boarding their vessels to the big journey.
Neither do they take notice of the lifeless body of a young white-haired woman, whose dead eyes look blind against the sealing of the library. Nor do they take notice of the grey-bearded man who rushes in the shadows below the book shelves.
Oh, they see, that’s true, they even know the reason of it, but they ignore everything.
Crow during all of this struggles to climb up the round edge of the pier, since his unwilling departure left him to fall almost in the water – an experience he wishes to have never again.
When he finally stands on his very claws, the Dark People already have left off for their mysterious cruise.
He tries to decide whether he should curse with all of his Dolmarian vocabulary or cry the tears of a tired old philosopher, but then remembers that none of these is possible.
He also doesn’t know where to go, what to do and why to do it anyway.
So his soul, metaphorically speaking, might be trapped between the animal and the sapient, between person and beast. May it then be nobler in the mind to suffer – again speaking metaphorically – the slings and arrows of outrageous chirping and become the bird he always was meant to be? To settle down and just endure the lashes of an unkind fate or – in arms against a sea of troubles – end it by opposing?...
Hell, if he knows. Who is this Metaphoric-guy anyway?
No, Crow is pretty sure that it cannot be his fate to settle down forever. Anywhere in this world might be another chick... err, woman to sidekick. He’s too old to change his habits.
So he opens his wings again and flies ahead, using the warm drifts of the steaming water to raise him across this city of a forest, and then above the tree tops to the never-ending sea.