Beginnings

Beginnings

A Chapter by Vilkata444

I was only a child when I caught glimpse of them in a dream, the shiny people in the flames. It seemed like the same night every year I would see them, walking through and around the mountain. They were large, lumbering creatures whose eyes were dead and whose interest seemed only on their work. They moved about the mountain in great numbers and I swear I could smell the dust in the air and feel the heat against my cheek. Occasionally I would wake with burns along my arms or my face. The shaman of my village told me there was nothing to be afraid of, that the great spirit of fire was blessing me and that I should consider my pain to be his mark of favor. I remember seeing the confusion in his eyes though and knew then that he had no idea what any of this meant either and was only giving his best interpretation. After the fourth dream the shaman insisted that he go on a holy journey and that the spirits would lead him to the answer. We all waited.

Without the power of the shaman the village fell to turmoil. One month, two, three, four months passed and he didn’t return. No rain fell, the harvest was destroyed by fire near the end of the summer. Many of us died of starvation and the heat of the sun pressed hard upon my people. Two years came and went. By this time my arms and face had been scarred permanently and I was no longer allowed to leave my house. The more I dreamt, the more I burned, but there was no pain. The village had come to believe that I was cursed, that some evil had come upon me due to my own action and that unless I was destroyed, the village would fall to starvation and disease.

On the day that I was to be killed and sacrificed, the clouds came, deep, dark clouds that rumbled and shook the ground. Lightning fell in furious and frequent strikes. The people rejoiced and feared this storm as it approached, swearing that it came as a sign of the gods’ anger. Near the edge of the clouds came a man dressed in a beautiful, flowing robe. His flesh was the color of shallow water, his hair and eyes a little darker. His robe seemed to sway unnaturally as he came to a stop nearby and stood preternaturally still. There was a presence to him that surpassed any supernatural quality he held. When he spoke his voice was calm but strong and came in a language that was not ours but we understood. He explained that the shaman had passed away during the journey and as his last request he asked that the priest save me from my curse. Through the thatched wall I could see him. He spoke to my father’s brother, the chief of our village. The chief was afraid of him, they all were. I could see it in the way they stood, holding their spears instead of leaning against them. They let the priest pass and he came into my house. I hid in the corner beneath some skins, frightened for my life. Mind you I was a girl of a village. I was not more than ten years old and I had never left my mother’s sight in my life. I had never seen or heard of anything like this man.

Once the door was closed he sighed his relief and pushed up the sleeves of his robe. He looked around and approached the skins, coaxing me out of my hiding place. Had my mother not been on the other side of the hut I may never have emerged. I came out slowly and the priest winced at the sight of my burns. There was no pain when he touched my scars or even the freshest of my injuries. I had never felt such a gentle touch. I couldn’t understand the language he spoke, talking to himself in a whisper. His language met my ears in a way that I could understand when his eyes met mine. There was something calming in his eyes, something hypnotic. He was something so alien, so unclear to me, but there was power within him that was unmistakable. It was something akin to the power the shaman used when he cast his spells but it was so much more than that, so much more raw. “Has someone done this to you? A man? Your father or a brother?” his mention of abuse brought me from the daze and I quickly shook my head. He nodded his, following my scars and burns with his eyes along my neck and face.“The shaman spoke of dreams. He said this only happens after you dream of the burning men, is that right?” I nodded, examining him more closely now. “I see.. I’m not sure there’s much I can do here.” He was silent for a moment pondering. His eyes searched mine as if he might find some answer in them. He stood and addressed my mother. “I know someone who might be able to help but it is a long journey and she would have to come with me.” His words instantly enraged my mother and she shook her head before rushing out and dragging my father inside. The priest listened as my father explained how I had never left my mother’s side and that in our village if I did leave my mother’s sight, I could not be a proven virgin and would be worthless in marriage. The priest furrowed his brows and shrugged, “If I can’t take her, there’s nothing I can do for her. Her burns will continue to get worse. Eventually she will probably die from them. I think this is the work of the burning ones. I’m not sure why or how they play into this but her dreams describe them and they are real creatures. They live in another land far from here. This is ancient power.” He looked back to me again. His blue eyes seemed disheartened and pained. My father was distraught. He had seen the progress of my injuries and knew they would only get worse. He had a mind to get a large bride price for me. Reluctantly, looking to the ground, his brown eyes showing despair he nodded. My mother wailed on his chest in protest. The back of his hand met her cheek with a fierce strike and I watched her fall. I would’ve run to her side but I was afraid he would do the same to me. I knew better than to get in the way of his hand. My father turned back toward the priest and spoke with a commanding tone, “You will bring her back to me or I will hunt you down and collect your head in place for her bride price.” The priest only arched a brow and canted his head.

