Category: g’quan

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It appears that I will not starve to death today.  I heard voices outside the prison.   Harsh, sibilant then frightening.  I heard in the middle of the nonsense my name.  Clearly, repeatedly.  My name. They knew me.  

I was blinded by a light shining in my face.  I shielded my eyes, seeing nothing but blue afterglow. A black silhouette finally was visible behind the light.  The outline of a Narn.  Undeniably a Narn.  “Hello, G’Quan.” he smirked.  “Finally where you belong.  Our friends are quite interested in making your acquaintance.”.

I believe I recognized the voice.  Someone I knew.  Someone who would recognize me even now…  Could a member of the Kha’Ri be here?  Would one of them betray me to the Darkness?

“Nothing to say?  No eloquent speeches?  They will cut you into pieces, you know, to see what you are made of.  They think you are with the Enemy, but we know you are a useless blowhard.”

He left then.  Soon after some food and water was brought.  I had to make a decision.  To eat and worry of poison or die with food in my reach.  Obviously I chose to eat.  If they wanted to kill me, they wouldn’t need to bother with poison.  Just leave me a few more days…  It was strange in flavor.  I have no idea what it was.  It was edible and I haven’t died.  

I don’t think I want to meet his friends.  I am certain that it will go poorly for me.  Yet if I saw them myself…  would that mean I would go to their home?  Their world?

Would death and torture (probably in the opposite order) be a price worth paying for that experience?

Of course not.  What is the point of seeing the home of the Darkness if I cannot tell my fellow Narn and warn them?

The empty containers melted away leaving nothing.  Nothing to hold more liquid.  Nothing to count my days with.  Nothing to retrieve.  Nothing I could use to escape.  So very efficient.  It was enough to weep.  Though I refuse to show such weakness in front of these.

They are not the ones who battled me before.  They are not so black that they leave a hole in the light.  They are not the Soldiers of Darkness that we fought on the field.  They cannot enter my mind.  They cannot fight me except as one creature against another.  They may have weapons, but I have will and shall not give up.  

I must destroy this place.  I don’t know how it will come to pass at this moment.  I am alone in a way that I have never been alone before.  It is one of the most empty of feelings.  Fear looms large, gibbering in my mind.  Yet I keep my countenance clear.  I will plan.  I will escape.  

I will destroy this place.  I will destroy the Darkness.

But how?  That remains to be seen.

Today

I stood outside the cavern again today.  The whispering was more distinct.  It had a sibilance that felt alien to my ears.  Not Narn.  I would like to say that I leaped into action and explored the cavern.  

But I do not lie to you, Dear Reader.

I left.  I went back to the village as if willing people to be there would make Narn sprout from the ground.  I explored the village thoroughly.  The people moved on as a choice, not hurried in any way.  You can tell because the remnants of the village are neatly placed in the town square.  Looters would not have been so polite.  What is left is not worth keeping.  I looked through the trash to excuse my resistance to the path I needed to take.  As if long forgotten, broken crockery is the reason I am here.

Now I look down on the ruined base.  From here it seems so innocent.  Yet the people left.  Was it a feeling of oppression?  Dread?  Malice?

I can remember running for my life as the base exploded around me.  Could there be something there?  Is it like the other base with the underground caverns as well as the city above Dare I leave it for someone else to finish?  

Was my dream correct?  Have I become an old man?

My name is G’Quan and I am a fool.  I am a doddering idiot.

Yes, there are creatures in this ruined base.  They are creatures of Darkness.  And they have captured me.   I thought I was going to surprise them. I was the one surprised.  It is as if they knew I was here.  They were waiting for me to come into the structure. They are so alien from us.  They captured me and tossed me in here with much regard at all.  I do not see any others here.  I have not seen them either.

I do not even know how long I have been here.  I know it cannot have been weeks because I still live though I am starting to weaken.  I have liquid from the walls, but I have not eaten in a while and my stomach is cramping from the emptiness.  They have not brought any food or drink to me.  I am not a prisoner in their eyes.  I am a pest that was trapped.  Like a pest, there is no plan to keep me alive. I can find no escape.  The walls are solid bedrock.  The opening is shut with some force that will not allow me to pass through.  Not just painful  Pain I would endure to escape.  Somehow the empty air just refuses my exit.  

I spent hours trying to get out.  I screamed to get their attention, but they ignore me.  Why would anyone care about the complaints of vermin?  

No one will ever find me.  My bones will mold in this cage, unsung.  Ironic ending to my story, is ti not?  To go from a simple farmer to the Leader of the Narn people, only to die unremembered in the prison of my enemies.  Lost forever.  

