Author Topic: Nomadic Journey  (Read 1523 times)

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Offline Demonocracy

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Nomadic Journey
« on: July 09, 2014, 11:31:14 PM »
Ezekiah the Laborer


   Migration is never easy to those who have lost a beloved home, land, and life.  Vast terrains of towering mountains, wild plains abloom with vegetation and buzzing with wildlife, and serene lakes connected by miles of winding rivers were no comfort in the treacherous journey set before us.  While the reason for departure from all that we had known was different among each set of travelers drawn into the fold along the way to some unknown destination, we all shared the same price for our truest freedom:  nomadic existence.

   When the sun began to wilt behind an endless expanse of earth at our vision’s end, we would find a collection of trees or the base of a small hill or large mountain to make our nightly settlement.  Wispy canopy tents were arranged by those who had the experience in building such structures more reliably than I, and some of the women had taken to gathering berries from nearby shrubs to aid our health.  The main course over the camp fire was varied—rabbits, snakes, squirrels, birds, and sometimes large game like deer if we were lucky to come across one.  It is likely that the hunters of our encampment were most celebrated in that they, more than anyone else, helped us stay fed as we trekked without direction.  Clothing was a concern, of course, and we put one of our own on the overwhelming task to use the materials our hunter’s provided like wool and leather.  No task in this environment was quickly done, and we each played our part in just eking by.

   My role was none so significant.  I had no direct experience in anything at all.  I had been but a man performing simple tasks to provide income in my previous life, and the same was true here in the open wilderness.  When a camping site was chosen, I was first to act in clearing away the brush, stones, and ore from the area so as to provide a smooth surface for our much-needed rest.  When one of our hunters returned from a successful outing, I helped carry the animal closer to us for preparation.  All told, I tried only to make myself useful in any unskilled labor that I could find because this—the camp and each person belonging to it—was all I had left in the world.

Offline Demonocracy

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Re: Nomadic Journey
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 11:32:07 PM »
Annette the Tailor


   Tailoring is my craft by blood.  My mother was a tailor, and my mother’s mother, and so on and so forth.  Even with the skill and knowledge I possessed, it is a far greater challenge to provide these services to a group while traveling.  Without a shop with static materials and supplies, each day I’m afforded with only a number of hours to produce any articles of clothing for the cold campers around me.

   It wasn’t always this way.  Life before was rarely uttered by anyone because the reflection of it brought hopelessness and misery, and the next meal and dangerous mountain trail was all that occupied our collective minds.  Well, except for mine.  I always thought of the quiet village outlying the kingdom’s capitol.  I missed the way the smoke of a neighbor’s chimney rose into the sky and blended with an overcast day and how the clucking of chickens was a promise that tomorrow’s supply of eggs would be found at the local market.  More than anything, I missed the flashed smiles and vibrant “good morning” greetings as last of the night became the first of day.

   I remember good things of life before our adventure, and I may be the only one among us who has any hope that we’ll see anything like it again.  When we were first gathered as a group, we used to share and talk, laugh and smile, and express our dreams of what the future holds to pass the time as we walked several miles each day.  Over the weeks and months, the chatter was less frequent, consumed by silence and the increasing sense of futility.

   “We’re going to die out here,” said Ezekiah.  There was a long silence after his words resonated in the group which was broken only by labored breaths and fifteen sets of feet crunching through the packed snow.  Although the large flakes still fell from above and landed delicately on the white region around them, it felt as though time had become still.  All eyes, mine included, were on Ezekiah now.  Despite the doubt we all felt each time our day reached no resolution to our expedition, no one had ever dared voice it.  Now this distressing monster was given form, sound, and weight.

   “Everything will be okay,” I said reassuringly, but the delay in my response had been too great.  The mood had soured, and there was no recovery in sight.

   “Look!”  A familiar voice sounded from the back of the group.  We glanced back to see that David, a former scribe acting as a general laborer on our voyage, was pointing into the white landscape ahead.  Our attentions turned ahead once more searchingly.  The snowfall obstructed my view, and I couldn’t see anything beyond white on white.

   “I see it!” Jeremiah called out and began to jog ahead.  Since Jeremiah was one of our most skilled hunters, I trusted his judgment and ability to see the faintest of animal tracks and began to follow his lead.  We all did.  Upon the heels of immense distrust that we would survive, the rising sense of optimism was tangible.  It electrified the air as we began to run.  It occurred to me then that we had not actually taken to a full run in months—after all, running is for those who have a place to be.

   The curtain of falling snow became less dense as we moved forward with urgency, and it was then that I could see what others had already spotted.

