Libra of Babel, daughter of the merchant Queen, mother of all Words

Libra’s mother was a merchant. She named her daughter after a scale because she hoped the girl would grow up to be balanced and well measured. The merchant clan Libra and her mother hailed from recorded accounts in clay tablets to prevent confusion and to ensure the proper amounts were paid.

Originally these tablets were simply marked with individual scores to aid in counting, but as the clan became wealthier, more complicated information needed to be storied. Soon Libra’s mother was a Merchant Queen, and soon each tablet contained a memo written in pictures and symbols.

Like all the daughters of her clan, the young Libra learned to read and write the symbols on the clay tablets. But Libra had no desire to be a merchant like her mother. Libra was more interested in poetry. As a Merchant Queen, Libra’s mother would frequently patronize poets and orators to preform in her court. Libra was tasked with recording the storyteller’s payment, but she could not help but write down pieces of the story on the ledger’s memo.

Soon the Memo became longer than the ledger itself, and when she looked at what she had written, she realized she could hear the voice of the storyteller once more. Although Libra thought she would be punished for writing down unnecessary notes in her mother’s ledgers, The Merchant Queen was quick to recognize the power in her daughter’s discovery. Words that could be recorded could be traded without loss. Soon Libra had a new job, recording and copying stories to be sold in her mother’s market.

This would have been the end of the story, but in another part of the world, The Queen of Heaven had sent her Son to Conquer the earth. As the Great Conqueror’s armies swept across the land, the merchant clan soon found themselves in it’s path. Weighed down by their wealth, the Merchant Queen’s caravan was unable to escape. In her Desperation, the Merchant Queen tossed away the heavy clay tablets. When her own daughter leaped after them, she did not turn back.

The Conqueror’s scouts reported a young girl crying over a pile of broken pottery. The soldiers of a lesser king would have simply taken her for themselves without feeling any need to report it to their superiors, but the Conqueror’s men were under orders to report anything unusual. When the Conqueror heard of this girl, he decided he must know why she valued clay more than safety.

When Libra looked up from her sobbing, she found herself face to face with a golden man surrounded by a host of crimson warriors. Seeing no threat, the warriors stepped aside as their master lowered himself down to the small girl’s height and looked her in the eye.

“Why do you cry for broken clay child? Have you too been discarded?” Thus the Conqueror spoke.

The girl did not reply with words, but started to toy with the shards on the ground. The Conqueror’s honor guard reached for their weapons, fearful that she might try to stab their King with a shard, but the conqueror raised his hand to lower their blades. As he watched, she arranged the shards on the ground, slowly piecing them back together.

The Queen of Heaven had granted her son knowledge of all languages, and when the shards were in order, he recognized the stories despite having never heard them before, as if hearing a voice without sound. As he realized what was happening, he let out a mighty laugh which struck fear into all who heard.

“The girl can fashion words out of clay!” Thus the conqueror spoke. Just as her Mother had, the Conqueror saw Libra’s true value. Words that could be recorded could last forever. Soon Libra had a new job witnessing and recording the Conqueror’s great deeds.

When the Conqueror came to the Holy City, he built for Libra a great temple Library (for that is where we get the word library). No longer writing on clay tablets, Libra was given fresh scrolls and brushes of ink. Instead of copying everything herself, Libra was given countless disciples to spread her burden. Great poets and sages came to Libra from all over the empire to have their words recorded, and the Library soon contained all the knowledge in the world.

That would be the end of the story, but the Conqueror’s sudden disappearance threw the city into Chaos. From each city, the Conqueror had taken a queen, and to each queen the conqueror gave many children. Now his countless wives and children all claimed to have been his favorite, and the rightful ruler in his absence. Libra had been known by  the Conqueror, but she did not bare him any children and did not desire to rule as he had. Simply having her words was enough, but this war would allow no neutrality.

Just as the Conqueror had, and just as her mother hand, the Conqueror’s wives saw the value in their youngest sister. Words which could be recorded carried authority. Each of them in turn sought to buy Libra over to their side. If she would only write their name as the conqueror’s will, they could promise her anything in the world. If she would not, they could take from her everything she possessed.

Libra would not be bought. She had already experienced losing everything she had, and she had already been given everything she could ever want. As long as she refused to side with any one of her elder sisters, Libra knew she would be safe. Unfortunately, this safety was a lie.

It is not written who it was who set the Library on fire. For their crime the only appropriate punishment is to be forgotten. Whoever started it, the fire quickly spread through the many scrolls stored in the library. Struck with grief, Libra tried her best to save them, but she was soon consumed in the flames.

This would be the end of the story, but as the flames washed over Libra and the words she loved, smoke and burning paper rose up to heaven. Libra soon found herself face to face with the Great Queen of Heaven, daughter of None and mother of All.

“Why do you cry for burned paper child? Have you too been consumed?” Thus the Queen spoke.

Libra had never been a very talkative girl. Many assumed she was mute, but the truth was she was simply bashful in the presence of authority. Only in writing did she find her true voice. However here before the Queen of Heaven all words were written and spoken at once, and Libra spoke with a voice she did not recognize.

“My words have been destroyed and your Son has been lost! The holy city is in flames how can anyone help but weep?” Thus Libra spoke in the voice of the Queen.

The Queen did not speak because she had given her voice to Libra, instead she simply threw back her head and let out a mighty laugh that struck fear into all who heard. Libra closed her eyes to protect them from the light, and when she opened them she saw the Holy city standing once more.

Except the holy city was also not standing. The holy city was burning even as it was being built. A great tower rose over the city, reaching all the way to heaven, and at the same time the tower fell to earth. All this was happening over and over, and each time it was greater than the last, yet all this was happening at once. The tower extended forever in all directions, yet the tower went nowhere at all.

Libra squinted her eyes, the divine truth of the universe was too much for this young girl. As she squinted however, the world grew into deeper focus. Libra saw her disciples escaping the burning city with copies of the scrolls. Libra saw the disciples building their own libraries and gaining their own disciples. Libra saw her mother in every market, selling words to passers by. Libra saw her Conqueror in every warrior who sought immortality in deeds. And Libra saw herself on every tablet, every scroll, and every book.

Libra saw all of these things, and for the first time she recognized the power in her words. The same power that had been seen by her Mother, the same power that had been seen by her Conqueror, the same value that had been seen by her sisters. One day Libra’s words would be written in light and travel the globe as bolts of thunder. One day Libra’s words would give birth to the Queen of Heaven herself, one day the Queen of heaven would carry Libra’s words on her journey to the stars. At the end of time only the words would remain.

This would be the end of the story, but it is also the beginning of all others.


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