And such

<< Back to Chapt. 12

Chapt. 13: The Song of Cetaceous

By Michael Jesse

"I don't understand," Laura said. "What did Savien do?"

Riona had just picked up her husband's plate with her mouth and taken it into the house and now she was returning carrying the wine jug by its strap. "Oh go ahead," she whistled. "Answer the question."

Riona poured some wine into Verdu's bowl and he leaned over it and lapped some up before resting back again.

"You would not be able to understand the original words of The Song of Cetaceous," he said, "for the music is very old. But this is the version we teach to our children."

In the beginning, God gave birth to all
That live upon the ground or on the breeze.
She moved and mountains grew and valleys fell.
Her breath became the wind, her hair the trees.

God gave the world abundance, life and breath.
Even She knew not how many Souls there grew,
But two she chose as stewards of the rest.
And for their sake, She clove the world in two.

To Savien, God gave the mountains high,
There to build great monuments of stone.
To him, Her firstborn son, God gave a gift.
A gift of mighty power like Her own.
God's second son was young Cetaceous.
No power great or mighty wanted he.
God gave him food and let him fly and laugh.
He asked for naught, and so God made him free.

The Mother knew the price of what She'd done.
Her sacrifice gave Her mortality.
God put Herself in trust to her two sons.
She closed Her eyes and let Creation be.

And then God slept.
And then God slept

As Verdu played the deep and melodious song, the sun went down and a few stars came out in the darkening sky. Irenia took a small square object from a shelf and made a spark with it, igniting a small bit of fibers that she held between her toenails. She quickly lit a candle and dropped the burning cloth into a clay bowl on the table as Verdu played on.

The Mother woke and slowly raised her eyes.
Her mouth was dry; her skin was rough and cold.
How many years God slept, She did not know,
But in that time The Mother had grown old.

She called to Savien, but he heard not,
So loudly did his cities cloud his ear.
Upon the wind God touched his face and hair.
She saw inside his mind and wept a tear.
He looked at God's own face, yet saw not God.
But his own face, exalted as a Lord.
God's gardens he uprooted as his right.
Her miracles he broke upon his sword.
Cetaceous, God sought and found at last.
His world, now small, he lingered there alone.
God mourned what She had done, and still must do.
To save his life, a new sin to atone.

And then God wept.
And then God wept.

My son, God said, I long have feared this day,
Her voice so weak it barely made a sound.
A burden I must give you as my gift,
And put your feet upon the rocky ground.

At Her command, Cetaceous now felt
The weight that he would carry every mile.
And now, God sighed, there is one burden more
But first, I need to rest a little while.

This gift I have to give before I die.
Stay near, and Call to wake me by and by.
And then God slept.
And then God slept.

Verdu's voice fell silent and for a long moment no one spoke.

"Well THEN what?" Jack blurted in his normal voice, and repeated the question more politely with his flute.

"I'm afraid that is all we have of the Song of Cetaceous." Verdu said. "The story itself — some of us would say — is still going on, and we do not know how it will end."

"But . . . what was the big power God gave Savion? And was Cetaceous flying?"

"And what was the second gift to Cetaceous?" Laura asked.

"Ahh," Verdu said. "Those are questions that have been discussed and debated for many generations and it would take me all night to tell you all of the theories."

"But I hope you won't, dear," Riona said. "We should go home and let Gran put these children to bed."

"At last something we agree on," Verdu replied. He leaned over his cup and drained what remained of his wine and then got to his feet. "Irenia, tomorrow morning Menda and I will be preparing some young ruah for defense duty. We have Emergency Shore Watch in place already, of course, but we also need patrol groups who can respond quickly if the ship reappears."

"Good," Irenia said. "You should have sufficient volunteers, but if not let me know and I will speak with the family heads. Is there anything else I can do to assist."

"We could use someone to organize food supplies to the patrols and watchers."

"I'll visit Haran tomorrow. That's something he would want to do."

As Riona and Verdu left to go to their own home in the village, Irenia blew out all of the candles and for a moment it seemed very dark. Laura looked out from the covered patio at the scattered ruah houses on the rolling hills. There was a flicker of light here and there from a candle or a fire, but for the most part the only light was from the multitude of bright stars and the sliver of the new moon, yet that seemed plenty. Laura had rarely seen the stars so bright, except a few times camping.

"Come along," Irenia whistled, "I have a bed prepared for you."

Irenia led the children to a small bedroom, barely big enough for the mattress that covered most of the floor. It had no springs or bed frame and was stuffed with straw and covered by a coarse cloth. There was a softer blanket on top and the children climbed under it. Jack fell instantly to sleep. Irenia turned to go, but Laura called her back. "I'm really curious about all this about Cetaceous and Savion."

"Well you should save that for Verdu — he's the expert."

"But I was wondering what you think. It sounded to me like you and Riona don't think about things the same way that Verdu does."

"Oh, our differences are not important — at least I don't think so. I don't share Verdu's enthusiasm for the old myths, but we must all find our own way in The Spirit."

"You mentioned the Spirit before when you were telling us about your husband. Is that where ruah go when they die?"

"You could put it that way, but it isn't really a separate place. You and I are part of The Spirit right now — we don't have to be dead for that. When I have a friend who is sick or troubled, I pray for her. I sing her song into The Spirit and I ask other voices to join mine — voices of the living and the dead. Sometimes that energy can help heal the body or sometimes it gives peace to the soul. And when our time in this phase of life comes to an end, we leave our tired bodies and give ourselves into the welcoming voices of The Spirit."

"Is that why Verdu and the others play the Call so loud?"

Irenia laughed a breathy whistle. "No, I'm afraid there's quite a bit more to it than that. But it's late. You children get to sleep and we'll see what the morning brings."

Although she had felt completely alert, as soon as Laura lay her head back she fell instantly to sleep and dreamed she was home. It was a rainy morning, still very early. She could hear the sound of raindrops on the windows and gray light was beginning to fill the playroom where she slept next to her brother on the big red sofa bed.

Go to Chapt. 14 >>