Stanza II: The Parable of the Fruit Tree

“The Parable of the Fruit Tree”
From the Mulziban: Book of Harvests – No Assertion of Authorship
Written 2,650 standard cycles before the Crescendo

Reproduced from the original codex with footnotes by the Asarian Ministry of Heritage

In the final years of the Archon Boral’s rule, the people of Eladya would often whisper to each other about which of his three children would be selected to serve as the next Archon. It was not their lineage that qualified them for the role, no. For even in the First Age of Eladya, the people who built her towers understood that it should never be blood, but ability, that made one worthy of such a responsibility.

But not a soul could deny that Archon Boral’s three children were the worthiest of the nomination by virtue of their staggering accomplishments and impeccable reputations. The Boral children would sparkle as the Ankarudan’s shawl at star-fall as opposed to the dullness of the other children by comparison.

Perhaps it was the immense privileges afforded to these three. The best tutelage, the best food, and the best associations.

Perhaps, even this thinker must acknowledge, that this was a fault in this system from the start. For even if blood alone could not make a suitable Archon, blood alone gave the Archon’s children the privilege of being molded into one.

This glaring flaw is made all the clearer when you also understand that it was an Archon’s final act to select their own successor, for how could anybody but those who had survived the role understand its needs. In our histories, many an Archon’s own children have been denied the honor in favor of another, but then again, many an Archon’s children have not.

But this is not the point of this story.

This story is about how one of the three of Boral’s children was selected.

Archon Boral led his children out to the central courtyard, trailed by attendants and half the court. There, he pointed up at the lidre tree, its branches heavy with the fruit. This tree could only be tended and harvested by the Archon, but in his old age, the Archon Boral had unfairly neglected the lidre tree all season.

“I would like nothing more, than to have a fresh lidre on this unseasonably warm day. Perhaps this small pleasure will help me clear my mind and finally decide upon my successor.”

The court broke out in a chorus of whispers. A thinly veiled challenge, what a lovely way to select a successor! This is what many of them probably said.

The first of his children stepped up confidently. Vestem the Brazen. He raised an arm, warning the crowd to step back and he then placed both palms on the dirt and closed his eyes. Soon, the very courtyard began to tremble as he reached into the ground and commanded the atoms that held the tree to vibrate. Leaves fell to the ground, followed by the splatter of lidre all around. Soon, the entire tree shook, its trunk groaning as it swayed back and forth, surrendering its fruit to Vestem the Brazen, worthy of his name.

When dozens of fruits lay broken on the ground, Vestem collapsed from exhaustion, his face buried in the dirt. Applause and gasps of awe rose from the court and the Archon Boral wore a pained smile. His attendants carried the unconscious boy back into the shade of the palace wall.

Before the reaction to Vestem’s incredible feat of catalysis had subsided, Relascen the Mighty stepped forward and warned the gathered to retreat to the safety of the top of the courtyard wall—they hurried up the stairs. Most had likely heard rumors of Relascen’s feats at the Citadel and would not take this warning as a mere boast. Relascen, too, pressed his hands into the ground, cracked now by his eldest brother’s display of power. He reached deep into the ground and willed the old waters to rise once more and show their might. Geysers of water burst into the air and quickly flooded the once dry grove. Relascen stood strong. With an unbreakable will, he manipulated the very waters to churn into a terrible maelstrom that crashed against the ancient trunk and stripped the tree of its fruit. The waters danced for Relascen the Mighty, worthy of his name.

When the tree was broken and stripped bare, Relascen collapsed from exhaustion, his face buried in the mud. The ground soon drank back the water. The reaction from the court was pure exaltation. The Archon Boral wore a pained smile once more as he watched the attendants carry the unconscious boy over a sea of bruised fruit back into the shade of the palace wall.

“Whatever could surpass that feat?’ the court asked.

Finally, Yirala stepped across the debris and stood in the shadow of the broken tree. She was the youngest of the Archon Boral’s three children and had no title to her name. She stared up and saw a single lidre fruit left hanging near the top of the otherwise bare tree. The court held their breath, waiting for another bold proclamation—but Yirala simply began to pick up broken branches. They watched with bated breath but quickly lost interest when she seemed to do nothing more than gather the scattered remnants of the once imposing lidre tree. The court resumed their promenade around the courtyard, returning to their drinks and gossip. Only the Archon Boral watched his daughter work.

She lashed branches together with strips of bark again and again until she had crafted a makeshift rod with a rough-woven basket at the end. The length of the rod was enough to reach the upper branches. She carefully moved the end of the rod under the fruit, and coaxed it, until it dropped soundlessly into the basket. She lowered it, took the unblemished fruit, and carried it to her father, offering him the lidre. The Archon took the lidre in his weathered hands and smiled as effortlessly as he used to in the old days. He embraced his daughter and thanked her for the gift. In return, he proclaimed her as his successor.

The court had not let this decision go unnoticed and soon they crowded around the Archon. Each asked, in their own polite way, what compelled him to make his selection when the others had been so exceptional. 

“It is because,” he said, raising his hands to silence them, “only Yirala had any strength left at the end for an embrace.” Then he turned to her and said, “may you heal this tree in your own time so that its song may be more beautiful and its roots stronger than they have been in my own time.”

Philosophers have given many possible reasons as to why Yirala’s actions that day had won over the Archon Boral, but it is important to note, that of all these reasons, this is the single one that the Archon Boral offered to his court. There must have been wisdom in the Archon’s judgment, for Yirala the Sufficient would become one of Asar’s most celebrated Archons.

It is said that after being chosen a deep sadness overcame her. The story goes that she had always cherished the different songs the lidre tree hummed every season. She often rested under its shade and listened to it. It was with great despair that she now realized the tree’s melody would now contain sharp notes of cruelty, the kind of which it had never known until that day.

But this wisdom would serve her and our city well. She would herald the Second Age of Eladya, the age which saw the birth of the Eladyan Empire[1] and would propel its growth beyond the mountains. Yirala had the good fortune of serving her people when contact with those beyond the basin was still a mostly bloodless affair.

For when the blood came, it stained the names of the many generations of Archons that would follow.

[1] Not to be confused with the inter-planetary Asarian Empire which is often referred to as the Eladyan Empire in non-state sanctioned literature and publications.