The Book of Maldoran - II - Emilio Maldoran

       “Mother, have you seen grandfather?”
       “He is In his study, where else?”
       The anticipation was pushing his heart, a heart that wanted more and felt that more was exactly what was coming. The door was almost closed, the gentle, flickering light, balancing on the cold walls of the dark hallway.
       “Grandfather?”, Rishi asked, slowly opening the door.
       “Ahh, Rishi, so, do you need a pen for those forms?”
       “Fine, I’ll admit, I’m curious. But that’s it, I promised Mother that I would fill out my forms in the next few days.”
       “A few days should be more than enough.”, Akira said with a smirk.
       “What do you mean? This whole mystery will only last a few days?”
       “Nevermind.” Akira replied thinking “Before the day ends, this entire planet will just be too small for you.”
       “Help an old man and bring your chair near the fire, will you? It’s cold outside, you know?” Akira said, well aware that the temperature in the entire room was consistent and yet, the fake warmth of the fake fireplace brought a very real comfort in the face of such harsh winters like the one they were going through.
       They shared the task and soon enough both chairs were facing each other near the fire and were occupied right after.
       “Do you see this?” Akira asked, giving the medal to Rishi.
       “Some kind of old medal?”
       “Yes, it was given to me by my grandfather, Salomo Maldoran, on my very first day here. And it had been given to him by his grandfather, Emilio Maldoran, the one that started what we all hope becomes a long tradition.”
       “I don’t understand. What tradition?” Rishi asked, still deciding on the merits of this whole endeavor.
       “In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve only talked about grandfathers, no fathers or mothers, no sons or daughters. The reason behind it is that the tradition I’m about to tell you started as a compilation of books but is now word of mouth and is intended to stay that way, hence, the fewer people retell the tales, the greater the chances they survive unaltered to the far future. And the importance of the tales cannot be overestimated.”
       “What kind of tales are we talking about?” Rishi asked.
       “Our tales, the tales of dozens of Maldoran family members. The people in these tales helped shape our society, the way of living of countless individuals. Some started wars, some ended them. Some fell in love, some fell to despair. Some were heroes, some were cowards. All important, all links in a chain that not only brought you to this very day but also brought the entire known space to where it currently is.” Akira replied in obvious reverence and admiration.
       “And how do we know the tales are true?”
       “Well, you see that medal? The medal knows the truth, it was there.”
       Akira leaned back on his chair and open his arm away from the fireplace.
       “They were all there.”
       “They?” Rishi asked, confused.
       “Yes, my boy, the books, the paintings, the scrolls, the medals, the jewels, and the trinkets, they were all there. And the tales I have to tell you are the tales of their owners.”
       Rishi leaned back in his chair and felt the weight of the possibility of it being true, all of it. His mind forced him to ignore what was being said but his heart wanted to believe every word and the more he thought about it, the more his heart was winning.
       “Did your grandfather give you all of this?” Rishi asked, shattering his inertia.
       “Actually no, he gave me some, I procured the rest myself. And some are still missing.” Akira proudly replied. “As I said, It all started with Emilio, he was just a boy, younger than you, 15 at the time, when he was allowed into the yearly family gatherings. It was a great event in the family where the ones that were able to attend would go and you would never know the full roster of attendees up until the very last moment. Some were traveling, others had their businesses to attend, others even died from one gathering to the next. It was a festive event most of the time where the members of the family would catch up on events throughout space. It became a source of great wealth to some, dealing in trading of secrets, always waiting to catch wind of the next big war before everyone else and profiting from it.” Akira paused and looked at the fire.
       “What happened?” Rish asked, worried.
       “Nothing, I was just reminded of how low some of them descended of the years. They were people just like you and me, they were afraid sometimes, they had dreams and ambitions and people sometimes do crazy things in pursuit of their dreams.”
       “I understand. But you were talking about Emilio, what happened to him?”
       “Well, since the gathering organizer was always his father, he grew up with tales from all corners of space and that made him think that the wisdom of those tales shouldn’t be lost. Some would be warnings for the future, others inspiration, but all worthy. He decided to catalog them over the years and then passed them to his grandson, Salomo, as his 20th birthday gift, a great trove of books, and that medal. The problem was the Great Knowledge Rift of 2713.”
       “I’ve studied it. The remainder of the Council of Peace decreed all knowledge be registered and only approved knowledge be shared and considered truth, right?.” Rishi explained
       “Well, don’t really know if it was the CoPs or not but that was the generic idea, yes. The problem was that when my grandfather tried to register the first book, it was accepted but immediately destroyed as a work of fiction and deemed a risk of spreading false truths. Whoever was the organization at the time, no wonder they collapsed soon after, clinging to absolute power and yet, so insecure about it, a pity, really.”
       “I see. So the books were hidden?” Rishi asked.
       “Yes. And no. My grandfather memorized them and created a very small list of artifacts that would help him remember the tales. That way he didn’t have anything to register and one man’s relics are another man’s garbage, so no one would look twice at the objects. Then he embarked on a journey, 35 years of adventure, seeking out the original places of the tales and retrieving some of the pieces of history you see here today.”
       “Amazing.” Rishi was now a true believer and anxiously waited for more.
       “When the tales were entrusted to me, I took it upon myself to continue the search and gathered some more. Hopefully, you will do the same if you are so inclined.”
       “But I know nothing of space, I’m no pilot, I’m not an explorer, I’m just a scholar.”, Rishi replied in disappointment for not being up to the task.
       “Nonsense, you don’t know what you haven’t learned, yet. I can teach you and I will. Your adventure will only begin after I tell you the tales and you are fully aware of what’s out there, we would be foolish to rush things so we will have plenty of time until then. Unless you still want to go fill out the forms.” Akira taunted Rishi.
       “Now who is talking nonsense? How could I go back to being a Botanist or whatever Mother and Father have planned for me?” he paused, “Speaking of them…”, Rishi’s tone gradually changed from excited to sad, “They will never let me do these things. They didn’t even let me go on that trip to the mountains with class.”
       “Don’t judge them too harshly, they just want you to be safe from harm and they never knew a different life. It’s my fault really, I was tired of all the dangers, settled down here, they were born and just never left. But you let me worry about that. What do you say we start tomorrow morning with that very same medal that you haven’t let go of all the time we were here?”
       “Sounds like a plan. And in the meantime?” Rishi asked.
       “In the meantime, you will go downstairs and learn how to cook, no one will cook your food for you when you find yourself alone on a desert planet, hidden from pirates, in a cave.”, Akira said, laughing.
       Rishi stood up and left, his mind racing with the tales of eld and the possibility of someday escaping his boring life and boring future on that planet. As he slowly descended the stair he mumbled “…he was probably joking… alone in a cave…”.