The two brothers stand at a large entrance way. A few people are gathered around them. A severe older man is standing at the back, deep lines etched into his face. He locks eyes with Lahel, glaring at him. They both wear the same sigil embroidered on their sleeve, a bird soaring above the rising sun. A woman with graying hair steps out of the group and wraps her arms around one brother, then the other.
WOMAN: (she cups Lahel’s face in her hands) Take care of him ok? Your brother has lived his whole life in his books.
LAHEL: (his face is squished between the woman’s hands) I’m no different Mother.
WOMAN: But you were a trouble-maker! And you knew how to get out of a bad spot!
LADIS: (he laughs) Mother, are you only going to insult us before we leave?
Their mother pulls her sons in for a hug as she lists off things to remember during their travels. Lahel makes eye contact again with the older man at the back, only to be met with the same glare. He frowns before pulling back and smiling at his mother. There is an awkward silence, broken only by the snuffling of two camels waiting past the entrance. One last embrace, and a small wave. Ladis is almost at the bottom of the steps before Lahel turns to follow. He expects a gruff voice to call out before his foot touches the bottom of the steps, but there is nothing but the wind.
LADIS: He is hurt, in time there will be forgiveness.
Their father was the high priest of their temple. A figure of authority and benevolence. He was a devout man, and his prayers to Ter were for salvation. The community lived in a harsh part of the world, and their father’s focus was its survival. To provide respite or to give strength through a long drought or a cold winter. There was no room in his prayers to ask for the Song to return. He had tried that in his youth, and it hadn’t worked. So his attention turned to supporting people through more practical means. Magic, he said, was long gone. And to dwell on the past a sin.
Noon. The sun is high in the sky. The brothers look out over the edge of a great dune, before them lay a sea of sand.
LAHEL: We have to cross this?
LADIS: Yes. The Order of Three’s temple lies that way. You didn’t expect this pilgrimage to be easy, did you?
LAHEL: All I’m saying is you owe me.
Ladis throws his head back, laughing, and urges his camel forward, leaving his brother to catch up.
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox.