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.

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