[In the middle of a frozen wilderness, the Lord, Akzasosan, is delivering a formal history (an “elocution”) to an audience consisting of his young barbarian servant, Early, and the mysterious, seven-year-old child, Zysoshin]

‘…This man, once of the ancient ZirCong Mark of the Long Night, thus established the order of a new world. The Sharian dialect would be spoken across the whole of O, and the laws of TanZo, as outlined in the AmorZine­ZirIramOAramTanZo, the Sacred Book of the Whole World of the Word of the Law of the Beautiful and Simple Way, were to be applied across the entire empire. All existing fiefdoms, kingdoms, states and nations were abolished.

In this way, the SolTanZoZon, the Empire of the Pure Way, was founded.’

‘Well, Early, how do you like this performance so far?’ the Lord asked, suddenly and unexpectedly, gazing at his servant.

Early’s expression didn’t change. If you didn’t know him, you might have assumed that he was deaf, and blind, and that he hadn’t registered the Lord’s question at all. Akzasosan, however, waited patiently for the barbarian’s reply.

‘It is alright’ Early declared, eventually.

The Lord gave a short, hard smile.

‘It could be improved, you think?’

‘Well, the Lord hasn’t talked about Shu yet, Shion.’

‘Well, that is because this elocution is about the rise of the Land of O, Early, and not the rise of a small horsethief nation on the other side of the BisMarian mountains.’

Early’s face didn’t change very much. He blinked.

‘The Lord said he would tell me, why Pure soldiers attack Shu, and burn our towers’ he pointed out, after some consideration.

‘Did I?’ The Lord seemed genuinely forgetful.

Sai, Shion – back on tanzo, before we saw pony was wrong.’

Akzasosan’s features wrinkled up for a moment in a puzzled frown.

‘But… But that was hours ago!’ he said.

Early gave a minute shrug of his shoulders.

‘Still, you said you would explain, Shion. Respectfully, I say it…’

Zyso curled up a little inside himself. Would Akzasosan be angry? Some of the previous rage appeared to have dissipated, yet there was a residue of violence still hidden inside the Lord – the boy could sense it.

Clearly the barbarian had decided that his master’s mood had changed, however, because Early was being much more informal in his manner.

And the barbarian seemed to have judged the Lord correctly…

‘You have no sense of time, do you, Early?’ Akzasosan asked, almost without scorn. ‘You pick up a subject hours or even days after it has lapsed, and carry on as if the interval did not exist at all. And you expect everyone else to know what you are talking about. It is a gift. Some might even think it TanZo.’

Early just gazed levelly at his master.

The Lord gave up.

‘Well, well… Even if I were to answer your question about the burning towers, Early, I could not do it straight off. It is as I have said – and as I’m sure you have observed – one must have a context for one’s history. GaMin-Zo Zir-ee?’

Shion, what is “context”?’

‘It is the matter, surrounding an event or an object, that allows you to make sense of said event or object. So, for example, to put it into terms you might grasp: you see a strange man riding off on your horse. That is the event. And you will ask yourself: why is that strange man riding off on my horse? How did he come here? I left my horse tied up to a tree while I went off and had a snooze, as is my bent. Is he a friend, this fellow riding off on my horse? Is he doing me a favour of some kind? Is there an emergency which has caused him to borrow my horse? Where is he going?… There is much information you lack, you see, Early. That missing information is what makes up “context”.’

‘I don’t have a horse, Shion’ Early responded, after some moments.

The Lord have a hissing little grunt: ‘Shhuh!’ And he smiled.

‘No, you certainly do not, Early’ Akzasosan sighed. ‘But let me finish my elocution. And then’ the Lord added, confusingly, ‘even if you don’t have your horse, you will have some context.’

Excerpt from Stories in the Falling Snow, Volume 3 of Dustless

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Volume 3 | Stories in the Falling Snow

Extras | lexicon, select chronology & other matter


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