The Portend — Prologue, Part 1

(I have decided I want to begin putting out bits and pieces of a long work I have in progress… Would love any input, interest, or suggestions.

The human mind loves dichotomies…All dichotomies are oversimplifications. Perhaps, instead, we might expand the framework of debates by seeking other dichotomies more appropriate than, or simply different from, the conventional divisions…” — Stephen J. Gould

Balancing the Betweens

Where do we find the balance, the middle ground, the healthiness?

Between work and play, stillness and vigor

Amid safety and risk, growth and standing still

Within love and disinterest, dependence and strength

Amongst health and weakness, rest and activity

Between male and female, softness and hardness

Amid creating and tearing down, ending and beginning again

Within color and black/white, darkness and brightness

Amongst hard lines and forgiveness, haze and focus

Between comfort and perseverance, freedom and responsibility

Amid seductive and prim, constrained and free

Within one voice and many, the group and the individual

Amongst boundaries and permeability, letting in and letting go

Between coolness and warmth, disintegration and preservation

Amid civilized and wild, raw and finessed

Within traditional and new, technology and custom

Amongst delicate and harsh, permanence and ephemeral

Between cycle and arrow, uniqueness and repetition

Amid dissolution and evolution, expansion and contraction

Within reality and hallucinations, dreams and practicality

Amongst circles and lines, growth and calm

Between ties and blades, individuation and connection

Amid hidden and public, known and private

Within movement and stillness, finite and infinite

Amongst ‘thinking outside the box’ and set in stone, steadfast and flexible

Between small and large, significance and insignificance

May we find the balance both within and without, without and within

Prologue

The Beginning of the End

With age comes a certain perspective…” — Red 2

The rustle and scrape of the horses’ harnesses sound loud in the darkness. The young man’s eyes search the nooks and crannies of each building, looking for danger. His nerves are raw and heightened by the lateness of the hour and the neighborhood through which they are traveling. The night air feels heavy and the mists are curling down from the overcast skies above.

Suddenly, a clink that seems out of place sounds from the street to the left of the carriage and its accompanying guard. Creodo, Dram’s commander, jerks his head in the direction of the noise and pauses his horse momentarily. He looks back at the men, including Dram, who grips his reins tightly and reaches for his tovkavin, the ball-propulsion weapon in his coat. Creodo nods his urging and the caravan picks up the pace.

For a bit, it seems the noise was an anomaly. They pass several more streets and see the next wall up ahead. Dram begins to breathe a bit easier with the wall in sight, signaling their path out of the Rashud and into the Shayvas. They’ve almost made it back to safety.

A blur of motion barely registers out of the corner of Dram’s eye as a shadow suddenly detaches from the side of the building, again from the left and runs straight towards Creodo, who is in the lead.

“Colonel!” Dram tries to yell in warning. He is slammed from the left himself, feeling his horse stumble from the force of the blow. He reaches over and discharges the tovkavin into the hooded head of his attacker. The man’s head jerks back as he falls away.

Looking up, Dram sees the street overrun by dark shadowy figures. Where did they all come from? He begins aiming at each figure in front of him, trying to stay ahead of the bodies that are slamming into his horse and his fellow guardsmen’s horses. He sees Creodo firing as fast as he can into the crowd, trying to turn his body this way and that while keeping his horse pointed towards the gate in the wall.

Dram glances at the carriage and its driver. The man is hunched down, beating the backs of the horses with the reins as fast as his arms can move. The carriage lurches forward and Dram catches a glimpse of its occupant as he grabs the sides of his seat and braces against the walls and floor. The surprise and shock on his face speak volumes of his denial for the possibility of trouble.

Dram spurs his horse to the side of the carriage, intent on keeping the attackers away from its side. They cannot reach the driver, the horses or its occupant or all is lost. He shoots repeatedly into the backs, heads, and forms of the hooded figures. There is a curious lack of sound from each of them, even in the face of their wounds. Why can’t he hear anything?

Glancing to the side, Dram sees two of his fellow guardsmen pulled from their mounts, disappearing beneath a swarm of hooded figures. Even their cries seem strangely muffled. He forces himself to turn back to the carriage, knowing its safe passage is the only important thing. It doesn’t seem to matter how many of the hooded figures fall to his firing, more rush up to take their place.

To be continued…