Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Shaper's Touch

Entry 16 Day 10

"We do not call it smithing, other-kin. It is not our understanding and it is so much more than metal-working." I was growing a touch impatient. For the last few hours I was rolling a ball of stone on the floor with the palm of one hand.

"I don't understand how this is supposed to help." I urged.

"Understanding, comprehension, knowing - BAH! All of these things are nothing if you do not have the paths. Paths take you through the woods, guide you to the wide-waters ..." He went on and on in that half-comprehensible way this entire time. I still was no closer to discovering the secret to creating such tools as I had received from them and he thought I was supposed to understand his philosophical soliloquies. What passed for a smithy - or not - looked more like a bar. Just across from the long house, this building had somewhat more furnishing than the meetinghouse of the elders. The most interesting thing in the building was a stone counter only a meter high. It was fashioned of four smooth stone slabs that were stacked atop one another. Set into the floor around it were a series of stone slabs like the others. Behind me Kalandrin sat at a table with a bench that wrapped around two sides. I sat on the wooden floor rolling a small stone ball about the size of a baseball around on the floor.
"Your problem is that you are not a shaper. You are just some other-kin rolling a stone sphere around on a dusty wooden floor." I stopped as frustration and annoyance collided with these words in my mind to make a burning anger. I didn't want to lash out but let the anger boil inside me, coursing through my veins.

"I doubt I could ever train one who is as separate from everything." his pointless words just kept stoking the fire growing in my heart and I slammed the ball on the floor.

"This is fucking stupid!" my mind raged,"What is the point of all these pointless words and philosophical musings? All that you have told me of use is that what I am doing is frustratingly futile!"

"Very well, you may go." the elder looked on the floor where I was sitting and stood. "But you may want to know that you are ready to train."

"What is that supposed to mean?" my voice was still harsh.
"See for yourself." I followed his gaze to the floor where I left the stone orb. At first I thought I had put it through the floor, but as I looked I noticed it was no longer round; it was flat. I walked over and picked up the disc, turning it over in my hands. The side I pressed into the floor was hot to the touch and the top-side was cold. My eyes returned to the elder, the question in my eyes leaping from my mind.


"Your anger. Emotion. What are you, other-kin?"

"I... I am human."

"And what am I?"

"You are... folkin."

"But in our language I am only us-kin. Who is 'us'?" I hesitated a moment.

"All of you. The Patron, the Healer, yourself, my friend and the rest."

"Why is there no word for each of our bodies?" it was obvious to me.

"You all look the same." Kalandrin ruffled his feathers and shrugged his shoulders. I heard chuckling in my mind.

"No, other-kin. To us we look different. We only look the same to you because of the vast dissimilarities between our bodies. Believe me, there are noticeable differences between each of us." I thought about what the Patron told me in his longhouse and reconstructed my response.

"Because your light-self is what is truly individual?"

"That is also incorrect. Our light-selves are each made from shades of the same light. The sun glows yellow, the moon glows white, the sky glows blue, the stars are blue and red and yellow and white." He stopped deliberately.

"But they are all shades of the same light."

"As our bodies are all shaped of the same sort of things as the earth." another deliberate stop.

"Which again is just another shade of the same light."

"What then, other-kin, is more important? The shade or the light?" my mind was swimming and I could barely follow him. Part of me thought it was just another frustrating drill but I held my calm .

"I am not sure." my eyes fell to the floor and I was embarrassed.

"Calm down, other-kin. Bear these words in mind always as they are the first words of the Shaper's Path. The shade is the essence of individual self, the light is the essence of the universe. Shape is the element that links the two and identifies one to the other." Outside the sky fermented into the colors of sunset.

