The following is the account of The Fool’s Tale, volume one: The Fool’s Compassion. It is the telling of the creation of the Plane of Falleron, and the formation of the deities, races, and beings that inhabit it:
In the beginning there was Peace, and she slept. All was quiet and dark and still and calm. In this state of perfection the world remained for a time unmeasurable, a moment and eternity, and not a thing changed.
But then came a voice, from somewhere beyond, but now here. It was a small voice, so tiny as not to be heard among the enormity of endless Peace that was eternity. But even the smallest voice still yet makes sound, and with curiosity and fear, it ended eternity and began something new.
“Hello?” It said. “Is anyone there?”
And Peace roused from her slumber, startled and confused at her existence. At her understanding that there was an existence. But most of all that existence had something… else in it also.
Who are you? Peace asked, her voice speaking as everything. It was terrible to behold and alarmed herself to hear it’s own enormity.
“I am just a fool.” The voice said. “But who are you?”
Peace did not know what to say, so she simply replied: I am.
“You are what?”
Nothing. She decided, upon reflection.
“Oh. Good. Nothing is good.” The voice said. “Is that why can’t I see you?” For despite their conversation, all was still dark and still and calm. Peace could not comprehend what was not and never was, but now that it was said she knew what it was to see and how very dark the world was around her.
Because there is nothing to see. She reflected, surprised to find herself unsatisfied.
“There is me.” the fool said. “There is you.” And Peace knew this to be true.
Then let us see you. She declared, and they did. A single mote of light shone from the fool, a sad and plain creature, floating in the endless dark. He was so small, nearly insignificant, yet was the most curious thing in all existence, for it was the only thing in existence that wasn’t Peace herself. You are so fragile and small.
“Yes. I suppose so.” The fool said. “But I’d guess so are you.”
I am Peace eternal, and I am all and nothing. Peace replied, indignant.
“Isn’t it better to be something than nothing?” The fool asked. “What is it to be eternal when there is only nothing to share it with.”
Peace reflected upon these words for a time, perhaps a minute, perhaps an eon, and then she spoke and her voice was curious.
What is it to be something? She asked.
“I suppose that’s up to you to decide, isn’t it?” The fool said, startled. Time in the quiet and dark and still and calm had been long and terrible for him, and he had almost forgotten she was there. He had almost forgotten he was there. But he was, and somehow he yet remained.
It is. She decided. And so Peace was, and she was wonderful and terrible to behold. She was as vast as the night sky. Her hands could hold a dozen universes and her stride could cross everything and back again in less time that it would take to wish a goodbye or welcome back. The fool was small indeed next to her enormity, which he could only see through the light he shone, which was pitiful and small and not enough to comprehend even a tiny portion of her being.
Am I fragile and small now? Peace asked.
“I cannot tell.” The fool replied. “For you are too large to see from this tiny mote of light in me. You are certainly as large as me, perhaps larger. If only there were more light I could admire you properly.”
Peace thought on this, and decided it was what she wanted. And so a great light, greater than all the stars and suns and fires that ever were and would be. This light shone upon Peace in all of her glory, and she was beautiful.
And now? Peace asked.
“You are certainly not small.” The fool replied. “But how can one tell how fragile you are without demonstrating your strength?” Peace thought on this, perhaps for a thousand seconds, perhaps for a thousand years.
What would be a suitable test? Peace asked.
“Are you stronger than the fires of the great light?”
Surely. She thrust her arms into the great light, shredding it into the stars and suns and fires across the heavens.
“Are you stronger than the remaining darkness beyond?” the Fool questioned.
Undoubtedly. Peace gathered the darkness between the lights and crushed it between her fingers, shattering it into a billion billion fragments of compressed earth and stone and ice and air.
“Are you stronger than the passage of time?” the Fool yet asked.
With certainty. And she waited. And time passed, eons uncounted. Eternally she stood watching the sounds and lights and motion and chaos of creation unbound swept across the universe and things came to be. The Fool fell upon one stone and there he waited watching her from his small perch, scattering across the heavens. And Peace watched and waited, but as she did she noticed that the fool suffered hardships uncounted. Stones fell upon him as the motes of creations crashed and span across the cosmos. Fires of the suns and stars burned him as he passed too close. The air suffocated him and the waters drowned him. Yet still he persisted to find a place to watch her. In time, her worry overcame her desire for the challenge. It split from her and become something more, and so it spoke to him with a voice that was filled with concern and compassion. And then there were two, Peace and Compassion.
Why do you struggle, when you are so fragile and small? Surely you can become more and end your suffering.
“I am just a Fool,” the Fool cried, for existence was harsh and long years of suffering had worn on him. “You may be able to change and create, but I am always what I am and nothing more.”
