“… for the sins of the fathers flow through the bloodline, yea unto the tenth generation. Woe to the sons. We lament, oh Muunas. We lament. We are born into sin and cry to Thee to save us from ourselves and our blood.
“I cry to thee, oh Selestialis. My tears are bitter in my mouth and are my sustenance. Ashes, ashes and misery is the world. Oh woe to the living, for all is death.”
‘The Lament of Dafidas’. I flipped through the Holy book to ‘Exaltations’. I remembered being taught this part but that had been years ago, by Tobias. There were no rituals associated with them, so he had taught me only the once.
“The Tehillimas”… Verse Nine
1: “I will raise up my voice, oh Muunas, and praise your name, with all my heart. I will not cease my exclaiming over the wonders of your world.” I couldn’t help but think of my cove.
2: “I will sing praises to your most Holy Name, Oh Highest.”
3: “You have upheld the right and the cause of justice; You have sat upon the Throne of the Gods, judging correctly. You have rebuked the nation, and destroyed the wicked.” That could have been Arko, in its pride, with my father. “You have blotted out the name of the wicked for ever.”
4: “Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy, even the memory of them shall pass away and perish from the face of the earth.”
5: “Muunas reigns forever. His throne is judgment, in righteousness. His word is justice. He is the refuge for the oppressed.” I… had forgotten that one of Muunas’s titles was ‘Refuge’. “A stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know the name of Muunas shall trust in your steadfast love. For you, Most High, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
6: “Sing! Sing to the High God! Proclaim it now! For he who avenges blood remembers; He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.”
7: “Have mercy, Muunas, hear the cry of mercy from Your Gentle Wife. Mercy. Save us, lift us up from the claws of the Summoner. The needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted shall not ever perish, for the Gods are forever.”
8: “Your justice is perfect, Oh Thou Most High, yet temper it we pray, for we are but flesh and blood and our failings are many. Yet we cry mercy for our failures and trust in the forgiveness of Muunas and the Gods of our sex and caste, that we may rise up, and begin again; ever striving for Your good. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia! Amen.”
I set the book down, staring out of the balcony over Sailortown. The book had never brought me much comfort, but I had bought another copy… on Zinchaer’s suggestion. He and I had talked about there being more in the Book than I was taught and since it was my religion, perhaps I could find it, since he believed in the Spirit of Life, rather than the Ten. I thought of what Chevenga believed… and Gannara. Their idea of ‘All Spirit’ was closer to the Haian idea.
“Hey, seaweed for brains!” I jumped as Gannara waved a hand in front of my face. “I said hi and you didn’t even hear me!”
“Stop it, you idya. I was just thinking!” I closed the book. “Ili will be back soon. You’re done for today, so am I…” His eyes twinkled as we chorused together… “Why don’t we go out to eat?” I laughed.
I had to write immediately to let you know. Gannara was back in the city! He came home! But he wasn’t himself. That’s the only reason I can think of for why he didn’t come to the house. People who saw him said he looked well.
He was with these Arkan boys… and the idiot harbor master tried to arrest the older one and scared them off, rather than quietly sending for me or Amae-e. Can you believe some people? I gave him a piece of my mind, let me tell you!
I found out later that Fena saw him at the memorial but didn’t recognize him then. When I told him he’s got long hair that’s bleached almost white he said ‘oh. I… should have stopped.’
I don’t know where these three have gone but thank All Spirit he’s alive and seems to be well enough to at least try and come home!
The best I can do… he’s about as tall as Rao now, his hair’s long and has all the colour stripped out of it. His teeth seem to be all right… the gold we were worried about is gone somewhere and the harbor master said he didn’t have a cheek scar that he could see. It could be covered I suppose. He’ll be shaving soon, probably just like his papa.
I’m sorry I didn’t catch up to him sister… he’s got some trouble talking but not when it comes to defending his Arkan friends. He’s alive and free and he’ll be home with the family soon, I’m sure. Love and strength,
I’m walking along the beach and find a man in front of me, picking up sea-wracked beachwood for firewood. Not that it is necessary for warmth but people have a constant need for fire, for flames.
He, and his white donkey, are plain and serviceably dressed to do the work. “Heya, boy!” He hails me. He’s Arkan. Foxy featured and I think I should know him.
“Ser? Yes, ser. Let me help you.” I lean down and grasp a log that I should be able to lift into his barrow, easily, but it resists me.
“Ah, boy. You needn’t make it so hard!” The man… the man who I thought was old… raises the log out of the sand with one hand and places it in his barrow. The donkey looks over his shoulder and heehaws as if to say ‘is that all?’
“Not to worry, lad,” the man says and lays a tree over the barrow and the donkey’s back. Instead of stopping like a normal beast, and sitting because it could not draw the weight, this donkey brays a laugh and trots off down the beach by itself, vanishing in the haze around us.
“Lad,” he says and pats the sand next to himself. “Sit.” And I do, as though all my strings have been cut. I think I know who HE is.
“You’ve been makin’ yerself kinda scarce if yah know what I’m talkin’ about.’ He said and settled down into the sand next to me.
“I’m the only one kin talk tah yeh now, boy, cause yeh shut the rest ‘o the Gods out, yeh know.”
I don’t know what to say. After all for a God to show up when you’ve been wondering if they exist at all is a little odd, to say the least.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance young ser. I’m only allowed tah talk tah yeh ‘cause yer takin’ m’ caste on, lad.”
“You mean you can only talk to me because I’m pretending to be fessas?”
“Bang on!” He seemed thrilled that I had figured it out. He sat down on the sand and… perforce I had to as well. “Look, kid.” He said, using the lowest of terms for me. “You’ve quit hearing the Gods.”
“Well, yeah.” I said to Him. “They quit hearing me !”
“No, they didn’t quit hearing you. It’s just a difference of scale. What is ferociously important to a single life may not be set against the whole of everyone else’s prayers.”
“But my prayers are supposed to be more important than most!”
“Ay lad, but even the one may be overwhelmed by the many.” He stood up and picked up a glass-pipe from the sand next to him. “If you are willing it will be something incredible that we make, humans and gods.”
“What do you mean?” I ask him even as the glass workshop is coming to life… and fading away around me so that I may not create a single thing. “Make what?”
The gods glassworks fades away around me and I find myself in Gannara’s arms, awake and wondering what that all meant. Was that truly Mikas?
Were the Gods… if they existed… truly concerned with what I did and what happened to Arko?