Spears (pt14)

The fall had sobered him, let alone the danger. He nearly took in a deep breath, but stopped himself and coughed out, “I take it back, I take it back! Forgive me for such words!”

“As we will!” Reem proclaimed. She retracted her spear immediately and Azzah followed suit. “You may say whatever words you like of us, claim whatever you wish of our ability, but you shall not insult our Lel’ul. Nor his belief in what we give to him. He asks of us, knowing what we are capable of. If he wishes we defend his house, with or without his presence, then we do so. And proudly! For we are two of few who are trusted to do so. We shall follow this path for as long as he desires.”

Whooping calls came out as Reem finished her speech. Hasani’s face flushed, not because of drink now, but from embarrassment. Azzah could not care less about his feelings, as she still rankled from his previous comments. Yet the negative feelings had to disperse. The cheers Reem’s words brought to those around them brought forth the solidarity of Hirka. She could see Waseme joining in, hands cupped around her mouth.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt1)

When the angel forced their eyes open, it was because of the soil pressed up against their cheeks warming. They were alone, sitting up to look along up at the place where the mythic phoenix roosted. Their back was sore, though that was an improvement from before they had decided to take a nap. A distraction from the pain in their aileron, which had since sleep faded away.

Mayhaps not a good sign, but at least it wouldn’t hamper the last leg of their journey. One foot in front of the other, they began to climb the fresh soil on the sleeping volcano, home of the wizened tree.

Forgiveness knew fatigue, but it had never stopped them before.

It was time to consider what it was they would return with. When they had come up with this idea in the first place, they had thought about the phoenix alone, but now that they had come all this way, they knew it would be ridiculous to think about taking the phoenix back with them. Even if they had been capable of it, which they never had been, removing the phoenix from their home would have been a cruel thing to do. Which left them with the question: what might have been left for them that they could possibly take?

Forgiveness considered a feather, wondering if the phoenix who lived here would be willing to part with one. Well, no way of knowing the answer but to ask, so the angel continued their path up the mountain.

Death would laugh them right back into spring, the angel knew, when they showed up like this. This far for a representation of a concept they could have simply spoken to him about. Forgiveness knew better. They knew Death wouldn’t take them seriously. That was what this effort was for. For Death to actually listen to the point Forgiveness wanted to make.

The way was long and tiring, even for the most rested of traveller, but especially for one who had already made their way from afar and spent most of their energy doing that. The angel wished they had another options to ease their way. To fly, to ride. Those were options they had had available earlier on in their question. Now both had vanished, leaving them with their hands and feet, the same as any human mortal.

What the angel had once believed themselves to be.

Spears (pt13)

“Why does the Lel’ul have you guard an empty house? He isn’t even here. Unless you aren’t anything like you claim-”

Reem spoke up, her voice drowning out Hasani’s. It caused everyone else in the vicinity to fall silent as well. “Watch what you say, man. We are warriors of the Lel’ul.”

Azzah took a deep breath.

“Then why don’t you do anything?”

That was too much. Azzah tore her eyes from her bowl to Reem’s face. Reem looked back at her.

As one, they stood up. Azzah set her bowl on the ground without spilling. She immediately crouched down, sweeping her leg under Hasani. It knocked against his legs hard. At the same moment, Reem reached forward, swinging her spear from her back and jabbing the butt of it into his chest. Hasani went down in one. As Azzah straightened upright in one fluid motion and she pulled her own spear out.

She and Reem took off their head covers at the same moment. Azzah placed her tip against his stomach. Reem placed hers against Hasani’s throat.

Spears (pt12)

Their toast was interrupted by a man. Though that might have been too polite, in Azzah’s opinion. It was Hasani, coming up from Reem’s side.

“Look, it’s the doubled spears.”

There was nothing inherently wrong with what the young man said, but the tone of his voice made Azzah know that it wasn’t meant as fact or compliment. She fixed him with a sharp look.

Reem whispered into her ear. “He’s had a little too much. Not everyone can handle their nights well, eh?”

Azzah nodded and said nothing.

“I don’t understand what you both do.” The boy sounded legitimately confused, his words trying to figure it out. Azzah didn’t know whether to look at him or not, but as Reem sipped from her bowl without looking, Azzah followed her example. “As spears, shouldn’t you be fighting? If you are good spears, that’s what you’d be doing. Driving away those Unclean.”

