Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hit Your Knees

When we got back it was pretty late. I had to rush to finish chores and we wolfed down the evening meal in order to head straight to the bon fire to hear the Guslar’s song. When we got there it was already time to start. They waited for us. They would not start without my dad. My uncles were there and a soft music filled the background. The Guslar opened that evening’s song with a genealogy:
Adam God formed from the dust
begat Seth for Abel slain unjust
begat Enos men began to call
begat Cainan o the Lord’s name, save from the fall
begat Megalaleel born 395
begat Jared who’s son was taken alive
begat Enoch walked with God
begat Mehtuseluh by water saw the rod
begat Lamech perfect number of his years
begat Noah this same to comfort tears
begat Jepheth whom God shall enlarge
begat Tiras prince of Shinar
begat Rushash, Nbenib, Macedon, Kimeril, …
begat Crill, Nikelus, Thracian, …

It was fun hearing my name as part of the song. Billaad looked over at me with mouth and eyes open wide. And we both laughed in surprise. The next part of the song was very interesting; scary even. The Guslar started to give specific details about the flood, the ark, and how it was built. Here is his report as best I can recall it.


The earth of ancient times was mostly green. The whole of it was covered by every kind of fruit bearing tree, seed bearing plant, and all of the good green vegetation of the creation. Food was abundant. Although it was not easily garnished after the fall for thorn and thistle were a constant hindrance to man. Only by hard work and terry (sweet of thy face) was it procured. There were many small seas and lakes and God had not caused it to rain upon the earth; but, there went up a mist from the earth and it watered the whole face of the ground. There were no great mountains as in the land of Ararat today.

There were rivers but these sprang from the earth; they were parted by the higher regions such as the land of Havilah, Ethiopia, and Assyria; their constant flow would run its set course over the land and then return to the caverns of the deep. These were great underground store houses of water. For God had proclaimed:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For I have founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His Holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing form the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

The animals had no fear of man as the herbs of the field and the fruit of the vine were given to man as food.

It was at this time a league of angles fell from God’s presence. The one named Lucifer and his minions had lifted themselves up saying “I will be like the most High!” These sons of God were cast out of heaven where they refused their proper domain. They saw the beauty of the daughters of men. So, they took them of all that they choose. And these same bore children to them, who became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown. And the Lord said; “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” And the Lord said; “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

There was a man named Noah. He was just and perfect in his generations. And Noah walked with God. And God said:

"And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation."

As you can imagine Noah and his family met with a great deal of ridicule hurled at them by the people living at that time. You see no one else had had the visitation from God that Noah had had. No one else received the warning of a great deluge. It had never rained and the great fountains of the deep were hidden from man’s detection.

In the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.

“What of peril that awaits us?” This came from the crowd; some ways behind where my family was sitting. It was load enough that the Guslar heard it but there was no disturbance in the audience griped by the orators song. The Guslar continued; “And then it happened: the fountains of the deep broke open at once and across the whole world. The very ground they walked on was cracked , crumbled and then consumed by the water below it. Invaded from below by the explosive water itself the whole surface of the earth was becoming submerged; lost in an angry sea. If this were not enough the waters attach quickly came on another front. It began to rain down from heaven not in a mild mist as it had since creation but in torrents of wind driven pellets of water.”

“What of the impending attach on our village from the water? Why do we listen to fanciful stories of floods when a real menace awaits us from the eastern sea?” This time the interruption was loader and the Guslar’s hold on us was broken by these fearful utterings.

“Well friend, what fear has gripped you so that you would break into our meeting?” The Guslar stepped closer to the front of the stage, lowered his posture and held out his hands in front of himself as he said these words. He looked to the back of the gathering for a response, as did many others. It was not at all clear who had spoken.

There being no answer to the Guslar’s invitation, my father rose and walked calmly to the stage. This brought a low but steady murmur to the crowd. After a few short words in private to the Guslar my dad turned to the audience and raised up his hands as to quiet them. They responded well and he began to speak.

“As many of you know two of my brothers, Rushash and Benib, have made the journey to us from Macedon’s village. They have come to us with disparaging news. The people of Magog have attached BUT not destroyed the village. Macedon, while injured, LIVES! The details of this attach I will allow my brothers to speak to so as there will be no question of authenticity. I will also take this opportunity to share that we have found some disturbing tracks along the nearby shorelines, which we continue to investigate.

I want everyone to know that we have begun to and will continue to make every preparation for a possible attach from the people of Magog. We can make weapons and plans but I tell you the truth: On our own we are no match for Gog.”

Someone shouts, “To whom can we appeal? You say yourself that Macedone has already been weakened and no other city is so close, so strong, and so loyal to give us aid. From what tribe do you suggest we seek aid?”

Another shoots out: “What if we appeal to Gog himself? Perhaps he would be appeased by an offer of tribute?” Another still: “You coward! Surrender our daughters so the likes of you would be saved? I will have none of that talk.” I’m guessing this last contributor was Tuskin.

“FRIENDS!” My father now puts a stop to all the emotional outbursts. “We have just been reminded of the awesome power of our God. The Guslar has also reminded us of the mercy and love with which God can act on behalf of His favored ones. Since we have no intension of surrendering one coin, one cubit, nor one child to Gog and we understand we have not the physical resources to repel him, then we must fall to our knees and ask for God’s hand to prevail. We must humble ourselves before a Holy God not only tonight but also in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We must decide to live for Him in each second He gives us or die apart from Him. Gog is only one of many fearsome trials that lay ahead for this village. These tails of the Guslar’s are not mere fanciful rhyme; they are the truthful record of our only hope in this world of danger. I want you all to join me now as we pray and honor our loving creator.”

My dad then fell to his knees, lowered his chin to his chest, lifted his hands and began to pray. At first it was just a few but by the time he had finished the entire town was on their knees. After he closed we all got up and my dad said to the town; “Thank you. Thank you for joining with me in praise of our Father. Now, before we sing the song of thanks the Guslar taught us; does anyone have any Good News to share that might help us sleep a little better tonight?”