"Now is not the time to go, other-kin, but I have nowhere for you to sleep. Go to the Healer, she can find you a bed."I placed the disc on the table and went out into the twilight, making for the Healer's temple, the first words of the Shaper's path rolling over and over in my mind.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Metal, Diamond, Dust

Entry 15 Day 10

Sunlight washed my face and I sat up in bed. Aside the bed the elders convened in their usual spot with the healer standing just outside the circle. She was the first to notice my awakening. A feeling that I was the topic of discussion washed over me as the elders all turned to me and surrounded the bed.

"You were busy last night," a familiar thought-voice stated. The elder seemed to be bristling with anticipation. "Why did you return to us?"

"Let me show you." was my response. The elder's beak opened and closed again and they stepped back from my bed as I rose. "Where is my pack?" the elders all looked toward a window where all my gear sat, leaned casually against a wall. I set to work pulling out all I had found.

"First, I discovered enough iron to make a large quantity of armor and mining picks." I set aside a stack of thirty iron ingots. Next I set to work withdrawing the gold, of which I set twenty ingots aside.

"Next, I found a large quantity of gold. I also found an enormous quantity of this strange dust." I proffered several leather bags of the red dust from the deep red ore and showed them to the elders, who observed without a thought or sound.

"Finally, I found these." At this I procured the three diamonds from the backpack and set them before me where I sat on the floor. If they were discussing discreetly amongst themselves what they were seeing all discussion ceased and their eyes were locked upon the diamonds. The elder stepped forward and spoke.

"You have been very prosperous indeed." the other elders around nodded sagely or worked their jaws thoughtfully. "We have intentionally failed disclose numerous things to you before but we are now ready to present to you our full knowledge as you have proven fully capable of putting it to use. What is it you wish to know, other-kin?"

"Well," I hesitated a moment, my eyes hovering on the healer and remembered her form. How human she looked and yet how super-human she appeared. A glint in the elder's eye flickered as he knew to what I was referring.

"Ah, that. Well, I suppose it was impossible for Elara to work her craft without showing you her true self. You have seen the vision of the one we call Elara, the light-self of our town healer." my face grew confused and I recalled my discussion with the villagers about their lack of using names.

"We lied." was the simple response. "But not entirely. We as our physical forms do not have names. Each of us is made of the same combination of elements in our physical-selves, therefore we have no reason to distinguish ourselves from one another, physically, beyond male and female. This was not your question, however, and when you asked you pointed, therefore interpreted as your reference to our physical-selves. Our light-selves, however, are wholly individual to ourselves. You do not show your true self to anyone unless you trust them or are close to them, which bespeaks a certain profundity of faith in Elara. She is a healer because of her compassion and faith in the wholesomeness of the spirit and light-self of others. My light-name is Galendar. I am the Patron of this village." This unbalanced me a little and took a moment to process fully. When I had a firm grasp a flood of questions pored into my mind and the elders winced a little as I was still having trouble telling when I was thought-speaking.

"Then why did she look human?" was the the thought that won the strongest voice.

"Because you are human." he knew I did not understand. "No one's light-self has a form. It is unto itself the truest of forms above corporeal distinction. There is no true image or shape that falls to it other than what image of itself it projects into your consciousness. Much the way the mind can take a word that has the same letters for the start and end, but even with the middle scrambled the text is still entirely legible. You see her that way because it is the easiest way for your mind to interpret what it is seeing."

"So what exactly was I seeing?"

"Something beyond spatial comprehension." I nodded to this, finding it a little easier to wrap my mind around.

"So you do have texts?"

"Yes. They are written in a language you will not be able to read. Should you wish to obtain their knowledge, however, Elara will be able to interpret them for you." her eyes flicked to Galendar then back to me and she seemed to blanch and looked at the floor, smiling inwardly. I was brought back to the discussion by what I took to be an elder clearing his throat and ruffling his feathers. The next questions were easy.

"What can you tell me about these things? The iron and the gold I am familiar with, what can you tell me about the red dust. And these?" I pulled several lumps of the blue stone from my bag.

"Ah, the dust is power," the elder eyed the stones, "and this is a dye."


"Yes, other-kin. You remember the life-force energy we taught you to sense in common materials and use to shape those materials?"


