But of course I can tell the Story, what do you take me for? Do you not see the mark of Brightnail on my chest, do you not hear the song on my lips? Ach, pass me that flagon and I will say the words. We are all travellers, and it is good to return to the beginning when we can. And push those sugared figs a bit closer, my dear. Now, let me see, let me see — ah, yes, I have it — just as it has been spoken by the members of my order, just as old Prago told me when I was small.
Before Time, we do not speak.
But then the first minutes washed up on the shores of the dark ocean, and a story blinked its eyes and brushed sand out of its hair. We can hear its voice even now, we listen carefully to the quiet groan of the earth, the sky, the jangle of stars in the black belly of night. We tell the Story as it tells us.
At first there were only Two. Father Order and Mother Chaos found themselves here, on this simple globe. The Story does not know if they were born here or if they came from the dark ocean, but suffice it to say that in the first minutes they were here and it was a Beginning.
And they danced.
Mother Chaos would break and tear as fast as her dark hands could move and Father Order would build and mend just as quickly. Father Order would raise great towers and shining bridges with his bright hands and Mother Chaos would laugh and shatter and bring them all tumbling down.
And for a time, it was enough.
But then the Two grew bored.
“It is so lonely here,” Mother said. ” So flat and empty. I grow weary of breaking the same towers day after day.”
“As I grow weary of building the same towers,” Father grumbled. “I’m guessing that you have a suggestion.”
Mother grinned “Yes, of course I do. Let’s play a game.”
“A game?” Father mused. “What kind of game?”
“A Game of Making! Together we can fill this world with all sorts of interesting things. We’ll take turns! It requires both of us to create, but we can take turns and see who makes the most interesting thing.”
Father Order scratched his nose and grinned. He was certain that Mother wanted to trick him in some way, but it was a grand idea nonetheless. Chaos saw the excitement in his eyes and skipped in for a quick kiss before they began.
The Two joined their hands and began to make. Order and Chaos met and the first living things drew breath. The first plants and the first insects, lichen and moss, fish and fowl, claw and talon, feather and hide. Father and Mother took great delight in the making, growing ever more inventive in their competition, endless variety in the nature of their creations. And in the heart of everything that lives an equal measure of Chaos and Order, the gift of the Creators.
And for a time, it was enough.
But then Father and Mother created People.
They had many shapes and sizes, many bends and ways — different races and faces and gazes, but still all the same, all People. One strange accident made them different than all the breathing things that had come before — or one careful trick that Mother Chaos had laid carefully across the long Time of Making, a tiny tip of the scales. Where before their children had shared equal measure of Order and Chaos – People had a little more of one, and a little less of the other. They gravitated ever so slightly towards rhythm or ruin — and since they were created last, they were the most intelligent, the most elaborate — perfect pieces for a new game.
Mother Chaos crowed with delight and Father Order frowned.
Father freed his hands and sighed. “I’m afraid this last batch is no good, they will be nothing but trouble.”
“No, they are perfect,” Mother insisted. “See, some of them are building away — they are your children, just as mine are blithely breaking and shattering. New dancers, new pieces for the game, they are wonderful.”
“Yes, some of them are quite industrious, and I’ve already been surprised at some of the things they’ve built,” Father sighed with regret. “But they must be destroyed. They are ever-changing and mercurial, see! Those over there have have fallen to you and are setting fire to the tall grass — and those over there have stopped breaking rocks and started building houses. What good are pieces that change sides? No, no – they must be destroyed.”
And Father Order raised his hand to end the People, and found Mother Chaos’ hand raised to thwart him. They locked eyes and the First Argument began.
A century of storms, tireless, ceaseless battle. The first People did their best to weather it and provide shelter to all of the other creations — though many of them were lost, obliterated by the tireless wrath of Mother and Father.
And thus our world would have remained, if not for one clever child and one stupid goat.
Ah, this is my favorite part. Drown my flagon again if you please, I don’t want to pause when I continue. Oh no! Can my plate of figs already be empty?
— Talespinner Marxo, Cleric of Seto, Idolobha