Pronounced Sah-get. The introduction and first chapter to The Arms of Man.
Saxet, the tear of God
The records say the Earth was once so filled with war that the fires of man’s hate scorched her until there was only heat. And God, seeing this, wept bitterly. The tears of God doused the earth and extinguished the flames. Saxet, meaning the tear of God, is believed to be where the first tear fell. It is from the Tear of God, or Saxet, that our story hail. Four hundred years since God wept.
The Nga’unu Mountains, or the Moving Mountains, divide the east from west in all places but one, the Gate of Thermopylae. Named after the legendary defiance between the Greeks, most notably the Spartans, and the Persian Empire, it was once nothing but a narrow pass. However, man, as they always do broke the Nga’unu Mountains with their axes and picks and explosives. And in that act, the east and the west were precariously linked.
Precarious, because for all their might, man could not stop the majesty of the Unfaithful River with their puny arm. The Unfaithful River runs half the length of Saxet being five miles at its narrowest and eleven miles at its farthest shores. If her currents do not capsize you they will surely crush you on the main jagged rocks. There has yet to be a vessel to cross her successfully. But that is not all. For the Unfaithful River is peculiarly named because of the the unpredictable tendency of the river to stop flowing. No one knows when the water will stop or how but the when it stops it will stop for three days, and only three days. Of those three days it takes two days for the riverbed to be dry enough for crossing. This only leaves one day to cross. Should the traveler not make it across in one day, the waters return and the Gate of Thermopylae closes without mercy.
The unpredictability of the Unfaithful River gave birth to the sister cities of Azenath and Nia. Travelers, waiting for the river to desist, set up camp and waited not knowing when the gates would open. While others saw an obstacle, some saw opportunity. Inns were built for the weary travelers, crops were planted to feed the people, smiths set up shop to shape and provide tools and soon schools were built for the learning of the children. The sister cities became capitals of commerce and trade. Azenath on the west shore, and Nia on the east. As natural as sibling rivalry the two cities began to compete with one another. Each boasted the best school, the best jewelry, the best smith, the best horses, and the best of the best. If it were the purpose of this record it would speak of the competitions waged, challenges issued and accepted, passionate words exchanged, and more than a few blows traded. But it is not.
Away from all this, farther south and further west, away from the rivalry of Azenath and Nia, the temperamental Unfaithful River, and the striking Gate of Thermopylae they were born. Far enough away from the Nga’unu Mountains that they were no different from the flat horizon of a sunset. Far awa, in a pocket called Little Saxet.
Little Saxet, where there is no man, woman, or child that is unbound. The three of them were born. At the age of exact two, they received the bond-ore. They grew and their bond-ore with them. Molded by their personality, reinforced by their strength, and forged by their desires. The bond-ore filled them, became them, intimate and nigh inseparable. To separate them was to cut off their arm, to destroy their mind, to tear their soul asunder. They were inseparable. Each molded in strength and forged by their desire. The bond-ore were given them at the exact age of two. In the Tear of God they were born. Three of them. Two were bound, one was not.
Bundles of Joy
Elephant feet, they look like elephant feet, she thought. Or at least the pictures she’d seen. It was her first pregnancy and the news that she would be having twins instead of the expected one both terrified and excited her. Her husband, as quiet as he always was, had taken it in stride. The only indication had been a widening of his eyes and a reassuring smile for her. He was outside now, chopping wood. The steady sound of the axe driving into the wood eased her worry. She slowly pushed herself out of the chair using the table as leverage. For the first two months there had been little change. Now, well into her seventh month, her arms were almost always perpendicular to her body for balance and movement. Seven months and she looked like a balloon, or at least the pictures she’d seen, with arms sticking out at odd ends and elephant feet. She made it to the front door of their once one now two bedroom house, courtesy of her husband in anticipation of the babies. It was a simple house with a fireplace and two bedrooms. It was furnished with two chairs, a table, and a bench again courtesy of her husband in anticipation of the babies. She eased the door open and stepped through the threshold.
Her husband paused mid-strike and smiled. His beard, which she hated, shone with as much sweat as the rest of him. His shirt was completely soaked through and his pants, dark where he had wiped his hands. Her husband was peculiar this way, he never took his shirt off unless it was necessary. Not even the heat of labor or the recreation of swimming warranted taking his shirt off. In fact, the only times he took his shirt off was when he washed and what resulted in her pregnancy. Pity really, she mused. Her abdomen suddenly contracted, this time far more intense than the previous which had driven her to her feet with the need to talk to her husband. Immediately her husband was by her side. Her burden announced their pending arrival with a wet discharge.
“It’s time,” she gasped.
Her husband took most of her weight as he led her to the bed. The doctor was less than half a mile down the road but even that was too far. She cried out as her abdomen tightened more painfully than the last. She leaned against her husband so much so that he was almost carrying her. That cursed beard, she thought.
