Category: g’quan

The Darkness

I found my feet following the old path to the ruined village today.  Everyone has moved away long ago.  The Darkness had destroyed their peaceful lives.  

Over my life I have wondered why the Darkness came to my world.  Why they wanted to destroy such an insignificant people.  We’re we meant for greatness in the future?  Maybe we only have the potential for greatness.  Perhaps that is enough in this time.  In this place.

The being that was my mother.  Was it an ally or an observer?  She rarely gave me advice.  Any useful advice.  Only puzzles.  Who was that one?  What did it want?  Why did it come to my world?

The more I think, the more questions I have.

There was no one in the village.  I had thought that people may have come here because it was empty.  It is even too empty to be used in desperation.  I felt drawn to the place of Darkness.  Maybe that is why people stay away. Even as a ruin it pulls you toward it.  Requiring your attention.

As I approached it I almost felt I could hear a murmur.  A hum of voices.  Could people have used the ruin as a shelter?  Why when the village itself was available?  My guard came up and my hand reached for my ka’toc.  I felt watched, but there was sudden silence. “Who is there?” I called.  I expected no response.  My expectations were met.

There were no Narn here.  

Age has taught me caution. I did not go in the breach.  Instead I stood like an idiot dodderer.  Unsure what I should do.

Heroes should never grow old.

Who am I?

I had stayed behind yesterday as the team went to the South.  Today I left with the other team going North, leaving G’Lan in charge of those who would be going the next day, assuming the team from the South returned.  At one time there was a cavern this direction.  It had been full of the creatures of Darkness.  I remember feeling such dread that they had this force so close to Nar’Shal.  We Narn had not even known they were there.

I remembered running through the cavern as the creatures exploded, certain I was going to fall and perish for my foolishness.  No one but me could enter, but I do not think the Darkness wished me to ever be able to exit.  I had always wondered what allowed me into the Darkness.

I told the rest to leave me here.  There is no one that lives in this place any longer.

I think of the times in my life where I seem to have power beyond that of a normal Narn.  Like when I went into the cavern.  Most had not been able to pass.  The very grass and animals, even insects were killed by a force of the Darkness that had protected the cavern.  At the time I wondered why I could enter but focused more on the fact that I could.  There was the lost child (who was never found) otherwise no one could enter.  There was no resistance to my entrance then.

Why?

Why was I different?  I have been sitting here looking down at the place where the stones collapsed, where I was almost crushed under their weight with all of the creatures of Darkness.  Thinking about my life.   Wondering who I am.

It seems such a simple question.

I am G’Quan.  An answer that seems to satisfy the question immediately.  But does my name define me?  We Narn seek to make the name match the Narn but language is imperfect and a name cannot fit all aspects of even one Narn.  The name is defined by me and who I am.  So answering G’Quan is a circular argument.

I am a Narn but that answer is too broad.

I am the Leader of the Kha’Ri.  Even as the first of the series that does not suffice to describe who I am.  That is a profession, not an identity.  I chose that role because of who I am, but it is not me.

I am my mother’s son, named by her.  Defaulting to an older generation does not bring more weight to the answer.  

The thought of who I am requires words that do not exist in my limited language.  Language as my tool leaves me tongue tied.  The thought goes beyond words, beyond the common senses.  

I am male but only a simpleton believe that having a penis defines me.

I am different than my brethren not because of what I am.  No.  It is who I am.  Who I am makes me do these things.  And allows me to do these things.

So what will I do now?

The Innkeeper of Vas’Hon

When I saw this trip in my mind’s eye it did not include G’Lan.

G’Lan and his old cart and his old urlot plodding along.  He is the old storyteller again.  And I am his foundling again.

I have been the Leader of the Kha’Ri most of my life.  I have led Narn into battle.  I have lived the majority of my life as an independent creature.  Why do I still find myself in a secondary role the moment I am with this Narn?

