Ish-sin

Ish-sin liked harvest days like these best of all. Everyone else was celebrating back at the temple, but he didn’t mind. Everyone else was busy eating, drinking, telling stories and dancing, so he walked with Uanna down to the beach. Uanna moved slowly, but it wasn’t like the way that old people shuffled around the temple. It was just the way Uanna was. Not that he wasn’t old. If you asked anybody at the temple, Uanna had been there before them.

They stood at the head of the beach, just where scraggly bushes ended and the soft sand began. Ish-sin stood next to Uanna, carrying a torch to light their way down the rough path from the temple.

“Uanna, why do you sleep in the sea?” asked Ish-sin.

Uanna looked out at the ocean, the flickering light of the torch setting his scales to flame. His mask turned upwards towards the heavens and rested there for a moment before he answered.

“It reminds me of home,” he rumbled softly.

Ish-sin thought about this. “The old men tell us stories about how we came here in boats. Is your home far away? Did you come in a boat?” He laughed, “No, that’s silly, you’d just swim, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, it is quite far. So far that I couldn’t swim.”

“Where is it?” asked Ish-sin.

Uanna turned around, a dance of many awkward steps. He settled back on his haunches to look up at the sky, then squinted at the flame of the torch. He rummaged in his satchel and brought out one of the little stones that glowed. In his large, scaled hand it was like a pebble. He squeezed it and a soft, green light slowly expanded out from the rock. “Put out that torch, Ish-sin.”

Ish-sin crouched down and thrust the torch into the sand to extinguish it, the warm yellow light of it replaced by the soft glow of Uanna’s stone. Ish-sin moved closer to Uanna, fascinated by the catchlights that the stone cast in the lenses of his mask. Uanna raised an arm and pointed up towards the sky.

“Do you know where The Field is?”

Ish-sin nodded in the darkness. His father had shown it to him, and as his eyes adjusted, he could make out the twinkling points of light that formed its perimeter.

Uanna continued, “My home is there, a long way away. So far, that it would take a life time to get there. I was in a boat for a life time to get here.”

The boy thought about this for a moment. “Will you go back there, one day?”

“One day. I told the Ea that I had found you, and sent them a message. When they get that message, they will send others – like me. Then I shall go home.” He shifted slightly towards Ish-sin, detecting the boy’s uncertainty. “But it will not be today, or tomorrow or soon,” he reassured the child. “Now, I am hungry Ish-sin. It has been a long day. You keep the stone to guide you back to the temple, I shall collect it from you tomorrow.” It was a simple ruse to ease Ish-sin’s mind and it worked; as soon as he placed the stone into the boy’s hand, he was lost in fascination of the thing.

Uanna levered himself up and turned back towards the ocean, carefully watching where his tail was in relation to the boy.

“Goodnight Ish-sin, may warm currents wash over you.” Uanna spoke the words formally as he began his walk down over the beach and into the ocean.

Ish-sin looked up from the stone at the retreating figure. “Goodnight Uanna,” he replied and began his walk back towards the village.

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~ by Electro-mechanical Man on February 28, 2011.

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