Azzah’s temper rose up. She felt her spear against her back, crying out to defend against such insult. A year ago she would have blamed his youth, but it was too late. He should have known better. His muscles were that of an adult now, not of a child, defined by sweat from having lingered close by a fire on a warm night. All to remind her, in her rising fury, there was no excuse.

But Reem did nothing, so neither did Azzah. She stared down into her bowl, watching the liquid shake slowly from side to side. Eventually she noted that came from her hands, clasping the side of the bowl too tight.

What Were the Mountains

We never saw it coming.

When the giants awoke, it was after thousands of years of sleep. I don’t think a single person had any idea. No one called out, warning us about the potential dangers. When the first of them roused, no one was prepared. Even had we known, I can’t think of a single thing that could have helped us.

The earthquake flattened cities as the giant sat up, permanently changing the skyline as they removed the mountains that used to stand there. Not that the giant destroyed them. The giant had been the mountains.

The military had no chance. I’m not sure why they even tried. Everyone just saw a monster, even as the giant flecked the rock and soil and trees from its skin. I am told it didn’t even flinch. The helicopter did, when the giant swatted it away like a fly. When it stretched up and yawned, pulling in the things in the sky and blowing them away.

Then the other giants roused and the world went insane. When the grey skin finally was exposed, the green brown hair finally showing its texture from underneath all of those things that had once crusted over the beings.

The giants took over the world in a day. And they did not do so by destroying us. At least, no more so than their awakening had done so by destroying our foundations.

They could have crushed us, stepped on us, shook the world by jumping and killing us all. They were uninterested in such things. They ignored us and began to build their own world again. We railed against them, or so I’m told. But in the end, we didn’t even rate as pests to them. They didn’t try to kill us. We killed ourselves as we threw ourselves against them. In this way, they took the world for their own.

Those who survived day one got the best of the deal. We were not destroyed in the earthquakes, in the tsunamis, in the avalanches. We hadn’t gotten too close, been aggressive.

The giants noticed us, as they noticed all of the little things. I am not sure that we were any more special than the deer, the bear, the elephants, the whales. We were just as small.

Oh, we never saw it coming, the day we became the fascinating little pets of the giants. They let us have our towns, what we could build that would remain stable as the giants walked the earth. They let us have our lives, what was left after our world was over.

We never saw it coming when mankind was no longer the apex species on planet earth.

The giants thought nothing of it.

Spears (pt11)

Azzah took her time with the next bowl, both hands wrapped around the wide base. Despite the chill, it felt warm as it went down her throat. In little sips, it continued to bring her a sense of comfort which relaxed parts of her she had not realized had any tension in them at all. It was something she had missed for some time. This camaraderie from people other than Reem, watching her sister’s courtship, speaking with Waseme when the older woman passed by. Maybe another would have stopped by to speak with her tonight, but her intense attention on Reem dissuaded further conversation.

Eventually Reem rejoined her, bowl empty.

“Done already?” Azzah asked, taking Reem’s bowl to stack on top of hers. “He’s melting in your hands.”

“It doesn’t take much.” Reem’s words were mellow, but her face was ecstatic. She was only ever more pleased when dealing with her spears, the covered head of which still stuck out over her shoulder. “When it comes from two ways, it doesn’t take much at all. Waseme!” She rose up an arm, waving her over. “Another!”

“Can’t wait for the turn of the season, can you?” Azzah teased.

“Just because I like something else better doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy it now.”

With full bowls once more, Azzah and Reem clinked them together and took large mouthfuls.

Spears (pt10)

“If you and I are in agreement…” Azzah let her sentence trail off as she pushed her elbow into Reem’s back. Reem stood back up, downing half of her bowl with a few gulps. She glanced back at Azzah with a smirk. Azzah gestured for her to move on. Reem did so, Azzah watching her the entire time.

“They certainly like to dance around each other,” Waseme commented, holding a new bowl out to Azzah.

Azzah took a few more gulps to finish her drink so to exchange it with the fresh one. “In Reem’s case it is dancing. She knows how to dance well. Lebna knows how to stand and look pretty.”

“It is a good thing to have,” Waseme agreed. “What will you do when she takes him?”

Azzah shrugged. “Nothing different. It won’t change anything.”

Waseme held the empty bowl to her chest, following Azzah’s watchful eye back to Reem. Reem’s stance was much like when they sparred – sturdy. She knew exactly where she stood and it was where she wanted to be. Lebna could only attempt to mimic her certainty. It made Azzah snicker.

“Probably not.” Waseme patted Azzah on the shoulder and returned to her pots.