The following story is actually part of a spontaneous Role-Play from NIMH muck, but the story Kanen told was so well done it is being included here as fan-fiction. All that I have done in editing the story is taken out data base numbers and other annoying MUCK interface distractions.
The background on the telling of the story is that Robin, a former student of Kanen, returns to him for council when Darian disappears. Kanen, famous for talking in riddles, says he is going to tell her a story…the following is the result.
Ed Note 4/13/02: This is also from the "Old NIMHmuck" and many of these characters no longer exist.
Into Tanglewood Forest
You have entered into the woods of this forest, there is no path as you peer into the forest darkened so deep that light does not shine underneath the canopy of the trees. There is brilliant colourful blue and violet flowers growing from strange plants in the forest which almost glow of radiance from the even the dim to almost no lighting inside of the forest. It doesn't seem like this forest is entered very frequently from the sharp thorns and dangerous plants everywhere in the forest but you can go in just about any direction if you wish to take your chances.
Robin sits down next to Kanen, waiting for him to begin his story.
Kanen says, "Once, there was this rat, called Nazarith, that grew up in the rat holes of the 2nd generation...and Nazarith wasn't very popular, or not very liked.. i tried to make something of his life, but everything just kept crumbling on him.
Kanen says, "First, by right of dominance, he was demoted from the simple lives of guard, to miner.. then, what friends he did have ignored him.. and all of the privileges of a normal life just vanished before him...all he wanted to do was just to make one person happy.."
Kanen says, "And so, there was a female rat by the mines, asking for food for her and her children, she came up to him, just asking one simple request. He turned to her, and looks at the both of them, her daughter, just barely able to walk, and he just looks down at his sack that he had of his allowance of lunch for that day.
He gave her all of it, and states to her, 'your child needs to grow.' She accepted it, and thanked the stranger, and went back upstairs as he worked down there.
Robin nods...absorbing the tale
Kanen continues saying kind of disconnected, very sad, "Later, the next morning, when she got up again, she opened her door, and there was another allowance of food sitting there for her.. not even opened. She was very grateful that she didn't have to go down and do something unpleasant or unspeakable to feed her child, but then remembered that miner sitting down there later that night."
Robin listens intently...
Kanen says, "Her eyes grew sad, that he is down there, without food himself. The next morning, she opened the door and found the very same thing.. so she picked it up, and took it down to where she seen him last. The miners told her that he is no longer on this level , that is he down further. Then she remembered the further down you went, the worse the work was."
Robin nods sadly...
Kanen says, "So she went down there, and after crawling through places which were no bigger then cracks inside of most houses, she found him; he was thinned, and very tired but continued to work."
Robin sniffs. "She loved him, didn't she?"
Kanen says, "For what she is doing for him, yes. It's why she gave him back his food. He only took half and gave it back to her, as he told her weakly that he'll be fine now, and the other half was for her child, and that her child should not have to suffer as he did when he was young. She asked him if there was anything she could do for him, he just shook his head sadly, and told her that he'd see her soon."
Kanen says, "So a few days past, the packages kept coming, but there was always some taken out of each one, she understood and excepted the packages...."
Robin asks, "From him? Nazarith, right?"
Kanen nods. "Yes."
Robin smiles a bit
Kanen says, "This continues until one day, he showed up at her door that morning, holding the package. He gave it to her and then she smiled and asked out of curiosity 'Is there anything i could do for you?'
Nazarith looked at her and said, 'Yes, just one thing.' She looked curious, and asked 'What is it?'
Kanen says, "He asked her if she would come to the library, and she accepted. So, he took her to there that day, and there was a music-box sitting in one of the walls. He turned it on, and all he asked her was if he could dance with her. She smiled a little, not knowing anything of how to do such a thing, and so after a while of getting used to the rhythm... "
Robin cries, "That is a lovely tale...such simple pleasure are most often overlooked."
Kanen holds up a gentle paw to indicate he is not finished, and says, "They danced all day, with him just holding her softly and wanting nothing more than that. At last she was very tired, so he picked her up and took her back to her place. He laid her down on the bed, and made sure her child was doing okay as best he could and then left.
Robin touches Kanen's paw. "I love your tales, Kanen."
Kanen smiles, holding the paw softly "She woke that night, and opened her door, but found nothing but a dead silence in the halls, and even in her own room, the child seemed content, but quiet. Feeling that something was not right, she went down to the mines, to the last place she had seen him in the mines, on one of the lowest levels. "
Kanen says, "There was only one worker down there, and he told that one of the guards took him to the first level of the mines. 'Well, first level isn't too bad, since that area is almost done,' she thought to herself. When she arrived up there, though no one would say a word to he and she wandered through the maze of corridors unfamiliar with this new level."
Robin listens, sniffling a little.
Kanen says, "She stopped and found Nazarith, with large slashes all over his body, and the floor smeared with blood from the guards dragging him in, but he was still alive as she rushed up to him."
Robin gasps, "What happened to him?"
Kanen says, "Nazarith explained to her that this is what the rules are when someone misses their shift, that they whipped him, knocked him out, and dragged him back here. She was horrified by the whole thing but picks him up a little and does the best she can to clean him up, she closed the newly hinged door for this room and holds him softly. He tells her that everything will be fine for her, and it will all pass soon and told her the instructions of how to get to his quarters. He said there is a present for you when we get up there tomorrow. She nodded, crying a little bit as she just held Nazarith in her arms, propping herself up against the wall, holding him as they both fell asleep."
Robin smiles through her tears and listens some more.
Kanen says, "That morning she was to wake, but he did not, he passed away in his sleep, but she didn't cry much. She smiled, and continued to hold him, smiling because she knew that all he wanted was to know that he was warm, and that he was loved."
Robin is sobbing audibly at the end of the story. "What was the gift?"
Darian stumbles into the area, his cloak further torn from the thorns of the forest
Darian pants "I found you..."
Robin turns at Darian, "Darian?! You're...all right!"
Robin gets up and hugs Darian.
Darian pants heavily, as he hugs Robin back tightly.
Kanen just continues with the story "She held the poor rat for most of the day until one of the miners came by, and asked of she was okay. She just smiled, and said 'we both are, now.' And then she returned back home."
Robin is crying at both Darian's reappearance and Kanen's tale...
Robin continues to listen and nuzzles Darian as she motions for him to be quiet
Darian hugs Robin some more, wanting to say something but needing to catch his breath.
Kanen says, "Well, Nazarith's gift to her when she got the will go to his quarters, where she found his hoard of food he had since he was still a guard.. it was enough to last both the child and herself until the war ended. "
Kanen looks at both Robin, and Darian, and then back at the ground "And they lived happily ever after.."
Robin asks, "But he was dead? How is that happy?"
Kanen says, "He died to have one moment of life with someone who cared about him. Back then, life and death were just things of inevitability."
Robin smiles, "I understand. It is a beautiful story."
Kanen says, "and her daughter grew up in a happier world after that..."
Robin smiles and looks at Darian.
Darian smiles, looking more rested now.
Darian says, "I'm sorry I missed the rest of the story."
Kanen says, "Darian, it's not that safe to travel through these woods...a lot of things in here have been known to kill rats unintentionally and intentionally."
Robin yawns. "I am tired. Thank you for everything Kanen."
Robin lays down on the ground and curls into a little copper ball.
Kanen says, "You're welcome Robin."
Darian says, "Thanks for watching after her Kanen."
Kanen nods, and smiles sadly...