“Hmmm… I do not know,” he laughs, it’s a nagging surprise that this doesn’t appear to bother him much, “I only remember the Sagacious One rousing me from a deep slumber. He said it was time, he said that the search must begin. He gave me this scimitar and said I would need it when ‘the shadow is cast’. That time has not yet passed.”
“Do you know what you seek?”
“No,” he laughs again.
“How will you know if you find it then?”
“He said I would know, and… I believe I will.”
I had to admire his persistence and fortitude, even in the face of daunting uncertainty. I realized, with shame, that if it were me I would’ve given up the search a very long time ago already.
“This ‘Sagacious One’ you speak of, who is he?”
“That, Stranger, is just another mystery of many to me. He did not give me his name, I do not know whence he came from nor whence he went to. And after our brief meeting I never saw him again. Although he did say he would reappear when my objective was in sight- I still wait for that moment.”
I consider the Guiding Star.
“You think he might appear to you in the same manner he did the first time?”
He laughs, “Probably not, but when he does I shall surely recognize him in any form.”
“Your faith is commendable, Friend.”
Again he laughs, “I know not what you speak of, Stranger.”
I didn’t believe this to be true, he was just too modest to accept this accolade.
“Do you know the Legend of Sol and his Seven Maidens, Stranger?” he asks as he refers to the moons in night sky.
“I do not.”
“Let me tell you. It begins with a genesis, of course, the birth of Sol and the awakening of his house. The passion of Sol burned so bright one could recognize him many light years away. But his house was vacant and too large for Sol to fill himself, so he makes a decision to occupy the space with his creations. The artisan of conception, he brings together various elements to form other sentient bodies, then his light breathes life into them, and they are thankful for that. They gather around Sol and in gratitude they pledge an oath to keep him company until the ends of time. This worked well for Sol for a long time, but alas! An enemy lurked hidden in the distance and conspired against Sol. This enemy declared himself the nemesis of Sol, and so this adversary became known as Nemesis. Nemesis vowed to destroy what Sol created.”
“Nemesis was birthed in the cold and darkness, he envied the beauty of Sol and all the worlds he crafted around him. Nemesis harboured great hatred for these reasons, he focused this hatred upon Sol’s community. For although he was consumed with odium, Nemesis was no fool, he knew he could not defeat Sol outright. Sol grew too great from the love he received from his satellites. And it was there where Nemesis chose to weaken Sol. Nemesis would prowl stealthy, stealthy in the outer shadows, then he would suddenly invade the House of Sol, striking down one of his satellites ere he swiftly vanished into the gloomy obscurity again. Sol could do nothing to thwart his unseen foe, he pained to witness his satellites dying one by one until eventually he was left with only one; his most treasured creation, the rock we walk upon now. Sol could not bare to witness the loss of his final subject, and his subsequent absolute destruction from the enmity of Nemesis. And Nemesis being wily and cruel knew this all too well, and that is why he intended to obliterate this satellite last. So Sol devised a crafty scheme, by lulling Nemesis into striking prematurely he at last prevailed over his loathed rival ere he got his opportunity to take Sol’s last satellite. Yet, in doing this Sol made a noble sacrifice and since then the skies have been dark without his light. But Sol left his legacy behind by crafting his Seven Maidens to shed a soft light upon his last satellite until the time where he might return. This is the Legend of Sol and his Seven Maidens.”
“That is a tragic story, my Friend. And here I thought you were always a jovial man,” he laughs at this.
“Yes it is true, yet the Universe is filled with tragedies. This story may lack the happy ending we desire, but we still have this rock to walk upon.”
“This is also true, although this ground is not the rock I thought it would be.”
“But if it were would its mysteries mystify us?”
“And so here we are, Stranger.”
“How did you learn of this Legend?”
“I will show you, our path leads there now,” and soon he brought me to an obelisk, a lofty column of stone with a pyramid cap, rising from the soft sand to stand high and proud.
Upon this stone is written script in hieroglyphs and a language I suspect to be Aramic, “This rock speaks of the Legend, and alludes to many other things too.”
“What if this is the treasure you seek, Friend?”
“You suggest that I have already found it?” he laughs, “Outrageous fortune that would be, but no, Stranger, this is merely a clue.”
