THE FOREVER MAN
Chapter One: The Appearing
As the sun rose once again above the valley hills, I could hear a quiet rainfall tapping on the roof of my house. Hoping that this day would be different from so many others, I hurried to get up and open the front door. Yet, to my dismay, the sky was foggy once again. There was a time when the days were warm with plenty of sunshine. The air had felt clean and fresh, giving off a scent of lovely field flowers which grew nearby. Now the air was wet and heavy, causing many of my fellow villagers to become sick and die.
Determined to carry out my duties despite my demise, I dressed and headed toward the cintan stalls. Suddenly, I heard a strange, high pitch sound that resembled the time when the windmill grounded to a halt. Sensing something was wrong, I began looking for the cause of the sound. On the left side of my house was a long, climbing hill where, at the top, grew a grove of unique trees unlike any others. Struggling to see through the fog, I could just make out the shape of the trees when, all at once, I saw movement. Feeling startled, I slowly backed up until I stood in the doorway of my house. At first, I was led to believe that one of the trees was in the process of falling over. For the figure I saw was leaning forward. But as my eyes focused hard on the shape, the figure stood up, making me realize that I was looking at a person of tall stature.
Wondering who would dare to be near the trees, I climbed cautiously up the hill to have a better look. For you see, the grove of trees was a sacred burial area for the village leaders. It was never disturbed, except for official reasons.
Once I reached the top, I stood some paces back surveying the situation. The person was a man with dark hair upon his head, which matched his dark eyes. A tan colored shirt and pants were worn loosely about his person. On the ground sat a large bag with straps, through which the stranger searched. Releasing a great sigh of frustration, he began to throw his belongings onto the ground.
After looking through the bag once more, the stranger grabbed it in anger, throwing it towards my direction. Waiting to see what he would do next, I stood still and quiet behind a tree, being hidden by the fog. I expected him to come towards me in order to retrieve the bag. Instead he turned his back to me and began to speak aloud. Curious, I walked to the right of him, staying back, yet trying to see with whom he conversed. To my surprise, no one was there, giving me the impression that this man had leave of his senses. However, as I neared the stranger while trying to hear what he said, I was stunned to see a square window floating in the air!
The window was small in size, about the measurement of a personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face. Wanting to view the back of the window, I quietly positioned myself so that I was now facing the stranger. I was shocked to find out that the window could not be seen. Yet, the intensity of the strangerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s glare was obvious.
For many hours the tall man stood in the same position while calling out words in a language I did not understand. As the morning turned into afternoon, the cool temperatures interspersed with cold rain. The man began to pace while speaking, so that I became afraid of being seen. Thus, I quietly made my way down the hill going towards the cintan stalls. Jumping on the back of my fastest creature, I made my way towards the village at a very fast pace. Once reaching the village walls, I cried out to the watchman to quickly open the gate.
"Hurry! I must speak to the Great One right away!" I yelled, anxiously.
With my heart beating as the war drums in the night, I flew through the gate with great speed. Maneuvering my way through the muddied streets, I finally reached the leaderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s meeting room located at the center of the village. Sitting on a large chair in the back area of the room, the Great One would spend much of the day talking with any villagers that were in need of help. Being of a large build, it was obvious that he did quite a bit of sitting and eating, with very little moving about. Yet, there was no time for criticizing thoughts, for I was of the mind that the stranger might mean the village harm, due to his unusual behavior.
Approaching the leader politely, I felt impatient from carrying such important news.
" Oh Great One, I come to you in haste to inform you that a stranger has been seen. He is located at the honored tree grove talking to himself." With this said, I proceeded to tell about the unusual events that I had witnessed that morning. Once I had finished, I could detect an attitude of disbelief among those present. Suddenly, everyone burst out laughing!
"Oh, Tehmon, you have been thrown from your cintan too many times! Now you are seeing floating windows! Ha!" bellowed the leader.
"If you do not believe me, come see for yourself! I do not think he will be leaving the grove soon."
