With, a flash of light and agonized and abbreviated honk, the goose’s carcass seemed to collapse in on itself and turn inside out. Raynard probed the gorey mess now with a booted toe as a cloud of down settled about him or was carried westward on the breeze. The years of visions, promises of special secrets, and near constant companionship had sufficiently cemented their friendship, but Mousey had now made good on her promise of showing him some tricks.
Without an engaged parent to explain otherwise and in the absence of other corporeal children for playmates, it didn’t seem odd to the young Raynard that his closest confidant and companion spoke to him through the desiccated remains of a dormouse. They met one day as child Raynard explored the antique and long neglected library in the cellar of the ancient manor which had for centuries been home to his maternal uncle’s folk. The library had always, for Raynard, been magnetic, and one day, easily slipping away, he entered the ancient archive with a lit taper for some exploratory adventuring.
The manuscripts housed on the massive, dusty shelves were opaque to Raynard, largely written in ancient languages no longer spoken in these parts. The atmosphere of the place, however, engendered in the lonely and unhappy boy a longing for other places and implied the existence of a reality more significant than the petty bourgeois sphere of accounts and sales his mercantilist uncle and relatives greedily huffed and farted about in.
Selecting texts on the basis of their potential for exotic illustration, he pulled an ancient tome from the shelf and opened it to find its contents chewed, shredded, and fluffed into nesting material. Along with a fistful of turds, pine nuts, and seeds the tiny, shriveled carcass of a mouse dropped to the floor. As he recoiled and attempted to kick the corpse away a voice whispered in his head, “There’s a smart boy…”.
The voice, which seemed to come from the mouse, explained she had come here long ago looking for something, but was then trapped. Could he perhaps help her find what she was looking for? A book with a picture of a moon was what she sought. If Raynard could just find it for her and then look at all the pictures, she’d be ever so grateful. Raynard happily spent the afternoon showing Mousey all the books in the library with pictures of moons. When he finally laid eyes on the correct moon book and scanned the text and illustrations of each page, he could feel Mousey sponging up the information using his eyes. The sensation of another seeing and cognizing through one’s own sensory apparatus was more intimate, enervating and pleasurable than anything the child had ever experienced.
“If you keep me with you and show me things, I can show you things. We can always be friends.” Mousey told him.
And she did. She showed him where she came from. In his mind, Raynard could see that Mousey came from what also looked like an enormous library, it appeared to be out of doors and open to a starry sky, though the image was shadowy and difficult to comprehend. He also learned that Mousey wasn’t really a mouse when she was at home. She explained that if they were good friends and he helped her, maybe someday she could come and visit him and maybe he could come and visit her home too. She explained that she wanted to come visit Raynard’s world because there were things she liked to eat there that she didn’t have at home.
Mousey showed many things to Raynard over the years and as he grew, so grew his curiosity and desire to see more. She showed him patterns and secrets everywhere they went and he also showed her things. When Raynard’s uncle forced him to go to work in his business, Mousey grew curious about the various accounts, agreements, and laws cultivated and exploited to fill the family coffers. Raynard’s uncle’s business was vast and profitable, reaching into all sectors of society and Mousey asked Raynard to pay particular attention to the business of ecclesiastical and political authorities with whom the uncle exercised no small degree of influence. Raynard, chaffing at the banality of the business world, begged for something more exotic. Mousey counseled patience and explained that to prepare the way for her arrival would require skill in facilitating some things and in impeding others and that in her realm the petty bureaucrat, employing law to sow chaos, was as powerful a force as a victorious hero or solar wind. Mousey was seeking certain knowledge she explained she could learn among the accounts of the uncle’s counting house and that once she had learned all she needed, she would begin his instruction in the powerful tricks that he would need to prepare her way. She would teach him her real name and they would then embark and together begin the work of clearing the path.
He had grown to early manhood and the mouse carcass had deteriorated to just a few bones and a tuft of fur in a leather poke. He was a rather handsome and wore the esoteric knowledge he possessed as a cloak of intrigue, but as the most significant interpersonal relationship of his young life of had been with a disembodied consciousness he conversed with through the medium of a rodent carcass, he had developed some ways which were off putting to many folk and he’d often had to defend himself against the mob. Mousey convinced him that if he was to be of real help to her he needed to be proficient with weapons and not hesitate to use them. To that end, he spent many evening hours in forests and fields strengthening his body and practicing with a sword.
Now, as he stood over the mushy, bruised remains of the hapless goose, Mousey’s presence filled Raynard’s head stronger than ever before. This was just one trick and she so much more to show him. She told him it was time now to leave his uncle’s business, start learning her true names, and start making travel plans.