Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.
Here’s the story so far. The story continues:
The Tale of the Searcher
(Containing written evidence of a man with no home.)
“Here is evidence,” Doctor Dave Daniels pointed to the farthest rock in the farthest corner of the farthest cave in the excavated caves, “of the second fairy tale told and lost in a tragedy two hundred and fifty thousand years ago.”
King John the Cute peered at the pictures. “I do not understand the story.”
“This is perhaps where my expertise comes in,” said Doctor Dave Daniels. “I believe that despite the fact that you come from a land of fairy tales, I know thousands of stories more than you. I have read every children’s book in every language that exists. I have read bad books and good books, old books and new books. I have read thousands of grownup tales and thousands of lyrical tales. I have read every ancient manuscript that exists. And I have learned to map and understand a story even when seeing small pieces of it, as we are seeing with these drawings.
“But more than that, King John the Cute, in all my years and in all the stories I have read and heard, I can promise you that no variation of this story ever existed. This story was truly lost forever, and never recovered, when the people of these caves died in the sandstorm.
“I shall tell you the story now. This story was not told from one picture to the next, but in one, big picture. This picture, if you look at it from afar, is a map. It is a map of the area – I would say about a hundred miles in each direction. You see here there is a cave with a few people. You can actually count the men and women and children. Here is another cave. Here, too, you can count a different number of women and children. And here, too. And here is the river, where surely they drank. And here is a small forest. And here is a mountain. This is a map.”
“If this is a map, Doctor Dave Daniels,” asked King John the Cute, “then how is it a story?”
“Look carefully at the pictures of the caves. All the caves are different, except for one thing. There is a person standing there, facing the caves, in each of the caves. Next to him is a dog – actually, considering the time of the story, it was probably a wolf or some other kind of animal. This is always the same person. And he is at every cave. This is the hero of the story.
“And over here, in the farthest corner, above the forest, do you see? That is a small mound and next to it lies the hero again. And next to him sits the wolf. The hero here is dead and buried, while the wolf lived and mourned his master’s passing.
“This entire map is the story of his life. This man was a searcher. He went from cave to cave and met with people, and they liked him. But he never had a home of his own. He never has a cave that belonged to him. This is a searcher, an explorer. He went from place to place, then back again, and as he did so, he created a general map of the area, which he gave to the people. This gave knowledge to all people of all caves. And so he was revered and liked enough to be written about after his passing.
“But when he did pass, he was not buried in any of the caves, not next to any of the families. He was buried alone, next to the forest, because he belonged to no tribe, to no cave. He was a searcher, and that is his story.”
King John the Cute sat down. The grief he felt in his chest at the loss of the searcher and loss of the searcher’s story made the pain in his chest ache even more. “That is beautiful,” said King John the Cute, “and therefore it is sad that his story did not continue to live on in a world like mine. That is both sad and beautiful.”
“No, King John the Cute, you are wrong. The Searcher did get to live in a world like yours, but the world itself was limited. The Searcher found himself in this other fantasy land. There, he no doubt explored the cave of the family from the first fairy tale. But surely he continued to explore further. The land itself was small, and he did not have much to explore. He did, however, find Death’s Door. No doubt, until his death, he tried a thousand different ways to open Death’s Door. And he died outside it, without Death claiming him, simply because he had lived too long.”
“Yes, what you say is true. Now it is sad for a different reason.”
“What I don’t understand, though, was why he could not open Death’s Door? He was dying, after all. And it was only a door.”
“If that Death’s Door is like the one in my world,” King John the Cute explained reasonably, “then no one opens Death’s Door except Death. Death opened the door for the first time in the Land of All Legends, and ever since it has been open. Only souls that Death brings can enter, and it used to be that anyone who was in could walk out.”
Doctor Dave Daniels listened with a grave face. “That explains it,” he says. “And that was also the last piece of knowledge I required to put the pieces of the puzzle together. King John the Cute, with your help and with the help of this excavation, I believe I know now what sickness plagues your land.”
King John the Cute’s eyes lit up in excitement, his pain forgotten. “Please. Tell me.”
This has been the story of the Searcher, a story not heard on the planet Earth for two hundred and fifty thousand years, two hundred and fifty days, two hundred and fifty minutes, and two hundred and fifty seconds.
(To be continued on Tuesday…)
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