There was a pause and it looked like his request would go unanswered when Billaad raised his voice and said, “I do!” This was met with some murmurs and a good bit of muffled laughter from the crowd but my father walked over to him and got down on one knee looked him in the face and said; “What is it Billaad?” “We saw them leaving.” “What’s that? You saw who leaving?” “Crill and I, we saw Gog and his men hightailing it back to the east out on the sea just today.” My dad turned and looked at me, some 5 cubits away. I gestured my concurrence. I said out loud, “Sails with a great hawk on them.”

“That’s it.” Said the Guslar. “The marauders have a great hawk embroidered on the main sail of there small but fast attach boats.” The Guslar’s confirmation sent a buzz of excitement through the crowd. My dad sent us all back to our homes with these words: “This is good news but remember to continue to call upon the Lord to be with us where the threat of the Magog continues.”

In the days that followed spirits were high among the people in my village. Long houses continued to be constructed. Crops were still cultivated. Fishing nets were still cast. And, children continued to do their chores. The Guslar stayed on and continued to treat us with his rhymes once every few nights.

In addition to our normal activities preparations were made to defend our village against attach. Also, meetings were regularly organized to gather at the alter of God and pray for His divine intervention and protection form Gog. Not only that but the villagers began to pray that God would help us with all sorts of burdens and troubles. There was even talk of our little settlement being dedicated in service to Him. It was almost like the threat of Gog had brought us all closer to each other and closer to God at the same time. However, the particulars of the flood continued to bother Billaad and me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Face Stone

The next morning I noticed that my eyes were very heavy. Every so often I would become aware of all the clamor about the village and indeed present in the interior of our long house. However, it was not until the sun was high enough in the sky to cast a direct beam through the slat window and onto my face that I was finally able to crank them open and great the day.

As I lay on my back on the top bunk reasoning that I had been aloud to sleep past my time because of the commotion and late hour of the previous day, I noticed on the ceiling of the boys’ dorm a large brown spider. She was attending to her clutch of eggs. The sight pleased me as it meant more allies in our endless battle of the bugs.

My wandering thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Billaad’s voice as he made inquiry of me to my mother. He was anxious to see me and I was eager to hear more of his discussions with the old man Tiras. Now when I say old take causion not to eggagerate the implication. The physical appearance and condition of our grandfather, although he had been living far longer then any other living soul we knew or had encountered, was comparable to my fathers. So much so that a stranger might even mistake Kimeril as the older brother of the two [you must settle this old issue].

Mother came into my room to announce Billaad’s arrival. Before she could utter a word I jetted past her with a quick “hi mom!” and was half way down the hall before she could reply “Well good morning Crill; be back for dinner!”

I met my cousin in the great room with a brisk “Let’s go!” We were out the door and on our way to the lake before anyone could hinder us. “We got company.” “At your house?” “Yea.” “I know.” “How do you know?” “They were over last night.” “Our uncles?” “Yea, and Grandpa and the Guslar too.” “What happened? What did they say?” “I don’t know.” “What! You don’t know! You don’t know! What were you doing; playing blocks with the little kids?” “Not blocks, we were pretending to live on the ark during the great flood that the Guslar told us of in his stories.” “Yea but don’t you care what they said?” “Sure I care, but I had no choice. I was not allowed near them.” “Yea, I understand but darn it all.”

We were at the lake now. The Sea of Ashkenaz was so big and so beautiful. It looked like the land just stopped for as far as we could see to the left and to the right of us; and the water just went on forever. My dad said that the land surrounded the water and that we had walked around part of its shore to build Macedon’s village and then walked more of its shore to come to ours. I asked him how he knew that we were walking around a lake surrounded by land and not say on land surrounded by water. He said it was on account of the sun and where it rose and were it set.

My dad was smart. He also told me the whole world was round like a ball. To be honest, I never really got that because it sure looked flat and how would the water stay on it if it were round. He had answers for all my questions but it was still a hard one to get. He told me that I can know the world is round because God said it:

“Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is I that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: That bringeth the princes to nothing; I maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and I shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal?” Saith the Holy One.

I asked him how he knew God said all that. He said that his father Tiras told him when he was a boy. I asked him how Tiras knew. He told me that his father Jepheth told him when Tiras was a boy. I asked him how Jepheth knew. He told me that Jepheth’s father Noah told him. When I asked him how Noah knew Kimeril just told me plain; “Noah talks directly with God.”

Billaad and I arrived at the “face-stone”. It was actually a large bolder somewhat buried in the sand and the one side of it resembled the profile of a face. The two of us would often come here for serious private discussions on important matters, like the proper techniques of spitting or belching. Also, we would talk about our families, lives, and feelings about stuff. This was a place where we were totally truthful and forthcoming on whatever topic was on our hearts, face to face.

We choose the customary footholds as we scaled the large rock (10 cubits high). Being the older, I was the first to ascend. Once atop we were quick to pull from a crevice the stash of trinkets we kept hidden there. We had a pipe, …, and the most prized of all the dragons tooth. The tooth was given to Billaad by my father. He told us that he and Billaad’s father killed the beast in the Istranca Daglar. They ripped the tooth from its mouth and stuffed it in my dad’s pack. On the way back Baashard fell to his death in the tricky terrain. The rest of the party could not reach the body without risking more lives. So, they returned to the camp and presented Billaad with the trophy of his father’s bravery. Kimeril told us both regularly that: “We could not have crossed the pass safely if it were not for the bravery of Baashard in defeating the beast that guarded it.”

After we had admired our collection for the customary period of time, Billaad pulled from his blouse a small object wrapped in cloth. It was the boat Grandpa had widdled. Narrow and as long as my hand I held it close to my face for inspection. Tilting it this way and that while I slowly turned the object with my fingers, I spoke not a word. Billaad watched intently as I went over every aspect of its surface; visually and tactically.

It looked like a boot I guess; steep curves rising from the rib of its bottom, flat deck, cabin on deck and so forth. However; there were some curious deletions and conspicuous additions that caught my attention. There was no visible means of propulsion (ors; sails) and no system of navigation (wheel; rutters). Most curious was the large square hole in the bottom. It was two-thirds the width of the vessel and two-thirds the height with four small corner vents through the deck. “What is this hole for?” I asked my cousin. “How should I know.” He replied. “I thought maybe grandpa told you.” “He can’t talk to us, remember?” Billaad rebutted followed by some grunting noises meant to mock Tiras’s attempts to communicate. It was not so much as we made fun of him in this way; we were just venting our frustrations.