"Well, this dust contains an extra-concentrated amount of that life-force energy. It can be honed and used to transmit that energy through the dust." I was obviously confused. "The old-texts provide more detail, but my understanding is that it can be used to create powerful devices."

"Why did you want me to bring these diamonds back here?"

"So we could show you how we refined your tools and help you to do the same with these." Galendar nodded to the diamonds.

"A pick of diamonds?"

"Yes, other-kin. Such a pick will be indispensable to travelling into the land of fire and darkness."

"What else can you help me make?"

"O, I shall not be teaching you to make anything, other-kin. Our master in that craft will aide you in such tasks. Allow me to introduce you to Elder Kalandrin." one of the other elders stepped forward and nodded. An excited and reedy voice trilled in my mind.

"As the metal-worker of the village, I am very eager to begin as soon as is possible, other-kin."

"As am I, Kalandrin." I looked at the elder. He seemed no more strong than the others, but I sincerely doubted that he ever actually touched the pieces he crafted.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Elder's Abode

Entry 14 Night 9

Night surrounded me as I made my way along the river bank toward the village. I was very tired and I had much work to do. As I entered, the elder saw me and summoned me to his longhouse. Without a thought I entered and was greeted. The elder shut the door for me and helped me with my pack.

"I sense that you have a great burden, a wound and much to discuss. First you must sleep, other-kin. Not a thought, nor a word." He set my things by the wall in the corner and led me to the back. Here several beds had been built and set. Never had I seen beds, or any furnishings for that matter, in the elder's longhouse. I would wllow myself to worry about such mysteries the next day. For that moment, I was tired and wounded. The healer came by later as I saw her again in my dreams, her supple form bathed only in light. Unabashed I marveled at the beauty of her body and reached out to touch her. A strange expression, like surprise came to her face and she smiled.

"No, other-kin", she said a shy smile spreading over her lips. "That is not for you to do now." She finished her work and was gone again from the room, though I let the image of her remain all night.

Once More Into the Deep

Entry 13 Day 9

I looked down into the whirlpool cave, at the light that gleamed up at me from the lava flows and torches below. Today I had to find the stone the elder spoke of and I had to take whatever other materials I could locate as there was no knowing what the elder would say once I revealed different things to him. Grabbing hold of the vines I lowered my self down, this time as far as I could go. I had a fresh bundle of torches and a new flint and steel since my last was well worn.

I began wedging the torches in cracks and niches every three meters or so and mined whatever I could find. At first it was only iron and coal, until I found a large drop with lava at its bottom. Along the side of the drop I mined out a staircase that I used to descend below. I came to a ledge about halfway down and looked around for my next move and saw a strange ore. I leaned over and held a torch up to it and saw that it was a dark blue color. I decided to mine this ore and take it with me. I moved around to where I mined out and found a cavern leading away from the drop. Climbing around to it, I placed a torch in the wall only to hear "SSssssssss". I looked up and saw one of the exploding creatures. Acting on instinct I grabbed the creature and threw it behind me, into the pool of lava. I never heard an explosion. Continuing onward the cave opened up into a much larger room that split off in a thousand tunnels and ways. I marveled a moment at this work of nature and noticed that even my soft footfalls resounded rather loudly in the room. I looked up and saw only darkness above and a small hole where a waterfall cascaded down to the cavern floor.

Realizing I couldn't have enough torches on me to explore every tunnel, I set off down one and set my torches along the way. As I continued onward I found a little more of the blue ore. Dismay crept upon me as frost settles on hastily sprouted grass in early spring. Ahead I saw a light that I thought to be lave but found to be a line of my own torches in a hole that dropped down on top of where I was earlier. Here the cave ended and I lowered myself down.

