Completed Do the stars look back when we gaze at them?

White Swallow

The White Swallow of Narra
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Within the walled gardens of Sey'Kube. One hour past midnight, 1st of Seagrass, spring.
The sky would not yet show its brightest lights.

Tame gazelles pranced in the night, their eyes glistening gold when hit by candle-light; while the many golden peacocks have long gone asleep in the low hanging branches of apricot trees.
One will not hear their call of paradise until the sun would grace this garden once again.

It was always such a still place.
Where people would go to rest after a day's worth of work.
Some to play, perhaps meditate.
Perhaps...-

»Azrana? Apologies honoured Azrana, I did not mean to disturb you.« The White Swallow nodded his head respectfully at the blue giant.

He shifted in his feet before the human, turning to meet his eyes. His voice was deep and husky, and unusually kind compared to his more somber demeanour, »Alsanunu, I am not an honoured man here, not when with my little child. « He then smiled as the little human girl Aisha peered from behind his leg. She waved her hand, any seeming distrust vanishing at a mere moment.
»Are you one of Sayyiduna's men? « Her eyes went wide.
»I am a soldier of Kalik, a soldier for the Sayyiduna's cause, « he bowed to the little girl. »I am Aisha, « she began, though Azrana knew better than to humour the little girl with more content of his work life. More content of their lord.
»It is rare for you to have some time of peace, Alsanunu, we should let you enjoy your time, and hopefully you won't miss any of the falling stars this eve.«
»Indeed, « he forced a chuckle and stepped back. »I will let you two be then, and you little Aisha, forget not to wish for health when the stars begin to fall.« The White Swallow then began to depart. »Until tomorrow when Arsalaan calls for us.«
»I have some business for you tomorrow, You and your men, « Azrana hollered before he vanished from the Swallow's sight.

The White Swallow stirred briefly at the thought, but any concern vanished as he made his way through the grove.
It would be a lot livelier this evening, and the many lights within the houses of the city in the nearby west, past the walls of the garden were dying rapidly.
 
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Amailia daughter of Eve

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Amailia took a deep breath, she was still not used to travel. The rumours had just reached her a month ago of a man that resembled her quarry so she had made haste to learn more, as she drew closer however she began to realize just how large Amol-Kalit was.

How was she supposed to get any useful information from rumours of a man fighting fire with fire against an undead horde alongside man, and insects? Or about the trouble he had caused to The Empire, a nation she personally still knew very little about except for that it was where the Maho Sparhawk, a professor who had at one point taught her defensive magic, but then for some unknown reason after going to Amol-Kalit turned into a monster and began attacking The College.

The good professors transformation had to be HIS work. She had also heard that other monsters had appeared in west near the Empire. This had to mean that HE was in the Empire somewhere creating monsters, and doing his normal horrible acts! Who else would turn man to monster, and cause such chaos? Still The Empire was far, and useful information seemed only further.

Amailia looked to the sky from The Garden's of Sey'Kube she sat within. When would this event start? She pulled out her ink'n quill, as well as her sheepskins as she waited. She stared at the beginnings of her poem she hoped would one day catch on to warn of the danger of fools such as her father:

It is well know the pathway to hell is paved with only the best of intentions,
One would then be forced to ask if the worst of intentions is what paves the way back.
Must those then who wish to flee hell be forced to meet their trepidations?
Is it possible for those dragged to hell to have what those with good intentions lack?
The drive to do the hard, the impossible, the will to live in strife
To kill those who dragged the innocent to their pyres,
Promising them the whole world while they simply begged for their life,
The only light they ever shone with from those very fires.

...

Amailia gently patted her chicken hawk familiar, Midas. Maybe the stars could be a better muse tonight...
 
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White Swallow

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Perhaps it was a little unusual, but it was to expect that the garden would be a little fuller this night.
A seated stranger with their head dipped low instead of up.

Though then again it would take at least one more hour before the starts would truly shine bright.
»Looking down, you may miss the stars, « commented the White Swallow as he approached from the side.
The man wore a simple white robe, a coloured sash on his belt and a black, sleeveless coat wrapped around his elbows and arms. That was the typical attire of those more devout of the Sahiyi faith. If one was able to recognise it. More and more people wore such robes in these parts.

