Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Week Past

Finally, after a week of insanity, I can write in my journal again. So much has happened and I have been prevented along the way in recording it, so I will try to convey it all here, though my memory may be fuzzy in parts. Starting from where I left off...

Upon waking the first morning I examined my camp and quickly discovered the reason for the quick departure of the forest's latest guest. A set of tracks ran alongside where I had slept. I don't know much about forest animals but from the size of the footprint I can imagine it was a terrifying beast. And not just a changeling creature either, which is why he left his eiyes; they would be useless against such a thing.

I had felt confident that the creature was long gone as the forest was quite except for the rhythmic songs of the birds. But being cautious I swept clean the camp and quickly found a wide trail to follow north. After the brief scare in the morning, everything seemed calm. In fact I don't think I saw any animals, even the birds.

But the creature quickly caught up with me; apparently it was angry to find the spoils of its previous victory gone. As I walked along the trail it emerged from the forest thunderously, a huge round monster with thick arms and squat legs. It didn't move fast, and had I not been frozen with shock and fear, I might have outrun it. It bore down on me and clubbed me clumsily yet with power enough to knock me unconscious.

When I awoke, it must have been the next day, as the sun was just beginning to rise. I was tied up outside of the camp of a band of thieves. Beside me was a tall, scraggly man, unkempt from days of being dragged around tied up (as I later learned from him). We would turn out to be companions in suffering and co-conspirators to many fantastical plots which remained merely dreams.

Taking in my surroundings I found that the band consisted of the four men around the fire, as well as two scouts that were mentioned in the noisy morning conversation. Jylar, the other captive, and I were tied to a tree not 20 steps from the fire, too far to gather any significant amount of warmth, but close enough to be reminded that it was keeping the other men plenty warm. The forest was enveloped in a cold, biting fog my first morning as a prisoner of these kidnappers, but I could still see far enough to notice the monster, which had attacked me the day before, sitting motionless opposite the fire...with it's head hanging severed in front of it.

Had these bandits defeated the beast after it had clubbed me, and fortuning to find me, robbed and bound me? The creature did not bleed and there were no colorful stains on it to mark its death. Then by what means had they removed its head so precisely as to leave it hanging by a small flap of grayish skin? I later discovered that it was no forest creature at all, but something more strange indeed.

They never spoke to us at length, except to degrade us with all forms of malicious comments. If they wished that we follow, they would simply pull on our leashes, and if they wished that we lead, they would prod us with the sharp end of their staffs. They had already stolen what little I owned, and I only possessed the thin clothes they left me. All day my hope slowly drained. All my thoughts were questions: "Why did my life have to be torn apart so? Why couldn't my village have remained in peace? Why did I follow the mad words of my dying grandfather? Why did the immortals so despise me?" Oh ninylochan.

That night I had my first chance to talk with Jylar, and though I was hesitant to speak, he spoke energetically and broke the day's silence. He told me that they had caught him off guard as he slept and had chased him through the woods for nearly a day before he stumbled into a ditch and was overtaken. They had set up camp that night and had dragged him mercilessly through the woods for three days just to get back to his original camp, where they found me. I remember remarking to him that he must be in good shape to outrun the thieves for that long. He laughed and pointed out that they were so encumbered by the slow pace of their creature that it was hardly a chase at all.

I had been extremely curious as to the nature of the creature as I had repeatedly seen it get up and passively walk with the bandits, its head fully recovered. After another day’s travel Jylar finally explained to me what the creature was. It was, he said, merely a metal skeleton which any man could climb inside and operate. The head was mounted on a hinge to permit the operator to get in or out, which explained the both its passiveness and the strange sight of its ‘severed’ head. How they had constructed such a thing was beyond me, being trained in the laws of the immortals instead of the laws of the sciences.

By the fourth day, my companion had resorted to meditation and the quiet between us drove me into depression. At that point, his overflowing words had been all to sustain me, but now I was without comfort. In anger I thought to attack silence with silence, in hope that his words would return when his thoughts ran out. As if in response to my decision, I heard the echoing laugh of my black angel and in that moment there was nothing I did not hate.

Late on the fifth morning my patience ran out and I remember clearly what I said; “How will we survive this?” To which he responded; “Through trusting supplication to mersayochan.” I was furious. Did he expect this…man, this…bastard god, to help us? Indeed, my thoughts ran unrestrained around the stupidity of the whole situation. Again I asked myself why my grandfather had sent me on this ridiculous quest. At that point I was too upset to inquire about his knowledge of mersayochan, such information was currently useless.

My black angel’s voice rung silently through my head, as if to coax me into bitterness. It was all too easy and I fumed that whole day and into the next. The torturous trek continued and my mind was cavernously dark. My eyes stung from dust I couldn’t wipe away and my feet hurt from sores that refused to heal. Ironically, in that time I was most bitter, not about my situation, but at the person I had become.

