A king went to a Zen Master to learn gardening. The Master instructed him for three years.
The king had a large and beautiful garden, in which many gardeners were employed, and whatever the Master said the king did. At the end of the three years, the garden was finished and the king invited the Master to visit it.
The king was very apprehensive, because that Master was severe, inflexible: would he have appreciated it? Would he have said, “Yes, you understood my teaching”? It was a sort of exam… every care was taken to ensure that the garden was completed, that nothing was left unfinished. And only then did the king bring the Master to come.
But immediately the Master was saddened. He looked around, went from one side of the garden to the other, and his face became more and more serious. The king was frightened: he had never seen the Master so serious: “Why was he so gloomy? Did I make such a serious mistake?”. The Master shook his head all the time and said no to himself; finally, the king could not help asking: “What is wrong, Master? Why don't you say anything? How come you frown so, and shake your head in denial? This garden is the fruit of your teachings”.
And the Master said, “This garden is too finished, it is so complete that it is a dead thing. Where are the dry leaves? I don't see a single dry leaf!" All the dry leaves had been removed, there was not a single yellow leaf on the trees, not a fallen leaf on the paths.
The king said: "I have instructed my gardeners to remove every imperfection, so that the garden would be perfect!".
“That is why it is so devoid of life,” replied the Master, “because it is absolutely artificial, it is the work of man: the things of God are never accomplished, they are always incomplete.”
Outside the garden all the dry leaves were piled up. The Master ran out, fetched a bucket of dry leaves and scattered them in the wind. The wind took them, began to play with them, the leaves rolled on the path. The Master was thrilled. He said: “Look now how alive this garden is!”. With the dry leaves a sound had entered the garden, the song, the music of the leaves blown by the wind. Now, the garden had a whisper; before, it was dead and silent as a graveyard.


We all say "Not all men". Or, to be more precise, we all have something we feel we need to justify even though no one has asked. And we often and willingly do it, here and elsewhere.

Then. You. And the roses.

The straw tail. An old wound. The Achilles heel. Something that embarrasses us deep down, makes us uncomfortable. Rightly or not it doesn't matter. A chip on our shoulder. And I could go on.

I always see it in others. And in me. That's the way life goes.

I remain of the opinion that pain is useless, however much we try to make it romantic. As much as you justify it as MAX XP. "Now that I've suffered enough, I can go and fight the Demon King!"

The important thing is to recognize when it is the pain that speaks.


She hopped down the path, turning around and lifting her long skirt.
"Father, why are we going to the mine?" he asked, looking up at his parent.
"King Alras has requested our presence on a secret project." the man answered, leaning on the walking stick with his metal hand. "What do you think it will be, Pareia?"
The little girl adjusted her skirt and observed that it fell well especially where the bodice left her free. She stroked her long, dark curly hair and shook her head.
"You know it, father." she replied with a smile.
The man went up to her and ran his hand through her perfumed hair, bending over to give her a kiss. He remembered well the gnome in a jacket who had knocked on his door and had brought the message, waiting for a short reply before returning to the shadows, as well as the urgency of the text. He also remembered when, many years ago, King Alras himself had given him that mechanical arm he was now wearing to replace the one he had lost in the collapse of the mine.
"No, Pareia." he resumed walking along the path. "Since we said goodbye ten years ago, I haven't heard anything about them."
The walk continued in silence, while the trees shaded the slightly uphill path. He paused to look at the marks on the trunks that indicated distance in the gnomic language.
"A little girl was running in the woods ..." Pareia began to hum, crossing her hands behind her head. “He fell into the cliff and broke his leg. "Oh, what a pain, what a pain" ..
He gestured for her to show her the direction and set off.
It didn't take long for the trees to give way to bare rock and stone doors as tall as a human. Numerous figures had been intertwined in the doors which merged into each other and hid numerous small cracks.
"Mr. Veltis!" called a voice from the other side.
Quietly, more quietly than Pareia had ever thought, the doors opened and allowed her to see a long, wide gallery decorated with oil lamps and gigantic statues of gnomes.
Ahead of them was a gnome with short red hair hidden partly under the charcoal tuba and strutting in the suit of the same color.
"We have been waiting for you."
"My sincere apologies for the delay." his father answered politely, while Pareia stood silently behind him and kept his head down.
"No, don't worry." retorted the gnome. "Follow me."
The group went into the gallery.
"His Majesty is waiting for us at the station at the end of this tunnel to present the project to you himself." he continued, with the pride that transpired from his voice. "Our most skilled scientists and craftsmen have been at work for years and the prototype has been in use for several months. From now on we will no longer be dependent on the use of magic for even the simplest things. "
Mr. Veltis smiled slightly. The magic… for him, too, his arm was magic, pure and simple magic from the hands of the gnomic artisans that he would never know how to replicate.
Pareia looked at the gnome statues. The features were rougher than those of the people he normally met, but even in the stone the clothes sparkled with gems and even the details of the fabrics were carried over with absolute precision. He saw the last pair of oil lamps pass by them and in a moment they found themselves in absolute darkness.
Silence filled every corner of the shadows and they stood still.
Only the beating of their hearts thundered in their ears.
The beating of many hearts.
A flame seemed to shine in the distance and suddenly the light blinded them. They closed their eyes. The light grew stronger. The thunder of the drums. A fanfare. Roar of many voices.
Pareia lowered the arm she had instinctively placed in front of her face and narrowed her eyes. The cave was brightly lit and in front of them were two carriages, the first of which was very strange. He looked at it carefully, seeing that it had some sort of chimney from which steam came out, and the carriages were set on rails.
"Mr. Veltis." a gnome much more robust than the others, with clothes rich in gold threads and well finished, stood next to his father. "I am delighted that you have accepted our offer." he turned to the carriages. "This is the project we wanted to tell you about."

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