Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sand is Beautiful

Chapter 1: Moving Shadows

     As the sun moved across the sky, a few hours past a time once called noon, it came to pass that in the great dessert amid the remains of buildings long since worn away sat a very old man and a very young boy. The occasional roof remained, and the walls stood with ragged edges with the sun shining over them carpeting the ruins with a smattering of shadows. Like the dessert was often doing, the sands of the surrounding area were brushing over the remains, now revealing, and now hiding bits here and there with no rhyme or reason like the waves of an ocean.
     The young boy, with blonde hair that was almost white and tanned a raw dark skin that had a leathery quality almost the shade of the comfortable leggings he wore strapped about his waist with an ornamented belt, turned his bare back to the older man proudly displaying the open circle which was so recently inked upon his flesh that it was still healing.
     “My name’s still empty, “ he said in an almost comical way as he twisted his body in ways that children do so as to both converse and show off all at once.
     “You seem to have hardly had time to earn anything to put inside of it, your name hasn’t even healed.” The old man spoke with a slow deliberate tone that sounded like honey as his face changed with every word, his old lined cheeks stretching for each syllable. His eyes studied thoughtfully from a brow that was always furrowed, offering as much shade for his eyes as it could. A brief gust of wind caught at his robes billowing them a bit around them as he clutched the side where it wrapped around his shoulder. Beneath his robes was barely visible a pair of leggings similar to the boy’s though with a very plain strap and several strips of rawhide about his chest with various pouches tied loosely about them.
     “It can’t be long, though! We Re’nan are proud warriors!” As he spoke he stood up tall, straightening out his body in mimicry of a stance of battle, waving his arms about in a violent fashion.
     “Well then, in that case it certainly can’t be long at all.” The soft-spoken character stepped to the side, moving among the mottled patches of shade till he found a comfortable looking projection to rest on.
     “Why are you hiding your name?”
     “Hiding?”
     “Uh-huh…”
     “What traveler wouldn’t cover his backside from the harshness of the lady guarding the sky during their wandering?”
     “Okay, but I showed you mine!”
     The old man smiled at the youth with understanding.
     “Well then, young warrior of Re’nan, you should not be so free with showing off your name. It is foolish to trade with the expectation of returns that have not been agreed on in advance.” At this his smile twisted a little to the right while a twinkle shimmered from the eye shadowed by left side of his heavy brow.
     The boy responded with a wary but curious look, hardness in his features starting to show though the otherwise childlike mannerisms.
     “You talk funny, and I don’t know what you mean.”
     “Did you tell me that you would only show me your name if I showed you mine?”     “No…”
     “Did you hide your name that I could not see it by the light of the lady a dune away if I had wished?”
     The boyhood returned to the youth as he lowered his head as beast would and shook it, indicating he understood.
     “If you wanted to trade names, you should have asked first. It seems to me that you were more than happy to simply give yours out.”
     The young man stood up on some sandy rubble and began jumping from one tiny dune to the next, sometimes landing on fallen walls showing through the sand, sometimes exposing them with his dancing feet.
     “I know what you mean now, but it still isn’t fair.”
     The man nodded his hairless head affirmatively, though the child was facing away, lost somewhat in his play.
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