Adjusting my pack, I went on undeterred. Another path enticed me as the waterfall came down out of the ceiling of the cavern and descended into the darkness at its end. Placing torches, I made toward the back of the cavern. For at least twenty minutes, the cavern descended until I could see the soft orange glow of lava ahead. Where the cave opened up into was an immense underground ravine. The waterfall poured into the darkness of some distant pol below along side another water fall. Ahead as far as my eye could see, the ravine floor was flooded by a massive lava pool. Narrow ledges crept along the walls toward the far end. Steam billowed thickly from a spot where water flushed into the lava pool and evaporated in its immense heat. From where I was I saw that the pool was too vast to be overtaken by the lava, and the water was evaporating too fast to harden all the lava. The edge of the water flickered as the lava constantly threatened to melt away the volcanic rock that was forming.

I looked to my right and saw another tunnel that wove its way down and as I placed a torch at its mouth, my eye was caught by the gleam of the wall. Running a hand along the stone and ore, I analyzed it hard and concluded that it had to be gold. This would undoubtedly come in handy. I mined about four pounds of ore with an iron pick from that vein alone and found six other veins that added up to a total of twenty-three pounds of ore.

My bag had grown heavier, but I was far from finished. I followed the tunnel downward and came out almost on top of the lava pool when my eyes noticed something remarkable : an ore that glowed faintly a deep, dark red. I took out my iron pick, as the ore looked equally tough as the gold ore, and set to work on it. It was plentiful where I could find it and altogether I collect seventy five pounds of the dust from that ore.

I was halfway finished my expedition when I heard a series of deep, unnatural groans. A horde of undead had found me, but I was prepared for a fight. With my back to the lava pool I unsheathed my sword and stuck it into the dirt and gravel at my feet. I set down my pack and readied my bow, sticking six arrows in the ground before me. I notched my first arrow and waited. Alongside the cave I came out of, another cave wove back into the darkness away from the lava pool. My enemies came from this direction and I could only hear them until they found the light of my torches only ten meters away. Luckily, the undead were relatively slow-moving. Three zombies emerged from the darkness at once, the middle one taking my shaft to its forehead. I readied another shot and sent it into my next enemy, its corpse falling to dust as the last one. I dispatched the other as more of the creatures crept forth. One after another, I slew the creatures, dust piling up in the space between myself and the cavern. Soon my arrows were gone, my last few remaining in my backpack. I took up my sword and waited for the undead.

An arrow whizzed by my face and sliced open my left cheek before burning up in the lava behind me. I ran forward and took up a torch. Using the torch to parry with my off-hand, I sliced my enemies to ribbons of dust, which flew from me into the dark. The skeletons continued to fire as several zombies dropped in their volleys. I pressed into the back of the cave where I could see the skeletons' bleached bones grinning as they fired. I was gaining ground but losing cover and only one zombie remained between myself and the skeletons. Ramming my shoulder into the creature, I charged onward. Several more arrows flew toward me with cunning accuracy. The zombie on my shoulder evaporated just as I came upon my foes. Enough adrenaline was coursing in my veins that I did not feel as the last arrow buried itself deep in my shoulder at first but as my blade snapped the bones of the skeletons, the pain drew on me more and more. The last of the skeletons fell clattering to a pile of bones and dust when I set eyes on the leader of the assault : an ender-man stood glaring hatefully at me from his place at the back of the cavern.

Without faltering I charged at the beast and raised my sword to strike. In my first rush the Ender disappeared and I heard the eerie puff as he reappeared behind me, returning my charge with his own. Thinking quickly I took my sword under my arm and leaned over forward. Before he noticed what I had done, the ender charged up behind me and screeched as my sword slid up inside its body. I rounded as the ender blew into smoke and I collected the pearl that fell. Breaking off the arrow, I gathered some of the bones as I knew they might be useful for making more bows.

