Category: Narns

I am going to die

I have no idea how long I have been here.  I have marked when I have been fed – eight times.  I know that I have not been fed every day.  I feel my strength ebbing.  This is what they want of course.  They want me to be weak.  

I have sat in this room and laid in this room and walked around one way and the other.  Today I spent laying on the floor looking up into the darkness.  My hands have searched every crevice for a crack, a fault in the rock.  For dirt that may lead to an escape.  My hands are bloody from my attempts.  I cannot see my fingers, but I can taste the blood when I eat.  

Over the years I have faced the option of death many times.  I lived through the War Against the Darkness.  I survived the various warleaders and assassins.  I survived battles that I should not have won.  I escaped fate many times.  It occurs to me that perhaps this time I will not.  No one who loves me knows where I am.  I am deep in the ground far from the light.  Any who would come to find me would have to be able to come through the barrier which still kills everything but me.  Survive the creatures that live in this place.  And find me.  It seems impossible.

Heroes are supposed to die in glorious battle or live happily ever after.  So, I must not be a hero.  Politicians are supposed to be assassinated or live a luxurious life and die in their sleep.  I could consider this a form of assassination.  Not one to which I am accustomed.  I still might die in my sleep, but I wish I had thought ahead to have that luxurious life.

There is a certain irony that G’Quan. The one who fought Darkness.  Who made it the mission of his life.  Would die in an alcove so deep in the ground that no light could find him.

I think of all of the things I missed in my life.  Decisions made one way when another option could have turned my life differently.  I could have fathered children.  I could have sailed the sea.  I could have done so much.  Yes I gave my life to Nar’Shal.  I wish I had given part of my time to myself.  

As I lay on the floor I think these sad thoughts.  Now I realize that for every one of things I missed I had something I had experienced.  How many people can say that they have left an everlasting impression on their society?

My name will last one thousand years.  Others will come.  They will save Nar’Shal.  Perhaps the entire universe.  The purpose lives on even if one dies.  In my vanity I wanted to be important.  I thought I would survive.  That the universe would save me.  Now I realize that every moment was my gift.  My reward.

“Where are you, mother?” I croak.  My throat is rough and dry. “Trusted friend?  Where is your counsel now?  I followed your advice into folly.  At least you can give me a dream.  A moment of peace.”  I waste my energy and bodily fluids on useless tears. I am truly alone.

“I am sorry, G’Lan.  You have always wanted to see me be wrong.  Yet you have missed your chance.  I will attempt to feel proper disappointment in your stead.”

For the first time I feel the oppressive weight of the rock around me.  Feel the room close around me. A 4x6x6 box in which I was entombed.  The song in my head is a dirge.  

I am going to die.

All alone in the dark


What does one do when they are stuck in the dark, alone in the hands of the enemy?

I can’t write.  I can’t see.  It will look like gibberish.  To write this small missive is taking all of my abilities and I still believe it will be almost impossible to read.  Maybe someone will find this and learn what happened to me.  It is the only reason I am continuing it at this point.  Of course, it may only prove to them I went insane.  These things cannot be avoided.

I have occupied myself other ways.  I have searched the walls for flaws.  I have sung happy songs to keep up my courage.  Told the walls heroic tales from my youth.  I especially enjoyed regaling the walls with the battles from the War Against the Darkness.

It is all to keep up my waning spirits.  I am hungry and tired.  My fingers are raw from searching.  My eyes strained from trying to see in the absolute darkness.  

This is my private torture chamber.  Utterly alone in the dark.  Left to rot far from all I call my own.  I will become a legend.  A warning.  A tale told to pouchlings as they lay in their beds.  If my enemies and their friends have their way my story will at best be whispered among my people.  Or my people will cease to be.

 The Darkness would enjoy that.  The grubby Narn being destroyed from within.  

Enemies come in many forms, but the enemy with the face of a friend is the most insidious and evokes betrayal beyond any other foe.  I have spent time listening to the Narn collaborator in my mind.  If I meet him outside of this cave he will shortly be missing his throat and I will be preparing Phroomis.  

I will not show the enemy weakness.  I will sing and tell stories and laugh in their faces until my tongue rots from my mouth.  I will not show them my sadness, my horror.  I won’t let it touch my face.  I won’t let it into my heart.  If I die in this place, I die a Narn.

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.  

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?”

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?

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.

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.

Failure

Vas’Noth is full of refugees who have fled the
Pa’Dutu.  I fear I have allowed my
indecision to make too many decisions for me.
I have gone to the Temple of D’Bok.
I have talked to Ta’Yal.  I have
been in several conversations with the Kha’Ri, advisors…  I have read and re-read Pa’Kalon’s letter.  

I believe I have failed my people.

What started in the Street of Inns has
continued.  Families, neighborhoods,
entire sections of the city are dying.  I
have ordered the gates shut.  Ta’Yal told
me to start burning parts of the city.
There is no more that can be done for these people he argues.

I hid from these horrible decisions, hoping that the
sickness would go away.  Like a
child.  Not looking so I wouldn’t have to
admit that it was happening and it is my own fault.  I should have been more decisive.  I should have pushed forward with the more
drastic choices faster.  It is my own
inadequacy that led to this day.  I may
have to burn down the entire city.  All
of Nar’Shal may die because we were not more clear-sighted.  

