Monday, 2 May 2016

War in an age of innocence: 11

Link to Chapter 1

 Kiri awoke to the early morning songs of the birds in the forest. He was cold and damp with the dew that lay around him like tiny beads of rock crystal. It must be very early, he thought, but the sun was not visible to him so he could not tell just how early it was. He struggled to light a fire to warm himself but finally managed to get a good blaze going. He sat and warmed himself, ate a little and tried not to let his discomfort destroy his resolve. The fire dried him fairly quickly and he felt the urge to continue his quest. He used his water skin to dowse the fire, having to refill it from the stream several times. He refilled the skin for his journey and set off down the trail again.

He came to a clearing where the stream meandered through a marshy area and looked up to see the blue sky above him. He had not realized how closed in he was feeling until he saw that expanse of blue above him. He felt his spirit surge with hope again and he decided that he should try, once again, to get a sense of the direction of his goal. He stood very still and closed his eyes, imagining a circle around him. He expanded the space of this circle until it collapsed again. He turned to face the direction from where this space collapsed and opened his eyes. It worried him that the direction that he was facing was different from the direction he was traveling along the trail, but it was not too far off and at least it was not behind him. His worries were relived after he left the marshy area, for the trail made a sudden twist to the direction that he felt and it appeared to head straight for quite some distance.

The ground started to rise again and the trail got steeper very quickly. He could see that the trees thinned ahead and could make out gray rock outcroppings. He found himself near the summit of a hill with a view over the forest to the valley beyond. He saw his small stream appearing now and again between the trees and his heart sank when he saw that it entered a wide river at the bottom of the valley. He knew that he would have to cross this river, but it looked far to wide to have a bridge. He was a good swimmer but he did not know how strong the current would be. Perhaps there would be a forge where the trail met the river. There must be some way across. All trails must go somewhere.

He continued down the other side of the hill back into the forest. The trail appeared to head straight for the river. He hurried along the trail, his worries about crossing the river gave speed to his pace and it was not long before he spotted another clearing and the glint of sunlight on water through the trees. As he entered the clearing he saw a small round hut with a plume of smoke coming from the centre of the roof. A small vegetable garden lay near the entrance of the hut and he saw a rickety wooden dock with a small boat moored at it. He called out a greeting and an old man appeared at the entrance of the hut.

“Hello Kiri” he said, “I’m pleased to meet you. Kala has told me a lot about you. She is still asleep. Perhaps you would like to wake her?”

Kiri was speechless. He stood there with his mouth open in astonishment and disbelief. His quest was over. He had found Kala. He realized that he had been thinking so much about finding her that he had not given any thought to what he would say if he were successful.

The old man raised his eyebrows and said, “Kala never told me that you were a mute, though.”

Kiri came to his senses and realized that he must look very stupid just standing there with his mouth open.

“I’m sorry. I’m just a bit shocked. I have been looking for her and thinking of nothing else. I didn’t expect that I would find her for a while. It’s all so sudden. Yes, please, let me wake her”.

The old man smiled. “Come on in then. My name is Tirho, I’m Kala’s grandfather.”

Kiri followed Tirho into the hut and as his eyes adjusted to the dim light from the small fire at in the middle, he saw Kala lying fast asleep on a bearskin at the edge of the hut. He knelt by her and placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Kala, it’s me.”

She opened her eyes slowly and it took her just a moment for the sleep to give way to recognition and joy. She sat up quickly and threw her arms around Kiri.

“I knew you would find me!” She grasped his shoulders and withdrew to her arm's length looking intently at his face. “Are you still angry with me?”

“Of course not”, he said. “I’m just relieved to find you and I’m so sorry that I was angry with you. Aunt Vara told me that they had wanted you to show me the circle all along”.

“ I wondered about that” she replied, “ They all knew how bad I am at keeping secrets, and yet they never warned me not to tell you. Why was that?”

“Aunt Vara told me that just entering the forest would be a test enough for me. All of you have grown up with the forest around you, but where I come from the forest is a fearful place full of death. I think I have passed their test. They just wanted me to go into the forest with you. Now I have faced it alone. The hope of finding you gave me the strength I needed.”

“I’m so relieved” she said, “I felt that I had taken a quest from you, and the only thing that I could do to repair this would be to give you an even greater quest. I did not know if it would work, finding the stone circle is one thing – it is a place of great power, but finding little me would take much more skill. I didn’t know if it would work, but there was nothing else that I could think of to make amends. How did you do it? The path from the circle is well hidden, even if you guessed that I would have gone there first. If I had stayed at the circle it would have been too easy. Did you have to try all the paths that led from the circle before you found the right one?”

Kiri said that he never saw any of the other paths and he explained how he had sensed her direction by creating a circle in his own mind and then having it reveal the direction to follow.

