Lightning crashes, a new mother cries.
| Some say that the greatest power belongs to those who hold the Truth.
They are mistaken.
I spent my whole life chasing the Truth, and when I finally grasped it, I became desperately powerless. For the first time ever, I felt to the very depths of my being that everything was outside of my control.
Still, I wouldn't give up the Truth for all the power in the world.
For many years, people have asked for my story. They think that I owe it to them. I do not, for it is my story. Still, I've come to the realization that I have nothing against letting them have it. Perhaps, if they knew my story, they would avoid my mistakes. Perhaps, they might finally comprehend what they are choosing when they choose to grasp the Truth. And I've always loved a good memoir.
From today onward, this is no longer my story. It's only a story telling of me, and whatever you choose to make of it.
First, I'd like to clarify some things as to the circumstances of my birth. I was not born the day the comet passed, nor was I born at the beginning of the Harvest, nor was I born on Loendza. I was born on the thirty-ninth of Ilian, according to my father. My mother, Lilian Swell, was a street urchin, for lack of better words. My father was as well. They both spent their days in alleyways, broken and forgotten. I do not know much of their story, much to my regret, but it is known to me that my mother was pregnant with me at merely fourteen years of age. I do not know of their marital status, though my father always said they were married. When I asked if they had a wedding, he once replied: "Did we need one? We only needed to declare ourselves souls bound before God."
Shortly after my arrival into this world, she died of an infection, one that could have easily been treated with proper medicine. My father didn't speak about her often, but on the occasional nights when he got into the mood and had enough whiskey, he would sing songs and lament his lost love.
"She was a good woman," he'd say. "Like no other in the world. It's a damn shame." Then, after a while, he would usually slide into slow, pitiful tears. "She died there in my arms..."
I wish I had known her. Yet I do not hold a single memory of my mother.
My father was left with a baby to take care of, still with no home, no money, and rare food. He told me that one day, in the blazing sun of a Halldinian summer, I nearly overheated.
"That day, I knew that I couldn't take care of you. I walked you down to the orphanage. It was bad there. There were kids deathly sick, kids not right in the mind, kids so starved they could barely walk. All were being taken care of by the kindest souls in Deoir. God-fearin' fellows, most of 'em. They did the best they could. But even then, I chose to keep you there in my arms. For I knew that you deserved a better life."
Thus, my father searched tirelessly for a job so that I could be taken care of. However, people rejected him from hire or apprenticeship--he was a dirty, homeless widower with a son to take care of.
Yet a kindly old couple, owners of a tailor, whose son died off in war, allowed him to work there in exchange for lodging and food. As long as he did their chores and jobs, his son and he would have a place to live and food to survive. It was generous of them, and I wish I could go back to thank them all those years ago.
I sat on the bench outside of the little tailor, the little sign that read Phellins' creaking in the soft wind. I swung my legs lazily and watched the people roaming and carts meandering past, the sounds of the shoes and wheels on the cobblestone creating an orchestra of harsh sound. Despite my place in society, I could read more intently and write more elegantly than most of the people passing me. And I knew it, too.
In my lap was a journal bound in leather that I had received as a gift from the Phellins. I scribbled in it hastily, though these scribbles were much more than just that. They were the thoughts stemming from the depths of my young mind. For my mind was a cacophony, and I always found that sorting it out required words.
A boy appearing some two years younger than myself, likely about seven, came up to me and sat next to me on the bench. I turned to look to him. "Can I help you?"
He pointed to my journal, my shiny pen still scratching its way across the paper despite my diverted eyes. "You know how to write?"
I nodded, a look of contempt amusement on my face.
He suddenly blushed and pulled a piece of folded parchment out of his pocket. I suddenly noticed his clothing: it was fine, made of quality materials and died with expensive colors. He was not a poor child.
"If you write me a note and deliver it to the address I tell you, I'll give you an iron sein," he said, his eyes darting around at the traffic on the street. "But you musn't tell anyone of it," he added. "For I will tell secrets that only the receiver of this letter has the right to read."
