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The Story of Tabor

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The spirit of the moon glows in the night. Stardust gathers on her silver waves of hair as she glides towards the forest of the Arctic. She lands lightly on the snow, leaving no footprints. She then runs to a tree and falls on her knees, and lays a small blue-grey egg on its roots.

“O Mother Fir, here is my son. I am giving him to you. I can see far, Mother Fir, far ahead. He will kill me and overthrow his father. Then, all of mankind will suffer, for there will be no light. The sun, my beloved, will bleed his light out, and I will lose my shine. My sisters, the stars, will sorrow for us, and weep till they pulse no more. The future is like the waters of a delta. It can choose a different path, but we must guide it if we hope to change it. Please, Mother Fir, take this boy as your own. And do not tell him about me.”

Her mood suddenly changes. She bends toward the egg and growls, “You will be named Tabor, for misfortune.”

The moon-woman then turns away and runs with silver tears streaming down her flawless face. She is running away from her son, away from her burden, trying to escape her destiny.

As she rises into the night sky, she wails, “Why have I cursed my only child? What have I done? Why is fate thus?”

Then, she looks back at the kind tree, and though her heart is breaking calls, “Take care, Mother Fir. Farewell.”

Mother Fir nurtures the baby, warming it like she warmed robin’s eggs fallen from their nests. She speaks to him in the language of the great arctic forest and teaches him the ways of the wild. When a lynx creeps by, she hides him under a blanket of needles, nestled between her roots.

She never tells him about his divine, immortal parents who created a plain mortal. When he is old enough, she advises him to seek his own kind and to learn from the ways of the humans. She has watched them survive countless decades of frost with nothing but their vulnerable skin and clothing. Furthermore, Tabor should be with his own kind.

Ice and snow gather on his head, forming a helmet of glittering white. His skin is his armour, leathery, coarse, and pale in the morning frost. He is stronger this morning, from drinking moongleam last night. He trudges down the lonely path, tracks leading away from Mother Fir. Silent, silver tears freeze on his young face.

He trudges south through countless dunes of snow, pausing every few steps to look back. Then, unable to bear it any longer, he begins to run, leaving a wake of silver dust. Mother Fir watches the silver child she reared. He has become an adult now, with moongleam accelerating his growth. It has only been a year since he was an egg, huddled in the welcoming roots of a fir. He is not hers, and she remembers that clearly.

***

The clearing is home to trees with roots reaching deep into the earth and arms stretching far into the sky. Strangely, in this forest of shadows and growth, there are no familiar animals. Instead of a twitter from a sparrow, there is a neigh from the camp in the distance.

Tabor watches the humans’ activities from a distance for four days and four nights, well hidden behind some boulders. Even if they had gotten closer, they would not have seen him. He is so well camouflaged in his coat of white that he blends in with the snow.

His hair is coal black, but covered in snow and frozen sweat. His legs and arms are well muscled and toned, the fat reduced to a minimum. His noble face is unmarked, unscarred, and contains hope for a bright future. But this future will soon be dashed.

For four days and four nights, the pale skinned humans have laboured. They rise before the sun and trek down to the outskirts of the great Arctic forest. They harness creatures to pull their tools. These are reindeer without horns, obeying every command of their masters. Their great heads bend in a double effort; they must drag weight and withstand the cruel whipping of the humans.

The masters work hard as well. They are providing fuel for a nearby factory spewing smoke. Tabor is shocked when he sees knives, blades glinting in the morning light. Is this slaughter? Not of animals or of men, but of trees! They have no respect, hacking away at the base of the towering titans. Tabor can hear their screams of pain as their bodies are severed from their feet.

“This is torture!” Tabor thinks angrily, “Do these people have any shame? Mother Fir said to learn from these people, but I will never become one of them! I will never become an assassin!”

A sudden thought shakes him violently.

“Soon these humans would have finished their raid, and they will be able to go north upon their reindeer without horns. They will slaughter Mother Fir too! No, I will not let this happen. I will not let peaceful tribes be destroyed. Something must be done to stop them! I will protect Mother Fir, I must.”

On the fifth day of the logging expedition, Tabor has his plan formed in his mind. The day passes unproductively for the loggers, as one great reindeer without horns has broken its hoof. It is tied behind a trailer, still bewildered at its luck.

The sun sets, sinking down the horizon. The humans have eaten their canned supper, and have retreated into their tents to relax their aching muscles. The enslaved beasts are tethered loosely by the trailer. Tabor begins to put his plan into action.

Running silently, he pads down the snowy slope as surefootedly as a mountain goat. He surveys the area for onlookers, and, satisfied that the coast is clear, dashes towards the trailer.

The great beasts raise their heads in alarm at the disturbance, but make no sound when they see the intruder. He looks like their masters, the holders of whips.