I suppose I envisioned something more of my youth.  Like the days when Pa’Koth and I travelled.  When the Union was young and the people scattered.  Now the people are ravaged by sickness, but they expect succor from the Union.  I must provide what I can and call those who are able to go to those who are in need.

I have stayed in this inn in Vas’Hon many times.  I stayed here when I first left my fragile government afraid of what might happen without my watchful eye.  I stayed here when the creatures attacked and we and the innkeeper fought for our lives. It is a convenient day’s travel from Vas’Noth.  

Vas’Hon’s very closeness is its asset and its loss.  So many of the sick stayed in this village.  Tonight I stay in the inn, but there is no innkeeper.  No warm hearth welcomed us.  The tareee was available but no bustling server brought it to me. We broached the keg ourselves. The stores had not been plundered. There are not even brigands available here.

Only corpses. I recognized the innkeeper.  She was still as sturdy as the day she fought with us so long ago against the creatures from the City of Darkness.  We burned all we found.  I Sang the Songs for the brave innkeeper.  She wouldn’t have turned them away.  Even if she knew it meant her life.  I wept for this village since so few who knew them were alive to do so.  

This I do remember from my previous trips.  Burning that which is diseased or misshaped.  This comes back to me like a nightmare.  Yet I am not that callow youth that traveled before.  I understand my role in this world more fully than I did then. Mine is the hard road.  The road others do not travel because it is hard and rocky and so many more pleasant roads beckon.  

At times I envy those who were horrified today.  I think back to my youth.  When I was horrified to come across a dead village.  Then it was G’Lan that lent me strength.  Now I realize it wasn’t strength at all.  That the fortitude he owned was only the will to not stop.  Because you couldn’t be weak.

So I organized teams and we cleansed the village.  We set the inn as headquarters and started our job, not as an act of charity but as an act of necessity.

It is still a nice little village area.  It is still a convenient day’s ride from Vas’Noth.  The people will come back.  We die, but Nar’Shal continues.

The Ka’Rhi Continues

The words hung in the air like a miasma. I felt my temple vents flutter.  Anger would do me no good at this moment. I would just look like a manic oldster, doddering in my dotage.  Furious that my day had come and gone.

“I am quite aware of the passage of time, Ti’Rel.” I responded to more laughter. “I am not aged, my mind is clear and I am stubborn enough to last at least another 70 years.

“I appreciate the concern this body has for my wellbeing,  It would indeed be unfortunate if I died in some freak accident on the road.  I am quite sure this will not happen.  There is my bodyguard which have never have failed me as well as an entire caravan of Healers, builders and other guilds.”  I smiled sourly, “Surely all of these Narn can take care of an old fool like myself.”

“The guilds have agreed with me and my assessment.  Several key members of each guild will be on this trip.  It is considered important to them as well.”  

I stood at this point.  

“I can no longer sit in my office and wonder what goes on beyond these walls.  If I am the heart of the Narn people, then I must go be with my people.  Vas’Noth is a lovely place, more lovely by the day.  Yet… how many people outside of this place have food enough and running water? How fares the places between the towns? Have the desperate taken to banditry? I can read all of the answers and know it here” I proclaimed with a finger to my temple.  Then with a wave my hand fell to my chest. “But what about here? Can I know my people without seeing them with my own eyes?”

I looked at the body.  But the Ka’Rhi is not a single body.  It is an amalgamation of individuals.  All with their own motivations and urges.  

“In this my mind is quite made up and I will leave in the morning with the caravan.  G’Lan has also decided to see the lay of the land and will be with me.”  

At the gasps and renewed complaints I raised a hand, “There will be a day when this will come to pass.” I murmured. The Ka’Rhi strained to hear me after my booming proclamations. “There will be a day when G’Lan and I are dust in the breeze.  These days will be the lore of our people.  When that time comes, do you really believe that it will be written ‘Then the Ka’Rhi fell to chaos and despair?’  The governance of our people is no different than the waged war.  People fall to the wayside.  But Nar’Shal endures.   Perhaps this is an opportunity for the Ka’Rhi.  A chance to try your own mettle.”