"We will do that. Later perhaps, Tehmon," answered the leader. "Meanwhile. Why not have something to eat? Perhaps you should rest for awhile, hmm?"
Disgusted, I left hearing the echo of laughter. Climbing onto my animal, I turned my back to the crowd and rode for home. Somehow, I knew they would be sorry they had not listened to me. For I believed that this man had a great power that none from my village had ever seen, and this would be their downfall.
Chapter Two: The Meeting
As I made my way through the narrow streets, I could hear the sound of the continuous rain hitting upon the rooftops. A cold, misty rain it was, giving no hint of possible relief upon my person. Pulling the hood of my covering down, I exited through the gates, and headed towards my home. I wondered if the stranger could still be at the trees, or if he had gone on his way. Yet, as I drew near to the cintan stalls, I looked up the hill only to see the ominous figure still standing tall like the surrounding grove.
Taking the cintan into the shelter, I contemplated what I should do about the stranger. Should I speak to him, or should I wait and watch? After a momentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thought, I decided that having patience was a wise decision. After all, my home was at the bottom of the hill, should he decide to seek shelter. Perhaps he was just passing through our village.
But the man did not leave, just like the rain. As the days went by, he stood very determined looking toward his window as if he were waiting for someone. Each day he became more anxious, desperately rechecking his pack for something that did not exist.
Finally, on the eighth day, I could not stand the situation any longer. Going to the pantry, I placed some food in my shoulder bag. Arming myself with my fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s knife and a lantern, I made my way towards the stranger. Reaching the top of the hill, I began to call out, " Ho, stranger! I come to greet you! Are you there?"
Now, the stranger was no fool. His dark set eyes gave a slanted dagger-like glare towards me as I came up the hill. He had no clue that people were present in this world, until now. Yet, the stranger did not really care to greet me, for his heart was full of a darker side, and greed was his companion wherever he went.
"shorah," was the strangerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s response.
"I bring you food and drink. Welcome to the village of Chalen," I responded, slowly lifting the food out of the bag.
"Chev sehm," the stranger said abruptly, as he began to gorge himself. For hunger had begun to overtake him, yet he did not appear to be used to searching for food on his own. Instead, this man carried himself as a ruler.
Being taken aback, I stepped to the side so as not to disturb his feast. I had never seen anyone eat in such a way. Not watching where I was stepping, I tripped over the strangerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bag. Reaching down to place his belongings back into the pack, I began to pick up the spilled contents when I came across a book of lovely, tooled brown leather.
"!tahgehmah bÃ¢â‚¬â„¢zoo ah rehkor" the stranger shouted.
Not knowing what was being said, I stood up with the book in my hand. As the stranger grabbed the book from me, I pulled out my knife, ready to defend myself. We stood, quiet as death itself, not knowing what to do next. I was a peaceful person, not wanting any bloodshed. I had been in the Great Battle with the other villages and had seen my wife killed in an act of vengeance. Therefore, I decided to withdraw my weapon, hoping that a more peaceful solution could be met.
Now, the stranger had other plans. He could see that he was in a unique situation that could be turned to his benefit, or to his end. So, as I placed my knife back into its sheath, the stranger took a step back, and gave a small bow. We waited, looking at each other, trying to read the other oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mind. As he looked down at his book, he tapped one finger on the cover, his face telling me that he was planning something. For he glanced up with piercing eyes, hungry for something he desired.
Suddenly, he stood up to his full height, throwing his shoulders back in a majestic manner. Cautiously, he held out the book, forcing my hands to hold it. Gesturing in an effort to communicate, I got the impression that the book was mine to keep. Opening it, I found that it was blank, with new crisp pages filling the cool, smooth leather cover. I took it reluctantly, for I knew there was an arterial motive behind the gift.
Pointing to myself, I said, "Tehmon." In turn, the stranger became more of a visitor as he pointed to himself and answered," Sirrus." Yet, the window in the air was still in need of an explanation, as was SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ presence. I was not convinced that he meant no harm, as much as he had not yet decided to leave my people alone. I only knew that I sensed things were to be very different from now on.