After a pause; “So, the Guslar said Noah put all the animals on a boat to protect them from the flood and Grandpa is trying to tell us this is what the boat looked like?” I tried to confirm with Billaad. “That’s what I got out of it.” He replied. “But that’s dumb; how is he supposed to fit two of all the animals there are on one boat; it does not make any sense!” I proclaimed. “Did you ask your dad about it?” “Yea, he said he was not sure one way or the other.” “What about Grip, now if there is a guy who can figure out how to fit all the animals on one boat, that’s the guy to do it.” Billaad stood as he finished his suggestion and tossed a stone out into the water.

“Holy crap!” Billaad burst out. “What is it!” I asked. “Look!” Billaad pointed out on the water at a large number of small boats. They were headed full sail toward the sunrise. We quickly ducked down flat on the stone so as not to be seen. We so young at the time were unaware of the fact that the distance between us and the boat was far too great as to let us be distinguished apart from the face stone by who ever was on the boats. We did not know what the boats were for nor who was on them. We did know they were not any kind of fishing boat we ever saw and they were in some hurry to get somewhere. “I wonder if it’s Gog?” That just blurted out of me. “Gog? Why would you think that? He has never bothered us before. Did you hear something? Is that what they were talking about at your house last night?” Billaad pressed. “What do you mean? What would I hear? I told you that I did not know what they talked of last night.” I evaded his question. I told my dad that I would not tell anyone about the track in the sand.

“Crill, this is the face-stone remember? We tell each other everything here. I am asking you plain: What did you find out about Gog?” Billaad pressed harder. He was right. I was obligated to tell him. Our pact was long running and deeply rooted between us. Did I really promise my dad that I would not tell anyone or did I just agree that was the best plan. Up there on that presapass I would plunge into deception or dishonor. Right there in the heat of the midday sun I would burn the ties of trust. I saw no way out of it.

“You have to swear not to tell anyone else.” “I swear.” “I mean it Billaad, not even your mom; nobody.” “Ok, ok, I swear, now what do you know already?” “Yesturday when I was out with my dad Grip and the elders we stumbled on some marks in the sand of the shore, that’s all.” Billaad scratched the back of his neck. “Alright. So! And?” He even held out his hand as to receive the full story. “well, the men decided the only possible source of these particular marks was Gog and his maraders.” I hung my head low as I finished my statement. I could just see the disappointment on my fathers face as a result of my breaking the agreement. “The Sythians are spying on us? Well are they?” Billaad pressed too hard now. “Look, that’s all I know. The men think so. I don’t know anything about what boats make what marks or who is spying on who. Leave me alone about it; just leave me alone! I told my dad I would not tell anyone and now look what I have done. It’s your fault you know. You and this stupid face-stone.”

Then I did it. The one thing a 12 [decide on age] year old boy can never do; cry in front of another kid around his age. But I could not help it. It stared kinda small and then the flood gates just opened. Billaad did not know what to do. He just made some scratches in the surface of the rock with the sharp edge of a brocken stone. He would look up at me every minute or so as I tried to get myself under control. Once I finally stopped, Billaad said, “I cry too sometimes Crill. Mostly at night when I am trying to fall asleep. I mean I never knew my dad but I miss him all the same. Why did he have to die before he ever got to know his son? It makes no sense. This great God the Guslar talked about and Grandpa almost chokes himself grunting about (he laughs a little), what is his problem? Why would he take my dad from me like that if he is supposed to love us and be protecting us? And, then I think of my mom and all her gibberish about the mother god earth. My dad’s energy is one with the energy of everything else? What the heck is that about? And I would like it if there was just one room in our longhouse without one of those stupid paintings of the woman and the animals. It’s animals in a boat or animals in a crotch; what a choice? Why can’t God just come down and spell it out for us?”

The boats were long gone over the horizon now. I had fully recovered and Billaad’s lament faded into more talk of the ark. We decided that more detail must be obtained. Our plan was to go directly to the Guslar. We would convince him to reveal specific points about the flood the ark, and how the heck it was built. We wanted to know why only so few people were on it. We wanted to know why more arks were not built or were they? But how to get him talking?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tall Tales

After dinner this night we stayed in as a rare rain shower, all be it light, was moving through the area and the Guslar's song for the evening was cancelled.  My stomach was still feeling stuffed when there came a knocking at our front door.  My father answered to find a four fold surprise.  It was two of his older brothers, Rushash and Benib (visiting from Macedon's village) together with Tiras and the Gusler.

After some merry catching up and general socializing our four visitors, Grip, and my father moved off to one corner of the great room.  Engaged, as I was, in some play with the younger children and at some distance from the men's huddle I was only able to make out a word or two here and a phrase or two there of the lengthy and serious conversation taking place among the elders.  And, before too long I was wiscked off to bed where these snippets of ominous adult situations at hand were enough to prevent the good night sleep my father had predicted for me earlier in the day.

Here below I will clue you the reader into what escaped me then.  Rushash and Benib had made the rugged trip up the cost of the sea in order to share with Kimmeril and the elders the horrible news of the recent attach on their village by the very heartless villains that now threatened the peace and safty of our community.  The attach, some three weeks before their visit, was brutal but short lived.  Gog himself led the marauders on a night time raid of Macedon's village.  The sparingly few guards that had been posted had been swiftly dispatched, impaled on their own spears.  Gog's hoard then turned on the long houses, setting them a blaze.

As the families fled their burning homes, the children were cut down, the men beheaded, and the women raped and beaten.  The attach had begun so suddenly, savagely, and soundly that the village could only muster pockets of resistance.  All seemed lost when while fleeing from his long house Macedon himself was pined to the outside wall of his dwelling by the spear of Gog.  The point of the heavy weapon had caught Macedon's frontright shoulder between the collarbone and the arm socket.  Gog approached Macedon ready to disemboule or behead or in some way cause this torturous death with his blade now drawn.  But instead, after close inspection of Macedon's face (birth mark) he relents.  Not only is Macedon spared his life but the entire onslaught, by the trumpeters horn, is called off and the invaders slip as quickly into the night as they had appeared from it.  The village was left torched and bloodied but not crushed.