   A billowing cloud of smoke joined the gray sky from a chimney attached to a single stone house which bordered a large farm beyond it.  My faith had been rewarded, and I was once again reminded of my former home and all the things I remembered so fondly.  No longer as a façade to keep others’ spirits high… I smiled.  Everything will be okay.

Offline Demonocracy

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Re: Nomadic Journey
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 11:33:00 PM »
David the Laborer


   Writing prowess and an ability to instruct others of the same is of no constructive consequence to a journey like this one; however, my time to shine was fast approaching when we neared the settlement to the North.  To our West was a quiet river which appeared to be the foundation of life for the people who resided here.

   I lead our group forward.  Each step was both invigorating and tiresome with the expectation that this had all come to an end and a home was just before us but mixed with the sudden realization of how far we had come in the first place.  Farmers clearing away debris from the wintry storms at their property’s edge ceased all activity to stare at our group while we marched deeper into the territory.  A woodcutter stopped with his axe still buried in a log to follow our path with his eyes—narrowed and focused.  It was as though we were on trial and sent forth to sentencing with an entire population watching with unspoken judgment.

   “They’re just nervous about strangers,” said Annette.  “I’m sure they’ll warm up to us soon enough.”  She was always able to improve morale, and this did seem to help the group’s outlook on the reactions we were receiving as we passed by more houses and storefronts.  The town hall was clearly marked for those like me who could read.  Taking our final steps to the grassy area at the steps of the town hall, we waited for someone to welcome us.

   The wait was not just uncomfortable; it was unbearable.  We had been through so much for so long, and it seemed cruel to leave us waiting.  It was nearly a half day of uncertain stares from passersby before the double door to the town hall opened, and from it emerged just one man whose brown hair had found its first grays.  The smile that appeared upon his cracked lips came at a delay, but it was comforting to us nonetheless.  It was the first sign of welcome.

   “I’m Harold.  Who is the voice among you,” he asked with a deep, pleasant voice that carried a kind inflection like that of a grandfather reading a bedtime story to a granddaughter…soothing.

   “I am,” I said and stepped forward with an outstretched hand.  Harold looked at my hand and met my gaze again before stepping in to grasp it with his dry and calloused hand.  “I’m David.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

   “The townspeople have spoken of your weary faces.  Do you have need of supplies?”

   “We have need of shelter, food, work, and home; we seek to join your settlement.”

   “I see you have a fair number of travelers with you,” Harold said and looked over the group standing behind me.  “Soloma has had its hardships in recent years.  Scarlet Fever threatened our lives upon taking in a group much like your own.”  He looked downward as though to reflect and took pause with it.

   “We have no such risk in our fold, Harold.  I’ll ask that you consider our request.”  I don’t know if he could hear the desperation in my voice, but his eyes returned to lock on mine—both glistening for reasons all our own.

   “David, it’s hard to...” he started and trailed off as though he lacked the strength of will to speak the answer that I began to suspect was coming.

   “Please.”

   “I will show you to our trading post.  Gather the supplies you need to continue your path in the morning.”  He swallowed wetly and placed a heavy hand on my shoulder with two soft pats.  “Come.”

   The march to the trading post was one with the weight of death as though the trial had been concluded, and these were our last steps to the noose.  Not a word was spoken behind me by my companions.  No joyful smiles.  No relieved sighs.  I had envisioned this moment so differently than the reality of it had played out.

   “If you follow the Attle River northward, perhaps another settlement awaits.  We have seen traders come by boat. Good luck, David—all of you,” Harold said softly.  His head lowered then, and he turned away from us.  When we could no longer make sight of him, we knew our fate was sealed.  The chance for a new life here was gone, and we were no better off than we had started out the day before.

   It was that night while camping in the snow outside the doors to the trading port that we realized we were surrounded by people and yet never more alone; it was also then that Annette, our beloved optimist, wept.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 11:40:02 PM by Demonocracy »

Offline Demonocracy

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Re: Nomadic Journey
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 11:33:44 PM »
Elai the Builder


   Rejection stung harshly like the wintry chill we were forced to endure as we followed the Attle river northward.  Soloma was far behind us, but it remained impossibly near to our hearts and minds.  Many had given up and were simply ambling forward as though their marching feet had taken over entirely.  The motions remained much the same while the pace had been slowed.  I admit than I was no exception to this misery.

   When in just six nights there had been three occasions of the tent losing one of its grounding posts, I knew that my motivation was shot.  My performance was dwindling right before my eyes, and yet I cared so little to do anything about it.