I set my torch down and cleared away the last of the bones when my eyes beheld in the stone the gleam of a diamond in the rock. I immediately set to mining and found two more diamonds in the same area. Alongside the diamonds there was more of the red ore, which I mined hastily. There was no knowing how soon another ender-man and his posse might catch my trail, but I decided I had found enough for the day. I climbed back up through the ravine to the cavern then back to the whirlpool. I climbed up the vines and remerged in the river.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Entry 12 Day 8

On my way to the tower, I was passing by a pond in the jungle and noticed a plant I hadn't seen before. They seemed to be reeds and I realized this plant would be useful for making paper. While I was harvesting them, however, a small pile of white powder poured out of the hollow shaft of the plant. I licked it and realized that I had found a source of sugar. I took several sprouts and carried them with the adult plant back to my tower.

When I got back to my tower I set to work immediately on finishing the roof and sealing it off from the outside. I also had enough stone to start working on the floors. I took several lengths of web, from spiders I had either found dead or killed myself, and tied them together, then weighted them with a pick. I climbed up to the top of my ladder and lowered the pickax down to the floor. When the pick hit the bottom I sliced the excess web and pulled my line back up. I stowed the remaining length of web and start to coil the web. I judged my forearm to be about a foot long, which is roughly one-third of a meter. Altogether I wrapped the web from the palm of my hand to my elbow twenty one and a half times. From this I judged my walls to be 22 meters from the bottom of my ladder to the top.

I decided to divide the tower into five floors, each four meters from the floor to the ceiling with the top floor being about 7 meters high. For now I would have a safe abode. When finished there was still a few hours of sunlight, so I went outside with my reeds and planted a number of them next to the river. I was concerned that the soil might be too sandy there, so I placed some of the sprouts in a firm soil just a little further down and returned to my tower.

In what was my hole, now surrounded by stone walls on the outside, I set to work. I crafted several pickaxes from left over stone and made another workbench. After this I took the shorter length of web and some wood and altogether was able to craft a bow. Shaping the bow was a task, but once I had it assembled the bow string was fairly easy. Using some bones that I found in the jungle, I strengthened the wood of the bow by fusing it to the wood much the same way the villagers taught me to shaped stone, dirt and other materials into block shapes. My work was a bit sloppy, but when I strung the bow and drew the string it took considerable strength. Upon releasing the twang of the webstring brought a profound satisfaction. Upon my journey into the dark, I would be ready for anything that would come, and I would not be satisfied until I found the shining hard-stones of which the elder spoke.

I rummaged through my backpack, sorting out what I had, when something struck me. At the bottom of the bag there was something metal and strong. I pulled it out and looked in awe at the pickax the villagers gave me. It was beautiful. Crafted of what I took to be iron, its polished surface reflected my very face. Light giggled as it gleamed along the head of the tool. The ends of the pick were honed to a fine point that drew blood when I thumbed it gently. Something in me knew that I would need this pick in my next journey into the whirlpool cave. I set finished sorting my things and slept for the night. Tomorrow the treasures of the deep would be revealed to me!


Entry 11 Night 7

I worked diligently through the day and failed to notice as the sun crept down to the horizon. After a day of mining I had plenty of stone and my bag, which looked equally improved as my other tools, felt lighter than ever, even with all the stone in it. I kept promising myself to stop, but couldn't help seeking more. As I mined well below the lip of the quarry I fell out of view of the sun and stayed in shadow most of the day. Just before the sun dipped below the horizon, I looked up at the sky and realized my horrifying mistake. In the distance I heard the groans of the undead.

I collected my things quickly and ran up the staircase I mined into the wall. I hadn't the time to return to my tower. I heard the groans of the undead draw closer and sprinted the rest of the way to the longhouse. Just as I reached the door, a sound halted me and I unsheathed my sword. It was the sound of wailing undead as they beat their numb hands against a cracking door. As the last of the sun's rays retreated from the night, I made for the origin of the sounds.

It was a small house built right up against the east side of the longhouse. Terror's shredding claws to at my heart as I approached. A small face peered out from the window. It was my friend from the night before. The villager who aided me was now facing his doom. I would have none of it.