I laugh at the idea despite myself.  Why not?  When the options are to laugh or cry, I always choose the former.  This time I may be laughing myself to death.  

Dear Readers

The Darkness is in all of us, Dear Reader.  The best kept secret of the Narn is the Darkness that lives in me.  Everyone wants the hero to always be wise and brave.  The hero is always the shining beacon of light in a world of darkness.  How could G’Quan not be the bravest and strongest and wisest of all Narn?  He ruled the Narn as Leader of the Ka’Rhi for most of a century.  He shaped the Narn and chased the Darkness from Nar’Shal.  

Simply speaking… it is an impossible task. To rid the world of that which lives in all Narn.  Easier to ask us all to lose our spots.

I have fallen down this hole many times.  I can put on the brave face and take care of the essential things.  I will never stop working for my people.  In some ways, it is a balm for my lonely Chad’Rasha.  Always busy, even with the most trivial things.  It keeps me from doing even less useful activities.  As if playing knives or sitting in a bar drinking is a useful activity.  There is so much more I should be doing, but instead I do the least useful.  And then I am angry with myself for neglecting more important tasks.

Like telling my story.  I have failed you, Dear Reader.  For months I have been hiding in my work and neglecting this tome.  Some of the tasks were very important, but others…  they are the trivia that never needs to be done.  They are the warm blanket you put over your head to ignore the monsters.  As if the monsters go away because you hide from them. They wait for you, Dear Reader.  They must only be patient.  You cannot hide forever.

Sometimes they already are under the blanket with you.

I have no apology for my actions.  Those who love me do not require it and, for the rest, no apology would be adequate.  I merely explain my actions and my absence.

The Darkness within is the most insidious of all.  It eats at you.  It knows your weaknesses and can use them to devastating effect.  It is the quiet monster under the blanket, mocking your attempts to be safe.

Like all Darkness, it can only be defeated by the light.  For many years I relied on my friends to help me in times of Darkness.  Pa’Koth, for all his flaws, was still a light bringer.  He was the calm in my storm.  He provided strength when I had none left of my own.  His loss was immeasurable.  

But he is gone.  Lost in a way I cannot overcome.

Sometimes you are all alone in the Darkest hour.  You must become your own strength.  Your own beacon.  It takes time and can strip you down to your very essence.  You can become Lost a thousand times in the Dark.  You may never escape.  You must search for the light.  It is inevitably harder than having someone bathe you in theirs.  I only hope it is worth the price that is paid.

Thank you for your continued support.  You, Dear Readers, humble me.

The Choice

When I woke I found Pa’Koth looking at me across the embers of my campfire.  His eyes could cut strips of skin from my body.

So I had not woke after all.  Only my conscience was awake.  And it was not pleased.  I sat up, resigned.

He stood with a snarl on his features. “So this is what I died for?  This is the mewling old man I protected with my very Chad’Rasha.  If you were going to die inside I could have just let you die.  I would have gone on to be useful for many more years.”

It was his unconditional love of me that hurt the most.  I always depended on that love.  It was the reason he died.  We both knew that one day his love for me would be the cause of his death.  The loss was still an open wound in my heart. Truthfully, dear Reader, it is a wound I do not believe will ever heal.  I explain this so you understand how deeply his rebuke cut.   I would have given my life to have him still alive, even in his Darkened state.  

All I said was, “That is unfair, Pa’Koth.  I have cared for our people in all things for almost 50 years.  I have served my people unfailingly.”  Tears stung my eyes, but I pulled them back.  They would never change what had happened.  I assumed that my conscience did not come to me just to complain about being dead.

Pa’Koth relented.  Even in death he could never stay angry at me.   He sat beside me.  “You know you need to go to that place of Darkness, G’Quan.  There is no other.  If you do not go there, no one will go there.”

“Why me?”  I asked, “Why is it always me.”

“You have always been here, G’Quan.”  He pat me fondly, “This is your time.  This is your place.”

We sat in companionable silence for a few minutes as I looked to the ruins below.  “Will I die?” I asked finally.

“What do you think the answer should be?”

“You should say no!” I responded hotly.

“What is this preoccupation with death?” Pa’Koth scoffed, “Are you really such an old man?”

“I feel the closeness of death.  Sava rides the air these days.”

“I will always be here, G’Quan.  And so shall you.”

“That gives me very little comfort.”

“I do not know the future.  I only know that this task is yours.  Something you know as well.”

“Will this end?”

“Yes”

“When?”

“I am no Seer, G’Quan.  I am not your mother.  The future will unfold either way.  It is you that must make the choice.”  He looked me in the eye.  “What do you want?”

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.