The room filled with murmurs and mutters.  This was something they had not thought of.  The opportunity to take my precious world in their hands.  This world is like one of my children.  I have nurtured it and watched it grow.  Now it totters out into the fields without me.  What if a wild law is passed while I am traipsing about? How much damage could they inflict upon my child.  Yet how will they learn wisdom if they are not given a chance to experience success and failure?

Any disasters will be dealt with as required.

Or am I truly concerned that I will be unnecessary?  That without my guiding hand the world runs better.  That I was a hindrance.   Will that day come?

Will I be wise enough to recognize that day if it comes?  How I hope it will be so.

The Ka’Rhi

“G’Quan, it has been decided.  You cannot go!”

From this side I did not expect such resistance.  The Kha’Ri had said nothing when I stated my decision to travel. Since they had conferred amongst themselves and obviously decided to overrule me.

“What do you mean?” I responded at the time.  I realize now that for the first time in quite a while the Kha’Ri was disagreeing with me.  It is allowed, but I was angry not because of the reason.  Even before I asked the question I knew the answer. “Am I not a free Narn able to go as I please?  I have traveled in the past and Nar’Shal maintains.”

The one who spoke for the whole cringed as I spoke.  The unspoken words in the air, but not voiced.  No one wanted to say it aloud.

“Do you believe that the world is more dangerous today than it was right after the War?  During the War?” I prodded.  I wanted to words spoken aloud.  I wanted to see them on the floor and stomp them into the bedrock.

“It has been several years since you last left.”

“It has been five.”

Another stood, “You are the heart of the Narn people, G’Quan.  What would we do if we were to lose our heart?”

This from an organization that has often sought my death.  Now I am a treasure of Nar’Shal?

“Do you expect something to happen?  This is a trip to the towns of Nar’Shal with an entire company of builders, stone masons, priests, healers and even a few cooks.  I am hardly going on a trip alone into the mountains to fight dar with a stick.”  I stood then and gave them my full attention. “I assure you if I did, the dar would be the ones running down the mountain in fear.”

I allowed the moment of laughter.  A beat.  “So, colleagues, what is the reason, the true reason, for your concern.”

G’Lan

I hadn’t talked to G’Lan for over a week.  He was angry at me.  I was furious at him.  He has always attacked me based on my childhood.  How can he consider himself a friend of my mother while he attacks her decision of how to raise her children?

How can he consider me a friend if he still thinks of me as a creature so far beneath him?  I thought I was his friend.  His opinion of me changes with the breeze.

I had a meeting with the Guilds today.  I have more plans.  They involve taking some of builders with me into the world.  I have focused too much on Vas’Noth.  How do other cities and town fared since we closed our gates? They are open now, but the trickle from outside…  It is as if the whole world has disappeared.

I told the Kha’Ri of my decision earlier today as well.  I had planned to have G’Lan take my place on the Ka’Rhi as I traveled.  Unfortunately I had not been able to talk to him about it. If I went to his quarters, would that not have been an admission of weakness on my part?  

In the end he came to me.  A bottle of taree and two mugs.

“I hear you plan to leave Vas’Noth.” He said as he sat at my table, pouring taree for us both.

“Yes,” I said, wary of this new mellow mood.  “our world needs to be rebuilt.”

“And you must do it alone?” G’Lan replied sipping from his mug.  “The couriers have been telling you of the world’s progress, have they not?”

“I’m not going to be alone.  The builders and the priests and the couriers.  All of them will help the people of this world.”

“No, I think your party needs one more.  I will go with you.  It has been too long since we have traveled together.”

“G’Lan!”  I responded, “Who will be in charge of the Kha’Ri?”

“I expect that they can do fine without us both for a while.  I thought that is why you have all those couriers.  You will continue to be the Leader even as you travel.  You do not need me here.”  He waved his hands as if the place were a dump instead of a palace. He leaned forward and looked me in the eye.

“I miss the road. We haven’t been out together since before the War.  I want to remove the dust of this town from my feet and see my world.  It has been too long.”

