Friday, 27 February 2015

The Seven Brothers' Cure

Perhaps I have a tale that can help you.

There was once a wicked old merchant who lived far from here. He made a life of cheating and capriciousness, and when he died he left behind only seven sons and a small orange grove. Ashmel was the oldest, proudest son, with the twins Amset and Aphtet following behind. Then came the corpulent Amon, conniving Arnemen and oafish Ankis. These sons were all as twisted as their father, but for the youngest, Abne, who had not yet come of age.

Because the sons thought only of themselves there was much bickering and strife withing the grove. Before long the trees began to wither and the vassals began to flee from the sons' lands. The sons, too proud to clean their tools or care for their orchards, retreated into their estate and began, one by one, to fall sick. With growing malaise, the sons soon began to stop going to market, and their gums began to bleed and their teeth began to fall from their mouths as punishment for their pride.

Sensing that the end of his family was near, the young Abne went into the woods and called upon fair Sekhemet to give him the chance to save not just himself, but his bloodline. Moved by his plea, Sekhemet sent to the orange grove a single duck, grown weak and weary. The six brothers left behind craved the flesh of the beast, but not a one dared sling a stone at the duck, for that was the work of vassals. When Abne returned and saw his brothers staring with longing at the beast he did not decry them for their pride, but simply picked up a stone and broke the beast's skull.

Taking up their prize and throwing it on the fire, the sons began to argue over how to divide their meal. Ashmel declared that, as the oldest, he would take the heart. Amset and Aphtet claimed the lungs, though each fought to lay hands on the larger of the two organs. Amon the fat, who had wasted over the months of sickness, took hold of the distended stomach, while Arnemen scooped out the duck's brains and Ankis cracked its bones for their marrow. Abne, though he had prayed for the duck, and slew it himself, was left with only the liver to eat. In his humility, Abne did not fight with his brothers, and when the meal was done he went to bed still hungry.

When the morning came, Abne woke to discover that his brothers had died in the night, their stomachs bloated on the thick fat of the duck. Grieving the loss of his family, Abne threw his arms to the sky and begged Sekhemet to explain why the duck had killed them all. When Abne heard the silence of the grove he realised that they had not all died, for he was still alive. Feeling in his bones the strength that the duck's liver had given him, Abne set out for town, and there resolved to pay his debts and rebuild his family's honour.

Go forth now and find a lake. Dismiss the geese and swans and prouder prey, and hunt only the small ducks that swim there. When you have killed a duck you must eat out its liver and give the rest of the meal to a passing monk. You must do this before all other business, and do it without bemoaning the task, for only then will Sekhemet see your humility and cure your wounds.

Protip this story was about curing scurvy.

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