copyright (c) 2006, Don Sakers

Hunt for the Dymalon Cygnet

By Don Sakers

Part 5



Year 6970 of the Water-Mountain Kingdom (1272 BCE)


My name is Citlalmina which in ancient language signifies “a comet bright.” The night that I was born a comet flamed across the sky above the circled stones, a fireball that roared just like the storm.

My mother was High Priestess of the land, and knew this was a message from the gods. And so my fate was set upon its course, ere I had yet to draw a single breath.

My mother and my father both were sprung from an ancient lineage across the sea. Since time began, the Water-Mountain Realm has sent its children out into the world. In distant lands among far-varied folk, they keep the ancient wisdom and the law, preserve the ways and worship of the gods.

My mother, daughter of the Amazons, was named Tonalnan, “mother of the light.” For half a lifetime she had served the folk here in this isle of Hyperborea. My father, Chimalli, was born and bred within the sacred city’s golden walls. Hither came he as a beardless youth, a scribe and recordkeeper for the folk of villages around the stony henge. My learned father was well-versed in lore; a dozen languages he understood.

Then season followed season and in time, the Priestess and the scribe did fall in love, were joined in handfast on Midsummer’s Eve, and bore a daughter ere a year was done.

My childhood was a warm and tender time. The quiet village Aitz Zahar was home, though both my parents travelled far afield, visiting the towns about the plain. When I was old enough to ride a horse, then oft I was allowed to go with them. I learned the ways of many different folk, from Aretxaga’s ancient oaks as far as rocky Gerena where land’s end lies.

I was my father’s eagerest pupil; I learned to speak the Water-Mountain language and the many dialects Ivernian; I studied history, philosophy, the movements of the stars in heaven and the ways of peoples all around the world. My father taught me how to reckon sums, the tricks of keeping count with knotted cords, and how to read the records others kept.

In my eighth year the silver dragonflies first visited in summer’s lazy warmth. By ones and twos they buzzed from place to place, and never could we children catch a one. Always around, yet never did they light; we soon grew used to seeing them about.

That year we had an envoy from the King, come to our shores in ships with painted sails. A woman wise, of Water-Mountain stock, very tall and dark of skin and hair; a lady elegant from o’er the sea. Her name was Zeltzin which means Delicate; her manner not so delicate at all. True power rang in every word she spoke.

She met with Mother and the other priests, the village leaders and my Father too, and said that she had come to view the sky.

For lifetimes has the stony circle stood, erected by the folk of long ago. The stones predict the rising of the sun, the movements of the moon across the sky, the seasons and the cycles of eclipse, in ways the priests and priestesses can read.

Yet long before the stones the Circle stood, inscribed upon the plain and hemmed around with sturdy earthworks built both high and broad. These were constructed by an ancient folk, the secrets of their use passed down for years, one generation teaching to the next across full twice a thousand years and more.

And now the King had sent this servant to bear witness to the Circle’s ancient truth: to seek the signs of danger in the stars.

The lady Zeltzin came at summer’s height, and moved into my honored Mother’s house. For near two moons, while waiting for the stars, she told us tales of the Golden City far; of monarchs who could trace their lineage to days when glaciers covered this fair plain. Of traders from all corners of the world, with gifts and treasures fabulous to see. Of marmosets, baboons, and elephants; of silver leaves and apples of the sun.

I thrilled to hear her tales, and sat for hours enraptured by the images she spun. Far more than anything I yearned to go, to walk along the Golden City’s ways. And to myself I swore one day I would.

At last the moon waned in the summer sky; the night we all awaited came to pass. Full half the village slept in camp that night, outside the sacred circle of the stones. My father woke me with a gentle touch; my mother waited in her priestess garb. Together with the lady Zeltzin and her scribes and priests we made procession down the long straight avenue between the mounds. Those earthen walls rose high on either side, obscuring everything except the sky. As ever, not a glimpse of fire or torch could spoil eyes grown accustomed to the dark. No other light allowed but that of stars.

My mother spoke instructions clear to all. Around the circled bank were many pits, each large enough to hold a crouching man; with cloaks pulled tight against the chilly night, we settled each into her chosen pit. To mother’s chanted words, we watched the stars.

This night alone the Giant and the Bull rise with the dawning of the summer sun. This night, the wisdom of the ancients tells, reveals the doom to come in years ahead.

I sat and listened, eyes turned to the sky. A priest struck even beats upon his drum, accompanying mother’s steady chant. The bright and twinkling stars were cold above, strewn thick across the deep dark textured sky.

Across the night there streaked a falling star; a moment after that its twin dove by. Another and another, then they came like snowy flakes in winter’s first real storm. With every drumbeat four or five stars fell; with every breath a dozen points of light.

Then arced a fireball over the night, spitting sparks along its fiery path. Scarce three breaths more, another comet flared.

Above our heads celestial battle raged, as gods fought gods with flaming swords and spears.

As night crept by we watched the heavens fall.

At last, the welcome light of dawn appeared between the eastern pair of standing stones. The flaming carnage faded as the sun arose and washed the morning clean and clear.

I walked beside the lady Zeltzin on the way back home and asked her what we’d seen. She told me of a sacred mystery known in the City since the ancient days. From time to time, as generations pass, the peaceful heavens turn more violent, and fire rains destruction on the earth.

Tonight the fiery battles in the sky were confirmation that these evil times had come once more upon our peaceful world.

Within three days the lady Zeltzin sailed to carry this foul news unto the King. I watched until her ships were lost to view, and swore that one day I would follow her.

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