The Guslar contributes that the abortion of Gog's attach is most uncharacteristic of the barbarian.  Grip and the Guslar then contemplated the possibility that some aspect of the encounter with Macedon might have freighted Gog.  Perhaps the shape of Macedon's birthmark has a spiritual significance and Gog disengaged out of respect for the gods.  The Gusler assured all that Gog feared nothing - the gods included.  Grip concluded that it must be the birthmark and although he has seen it many times asks Kimmeril, Gushash, and Benib to discribe it in detail.  Tiras then interrupted the conversation with a pound of his fist against the top of the small table in the midst of the men.

All the men were then silent as they gave full attention to the patriarch.  He began to sketch out some intricate designs onto an unraveled skroll.  After some time Grip voiced his conjecture that whatever Tiras was drawing it was not consistent with Macedon's birthmark.  The brothers concured.  Kimmeril asked softly "Dad, what are you doing?"  As he did so he attempted to get Tiras's attention so that he would look at Kimmeril's face as he asked the question.  This was consistently our only hope that Tiras woold understand any of what we wished to communicate to him.  But in this instance Tiras did not even lift his eyes from his etching on the scroll to attempt to read his son's body language in order to understand.

What confinement of spirit it must have been for Tiras to live freely among his family yet only communicate with them on the most rudimentary level.  The etched pictures were growing in number and complexity when the Gusler finally recognized one of them.  "These are of the first tongue!"  He said, standing with excitement.  The ancients would make such shapes to record a story, or instructions, or any knowledge they deemed of improtance to preserve or communicate orer a period of time or space.

"Well, what does it say?"  Asked Grip.  The Guslar's memory of the symbols was shaky.  He said that only some of the drawings were first tonguge.  "This one for instance is not."  It was a large tree like structure with figures of people at each separation of the branches.  At the pinicle of the diagram was a closed boat of some kind and three branches protruding from it.  The left and right branch did not splinter off but ended.  The center branch split off in many directions, from two of these branches sprang yet another generation of branches.  The Guslar noticed that the symbol for one was not a symbol of a person but rather a first tongue symbol for self.  The Guslar pointed at the figure and pointed at Tiras simultaneously while he looked raised eyebrows at the old artist as if to question if Tiras occupied that position in the diagram.

Tiras smiled with satisfaction and touched the tip of his nose as to signal the Guslar and everyone else that that was exactly correct.  He started to chuckle a little as he resumed his work with increased vigor as he was now energized with the confidence the men had made connection with his pictures.  It would not be long now until ther whole of his thoughts would be made known.

You see, Gog, son of Tiras's brother Magog was a boyhood playmate of Macedon.  They spent a great deal of time together and shared their early lives as close companions (much the same as Billaad and I were up to).  Not only was Gog a strapping young man but he was smart as well.  So smart that he found his own fathers level of intellectual exercise wanting.  He grew less and less interested in what his father had to say and more and more interested in spending time with Macedon and listening to what Tiras had to say.

God had blessed Tiras with a mind unparralled.  He was engineering, artistic, well versed, even philosophical.  Tiras seemed to just know how everythig worked and could solve any problem or riddle.  He was born as the growing camp moved along the newly formed river networks after the flood.  Aimless at first it was the adolesent Tiras who first noticed that the temperatures were generally colder as they traveled with the sunrise to their right and generally warmer as they traveled with the sun rise on their left.  This was a new phenomenon.  The pre-flood world had temperatures much more consistent from place to place.  The new direction precipitated the companies entry into the virginning fertile basin between the two great rivers.  Tiras was first again to recognize the value of the heads on the wild grasses that grew in the plain.  He congectured that this source of food could not only be harvested on the fly as the camp moved about but man could engineer control over its product and therefore settle permanently searching no farther than the planted fields for sustenance.  And so, a settlement was erected.  Baked brick and then quarried stone was used to build a large city - Babel.  The camp had multiplied from 8 to 80 to 800 to 8000 to 80000.

So vast and successful were the endeavors of man that the whole city was filled with a sense of accomplishment.  There was no end to the patting on one another's back on how sapient, skillful, self sufficient, and superior was man.  Again it was Tiras who led this time in rhetoric.  He proposed the construction of a tower.

This tower of Babel would be a testimony to man and his supremacy.  All were captivated by these high minded speeches filled with praise reiterating over and over all the accomplishments attained since the catastrophe.  It was as if each man, woman, and child began to speak in one voice and the one voice sang of the glory of man, what he could do, and what he knew.  That is; all but the ones of the ark.

These few elders had seen such foolhardiness before and raised their voices in protest.  Too few were they.  Too unbelievable were their stories.  Too depressing was their testimony of man's true nature.  It was not long before every word from their mouths was regarded with scorn. A laughing stock, pathetic old men and unstable old women, these once dear precious patriarchs were driven to disgrace and seclusion.

One individual in particular was completely won over by Tiras and his great swelling words.  That one was Gog.  Sold out in service to Tiras and his ideas he became as a son to him as he shoot out of his life his true father Magog.  It is not that Magog was opposed to his brother.  It was more that he could't care less about him, his son, Gog, or anyone else but himself.  As devoted as Gog became to Tiras so was Magog devoted to pleasing Magog.

Work on the tower began with great enthusiasm and progress was being made at a pace that even Tiras was amazed by.  He recalls contemplating that even God must now sing the praise of man and that truly no power could stand in man's way.  It seems so absurd now as he scratches out the history on a tatered skroll unable to speak coherently, even to his own son.

What happened next is well known but not well understood.  In the wink of an eye the one tongue of all humanity was confused.  They no longer understood one an others speech.

Noah and his sons, together with the 1st generation after Shem, Ham, and Jepheth (the patriarchs) all continued to speak the first tongue.  All others could no longer speak it nor understand it.  Each line of the third generation spoke a new and distinct language.  For example; all descendents of Tiras spoke a new language foreign to all others.  Likewise, all descendents of Magog spoke anothrer new language, again foreign to all others.  Overnight, the peaceful unified effort of all civilization to construct the great Tower of Babel and dedicate it to the glory of man was swallowed up by the shock and awe of the greater confusion of tongues.

Mysterious was the arrival of new laguages; more mysterious was the perception of the speakers of those new languages.  No individual person was aware of any change in the language they spoke and understood.  The only change seemed to be that in what others spoke and understood.

My father had explained it to me a year or so before this meeting of elders in the corner of our great room.  Even though the language Kimmeril spoke after the confusion was completely different than first tongue, Kimmeril could swear that he continued to speak the first tonge after the confusion.  From his perspective, it was only the language of others that had changed.  he thought even his father Tiras, who in actuality retained the first tongue, was speaking some strange new language.

We can only imagine the frustration.  One moment he is talking to his father and the next neither one of them has any idea what the other is saying.  Both of them think they are speaking the same language and think the other is playing some cruel trick.  That is until they find out how widespread the problem.  Very soon in fact fear, anger, and suspicion began to drive the civilization apart.  The sons of Tiras fallowed their now effectively mute father up the Euphraties.  Ours was one of the first tribes to abandon Babel.  This was in no small way a consequence of Tiras and his strong leadership in the building of the tower.  A clash with the tribe of Gomer, Tiras's older brother was obverted when they were allowed to pass our tribe and in so doing took the lead as both tribes headed up stream toward the legendary mountains where the ark had come to rest after the flood.  it was at this juncture that Kimmeril came to know for the first time the cunning of Ashkenaz, son of Gomer.

The once wide-eyed Gog was devastated by the events surrounding the confusion.  For it caused the summery dismissal of the Tower and all it stood for.  Work on the structure quickly came to a standstill and the high ideals so eloquently orated to the masses by Tiras began to disintegrate into their base components of greed, pride, and self.  The whereabouts of the tribe of Magog were unknown to us until the trader's testimony and gusler's tail began to circulate the treacherous deeds of the ruthless Gog.

As the elders meeting came to a close, the group, still huddled around the elaborate drawings, concluded that Gog, recognizing the birth mark, had disengaged the attach on our sister village in response to the remnant of emotion felt for the friend of his youth.  How these factors might effect our camp was left for another meeting.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kitchen chat

I ran outside and jumped into my dad's arms.  "Miss me?"  I said.  "Like the river misses the sea."  He responded.  that was our little exchange that we shared.  Any time we were apart, it was a game between the two of us.  Each of us tried to be the first to say 'miss me?'  The other would always come back with 'like the river misses the sea.'  I don't know why we did it really but it was fun.  I liked it.

"We have to get home now Crill.  I want all your chores attended to and you washed and ready to eat by the time your mom has dinner ready."  He seemed distracted as he recited these things I knew already needed to be done.  "Do the marks in the sand have you troubled father?"  I asked as we neared our home.  There was no response.  "What did the others have to say about the boat tracks we found today?"  I said but louder this time.  "The others?  No, we have not told anyone yet.  I spent the afternoon in prayer to our Father and protector in heaven that He might show us what is to be done."  He said point blank as his distraction was broken now.  "So you believe the Guslar's stories then about how God created us, loves us, and looks out for us?"  I asked with some excitement.  "Yes of course I do son."  He said as we stopped just a few cubits from our door.  He continued.  "Our Father did create us as a people.  What is more He created me and you individually and loves us more then we know."  My father was now on one knee looking me square in the eye.  I could smell the garlic salts on his breath from the cured meat we had on the trail earlier.  "Know these things son.  Do not forget them.  Share them with your children in the days to come."  He looked now as though he wanted some sort of response from me.  "I will dad.  Should I share also of the devastating flood and how God destroyed all the living except Noah and his family?"  He stood up and looked to the sky and said, "I don't know about that.  We will have to talk later of these things.  Right now lets prepare for the evening meal."  "Yes father, see you at the table."  And I was off to do my chores.

The list of chores assigned to me was not too bad.  Besides looking after my small area in the boys' dorm, I was responsible for the general upkeep of the great room.  I was to return everything to its place and sweep the floor with a damp brush we had attached to the end of a long pole.  Our floors were made of stone and the number one enemy in our lives were bugs, all kinds of nasty little critters running around.  We had to keep stuff clean and keep those bugs out; best we could.

As I swept the floor I could hear my dad and mom talking in the kitchen.  "How was your day Kim?"  My mother's voice was so soft.  It was like placing your head on a pillow stuffed with goose feathers.  As you lay there your head would be resting on air, weightless.  That is how her voice made you feel; like all the weight of the world was lifted from you as her words poured over your mind.  "Like all days Peach, some good and some bad."  My dad called my mom Peach because he loved peaches.  That was his nickname for her.  Her name was Philia.  "What was the good part?"  She asked.  "Grip's idea worked like a charm.  The deer stayed clear of the crops."  He replied.  "Anything else good?"  "I enjoyed the time spent with Crill.  He kept up with us very well.  I think he will sleep well tonight."  My dad was right.  He only had to carry me a few times along the uneven rocky portions of the shore on the way back.  "Crill asked me about the Guslar's stories."  His tone was less confident at this remark.  "What did he want to know?"  I could hear her stop chopping and the clip-clap of her sandals along the kitchen floor.  Their voices became softer now and I was forced to clean the portion of the great room that was closer to the kitchen door in order to continue to hear their conversation without eavesdropping.  I was cleaning the great room after all.  I could not help if I overheard them.

Dad:  He wanted to know if the stories were true.
Mom:  What did you tell him?
Dad:  I told him that God loved us very much.  I told him that God created us individually and created everything we see.  I told him not to forget these things and to tell his children about our loving God in the heavens.
Mom:  How did he respond?
Dad:  He said that he would.
Mom:  Well that is wonderful.  It seems that the movement to believe in the mother-god earth has not infected his heart.  I pray every night that the same might be said for Billaad.  I shutter every time I think of the paintings of your sister's plastered all over the walls of her house.  I still don't understand why you don't insist that the three of them live here; sharing our long house instead of living with Baashard's family.
Dad:  Yet you know as well as I that Baashard and his two brothers, sons of Ashkenaz all, came with us at Ankara; as they did not wish to continue in the ways of their father.  You know also of the mutual devotion shared by my sister Luci and Baashard.  And I do not have to remind you of the Askuza treachery we faced on the Istranca Daglar; the cause of Baashard's death.  She stays with the brothers and their families because that is as close to Baashard as she can humanly come.  I do not insist she stay here because I refuse to exasperate her loss any futher.
Mom:  Should I remind you that she drifts further from God the FATHER every day?  What of our losing her?  Does this count for nothing?
Dad:  REMIND ME!  I remind you of your place.
Mom:  I am sorry my husband.  I only protest from the grief in my heart.  Does she cease day or night from making the drawings and paintings?  How long can you turn a blind eye as she skips along that darkened path?  Kimmeril, I love Geolucia as a sister.  She is in trouble.  She needs her big brother.

My dad turns now to my mom and reaches out to hold her and they embrace.  I can only see ths because of my coincidental vantage point near the front door some five cubits and at just the right angle from the kitchen door; I am finishing up with the great room, really.

Later at dinner we are joined as we are every evening by the other families that share our long house.  They are Calvis, of course, with his family and Engain with his family.  Not only is Calvis my dad's best friend but he is also his cousin.  Most of my dad's brothers and sisters (23 in all) live in my uncle Macedon's community located to the south and east of us.  We separated from them about a year ago and came up here.  Engain is my dad's nephew.  Calvis's wife's name is Palia and they have six kids.  I won't bore you with all of their names but Petrus, he is 12, he is the one you have to watch out for.  Lynadelosia is the wife of Engain.  I always have trouble pronouncing that one so I just call her aunt Lynda.  Although, I don't really think she is my aunt.  They have five kids, one of them is the same age as my younger brother.  Oh yea, I forgot to tell you about my baby brother Nikelus.  He was born here during the white season.  Babies don't go to the Guslar's song.  I also have three older brothers and two older sisters.  They all live here in the longhouse.  My older brothers (25, 22, 18) all have wives.  My older sisters (17, 15) share a room and look after the babies during times like the Guslar's song.  That is one big dinner party.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Upon our return to the village I was given leave to locate my freinds and play for a time before evening chores and supper. Billaad lived at the northern tip of the main cluster of homes. We had helped his family build their longhouse and had barley finished befoe the last season of white. Billaad's longhouse was much larger than ours. Longer, in fact, than any of the others that had been built so far. I could see Billaad's face in one of them as I approached. It quickly disappeared and by the time I got to the front door, he was there to greet me. "Where have you been? I have been looking for you all day." Billaad was very excited about something as he grabbed my shirt and pulled me through the common area of his house toward the boys' hall. As we passed I saw Tiras sitting in a chair working, very intently, on some small object with his hands. Tiras was my grandfather. He was also Billaad's grandfather. Billaad's mother was my aunt Geolucia. Billaad and I knew very little about Tiras. He was as old as anyone we had ever seen and the only words I had ever heard him speak were 'please' and thank you'; and even then they were almost unrecognizable. My father had explained that it had something to do with the Tower and the language Tiras spoke was of old and only the patriarchs could speak and understand it now. Not even he (Kimmeril) could understand it anymore. In fact, it could not even be learned.

Once inside the boys' hall and safly atop Billaad's bunk and with all the energy his nine year old frame could handle my friend and cousin began to spill forth all the events of his incredible morning. "You are not going to believe me!" he started. And again he said, "There is no way you will believe me." Half ready to outdo any story he could tell with the news of hair clippings and spies from Magog, even if it meant breaking my agreement not to tell, I snapped back with "Try me."

After breakfast I asked my mom if all that stuff about creation, the flood, and God the Guslar said in his stories was true. She said that it was not. She said that people like the Guslar just dream those stories up because it makes them feel better. I asked her how it makes them feel better. She told me they feel bad on account of all the bad stuff that happens to them. She said they need to believe that they have this great protector that brought them here and loves them and is personally looking out for them. I asked her how that made them feel better if this protector really did destroy almost everybody in a flood. She said, awe but he didn't destroy everybody did he? He saved their grandpa, Noah, and his three sons. So to them, he also saved them and loves them as long as they do what he says. She said that it all sounds so nice but it is just a made up story.
Well I said, what really happened then? How did we get here? She said she did not know exactly but pointed at the wall one more time. She said as you can see in the painting all life springs forth from the Mother God that is Gaea (earth). The earth is the source of life, all life, our life. there is nothing personal about it and there is also nothing guaranteed eigther. You can follow all the rules, love with all your heart, hope with all you are and still fall; well die in an accident leaving your family lost and alone. I said you mean like dad? Yes, just like your father. where was this great protector that day as we climbed out of the reveen? I don't know mom. She came to me then and held me, tears in her eyes. I didn't mean to make you sad or try to get you to answer for that accident. What I am trying to tell you is that it is ok that your dad passed on in that way. It is all part of the flow of life streaming through its cycles in and around the mother god earth. He is gone and we will miss him, but we are all one in the energy of life and what he was has already been recycled and living on anew only in different ways.
So will we see him again? No honey but we will be with him as we are with him now, one in the energy that is life coming from and centered in the mother god earth. Well where did the mother god earth come from? She said she did not know. She said the mother god must have come from a chaotic nothingness. She then asked why that is important. She said the earth just came to be; just one more big accident she guessed.

I interrupted Billaad and said "So that is what all these weird paintings you have on the walls of every room in your house are all about?" "I guess so." He replied. "All this time the big fat lady with extra wide hips and gigantic boobs that has all the kinds of animals coming out from her crotch is the mother god earth? That is what your mom is telling you?" I was really being much more insensitive than usual with my tone of voice. "I told you that you would not believe me; and I haven't even told you the most amazing part yet!" Billard was off again.

After our talk I went into the great room to play with Arst. he would tug on that old shirt I have tied up in knots forever if I would only tug back that long. As we wrestled for the shirt grandpa came and sat down next to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him puzzled like and he smiled at me while he rubbed my back. Arst barked a few times before strutting off with the drewl dampened rag. Garndpa's smile, still glowing, was of the kind that can make you warm on the coldest night. Granpa handed me this picture.

