It was so strange, looking back. With an end so close and so near all the beginnings seemed to leap out from their hiding places and the causes to this great effect were more clear to him. Normally, he had never found that reflecting on life netted him no more insights then he could have ascertained from his original position. In fact, the more he reflected on something the more his stubborn nature made him dig in on his position, making any changing of position even less likely.
This time, however, was different.
I suppose it started when the Noumenal Caravan came to Deus, he wrote on the page that had been provided to him, with the thin ink that was all the guard could spare. He had wanted to put down his thoughts because over the past year things had moved so fast and with such fury that he doubted whether any truth could be ascertained from it. Hell, he hardly blamed the people who had sentenced him to this punishment, after all, not even he could tell what exactly he had done. All he knew was…well he would get to what he knew in short order.
Caravan’s didn’t come through very often, even at a relatively large city like Deus. The Noumenals, the friendliest of the two Caravans, were still very much aloof to the city-states. They came and went as they pleased and we, the average people of the city, merely marveled at their passing, much like watching the flight brayn of the forest as it grazes placidly before it spots you.
I worked as a carpenter then, it wasn’t a great job I supposed but I would die to have it again. It suited my talents more then what would come later, though I did not know this at the time. Actually… no… it didn’t suit my talents as much as it prevented my faults from causing me any harm. I don’t have much control over myself, I’ll admit it, and being a carpenter meant that if I lost control I only got upbraided by my father. Now, I’m about to die because I lost control of my mouth. I envy my former self.
That particular day I worked as I normally did. If my memory serves me, we were working on the base frame for a stable. Deus is a trading city and even in the poorer quarters the inns are perpetually full, and the stables even more so. Most of our work comes from erecting the stables that house these horses and it keeps us busy. So busy, in fact, that we would normally cut several corners in our construction. I know that this is not something to be proud of, but I was never paid enough to make something to be proud of and carpentry, though probably the best job for someone like me, was not something I liked to do. However, the same innkeepers that paid us so little also were the ones who drove us like dogs so I always felt a spiteful pleasure in knowing all the areas where we had decided not to bother with safety… where we had left wobble room in a joint, things of that nature.
It wasn’t long after this that I met him. I went to a tavern, not a fancy place, but it served the most palatable food in that part of town for the price I was willing to pay. What I ate I don’t recall but it was of no consequence anyway as I spent most of my time looking at the Caravan as it slowly moved through the wide main street of the city.
The first thing about the Caravan the caught my eye were the trumps that lumbered through it, tugging behind them large flats where crops were growing in the soil. The trumps were creatures of massive girth with a thin coat of dappled hair over a hide so thick and tough it might have been mistaken for scale. From their great maws hung thick mucus-coated tongues and spade-like teeth which were used for tearing leaves of trees in large numbers. I wondered where trumps had come from decided it didn’t really make much of difference in the long run. What mattered really was the massive creatures which now moved with thundering steps across my vision.
The trumps were lined up in rows of two and behind them they dragged the large platforms of crops which I had before merely glanced over. Now though I took time to see them in there full majesty. The flat which I first noticed was a large slab of green leaves from the low growing plants. I am not a farmer, and I have never seen a plant that was grown for the purposes of food so I could not tell what it might have been but the notion that Caravaners grew there food on moving slabs of earth, which rolled around on massive iron-spoked wheels, was something I had not imagined. Sure, I had heard the stories but I had always thought it merely an exaggeration. And if they truly did grow their crops on flats then I figured they would be forced to use only small plots barely more then a person’s height in length. But no. This massive plate of verdant life completely filled the wide street from the vendors on one side to another and this street was five times again as wide as any other street in the city. Now that I think back on that, I am wont to believe that its possible that this street, since it goes cleanly through the city, was designed specifically for Caravan traffic. After all, most day it was only sparsely filled with people, save around the fringes where the vendors were allowed to set up. Perhaps it might also fill for a military parade if Deus was going to war against one of the other city-states but even those were more often held in the castle plaza then the main street.
There some more normal carts in addition to the flats. I use the term “normal” in the loosest fashion because even they were bizarre in their size and form. They looked almost like houses being pulled by a trump. The wheels underneath, though rimmed in steel that radiated eye-cutting glimmers in the bright noon-light, seemed almost of another being and rather then resting upon them the houses which they bore seemed to float on the air. Ie could see through twinkling glass windows people walking to and fro like one might see in any static house and they were completely unaffected by the motion of their home. Not a single shake of their balance, not a misstep, could be seen as they glided from one place to another, perhaps getting a tool out of a cabinet in order to mend some harness. And the structure! They had such minimalist features but so gently made and accentuated. A unframed window painted in some plain color seemed to echo into his mind when he noticed that the entire structure almost… curved into it… or maybe it was the motion… I couldn’t tell. But it felt so natural, so practical, sleek easy curves which put the stark gables of the surrounding buildings to shame for being so awkwardly motionless. Before such structures, making a house on unmoving ground seemed a folly.