His face was draped in a thick black veil, it was not uncommon to see one coloured grey or white ether.
Only his honey-brown eyes of calming nature would shine through, while his posture was passive, with hands behind his back.
 

Amailia daughter of Eve

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Amailia looked up trying to take in the man who spoke. She had seen similarly dressed individuals, though she did not know enough of the culture to really differentiate. She did not care for the veil, she never had cared for them. Where she was from those who covered their face usually had reason to. She pulled her robe tighter around herself as she tried to stare into his eyes. She was nervous, she did not trust calm.

"W-Will they all fall from the sky as I collect my thoughts?"

If he was looking to attack her with the best, or worst intention she would be ready. Till then she would stand against him with strength of words.

"For though the stars, which bare many mens wishes, remain far above, my thoughts remain very much here. So give me a second to collect my thoughts, after all I will need all the ammunition I can if I wish for my wishes to come true."

She didn't really know what effect she expected these words to have on the man, but hopefully her safety they would grant.
 
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»No, « he said quietly, looking to the sky that grew ever brighter.
»They won't start for at least another two hours.«

»I am sorry if I distrubed you. You're not from here I reckon.«
She was seemingly alone.
Though the Swallow did notice the little bird of prey in wraps.
 
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Amailia daughter of Eve

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"No, I mean it was no problem, or should I saw IS no problem... sorry.

But two hours, eh? That is fair bit of time to kill."

She looked up at the stars. They were not so different from what she'd see at night in Elbion. She continued on mostly talking to herself,

"I read that if one traveled far enough on the continent one could see new stars, kinda like how the stars move during the year, but it looks the same as what I saw in Elbion."

Funny how the night sky could be the same, but the culture so different.

"Thought! I read somewhere people over here call that grouping of stars a serpent or something. Why do you call the great top hat, a serpent? It looks nothing like a serpent."

With the growing curiosity her nervousness turned to excitement to learn.
 
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Seems fair enough.
Ibn Adil would not join his side, and spending the garden alone would be too much.
»I believe more stars show up once one travels south or north. Yet some of us are destined to stay in place.«

The White swallow thus sat down not far from where he stood.
»A hat?« the serpent.
The white swallow turned his head up. There were a few serpents on the sky correct.
But which could also be a hat?

»The little snake, Her name is Ahatuserru,« he finally found the constellation she meant.
The White Swallow found it hard to believe one would think it's a hat. (Or perhaps he just imagined the wrong type of hat, which is perfectly believable)
»She coils around and at the two brightest stars she crosses over. The tail end is the lone star, while her head is at the smaller, brighter cluster. It looks as if she aims to devour them.«

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Amailia daughter of Eve

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"A-hat-user-ru... HEHE,"

Amailia giggled softly,

"See it even has 'a hat' in its name!"

She threw he chin up, and hands on her hips as if she had just provided the most damning piece of evidence imaginable. Still her upright posture couldn't last long as her desire to learn quickly took over once more, as her pride was no match for her curiosity.

"So why is it called Ahatuserru? Does it have any lore, or a story about it? 'Cause from my home village we had a tale about it. It went something like this:

There was a rich man who who had such pride in his hat that he boasted to all. One day a trickster god came and put him in his place. He told the rich man that he could make it so that everyone could know about the rich man's hat. The rich man desiring fame foolishly agreed, and then the trickster placed his hat in the sky so that all would see the rich man's hat, but the rich man could no longer reach nor lay claim to it."

Amailia stared at the man expectantly.
 
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White Swallow

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The White Swallow leaned his left arm on his leg, tilting his head lightly up as he smiled with the eyes.

"Little sister snake." Though the moment he figured he'd need to tell its story, it seemed the girl had gone off explaining the tale of...the hat.

He listned closely, eventually even laying his cheek on his arm.
Trickster god...
He wouldn't quite consider such beings gods at all... But still, the tale had some merit in education.

He locked his eyes with Amalia for a good minute before realizing she was expecting something back.
"..."
"I believe it is a good cautionary tale against excessive vainglory, don't you think? Stories and songs are good mediums to teach of the world. But if only people would look beyong the enjoyment and truly grasp the material."
 

Amailia daughter of Eve

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Amailia let out an audible groan.

"Yes, yes, I come from where they tell the tale so you better believe I heard that moral every blooming time the tale was told.