Growing up as the first son of a seer I was expected to conform to the laws of the immortals. But I constantly failed. I remember the shame of discovering a new broken law, a hidden trespass of my heart. Without fail, my black angel was there to evoke fresh guilt in me, compounding the dismal darkness of my soul. I knew my father wasn’t perfect, that he had failed before too. But how could he understand the presence of this angel? Could he really accept such a great guilt as I had accumulated? For my black angel mirrored the color of my heart, growing darker with every iniquity. If only I could have somehow appeased my angel, gotten rid of him, then I would have been able to talk to my father. But could the truth really erase years of lies, years of deception? No, this cruel angel silenced me with his voiceless laughter.

I had tried so hard to uphold the laws, to be an example of a holy seer. All I ever accomplished was more elaborate and secret evil. I had become evil, two-faced, haunted; the very qualities I desperately tried to combat. I could recite the laws of the immortals from memory and could uncover any minor infringement thereof. But underneath, what no one saw, was my rejection of the laws I claimed to keep. I still daily cry out to ninylochan to free my heart from its heavy burden, but no matter what I do, it remains. I can play the part of a seer, but the immortals see my lie.

On the night of the sixth day, I broke and asked Jylar that he would pray for me to his god. He knew that I was a fledgling seer and looked at me skeptically. But when he realized that I was desperately in need of comfort he scooted next to me, awkwardly leaning against me in a feeble attempt to show me his support despite the binding ropes. In a quiet voice he spoke passionately to this mersayochan I was trying to find. I envied his serious, beautiful zeal but his voice soothed me and I restrained from outright crying at the aching pain of my soul.

That night we were rescued. Apparently Jylar hadn’t been alone the night he was captured. He was the scout for a traveling company and had been unable to return to his group before it got dark, so he had set up a quick makeshift camp in the woods. His companions had been trying to track him, and had been on our tail for the last couple days. They attacked the camp when the thief on watch was relieving himself. They quickly snuck into camp and ensnared each kidnapper in an impossible net. The watch came back to find his friends hanging from the trees, desperately trying to free themselves and only failing. Capturing the last man was more of a fight, but still trivial considering there was one of him and six capable men against him.

Once I was free I thanked my rescuers, and seeing that they were friends of Jylar, asked them if I could join them in their travels. They agreed and soon after I had faded into sleep, physically and mentally exhausted from the events of the past week. I could have slept on a sharp boulder, but I still would have sworn that was the best night of sleep I ever got.

This morning we engaged in formal introductions, over the still warm fire of the bandits who still hung noisily from the nearby trees. I forgot most of their names as I was distracted by all the thoughts running through my head. Should I ask these people about mersayochan? How much would they know? Can they be trusted? How would they treat me now that I was indebted to them? Jylar spent most of the morning bragging about the feats of his friends to me; repeating the events of the night before as if I hadn’t been there.

Finally one of them asked me where I was headed. I explained how my village had mysteriously disappeared, the last words of my grandfather, and my journey so far. Everyone started paying attention when I revealed my quest. Their intent, eerily quiet listening was slightly unnerving and their eager response put me on guard. They conversed among themselves and quickly came to the unanimous opinion that Jylar should join me in my quest, as we had obviously already become companions through trouble. Since I already knew he had an intimate knowledge of mersayochan, since his friends generally creep me out and since I was growing increasingly aware of my loneliness; I accepted the offer.

So now after half a day’s journey with the group we are setting up camp for the night. In the morning we will split off from the group and head north while they journey southeast. ninylochan keep me and protect me.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Restless Woods

Walked West again. Couldn't stand to keep rotting in the streets of the dark market. Not like anyone was much of a help there anyway. Well I did get one good piece of information...

Right before I left I visited the woman who had housed me the first night. I had noticed an interesting book on her shelf (indeed only a few books sat upon on her shelf) titled 'An Accepted History of Mer.' When I wandered through her house today I found it, and to my delight it contains both a formal history-as would be fit to teach-and a collections of fables that are both widely known and widely disbelieved. It was the second that interested me.

mersayochan is a fable is he not? An immortal in the form of a mortal; how preposterous! There are few immortals worth noting, but all are beyond the ways of man and none associate directly with man. My father taught me well the reverent way we honor the immortals, but never did we presume to know them or see them. Yet somehow this mersayochan is seen by man and interacts with man as if he were a mortal also.

Could the words be wrong? Was he just a powerful master that was 'immortalized' by worshipful servants? My father kept me well versed in the ways of the immortals, but what I read in this history book confused me more than even my black angel.

Sleeping in the woods tonight, don't expect to find anywhere comfortable. I must remember to set a ring of eiyes around myself for protection. Shivering alone in the woods at night has a way of getting one anxious and nervous; a combination that either makes you uncontrollably stupid or incredibly insightful. I hope not so the former in my case.

(Note to self: I found a small pouch containing a good number of eiyes upon coming to this spot. In the morning I will want to investigate further as to why someone would leave in such a rush as to forget their pouch. I pray that I can sleep despite the hundreds of horrible woodland monsters running wild through my imagination.)