Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter Sixty-Four

The man was old, short, and rail thin with a stooped shoulder that spoke of spinal irregularities.  The skin on one cheek was rough and scaly from some kind of skin ailment and his hair grew in unnatural swirls on that side of his head.

Trying to remain calm I asked, "What do you want?"

"I want no fight nor nothing like those you just bit with that fang wanted from you."

His voice was a complete contrast to what his appearance should dictate; it was deep and melodious ... and he sounded educated.

"Surprise you?" he asked.

"Excuse me?"

"That a corrupted figure such as myself should be able to speak in something other than grunts."

I sighed.  "My thoughts were not that hurtful but I admit to having an unhealthy stereotype imbedded in my conscious."

He smile was kind.  "Honest.  Your file reported it and now I've absolute proof.  It makes me feel some better at this blasphemy that I am committing."

"A file?  And a blasphemy?  I admit that I am now curious to your purpose."

"Good," he said nodding.  "We do not have much time however so if you will please sit upon yon bench.  I am tired, have travelled far, and my bones ache."

"A warning Sir, I will not put away my fang."

"Good.  If we are interrupted by certain of my people you will need it."

I had called myself curious but in truth I was well beyond that sentiment but at the same time I was fearful, both of him and of what he might have to say.

When he sat he looked in pain and I could not stop myself at suggesting, "You should put liniment on that."

He grunted.  "I shall but not until this is done.  And by then I may not need it," he added cryptically.

He looked at me then sighed.  "Do I need to explain what you saw when you visited my grandchildren's home?"

"Perhaps not ... if you would tell me who your grandchildren are."

He gave me another twisted smile, this time a sad one.  "My grandchildren are legion, unfortunately not so for my great grandchildren.  There are some but not many.  However the ones that I am referring to are the ones we once thought held the salvation of our people."  He snorted and there was a dark undertone as if he was too disappointed to express in mere words.

"Amongst our people my father was a wanderer.  He visited many places as a Watcher.  On one particular trip he was injured and taken in by a small tribe of people in the far north.  The daughter of the headman himself tended him and he was gratefully surprised that he was treated as well as he was.  His corruption was even more obvious than mine and even amongst his people he was forbidden to procreate. Then the kindly tribe was attacked by neighboring savages jealous over some hunt or other and my father fought beside them to protect the women and children.  Still, most of the tribe died or were taken captive.  As the headman lay dying he put his daughter's care and life in my father's hands as he knew they loved one another despite the love being against good sense.  He only asked one thing and that was that they would remain pure to prevent being shunned by the world.

"As time and love would have it, despite their vow to remain chaste ... his for his reasons and her for hers ... they did give into their lust of the flesh and eventually produced two sons, both strong and apparently healthy and without corruption.  Unfortunately the birth of a third child killed my mother and the daughter she tried to bring forth."

I must have gasped or made some such noise because he said, "Yes, I was one of those fine sons.  My father, unable to care for his two sons alone, and convinced his sin of turning from his people was the root cause of the tragedy that befell his family, returned to his people with his stories and a desire to prove his faithfulness so that his sons would have a place in the order of things."

"When he arrived and told his stories it reinforced the belief of his people that if a corrupted could begat with an uncorrupted the corruption would be washed from the blood.  This was in direct opposition to his people's religion that the corruption was actually a blessing by their dark god."

"This wave of changing ideas that offered a glimpse at another life, one free of the pain and sorrow that was ever-present in their current one, cause a rebellion to the religious order than in turn caused a civil war, one that I remember well even though I was very young.  So many died that blood ran in rivulets on the sand.  And eventually some of that blood belonged to my father."

"A splinter group of my father's people escaped to go live in a land free of corruption and to save my life - as my brother and I had been condemned as abominations - I was hidden in the caravan, given to my father's sister as an adoptee.  It was many years before my brother and I saw each other again and that only by chance as we'd both taken up working the Great River.  We were still both young men and had procreated many times and we put the names together.  Most of his children opted to return to our father's people unless they were seeded out to Watcher families meant to keep an eye on people and gather useful information."

"It was about that time that my spine began to mutate.  And then a corruption set into a small cut I got shaving which spread from my cheek around to the side of my head.  It marked me and no longer was I welcome to procreate and in fact was shunned as my father had been shunned so in error I sought those that my people had once fled from.  There are many stories I could tell you but there is not time but I am your sister wive's grandfather."

This time I know I gasped.

"Yes.  So, once again I ask do you understand what you saw when you came to my people's home ground."

Carefully I told him, "Not at the time, at least not much of it, but I've put a few particulars together since then."

"Yes.  Good.  So I can leave off in-depth medical explanations about why some appear corruption free yet still have it deep within them or develop it later in life.  The telling of the rest of this will be easier for it."

1 comment:

  1. have I mentioned how much I love this story??? well I do.

    but when I read it, I feel like cleaning.... but the reading of the story usually wins out. ;)