NO! What I wanted is for you to tell me the story of little sister snake, for her to have a name she must be important or interesting, or something!"

She puffed up her cheeks, and gave the man a look warning him against losing track of what is important again.
 
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The white swallow rose a brow.
"Very well."
The white swallow pondered for a moment. Did he still remember the tale? How well could he even translate it.

" I have no gift of running
Yet I know I am not flawed
I have no gift of walking
This is the decree of god

Ahatusseru is my name
Thus I praise my deity

He made my body like a river
See how freely I can move
He made my skin like silver...
So...
So I could have my...worth? "

He sighed. "Apologies, but I do not recall the rest of it, and I may have misremembered some lines. It is something I learned when I was very young."
 
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Amailia daughter of Eve

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Amailia stared wide eyed, deeply fascinated. Her eyes began to dart around in thought as soon as he began his apology. His sympathies had far less value.

"No. No you did splendid. That is a beautiful poem... but what does it mean? It is clearly supposed to be from Ahatuserru's perspective of her giving thanks for her snake body, but it explains so little. It simply gives me a secondary fact that she was thankful to the gods she was a snake, while my primary question still remains, why is she in the sky? And you said her name mean little sister snake, but little sister to what?"

Amailia began digging through her back pulling out many notes she had copied from all sorts of bit's and pieces of knowledge about the people, climate, culture, and wildlife of Amol-Kalit, stuffing stuff pertaining to the south, sand elves, and empire back in. After briefly scanning many of the pages she just pulled out another parchment and began making new notes.

"It is all just so new to me..."
 
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The Swallow shrugged, pointing his head up at the sky once more. »It's a child's poem, the moral is easy enough to discern.«
He leaned back, resting his body on his elbow. The patch he took to sit on was soft soil covered in leaves and dry petals. Not particularly good for his usually pristine attire.
»You have it slightly off. It presents its features as if they were a lack, a ...punishment from Kalik but praises him nonetheless for it. You see, one's disability does not prevent one's ability. Everyone has a place in this life regardless of what form it takes.«

»On the rest, there is a bigger snake in the sky, that makes its appearance... somewhere... there «
After searching the sky for a brief few seconds, he pointed at a constellation that had a vague appearance of a horse, in fact, it looked exactly like the constellation of Sey'Kube's flag. »Five months from now. That place would be taken by the great snake.«
Knowing the girl's now apparent hunger for knowledge, it was rather clear she would pester him endlessly for more. but what when things had no answer?
»For why they adorn the sky, I do not know. Heathens may sometime worship the stars. One may indeed learn much from them, but to me, they are but the fruits of man's endless, god-given imagination. «

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Amailia daughter of Eve

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Amalia scribbled quick notes onto her parchment, as well as a quick sketch of the constellations on the side.

"Five months, eh? Ha, maybe I will be able to see it on my way back."

She took some time looking at the page, then the sky, before looking at the man. He had provided so much to look into. Where should she start?

"I may not know who put them in the sky, but be it by man's, or god's will, it is clear about their meaning: to be constant reminders to us. To shine above us every night to remind us about something..."

She was not sure where she was going and it seemed opening her mouth and just kind of talking was working.

"So that leads then to, why should Little Sister Snake be remembered? You hesitated, or maybe it is more accurate to say you corrected yourself? Either way which is it lacked, or punished? Doesn't, or wouldn't that difference cause it all to take on a very different meaning? You will have to forgive me, I am not extremely Knowledgeable about Kalik, besides him being a creation god that is also fairly hands off."

Wait... Did she go too far? She was kind of talking, but what she said could be seen as being a bit offensive depending on how you looked at it. She might have just implied that his god was wrathful. One who would taunt those below with weaknesses he forced upon someone. Amailia trembled for she was filled with fear, had she been rude??? Oh, no what if he thought less of her, or was angry with her, or even worse... No! she dare not let he thought take root not even for a moment for it was too horrible to even imagine, still the thought left a burn on her: he was likely disappointed in her.

She averted her face filled with shame, and embarrassment; it was almost too much to bare, she could just cry. Maybe she should just go...
 
