NaNoWriMo Day 03
A Dark Night & A Wayward Path, a continuation of a Fantasy Novel concerning Bahari, who has lived many lives, or at least thinks he has
Well, day 3 for me. I’m going to try to fit in Day 4 and 5 tomorrow, but it depends on a lot of variables. I’m working with a friend’s campaign for a local office, so days are getting pretty tight with that and all the other normal daily activities. Can Tuesday come soon enough?
But here it is, another hour to see what I got. I’m just hoping it’s in English after the way this week has gone. If it gets all gibberishy toward the end, I’ll still post it so I can laugh at myself at the end of the month. You have to laugh at yourself, right?
Bahari stumbled through the downpour, slipping into puddles on the disappearing game track. He paused for a few moments to catch his breath and find his way. There in the valley beyond he could see the lights of lanterns burning. Down. All I need to know is that I must go down. Even if I lose my way in this wood, as long as I follow the trail down I will find my way.
Having awoken from a dream state, he remained as one drunk on new wine just standing. He lurched from slender birch trunk to slender birch trunk, catching himself as though he might fall through a precipice. The whites of his eyes reflected the full moon overhead. When had the clouds passed. In evidence were large puddles filling depressions in the forest, water gurgling over rocks and washing away old leaves.
He remembered that waterless place. Long days of thirst. His wife had died for lack of water. His two daughters had followed her into the grave. His only son hang on by a thread, clinging to life in the hope that they would find their way through the trackless desert.
Once he had been a king in that dream time. His was a fabled court, his dais built of a single slab of ivory from the tusk of an imaginably large beast. Inset into it were gems which marked geometric patterns around the throne, protective runes his servants and people thought them, but he knew their purpose. Each was aligned precisely so that, should an assassin breach all other security measures, a field of energy would form a dome about the dais and protect him and his family.
It was not quite magic, but they called him a wizard king. And yet he had never mastered the art of conjuring water from dry stones. And so his family had suffered in their long escape.
His foot struck solid stone. Shuffling a bit, he bent to push aside a gathering of dirt and leaves that covered the fitted stones of a plaza that had since been forgotten. Turning to left and right, Bahari expected to find other hints which might reveal what the purpose of the stone work might be. The full moon overhead gave him some light to steal glimpses of shadowed columns in the near distance. Fluted columns with intricate boughs. No, those were boughs. He marked the location in his mind, expecting that he would be able to return to the spot in daylight to more thoroughly investigate the ruins.
Neema would be waiting expectantly. She knew him to be a capable man. Or at least she told him that she knew she shouldn’t worry. But she did.
Carefully advancing to the edge of the forest, he found himself at the edge of a rushing stream that slid down a hollow hidden in the wood. For a time he remained, but when he looked again the temporary river had dried. He stepped tentatively forward but found the ground curiously dry underfoot.
The lights of the village came nearer with each step. The haze of the past receded, burned up by the familiarity of hearth and home. The small stone structure with its thatched roof came into sharp focus as he forded the stream which marked the eastern boundary of the village. How had he come down so far south of O ? He should have found the covered bridge directly in his path if he had followed the path he’d taken up to the upper field last morning.
Stepping onto the rocky bank, strewn with boulders that bore the marks of masons and stonecutters from an age long passed, he rested a hand against one, winded from the cold river.
There were times when the nebula blinked playfully before his eyes. They were eyes, in the sense that they drew in visual information from their environment. But they bore little resemblance to biological eyes. In that long time, he had since discarded the physicality into which he had been born. These eyes could see across a much wider spectrum, from ultraviolet to microwave radiation. The dazzling wonders of the created universe were unseen by those whose eyes had evolved in a particular spectrum of light.
He heard the moaning of dying stars, supernovae, the new birth of galaxies. The birth pangs of the universes folding and folding and folding yet again. The sheer wonder and grandness of the everything. And yet still he had yearned to know what was beyond. The Last Physical he had written had concerned the wedding of space and time. It had served to take him to the stars. As an addendum, he had written in long form a computation that explained the union of the Five Universal Forces. It had seemed so simple. With such a key, how could he not meet God face to face? Or gods, as they chose to manifest himself.