Compassion was not satisfied. Certainly there is something to be done. I cannot bear to see you suffer so, it is too much of a distraction from defeating the challenge of time.
“Perhaps you could make something more stable for me to watch from.” The Fool asked, tapping the stone he sat upon. “It is awful here, either too cold or too hot. Too many rocks fall upon me and there is too little here for me to find comfortable.”
A simple thing. Compassion said. She moved the stone and balanced it around a nearby sun, making his stone neither too warm nor too cold. She took the stones that bounced and crashed into him and hung them stable as moons overhead. Will this suffice?
“That’s much better, yet… no it would be too much.” The fool sighed.
There is nothing that I cannot provide. Compassion declared. Speak.
“I should very much like for someone to speak with. This waiting for the challenge of time is terribly lonely.”
Compassion was surprised, and turned to herself and saw Peace from beyond herself for the first time, staring up from that small stone at the enormity of herself across the cosmos and knew it to be true.
I shall stay with you. Compassion declared. Until the challenge of time ends and I am no longer needed.
And the Fool rejoiced and embraced her, and for a time they were happy.
For a time Compassion and the Fool waited together, watching in silence at Peace in her enormity challenge time itself. But as they waited, Compassion grew uneasy and turned her eye to the Fool, ever worried that his needs were not being met. She found him sleeping, and was immediately concerned, for she had never noticed him do this before. She quickly shook him to rouse him.
“Uh? Oh, what is it?” He asked, yawning.
What has happened to you, you had stopped moving.
“Oh, I was only sleeping. Dreaming of things I had long forgotten.”
Compassion knew what it was to sleep, for she had done so for time without counting. But to dream was a concept entirely alien to her. What is it to dream?
“It is to… imagine things that aren’t. Things that could be. Things half remembered and half invented. It’s sort of a reflection of what is, only in here.” He tapped his head.
Could I dream? She asked, staring up at Peace. She heard no reply, and expected none. For Peace fought against the challenge of time and was indisposed.
“Anything is possible.” The Fool said. “Why don’t you try?”
I think I shall. Compassion said, lying down next to him. Anything is possible. And she fell asleep, and dreamed. In her dream there was herself, staring back at her. There was the fool as well, and they laughed and sang and spoke of things that were strange and different. And when she awoke, she found she could remember none of it. And yet, beside her she felt something else, still laughing. Still strange. Still different. Her, but not. She looked down into a pool of water beside her and saw her own reflection, and it was something new.
Who are you? Compassion asked, and she felt less, yet more.
The Dream! I am Imagination! Her reflection laughed. I am Mystery! It sang. I am Danger! It cried, and from the pool it emerged, the same and different. And it danced and sang and broke the earth beneath it’s feet as it moved and reformed it anew in strange and different ways.
Dreams are dangerous things. Compassion decided, frowning.
“Yes, but aren’t they also beautiful?” The Fool said, smiling as he watched the dance.
And Compassion knew it to be true, and she joined the dance and together there was a magic about them, and it spread unchecked throughout the world and created things of great beauty and then changed them as each step of their dance continued. For a time this dance continued, until Compassion noticed that the Fool was having a difficult time keeping up as the world shifted and changed around them. His brow was covered in sweat, and his breathing was hard, and his face tired.
What is wrong? Compassion asked her Fool.
“Dreams are beautiful, but this is too much!” He gasped. “Something must be permanent, else I’ll have no time to lay my head down to make my own dreams.”
Compassion saw that he spoke truly, for as things were changed, nothing lasted long enough for him to stand upon, much less rest within.
Imagination, can you restrain yourself? Compassion asked.
I am wild and untamed, beautiful and dangerous. I know neither restraint nor permanence. And it was true and she was all of these things and more. But It was still too much, and Compassion saw that something must be done.
Then I shall give you restraint. And Compassion grasped her and pulled her to the pool and pushed her reflection back where it came from. But Imagination resisted, and pushed and strained against her and, while she was held in check within her own realm, Compassion knew that she would have no ability to care for the Fool while she held Imagination in check. And so she focused upon her resolve, her desire for order, and her need to keep balance for the Fool. And she was three, and she was less, yet more.
I shall keep this vigil. Resolve spoke, and her voice was iron and stern. And she did, and for evermore Resolve struggled against Imagination, in an eternal push and pull to create order against the chaos of wild magic. Together they fought and danced and grew to accept the challenge of the other, in a constant rivalry that persists to this day. And Compassion saw and was pleased, for while Resolve kept order around her and the Fool, so too did Imagination slip beyond her grip on occasion creating the beautiful and terrible things that changed the landscape of their stone. Within the reflection of the dream, Imagination ruled supreme, while Resolve’s grasp only occasionally marked her realm, and in the waking world Resolved maintained her order. And the balance was good, and for a time her and the Fool were happy.