Kala clapped her hands in joy. “Then my plan worked better than I had imagined! I’m so pleased”

Through all of this conversation Tirho had been seated on the other side of the fire watching them with a big smile on his face.

“We should all have something to eat,” he said, “and then I will take you two back to the village in the boat. Your aunt must be worried about you Kiri”

“You don’t have to do that Grandfather” Kala said, “We can go back through the forest”.

“I wouldn’t think of it” he replied, “ besides, even though I like living out here alone growing my vegetables and fishing in the river, I sometimes find the need for a little more human company than the occasional visit from my granddaughter. Your return might be cause for a little celebration. I would like to join in that.”

“Then let’s do that” Kiri said, “You can meet my aunt and stay for a day or so if you wish. Also, I think I have had enough of the forest for awhile.

They all laughed and Tirho brought out some smoked salmon and dark bread and a big bowl of berries gathered from the edge of the forest.

“Eat as much as you like Kiri, I’m sure you must be hungry after your ordeal”.

Kiri realized just how hungry he was. He had eaten very little and his usually big appetite had been very much lessened by the worry of finding Kala. Now that was all over and he felt very hungry indeed. He fell on the food like a starving wolf.

The sun shone on the water as they floated downstream toward the village. The current was strong enough that Tirho did not need to row much, but Kiri wondered about how it would be for him having to row back against the current. Even though Tirho was quite old, he looked like he was used to handling his boat, and neither Tirho nor Kala had even mentioned the return trip, so Kiri put it out of his mind.

They saw two otters playing in the water, chasing each other on the surface for a while, then diving, then resurfacing again. They reminded Kiri of his home and how he had spent many hours watching the antics of the playful creatures. He wondered about his mother and father and the other people in the village and he looked forward to seeing them again that following spring. Kala was sitting at the bow with a big smile on her face and Kiri smiled back. He felt at peace. His quest was over, he had learned something important about using the power of the Oneness, and he was back in his element, on open water with the vast sky above him and the sea just a short way ahead.

Kiri was surprised at the short time it took to get into sight of the village. They rounded a bend in the river and there it was just ahead of them. Distances in the forest were deceptive and the traveling was slow. Kiri smelled the sea ahead of them and heard the call of the white sea birds as they wheeled overhead. The village got closer and the smell of wood smoke combined with the smell of the sea. It was a comforting smell. It smelled like home.

They moored at the dock alongside a couple of sea-going vessels and made their way to the house to greet Vara. She was sitting by the fire preparing a stew in a pot that sat in the embers at the edge of the fire. She looked as if she had been worrying. Her face was stern and her jaw set tight. She looked up as the entered and immediately broke into a big smile. She suddenly looked ten years younger.

“I’m so glad you both made it back safely” she said, “I know I might have appeared to be willing for you to go on your quest Kiri, but I worried every moment from when you left the house. Have you and Kala become friends again? Is everything alright?”

“Yes, Aunt Vara. We are friends again” he smiled at Kala. “Everything is perfect. I have much to tell you, Oh, this is Kala’s grandfather Tirho. He brought us back in his boat. Kala was at his house in the forest just up the river from here”.

“It’s nice to meet you Tirho. Thank you so much for bringing them back. Will you stay with us for a while?”

“I would like that” Tirho said. “Is Urho about? I have not seen him for a while”.

“I would have thought you would have passed him,” Vara said. He went down to the dock to talk to some traders that stopped by from down the coast. They were in a hurry and did not want to stay, so Urho went down to their boat.”

“We saw some boats moored the dock, but no one was about” Tirho said.

“That’s strange, perhaps Urho has stopped at someone’s house on the way back. I’m sure he won’t be long.”

Just as soon as she finished saying this Urho appeared at the door. Kiri smiled at him expecting him to be happy to see them, but Urho’s face was grim.

“Something terrible has happened”, he said.

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  1. Upon finding Kala, Kiri has found the light from the darkness. The reader realizes that because of Kiri's mistake her leaving provided Kiri with another opportunity to be instructed in how to call upon the Oneness to help him solve his problem. As Moyer stated: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
    Will Kiri continue his instruction to help him hear the quiet or find the Oneness?
    What is the terrible thing the has happened?

    1. Ah, but how far would Kiri have advanced if Kala had not initiated her plan? Perhaps her role in the story is different from what might have been expected? Perhaps she is neither Muse nor "Damsel in Distress" as a lot of Hollywood scripts like to play.

      The terrible thing is revealed tomorrow.

  2. I see Kala as being a vehicle to help Kiri in achieving his goal by being his guiding light because of her strong connection with the Great Tree and the Great Serpent.

    1. Yes, and Kiri puts a title to those connections in Chapter 12!

    2. Yes, and Kiri puts a title to those connections in Chapter 12!