I held up two fingers. "Two. One for the writing, one for the secrecy," I told him professionally. For a moment he looked flustered, then he reluctantly reached to his purse, unbuttoned it, and pulled out two shiny iron seins.
"Fine," he replied dryly, pressing them into my hand. Then he began to dictate the contents of his letter. I will not tell of what he spoke that day, what my pen etched into the parchment. Despite everything, I keep my promises.
Once finished, he watched me write the last few words, seemingly fascinated by the methodic swaying of my silvery stylus and the blue letters that were forming on the page. "Where did you learn?" he asked quietly.
I finished, then turned and looked towards him. For some reason, I did not fully register his simple question. "Where did I learn to read and write?" I asked. He nodded in reply.
"The Phellins," I said, pointing to the sign above the bench without looking away from him, "Are devout Aitans. When my father was hired there, he agreed to learn to read so that he could comprehend the words of the Holy Lelon. And I learned to read alongside him," I explained. "It's not all that difficult, you see. 27 letters and a few rules are all you need to learn. And you already know the language; it's just a new way of communicating with it, a new perspective on something you already comprehend. And writing is really just nothing more than mimicking what you read, essentially. Though learning how to write beautifully requires practice, and a nice pen," I explained.
He nodded his expression suddenly sullen. "She's deaf," he said, his voice sounding pitiful. He might have begun to cry, but he buried his face into his hands so I couldn't tell. "I can only talk to her... through writing," he grieved. I suddenly felt very guilty about the second iron sein in my pocket.
After only a few moments, he collected himself and stood up. His face was now expressionless. "Thank you for your time. Deliver the letter by the end of the day," he said, turning and sprinting off into the busy street.
"Wait..." I called after him. I wanted to return the second sein to him. I wanted to teach him to read. I ran into the street to look for him, but he was already gone.
I strolled back into the tailor.
"Father, I need to deliver a letter," I told him. He was young... for a father. He looked the age of a lot of the people I saw strolling around the University of Deoir.
"To whom?" he replied. "How long'll you be gone?"
"I was payed to write and deliver a letter for someone. I won't be gone long; I just have to go to the clock tower." I answered.
"Well, go then. Fulfil your job, Carolel," he said quietly. He was focusing on carefully stitching a badge onto a nice shirt.
I gave him no response as I left the tailor. I was in a hurry, for I had lied to my father. It was quite a long way further than the clock tower. Well, I hadn't exactly lied. It was to the clock-tower; but rather, it was at the clock tower on the east wall of the city, which was much further than the clock tower on the west wall, near where the tailor was.
As I ran my way through the city, I thought about what I had told the boy. It's not all that difficult, you see. As my dingy shoes pounded against the cobblestone, I wondered: How does a boy wearing clothes like that not know how to read?
On my quest to the location I was told to deliver the note, I stopped at a shop that sold inks and pens of fabulous quality and bought myself a bottle of purple ink with the two iron seins. It was enough to last me a year.
When I arrived at the clock tower, the distant sun hung low in the west. I looked up to the clock tower: 19:45 was the time. On this side of the city, you could hear the ocean and all it's might, an eternal and powerful cacophony, a sound that can only be created by an indescribably massive watery abyss.
Deliver it to the small green house by the eastern clock tower. I started towards a cute green house nestled among some trees, then looked to my right. There was another cute green house, though this was slightly larger and on a clear plot. "Damnit," I said aloud, mildly irritated from the situation.
I supposed I would have to knock and ask personally... I was not good at such things. I hated having to introduce myself to people. I decided for the smaller house among trees. Strolling awkwardly across the lot, I made my way towards the front door of the little house. I knew I had chosen correctly when I saw the sign that said: If you knock, I cannot hear you. I decidedly dropped the letter into delivery box and made my way quickly off the property.
As I ambled home, the sun kissing city wall to the west, I wondered silently if even the deaf woman could hear the sound of the ocean.