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Geraint the Undertaker and the Unreasonable Traveller

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

The following is a summary of the ancient story known as Geraint the Undertaker and the Unreasonable Traveller, passed down through the generations by word of mouth. It was one of the first Aphist fables discovered in the aftermath of the old world's destruction and serves as one section of our moral foundation. As a citizen of Silitra, you should study it and try to understand its lessons.

While we have attempted to faithfully amalgamate and summarize all known versions of this tale here, for a full understanding of the Aphist legends, we would advise that you purchase a yearly museum membership for only 20kgs per week.

While that may seem a steep cost, nothing is more priceless than a good education.

On a small island, not far from the shores of the Eastern Outlands, Geraint the Undertaker descended from his wooden ship.

He had been sailing away from the Outlands for days, searching for yet more corpses to burn and followed a flock of ravens so large they had turned the red sky into a cloak of purple shadow.

On his way, he had come across a traveller swimming towards the shores of the Outlands. The traveller had asked Geraint for help, and Geraint had offered the traveller to accompany him on his journey. The traveller had accepted, but when Geraint passed out his oar, the traveller's hands could not grab hold of it, for it was far too slippery.

The man had asked Geraint to offer his hand, but Geraint had refused.

'That would be illogical', he had said. 'You are a much larger man than I, and your weight would sooner pull me in than I pull you out.'

'But, what am I to do?' The traveller beseeched.

'Simply relax, and the tide shall take you to the nearest shore.' Logical though this was, the traveller refused to listen and merely hung onto the side of the boat, irritating Geraint with his unreasonable actions.

Geraint stopped rowing and passed a rope to the traveller, bidding him wrap it around his waist until the boat could pull him to shore. The man had agreed and did so.

Now descending from the boat, Geraint approached its rear, but the traveller was not to be found. Peering out to the ocean, he saw the traveller splashing around in the water, gasping for breath and begging for help.

'Do not thrash!' Geraint called out. 'Relax, and the tide shall bring you to the island, as it has these many corpses before you.' Geraint pointed to a mountainous pile of corpses, pulled in by the tide, covered in a thick cloud of feasting ravens.

Geraint, logically, determined that ocean currents must have brought these corpses from all over the world, with the high tides piling them one on top of the other. Sensing the imminent danger of infectious disease, Geraint wasted no more time on the traveller and set to work burning the corpses.

After much preparation, the dead's inferno could be seen from the far western shores of the Outlands. At the height of the blaze, Geraint heard a faint coughing sound from beneath the fiery din. Turning, he saw that the traveller had followed his advice and relaxed, allowing the tide to pull him to the small island's shore.

'Thank you, stranger', the traveller said. 'You have truly saved my life.'

'No', Geraint responded. 'You saved your own life. I merely gave you the tools to do so.' Geraint displayed his large knife to the man, explaining that he had, in fact, cut the rope, so the man could learn his lesson. Furious, the man attacked Geraint, naming him Geraint the Coldhearted. Geraint evaded the man's blows, refusing to strike back, instead showering the traveller with yet more lessons in reason.

Once the traveller had run out of breath, Geraint placed a hand on his shoulder, explaining the obvious logic of his actions.

'Now', Geraint said, 'There is one less person in this world from whom you will need help.' The traveller sullenly thanked Geraint for the lesson and ended his assault, sulking away to lick his wounds.

Judging his work complete, Geraint returned to his ship, only to find it aflame. Immediately, Geraint knew that the traveller had destroyed the vessel in revenge for Geraint's tutelage. The traveller laughed at Geraint's wizened expression, mocking his commitment to logic and reason.

'Go on,' said the traveller. 'Teach me another lesson.'

'I shall,' said Geraint, and the traveller raised his fists, ready for another bout. Geraint merely smiled at the traveller and sat cross-legged in front of the smouldering pile of corpses.

'What are you doing?' the traveller shouted. 'Fight me!'

'I seek no revenge, traveller, for revenge is illogical. You took revenge upon me for what you took as a slight, yet, without my lesson, you would have died. Now, yet again, you have doomed yourself to death through little more than your own illogical choices.'

'I've doomed us both, and that's good enough for me.'

'I would not assume so much, traveller, for you know not the outcomes of your actions.'