I threw my bag down and, roaring loudly, charged toward the crowd of zombies, my blade singing vengeance as I closed on my prey. A few of the undead on the outside of the group turned to me and staggered in my direction while two remained to finish their deadly work. I dispatched the first with a single slice, and its corpse was dust before the other two lunged forward. The first missed me by inches but the icy hands of the second scratched at my side. Realizing that I was far from invincible in my new garb, I hopped back and brought my sword down on the zombie's arm. The forearm came off with a crunch and hung by only a few centimeters of skin from the stump. I grabbed the zombie's shoulder and lunged forward, thrusting my sword up through its jaw. It turned to dust and I rolled forward as my third assailant swept its arm at me. He caught my clothing and tore something in the back of my shirt, taking some skin with it. I howled at the sudden pain and staggered a little before rounding swiftly and whipping my sword out in front of me. I watched the top of the creature's head flop up before its body turned to dust. There was no time to rejoice and I moved to the other two at the door, which was leaning inward dangerously, prepared for the final blows.

With all my strength and fury, I grabbed each of the zombies by the shoulder and pulled them away from the door. I raised my sword and brought it down on the first, its body evaporating. The second rolled onto its stomach and was up before I was ready. It charged into me, gnashing its teeth and glaring with unholy fire. I was pinned against the wall and was only saved by my sword, which I managed to slide sideways between us before I was grabbed. A profoundly grotesque odor came from the zombie's mouth as it groaned and clanked its teeth on my blade, which was between the creature's teeth. I kicked fecklessly at the zombie but it didn't feel a single blow I could deliver. The only salvation I had was pressing deeper into the joint of the creature's jaw as it pressed forward, the blade slicing into its greenish pale cheeks.

From nowhere the door of the house opened, catching the back of the zombie's head. It stared into my eyes through the white patina of scratches on its dead orbs for a moment before the top of its head slid off and it turned to dust. I heaved a sigh of relief and stumbled to the front of the door. I looked up at my friend and smiled. His face was expressionless but I knew he was glad to see me.

"Thank you for your friendship." was all I heard before the sound of a fuse lighting froze my stomach solid. I threw my friend into the house and shut the door but was thrown far away before I could hear the shut of the door.

After that, I saw a dark outline in and out, broken up by stars. My head was jerking with pain every time I inhaled. The dark outline was the side of the long house and above were the stars. I coughed and sputtered, the coppery taste of my own blood filling my mouth. I tried to move my head and find my sword but even the smallest twitch brought immense pain. Everything in me told me that I was on the last sliver of my life, and with much effort I rolled my head to at least find my bearings. Groans of the undead grew seemed to surround me.

Soon I felt my shoulders being grabbed and lifted and I could see a small crowd at the end of the road. My feet dragged in the dirt, my clothes torn away and my legs mangled badly. I kicked to try and help but realized quickly that it would be easier if I stayed limp. I blacked out again as light hit my eyes.

I awoke in the bed again, light in my eyes. I sat up and looked around. The room was empty of others. Tossing the blanket off I recognized my clothes, the red and blue garb gifted by the villagers. My legs accepted me gladly as I stood and walked around, rubbing sleep from my eyes. I went to the window and look out at village and was shocked back to reality. From where I was in the recovery house, I could see the shattered hulk of the house at the rear of the longhouse. Haste in my legs, I threw the door open and ran out into the street. I came to the house and looked on, my eyes hollow.

The front of the house was wracked by the explosion and little of it was left. The door was flung wide open. Its emptiness reflected the hole that grew in my soul. I fell forward and grabbed at the gravel in the road, stones slipping through my fingers as had my friend's life. Hot tears welled in my eyes and I screamed at the ground.

"There is no reason for sadness now. That time has passed. At least the healer was able to pull you away and save you. The Enders might have taken you with them if they were aware you had come. They were preoccupied with their own errands, though." I hadn't heard the elder come up from behind me.

"I knew this one. He saved me the other night."