“Have you found others like it?”
“Nay, this is the only one of its kind.”
“How does this point you in the right direction?”
“That I must still decipher and understand.”
“Hmmm, not much of a clue.”
“Hahahaha, hardly in the conventional sense, although this Universe is hardly a conventional one,” for a man who knew very little he seemed to know more than what he let on.
“Does this stone hint at that supposition?”
“In a few ways, yes. Yet the secrets are there to be discovered by us not given.”
“What is this rune? It appears to be unlike the other script.”
“True, it is dissimilar, although I have not found the meaning of it yet.”
My hand drifts up to stroke the engraved rune and as my fingers touch its shape a sudden glow emanates. I step back startled, by the look in the eyes of my companion this has taken him by surprise as well. Suddenly a golden sword emerges from the sandy base of the obelisk, it rises out of the earth as sand falls from its edges, until it stops. I look to my companion, “Take the sword!” he says. I’m hesitant, “You must receive it,” I sense an urgency in his voice that doesn’t seem to suit his benign character.
This compels me and I draw the sword from the sand and raise it up, upon its blade I see similar runes glow a gentle amber.
But then suddenly the breeze shifts and brings with it an adverse feeling. The camel moans and takes off running. All around us sand suddenly kicks up into cyclones and from these spiraling grains shadows appear. With heads like jackals, snout and ears sharply pointed, they each brandished a khopesh, a curved and smoky sword.
“That time has come, Stranger, muster your strength,” he says as he draws his scimitar singing from its scabbard.
I stand there immobile, what the hell is going on? Is this supposed to happen? I feel a fear grip me, my first instinct is to flee and I’m entertaining that notion. But The Wanderer vaults himself at one shadow cutting it down, it shrieks as it disintegrates. Another shadow lunges at The Wanderer with a shadowy point, he parries and thrusts his sword through its form and another foe falls.
He glances my way, and his eyes widen, I cannot tell if its shock or the pure frustration that I haven’t even moved yet. Suddenly he rushes me, his curved sword swings down from an arch and it appears it’ll cut through me but in an instant a clash blocks a smoky sword from piercing me. He parries with a slash that takes off the shadow’s head.
“Defend yourself, damb you!”
His eyes are frantic, but in almost an instant they change to a far away look, his back arches and through his chest another smoky point emerges. It withdraws and he falls to the sand, behind him a menacing figure stands; with no defining features only hazy outlines and abyssal eyes that speak of chaos.
How can this be? Suddenly a fury ignites within me and a rage that drives my sword through the shadow’s torso, it falls in two pieces before dispersing into vapour.
More shadows advance and now a different feeling grips me- it subdues my paltry fear.
They swing their menacing swords, black with hatred and disarray, but I feel a loss of self preservation and their assaults appear weak. One after another they fall as the golden blade cuts swathes through their forms until nothing else stands but the stony obelisk and the man who has lost control.
The sword vibrates in my hand; it resonates a light, then quells and resonates no more.
I fall to my knees, my victory appears trivial while my desert companion lies on the sand in the pool of his own blood. I roll him over onto his back, he’s still alive! Although his eyes suggest that he’s considering his departure from this world. I shake him, and his eyes notice me.
“Stranger,” he says to me, “find our treasure!”
“You cannot leave now, Friend, your mission is not yet complete!”
“I see… I see now. It was never my mission, it was never my treasure, listen to what I say, Stranger!”
“I don’t understand!”
“I would like to savour that sweet water again… if you could be so kind.”
I grope for the flask, and remove his scarf, what I see almost petrifies me and nearly did I spill the precious liquid from its container.
I look upon the man dying in my arms and I realize I look upon myself! Shame engulfs me as I realized that I could not recognize my own reflection sooner.
Shaky hands spill the liquid into the open mouth of The Wanderer. He swallows it gratefully.
“Take The Fluid of Rejuvenation back with you, bring it back to the Sagacious One… I see him now,” he sighs, then his eyes close and I feel his body lighten. His Image dissolves through my fingers in the form of sand and The Wanderer returns to the desert. Despite myself, I could not stifle the tears that rushed from my eyes. Had I been more courageous could I have saved a life? Could I have saved a part of me, myself?
-From the journal of a Phase Drifter