The Fool and Compassion continued to watch Peace in her struggle against time, but now they also spent much of their time exploring the worlds of Resolve and Imagination, slipping between the two as they saw fit and as their whims directed them. And for a time they were content. It it was not to last.
“It is a shame.” The Fool said as they walked through the realm of dreams. “This realm is so wonderful and strange, but also overwhelming.” For Imagination created and destroyed at whim, but without thought of consequence, and her realm was filled with strange and magnificent things to such a degree that there was little room for the Fool or Compassion to walk.
“It is a shame.” The Fool said as they walked through the waking world. “This realm is so calm and orderly, yet barren.” For Resolve only created or destroyed at absolute need, thinking always of the consequences to the point of inaction.
And Compassion saw these facts to be true. And she was sad. Would that they got along better, perhaps they could find balance to share their beauty. Resolve could find the joy in creation, and Imagination the acceptance of destruction.
“Could you not show them?” The Fool asked. “You gave birth to them, they are of you and you are of them. Certainly they will listen.” And Compassion saw the wisdom in this and tried.
First Compassion approached Resolve, and showed her the joy that could be found in spontaneity and creation. From her hands she created a single rose, and it lived eternal and was beautiful and Resolve found it to be the fairest thing she had ever seen. And Compassion gave this rose to resolve as her gift. And yet, Resolved sighed and turned away.
There is no room for joy in my vigil. Resolve told Compassion. For if I take even a moment for myself my hold upon Imagination will slip and my purpose will be for naught.
Compassion then came to Imagination, surrounded by the multitude of her creation, ever shifting and growing until no room remained for reflection. From her hands she created the first blade, of simple cold iron, elegant and terrible, and with it she pruned the wilderness of wonder around Imagination until she once again had room to move and dance and create anew, and Imagination saw acceptance in the loss of her creations as giving her time anew to create and change. And Compassion gave this blade to Imagination as her gift. Yet Imagination sighed and turned away.
I have no freedom for acceptance. Imagination told Compassion. For if I take even a moment to ponder the consequences Resolve will overpower me and I will be forever trapped.
Compassion returned to The Fool leaving behind her rose and her blade and told him of what she had done and what she had learned, and she was distraught. For she saw that her counterparts were unhappy and their conflict had brought them both sorrow. Her being was filled with concern, and now that there was more than just The Fool she found she felt for them all.
I have created unhappiness. Compassion wept. For in making Resolve and Imagination, I have created conflict.
“But without conflict, what is the point of anything?” The Fool asked, waving towards the cosmos beyond. “What is the point of any of this, except for Peace’s struggle to overcome time? Conflict gives our purposes meaning.”
But that meaning is without joy or acceptance. Compassion said. I cannot be there for both Resolve and Imagination to show them these gifts at once. And while one still struggles, the other will never be able to take their gift.
“Why couldn’t you be there for both?” The Fool asked. “Could you not become two and come to each?”
I could. Compassion knew, and she saw this wisdom in this. And so she gathered all the joy she could muster in the creation of things, and all the acceptance she could bear in the loss of what was destroyed, and she became more and less.
I bring you a gift. Joy spoke, embracing Resolve. Take it and see, for while you must always remain vigilant, there is room to enjoy life even still.
I bring you a gift. Acceptance spoke, embracing Imagination. Take it and see, for while loss and fear are always with you, there is always memory and opportunity to replace what is lost.
And Resolve and Imagination saw they were both occupied, and turned from each other for the first time. And Resolve found Joy and with her created life in the order of the waking world, and saw that some chaos could be a good thing. And so she loosened her grip upon Imagination. And Imagination found Acceptance in her dreaming world, and saw that some the order of death could be a good thing. And so she stopped resisting Resolve quite as much. And there was balance.
And in that balance life and death and magic and order spread across both realms, and the world began to look similar to what we see today over a space of days or eons, and the four sisters were happy.
But the Fool was sad, for he feared he was once again alone. Resolve and Imagination and Joy and Acceptance were busy with their own business, and he was left alone as they danced and sang across the dream and waking worlds. He found a stone in a clearing, lone amidst the trees of the forest of the world, and wept.
“I am once again alone.” He cried, looking up at the stars.
You are never alone. Compassion said, placing her hand upon his shoulder. And she was there, and she was less, but she was more. For I will be with you until the challenge of time ends and I am no longer needed.
And they embraced, and for a time her and the Fool were happy.
