Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Story Corner: The Parable of the Unveiled

'Universal Edge/Majestic city of Taldria' by Art-Calevera.

There is a story, about a land. A land that may or may not have ever existed depending on who you ask.
            Yet the story is real. It is here, it has been here and it will be here for as long as people are willing to read it. And it goes like this.
            There was a land, a land of great beauty. And in this land, there was a city as majestic looking as nature's greatest masterpieces. Yet though the metropolis appeared beautiful to all outsiders, it was in fact an enormous fantasy as empty as the air coming out of your nostrils. For you see, most of the people who lived here were great conjurers and illusionists. With their minds they could create images of majestic towers and clean cobblestone streets, or markets overflowing with food and precious jewels. With this power they could make themselves and their homes appear far grander then they actually were. The greatest makers of these illusions ruled the city and established a council that worked day and night to maintain the fantastic and shimmering appearance of their beloved city.
            For centuries the illusionists maintained the fantasy, drawing the envy of many outsiders who were often unable to see the people for who they really were. The people of the city themselves put just as much effort into  embellishing their own looks as they did their city. Anyone could make himself taller, darker, lighter, prettier and muscular and soon the people of the city were as glamorous and perfect in appearance as their homes and streets.
            But though the visions of high shimmering walls and gorgeous people fooled many on the outside, deep down the people of the city always knew that their illusions could crumble if someone was skeptical enough to see through them. Thus, the people of the city were trained from a very young age to maintain their illusions, to maintain a perfect and idealized appearance and to adore the illustrious visions of their ancestors. All they valued was the surface, for the surface was all that made them unique.
            Yet there were always a few who did not conjure. These people were known as the Unveiled. Some were skeptics and cynics who could not stomach the idea that their entire world was a fantasy. Others, were dreamers whose dreams were not limited to perfect strait hair, perfect bodies and perfectly grand castles and walls their society valued. Still a few others were so innocent that they could not stand to take part in the grand deception. These people could not or would not change their appearance or build the perfect marble palaces that their peers and society treasured. A few of these lonely souls, could sometimes be seen wandering the streets of their city with their wounds and blemishes exposed, their hair unkempt, their skin cracked and dried by the sun. Not all were ugly sometimes they were attractive but always they were themselves, openly, unabashedly themselves, and for this they were shunned and ridiculed by the illusionists.
            Because of their low stature in society, the Unveiled were often given the menial jobs of farming, milling, hunting and gathering. For you see, the illusion of a bountiful field is not the same as a bountiful field. A vision cannot be eaten no matter how lovely. The illusionists, who could make the world look so gorgeous, could not make their illusions consumable. Nor could their perfect walls stop the storms or winds.
            It was the Unveiled and their practical efforts which allowed the illusionists to build their fantasies. For though the illusionists would spend all day in their fantastical kingdom, they were in fact in, in hovels and simple stone huts pieces together by the Unveiled. Once inside they would conjure up images of great and cushioned chambers to make their environment more comfortable.
            The Unveiled themselves would stay in a stone fortress a good distance from the city. There they would sleep, eat drink sing and dance in their own company, content with their ordinariness. They would listen to raw, unfiltered stories and legends from their storytellers. Every night the Unveiled would do this, and every morning they would make the long walk to the fantasy city prepared to be mocked and scorned by their perfect looking superiors in their perfect homes.
            Thus, the city existed. Thus, the Unveiled and the Illusionists lived for many, many generations.
            Then one day, a clear and bright day, a marauding army from a distant place arrived at the city's gates. Enticed by the many, many tales of great wealth and prosperity that the illusionists had spun, the soldiers were embittered and disillusioned by years and years of plundering, killing and raping. Immediately, they saw through the illusionists fantasy with their cynical eyes.
            The city walls, which would have appeared to the less bitter to be as tall as mountains and decorated in gorgeous frescoes, were simply stacks of unadorned stone, merely a knee high. The golden many halled palaces with illustrious gardens, were nothing more than simple wooden huts with small vegetable patches. And the people? They were, truly as ordinary and as ugly as the soldiers themselves.
            Unswayed by the illusionists' conjuring, the rampaging army felt cheated and in rage ransacked the community of hovels and put their illusionists to the sword. The best illusionists conjured up as many terrible visions as they could to scare away the army but the soldiers saw straight through them and slew all the great fantasy makers.
            Only the Unveiled, who escaped behind the sturdy walls of their well built castle survived. Though the army tried time and again to assault their walls and break down their doors, their fortress was built strong and sturdy and in the end the hoard moved onto other lands leaving the illusionists and their illusions exposed on a burning plain. No city, before or since, has ever rivaled the physical beauty that the Illusionists created. For in the end, the illusion and the fantasy of grandeur was all the people of that poor city ever had.   

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