The Fifth Path (5/30)

Nabua’s Journal Entry for Nisan 16th

Got stabbed. Stupid. Need to be better at not dying. Owe my life to all my companions. Carried across a desert on a sled. Had to stay in a bed for too long. Lied about recovery to make sure we can meet up with Eric. Might have been bad choice. Not feeling so good now. Gotta stay strong. Hide my pain. Companions have been nicer since I woke up. Sympathy through injury. Everything has some good and some bad. Wish I had been able to explore capital. Hadia told me what she could. Others got to explore a lot because of waiting for me to heal. Infection made me delirious. Even now, still see things that can’t be real. Hope it will fade. Sometimes have to guess though. Will get a chance to rest on the boat. Next destination is several days on the boat. Woman will be sick instead of me then. Or maybe both. Should get to port town by tonight. Leave on boat tomorrow unless something unexpected. Delirious dreams maybe worth writing down. Entertaining. Dreams fade fast so maybe now is best time.

First thing was just pain. Chest and stomach on fire. Falling down. Focused on eyes of attacker. Thought maybe last thing I would see. Saw Baal child charge in. Everything dark. Sounds of fighting. Everything mute. Drifting. Wake for a moment. Baal child over top of me. Lots of pain. Dark and mute again. Drifting. Guide and Guard over top of me. Pain. Dark. Drifting. Movement. Dragged behind camel. Dark. Drifting. Visions.

I am a fire. A small fire like a candle, not a large one like a house or bonfire. I am in danger of going out, not in danger of spreading. Around me I see many dark shapes moving swiftly. They get close and pass by. They pick me up, then set me down. Each movement brings wind, and I try not to go out. I see other sparks like me, small fires in a world of massive dark shapes. After enduring for a while, a small bit of wood, as small as dust, falls into my flame. I grow. As I get bigger I catch more bits of fuel. I consume and I grow, and the dark shapes get smaller compared to me, there wind becomes less fearsome. They need me more, and I fear them less. I think then of getting so big that I might consume even the shapes. They know this and they fear me. The dark shapes fight to stop me from growing. The fuel stops coming. The shapes surround me. They make a strong wind, trying to blow me out. I am too big though. Wind gives me strength now. I spread. The shapes fall back in fear. I consume and grow. I become larger. Just when I think I can’t be stopped, I notice one of the small flames, like the candle I used to be. Its flickering, about to go out. I am drawing so much fuel and air to myself that there is not enough for others. I pull back into myself. I reduce. I shall not be the dark shapes. I see fuel and I consume not. Instead I push it, move it with the wind made of my heat. I push the fuel towards the candle flame. It feeds and grows. This small growth fills me, a flame, with warmth. I look out over the dark world. I see a hundred thousand tiny flames, all struggling to stay lit. I am filled with resolve. I wake up.

Darkness. Bright light. Moving lights. Shouts and screams. The smell of burning things. Not a fire, though I remember being one a moment ago. Must be in a tent. Try to move. Pain. Weakness. Eyes adjust. Small slit in the tent flap. Horror. Torches and black crawling things. Must be dreaming still. Try to wake myself up. Can’t. Awake. Scorpions. Fear. Companions fighting. Should help. Can’t. Try again to stand. Darkness. Drifting. Visions.

I am Hadia. I see myself and the other companions. I also see more. The desert, so empty to my own eyes is a veritable forest of life through the eyes of Hadia. I see the passage of insects in the shape of the sand. I see the tiny imperfections that are signs of plants underground. I notice tiny movements with eyes trained for such sights. The sand is not all the same. It is a map, a novel, a story of the life that lies hidden in this place. I look at the horizon and I can see the passage of the scorpion swarms, the movement of many tribes. I see the way the sun commands the creatures of the desert, controlling their actions and movements. I see a hundred dangers that I must protect my companions from, and a hundred little miracles that I know they do not notice. In this place, the former me, and my companions feel like children, without knowledge or power. I feel a need to protect, to help those who act as my friend. I think back on the times in my youth when I was rejected because of my different nature, my different beliefs. I see that these people do not do so. They shall not be consumed by the desert whilst I can protect them. I wake up.

Hadia stands silhouetted in the doorway. Back lit by campfires. Torch swings in a fast arc. Hear the sizzle of a scorpion. Had all but reached my face. Smell my hair. Singed by the closeness of the flame. Hadia is gone. Out to fight the scorpions outside the tent. I try to stand. Pull my knees up to my chest. Push down with my arm. Leverage body up. Collapse. Darkness. Drifting. Visions.

