It was dark. The birds had given over their stage to the crickets and the frogs and other faceless choirs among the bushes. Sigmund sat lazily with is back resting against the spine of his stool; he faced a similarly situated Donovan who looked just slightly less comfortable than he.
“Donovan, there are many more mysteries that I would very much like to have answered,” the king pulled his hood over his head to protect from the developing night chill.
“I have very few answers, young traveler, much less than you would probably like to think I have.”
“But you know my father, and what became of him. What answers did Falias have?”
Donovan and the king sat silently as the latter awaited a response. The forest symphony continued on, ignorant (perhaps) of the night’s conversation.
Finally the old man spoke- slow and deliberate was his speech.
“You are so anxious to find answers. Even if you had them, you would have no way to use them- you would be more lost than before.”
“You and Falias can be so alike, with your ridiculous riddles! What do you think I am, a fool?”
Donovan’s face surrendered the slightest hint of a subtle grin. “I wouldn’t say that you’re a fool, just ignorant and lazy. But laziness is often all that separates the foolish from the wise, so you may yet be a fool at that!”
The king sat up straighter with indignation, but the old man continued.
“Look, young Sigmund, what you need is the story, not the ending. It would do you little good to know how everything turns out if you had no idea what things played part in forming that conclusion.
“For example, if you were hungry, it would benefit you to have a bit of baked bread. That is until you were hungry again. Then, you would always be dependent on the baker to provide you with more. When you content yourself with the finished work, you make yourself dependent on the maker. And so, if you are given an answer, then you will always be dependent on someone else to give you the next answer and the next. But when you learn how the answer has been gotten, you will be able to get more for yourself.”
“So you intend on telling me a story? Like the legends of my youth?”
“Do not be so thick as to think that legends and stories are for the mere diversion of children’s minds. Every myth, every tale, every hero and ideal and villain and evil- no matter how childish it may seem- will always reveal some truth. You cannot understand pain, suffering, evil, love, joy, peace by their definitions. But if they are shown to you, given to you in a story perhaps, you just may be able to recognize them in yourself and therefore better understand them.”
This time the silence waited on Sigmund to respond. It was a bit confusing to be sure, but perhaps it had its merit. After all, it was the childhood legend of an ancient hero that had inspired the king to take his name. It was the legend of Sigmund and he was the hero and the audience.
“Then tell me the story.”
Donovan smiled, this time it was almost a full smile instead of the subtle grin that he wore before.
“A good story, to be done well, requires two things: a full pipe, and a comfortable seat,” he produced two long smoking pipes from within the many folds of his traveler’s cloak, and after stuffing one, handed it to Sigmund.
“It will take a bit of effort to keep it burning,” he now grinned widely. “But you’ll have plenty of time to practice.”
“And now,” Donovan’s face once again set itself into a somber look. “Let’s begin with your father.”