Janfir and the Broken Glass Myth in Enthion | World Anvil
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Janfir and the Broken Glass

Janfir and the Broken Glass

This is one of the stories of Janfir, a q'tari (ratkin) hero of myth and legend. He is known by many names, such as Janfir the Intangible, the Wise, the Escapist, the Loyal, and the Desirable. His stories are interlinked with several others, but he is arguably the most renowned, and his stories are still told again and again in the mead halls and taverns of The Sticks and anywhere else a ratkin (or any lover of legend) stops to tell them.   Evening fell on the Nine Houses and Janfir retired to his second-story bedroom with Nyani, his favorite lover on the Western Marches. He would tell her this often, and she often replied with a wry smile that he was her second favorite lover in Dujeer--and Dujeer was simply the city they were in, one of many cities in the Western Marches. This night, Janfir told Nyani that she was his favorite, her cheeky reply followed, and Janfir laughed, as he so often did.

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

Each enjoyed the other's company for a time, and the evening was balmy with just enough breeze to leave warm air tickling the skin without provoking a sweat. The sound of broken glass in the street below startled the lovers, however, and both ran to the window. Janfir saw a crowd gathering around a saddled great cricket with no rider. The cobbled street seemed reflective in front of the cricket, as though mica had been added to the granite. Janfir noticed a familiar face working to get his attention and shouting to the window.

It was Gruyer, the smith, a long-time friend. His gravelly voice carried well in spite of his advanced years.

"Janfir! It's the empress of Elowen, or it was! You need to get down here!"

And so he did. As Nyani wrapped herself in a gown and took the stairs down, Janfir just leaped from the window and rolled, which caused a gasp of alarm from the gathering crowd, for when he stood he was only a few feet from what he could then see was not mica in the cobbles at all...it was all that was left of the Empress.

A diplomatic incident, to be sure, though there were more empresses and emperors than one could shake a stick at in those days. (This sort of reference is common in q'tari myth, implying that the q'tari were once everywhere, ruling everything before the elves could do more than scribble, as they also like to say.) Gruyer was swiftly at Janfir's side, and Janfir turned to him even as he knelt to look at the broken glass that held pieces of the empress' features, as though a mirror that she was looking into broke and kept her image, divided up like puzzle pieces, held in place.

"Gruyer...what is this, friend?"

Even as Gruyer opened his mouth to reply, a voice came, instead, from the street. One of the pieces of the mirror held the image of her mouth and chin. Her voice was clear, but it carried with an echo, as though she were far away and tucked in a cave.

"Janfir the Wise. And the Desirable, I've heard. What a pleasure. I am Empress Danille"

Nyani, just arriving, rolled her eyes and flipped her hair back confidently. Empress or no, she was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in creation. And besides, the empress was in pieces on the ground. Janfir nodded while kneeling, gesturing with a slight flourish out of habit.

"I am that Janfir, yes. Empress...may I call you Dani? Dani, how has it come to pass that you are scattered in pieces on the road?"

Dani...or Dani's mouth and chin, more precisely...scowled.

"Has it come to that? Then the prophecies are true. The prophecies of Roan are true."

This was quite a revelation, though it still didn't explain how the empress became glass, and worse, no one had heard of the prophecies of Roan. Janfir imparted this to a surprised and perturbed chin and mouth, no longer on the ground, for Janfir had picked up that broken piece of the mirror to speak with it more intimately, though the crowd would hardly give them privacy and Nyani listened carefully over his shoulder. The empress spoke to the issue.

"This is not good. The prophecy of Roan said the empress' vanity would be laid bare for the common folk, and it has, you see. I looked in the mirror and that was it...I transferred to the land of the mirror, but in doing so, could no longer hold the mirror up in your world, so it fell to the street and broke. More importantly, if the prophecies are true, I need to tell you...hold me to your ear."

He did so, and for a minute he simply nodded, listening to the shard of mirror at his ear and the lovely, plump lips of the empress, all that remained of the youth and vitality so swiftly stolen from her. There are multiple versions of what happened next, but they all end with someone taking the mirror shard and snapping it. Janfir cries out, but it's too late. As the empress' lips fade, so, too, do the chances of discovering the prophecies of Roan. Some say she was able to tell Janfir some of the most important prophecies, and that they inform his adventures in other myths. But no one knows for certain. Some scholars even say that it's intended as a lesson more than a literal story, and that the idea behind it is that we ought to forge our own fate, for we cannot ever know for certain what lies ahead.

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Cover image: Castle by jameschg


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