To Capture a Cloud
yl-Sinan a-Q’ra returned the fragile bones and bark gently to their niche within the Qa'urun Field. The meaning of the abjid hiera engraved on the ancient relics was both obvious and stunning.
Among a murdered miser’s hoard, unknown to both the pinchfist and his assassin, and obscured by the narcotic allure of precious metals and gems assembled over a hundred years of avarice, lay a Sithera. And this, confirmed by the sacred hiera, only Sinan knew.
During the Plague Days, no prize was held higher than survival. As civility and then civilization rapidly collapsed, self-interest and barbarism exponentially prevailed. It was only those who killed and ate the clean flesh of The Martyred who survived. The Gods of Peace died again in blood sacrifice.
Sinan lived among The Preserved, his merit and subservience assured his survival. He quietly sang the Songs of the Road* and the Laments to the Dead Cities to himself while washing in rosewater. Later, he would be anointed in oil. Solace must be taken often, and wherever it is found.
Comfortably ensconced in his favorite chair, precisely positioned before the warmth and light of the plasvuur, he chuckled as he read The Inquitor’s report. No mention of the Sithera was made. The warm glow of nepente now suffused his thoughts and inspired hallucinogenic reveries of the worlds beyond sight and mind that now lay within his grasp. It soon became all too much to contemplate, so Sinan decided to take in the latest Mu'a'rin-Ke performance of L'adversari Ruqh. Attentive to perhaps the point of precognition, Ue43, one of the last remaining of the Infid's Elsryk Maneqyn, set out the appropriate evening attire.
* This is the First Song of He Who Walked the Roads:
“Before the Beginning were al-Qur’atrh ul-Ekos,
they who dwelled within the Nothingness that would be called Ti'amet and Tehom, Nu, Ap-su and Kaos by those who would follow.
But The Qur’atrh knew this nothingness to be called Oblivion, which means forgotten. For the void was only a time between times, an emptiness between the worlds, an illusion quickly dissipated.
So the Qur’atrh devised to create seven children from the sound and light and motion of the blossoming of existence as a Song of Remembrance. Shrouded in sercloth until the appointed time, each of The Heptiad knew the price of Transience and bore the task of Transcendence."
Sinan gifted his suffering to Yla, bowing in submission seven times to The Shepherdess of Anu, as is prescribed by the Qədim Ayin. Rising to his full predatory height of three metr, he uttered praise to the cherished Setekh Horis who illuminated his path to Fortune and joyfully sang the Khoret Syjq overtones of the Ur Threnody of ul-Kantoj um Eilífa Selu yl-Qedim Tera**.
II. The Cracksman Assassin
Ai’ydn often frequented the perpetually fog-enshrouded roads that ran from Nemedin to Enis Kryse. It would not be an exaggeration to say he haunted them
Cloaked in shadow and cunning, Ai’ydn lay in wait for any unwary hjra foolish enough to travel the Via alone.
Tales of hjra led off to uncertain fates in the surrounding wilds by visions of salvation only they could see were a frequent topic of derision and amusement among the drunkards and utera who frequented the pleser-za'ari and horu of both cities, second only to recounting the tales of the Dead Eryth...
** The Songs of the Dead Earth
- Excerpt from "To Capture a Cloud"
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