I run outside into the blowing snow grasping a book in my hand, it’s massive and I almost drop it as I head towards the stables. My brother is still crying, his small body clinging to the hairy beast. A young camel, ripped into by a wolf. I stumble into the stables, my hands numb from the cold, and pass him the book. He grabs it from me and beings to frantically leaf through it. I know what he's searching for, but I can’t bring myself to tell him it won’t work.
Ladis finds the page and asks me to hold up the book for him. He’s flipped to a page on healing songs. What does he expect? All the book contains are echoes and dust. While I listen to him try and pronounce the strange words, I can’t help but pray. I know it won’t work, but I want it to, I want him to stop crying.
He begins the chant again, and again. My arms start to tremble as I try to hold the book up for him. It’s useless. I drop the book and it sends up a cloud of dust. Ladis looks at me, tears and snot running down his face, his robes caked in dirt and blood. I get up and leave without saying anything. I’m also crying but I don’t let him see.
It’s late at night when I hear him come up to our room. He’s still sniffling, but I can feel it, a quiet determination. I don’t dare to look at him or open my eyes. But he’s awake for the rest of the night, writing something in a book.
Ladis hasn't changed since he was a boy. Have I?
The journey to the temple takes months. The two brothers take what little respite they can in villages along the way. Ladis always inquires about the ruins many of the villages are built around, and makes notes and sketches. Lahel is more interested in the people and their well-being. Maybe it’s the guilt of his father’s cold stare etched into his mind, but it becomes a habit.
LAHEL: (He’s sitting on some stone steps, while his brother sketches the statue behind him) When did your hair start to go grey?
LADIS: (he looks up) What?
LAHEL: (He’s laughing and walks over to Ladis) Look! (he holds up a small shiny bottle) Now you can tell us apart!
LADIS: (He grabs the bottle staring at his own reflection) I don’t see it.
LAHEL: Deny it all you want, but you have gone grey first!
Ladis closes his notebook and heads over to a mule, the camels have long since been traded in for something more suitable to the warmer climate. He is in deep thought. Lahel sensing his brother’s apprehension walks over and looks out towards the horizon. In the distance is a white structure, it’s hard to make out, but something keeps catching the light and sparkling on the horizon.
LADIS: Do you know… what you are going to ask?
LAHEL: (He lets out a long sigh) I’ve thought about it... but I won't know until I'm standing there you know?
LADIS: That sounds about right for you. I’ve written everything out, ever prayer, every question. What kind of priest am I? To have such a cold and meticulous approach
LAHEL: Sounds about right for you!
Lahel laughs, and it rings out between the worn stones, his brother stares pensively down at his notebook.
LADIS: What if there's is no answer?
LAHEL: Then there’s no answer. We will figure out what to do afterwards.
Ladis puts the notebook away in silence. Lahel looks at him and for once can’t figure out what he’s thinking. They both lead their mules away from the statue in silence and walk towards the temple.
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