Billaad then showed me the picture Tiras had given him. It was easy to see now from where Geolucia had received her artistic talent. The picture was breath taking. It was of a magnificent garden. There were two people, a man and a woman, who were in the garden. They were completely naked, totally relaxed as they strolled the garden eating of its fruit. There was another in the garden; one who shown like the sun. No feature was recognizable in him except this glowing magnificence. There were animals in the garden. All, lion to lamb, were at peace. It was the most tranquil painting I have ever seen. Billaad went on to tell how Tiras had tried to explain the painting. The old man had used hand gestures, body movements, the sparingly few words of our language he could grunt out, together with phrases from his own language when he became frustrated. All my cousin could really gleen form his effort was that the Guslar's stories were true and Tiras knew it from his father Jepheth and his grandfather Noah.

It was painful to watch and listen to our gradfather try to communicate to us. I was always embarrassed for him and believed him to be mentally or physically deficient. It was as though his tongue could not be formed to make the sounds of our language in the required order.

"What did you make of grandpa's utterings?" I asked Billaad. "What can be made of them? I ask you." he replied. "I know my dad believes in the Almighty God of creation; but, I don't know if he takes the Guslar's stories all that seriously." "You should ask him." Billaad exhorted. "I will!"

Just then, the unmistakable sound of Kimmeril's sharp whistle burst penetrated the walls of Billaad's room. "That's my dad. I have to go. See you tomorrow." I said. "Yea, I will tell you about grandpa's model of the boot they used to excape the flood. he is finishing it now." He replied.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lines in the Sand

With the sun came mother's soft voice and gentle kiss to the forehead. "Wake-up little one." She said, "greakfast is almost ready." Already the bustle of carts, cattle, and the days commotion breached the walls of our longhouse by way of the slat covered windows. As was the case every day, much work was to be done by all in the village. Our village was not long founded at that time. Many families continueded to live in make shift arrangements. We had to cooperate in the planning and building of their permanent longhouses. The crops planted among the fingers of water created across the fertile flats by the two great rivers needed much attention. The day's catch from the Sea of Ashkenaz was of critical importance to our daily supply of food. We all worked together hardily, young and old, to build and maintain our community in the delta. Today would be no different.

Directly after breakfast my father took me with him as he went to investigate, with a group of men from our village, what damage had been done in the fields over the night by the nearby herds of deer. We had tried many things to ward the animals off, posted guards, scarecrow, strategically placed small fires, and even dogs. Little by little and together these methods had met with some success. As we ventured out my father told me of yet another scheme that had been tried that past night. "Hey Crill, last night we spread out, among the tender shoots, hair that had been cut from our very faces, heads, and bodies. Our hope is that the deer will smell the hair and believe it to be men present in every corner of the field. Do you think it will work?" My father had a very optimistic tone as he spoke. My first thought was the Guslar's cut back beard. I wondered if they had even used some of his hair against the deer. I had noticed a peculiar waft coming from the direction of the stage last evening. I answered, "That sounds like it could fix the whole problem. Who was the one to think of it?"

"Old Grip here, as has been the case many a time, was the source of our wisdom." It was true, for many of the problems we had faced; it was my fathers trusted friend Grip who devised the proper solution. It was his practice; however, to always credit the Almighty for imparting him with the knowledge in some sort of dream or vision. I wondered what kind of vision it was this time. In retrospect this particular solution was a bit ironic. You see, Grip's head was as smooth as a river stone. Yep, he was bald all right.

As our inspection of the fields came to a close, the sun then high in the sky and just beginning its slow fall to the western horizon, the men in our party were all abuzz as to how we had found virtually no new crop damage. Yes, they were very confident that the combination of the temporary techniques would stave off the deer until some sort of permanent fencing could be devised and constructed. It was decided to walk back to the village along the seashore in order to take in the relaxing beauty in which God had set our present existance. Howerver, along the way we came upon some very troubling marks in the sand.

"What do you make of these tracks Kimeril?" said a young man in our group named Tuskin. Tall and rudy, Tuskin was a man of action. All through the morning he had harped at how the only way to dissuade the deer permanently was to hunt them all down. Besides he said, "they taste very good." The older men could not seem to convince him that hunting the deer too vigorously would destroy an otherwise long term food supply. With the newly discovered tracks, however, the elders were keenly aware that the hunter's bow might well have been turned in the opposite direction; at them! You see our village was not the only human establishment along the vast perimeter of the Sea of Ashkenaz. One group in particular was a continual concern. The people of Magog who for most of the year reseced back in the network of draws and ridges of the Caucus Mountains that brushed the eastern shores of the sea. At most unpredictable times, however, they would take to the sea in bands of small boats to maraud the small settlements all along the shores.

They had as yet to cause any trouble for ours but the tails told to us by guslar and trader alike painted a ghastly picture of these Scythians and of their heathen practices. The one that stuck so vividly in my small head was that they would drink the blood of their beaten foe. That picture alone had sent me running to my mother's bosom on more than one occasion.

Most feared of the marauders was gog, son of Magog. The extent of his brutality was supposed only matched by the limits of his strength. At all times cloaked, his massive frame and steely eyes comprised the total of his physical description by those few that had witnessed and survived one of his raids. What that had caught the attention of the elders and how they knew the threat real was a line in the sand at our feet drawn by the rib on the bottom of a Scythian boot that made land on our shores. All the fishing boots for the many settlements along shores were flat bottomed and having no such rib. the Scythian boots were different.

The conversation that ensued as we walked, with some pace, back to the village is telling. And so, I include it here in its entirety.