I, as has been readily acknowledge, had heretofore, never been a carpenter because of some great love of the craft but rather because it had been the family business and therefore, the one for which training could be received without expense. This has been said, but at that moment my hands became filled with energy and I desired, no, lusted from the furthest reaches of my being to craft my self a similar structure. It was as though some great mystery inside myself had burst into light filling me with illumination. My skin, to my eye, seemed to glow with this inner radiance of acknowledgement, this realization that all the aspects of my life had bent themselves towards this mission like a pilgrim before the Statue of Yahweh at the Deusian Temple.
But my hands were but the least that was energized. My mind danced in my skull, curiousity conquering it faster the Phenomenal Campaign of the great NouPhen War. Who were these people and why did they journey? What did they seek? How did they live? I wished to know these people, know not just what they were but to one day enter into their mindscape, to become psychologically one with them and be of them.
“Truly fascinating aren’t they?” a voice interrupted my thoughts and glancing over to my right I saw their a young man, younger then myself. He had the strangest hair, black and white in overlapping strands. Never before and never since have I seen quite its like. But that seemed to be nothing compared to the vacuum of his eyes. Those eyes were pools of liquid gold, gazing out from an infinite distance and yet still coming through with blinding clarity. Deep in those eyes was a wisdom that transcended the young face in which they were placed, an aged mind that had seen the turnings of the world and the passing of the cycles. There was a sense of morbid optimism that hung around him like an uplifting pall. I am not a poet… I am not a philosopher. I am a prophet, those most pathetic of creatures who cannot see with their own eyes but rather through that restrictive lens of “revelation”, as everyone around me would soon take to calling it. I don’t have the ability to translate to you, my reader, what this boy was like and I can only hope that my meager description can point you in the direction of his majesty. I can only hope. I would pray but, prayers have long since died on my lips. “How they travel on an endless journey towards Yahweh. Is seems pointless, but, at the same time, strangely beautiful. An attempt by small meager humans to reach and touch something that exceeds them.” His eyes seemed to glaze slightly and no longer see as he put a thoughtful finger to his lips, “But then, perhaps that is their power… “ He once more looked at me, “isn’t the human race such a fascinating creature. Don’t displays like this make you glad to be a member of its illustrious ranks?” he waved his hand in a dramatic motion toward the caravan below but I did not follow the motion but instead continued to stare at this strange young man.
I think that me staring at him for but a moment before responding to such a strange query would be showing a startling amount of open-mindedness I had not heretofore realized I possessed. As all of my class were I was ignorant of most things, and as later events lead others to teach me things, like the very literary I strain to write this work, they tried to force me to become more ignorant. But at that moment, I had not before shown much patience with others and it was perhaps due to my suggestible state of mind, no doubt induced by my fascination with the caravan that granted me the ability to here this wise boy out.
“What do you mean?” I asked as gently as possible, in an attempt to hide my ignorance.
“What I mean, is not the issue. But what do you see when you look at them? You seemed rather fascinated.” His face was becoming the comfy home a rye little smirk that, I dare say, knew me better then I did.
“Well, I don’t know. Its just… I guess I’ve been doing this weird drifting thing in life. I don’t mean literally! I have a little home, if you can call it that, but I just sort of went with the currents of my life, not really acting upon life so much as having it act upon me.” I was surprised with my own ability to articulate these thoughts which were no dancing through my head like fireflies flitting through a dark street. As I have said I was “uneducated” then… how little did I know I knew!
“Reminds of person I knew a long, long time ago.” He said with that wan smile of his, “He went on to do great things… though I don’t know… if you look away from the Caravans it doesn’t look so great anymore.” His face didn’t change in expression nor did the tone with which he spoke, “Sigh… I’m talking to much… Mother would be proud though…” here his face turned sad for the first time but then immediately looked back to me, “You talk, young prophet. You seem to be making fresh thoughts, while I strain old grievances” He would never talk so much as he had then again. From that moment on he was a reactive force and that was nice, though I would come to miss his eloquence. When he had let that tongue of his move, I could almost feel the mists in my mind recede on their own accord. I would spend the next year struggling to push them back even as others tried to put them back.
I hesitated before I was able to restore my thoughts to their proper place, “Well, as I have said I have been sort of drifting through my life like some sort of dried-up leaf on a blustery fall breeze. But when I look at that Caravan… I sense… purpose! These people are out to do something. They have something to accomplish! Though they are called wanderer, look at that tread, can you say that that is the tread of a wanderer?” Now I was completely caught up in my own thoughts that I was speaking with a rushed, loud voice, attracting the attention of those around me, “No! Those aren’t wanderers. They are seekers. I really could careless if they are considered heretics.” I sighed, my zeal beginning to run thin as my understanding of what exactly I had been saying began to quickly wear thin. There was something inside me, something I knew, beyond all other knowledge but it was beyond my understanding at the time and so I just left it unspoken, fearing more that I would mistranslate this feeling then that it would go unheard.
“Learn.” The boy whispered, I sat for a second and waited to hear more but he did not continue. This would become his normal way with me, brief words of advice spoken with a slow deliberateness that left me thinking there was more when really what more that could be said would only be a waste of language.
“You’re right… I don’t know what I’m talking about. I should at least know that before I profess anything.” I looked up at the sky as the last of the caravan began to pass away from sight, “Who are you? If you don’t mind my asking, of course.”
The boy looked thoughtful for a moment before he spoke, “I am… Louis Schiffer.”