And So Let Us Always Burn: A Short Story

I re-discovered this blog, The Inkpen Authoress, wherein the authoress, Rachel, hosts a monthly event called Chatterbox. Basically, she posts a writing prompt at the beginning of each month, and anyone who feels so inclined may take her prompt and run with it. This month's prompt was Pyrotechnics, which, you might be interested to know, is defined as: 
  1. 1.
    a firework display.
    • the art of making or displaying fireworks.
      noun: pyrotechnics
  2. 2.
    a brilliant performance or display of a specified skill.

A fascinating subject, I'm sure you'd agree. I used the opportunity to explore a little bit further into some of the history and customs of a culture that I've created for a novel-in-progress. The Namir are even more enthusiastic about fire and explosions than I am, so it felt like a good fit. 
source




And So
Let Us Always 
Burn













   "My hafeed, Nuhad, has done well by himself today." Rahim said.
   Tamir nodded agreement. "And the trial has been hard this year."
   "Aye, well," Rahim smacked his lips approvingly, "that's a thing as can be said of every year. Dost remember when we were boys at our testing?"
   "I do." Tamir grinned. "I bethought myself that a drop of spirits would help to steady my shaking knees."
   "An' had more drops than one, if I recall correctly." Rahim chuckled at the memory. "But my Nuhad, now! Look at how he stands! There's nought of trembling in his legs."
   Tamir agreed. "A stout lad, and one to go far across the roughest sea. Mine own hafeed will not compete 'til next year, so my heart may follow the fortunes of Nuhad with full sincerity."
   "That is as well for you. I should dearly hate to put spear to your spleen in cause o' my son's son."
   "'Tis not my spleen that stands in danger!" Tamir commented dryly. "Are you not like to burst a windpipe with all yer shoutings and boastings?"
   Rahim swung a hard and ready fist to his friend's shoulder, and both men fell to laughing over the joke. Boyish was their laughter and life burned strongly in their crystalline-blue eyes, but both of them were old, with a multitude of warrior's scars and tattooed symbols to mark the passing years. They leaned with dignity upon their ceremonial spears and held their heads and shoulders erect.
   Tamir mused, "Strange it is, that a man's pride should rest more strongly with a distant kindred than with those closest to him, and burn most hotly in the latter years."
   "Aye, 'tis true. Mayhap a man's vitality grows weary of his wasting frame and seeks new life in those who follow after."
   "Spoken with unusual wisdom!" Tamir applauded.
   "As if a thick-headed old battle-hound like yourself could be any fit discerner of true wit!"
   Tamir had no chance at a reply, for a sudden movement in the open space before them distracted his attention. "Ho! Look! The lads are filing up now. Your Nuhad leads them all, my friend!"
   Rahim leaned forward in expectation. "Ach! What a fine lot they are! A goodly sight indeed for these old eyes of mine."
   Tamir was scarcely less eager than his friend. "The boy came well through the other trials, but the wind sets strong from the west. Oh Eyad, thou mighty one, give the lad a fair aim today!"
   "Hist!" Rahim commanded. "He shoots."
   The boy stepped up to the shooting line. The evening light was failing fast, and the mark at which he was to shoot seemed far away; a mere speck against the backdrop of the sea. He knew, of course, that it was not a speck, but a pyre upon which the garments and the playthings of his childhood were arranged, waiting for his shot to set them all alight so that he might claim a new life as a warrior...and a man.
   He accepted the weapon that was given him, and dropped into a sniper's rest with well-practiced movements. He ignored the cramping of his legs from the swimming and the running, and the bruise on his side from the wrestling. These hurts - and some more grievous still - should be his lot in battle, and he must shoot no less accurately because of them.
   And this is the sign of a true warrior; that he be ready to fight, regardless the conditions...
   Nuhad carefully studied the wind.
   Despite the odds...
   The stock of the weapon felt familiar against his shoulder, the metal of the barrel cool and sure beneath his hand.
   For his kindred, his kingdom and his gods...
   He breathed, paused, squeezed off the shot.
   And thus shall it ever be...
   The thunder and shock of the recoil reverberated through his frame as he waited, eyes fixed on the target.
   For those worthy to be called the Namir.
   The distant pyre threw off a quick flurry of sparks and exploded into flame. Nuhad sprang to his feet, shouting his triumph, and the ranks of the assembled warriors loosed a mighty yell in response. The ground trembled with the sound of exultation and the west wind gusted in sudden ferocity, licking the flames of the pyre to a glowing, leaping rage.
   Nuhad let out a long, long breath. Then, shoulders squared, he strode over to the black-robed priest of Eyad. His fingers ached and tingled as he received the strong, straight shaft of the ceremonial spear.
   "Receive this in honor, and carry it without shame for all your days." The priest intoned.
   "For lord and land."
   "For all that you hold sacred."
   Nuhad touched the spear tip to his forehead in a warrior's salute. "Thus shall I do, until world's burning."
   "'Twas well done, man!" A familiar hand dropped firmly on his shoulder, and Nuhad looked around to see Rahim standing beside him and Tamir a little behind.
   "Ah! Such shooting!" Tamir exclaimed, "the mere sight of it has brought the young blood back to my old bones with a vigor!"
   Rahim said, "Come, and I will give you the first tattoo of your manhood."
   "Aye." Nuhad replied, but he made no immediate move to follow the older man. Instead he stood, both hands clasped about the spear and his eyes fixed on the burning of the pyre. The distant dancing of the fire reflected in his eyes and Rahim, watching him, felt the youthful flames rekindle in his own heart, as well.
   "Of such is the future made." He murmured.
   Tamir nodded. "And so let us always burn...'til the ending of things."

Comments

  1. Well done, Janie! I enjoyed reading that - and all from a prompt. I loved the dialogue. Good luck with the rest of your novel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Hillary. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it.

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