by KENT STEADMAN
I wandered with my family going north and west. Hopefully we would settle on the western island where my ancestors once lived: this same land to where I traveled in youth under the plea from my own parents to depart and search toward the setting sun to find what remains of our own people. As I feel the near approach of my own death I have instructed my spouse to carry on and to rear our children in a safer territory. They will inhabit a country away from the persecutions that I have sadly brought upon us by my own bumbling.
My father warned me to remain in hiding as his parents did and many generations of parents before, and Father cautioned to speak-not and to remain obscure in the humble trades. We should serve the mortal race in quiet ways. I was a youth-afire, and thought the time was ripe for an outward display and a change for the better for the inhabitants of earth. Many had already guessed our secrets and began to title us as priest and Rabbi.
So tonight we camp by this small stream at the foot of the mountains with my family asleep and peaceful. The sounds of breezes and the hoot of owls create deep reflections.
I will use the names of "your-time" places and geography to my best ability so that you can understand and therefore follow with me in my recollections.
I began my travels at the earthly-age of twelve as directed by own mother and father and for which that had painstakingly trained me. I was stealthy and knew of plants and herbs and how to graze off the land and shy away from peopled places, and I was a good hunter if it became necessary to eat flesh. Lonely at first I soon fell into the adventure. Gratefully at night my dreams and visions would comfort me. As taught, I did make discreet inquiries from humble artisans and farmers. By sharing my craftsworker skills and lending help in day to day routines a trust would grow. I could then feel free to inquire of my family name, EMAN, hoping to locate my Relatives, even though this namesake often caused a fear in many people. At that time the Roman authorities were still in search of the family, EMAN. If such a name became broadcast often trouble would follow.
So as mentioned, trust became most needed, and my skills of stealth were many a time tested. Likewise I had to spread my inquiries in such a way as to bring no harm to others.
In the high alpine mountains in the land called Portugal I did find my relative, living alone in a box canyon far removed from the villages. At first he did hide from me until I threw out the bundle with the relics and assortment of talismans that my father had given me for such a meeting. And this great-uncle, EMAN took me into his camp and taught me for a space in time of two seasons and then sent me off for more distant seeking and explorations.
You must understand that this being that I will now call Uncle was indeed not ordinary. Uncle was old. Many hundreds of years he had wandered upon the world. He was soon to instruct me that this great age was once normal for the offspring of Eloi and human beings. He said that he was closer to the stem of this joining. And when I met him he was in appearance most aged and very frail, half-blind and hard of hearing. At first our conversations were more of a shouting-match, so much so that I feared that his campsite would be insecure from roaming hunters and shepherds. Uncle finally taught me to read his own more ancient language. However in truth he had developed fragile friendships with these woodsmen and shepherds, some I was to meet, these simple loving folk that would bring certain supplies and foodstuff which had in fact been keeping Uncle alive for many seasons. I helped with the flocks and soon became known as the 'wild shepherd,' and in honesty was the subject of many jokes. In truth such alliances remained stained by a fear of the Roman police who would have tortured those who had any doing with my uncle and myself. The old man confided to me that he had survived the slaughter of the EMAN elders at their final conclave on the Isle of Man. Roman admiralty gained clue of this meeting and attacked from their warships. Uncle survived the slaughter because he had fallen ill and could not attend.
Toward the end of my stay I had to quarry slabs of slate, and experiment with various soft stones to use as chalk. Uncle would write my lessons and tell my family lineage. The old bard showed pleasure with these new tools because he claimed that my shouting rang in his ears with such force that he began to wish even more so to depart forever from this world. Here are few more comments and descriptions of my uncle before I relate his teachings and my alarming discoveries of my family history that is significant to history in total.
Even at my young age and average frame Uncle was shorter in stature than myself. He was mostly bald but heavily bearded and his whiskers retained the streaks of golden hair that are typical to my family traits. His eyes were blue but clouded with cataracts. Amazingly he still had enough teeth to chew the small portions of goat and mutton jerky that the shepherds left for him. He likewise gained more strength from the vegetables and berries I could now furnish him. Utilizing my former knowledge of herbs and greater knowledge that Uncle added I could furnish for him teas and salves for his cracked skin. I also carved for him a nice cane with an owl's-head knob. Trained since an infant in the sculpting of wood I was proud of my talent. Likewise I made carvings for objects of barter to get warmer clothes to replace Uncle's raiment of rags. I also cleaned the small cave that he used as a bedchamber and added a wicker and skin addition at the mouth of the cave for evening sessions. I made a more cushioned bed although Uncle had the strange habit of only occasional sleeping in this crib. In truth he would sleep wherever he stopped when his age wore heavy. I soon discovered that he would slumber far more often during the day, although that was not my own habit. I learned to adjust to schooling done mostly through the night. A small stream from a reliable spring flowed through the encampment for which I was most grateful.
As a child my main chore was to fetch water from village wells, and I was glad to gain relief from this task. I did however have to labor much for firewood. My uncle's greatest glee at my presence was to once again have fires burning at his will. How he ever had survived the winters were of great mystery at first to me until he demonstrated his natural ability like the squirrel actually to hibernate.
At night in the glow of the campfire Uncle would begin his lessons with a question. He asked what I knew of my own birth. It came to me that other than the time and location I knew little from the reports my parents -- not that they had been secretive. I had in truth never inquired about details, thinking there to be nothing unusual. I explained this to Uncle whereupon he did the most harsh thing. As explained I spend a day fashioning a cane with my best rendering of an owl at the knob. With a swift and agile motion Uncle pivoted the cane and planted that knob directly between my eyes.
More than merely stunned, the blow virtually sent me off on a journey that would change my self-understanding forever afterwards.--Pol, the Wanderer
| Pol, the
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