The traveller went on to hurl myriad curses at Geraint, but they fell on deaf ears. Day turned to night and night to day, and all the while, the traveller screamed at Geraint, but Geraint moved little in response to the man's taunts.

With each passing day on that island, the traveller's jealousy of Geraint grew. Each day, he expended more energy, trying and failing to catch ravens for food. Geraint appeared to merely sit still, watching the ebb and flow of the tide.

On the 40th day, incensed by Geraint's stillness, the traveller used what little strength remained to crawl to his side.

'How do you still live?' He croaked. 'I've not seen you move, nor catch food, nor waste away. Surely, this of all things is… illogical.'

'Is it?' Geraint replied. 'Or do you simply have another lesson to learn?'

'I see it,' the traveller said. 'I have wasted my strength on trying to capture birds which can only ever fly away. That was illogical, I grant you. Yet, forty days ago, I was three times your size, but you are now twice mine. How is this possible, when neither of us has food.'

'Haven't we?' Geraint replied. 'Is not food is a mere matter of perspective.'

'I do not understand.'

'From where I sit', Geraint continued, 'I see no food. And from where you lie, you see no food.'

'This is true,' said the traveller.

'Yet, were we to swap places, I would see food, but you would remain blind to it.'

At that, Geraint pulled the traveller to sit in his place, then lay prone in the same position the traveller had.

'Do you see food?' Geraint asked.

'I still do not', replied the traveller. 'Do you?'

Geraint reached his hand behind the traveller and produced, as if from thin air, a morsel of smoked meat. Without question, he consumed the meat, masticating like some wild animal. As soon as he had swallowed the first piece, Geraint produced another, then another, and another. Each piece greased down the man's hunger-chapped throat.

When he had had his fill, the man jumped to his feet, exclaiming: 'Where on Earth did you find such delicious–'

The traveller paused in his speech, suddenly, all too aware of the meat's source. In front of him, he noticed, as if for the first time, the mile-high pile of smoked corpses.

The traveller raged, spewing the meat from his guts faster than it had gone down.

'Again,' Geraint interjected, 'You are killing yourself with your lack of reason.'

'These are people!' the traveller screamed. 'These are people and they deserve respect.'

'These were people,' Geraint corrected him. 'And they deserved respect. A respect they were clearly not given in life. Do you not remember the moment you tried to kill me and the moment you set my boat alight? Is that the measure of your respect for people?'

The traveller merely gaped, aghast at Geraint the Undertaker's logical faculties.

'If these people were alive, I would gladly die to save them all. I would feed them as I have fed you. I would give my life to teach them as I have risked my life to teach you. But I cannot force this lesson upon one who would refuse reason in so much as you have. At every turn, your ignorance has led to your demise, and each time, I have taught you how to live. Now, your lessons end.'

'Are you going to kill me and eat me?' the traveller responded in fear, collapsing under the strain of starvation.

'No', Geraint responded. 'Murder is illogical and unreasonable. Even if I wanted to, killing you would merely be a waste of my strength, for you will soon die of stupidity no matter how hard I try to save you.'

The traveller looked on in horror as Geraint pulled the bodies on which he had feasted from the pile of charred corpses. He stripped the remaining skin from those bodies and used their intestines to build a raft.

'That will never work', the traveller gurgled in disgust. 'The bones are too charred and weak. They will merely dissolve and sink in the water.'

'You speak reason', Geraint replied, looking up from his work. 'They will require a strong frame in order to float intact.'

'And the only wood that you might have used went up in flames with your boat!' The traveller laughed at Geraint's stupidity. 'Logic!' he mocked. 'Reason! Ha! Look at the logical man!' He laughed again, falling into hysterics, then tears and finally crying himself to sleep.

The following day, Geraint sat next to the dying traveller and, again, offered him some smoked meat. The traveller refused. The next day, the same. And the next. On the seventh day Geraint heard the traveller's final breath escape his leaden body. Geraint sighed, for one moment allowing a grain of sadness to enter his mind but quickly eschewed it in favour of his commitment to logic.

Geraint stripped the traveller of his flesh, wrapped some fillets up in rags, and stored the servings in his satchel. Finally, he took the traveller's hardy, uncharred bones and tied them up with guts to make a sturdy frame for his raft. At last, the traveller reached the relative safety of the Outlands' eastern shores, ridden there by reason and forever lost in ignorance.

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