The Priest and his Flock

Joined: January 30th, 2013, 3:52 pm

December 12th, 2016, 8:46 pm #1

Once upon a time, in the days before kemera walked the earth as gods, there was a priest who preached of happiness. Getting what you want, what makes you happy, is more important than anything, he claimed, and due to his persuasiveness and the happiness his flock showed, he gathered a small but devoted following.

One day, while he was wandering down the road, a stranger accosted him. The man was short and ugly, dressed in rags and with wiry hair and golden eyes. He had heard of this man's sermons, he said, and had a question to pose him. How, he asked, is one supposed to know what makes them happy?

The priest thought, long and hard, but couldn't come up with an answer. Finally, irritated by the confusion the question had caused, he asked the stranger what his answer was. He smiled a wide, toothless smile, and said that he knew of a wishing well, and when he drank the water, it told him what people wished for. If the priest wanted it, he could show him to it.

The priest said yes, and the stranger took him deep into the forest, to a very old pile of stones deep in the forest. The stranger drew a large bucket of water from the well and offered it to the priest. From the moment the water touched his lips, the priest's eyes were opened, and he could see what other fae had wished for. But when he turned to thank the stranger who had given him this boon, he had disappeared back into the forest.

Several years passed, and thanks to this gift, the church prospered. The priest knew what people had wished for in the past, and when he preached the virtues of these wishes all men listened.

After a time, the stranger came to him again, congratulating him on his success. But, he asked, what haappened when people's wishes changed? At first the priest scoffed, but then he became concerned. His own wishes had changed before, after all, and the well only told him what people had wished for before he had drank the water.

Never you fear, the stranger said, giving the priest a wide, toothless smile. That well had more power. If the priest drank more, then he might be able to see people's thoughts, not just their wishes. When people's wishes changed, he would see it.

So again, they came to the well, and again he drank. The priest's eyes were opened further, and he could see into the thoughts of fae. Thus he preserved his flock's happiness, and prospered yet further.

In time, a famine struck the land. The priest and his flock were suffering horribly, for while he could see what they wanted, he could not create what was not there, and his flock needed food. Desperately, he returned to the wishing well, only to find the stranger waiting there for him.

The stranger sympathized with his plight, but a simple drink wouldn't solve a famine, and to only wish wouldn't do anything. No amount of drinking could solve this problem. However, the priest begged and pleaded, and finally he relented. If he wished to never worry about food again, he and his flock would have to bathe in the water of the wishing well. Everything would become clear afterwards.

The priest did as he was told. He filled large casks with water from the well, and claiming that it would ease their sorrow and bring happiness to them all, bid his entire flock bathe in it. One by one, all of those who followed the priest bathed in the water, with the priest himself taking the last bath.

As soon as they had all finished bathing, however, their forms changed. Their skin became wet and slimy, their teeth sharp, and they became clothed in fins. They could see eternity, and it caused the priest's flock to weep and curse their fate.

It was at this moment that the stranger came in, his disguise falling away to reveal a tall and beautiful pale man. He smiled, telling the flock that they would never hunger or thirst again, but warned that if their skin ever dried out they would turn to dust. Therefore, he said, seek the ocean, and in its depths would they find happiness.

At this the priest became angry, shouting at the stranger and claiming that he had been tricked. At this, the stranger laughed, reminding the priest that he had only given him exactly what he wanted. After all, that's what happiness was, wasn't it?
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