Calvis (Grip): We shall not speak of this to the others.
Tuskin: What are you talking about? We have to tell everyone. We have to prepare for these raids should they come. How can we possibly think that ignoring this will make it go away? If it is a fight that this Gog or Magog or whoever is in for, then I for one will not shrink back in fear and denial. I am ready to fight. I am ready to fight. I am ready to die so as not to live in fear.
Formill: Tuskin, you are but a boy. Hold your tongue here in our presence and when we return to the village. Whatver information is to be given our people it will be through the mouth of Kimeril not yours.
Tuskin: Look, like his father, it seems the mouth of Kimeril works not; for since we have seen the line in the sand it is as though he has no tongue at all!
Calvis: Hold man!
Formill: Yes, hold or I will personally cut yours from your throat.
Tuskin: While I still have mine, if none of you are going to warn the others, then I will be compelled to do so.
Kimeril: ENOUGH! Grip, of course you are correct and Formill, yes Tuskin is but a boy. However, he is brave. We will all need such bravery should Gog indeed visit us. Tuskin, no body is talking about fear or denial. And yes, we will prepare wisely and honorably for this present danger. But, panic is of no use in preparation and panic transforms bravery into foolhardiness. As you all see my tongue works, however, it is a slave to my intellect and my intellect serves the Almighty. Our first move will be to pray to Him for guidance, wisdom, and deliverance. We shall then wait upon Him and His answer. We shall remind the people of what they already know of the Sythians is true and possible at any moment. And then we will ready ourselves. Agreed?
Calvis: Agreed.
Formill: Agreed.
Tuskin: Agreed.
Crill: Agreed.

With my seal of approval the four men all laughed loudly and the clam assurance my father had given us through his faith in God was punctuated by the awkward small voice of an 11 year old.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Guslar's Song

"Ouch! That hurts!" I was 11 years old and at the end of my rope. My younger sister had pricked the back of my neck with a Hawthorn (I stress the thorn) needle for the last time. "If you do that again I will return you to the dust whence you came, so help me I will." I said emphatically and with voice audible to my father, Kimeril, the leader of our little village. His response was characteristic if not predictable verbatim. "Crill (that's me) my boy, what has got you so wroth?" He dealt plainly. Continuing he said, "If you do well, should you not be accepted? And if you do not well, does not sin lie at the door in wait to be your master?" "You say so always when she bids my anger, what of her deeds? What of her acceptance?" My heart cried back to the father who loved us both so. "Your sister Storm is but 4 hears old, not having reached the age of knowing." He reminded, adding, "We must correct her with kindness, understanding her need for attention while showing her your need not to be pricked. Pricking her harder only teachers her to prick you harder still, given the chance." The smile that then grew on Storm's face caused me to suppose that the age of knowing was in need of some adjustment.

Nearly dusk now the large bon fire ringed with stones in the center of our village was already brightly a flame. Most of the families were assembled and the Guslar was in a meditative trance. He hummed an erratic tune while making random utterances unrecognizable to my ear. Yet, it was highly prvocative, captivating my attention as I soon had forgotten all about Storm's pricking.

It was another cool dry night and because of my father's position we always had a fantastic spot both near the fire and near the Guslar's small stage. I had never before heard or seen this one so it was with great anticipation I observed his preparation to orate the nights story. He was small in stature but wide in girth. His skin was of darker complexion with a salt and pepper beard cut back to a fingers width form his wrinkled face. Obviously older than most while being agile enough to navigate the short staircase to the stage with ease, he even had a bounce to his step.

He moved to stage center. Facing the audience, he lowered his head, folded his hands and was silent. A hush fell over the village. He slowly raised his wide eyed gaze to the heavens, stretched out his arms with open hands and began:

Looking unto the sky this night as in nights past
I see the dreamy points of light so deep and vast, I wonder.
Is that story spake of old,
when created we are told,
All that is seen and held and known, earth flame wind stone
Be He true over waters deep, moved to entreat, I wonder.

Perfect Word's womb, gives birth the world, life's waters lo
"Let there be light" darkness is night, and it was so, I wonder.
Waters divide on command,
Firmament rise by His hand,
Universe abounding, by His will unfolding
Heaven prepared by Him we receive, yea we believe, and wonder.

By His voice, gathered the waters unto the sea.
Bestowed waves for the tide, dry land does now abide.
Who on baited breath awaits,
What next will He create?
By His call, the earth brings forth grass and seed in kind.
And herb and fruit supplied, trees appear that we now find.

By His verse exist the lights in heaven so placed.
For the markers each a sign, seasons passing, keeping time.
Which way to go, be not lost,
For heaven declares your path.
By His wisdom making the greater ones so spaced.
The rulers day and night marking steps showing right.

Commanding waters that abundantly quicken
In their very beings the code so is written,
Making the kinds fish and fowl,
Great whales He does allow.
Spake He, multiply all kinds to so fill the earth
The measure be but five days now since the world's birth.

Over the land be it heard, His thunderous voice perturbs,
All kinds of creature - beast, cattle, creeping things - bring forth!
the time at last has now come
Spirit creates blessed ones
By His very breath and in His perfect image
Only look on one's face to see the Lord's visage

Speaks to man whom He made, His glory well displayed
Dominion be yours with the woman as help meet
given herb bearing seed; eat
with fruit yielding trees; meat
On the sixth day the earth stood, God saw all was good,
Seventh day, words compleate, sanctified task replete
Almighty rests work done, I wonder, wonder on.

Such was the Guslar's opening rhyme. He went on that night to tell in a grand song the epic of the great and awesome flood, which God had sent on the earth to destroy all flesh. He recounted, of course, that it had been man's sinful nature what brought about this catastrophic event and that only Noah his sons and their wives escaped on an ark of their own construction. Foretold by god himself, they had prepared the great ship to specification and brought aboard animals of every kind. The entire earth was covered with water that had been released from the heavens and the caverns of the deep.

Months past before the earth began to settle and the waters asswaged. With much authority he sang of how the world was now vastly different than before the deluge. The large spans of sand and salt so inhospitable in our time were nonexistent in the original creation. Along with the scars and tears they are products of the cataclysmic events surrounding the virtual destruction of man. For if it were not that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord", then man would have been utterly removed. As it was, now man would barley cling to life by the sweat of his brow and the providence afforded him not by his good deeds but by the grace to come.

Although the story had been long and the hour late, I had managed to stay awake threw to the end. And with Storm draped close to our mother's form as she held her dear, check to rosy check, the precious girl's legs a sway with mother's gait, Kimeril carried me, my arms wrapped at his neck, legs tucked to his arms, on his back to our home in the village and the gentle peace of a nights sleep.