Because I did not take the necessary course of
action.  I should have been
resolute.  I should have done what was
necessary to save my people.

I look out the window tonight into a city full of
horrible orange flowers of death and destruction.  

Ironic after my dreams.  There is no silence.  The fires are far away, but the keening of
the mourners fills the streets.  The
angry people crying out as they watch their entire lives burn up because they
lived in the wrong place.  

I am responsible. Soon I will have to stand before
my people and admit my failure.

But tonight I sit here and watch my failure with
tears in my eyes.

The Agony of Indecision

It was inevitable I suppose.  

I have heard of cases that sound like the sickness – the sickness that is called Pa’Dutu. Already named for the dark lesions and black ooze that often is found at the vents of the afflicted.

The Street of Inns has had two entire families of innkeepers utterly destroyed by the contagion. Ta’Yal wants me to control the city, prevent people from entering or leaving areas where the sickness has been found.  As if I could tell Narn what to do.  I am a leader, but people do not believe this is a danger to them.  A few people here; a few families there.  It happened so many streets from my home….

More concerning to me is that a few people in the Market have shown signs of sickness.  Pa’Kalon’s family is there.  And my G’Meri.  I have dispatched a notice to Pa’Kalon to tell her of the sickness.  We always worry about those close to us.  Not everyone goes to the Steer of Inns, but everyone goes to the Market.

A heated debate was had this day over this subject in the Ka’Rhi.  Some want to limit movement to prevent spread of the contagion. Others believe this too extreme a measure.  Some want to dispatch Healers.  Some want to send out priests.   And I cannot make up my mind.  Paralyzed by indecision I hope the sickness will prove to be a temporary concern.  

I do not know what to do.  My advisors cannot agree.  G’Lan wants to do a sacrifice to Sava.  

I didn’t even know that Sava demanded or even would want sacrifices.  I think he is just as bewildered as I am.

I feel for those who are afflicted.  Several are in the temple of D’Bok.  The worst part is that the victims feel healthy until suddenly they are overcome. I could be harboring this contagion myself and not know.   When the contagion makes itself known the victims are amidst their lives surrounded by others that can be attacked. Knowing that you may have consigned all you love to death.

I will see what another week brings us.  Surely this sickness will go away by then.

In the Temple

Eventually Ta’Yal came out of the Temple.  “I apologize, G’Quan, for making you wait.  I know your time is precious.”

“Ta’Yal, I always am happy to make time for you.  Don’t tell me you have another son to add to the family.”

He laughed good naturedly.  I may be considered the father of Vas’Noth, but I believe he is actually trying to become the father of Vas’Noth.  We hugged and talked of his various children.  We moved into the Temple.  It had been many years since I actually walked the halls of the Temple of D’Bok. Gone were many of the religious aspects of the halls, but there were still priests of D’Bok in residence.  Many still appreciate the prayers to D’Bok as part of their treatment.  

Ta’Yal took me to a room where I heard the priest singing a Song to D’Bok. It took only seconds to understand why he asked me here.  In beds in this room were three very sick Narn.  Ta’Yal put on some gloves and walked to the side of one of the beds.  I walked to the other side.  The Narn looked at me in a daze of pain and fever.  

“Ha, Healer, now I know it is a dream.  Now I think I see G’Quan with you.” the Narn stated, “I have no idea why he would be here.”

Ta’Yal started to answer, but I held up a hand, “I am but Ta’Yal’s father, worthy one.  Why have you come to Vas’Noth?  Do you seek an audience with the Kha’Ri?”

She coughed, I was taken aback by the blood she spewed unknowingly on the sheets.  Ta’Yal treated it like just another symptom. Then she laughed again, a hollow laugh. “First G’Quan then the Kha’Ri?  We are not so important.  We came here because we have no Temple of D’Bok closer. Our priest died with none to take his place.  Our people have need of their prayers.” She gestured weakly to the quietly keening pair in the room.  

Ta’Yal spoke then, “Du’Nath, may I show … my father your symptoms?  He is a very learned man and could be of help.”

“Do what you wish, Healer, my fate and those of my village are in the hands of Sava.”

He gently lifted her arm and turned it so I could see the pustules on her arms.  Lesions and sores covered her body as if she had fallen into a vi’dicht bush.  She gritted her teeth as he removed the sheet and it pulled scabs off lesions on her breasts and her stomach.  I reached to comfort her and with a grunt and a look Ta’Yal paused my hand.  He quietly made her comfortable again and moved to her companion.  He had black ooze coming from a temple vent.  I thought he was dead at first, but then realized he was just staring.  Beyond words.

The third was more cogent. “You are G’Quan.  I saw you once on the Day of Remembrance. Our village needs help.  Be it the priest or the Healers I do not care.  Help us.”

“This is my plan.” Again I followed Ta’Yal’s silent direction to not touch them.  I wanted to put my hand on him.  I wanted to assure him that I cared.  I could only do that with my eyes.  

Which seemed to be less than adequate to the moment.