On the next night, Mom was ready to continue telling the story of how Councilor Tam found the phoenix egg and to reveal whether or not the egg was cooked for Storm King’s dinner. Linda settled on the floor in front of Mom, so she could see Mom’s facial expressions as she recounted the story. Gus and Tim each sat on one side of Mom on the couch.
“Are we all ready to listen, now?” asked Mom.
Linda replied, “Mom, I have a question. I’ve been thinking about the story so far, and I don’t understand.”
The boys sighed, loudly. They each snuggled closer to Mom and looked at each other across Mom’s lap as if to say silently to each other, “Oh, brother, Sis is going to delay the story, again.”
Linda persisted, “Mom, you said that the world where the gods, goddesses, and the phoenix and the dragon, and Storm King all live is a place where they conduct wars! But you also said that the heavenly creatures lived in perfect harmony under the Old King and grew bored. Which is it? Were there wars in heaven under the Old King?”
Mom thought to herself how all three of her children were so smart. She reminded herself that she must stay alert to be one step ahead of her brilliant children!
Then Mom explained, “Linda, you know that these stories are stories from my mouth. I tell them to you each night before it’s time for you three to go to sleep. Do you know how difficult it is to remember all the details of the heavens and the earth not to mention Hell, too? Perhaps I made a mistake. Do you believe that the Old King would allow wars in his kingdom of the Highest Sky?”
Tim, the baby, said, “Oh, boy, I like war stories. I bet the Old King had the bravest soldiers.”
“No,” said Gus, “the Old King had the fiercest warriors.”
Linda chimed in, “No, boys, you have it all wrong! The Old King did not allow wars in the kingdom of the Highest Sky, because he was a wise and peace loving king. He was so ancient that he had seen all the wars fought by everyone everywhere over a very long time, and he knew that wars are bad things. They create terrible messes, and then someone has to come and clean those messes up. The Old King did not want his gods and goddesses going to war.”
Mom laughed. She said to her children, “Now wait. Who is telling the story?”
The boys remarked in unison, “Mom, you are.”
And with that remark the story picked up where Mom had left off the night before the night before.
Storm King commanded Councilor Tam to bring the large gray mottled egg closer for him to examine. Storm King held the egg up close to his eyes and peered at it. He turned it around and around. He held it first in one hand, then in the other, trying to see if he could tell anything about its weight or how the contents of the egg shifted in his hands. The king held the egg up first to one ear, then to the other, listening intently to hear any sounds from the inside of the egg. Finally, he looked closely at it again, noting the marks on the egg’s mottled exterior.
“Councilor Tam, I believe that we have to put this egg back where you found it. Can you remember the exact place in the desert sand where you dug this egg up? I am fearful that this egg is, indeed, a phoenix egg, and that it is very near to hatching a baby phoenix. Lady Phoenix herself will surely be back soon to greet her new son or daughter when the little one pecks its way through the shell of its egg.”
Council Tam was shocked to hear what Storm King said to him. A phoenix egg in his basket, and it was soon to hatch. Did he remember from where exactly he had gotten the egg? After all, he had dug and found four eggs. Could he retrace his steps? Meanwhile, the king’s loyal councilor, cook and food taster was aware that his king’s stomach was beginning to growl very loudly from hunger.
What should he do first? Return the phoenix egg to its place in the desert sands, if he could remember exactly where that was? Or prepare the remaining three eggs into a delicious omelet for Storm King’s dinner? We shall have to wait till another night has come to hear the rest of this story.