The Fool and Compassion lived happily together among Joy and Inspiration, Resolve and Acceptance, and they wandered the wide world as the mountains and rivers were formed and were delighted as weather and wilderness grew across the waking and dreaming worlds. Joy brought for the Spring, when all was fresh growing and new. Inspiration brought forth the summer, when all things changed under the warm sun. Resolve brought the autumn, preparing to face whatever came next. Acceptance brought forth the winter, and the cold stillness between the beginning and end. And so each danced across the world in turn. But all began to change as they traveled, for though The Fool visited Joy and Inspiration and Resolve and Acceptance, his visits were only fleeting while he was always with Compassion.
There is no greater happiness. Joy told the Fool. Than if you would grow with me always.
There would be no greater muse. Inspiration told the Fool. Than if you would dream with me always.
There is nothing we could not accomplish. Resolve told the Fool. If you would but stand by my side always.
There is nothing in this world we could not face. Acceptance told the Fool. If you would but rest with me always.
And Compassion saw her reflections speak to the Fool and was silent. For days, her sisters entreated the Fool with their cause. They gave him gifts, the likes of which have not been seen since. Joy give him an amber crystal which shone brightly using the spirit of the person holding it. Acceptance gave him a mantle of pure white cloth that brought him warmth and comfort no matter where he traveled. Resolve gave him a crown of plain iron that allowed the wearer to make their will known to any they saw. Inspiration gave him a mirror which revealed the truest feelings and desires of the person who looked within it. And the Fool was filled with wonder and joy at these gifts and was thankful.
And each day Compassion grew more quiet and more sad, for in their desire for the Fool they drew him more from her and she found that she could not speak against their interests. For Compassion wanted the best for all and would not speak for herself. Yet deep down, she knew sorrow for every moment the Fool spent with her reflections. In time, she retired away from the Fool so that he could enjoy the company of Joy and Inspiration, Resolve and Acceptance, and found herself alone and sad.
And now I am alone. She cried, looking up at the cosmos. And her tears formed a great lake around the stone on which she sat.
“Far from it.” The Fool said, sitting down beside her. He was soaked from swimming the great distance to her.
But would you rather not be with Joy? Or Resolve? Or Inspiration? Or Acceptance? She asked, concerned. They are there for you, and you should be with what you want the most.
“I agree.” The Fool said. “And I am. I find in the others greatness, and companionship, I truly find wonderful. I have wonderful gifts from each that I cannot help but find precious.”
Then go! She cried, her heart broken.
“But I only enjoy their company because each remind me of you.” And the Fool pressed something into Compassion’s hand. “You have given me so much, with the many gifts I have received from others I have crafted a poor gift for you. Through the Mirror of Inspiration I have realized my truest desire. With the Mantle of Acceptance I have traveled the world to find the most perfect materials. With the Jewel of Joy I have given my feelings light. And with the Crown of Resolve I have made this manifest through my craft. I am only a Fool, and what I can make is simple and poor. But know I would offer you my joy and my acceptance always. With all the resolve I can muster and with all the imagination I can hope for.”
And in Compassion’s hand she found a simple ring of wood, with a golden clasp holding a small gemstone glowing with pure white light. “With this ring I promise, no matter what fleeting emotions pass through me, it is always to you I will return.” And so the Fool promised, and Compassion was glad. And they embraced, and for a time her and the Fool were happy.
But seeing their gifts used to create a poorer, but greater, gift for Compassion, Joy and Inspiration, Resolve and Acceptance found strange emotions burning within them. For each coveted The Fool for themselves and now that he had chosen Compassion over the others they grew lonesome and jealous.
As Compassion and The Fool passed through the Spring, Joy found herself filled with greed and desired a Fool of her own. And so she touched the flames of the earth grew for herself her own Fool in his likeness, and it awoke and embraced her. And he was known as Greed, for he always hungered for more and more joy and nothing else.
And then Compassion and the Fool passed through the Summer, and Imagination found herself driven mad by jealousy for her own Fool. And so out the mists she dreamt her own Fool, and he was brooding and resentful and was known as Envy, for only within the Inspiration of others could he find his own worth.
And so Compassion and the Fool passed through Autumn, and Resolve found herself enraged that her gift had been used for another and she desired for someone to share her determination and strength. And so from her fury she carved her own Fool from the earth, and he was known as Anger and such was his strength that only Resolve could stand before him.
And finally Compassion and the Fool passed through Winter, and Acceptance watched them pass and knew what it was to be truly alone. From her icy breath she whispered a simple word of sorrow, and it gave birth to her own Fool and he was quiet and calm and could only exist under the breath of acceptance, and he was known as Despair.
