Cleric Journal: Day Three Hundred and Fifty Two




Each of Ezekiel’s children carried a spear taller than they stood, and they stood two full heads taller than me.  Now that we were right upon them, I realized how much I had misinterpreted as they stepped from the forest.  My mind had assumed that they were tall, but of similar proportions to me.  Goes to show how muddled our perceptions truly are.

None of the ten would move from where they cowered, which was awkward, and if I approached them, they would moan and lean away from my vicinity.  Their backward knees gave them wide latitude in that motion, which I found fascinating.

Lilith pulled me away from them, telling me I was being an ass and that my desires to study them bordered on abuse.  I was shocked, but once she pointed out their reactions to me in that context, I moved back far enough that the lot of them returned to a normal squatting position, watching the eleventh one who lay unconscious.  At least I had assumed she was unconscious.  I didn’t try to check her for wounds when I saw that Brindle had just knocked her down and held her in a submissive hold.

I wanted to examine her, but Lilith told me, sternly, that I could do anything I wanted from a dozen strides away, but that neither Brindle nor I could come any closer to them than that.  I thought she was just being bossy, but when I called Brindle and led my horse west off the road, the others stood, making chirping and whirring noises among themselves.

Two of them moved to the fallen one and did something that roused her.  She spluttered and chirped as she was helped to sit up.  She glanced around and found the broken wand I had knelt on and she wailed.  It was not like any voice I had ever heard, but the sorry was immense.

Lilith approached them, and they startled back, nearly letting the caster fall.  Lilith paused, holding out the crystal she had picked up and the caster reached out tentatively.  At the very last second, she looked up into Lilith’s face and I saw a moment of recognition there.  That is, until Lilith reached out with her off hand so quickly, that it was like she hadn’t moved.  She caught the caster by the wrist and held it in a steady grip as the creature/person/monster (I honestly had no idea) tried to pull away, and then slumped, the fight taken from her in a heartbeat.  Once she had stopped struggling, Lilith let her arm go, and dropped the crystal into the outstretched hand.

The caster juggled the crystal briefly with one hand before hugging it to her chest.  She could only hold it with her left hand, apparently.  Lilith backed away, sat down with her legs crossed and took a whistle from the inside of her coat.  The caster looked at her, cocking her head to the side, watching.

Lilith played a series of clicks and chirps on the pipe, and the eleven all stiffened, then relaxed with a cumulative sigh that shifted the color of the sky.  Okay, that may have been a bit of poetic license, but it was obvious that their entire world had shifted in that moment.

I started to walk back to them, but everyone paused, their eyes rolling to watch me without moving their heads or bodies.  Obviously Brindle and I were threats.

Lilith glanced back at me and told me to sit down and wait, which I did.  Then she went back to piping at the stick figures.  I gave up struggling with my own desires and lay back on the grass.  Brindle lay down beside me and put his head on my thigh.  Together we watched the sky and listened to the musical language of these strangers.  I actually dozed listening to the voices and while I slept, I began to understand the words that they shared.

Ezekial had been a prophet who came to their lands after a horrible ordeal involving pirates, a sea monster, a ship wreck, and a prophecy of the End Days.  He lay dying on the beach of their island and none of the ánthropoi, or people, could go to this strange being.  He had been male, which was akin to monster in their culture.  There were no males among the ánthropoi, it turns out.  Only monsters that ate their children were male.  So this Ezekiel died on their beach in the full view of a hundred of their finest healers, warriors, and wielders of power.

Once the feared and strange individual had died, they let the body lay on the beach and rot.  They were not meat eaters, after all, and had no burial rituals.  When one of the ánthropoi lost the spark of life, the village would break that individual into pieces and use their bodies for various things such as wands, spear shafts, and other mundane items that would serve the community.

The wand the caster had carried had once been the long finger of a previous wielder of power who had gone on to the Far Shore, leaving her physical remains behind.  The ánthropoi were a very spiritual people who could tell one individual from another by their aura.  The paint they used to adorn their bodies were just that, adornment.  They had waited many generations and eventually the crabs, gulls, and rolling tide had reduced the dead man Ezekiel into nothing but bones rattling around in a suit of armor that looked exactly like mine.

They knew he had been a holy man among his people, but he had also been a warrior.  The ánthropoi did not have any among them who were both, and they had been confused by how such a creature could exist and not go mad with the dichotomy.

And this Ezekiel had been on a quest similar to the one that I have now undertaken, Father.   His desire to complete this quest, his urgent and unrelenting drive, prevented his spirit from going to the Far Shore, which further surprised the ánthropoi.  His haunting of their island had been anathema to their understanding of the world and after a while, their fear of the man gave way to curiosity of the lingering spirit.

For you see, among the possessions thrown up from the sea were three chests filled with carved tablets, each telling a part of the prophecy this Ezekiel had been following.  Over generations they began to realize that this spirit’s reason to stay on the island lay in these runes.

There were those who learned the speech of this long dead Ezekiel and as the great wheel turned, one in each generation was gifted with the power of this man’s tongue.  For you see, he had been the last of his order.  The last to go out from the safe haven in search of that which would save the world from oblivion, and the ánthropoi, after a score of generations, took up his failed quest.  These strange and isolated creatures had gone out into the world, searching for cairns in hope of finding more of the runes that Ezekiel had carried with him.  The hope was that they could finalize the prophecy and free the ancient spirit to his final reward.

And now, after more generations than they had ever thought to count, they had found another of the cairns.

I woke to the sound of Lilith piping and wondered at the power of dreams.

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