"I see, other-kin. But tell me, what did you gain by charging in as you did last night?" I didn't respond but my mind rebelled at the statement. He felt my anger and sorrow. "As much as burying your face in the gravel. Are you ready to hear what I was prepared to tell you last night?"

"I am a danger here. I angered the Enders and in return they have come for recompense. Which they found."

"No, other-kin, but I cannot stop you from completing that thought-tree. Each branch sings within you." the elder read me well and I stood, wiping the gravel and tears from my face.

"I don't see coincidence having guided the creatures to that folkin's home last night."

"Nor do I, but I do not see that it was the Ender's design, either." I puzzled as I wiped my eyes. "The universe is not entirely random and it is not entirely contrived. You place too much weight on each little detail." I tried to just let that float past me.

"How can I mind-speak so well now?"

"The healer has her way of giving light. Also, each time you open your mind to us, you take more and more with you, just as we do."

"I don't understand."

"We are not supposed to interfere so much. Last night your friend killed another to save you. He did not want your life-threads to be woven together by your emotion." I hesitated as this mulled over in my mind. "I know, it is sad. And you are right, perhaps you should return to your tower for now. It is unfinished and your home unsafe."

"Yes. I will return to you. There is much that I do not know..."

"But more importantly, much you must hear. We are only truly useful when we realize just how vast our lack of knowledge is. Presence grants benefit, absence grants utility."

"What?" the elder turned to the house and I looked with him.

"See the house?"


"Its four walls grant the benefits of a house, protection, warmth and others. But you cannot live in a house without windows or doors, can you?" I shook my head numbly. "Therefore, it is the matter of the walls that grants benefit, the holes you cut for the windows and doors that grant utility. All things are this way. Just as you, other-kin." My eyes turned to the elder when these words came into my mind. "It is your body, your form, your mind and your light-self that grant you benefit. Your presence that allows you to be and do as you are. It is only with the emptiness of ignorance, of sadness, of wanting that you truly gain utility." I nodded and looked back into the elder's eyes.

"I shall go and finish my tower. When that is through I shall return and I will call upon your knowledge. And it is then that I shall make this village safe." the elder's mouth opened and closed again. "You said that I am to make a journey, did you not?"

"To the dark place? If you wish to seek the answers of this world, yes, you shall."

"I shall not leave this village naked to the retribution of the Enders." the elder hesitated before responding.

"You truly have taken much from us, other-kin. We shall accept your gifts with our thanks." With that the Elder brought me to my gear and I shouldered my pack once more. It felt as massive as last night but strangely easier to bear with purpose solidifying inside of me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gathering Supplies

Entry 10 Day 7

When I awoke, light was streaming into the room through a window beside my bed. When I realized I was in a bed, I sat bolt upright, startling the villager watching over me.

"What is it, other-kin?" Another female. Her voice was similar to the one I heard the night before, but a lower pitch.

"Not used to bed. I don't have this." the strange bird-woman seemed to shrug her shoulders busily. The feathers on her back rose and subsided. A sound like laughter came to my mind.

"Easy enough to make. The elder wanted to know when you awoke. He is on his way and will show you to the quarry." I looked down under the covers and saw that I was wearing a strange and new set of clothes. They were red and blue and adorned in places with a golden thread. I went to scratch my head and felt that I was wearing a cap. I looked at it a moment. It was red with the same golden thread along the hem and fit snugly to my head. I put the hat back on and let my eyes wander to my gear. Beside the bed a suit of iron armor sat, sculpted to a divine perfection. The helmet was adorned with gentle scrolls that looked like wisps of cloud. Upon examination I realized that the scrolls were not engraved at all. Instead it looked like they were there all along, before the helmet itself was even made. None of the other armor looked beaten or shaped; not a single sign of shaping by force existed on the armor. Puzzled I searched my memory and did not recall seeing a blacksmith nor a loom in any of the houses. They stood either empty or with scant furnishings. In this room I saw more furniture than I ever had. Around me there were shelves of books and two tables with chairs beside them. I looked up and saw a head pass the window.