Though my mother was sobbing, she put together a small bundle for me. A change of clothes and enough food to last me a few days would be all I was allowed to take. I had no heirloom, nothing to remember them by, but then they thought I would be back eventually, I did too. I didn’t cry when I left the village with him. I think that’s strange now but then it just didn’t occur to me to cry. Maybe it was because the entire situation seemed so unworldly to me that it didn’t seem real. Either way, the priest was patient and now that I look back I realize that he never once told me to hurry up or gave me any negative remarks to keep me in line. He must’ve known that it was unnecessary. When I was too tired and slowed walking he did the same.

As we walked I noticed something very strange. “How come when we walk it is always raining but we don’t get wet?” I asked him. He smiled a funny little half a smile that was his way and his voice was light, “Because the rain is my friend. It does as I ask it to do. It cares for me.” There were so many intricacies to what he said that it would take me thousands of years to really understand but in that simple statement I knew what he meant. It was unbelievable but I knew. We walked for days and he said nothing. It was his way. I asked questions and he would answer them just as patiently as he answered anything else. There never seemed to be any change in his tone, always patient, always calm. I got used to the rain. It did follow us wherever we went. It wasn’t a torrent, just a dark grey cloud that stretched in every direction as far as I could see. I would’ve asked where we were going but I already knew that I wouldn’t understand. I knew nothing but the village.

Several more days and nights passed as we walked. There was no one in sight, I had food and we never had to worry about finding water. We camped in caves or sometimes just out on the sand. If there were dangerous animals around us I didn’t see them. I found it odd that we never came across another village like ours. My parents had spoken of other tribes but when they came I was always in the hut with my mother. One day while we were walking I saw something dark and blue laying over the horizon. It was larger than any lake and I asked the priest what it was. He explained the ocean to me. That seems simple to say but he went on about it the entire day. He explained how the moons circle the world and control the tide, how the creatures within will one day change the world, how the men who sail its seas sometimes fall victim to the hundreds of thousands of prey that stalk the waters. It was an entire world no one in my life had ever known or even imagined. He also said it was home. I didn’t understand that. I do now. I could see trees near the water. Beneath one of the trees was a small, strange looking boat that seemed like it was about to fall apart at any second. The priest tipped the boat over and dragged it toward the water. The waves of the ocean slid inland and I watched them just as much as I watched his strange little preparation ritual. I was very fond of watching rituals. The shaman had rituals, the chief had rituals, the hunters had rituals, even mothers had rituals. The ocean fascinated me. I’m not sure how long he let me watch the water before he called me to the boat.

When I stepped into the boat I yelped. There was nothing else I could do. The unsteady floor terrified me. I begged him to take me another way, that this boat was sure to carry me to my death. I cursed the priest and whatever gods he prayed to. I struggled and moaned but with one hand he held me still. With the other he put a finger into the water. He never pushed off from shore but in an instant we were gone from it. The waves pulled us quickly away from the land and I was miserable. When we were out far enough that he knew I wouldn’t jump out he let me go. I moved away from him as far as I could go. I expected him to strike me for my words and cries before but he didn’t even look my way. Instead he leaned back against the edge of the boat and smiled. It all seemed so natural for him. I pushed myself underneath one of the seats and wept quietly. I was alone with a madman who insisted on drowning us both. Why would my parents let this lunatic take me away? We were in the boat for two days. Being with him so long had allowed me to relax only a bit but this small boat was still going to mean my death and I was sure of it.

I woke to the boat hitting something solid. I scrambled, taking a moment to realize where I was. It was then that I realized that it had been almost two months and I had not had a dream of the burning ones in weeks. My burns had all healed into scars. I looked up and found that the boat had stopped moving because everything had stopped moving. The priest was not with me. I looked around frantically and finally found him standing on unmoving water talking to another priest but this one was different. He had no hair, he had light, pink skin and darker eyes. He didn’t have the grace of the blue priest. The blue priest came back to the boat, walking on the water as easy as if it were solid ground and smiled down at me. He lifted me from the boat though I fought him and eventually held him tightly as he carried me. I stared down at the water in disbelief. He called the man brother, I heard him. How odd that he would say such a thing though. We arrived after a long walk to a wall in the middle of the ocean. I didn’t see land first, just the wall. The wind was oddly still. The brother opened the gate and we went inside. There were trees and bushes. I slid down. When my feet touched solid ground I was immensely relieved. I couldn’t believe my luck. I had survived the boat. No one would ever believe this back home.