Chapter Three: The Introduction
As days passed into weeks, Sirrus continued to stay in the grove. He began to draw pictures of things and persons in an effort to communicate. With each picture, he would point to the drawing while stating a word in his language. Then, he waited to hear a descriptive word in my language for the picture. In this way, we began to make a list of words that would help Sirrus speak to the villagers as well as the Great One. With the new book in hand, I began to make a list of words in order to communicate with Sirrus. Although I did not trust him, he had an air of authority about him. He could be very persuasive with his mannerisms. Slowly, I found myself becoming more comfortable with his presence.
One day, I was taking care of the cintan, when I found an old tent that had been stored in the shelter. Carrying it to the grove, I pitched the tent for Sirrus to live in while he watched the window. Studying the window, I approached it with wonderment, curious about what I saw. Although the window seemed foggy, I could see things clearly for a few seconds at a time. There was a room with dark, wooden walls and many books on a shelf. A lovely light hung from a painted ceiling, while the floor was covered in deep red wood. Suddenly, a face appeared at the window! Sirrus, in shear panic, pushed me out of the way while trying to speak to the person.
"Who are you?" he asked with authority.
The person on the other side acted as if SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ words could not be understood. So, in desperation, Sirrus demanded, "A page. Bring me a red page." Then, the person was gone, and so was the window.
"AAA!" he yelled in frustration. "The book has been closed! I must wait to see the library again!"
Now, I gathered that the term "library" was the name of the room, so I quietly sketched what I had seen and wrote the new term below it. I now understood that Sirrus was probably from this "library" and wanted to return. But what did pages have to do with anything?
Waiting by the window into the late hours of the night, I felt a fatigue come over me that insisted on my sleeping. So, I said goodnight, as I made my way down the hill towards my house. Upon entering, I took off my dampened clothes and hung them by the fire. Getting dressed with my night attire, I sat at the table with a hot drink and some berry fruit rolls. Berry fruit seemed to be one of the few foods that thrived in this hideous rain and fog. It never needed sunshine, only great amounts of water.
While my hand began to go over the leather book., I found myself deep in thought about Sirrus and his situation. There was something wrong with him. He was obviously in trouble, yet he acted as if he were no stranger to it. He wanted somethingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Listening to the rain, I at once noticed that it began to subside. Slowly rising from my chair, I waited to see if it would begin to hit upon my roof again, but the quiet stayed. Running outside, I saw that the rain had stopped, leaving behind only a blanket of fog and cool air. Grabbing my book, I headed up the hill, seeing Sirrus talking to someone through the window again.
"Pages! I cannot see you! You must bring me more pages!" he was shouting.
Turning around, Sirrus saw that I was watching him. He knew that I wanted an explanation of all things, which he had been unwilling to provide. Opening my book, I pointed to the drawings of the library.
"Are you from here, Sirrus?" I asked.
"Yes, that is my home. I was sent here against my will," he said angrily.
So, for the next hour, Sirrus told me the story of his family and their ability to travel to different worlds through books. I would have never believed it except for the window in the air. Now I knew that I was looking through a book into another existence, and someone had been looking into mine.
"Sirrus, what do pages have to do with the window?" I asked.
Answering carefully, he said, "The pages belong to one of my familyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s books. Some of the pages were removed, which makes the window foggy. If the pages are returned to the book, then I can go home by traveling through the book.. Perhaps you could come as well," he said with an enticing voice.
"I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know, Sirrus. Could I really travel through a book? This seems so incredible!" I stated with awe.
"Of course you can! I do it all the time. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry I will show you how to travel," he offered.
"Sirrus, I came to the hill because something wonderful has happened. The rain has stopped!" I said with great feeling.
"Oh? That is nice," said Sirrus, glancing towards the window.