And so Joy, Inspiration, Resolve and Acceptance found their love in Greed, Lust, Anger, and Despair and knew companionship. And in time the Fool met these new faces with curiosity, and embraced each and they were known to each other. But Compassion worried, for in each she saw a hatred for the Fool that they were compared to, and in each there was a desire to surpass or destroy that which they saw as their rival. For each was born not of Compassion, and had none of her within them. In them Compassion feared for the future.
But the Fool greeted each and brought them to his chest as companions and friends, not seeing the danger each offered. And Compassion, caring for all things, said nothing. And for a time her and the Fool were happy.
For a time the world spun on, days and ages passed, and The Fool and Compassion walked hand in hand exploring the world as they waited for the end of the challenge of time. With each of their companions they danced and sang, played and laughed, and all were in balance in the world. One day, Compassion and the Fool were admiring the first sprouts of Spring when the Fool sighed.
“Such things are lovely.” He said, longingly. “Would that I could make my own life.”
What stops you? She asked, looking happily at her ring. You craft such lovely things, surely you could make more.
“I am but a Fool, with no power of my own.” He said. “What I can create is only with the help of others.”
Am I not here for you? She asked. Together you and I could make anything.
“But with each thing you make, you are diminished.” The Fool protested. “I can ask no more of you.”
Anything we make together cannot diminish us, for it will not just be me. She declared. Together we can each give a piece of ourselves, and we may be less, but more.
And The Fool saw the wisdom in this, and together the Fool and Compassion gave a piece of themselves, and from them was born Humanity. All born as fools, all born of compassion. And they were beautiful and ugly, pathetic and proud. And the Fool and Compassion saw them with wonder and walked among them as proud parents as they grew and learned and spread across the world. And yet, over time, their children began to diminish and eventually die. For Compassion had only given a part of herself, and she was greatly diminished from when she had first been born of Peace eons ago. And she despaired.
Why must they die? She wept. Our children lead such short lives.
“They do.” The Fool said, holding her. “But because of that look how much they embody us. Could there be anything more foolish or compassionate than our children? Do not think of their mortality as a curse, for were it possible I would gladly join them in death to know the compassion they find in life.” And Compassion thought on this, and thought of the long eons of suffering The Fool has endured before she had come to be, and saw the longing in his eyes. And she found solace in her children and watched them grow and die and was proud.
But their eyes were not the only ones who watched their human children. Joy and Greed first saw them, and knew they too had to make their own children to rival these mortals. And from them came forth the animals of the world, which find joy in everything and are driven only by their greed.
Then Inspiration and Envy saw the human children, and made their own reflections within the dream. And they were the elementals, and were beautiful and wonderful and jealous and dangerous, and but without awareness of themselves or their own worth.
Resolve and Anger too saw humanity, and thought them weak and frail. Within their purpose they gave birth to a stronger, greater, and more determined children. And they were the Giants, who with strength and certainty use their power to forge and break the world as they saw fit.
And finally Acceptance and Despair saw these human children, and watched them fail and die and in the cold of their winter found the corpses of several, beautiful and sad. Still, even with their mortality their were beautiful and hopeful and Acceptance and Despair wanted their own children desperately. Together they tried, but Acceptance was not a being that brought life, or dreams, or strength with her. Only death and acceptance. Their child was stillborn, and Acceptance saw it, along with the dead of the other goddesses, and wept. Together she and Despair tried time and again to give their child life, but with each attempt they failed. Their efforts brought forth the spirits and the mindless undead, risen by their powers and desperate desire to give life to their child, but forced to live in acceptance and despair of their inability to both live or perish.
And humanity encountered these beings and in them learned joy and greed, inspiration and madness, resolve and anger, acceptance and despair, but ever were they foolish, and ever they returned to compassion. And the world grew wild and complicated, and the Fool and Compassion wandered it and encountered these new beings beside their children.
“How sad it is these animals cannot know compassion.” The Fool said as he watched them. “For without it they prey and destroy each other without thought or reason- seeking only to satisfy their own greedy hungers.”
Perhaps I can grant them some. Compassion said, and she laid her hand upon some of them and they transformed. And so the Werefolk were born, and knew both compassion and joy and greed and were more than they were before. And Compassion was less, yet more.
“How sad it is these elementals cannot know compassion.” The Fool said as he watched them. “For without it they aimlessly dance without self awareness or purpose, jealously competing with each other, ever lost and confused”
Perhaps I can grant them some. Compassion said, and she laid her hand upon some of them and they transformed. And they became teh Fae, aware of themselves and the dream, and defined it as the Faewild. In their awareness they gave purpose to their realm formed the fae courts. And Compassion was less, yet more.