I swim through a sea of scorpions. Their claws tear my flesh, while they drive their stingers again and again into every part of my skin. The poison fills my veins. There is more poison than blood. My skin is a mass of purple and green sores. I ooze puss. I swim on, through the scorpions. Each stroke of my arm crushes some. I feel them squish under my weight. I see them feed upon their own. I can not see. My eyes have been gouged out and replaced by sores. I swim on. I smell something that is not a scorpion. I can smell no longer, my nose is gone. I swim on. I reach out and feel. Though my skin and flesh is all but gone I can still grip. I feel something strong, something not a scorpion. I pull. I drag myself out of the sea of scorpions, hand by hand. My strength begins to fade. I cannot climb higher. The scorpions begin to drag me back down. The rope begins to move. Someone is pulling me, dragging me out of the scorpion sea. I wake up.

Behind a camel. Sun is bright and painful. Have skin. No scorpions. No scorpion sea. Whole body is in pain. Different pain then scorpion pain. Companions saved me from that. Remember the knife. Feel chill. Must be infected. Need help. Need to tell companions about infection. Will die. Try to turn head. Try to look up at companions. Dizziness. Darkness. No. Will not fall asleep again. Open eyes. Try to make noise. Try to speak. Hear something. Maybe me. Pulling stops. Heard me? See faces of companions. Try to speak. Say something. Not sure what. Companions worried. Success. Smile. Darkness. Drifting. Visions.

I am back home. I am dedicating myself to the male god. My mother is proud. I make the sign. I wake up. I am studying the great works. I read about my namesake, the great astronomer. I wonder if I too can leave behind a legacy. I wake up. I am in a tent. Scorpions are coming again. I wake up. I am walking through the desert with my companions. The camels are riding on our backs. I wake up. Darkness. Visions. I am a herder of sheep. I see myself walking the road below me. I laugh merrily, knowing my place compared to myself. To herd sheep as a man is better then to serve kings as a half-man. I wake up. I am writing in my journal. I write about my first love. I wake up. I am asleep. I wake up. Darkness. Scorpions. Fire. Camels are frightened. I wake up. I walk the path of the sage, outside the path of man, free from the wants and needs of those who seek more than knowledge. I have given up on worldly things. Neither power, nor wealth, nor woman shall I seek from this day and forever. I feel the fire as the brand burns my back. I wake up. Camel dragging me. Sun is bright. Face is burned. Thirsty. I wake up. The bandit forgot his knife in me. My companions forgot to take it out. My bandages wrap around the entire knife, the tightness pushing it further and further into me. I scream. I wake up. Darkness. Cool. Night time. No scorpions. Thirsty. Reach for water. Drink. Thirst quenched. Fall asleep. Peace. I wake up.

Hadia standing over me. Holding a flower. Smile. Bends down. Puts flower in mouth. Surprised. Chew. Swallow. Feel calmer. Fever fades a little. Sleep.

Stranger standing over me. Feel much better. Speaking Hashin. Respond. Stranger is doctor. Will be safe. Reached capital in time.

After that got better fast. Still saw strange things. Nothing like visions though. Dreams are strong and strange. Do not remember well. Days pass. Doctor asks about health. Lie. Know there is little time to reach Eric. Tell him no pain. Tell him no visions. Skeptical. Insist. Work hard to act like no pain. Doctor relents. Get to talk to companions. Greeted warmly. Embraced by Baal child and woman. Hadia too but later. Make plans to leave next day. Tell them when Eric will leave. Tell them very hard to get other ship. Agree to travel fast. Argument about caravan. Hadia and Baal child yell. Hadia wins. Traveling with others in caravan. Safe from bandits and scorpions. Others leave. Talk to Hadia for long time. Ask about her past. Learn she is not Kasim. Strange sect. Treated different. Like me. Ask her to travel with us beyond island. Confusion. Mixed reaction. Will consider. Decide in port town. Departs. Think. Need to convince her and Baal child. Life was saved. Important to pay back debt. Important to fuel other fires. Sleep.

Meet up with caravan early. Leader is very energetic woman. Treats Hadia bad, but respects Uras after he stands up to her. Given place in middle of caravan. Place of safety. Few weird visions. Some pain. Nothing major. More chance to talk with Hadia. Also talk with Uras and Anatu a bit. Like said much friendlier. Get full story of scorpions and desert travel. Thank everyone for saving life. Promise to do better to not die next time. Woman speaks with Uras for bit. Offers to teach me to fight. Against rules to teach my kind to fight. Uras says rule is gone in outlands. Everyone agrees is good idea. Accept. Will start once fully recovered. Maybe on boat if woman can stand. If not then at next stop. Communal bonding. Get chance to talk to Uras alone. Ask about Hadia coming with us. Seems reluctant. Try to argue. Becomes distant. Tells me he will consider. Reaction strange. Unsure what Baal child is thinking. Hope Hadia can stay. Talk to her late into night. Learn much about Hashim and about deserts. Become more valuable with knowledge. Get to know her better. Learn about her sect. Difference seems small to me. People are dumb. Tell her about Hishtu. Seems interested. Tell her Hishtu history with land of Bel. Tell her about Bel. Both learn much. Very good night. Sleep.

Woke up early. Wrote.

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