As the door is opened, it creaks. Tabor flinches, pauses momentarily, then continues cautiously. Inch by inch the door is pried open, and Tabor props it open with a discarded branch. He steps inside and finds the stash of deadly equipment beside a heavy burlap sack. He looks inside the bag of brown, and finds canned tuna and biscuits. He empties the bag and refills it with saws, blades… Once finished, he hoists it over his shoulder and approaches the closest reindeer without horns. Gently, he places a hand on its neck. The befuddled creature lifts an ear, and allows Tabor to tie a rope around its chest. He then knots the sack onto the rope.

Tabor walks towards the other captured animals and unties the ropes binding them. The beasts are mild-tempered and slow to comprehend their freedom. Tabor takes another rope and flicks it on their haunches, imitating the masters that once chained them. At last, the hornless reindeer run as a herd, away from their previous life.

These beasts have never known freedom, only the fear of a flogging. From birth, they have learnt to fear the whip, and to work for the master of all things.

There are but two that remain. The reindeer tied to the sack and its lame companion. Tabor lifts himself onto the first one and nudges it with his heels. It begins to walk, with its friend limping behind.

Soon, Tabor and his newfound friends arrive in Mother Fir’s domain. He unlaces his mount and sends the horses away in the same manner as the others, for he knows that they will freeze up here.

His task complete, he drops to his knees and snuggles in Mother Fir’s roots, explaining what happened to her comrades. Mother Fir is shocked.

The next day, Tabor takes some of Mother Fir’s pinecones and digs a hole deep under the snow and ice. He lays them in the soil carefully. He lifts snow from the glittering ground, and the warmth of his hands melts it into water. The children of Mother Fir drink it greedily, then return to their slumber. He covers them again, and repeats his procedure in other parts of the forest. He tries to rebuild the forest’s defences lost to the logging expedition of the humans.

One day, Tabor notices that a nearby sapling had fallen down. It had been uprooted and had collapsed. He lays his head on its bark and whispers a blessing to the dead tree’s spirit.

The next day, another tree falls down. Yet another one follows at dusk. Tabor consults Mother Fir, and she reluctantly hands out her answer, “It has become too hot here. Humans have been creating smoke from their buildings of steel, and it is trapped within the Earth. It bounces back and melts the ice that holds our roots. Tabor, I did not tell you earlier for I was worried you would leave again, endangering yourself to save my kind.”

But Tabor has already sprung from his seat. He waves goodbye a second time to Mother Fir, and runs south. He knows exactly where to go.

The loggers are not there, thankfully, or Tabor would have had yet another problem to deal with. He does not creep, but runs for the life of Mother Fir. Suddenly, he feels himself gliding into the sky. He stops running, but continues his ascent. It is then that he discovers his powers. He does not know it, but it is his mother that has given them to him, through moongleam, unintentionally.

He climbs the invisible stairs of air, and rises up the great black factory. Instinctively, Tabor leans forward and grasps the chimney that protrudes from the metal building. Not knowing any other method, he puts his mouth on the chimney and drinks deeply. Instantaneously, he coughs hard and pulls back, revolted from the taste of factory waste.

He keeps drinking it the way he drinks moongleam, but there is a drastic difference in the quality of the substance. He drinks poison for the tree that brought him up, for the humans that she admires and the mother he never knew. He drinks heavily and holds back coughs, but he tears from exertion. For four days and four nights, he survives this torture, but on the fifth day he can take it no longer. He knows that he will die, so he trudges back north.

When Mother Fir sees him, she wordlessly extends her arms, full of gratitude for his suffering. The next day, he is thrown into a coughing fit.

His racking coughs never cease, scarlet dripping continually from his lips. The blood falls on the roots of Mother Fir, the roots that nurtured him from birth. He shakes violently, with pain inside him. He shudders and closes his eyes, breathing heavily, and leans against Mother Fir.

“Just a moment’s rest,” he thinks, but he slips away.

***

He spins, surrounded by darkness, oxygen squeezed out of his lungs. He cannot feel anything. What a strange sleep this is. Suddenly, he is jerked out of the grey into a strange silver place.

“Where am I?” he thinks.

“Hello son.”

He whirls around to face a tall woman with stardust in her hair.

“Who are you?”

“Oh my, Tabor, you have grown. You were only an egg when I last saw you.”

Tears are streaming down her flawless face.

“Mother?”

“It was predicted that you would slaughter the divine, thus killing mankind. But you bent the other way, and gave your life for a greater cause. You have tried hard to save the human race. You must be lauded for that. They have
not realized the wrong they have done. Your life was too short.”

“I love you, Mother.”

“I love you too, my son. I am sorry.”

She bends down to whisper, “You must not be named ‘misfortune’ anymore. I will call you Taber, meaning ‘well’. I am proud of you, my son.”



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