And so I have an extra companion on my trip into the world  An old officious Narn.

If there are gods, G’Lan is my punishment.

Rebuilding

“Do you have to build every home yourself?”

G’Lan does not understand.  I want to build every home, every business, even every temple myself.  I want to touch each building.  I want to plant every tree.  If I could I would do everything.

But I can’t tell him that.  His old bones are creaking these days.  His spots dull with lack of sunlight.  If it weren’t for his followers he probably wouldn’t ever leave the castle.  I do not know his age, but he is probably near 100 years of age.  An age at which many Narn would have been left in the forest in the days of my youth.

I wonder if he thinks of that as well.

But, I did have to respond to his chiding.  He was reminding me that I too am past “middle age” and approaching that time of my life where I will start to be considered “old G’Quan.”

I feel in my own bones the start of age.  Little pains that as a youth I would never have had.  Stiffness.

Maybe my interest in building homes and making parks is more to ensure that I do so when I can. Recognizing that there will be a day when I will watch the world instead of acting upon it.

But that day is not today.

“G’Lan, I believe as the Leader of the Kha’Ri I should be overseeing the implementation of our plans.”

“No, you just want to play.”

“Is that such a bad thing?  Shouldn’t work be something you can enjoy?”

The pause in the conversation makes me realize that I have hit upon the issue at the heart. Perhaps G’Lan has never found work to be enjoyable.

Or maybe he has not found joy in it most recently.  I remember before the War he seemed to be in his element in his special role within the government.  Chosen by the gods.  God Named. He was special. Now – in this world – a G’ name is no longer special.  He is no longer special.  

Except for living in a castle and being a Leader of the world.  Yes, except for that.

“You enjoy getting dirty,” he asked accusingly, “You enjoy working yourself to exhaustion?”

“I still enjoy a good day’s work” I replied hotly.

“Yes, I forgot.” he noted bitterly.  “You were a member of the tenth circle once.  They aren’t useful for much more than manual labor.”

In shock I just left him there.  I had nothing more to say.  

In my Mind’s Eye

As I look over the plans for the building out of the new central marketplace I feel a sense of timelessness.  

I can see it built out in my mind’s eye.  In the center will be a fountain.  The warm shopper can rest there on a bench and smell the sweet scent of the tarlek-eth trees.   Children will play in the trees and on the fort that will be built among the trees. Full of little rooms and games, it will be.  I hear the water splashing.  I hear the laughter.

Outside the marketplace is the Street of Inns.  So recently demolished.  The plague hit the area hard. Now it is built to heights previously unimagined.  The engineers say that they can build into the sky. Three, maybe even four stories tall. Enough for a public house and places for travelers to stay for business.  

Temple row was hit hard as well.  Frightened people often look to the gods for assistance.  Even now, after the War.  If the gods were going to intervene it would have been then.  

Temple row is changed.  The gods do not have the same influence they had before the War.  People do not meet in the temples.  People meet in the markets now.  So the markets are larger and the temples are smaller.  There is a new Ka’Kar’Ri that holds many temples.  In my mind I walk through the stone halls into the center.  The room is shared between the various temples able to be used by any.  I look to the sky and the light comes through the windows like liquid gems.  

Homes fill the empty places.  Homes of every type.  Homes with shops below.  Homes with many rooms.  Tiny homes. Large homes.  

I find myself wandering the streets amazed at the glory of the all of this beauty. Realizing that I find beauty in homes well built.  In shops full of goods and a marketplace full of things from everywhere.  A port full of koronok and roads full of travelers. In my mind the world is teeming with life.  As if I am expanding to the extent of Nar’Shal.  Full of promise.  Cradled at the bosom of the universe.  Reaching out to the universe in friendship.

Then I remember it is all in my head.  There is so much to do.  These homes do not exist.  This temple is an area of scorched land.  The marketplace is still a half burned out wreck, deserted.  The shops are only in my mind’s eye.  The roads empty.  My port destroyed.  My glorious city only plans in my hand.

