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?

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