"No, Sirrus you do not understand. It has rained for a very long time. I came to ask you if your window or the pages had anything to do with the rain stopping," I enquired.
Now Sirrus was a man of opportunity, and he saw one being handed to him without any effort on his part. Although he wanted to get home, the temptation to accumulate wealth was too great. So, he began a great scheme that would allow him to gain access to the villageÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s treasures.
"Why, yes it does, Tehmon", Sirrus lied. You see, as each page is placed back into the book, your world becomes beautiful once again. But the person bringing me the pages is greedy, and wants many riches for their effort. Since I have very little, I am afraid I can not offer anything more than what is in my pack. I fear this will not do," he answered in a sly voice.
Normally, my emotions did not rule my head, but I was desperate to see that my village be healed from the rain. So, I overrode my common sense and allowed my emotions to be taken in by this man. I offered to go to the village and return with the Great One in order to get Sirrus the help that he needed. Yet, I knew this would be difficult.
As I prepared the cintan for riding, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. What if he was lying to me? Then, without warning, the fog began to lift. For the first time, in a year, I could see the grass, trees and buildings. Running up the hill again, I saw Sirrus talking to the person in the window again. Without speaking to Sirrus, I ran back to the cintan and rode off for the village. Now I was convinced that Sirrus was helping to heal my world.
Entering the gates, I had to struggle to make my way through the crowded streets, for everyone was celebrating the end of the rain and the fog. Pushing my way towards the Great One, I begged him for an audience.
"Oh Great One, I know why the rain has stopped! You must come with me, please. I know how to restore our village to the way it once was," I pleaded.
"What are you talking about, Tehmon? The rain has stopped and things are already back to normal. You are sickly, due mainly to the lack of sunshine. Soon you will heal!" he said rejoicingly.
"But, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you see? The rain has stopped, and the fog has lifted. Yet, there is no sun! I know why, but I must show you," I tried to explain.
All became quiet as they waited for The Great OneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s answer. "Oh, all right. I will amuse you, but only because I want to go riding. Bring me my beast!" he commanded.
Suddenly, there was a massive confusion amongst the crowd as many of the people headed for their shelters to get their cintans. They were very excited about riding outside of the village with the leader. Then, on to the sacred hill we headed to meet an unsuspecting surprise.
Once at the hill, everyone dismounted, tying his or her beasts to a pole. Up the hill we climbed, only to find Sirrus talking to a person at the window. A stunned silence fell over the crowd as they realized I had been telling the truth about the stranger. Slowly, Sirrus turned around, glancing over the group of villagers that stood before him. Walking up to the leader, he said, "I am Sirrus, son of Atrus. "And, whom might you be?"
At first, the leader was speechless, taken aback with SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s behavior. Then with great effort to sound important, he stated, "I am the Great One. I rule the village of Chalen. Where did you come from?"
"I am from a far away place, and I wish to get home. My good friend Tehmon has been kind enough to help me as much as possible, but I am afraid I can not fulfill this hope. Yet, I will try to help you restore your world back to normal. It is the least I can do for his kindness," Sirrus said smoothly.
"I do not understand what you are talking about. Perhaps you had better explain," said the leader carefully.
So, Sirrus began to tell the crowd about himself and his family. He told how he had been trapped in a book that led to our world. Then, he pointed to the window and described the library.
"I must travel through this window to go home. But, the person returning the pages wants payment for their work. I do not have anything here which is why I need your help. If you gather together some things of small value, I could use them to bribe this person to return all of the pages to the book. Once I link to the library and capture this horrible person, your belongings will be returned to you. As a gesture, of gratitude, I will make sure that your world is restored to its natural state. But, of course, you need time to think this over. Why donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you discuss this amongst yourselves and your leader? He is very wise in these matters."
Sirrus was no stranger to the art of being deceiving. He knew how to discover a personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weak points and use flattery to his advantage. There was no doubt that Sirrus wanted to return home. Yet, he was not about to leave empty-handed. "After all, why not take advantage of the moment?" he often told himself.