“How sad it is these Giants cannot know compassion.” The Fool said as he watched them. “For without it they struggle and fight without thought to the future or consequence.”
Perhaps I can grant them some. Compassion said, and she laid her hand upon some of them and they transformed. At her touch they become less in size and strength, but far more than they ever had been before in spirit. They become the Clont, one in spirit, and in that spirit they shared their destiny so as to always know the consequences of their Anger and Resolve.
Yet, when they came to the Spirits, the Fool only said: “How sad.” For they had lost the gift of mortality and wandered the earth in perpetual understanding and acceptance of that which they had become. Tormented eternally.
Is there nothing to be done for them? Compassion asked, and she laid her hand upon some of them, and she was filled with sorrow at their hopelessness.
“They are not of the living, and know nothing but acceptance of their lot. What could be done that wouldn’t bring them more suffering?” The Fool asked.
Perhaps the only compassion I can provide is hope in that they can overcome what they are. She said, and she laid her hand upon some of them and they transformed. And the spirits understood and gained flesh, yet still lacked the release of mortality. But they knew that mortality had been taken from them, and knew desire to regain it. And they became the Vampire, ever hopeful in restoring their mortality. But this gift was by far the greatest, and Compassion was much less, yet more.
And so the races of the world came to be, and so The Fool and Compassion watched them spread across the world until all was changed by their passing. But Compassion was greatly diminished by her blessings, and found herself tired. And The Fool and Compassion simply rested in each other’s arms and waited as she regained her strength. And for a time her and the Fool were happy.
After a time, Compassion and the Fool roused from their rest, and found the world miraculous and different. Their children, and the children of Joy, Inspiration, Resolve, and Acceptance, has spread far and wide until not a single place with free of them. Around where they rested their children had built a great hall of stone and water and metal and fire, and it was beautiful to see. And it was known as the Hall of Compassion, and humanity gave homage to it’s parents and they were pleased.
Compassion walked among her children giving what gifts she could and accepting greatly those they brought her, always pleased by the kindness they showed each other. The Fool walked among his children and laughed and played tricks upon them, and was tricked by his children, always pleased at their humor.
But then something happened they did not expect. Humanity brought to them two great gifts, gifts of such power that both were shocked to behold them. First was single rose, blooming eternal. Second was a blade of simple Iron, forged at the beginning of time. The Fool and Compassion looked upon these gifts and knew them, for she had made them in eons past for Resolve and Inspiration to grow and learn from.
From where did you get these gifts, my children? Compassion asked. But before she could hear their reply, the Fool approached them in wonder, for he had never seen them directly before and only knew them by Compassion’s stories and he was amazed. He touched the edge of the First Blade, and a single drop of blood appeared upon his finger and, for the first time in existence, he bled and did not immediately heal. He then touched the eternal Rose and immediately the drop of blood was absorbed and his wound was no more. And he laughed.
“These are truly great gifts!” He laughed, seeing his fingers begin to knit with the fresh blood upon his hands. “For in them I find the keys of life and death.” And Compassion was afraid. And so word spread of what had happened, and many came to see the wonder of these gifts.
And so word came to Resolve and Joy, Acceptance and Inspiration, and they found that their gifts had gone missing and they were distraught for humanity had stolen them from their realms without askance or notice. Greed, Anger, and Envy heard of the story of their effect upon the Fool, ever before eternal as they were, and knew they had an opportunity. If the First Blade could render the Fool, that which was eternal, truly mortal, it could allow them to destroy him once and for all and claim the love that Joy, Inspiration, and Resolve felt for him for their own. No longer would they be poor imitations, but themselves without peer. With the Eternal Rose they could make life anew for themselves, without need for Compassion, and change the world as they saw fit for their wives. Driven by their natures, they came up with a plan and began to martial the great hosts of their children to attack Compassion’s Hall.
But they knew that Compassion’s power, while diminished, was still great. While Greed, Anger, and Envy held great power, they reluctantly agreed that without Despair their plan could not succeed. In their desperation, they explained their plan and he agreed. For Despair realized that if he could get the Eternal Rose, he could grant Acceptance the ability to make life and restore their child. He came to her and told her of their plan, but in her fear and sorrow Acceptance could not hear him. Instead she held her dead child to her breast, hoping it would yet stir alive. With a deep sorrow, he turned from her and joined with the other gods to confront Compassion and take the treasures for their own. And as they mustered their forces, the Fool, exhausted by his ordeal, went to sleep for a time. But Compassion remained awake, and worried silently in her hall.
A werefolk came to her upon the wind, with a voice as light as the feathers that bore her to the Hall of Compassion. “Great Compassion, please hear me! I have flown on the winds of a hurricane to reach you, dodging through claw and kin to bring word. For Greed will come with his great host of beasts and will bear down upon the Fool as the pack upon the prey!” And Compassion was grateful for the warning and ever gave the winged werefolk grace beyond all others.