The universe is not to be mine.  Only Nar’Shal.  Born too early to be walking through the star lit sky like Vas.  Knowing that one day a Narn will walk among the stars.  I believe that they will find it much like Nar’Shal.  They will find friends.  They will see beauty I can only imagine.  Tears will fill their eyes from joy.

And they will see the Darkness. The old enemy will not forget my people.  My people will not forget the Darkness.  It is our Purpose.  We maintain.

Rebuilding

With the decision to rebuild comes the inevitable next decision is how.  Cities are built upon organic guidelines.  Some like the ni’pshe grow in lobes as expansion is required. Flowing from one space to the other through the path of least resistance.  Others are like the colonies of kar’ni organized in grids within their hives.  

More practically this allows us the opportunity to add sewer systems and running water.  To bring modern comforts to some parts of the city that had to have less advanced systems in the past.  Some will be displaced by the improvements in infrastructure, at least for a time, but the overall improvement should easily make this burden worth temporary inconvenience.  

The previous city was made as a fungus spreading through the valley as it grew without purpose. With no goal in the structures. Made for nothing but the whim of the builder.  Those structures that exist with a purpose have been outstripped in their purpose.  High walls stand in the middle of the city from the days before the Unity.  Now the city has outstripped the walls and they serve no purpose.  They could be razed and allow more room for homes and businesses. Many homes are of an old style. Would the new world raze these as well and make a modern city?

Or do we leave the old town within untouched merely building around it?  The old within the new.  Old and new intermingling as has been the way of the world up to this point.

Do we lose history or make history?  Is history written in our books or in our streets?  What of the future?  Is a people defined by how a city is built?

Built Again

The last several weeks have been even busier than those prior to the election.  Left as Leader despite my failures I have humbly taken on the mantle again.  The new election made me even more adamant in my desire to improve the lives of my people. The rubble is cleared.  The dead mourned.  

Now we must rebuild. This is the capital and most of it is empty.  

It is the story of my life it seems.  The world I know is destroyed and I rebuild it.  I reshape it around the empty spaces.  Organizing it into a world that I believe is more perfect than the previous. I go to Vas’T’Ran and break its tyrannical government.  I remove the tragic traces of brutality and try to heal their sorrows.  I clean up rubble.  I mourn the dead.  I help them build a better government and prepare to join the larger society of the Kha’Ri.

I tore the social order to pieces.  I told them they didn’t need to talk to the old Gods.  They didn’t need to have a priest name their children.  They didn’t need to stay in the same Circle as their parents.  Now no child need be Lost.  A least not for a name given by a god that does not care.

I have torn down myself many times.  I have loved unwisely.  I have loved too deeply.  I have hidden love from myself simply because it was inconvenient. I have lost friends, lovers and children.  My entire family.  My legacy from my father.  My village.

I lost my innocence on a hillock in a place no one remembers.

I lost myself while covered in the blood of my people fighting for my life.

I lost my freedom the moment the War ended and I became the Leader.

I lost my naiveté as I killed Li’Fah’Zel.

I lost something even more important when Pa’Koth lay dead at my feet.  But I am too old and feeble to remember which it was at this time.  My heart? My soul?  The last piece of tenderness I had left?

Each time I had to be rebuilt.  Maybe not out of clean white stone.  Maybe of sterner stuff.  I still have love in my heart.  I still have the moments of purity as I watch the sun rise or sit among the flowers.  I still have the ability to decide my fate. I still have the wonder of the stars in the sky.  

We will be destroyed from time to time.  This is inevitable.  Be the cause ourselves or the Other.  We will fall to pieces, seeming unable to ever become whole again.  Even if our white stone is crushed to the coarsest sand we will rebuild.  From sand we will make bricks and cobbles.   We will fill in all the empty spaces.  We will not be the original, but we will maintain.

This is the gift of my people.  Our virtue. We will never give up.  We will always rise from the ashes.  We will rebuild.