there's not a whole lot going on

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Through the Great Forest - III

There is no good in the river that runs dry.

Nathan pushed forward to walk beside his mother.

"I don't understand what you're looking for. Nothing's changed for the last five hours."

"Plenty has changed, but you look with a city man's eyes, not the eyes of one born of the Great Forest."

"Mother, ever since we entered the forest, you've been speaking like those crazy shamans who come from the rural parts to persuade the king's people to leave the city. I mean no disrespect, but what has happened to you?"

"When one is away from one's life for too long, he begins to forget what should never be forgotten. I had a good life in the city with your father, but the old ways are the ones that protect us from what lies beyond the Great Forest. And those ways are the ones which we must now cling to."

"I've seen the maps, Mother, and there's nothing on the other side. It's just mountains and glaciers for miles and miles until you get to the pole, and then it changes to a snow prairie."

"No man has ever returned as himself after entering those mountains, and none has gone from one side to the other."

"Of course, you can't go into the mountains and not be changed! You'd have to be terribly dense not to come away with a better perspective on the world. They say that the world from the top of mountains makes you forget the folly of mankind and remember the world when it was new created. Dame Hilde said all of the great writers had been to the mountains, and that was where the learned to write."

"My son, you think yourself wise when you are a fool. Listen." Maura's hand silenced the angry thought about to spill from her sons lips, and Nathan cocked his head, certain he would hear no sound.

He saw rather than heard. A beast with mud matted fur stepped into view. Standing on two legs, it was easily half again Maura's height. It snarled, but Nathan was certain it was not looking at them. When the animal lunged forward on four legs, it missed them by yards. As Nathan swung around to see where the beast had gone, he immediately wished he had not. This time the beast was closer, and was looking almost directly at them. If it rushed forward a second time, Nathan and his mother would not survive. He could just see his mother out of the corner of his eye, but he dared not speak. He watched in horror as she darted forward, attracting the beast's next assault.

"Mother!" he screamed. The beast stopped in midstride, spinning toward his voice as if to attack and then fell onto its face. Nathan's knees wobbled as he watched his mother leap onto the beast's back, stabbing it with a dagger as she came down.

A thousand questions raced through Nathan's mind, but none took form until his mother's hand took his arm and began leading him away.

"Nathan, I did not want you to see what the Mountains Beyond hold for those who travel them, but now you have seen, and now you must know that there are beasts more fell and more dangerous than the one you just killed, but none are more powerful than you. This is true of every beast and every man - we stand over the beasts, though the beasts wish to stand over us."

Nathan could only mouth a silent "What?" as she continued. "Had I raised you in the village, you would know all that you must know, but now you must learn it at a time when the knowing of it must be written in your very flesh. You must learn to watch and to listen. The beast you slayed was a Daemon-Wolf, it hunts by movement and by sound. That is how one must defeat it - using its strength and its weakness against it. You did this without knowing, but you must learn so that you may do as you know - then you will be able to defend yourself and protect the Great Forest."

Nathan regained his tongue and blurted, "Mother, I did nothing to that beast! You stabbed it, you led it away, you killed it! I had nothing to do with it! I want nothing to do with it! I don't belong in this place!"

"All mankind belongs in this place, many have wandered far from it's borders, but all must return whether they acknowledge it or no. You will learn. You must learn. If you do not, you cannot live, and you will instead be born into the Mountains Beyond in the bellies of the daemons."

Nathan fell silent, falling behind his mother, giving her the lead and keeping his thoughts to himself.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Through the Great Forest - II

There is no good in the river that runs dry.

Maura looked down from the overgrown bank into the empty riverbed as Nathan caught up to her. The expanse between the two banks was immense, and the distance to the bottom enough to allow the greatest ships to sail without worry.

"What's wrong?"

"The river isn't here. It's dried up."

"Long time from the looks of it. Look how cracked the bed is."

"This is the river that brought your father looking for a wife and brought his bride to a new life. In all the time before I left, this river was never dry. The elders speak of only one other time in the history of our village when this bed was dry. That story was one of great sorrow. Pray that those times are not being revisited. Come, we must hurry."

"What happened in the old story? Did people die? How long ago was it?"

Maura only said that they would speak of it later and moved toward the bridge. With each question from her son, she pushed faster until they had crossed, then slowed to a pace that Nathan could maintain. Nathan watched as his mother looked from side-to-side and began to do the same. The trees, however, looked no different than they had before the pair had come to the dried-up river. If anything, the forest seemed to grow more pleasant until the dusk winds made the leaves shimmer in the dying light of sunset, and Nathan heard the murmur of running water.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Through the Great Forest*

There is no good in the river that runs dry.

Maura didn't know why this old saying came to mind again and again this day - she had left the river days ago and didn't expect to see another for several days to come. Still, it was an ever present thought, even as she picked her way through the undergrowth of the Great Forest. Her son Nathan, who had been raised far away from his mother's homeland, struggled behind her.

"Mother, how did you ever live in this place?"

Maura smiled at his question. "My son, when the Great Forest has given you life, as it gave life to me and to my ancestors, you come to love it as you come to love your own mother."

"Oh, I see. You love the forest because it is difficult, just as I love you because you are difficult!"

Maura laughed as the branch she had been holding swung back, filling Nathan's mouth with bitter tasting foliage.

"You will see. The Great Forest provides what you need when it is needed. Remember when you balked at leaving without provisions for the entire month's journey and I said it would be unnecessary? Have you noticed that your meals since we entered the forest have been a bit unusual?"

"Well, yes, but Mother, how could I expect them to be the same as we have at home? There is a cook there, and I never taste your culinary umm delights."

"Perhaps this lesson would be better learned if you could not rely on me. We shall see what the elders have to say about giving you to the Great Forest when we arrive."

"I think I'll pass."

"I think you won't have a choice!" she laughed.

*This is a bit of a teaser. My next post will either be this story or the beginning of a serial based on this post.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just a little bit longer

And I'll be back. We went to visit my husband's sister's families this last weekend and I took on a part time job writing a tech manual. Life just hasn't been the same since. Hopefully I'll be back under control (or what passes for control) by next week.

Wish me luck. ;)