Aberith and the Shadow Man
Aberith sits on the shore looking into the water, watching the fish swim about and play.
"I wish I could be a fish and play all day."
"Why would you want to do that?" Said the Shadow Man.
Aberith looks up at the Shadow Man and says, "They don't have any responsibilities or worries. They don't have to work."
The Shadow Man sits next to her and watches the fish for a moment.
"I think they do, watch how the bigger ones protect the smaller ones from other bigger fish. Watch them protect their young."
Aberith watched the fish for several moments before replying.
"So they aren't playing at all? They are working? So I can't even be a fish?"
"HAHAHAHA......HOHOHOHOHO!" his laughs echo and eventually fade.
"Why are are you laughing at me?" Aberith sqeaked.
"Everything has the responsibility to live and to protect. That is part of the the life you are given."
"Why does it have to be so boring and tiring? Why do I have to sweep the porch every morning, when the dust will just come back?
"What would happen if you didn't do it?
"Mom would yell at me and I would do it anyway.
He smiled at her. "What would happen to the dust on the porch if no one cleaned it?
"Well, if no one cleaned it, then it would just be dusty. Why does that matter?
"How much dust? He inquired.
"I suppose quite a bit after a few cycles. It would be quite gross to some people I suppose, but it is only dust. I am covered in it by the time I'm done and I don't complain. Why would people care?
"Maybe they shouldn't, maybe no one should ever clean the dust. "
Aberith crinkled her noes at that notion. "Then it would be everywhere, I don't think I want that. Just the porch.
"The Shadow Man looked at her and then looked around at the homes and the people. "So all of them should stop sweeping their porches? "
Aberith looks around and gives a hearty nod, "Absolutely! Such a waste of time and energy."
"So what will you do instead? He said watching her fidget a little. "
"Go and play! Have fun!"
"Then go running home across the porch and not worry about it?
"Yes." she replied proudly.
"I will ask your mother to allow you to do that until the Brine Run in the Bellow. Then we will talk again."
Aberith was so excited, she ran home quickly and told her mom what happened. Her mom looked at her doubtfully, but agreed.
For the remainder of the Run, Aberith would ignore the porch and run and play.
The Shadow Man found Aberith sitting beside the pond again. She seemed very sad.
"Did you enjoy your time without responsibility, without work?" He asked curiously.
"At first I did, but after two cycles, the porch started to bother me."
"How so?" He inquired.
"It was worse than normal. There was so much dust on it that the mist made it turn to mud. There were larger stones that I had to pick up or someone could have slipped and hurt themselves. On the third cycle, I swept the porch."
"Why, you still had three more cycles?"
"I didn't want anyone to get hurt. I never realized how thick the dust could get if it wasn't swept."
"Would you go a day without a bath after you were outside playing?"
"That is gross, I would be a mess...oh, I see what you mean."
The Shadow Man looks at the fish again and points to some of the ones on the bottom.
"Can you see what they are doing?"
Aberith watches them closely, before answering, "They are eating."
"Actually, they are cleaning. If they didn't, then this lake would eventually become unclean and you would not be able to drink it."
Aberith sits silently watching the fish clean. "So we all clean, even the fish?" She smiled broadly. "So without us, what would happen to the world?"
"Now that is a good question. Keep asking yourself that and you will understand."
The Shadow Man stood up and gave Aberith one last smile before fading away.
Aberith ran back home to sweep the porch.
This unusual story is told to many kids to teach them about chores and responsibility. The Shadow Man may be a vision or figment sent by the Cynosure .
Did Aberith actually exist? There has been some minor debates on the matter, but most believed the story was interpreted from the dreams of a mother.
The story is mostly common to human and elves, although other cultures have been known to use it with some changes.
Variations & Mutation
There are several variations made depending on the Strata it is being told. In Paradise, the Giants will change it to watching Skeets (large white bugs) playing in the snow and the chore will be ice scraping. Even the mines have a version of it, but change it more drastically. They change the Shadow Man, to a great Anvil speaking to the child. The Anvil is still considered to be a representation of the Cynosure. The point of the story does not change though.
The story is mostly verbal and passed around via family. It is largely used at home and very few have been written and dispersed.
Songs are the most common form of altering the story. Many parents have found a way to sing the story to children. Some children will draw interesting pictures, but has never been known to inspire a serious artist.