The Beardians were beginning to understand their history. This was in large part thanks to Jebediah Beard who when he lived had wandered all over the country of Human, meeting new people and trying to learn more about himself and his people.
Jebediah knew there must have been Beardians before him. After all, while most other cities were well-developed, there were some, like Fingernail and Toenail that appeared to be as newly developed as Beard — this he could see this just from grabbing onto the ends of one of the bristles on his property and leaning as far forward as he could.
It was scary yet beautiful looking down at the rest of Human from the high perch of Beard. Beautiful enough in fact to entice Jebediah to venture away from his bristles — something he had not heard of a Beardian doing before.
Of course, there had been Beardians before him who had ventured out of the city but Jebediah would never have met these brave souls. Too often, Berdian adventurers would come back to Beard with great tales of Humanian history only to have all the legends lost in the extinction level event that tended to take place on average every three years. This event would leave the province of Face without Beard for a number of months before one day, the bristles would suddenly sprout and another population of the little creatures would appear once again.
And so it was that four months into the most recent cycle for the city of Beard that Jebediah decided to venture off, eager to learn why his city was so underdeveloped and why he had no record of his ancestry.
The province of Face was one of the smaller ones in Human so it was easiest for him to start close to home. “The best place to start,” he thought to himself, “must be the people of Eyesland. From their place in Human they have an excellent perspective on what goes on around the whole country. Surely if anyone in all of Human could tell me something about where I come from it would be the Eyeslandics.”
The three-day scale of Nose Mountain was more difficult that Jebediah had expected. The bottom of the mountain was very slippery with a layer of clear liquid coating the opening of Nose Cave, a place where no Humanian had ever returned.
When he reached the upper portion of the cave he started the long crossing of the bridge that led to Eye Socket. This walk was treacherous mostly owing to the lack of crags or craters for him to use as hand and footholds. All movement had Jebediah digging his spurred hiking boots firmly into the soft ground, sometimes bringing blud to the surface and leaving red marks in his wake.
This struggle continued until he reached the ghost town of Eye Socket where he was able to rest for the night before making the final push to Eyebrow. When he finally reached his destination he felt more at home amongst the shorter and less coarse bristles.
The Eyeslandic city was different in that it was only populated during the day. It was too moist a place to live in so all that worked there had a permanent residence on Eyebrow and would simply slide down one of the bristles to get to work in the morning and climb back up at night. Having arrived at midday, Jebediah had to wait patiently for a couple of hours before the Eyeslandics were off work for the day. He passed his time surveying the whole of Human, paying particular attention to Beard, trying to glean any information he could from this wonderful vantage point.
Finally, he began seeing worker after worker climb one hand over the other back to the city. Not knowing who he should approach, he chose to sit out of the way and wait for one of them to approach him. He didn’t want to impose on them and was totally unaware on any post-work traditions they might have.
After close to thirty minutes of waiting, an ancient looking person walked slowly over to him, head bowed, and with the use of a cane.
“You’re a Beardian,” aren’t you he asked Jebediah.
“I am. How did you know?”
“I’ve spoken with your kind before,” the old man told Jebediah much to his surprise. “You are a very determined, yet unintelligent people.”
Jebediah was unsure how to respond to this. Was it because he was unintelligent or because he had never met someone from another culture before? He believed it was just the difference between the two and he decided to push further.
“I know it must seem like that to you sir, but we really just want to know who we are. We live a tough life in Beard and now I’m finding out as I expected that I’m not a first generation Beardian. Please sir, if you’ve met some us before, please tell me some of my history.”
“I don’t deny you people live a difficult life,” he admitted to Jebediah. “But there is much the people before you have learned that they have been unable to share with you. Seven times now I have passed on your history and I expect within another couple of years if Drain willing I’m still alive, I’ll be telling it an eighth.”
This was a lot for Jebediah to take in — at least seven generations before him and he’d never heard anything of them? How could this be?
“If you’ve told the stories to seven of us so far, why haven’t we heard anything about this from our own people?” he asked the sage man.
“That would be a question for the seven people I’ve told before,” he responded. “But I can tell you that other people, like those in Fingernailand and Toenailzmania, do a better job of passing along their history and they used to have an even shorter and more difficult life than you do.”
“How do they do it?”
“It took the sacrifice f one generation to save the next hundred,” he told Jebediah. “Once one man found out that every time the Great Clippers made their way into hand, the Toenail and Fingernail apocalypse was near, he shared it with all the members of his own clan as well as with a resident of Ankola, who he asked to return and share the warnings should all the residents of their city be annihilated. With this contingency, they have for the most part been able to flee at the sight of the Great Clippers and move back once the land was right for it.
Jebediah reflected on this. “And what has kept us from doing the same?”
“Your people are threatened by something worse than the Great Clippers. And fear has kept them from talking to others about it. The Straight Razor is one of the most intimidating gods on planet Human and many people have fallen to it. Only Drain himself has more power. From what I can gather, there has always existed in your people an unwillingness to share this bad news with each other. And until one of you realizes that the Straight Razor does exist, and will come again, there will always be total race extinction.”
“So it’s up to me then to save my people,” Jebediah said more to himself than to the old man.
“I’ve heard your kind say that before. It’s up to you to follow through this time — to not only save future Beardians, but also redeem the failures of past ones. Take the night to think about, there are many soft bristles in this place, and if in the morning you feel up to it. I will give you your people’s history in hopes that it is the last time I have to do so.”
“Thank you for your kindness,” Jebediah told the man who was already becoming a mentor. “I will think on it tonight and I hope in the morning I have the courage to do what so many of my people have failed to do before me.”
And Jebediah walked with the man to the bristle on which he would sleep the last night of the first half of his life.