He placed her on the bed as best as he could and as comfortably as he could. He placed the pot of water over the fire and hurried to the door. His hasty departure was interrupted by the only thing that could, his wife’s voice. He looked at his wife asking for clarification but she only had one word.
“Shave!” she commanded.
Air rushed in and out of her body in short bursts, just as the doctor had instructed her. Her husband was surely on his way. What if he wasn’t? She thrust the thought away and focused on breathing. There was a split second of relief between breaths, only a split second but it was relief. She struggled to stay upright in bed. Twice she thought she heard a horse outside but was disappointed when the door remained closed.
“They’re on their way!” her husband said upon bursting through the door.
The hardwood floor grunted as his knees settled into it. He took his wife’s hand and held it. He managed to keep calm as she screamed murder to the heavens. The sound of wheels on gravel announced the approach of the doctor’s carriage.
The doctor entered the house as calmly as if she were taking a stroll in a meadow. One look at his wife and the doctor pushed him out the door.
“Look after the horses,” she said.
The closed door would’ve apologized if it could speak. He slowly turned away when the doctor’s husband patted him on the shoulder.
“There are some things that women do that men shouldn’t know about,” he said sympathetically.
“Perhaps you’re right John, perhaps you’re right.”
John watched the young father to be as he retrieved two buckets of water for the horses. He’ll make a good father, he thought. He watched as he paused for a moment over one of the buckets before producing a blade from his pocket. With his wife struggling in the background, the young father to be began to shave. John mused quietly. Some men threw knives at tree stumps and some paced back and forth while others downright passed out. This was the first time a father to be shaved while his wife gave birth to their offspring.
“I need you, wash your hands!”
John snapped out of his musing and obeyed his wife’s voice. Upon entering the small residence he immediately located the pot of hot water and carefully washed his hands with a cloth.
“Get him in here!” his wife snapped.
John nodded and brought the young father to in. John helped him wash his hands until it was sanitary enough to hold a new born babe.
“Your first born,” the doctor said handing him a bundle. “It’s a girl.”
John knew the look on the young father’s face too well. It was the look of one both proud and humble. It was the look of one holding redemption and hope. It wasn’t long before the second one came along. John gently took their first born so that the young father could hold his second born. This time, John saw the young father’s jaw set in strength and determination. It was the look of a man holding a promise. The new mother’s breathing subsided and she immediately reached for her children. John and the father moved to show her the fruits of her labor. Her face suddenly contorted in pain.
“One more, honey,” the doctor said.
The father looked between the three bundles in disbelief. He gently handed his second born to his wife and took his last born. John witnessed in the next moment the look of a man holding a decision and made the right one. A fine father indeed, John thought. At the same time, John could not help but wonder, triplets!
The new parents held their children and wept, at least the mother did. The new mother held a bundle in each arm weeping from joy, relief, and exhaustion. She looked at each then up to the third child in her husband’s arms as if to ask to hold all three but alas could not. The young father held his youngest all the while switching looks between his three children and his wife. It was a rather moving scene as John stepped back and rested a hand on his wife’s shoulder. The father’s half-shaven face only added to the joy of the moment.
“Did you get their times?” John asked his wife.
“Every one,” his wife replied.
John examined the notes and nodded an approval. “This is remarkable. I’ve never done three.”
A short time later the three children were laid out on makeshift bed on a bench, now relocated to their mother’s bedside. John stood with pen poised while his wife, the doctor, prepared a concoction for the new mother.
“What will their names be?” he asked.
The new parents looked at each other and laid a gentle hand on their eldest child and daughter.
“Ari,” John echoed. “1:05 in the afternoon on the 26th of June.”
On the second child she pronounced, “Taniela, after his grandfather.”
The pronouncing of names was interrupted by the sound of hooves, a quick dismount, and the urgent opening of the door.
“Gale! We need you! Holly! The baby!”
John and his wife exchanged a knowing look before the she followed the man out.
“She’s early,” John said looking down at his book. “Taniela, 1:06. And your youngest?”
“Gabriel,” John said. “1:07”
They were triplets, three of them, a girl and two boys. John instructed the young father on how to care for the children and his exhausted wife before leaving. As he mounted his horse he could not help but groan as all weary men do. It was not from delivering two babies this morning, triplets, and another on the way. No, that was his wife. It was the groan of a man contemplating the task ahead. It was a fulfilling responsibility, enjoyable, but he wasn’t getting any younger. He turned the horse toward the road and departed at a slow trot. He would be back in a week or so to observe the triplets. And almost every day after that. As Ore Master he had a lot to observe, prepare, and study in the next two years. Not only for these three but for every child that has yet to reach the exact age of two. But John was a man dedicated to his craft. He would visit every one for two years until it was time.
To say he observed unusual activities or talents with the triplets would be to fabricate fiction. In truth, the three were no different from any other of their peers. They grew, they began to walk, they were curious, and they cried and so on. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred. That is until they reached their exact age of two.