Friday, February 22, 2008

Nomadic day #3

I have done it now. Through my hubris I have doomed us all. Last night, before our horrified gazes, a hideous red demon, impossibly huge, blocked out the moon. We remained calm, we are a hearty tribe, but our collective face was ashen as we turned to the elders. They insist it is the white witch summoning evil servants to raze our world, say we must capture her at any cost now before all is lost. I do not know what it was, but I am sure the witch is not summoning anything. She would not be able to fit it into her busy schedule; sleep for twelve hours, complain about my feet for four, pick her nose for three.
In silence my people weep, and I have seen the tribe return to a more chaste time. Objects of vanity or frivolity have been sacrificed. More beans have been burnt this season then on any other since my birth (another unusual tale). More cattle than we can almost afford have been slain to draw the beast; hunters laying in the shadows, bows tensed for the kill. Some of the more extreme zealots have begun eyeing the virgins. Something must change soon, or we will all perish.

Through all of this, I drift. Praised for my inner strength and serenity, I remain modest while knowing it is denial and shock. Why can I not abandon her? I am sure it is in failing the tribe that some God is punishing me; I expect to hear the flap of horrific wings at any moment as the red destroyer comes to pay me for my stupidity and weakness. My world comes apart at the seams: chaos, fear, hopelessness. We have all become gaunt from lack of nutrition; most of the food is sacrificed, and the little we can consume is rarely kept down. I chew bread as through it is wool. Lifelong friends have betrayed each other, snarl and fight over nothing. How quickly our peaceful world is uprooted. Then I return to her, to the little camp I make for us, and she gabbles about her flatulence, and the turmoil is a dream. These periods of respite make the guilt upon my return many times worse.

Finally, so stressed that my courses cease altogether, I seek out my scholar to confess to him. He is entirely calm as I speak, unsurprisingly, asking few questions, and only to clarify. I finish and we sit reflectively.
Abruptly, with speed that surprises even myself, he whips salt in my eyes, leaps on me, and attempts an exorcism. He believes me possesed. As fast as he is, and as blind as I am, he is no match for a trained warrior and I soon have him pinned to the ground while I sob the grains from my ravaged eyes.
When the haze clears enough to see, the orange of the fire highlights the trails my tears have made down his face. He exhales my name so softly, yet my shoulders shake with the resonance. I release his arm and he cups my face lovingly, murmuring apologies, insisting he wanted to see if I could kill him, promising that it's over now, that everything will be fine. I headbutt him. How dare he! Now of all times, when I needed his strength, and his trust in my strength. I am furious enough to leave, let him puzzle when he wakes up, wondering if it was a dream, but I cannot leave him. The fire is low, so I tend it while he wakes.
The moon. My skyward mother. Her cold radience unlike anything else. I feel that she was shining extra brightly to warn us of danger the night my world exploded. To show the demon as he flew by her.
My scholar is sleeping now, and I am grateful. He sleeps little enough, but with this crisis he is likely to be up at all hours, transcribing heiroglyphics, people begging him to interprete the prophecies therein, in the hopes of finding an even keel, a foothold, in this calamity.
Even now I am a mortal woman, for instead of thinking of ways to defeat the undefeatable, I focus on how his breath makes tiny swirls in the plainsdust. I do love him. If we could be forever, I would gladly be. Yet, I know as the daughter of a chieftan, heir to the tribe-head, I never could. He would be killed in a heartbeat. I wonder if he knows this. I think he does. Yet, his strength today has surpised me. Larger men then him have fallen in combat to me; he held his own, at least for a while. Perhaps he is not as hopeless as I thought...
I vow to think on it when I return to the cart. The witch has a distressing ability to pick out my thoughts, and comment on them. I find myself desiring her advice. Perhaps she can shed some light on this demon, as well. I am terrified that the only recourse of action will be to sacrifice myself to this living retribution. The punishment is fitting enough, but there is so much undone. The question remains; what is to be done with her?

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