More of the brothers came to us, they seemed very interested in my protector the priest and I stayed very close to him. He tried to explain that these men were monks. They were of a brotherhood who served a being who was all time. All he had to tell me was that they wouldn’t hurt me and that I was safe here. That’s all I really cared about. I would find things in each room to interest me. Some of the monks spoke to me, they taught me what they could. The monks showed us to our room. It was simple enough. I was still infinitely fascinated with the stone building and spoke enthusiastically about it for what seemed like forever. There were fires in every other room at night but there was really no need for it. It was never too cold or too warm there.

The priest made his company with a few monks in a small room with no windows and they talked for hours. They spoke of the burning ones and they spoke of creatures I had no words for. The men seemed very important and I was afraid to ask questions so I stayed quiet. I heard the blue priest say that he was leaving me here and that I would be safe until he could find out what was happening to me. The monks agreed to protect me and teach me. They all showed the priest the same respect everyone else did but they called him something else. They called him, “Rain Man”. It rained here all day and all night as long as we were here which the monks said was very strange. There had never been rain here before. When we returned to our room I asked why he was leaving and if I was ever going home. The rain man said that he would return and when he did he would take me to a safe place. He said that this would all be over and that he knew who he had to find to understand what was going on. So I did as he asked and I stayed.

The monks never bothered me. In fact they taught me a great deal. I was in the temple for seven years before the rain man came back for me. Seven years of instruction in fighting and magic. I was welcomed among their classes. I ate with them, I learned with them, I spoke with them, I grew with some of them. I was different though, I was a girl and that meant that I had to remain in my room at night. No one ever said they locked the door at night but I knew they did. I was glad they did. I had grown up in a place of absolute seclusion. I was rarely let outside of our small thatched hut and when I did, all the men had gone on a hunt. All I saw of men were immediate family and what I could see through the small holes in the thatches of the hut walls. I don’t think I spoke to any of the monks more than a handful of times. That was the way. They very rarely spoke even among themselves unless they were teaching.

Every morning when I awoke the door was unlocked. I would wait in my room until one of the monks came and tapped at my door to tell me that our first meal was served. I would leave my room, walk down the empty hall and depending on what day it was I would either: complete whatever chore it was my turn to do or I would move to the great room for a simple meal. Once the meal was complete we would leave with our class and come together in the courtyard. There we would practice the fighting form of the monks. The monks did this from early childhood and some of the young boys were practicing under the tutelage of another monk on the other side of the courtyard. We had no midday meal. We had an educational lesson about the elements and their place in nature and then we would retire to dinner and bed.

Looking back I can see that the boys and men at the monastery outside of time would lead lives very close to the one I had led before coming to it. Their lives were isolated and although my little hut was my world and their monastery was larger, there was still the sense of absolute isolation. It was a safe feeling. Later it would occur to me that night never came to this place. The position of the sun never changed and it never got any darker or lighter. I suppose it was because I was a child and the walls of the monastery were so high that I didn’t consider what might be outside them. I never considered that after my room was locked at night the sun never set. Time had to flow there however because the boys turned to men and eventually the men did get older and while I was there one did pass away though I was never told his name. He was very old when I arrived.

The fighting and magic got more intense as time went on. I was never physically particularly much of a threat and during the instructional fights given by the monks but I did excel somewhat in the practice of magic. I learned simple, basic spells such as to light a fire or to create a small light with which to see. I was much better than the boys at this but the monks were still bothered by what they considered to be slow progress.

I never made any friends while I was at the monastery. Although I didn’t know it then, the monastery had one particular function and I wouldn’t learn about it until much later. I didn’t know the inner workings of that place. I didn’t know that the boys were trained while young not to develop attachments. To deny their entire emotional spectrum was instrumental in their preparation. Their function depended on it.



© 2013 Vilkata444


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Very powerful writing. I enjoyed it very much, thanks!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Vilkata444

9 Years Ago

Thanks! There is a second chapter as well.
Suslik

9 Years Ago

I'm new here, and the interface of this website is killing me... No dates on postings, so you never.. read more

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Added on May 30, 2013
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Author

Vilkata444
Vilkata444

Mooresville, IN



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