By feebadger 2 Comments
The rituals became commonplace after that.
Over the days and weeks that followed we returned to our lives, my people and I back to our dry and desolate fields, The Pious and their disciples back to the temple of Kaan. Yet, every few days we, all of us would hear the call of the herald and we would return to the great city, all of us equal on bended knee as we would direct our great moans of prayer to our silver conductor and through him, we would sear the heavens with our power. Each time, that all encompassing groan would be returned from the heavens, like a great cosmic birthing and then, the silence. Then, we would sleep, my people, the silver one, a deep, exhausted sleep that would last for hours and when we were done we would again stand and, one by one return to our lives. The silver one would be gone, each time we awoke and none of us saw fit to ask where or why, not even The Pious having the tongue to query the motives of a god.
So, imagine my surprise when, on a day where the ground turned in a particularly stubborn manner and the goats refused the most cursory of approaches, I saw, reaching from the horizon toward me a beam of brilliant light. Upon it stood the silver stranger, his arms crossed behind his back, surveying all around him with a casual manner reserved for those forged from the heavens. He landed some distance from me, the light splashing and evaporating at his feet as he did so and I trembled at the sight. There he stood, a statue of resplendent glory and after some time had past, I slowly approached. He made not a gesture that whole time, his eyes scanning some unseen horizon away from me, his body motionless. Not knowing what to say, I stopped before reaching him and as my mouth dried and spluttered, searching for words in my fear, he spoke.
“You are not much of a farmer.”
His voice, though still imbued with an unseen power sighed from him, deep and resonant. I felt calmed instantly, his comment bereft of mockery or accusation. I explained to him of how the land had dried beneath us and of how it once had stood as a great jewel in this universe, a testament to nature. He turned his gaze downward and with measured poise, knelt down and took up a handful of dust in his mirrored palm.
“This land is dead.”
I reiterated how it had once nurtured life in all its forms, yet he did not seem to hear.
“You fail to understand my meaning. This land has been drained of all energy. It is dead… without life. Nothing will grow here. Your efforts are futile.”
I felt my heart fade into darkness. Long had my people believed it to be true, but now hearing it come from the mouth of a god, I felt numb. I asked of how such a thing could have come to pass, yet he did not answer and for many long moments, he stared at me as if weighing up the very measure of my soul.
“I have seen you at the sermon, previously… I have seen… all your people there but you… You are not like the others. Your spirit spoke out to me and I heard it. It told me that you are a leader and that leaders are to be feared or respected. I have come here to see for myself which.”
I felt the icy hand of death on my shoulder. Surely there had been some kind of misunderstanding! Never in my life had I assumed a position of power, not in politics nor on my land and if indeed I were destined to serve my people it would be here, in service to nature. Yet, there was a restlessness in me, a growing dissatisfaction that had gnawed at my bones for year upon year. I had thought it well hidden from even my beloved Learre, yet perhaps this stranger had seen something I had not wished shown. Perhaps he recognized in me something I refused to recognize in my self… but, no. It could not be. I beseeched him that he had the wrong person and that if one such as I were to lead, then we were all doomed as I had not even the power to stem the sickness that had fallen upon my wife, my love.
“She burns with fever.” He said, his ashen gaze falling upon the small hut that we called home and which my wife lay within. “I can feel her from here. What ails her?”
I told her of how my people, the tribes of Iguaam were connected to this land, of how we drew our very lifeblood, our very spirit from the earth. Now that the earth had been made barren by divine providence or random curse, my people had been cut off from their birthright, their very spirit and had begun to die. The fever was the first stage of sickness, but we all knew that death rode upon its promise. So many had passed already and I told of how it now held the hand of my dear Learre and how I, myself would not have to wait long to face the same fate.
Again, the silver stranger stood, seemingly an eternity in silence, seemingly unmoved by my words. His eyes pierced the exterior of my home yet his face remained unmoved, his body still as the ground beneath it. I asked… lord help me, I asked of a god whether he had loved ones, ones for which he would die and as the words left my mouth, I felt instant regret for having presumed so much. It was a flicker at first, a glimmer of emotion across his face and if I were more presumptuous I would assume that anger had sparked in him. His brow tightened, his body crackled with energy and his muscles clenched as if fighting against some unseen force. He placed his hand to his temple and swayed a moment, as if about to faint and fearing what else to do, I placed my trembling hands out and steadied him…my trembling hands upon a god.
“I… do not remember…”
His voice was soft, almost broken under the weight of thought and when he turned his face to meet mine it was wracked with pain… sadness the like of which I had never seen. He placed his argent hand upon mine and corrected himself, pulling his body upright, back into the straightened posture I had become accustomed to, yet the weight he bore now was evident. He looked back to me once and spoke, his voice regaining its former power, yet still frail from my prying.
“Be sure that Learre is at the next sermon. You, also, of course, but be sure to bring her.”
He turned away and composed himself a moment, a pool of light spreading out before his feet and as it lifted him back up into the sky, toward the Temple of Kaan I heard his parting words drift toward me on the still evening air,
“You are not much of a farmer, Turra.”
He had called me by name. A god knew my name.