Thursday, January 08, 2004

The First Wind

It was late morning.

Lorri strode forward as though she was on a mission. She descended on a beautiful valley, magnificent in its desolation. She stopped, suddenly deep in thought. Isolated shrubs and small trees were scattered throughout, but were most concentrated in the lowest part of the basin. It occurred to Lorri, every time she walked through this valley, that it was rather like a house of mirrors. Each plant appeared to her as a reflection of her distance from everything, with the look of a survivor etched deeply into the very core of its very being.

Lorri dug her capper-cross into the ground, twisting it around a bit, digging up some dirt. She walked down to where the small trees seemed huddled together, or at least what passed for that in this region. No tree would budge. She had been trying for months. She slapped the branch closest to her, and the branch violently rebounded and vibrated as they are wont to do.

It was the wind. Or, rather, there was none. Well, it wasn't exactly that there wasn't any wind. Of course there was a little. If she gazed at the most delicate bugs for a long time, without breathing toward them, she could sometimes make out hairs being moved by the wind. Nothing significant to speak of, though. The great currents had gone from this land. Worse still, no wind means no clouds, and no clouds means no rain. Most of the people had left by now, to the windward side of the mountain. What was blocking the wind from stirring? This was the question Lorri was sent to answer.

There was no great reason to send Lorri in particular. She didn't know much about the crafty elements, which always seemed to be doing exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. That's the way things went in this world, though. The air was stale here. The wind was keeping away. From what? Was the wind angry? Most likely, Lorri thought. It seemed that precisely when she passed by the peak of the mountain at the pass, that's when the wind stopped. An eerie hush. No whistling through the tunnel. No rustling of the leaves. Nothing. It was life without a friend. Even if no one was with her, the wind was like a friend following along and dancing around. It whistled stories, played with her hair, urged her forward. The cave would tell a story, and the wind would carry it to the giant cedar. The giant cedar would continue the story and the wind would tell it to the lake. And the lake to the cave, and so on. Lorri could hear the whole conversation.

Then she saw it...So it was here, floating ominously three meters off the ground on the other side of the ridge. The girl rushed back up the hill and pulled the capper-cross out of the ground. Diving behind a tree, she lay still, waiting for it. What she saw was unexpected, but at the same time she feared its presence always. Seeing it was like an unexpected gust of wind almost blowing you off your feet. Only, since there was no wind, the Demaij was a substitute, but certainly not a pleasant one. Then, for no apparent reason, it fell to the ground with a clank and a whine.

After waiting approximately 20 minutes with no sign of movement, she warily got up, mounted her capper-cross, and began towards the fallen Demaij...

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