The fire was blazing hotter than it had been in the past hour, but it didn’t warm him anymore. The crackling flames climbed higher and higher against the lavender and rose backdrop of the deepening evening sky, but he barely noticed. The fire was essential to his survival on this frigid night, but he wasn’t thinking about his physical needs right now. His heart spoke plainly and loudly, and he listened within to discern its rhythms, trying to find a balm for his wounded heart. The beach on which he sat pondering was bathed in the gentle light of Milau, the third moon from Juimyan. The Juimyan beach extended almost infinitely—gray silver mile over gray silver mile from the base of the Kikian forest until it blended into the misty polar sea, as if lapped up by a giant tongue.
Milau was too far away tonight. It was all too far away. He was utterly alone with his own thoughts and he wanted it that way. Everyone was gone and there was no one left for either comfort or argument. At one point, during the war, he had thought he wanted it that way—a little solitude—but not this eternal loneliness. And there was nothing but this before him. He wasn’t sure what to do, but he needed some answers. He rose and began to walk along the water’s edge.
He drifted in thoughtful reverie to her. When the thought touched his mind he physically winced in pain. She was far away, buried deep in the Milauan earth, body in a mass grave, a victim of a horrific ritual slaughter through which an enemy tribe had succeeded in carving out a chunk of their race. The many that had died had been martyred for their belief in the invisible Power—a Power that the other tribe wanted to gain control over. When his clan had described how the Power could not be contained—that the Power was the Guide of their lives and that they let it order them and not the other way around— the Tribe questioned their courage. When they described that the Power’s omnipotence and all-encompassing knowledge, complete justice and perfect love the Tribe questioned their sanity. The more the tribe questioned them, the stronger their will, the more stalwart their conviction. One by one, the Tribe felled the Clan members, hoping to gain something. It left them empty and even angrier.
After the war, the remnants of the opposing Tribe had run away. There was no one from his own Clan to be found. Half-mad with anger and sadness, he had plunged into outer space in a small vessel and, completely unsure of where he was going, had miraculously ended up on this island.
He hadn’t seen her die; he hadn’t heard her cry or scream. He didn’t even know how she had died, nor did he want to know. But he knew she had always been faithful, to him and to the Power. With his life’s companion gone, he was lost. He was crazy with unrest. He needed to know, he needed peace.
“So, are you real?” he demanded of the air. “Was it worth it?” The steely sky didn’t answer.
“Did you see any of it? Did you hear all of my people crying to you? Does it mean anything to you at all? And why am I still here?”
After yelling into the atmosphere for an hour, he was hoarse and exhausted. He fell to his knees and wept until he nearly fell asleep. A sweet-smelling breathe of wind puffed across his face accompanied by a still voice. “I saw. It means everything to me.”
“Love. They loved me because I first loved them.”
He sighed and sunk into a pile, sobbing.
“I will be your constant companion. I have known you since before you were born, just as I knew the rest of your family. You were made for myself and I will provide for you. Here on this barren land, I have a mission for you—a new purpose for your life. Write what I tell you.”
And he wrote upon the sands, rocks and fallen trees, the truths that the Power revealed to him. And over the centuries, they became permanently embedded into the landscape. Many who came after him saw his art and their hearts were changed by them. But of the man, there was never a trace, beyond the words.
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