Soon after, a Clont stormed into the Hall of Compassion, his armor thick and his blade arm strong. With a voice that shook the halls he bellowed. “Great Compassion, I have fought through the legion of giants upon the fields and mountains to bring word. Anger comes to slay the Fool, with terrible wrath and and an army to match.” And Compassion was grateful for the warning and gave him the title of the Greatest Clont, and forever those who would hold the title would be those who think first of others in their hour of need.
And then came four Fae. One was stout and small, one was tall and lithe, one had skin as green as the spring leaf, one had horns and eyes of shadow. Together they lifted each other up and into the Hall of Compassion, for they were each wounded terribly and relied upon the others to stand. “Great Compassion,” they spoke as one, and it was with voices tired and pained. “We have tricked, blinded, fled, and fought through our kin of Summer and Winter, against all rivalries of our people, to bring word that Envy comes for the Fool, and will do him great harm.” And Compassion was grateful, and made them each whole. And forever onward would the fae races of Fiendkin, Elfkin, Greenkin and Stoutkin be honored amongst her children as friends.
And finally, as the sun set upon the day, a single figure slowly entered the Hall of Compassion, walking with purpose but haltingly and with great pain. The Vampire spoke, and his voice was harsh as the grave and brought terror to the humans of the hall. “Great Compassion, I have walked across the wastes of the world with decaying flesh, tormented by your children with stones and spears. Every step has been torture, but still I persist. For Despair comes to your door and with him the death of the Fool.” And the Vampire paused, for she saw the Eternal Rose in the hall and knew it to be the hope he, and his god, sought. And for a moment he was tempted to say no more, but in that moment the Vampire placed others above his own hope. “Despair seeks only the rose, to perhaps give life to his child. But the other gods come with terrible purpose, and will kill the Fool and take these gifts for their own.” And the Vampire knew their kind would never hold the rose and accepted it. And Compassion was, perhaps, the most grateful of all and brought the Vampire to her breast and held him.
You have suffered the most to aid me, and with the least reason. She said, her tears falling upon the Vampire, for she knew that Despair would have granted him life with the Eternal Rose if the plot were successful. And so you must be the greatest rewarded. And as the tears fell upon the Vampire’ skin his decaying flesh reknit, and he became beautiful and strong and those who looked upon him found themselves enchanted by his beauty. And while he still knew the bitter truth of undeath, he was now ever surrounded by those who loved and adored him. And so too it is for all Blessed Vampires, and they neither suffer for despair of their condition.
And Compassion knew she had work ahead of her, and began to set about her business while the Fool slept. And he was, for a time, happy.
And so Compassion set to work on protecting her Fool, for Greed, Anger, Envy, and Despair had many agents and there was only one of her. She gathered the Eternal Rose and the First Blade and addressed her human children.
I leave to hide these gifts, for they are too dangerous for any not born of compassion to hold. Please protect my Fool, for he is fragile and small and without you he does not stand a chance against those who would harm him. And her children grew serious and understood. And while he slept they bore him away and hid them among their great multitude, so that none would know him from any other human save for his eternal life. And so it remains to this day.
Searching the world, Compassion came to a great workshop where a human smith had crafted a thousand tools and she stood beside him and watched in secret. This man was known as Daedalus and his hands were as clever as his mind was kind, but his heart was filled with sadness for he had no one to share his workshop with, for his wife had died in childbirth and his son had later fallen to plague. And so he had withdrawn from the world in his work. In their memory he had used his craft to form a likeness to his son, lifeless as a statue. And so she revealed herself touched the statue with the eternal rose, and it blinked and spoke and was alive and the man was glad. She named the boy Construct and swore that whenever something was lovingly created with all the heart and soul of a human, it could gain the same gift of life and become as this first construct was, alive and aware.
And to this construct’s hand she entrusted the First Blade, but as she did she whispered a secret that has never been heard by the ears of mortals, yet one understood by every construct. For they are charged by compassion to protect the secrets of unlimited power from those who would use them in Greed, Anger, Envy or Despair, and to this day they keep these secrets well. For there is no foolishness in them, only their purpose and compassion. With it’s charge the Construct bore away the First Blade in secret, where it would stay as long as it’s vigil remained.