   Another night came upon us, and the camp was gathered around the light and warmth of the fire.  The smoke rose up in almost a perfect line on this calm and silent night.  The snow had begun to melt in the day, but the night remained frigid and unbearable without a nearby fire, warm clothing, or a companion; I was blessed with all three.

   I looked over the group of us gathered around the fire.  We had all taken to a fallen log or a stump to rest our tired feet.  If this had been just a year ago, drink and song could have been had.  How was it that nearly fifteen people could be in talking distance with one another and yet no words spoken?

   My hand rested on Essika’s cold fingers to warm them with mine.  I found her attention lacking seeing that she still gazed at the burning embers rising and flickering out against the dark of night above.  It was up to me to break this downward spiral.

   “I’m sure the trading town that Harold spoke of must be near,” I said boldly.  It had been quiet for so long that it rang in my ears afterward.

   “What does it matter?” Ezekiah asked bluntly.

   “What does it matter,” Annette repeated softly and then followed with a rising voice.  “What does it matter?  Why are we all out here if not to find a new home?” Her eyes were alight with rage and pinned on Ezekiah.

   “We’ve been wandering for so long and have nothing to show for it.  Many seasons have come and gone, and we’re still facing yet more.”

   “And so you would just give up?  What is wrong with you?”

   “We might as well because hoping for a new home won’t give us one, and that’s just about all you’ve ever done.”

   Her mouth hung agape at the slight.  When she looked to the rest of us for back-up, she eventually found my eyes.  The obligation was powerful.  Someone had to say something. Anything.

   “Okay, that’s enough,” I said, holding up both hands peacefully.  “Annette has done plenty for us.  You should thank her for the clothes you have on your back for that matter.  All of us should.  We still need the clothing she makes just as much as we need the hope that she provides.  If hope is really all we have, I’ll take what I can get.”

   “Thank you, Elai.  That was very kind.  But we all play our part out here.”

   Ezekiah stood up with a hearty laughter that seemed just as mocking as it was obnoxious.  “That’s right!  We all play our part here, don’t we?”  He pointed at Annette, “Our Tailor for when we’re cold,” he said as his pointed finger found the next face he named.  “Jeremiah feeds us when we’re hungry.  Elai gives us shelter while we sleep.  Essika collects various foods when animals aren’t nearby.”  He paused, his finger pointed at David.  The rise of his voice and the aggression behind it was more than evident as he shouted into the empty lands surrounding them:  “And David … who mucks up the only good chance we had of having a home because he just couldn’t convince one man of our value!”

   “Ezekiah, you piece of-“Jeremiah shouted in what sounded like a jumbled growl of syllables and lunged into Ezekiah using his shoulder to knock him off balance onto the flat of his back while David sat in astonished quiet.

   “Stop!” Essika shouted just as Jeremiah was descending upon the sputtering laborer to introduce his fists to the mix, her voice rose above the squabble.  The fair-featured woman looked over the men who had stopped at her command and were peeling themselves away from one another—perhaps more to Ezekiah’s benefit than anyone else’s.

   “This is tearing us apart,” Essika said, a hand gesturing to the involved parties of the conflict.  “We cannot go on.”

   “We can’t give up, Essika—please,” I said in a near plea that my wife still maintain hope against all odds lest she be lost to despair’s grasp.

   “I haven’t given up, my love,” she responded, finally providing me with the warmth and brilliance of her smile.  For just that second, life was beautiful and good again.

   “What do you mean then,” David asked.  Looking him over, he still seemed a little awe-struck about the fight moments ago.

   “We build here.”

   “Here?”

   “Here.”

   “We can’t build here.  Can we?”  David looked at me for answers, and I looked behind me at the line of trees and the stones that could be found here and there.

   “I suppose it’s possible,” I said hesitantly.  “But why would we give up trying to find an established settlement to take us in?

   “We have all faced banishment and rejection by all we have met, and we have grown weak and weary over the months; it’s time to build our own future here.”  There was quiet reflection afterward, and clearly there was some indecision as we considered the point and possibility of staking a claim to the land around us.

   “Building a village would take years. I just… I don’t think that’s the right thing for-“

   “I’m with child.”

   Never before had the crackling of the fire been so loud against the silence left in the wake of her words.  I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her forehead gently.  The wonder of life and fatherhood filled everything inside me—the imminent hardships be damned.

   “We build here tomorrow.”  I said softly with my lips pressed into my wife’s blonde hair.  “Any who object, speak now.”

   No more words were spoken that night.  It was the last night we slept as nomads, and it was followed by the first morning as citizens of Attleport.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 11:41:04 PM by Demonocracy »