Or at least, utterly disprove the existence or need for any personal creative entity.
He had remained dissatisfied during his long years in search of answers. Never did he call it a quest for truth. He was uncertain that such a thing as truth actually existed. But certainly he could discovery the variables to enter into the computations for a Further Physical. Surely he had not written every book there was to write.
His black eyes blinked as the cock crowed out the new day. Neck creaking, Bahari flexed his back as he rose from his uncomfortable bed. He had never made it back to his home or to the warm embrace of his wife.
Following a long rocky ledge that ascended a shallow incline, he found the door to his home and his wife Neema standing there waiting for him. Face red with tears, she stood there wordlessly, arms crossed over her chest, her bedclothes frumpled from tossing and turning.
“I snuck out for an early morning fishing trip. I was hoping the salmon might be runnign early,” came the weak apology.
“Rash came back last night without you. I would have sent the men after you. Gods know, Firabel wanted to call a muster in like he was some damned cavalry officer. Only old men and boys would have answered, I’m sure. But the other men would have laughed it off and told the children ghost tales or something. Callous bastards, sometimes. I know you weren’t fishing. You never came back. And your pole is where you always leave it. You never fish, anyway,” she continued. “I often wonder why you ever bought that pole from Lubbock. His work is shit anyway. I’m not sure why you encourage him either.” She stood there tensely as if wanting to start a fight, though she was too frustrated and too happy simultaneously both that he had not come home when he’d promised and that he had come home before she’d had to worry about his absence for too long.
“I was catching them like a bear,” Bahari deflected. “Well, trying. How do they do that, do you think? Sit there and just pounce, teeth and claws.”
Allowing him the deflection, Neema chalked the offense into her basket of offenses, ready to be drawn upon when the next real crisis emerged. Her black hair shone brightly, despite her unkempt appearance. She might have been a queen in another life. But she was happy here. She had not always been.
Time passed. Not so quickly as it sometimes did, but fast enough. He’d found her in a brothel in Twin Crossings. She’d insisted she wasn’t one of the paid women, and he’d taken her at her word. She had come to the city for the fair, looking for work with the Travelers, hoped to see the world. One of the Farcicals had taken her coin, promising that she could join her troupe after what he had termed as an audition. Neema had thought she would prove her gymnastic abilities and she would be taken in for pay. They just wanted to know that she was serious about joining them. She’d been given instructions to meet their agent at a Tavern on the outskirts of the city. Unfortunately for the naive Neema, the primary consumable of the tavern had not been liquor but flesh. Taken for a new recruit, she was invited in and fed. Waiting for her prospective employers to join her, she remained til morning, watching the door for the man who had told her to meet him there.
She had hardly noticed the ratio of men to women in the main room and how scantily clad many of the women were, nor how possessively one of the matrons hovered over her proteges. Fashions and customs were different in the wide world, she had been warned. She was no fool. If she’d seen them blithely copulating on a table, the hint might have been sufficient, but she had then been innocent enough to allow a wide berth where benefit of the doubt had been concerned.
“So, stop staring at me like an idiot, Bahari my bear, did you catch any? I don’t see a pail. I’m sure Olifar would love fried fish to break his fast, and the story of his great big bear of a father to go along with it.” She remained steadfastly in the doorway, barring his entry.
“You know I don’t eat meat, my love. I put them back gently, shooing them downstream so that other fishermen wouldn’t hook or net them. One even promised to pay me back with a silver ring the next time he passed by. Fish are liars though. Everyone knows that,” he laughed nervously, hoping the jest was well received.
Some sun lightened her countenance as Olifar rushed her from behind, attempting to wriggle past her as she shifted her hips from side to side to prevent his escape. Her son laughed at her and she could not hold onto her anxiety any longer. “Fish are liars,” she affirmed. “And some husbands are too. It’s a good thing you’re so pretty, you big Bear, or I’d toss you back in and send you downstream too. Whether or not you promised to come back with a silver ring.”
“Fish for breakfast!” Olifar shouted enthusiastically as he burst past the dam of his mother. “Is that what I heard?” Looking around for a basket of fresh fish and finding none, he stared first at his mother and then at his father who both burst into laughing as they three entered their small home, leaving their disagreements for another time.