Of Ember and Ashes

No one knows that it was actually me who started all of the legends. Legends of a bird of fire who lives for hundreds of years; a bird that dies in in a flaming nest of cinnamon and myrrh, only to be reborn from the ashes.

Me, the lowly and not-so-humble raven.

Hey, I can’t help it. The humans light the fire, and as it burns lower and lower, I silently come closer and closer. I would then lie down in the dying embers and spread my wings.

It feels nice, like what a human feels when getting into a hot tub. Not that I know what being in a hot tub feels like, exactly, but I don’t think humans really know what it feels like to sit in dying embers. So I call the comparison about even.
But anyway, it’s not like I do it just because it feels nice, although it does. It has a function, too. Itchy, tiny feather mites burn up and die when I lay out my wings over the embers. That feels nice, too.

But I swear, the whole rising-from-the-ashes thing was pure accident. I was feeling warm, so I flapped my wings to cool them down.

…and the flame itself was reborn. I didn’t want be on fire! I suppose I looked a little like a new bird, come to think of it. Naturally, I came out of the flames with a whole new energy, and i had brilliant shades of oranges and reds reflecting off my black feathers.

Nay, my friend, it was I who started the legend of the phoenix.

Mr. Peacock, I do not agree.

My story is much like yours, Raven. It was the human’s’ imagination, yet also their greed, in which why I claim the legend.

How is that? My good sir, you, I have noticed, are blue and green. True, I have black feathers, but the can reflect all the colors of the rainbow. How could you possibly claim the legend with one hundred eyes sticking out your rear end!?

That is my plumage. And my story is one of human greed. I was taken from my native land of Asia by merchants, who wished to sell me to kings and royals in far away lands. In order to raise demand, and therefore prices, they spread myths of a bird who lived for hundreds of years, who laid an egg on the altar of the Egyptian Sun God, among other abilities. Why would color matter with such fantasies as these?

Fact! Facts matter as part of my legend. Why does yours have such disregard for them?

The two squabble about who was right to claim sole possession of this fantastic tale. Did the stories the common folk told more important, or those of the few, royal, important people?

Their fight caught the attention of a nightingale.

Let us stop our petty squabble, my good Raven. Let us ask a third party: the nightingale.

The nightingale, who have heard each story before, thought for a moment. Finally, he seemed to decide, and spoke his mind in song.

I have lived along the humans
And listened to their dreams
Of things we could never know
Of amazing, beautiful things.

And yet, those stories
Do not aligned
like the stars above
How can a bird be born from the ashes,
Yet still lay an egg
to give
to a worshiped place
Among the humans,
where it may or may not be safe?

And furthermore,
Why do the creatures who belong above the Earth
Care about the thoughts of such inferior beings?
We are above such trivial, unimportant things.

You have asked me to decide
So fine.
I think
Both were important to the people
Who wished to be like us
And longed for their stories to be true.

So neither and both of you
Have the right to claim.
Because without the other,
The legend would only be half as fantastic
As it is made out to believe.
To make you out
To be a beautiful, fantastic thing.

And the nightingale flies off, leaving the two to ponder on this new voice of wisdom.

-G

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