Armed with this dark idea, Sirrus entered the village in the late hour of the night and asked for a private audience with the great One. Using the leaderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weak personality to his advantage, he began to whisper ideas of deceit into his ever- listening ear.
"My Great One", Sirrus said slyly, "you could come to my world and become a great ruler of many worlds! I have thousands of books that lead to fantastic places. Why, you could command an entire universe!"
As SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ words played on the leaderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s appeal, ideas formed in the Great OneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mind about having terrible power. Greed overtook any common sense that he had possessed. Now, he chose to blindly follow the strangerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lead, abandoning all that he knew to be true. The Great One would convince the village to help, using the healing of their home as an excuse to gain valuables.
So, the black worm slithered back to his tent on the hill, waiting for what would surely be an easy gain. Gathering his belongings together, he prepared to leave soon since three pages had been returned with only two left to be found. Yet, the villagers did not know this, giving an advantage to Sirrus.
As a dim haze marked the beginning of a new morning, a crowd of villagers could be seen walking towards the sacred trees.
"Great One, do you really believe he is telling us the truth?" one farmer asked.
"Do you think he is a ruler? He dares to sleep amongst the sacred trees!" responded another villager.
With talk like this taking place, the Great One stopped walking and turned to the crowd. "I am convinced that Sirrus is a sincere visitor who truly wishes to help our village. After all, did he not stop the rain and the fog? Is our sunshine not slowly returning?" Let us try to help him."
Chapter Four: The Deception
As the villagers approached the top of the hill, the Great One motioned to the crowd to stop. Then, with an air of authority, the leader walked up to Sirrus to announce the villageÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision to help him return home. Placing his oversized thumbs under the collar of his coat, the Great One cleared his deep throat and began to speak.
"It is the opinion of this village council that we should help you in any way to return to your world. However, in exchange, we wish that you fulfill your promise to help our world return to its previous state. Also, we need your promise that our valuables will be returned to us," the Great One stated. Yet, the leader was not really thinking about the villageÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s well being. Instead, he could not help but daydream about the universes he would conquer, once entering the book. For this privilege, the leader would allow Sirrus to keep all of the villageÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s treasures that were collected.
"Of course I will keep my word. Do not worry. Your world will see daylight soon, and your possessions will be returned quickly," Sirrus lied. Oh, what deceit grew within his soul! Never caring for another human being, Sirrus had become spoiled and narrow-minded.
Suddenly, to the villagerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amasement, a face appeared at the window! A gasp was heard throughout the crowd as a hand with a page in it reached forward. Without warning, the sun began to shine brightly! All cheered in immense joy as sunlight streamed down upon the people.
"This is truly a sacred place," one person said.
"Sirrus must be a god. He can restore the sun!" another said.
"Hail, oh Great One and Sirrus! Lead us!" the group chanted.
From behind me I could hear more villagers climbing up the hill. Everyone wanted to find out what brought back the missing sun. "Now, if my garden grows once again, I will be content," I thought to myself.
Yet, the temperature had not changed. A coolness in the air still existed. I soon found myself caught up in the excitement of the moment as I hoped that the next page would bring warmth to our world. It was too late to save myself from SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s questionable behavior. For he had given me something that I desired greatlyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦the opposite of night.
By now, the entire village had congregated in the sacred groves. The Great One began at once to organize a group of council members and guards who would enter into the village treasury room and return with many spoils. Some of the other villagers began to plan a great feast that would celebrate the healing of the earth.. There was so much excitement that no one noticed the quiet, still figure staring at the small window in the air.
Walking up behind him, I asked, "Sirrus, are you alright?"
Turning around, Sirrus gave me a concerned, irritated glance. "Yes, I am fine. I am just watching for the next page to be delivered. I hope my kind deliverer will not fail me," he said thoughtfully.
"Well, I am sure the pages will be delivered. How many are left?" I inquired.