"The elder has arrived." she stood and went to the door. I saw it open but her arms did not seem to unfold. The elder walked in and my host nodded deeply to him. He came to my bed and looked down at me.

"Do not stir unless you are ready." he said.

I felt more than ready. A feeling of lightness filled me, bringing a feeling of floating upward. I almost sprang from the bed and stretch up and down. I looked down at my hands again as if for the first time. They looked younger, clean and unworn by toil. My nails were even neat and cleaned. My feet looked the same. My eyes snapped to the elder's. A glint like pleasure and mischief flickered in his eye.

"Many more questions, other-kin?"

"Many more."

"Work first. You must mine the stone for your tower and then return to me. I will tell you all you want to know."

"Wait, the healer. She was beautiful... I mean. She looked as I, other-kin, human." I heard my words and noticed they flowed easier. The elder's shoulders shrugged busily and I heard him laugh.

"You mind-speak better. She spoke of the stories, yes?"


"Work first, other-kin. Answers will come. Some at once, others in their time." With that the elder rounded and walked to the door, which seemed to open just as he came to it. I shouldered my pack and left my armor. I followed the elder along the gravel paths of the village. Behind one of the houses he showed me a place in the sand where it was sifted away, revealing a naked shoulder of stone. This again seemed very neat. The edge of the sand looked as if it was... rolled back... by a wind or water. A clear outlined was defined by the sand. The area almost had an exact geometric shape to it.
"I cannot dig here. This looks like so much effort was made to..."

"No, other-kin. As little effort was made here as a thought." I puzzled a moment and looked into the elder's eyes. "Work, other-kin. Return to my longhouse tonight or after you have finished the roof on your tower. I will wait patiently." I lowered my pack to the ground and opened the flap. I procured a stone pickax that looked as if it were pulled from the ground in one piece. The wooden handle was no longer sealed in place with a crude pin mechanism as I had used before. Instead it was flush with the stone head, which wrapped snugly about the wood. I looked down the handle and saw that there was no space that a grain of sand could slide between the stone and wood. They were as one. Much like the helmet and armor, it showed no signs of working or shaping and in its river-rock smooth surface there was the etching of a bird with the ends of the pick as twin beaks.

"Peculiar tools you choose to use, other-kin. I do not understand, but one uses the devices common to them, I suppose. Enjoy your work." the elder rounded and walked away toward his long house.

I set to work mining as much stone as I could. The work itself was easy and light. I barely broke a sweat after a half an hour. I set the pick down and looked at it. Was there some magic at work here? I opened my bag and found another of my picks. It, too, was a symbol of perfection with the relief of a similar but different bird. I used the device for another half hour and the work was similarly easy. I threw the pick on the ground next to the other. At the bottom of my bag, among other sundries, was a wooden pick. This was an older piece that I had made after my first broke. I wasn't sure if I would need it, but I thought it would help here. I looked it over briefly and noticed even it had a relief. The wood itself was smooth, as if it were planed and shaped with sand paper for hours. The relief was of another bird, similar to, but different than the others. The grooves of the relief were smooth and felt as if the wood had grown this way. I looked down this pick's shaft and looked for the seam of the head and the handle. There was nothing. It looked as if it were procured from a tree in one solid shape. I swung the pick and set to mining again. Last time I used a wooden pickax it took a good bit of time to break off enough stone to create a block. This time the work went smoothly and easily, though still slower than with the stone picks. I set this pick alongside the other two. I looked at the three of them for a bit then realized day was still waning. I grabbed one of the stone picks and went back to working. Before long I had enough stone to make good progress with my tower. I hefted the bag and felt its weight. I lugged it back toward the elder's longhouse. Night was still some time from now and I was confident that the villagers would not turn me away tonight to the darkness. Tonight the elder would tell me much about this world.