And Compassion left the lands of her children, and along her journey, she came across a wooded grove, filled with flowers and mushrooms. Here the precious Eternal Rose would look like but one of many, and she hoped it might be safe. After planting the rose at the foot of a great tree, she spread her power throughout the grove and the mushrooms, trees, and grasses rose up as sentient beings to her call. The strongest of these was the Mother Oak, an Arborkin that emerged from the tree above the Eternal Rose. Mother Oak swore to compassion that her arms would shelter the rose from harm and guard it throughout the seasons that would follow. The youngest of these was Napaeae, a willowy Meadowfolk maiden, who swore to keep the Eternal Rose company and be the last line of defense should someone enter the garden. Last to rise was the elderly Trufflekin crone, Vein, who swore to seek and destroy those who would take the rose for themselves, and left the grove to seek out this dark mission. And so these beings continue to keep charge of the Eternal Rose, and the wild places across the world. And these three beings became the first of many and were wise and secretive. For unlike those born of her and the Fool, these were creatures without Foolishness, and they understood their purpose well. And while they allow those who walk with foolishness or compassion to pass freely, those who come with greed, anger, lust, or despair in their hearts have no greater enemy.
They were the Plantfolk, and with them she entrusted the keeping of the Eternal Rose and the wild places of the world. For without compassion, the living places of the world would be destroyed by Greed, Anger, Lust and Despair in their search for power. And to the trees, and caves, and green places her children spread to keep their silent and secret vigil. And Compassion was thankful.
With the gifts well hidden, Compassion returned once more to the Hall of Compassion, her mission completed, and found the Fool gone and safe, and she was pleased. She urged her children out, and spoke to them once more.
I beg of you, forget these halls and forget these gifts, for they were not for you, my children. Keep my Fool safe, and treat any who would walk among you with the same reverence you would hold him or I.
And once her children had left she used her power to tear her hall from all other lands, surrounding it in mists and pushing it away from the shore with her power. It wandered far from land, and continues to do so to this day, with only divinities being able to return to it once leaving. After she sundered her island from the rest of the world, she then she shut the entrance to the hall and sealed it with her power so that none could enter save for those of divine origin being able to enter so as to protect any of her foolish children who chose to return. Then she waited, and in time Greed, Lust, Anger, and Despair came to steal her gifts for their evil purpose. Stripped of their armies in seeking the wandering island, they came upon the hall alone and threw open the doors. There, instead of the Eternal Rose and First Blade, they found only Compassion.
Greed, Envy, and Anger were not deterred, and charged her in hate. And she faced them and grasped each of them in turn. Their weapons smote her and their passage shattered her hall. Finally, she had enough and in her first moment of rage she lashed out with her remaining power bind them with a powerful curse.
Greed, I bind you by your need for Joy. And any joy you claim from her will turn to ruin.
Envy, I bind you by your need for Inspiration. She shall never again be able to see you nor know your presence.
Anger, I bind you by your need for resolve. Whenever you lay your hands upon her she will be burned and enraged by you.
Horrified by these curses flowing through them, they withdrew from her hall. In their wake they left their own bindings so that Compassion would not escape her hall and chase them. Greed set fire to her hall, burning the gate eternally so that none could pass through unharmed. Envy shrouded the hall in mists, so that none could find their way through. Anger salted the land surrounding the hall in razor-sharp crystals and stones so that none could approach it unharmed. And so they fled the wandering island to the wild corners of the world, pondering the natures of their curses. They returned to Joy, Inspiration, and Resolve in silence and spoke nothing of their plot again. But when they came to their loves they found Compassion’s power bound them and her curse became manifest.
But within the hall, Despair remained, standing over Compassion’s weakened body as she wept from the pain and frustration of her bitter work. Around her the hall flooded, darkening in the gloom and sadness of her sorrow. Remorseful of his actions, and those of his siblings, he offered her his hand. Weakened, and nearly spent of her power, she took it.
Despair, you did not help your brothers in attacking me. To you I give hope. Hope that one day you will have the power to bring life and joy to your child and wife.
And then Compassion fell, weakened, to the floor of her flooded hall. Surrounded by deep, dark water of her own tears and trapped within. And Despair remained by her side, pondering the strange nature of the curse she had given him and was unable to understand it.
And Compassion remained in the Hall and found herself completely diminished. And yet she had become something more than she had ever been. She had been struck by Anger, by Envy, and Greed. She had been touched by the hand of Despair. She had known Joy, Inspiration, Resolve, and Acceptance. She had born the children of a Fool, and given her compassion to those who had known nothing of it. And all the while Peace continued in her battle against time itself far beyond the simple stone that had become the world.
And she cried. And when she spoke her voice was no longer terrible to behold, nor did it hold any bit of enormity.
“I too am a fool, now.” She said, staring at her simple ring. It shone with the light of his spirit, and she waited, for she knew that while she was sealed without escape, she had a promise of another Fool to return to her. And she waited.