Now Sirrus knew that this question would be asked eventually. Not wanting to draw too much attention to himself, Sirrus casually strolled away from the window saying," Oh, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure. Three pages perhaps. Say, Tehmon , do you have any more of those wonderful fruit rolls? I feel a bit hungry." Sirrus smiled broadly in an effort to deceive while his true interest was to return to the window.
Just as Sirrus was approaching his place of continuous vigilance, a face appeared in the window.. Sirrus ran to the book, shouting orders to his deliverer as to how to obtain the final page hidden in a secret room. " Bring me only the red page. Do not touch the book on the upper shelf!" he stated breathlessly. A secret code to gain entrance to the room was given by Sirrus in haste. ThenÃ¢â‚¬Â¦the long wait began.
As the villagers watched this scene of intense emotions, they sensed that something great was about to happen. People began to shout with excitement and push for a better view of the window. Meanwhile, Sirrus was deep in thought as to how he could transport the treasures and himself to Myst without any of the villagers following him. Yet, Sirrus had not taken everything into account. Little did he know that his deliverer was comtemplating the possibility of using the special book instead of returning the final red page. SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ arrogance would work against him in the end. For the deliverer did choose the book and Atrus returned to the window instead. Stripped of freedom, Sirrus would face the eternal punishment of being trapped in the red book. The thought of never conquering another world again was too much for Sirrus to bear! He begged his father for leniency, blaming his brother instead of admitting his own guilt. Had he done so, AtrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ heart may have been softened. But Sirrus own greed was his undoing as Atrus began to burn the book. "Goodbye my son. May you be happy in the life you have chosen," Atrus said with much grief.
"NO!" shouted Sirrus. "It cannot be! I am Sirrus the Great! I cannot die in this wretched place!" With a stunned look upon his face, Sirrus watched as the last of the window faded away for all time.
Turning around, Sirrus stumbled to his tent and hid from the crowd of villagers. Quietly, the people went down the hill to their homes carrying the treasures of the village with them. Although they were unable to understand the words that had been said, I could. I had found out that Sirrus was a thief and a murderer. He did not possess any special powers over the weather. These changes had come about naturally as was destined for our world. The man who would be king was now called "The Forever Man", for he was trapped in my universe until the end with no hope of returning to his own.
Yet, I alone knew he could not be trusted. I alone would take it upon myself to teach other villagers his language so that they might know the truth as well. For I knew that a man with a dark heart as SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ would never change his ways easily. Eventually, he would cause a war between other villages, always trying to gain power and wealth. Devistation was everywhere because of his presence. He seemed to be untouchable as many tried to end his miserable existence. Yet, Sirrus knew that I was there, watching his every movement. He knew that I was plotting against him, planning to end his life. His time would be long in my world, and he counted on my growing old quickly. But Sirrus also knew that I would not allow death to pass my way without trying at least once more to free my people of his grip.
And so, we faced a miserable end to a promising beginning. I grew more tired by the day and Sirrus was forced to deal with the ghosts of poor choices in oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life. I would pass the torch of hatred to a younger man, and Sirrus would continue to play out the role of a conquerer. For it seemed that he never aged in an aging world. Slowly it was realised that the villages were dying out, while Sirrus health rarely faultered. As people disappeared from life and life was not reborn, I came to see that soon Sirrus would be the only one left alive.
Finally, my day of ending came with no one from my village left to bury me. Lying on my bed, I could hear the familiar heavy footsteps of a former friend from long ago. Upon entering the doorway, Sirrus looked down at me with great satisfaction " I have beaten you at last Tehmon! You are the last of your kind," he announced proudly.
"No! It is I who has won the day Sirrus! For as I die, you will be truly alone!"
No words can describe the stunned look on SirrusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ face as he realised he was trapped in this Age by himself. There were no more worlds to conquer, no more people to kill, and no more plundering. As my eyes became foggy until I could see no more, I still heard SirruÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s screams of denial as he realised his eternal punishment. For he truly was the man who was destined to live in my world alone throughout his existenceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Guild of Linguists