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The White Swallow chuckled briefly, perhaps to ease the tension.
» I am not all-knowing like Kalik. There are great Sahiyi Dais who teach and study cosmology. I- « He paused briefly before letting out a shortlived laugh. » I am a soldier who thinks himself a mystic. «

»Do you want to learn more of the all-creator, the only truth of this world? Kalik is all that embodies life, and we are a reflection of Kalik like a dream in one's sleep. Like with the little snake, there is an inherent duality in this world of the good and evil, both being facets of life, of Kalik. Of course, a snake does not care if it can walk, it still praises god. Yet a human with his free-will is gifted, for he can discern these emotions, like how the mystic poet Jalal, son of Yonas later described in his short poem;

This world is without love
This life is without love
What privilege it is to feel it
To fill this emptiness with it.


A human is never inherently content like a snake, he has to constantly strive to bring goodness into life.«
 
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Amailia daughter of Eve

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Something about the man's words rubbed her the wrong way. Maybe it was that she had first hand seen the truth. She had seen animals accept eternal life, and life without fear. She had seen all the harm that striving for goodness in life causes. Animals will always dare to desire more, and man will always be willing to corrupt to spread his goodness. Still... Amailia couldn't help to hope, though she's never dare admit it even to herself for a moment. Hope that this kind man did not leave destruction in his wake from his goodness.

"It is a nice poem, but I have heard another:

Fear the goodman, for he will do what is right,
Fear the righteous, for they will know they are right,
Fear the merciful, for they will spare their enemies,
Fear the kind, for they will spare you,
Fear the moral, for they will know what is right,
Fear the philanthropist, for he will feel that he is right.
Despair, Dismay, Tremble, be filled with Terror and Dread
The man who is all of these, for you will wish you were dead.

Man's love, and desire to spread his goodness... it has caused much harm, and I think it is his sickness."
 
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»How much a poem can teach indeed. « The White Swallow huffed out, taking in the contradicting lines as the lass began to recite her own without flaw.
Something itched him wrong though.
»Would you believe that such faults come not from one's true love, but hubris? « The White Swallow closed one eye for a brief moment, his voice was lofty for now. »Some people can be blinded, yet Kalik teaches us to be humble in our approach and live with little. I am very well aware of what flaws I and my order live with.«

He shifted onto his side, looking at her. Something felt off, or perhaps she liked to play a devil's advocate...
»If it is not an offence for me to ask, I assume you have been hurt by someone who sought goodness in this world? Is this poem your work?«
»The Sayyiduna once said; Many suffer quietly, do not forget them.«
 

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Shamefully she looked away away, whispering under her breath,

"I doubt it was his hubris, or lack humility. I think he just was a fool who hoped, or maybe he just thought that every person can make the world a better place, and it was his duty to try his best to make the world a better place, even if he was just a farmhand. To try to save world no matter the odds, or what it would take... Whatever it would take."
 

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The White Swallow went quiet and the crickets seemed only louder. Only later he listned closely, was she whispering? She was but he heard only a little.

Briefly he contemplated, turning himself back towards her.
... I took the path of the greater sin so others may live in peace...

»Do you need help? «

He quietly suggested, feeling himself unusually kind. One thing he knew... He knew gods answered not to prayer, yet a man's mind sometimes needed a medative snap or break from it's current train of thought.
»Perhaps we could pray to ease the mind. «
 

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She hated herself for how much she wished to lash out at the man for the kindness he showed her. She was a stranger to the man yet he offered her help, he offered a way that might help her find peace, and all she could want to do was spit in his face. To tell him that the gods might watch over us, they might even listen man's prayers, but she knew that they sure as hell did not help, especially not out of any kindness in their hearts.

She wanted to tell the man to shut his mouth, because those four words would not stop repeating in her head.

»Do you need help? «

They rung loud like church bells, and like a church mouse she wished to hide in the wall till the threat was gone. But why was he not gone? She had been with him for a while now, and yet he still sat beside her? She had tried to scare him off, she had been rude, she had messed up, she had disagreed with him, and nerded out and pestered him with questions, yet here he still sat. What did he want? Obviously he wanted something from her, but what? Well she would just have to make sure she was on guard then, she would make sure not to reveal anything else, or open up, or show weakness, or go along with anything he wanted, and certainly not agree to...

"Yes, that would be nice..."
 
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»Are you pious? « He mused by change, perhaps it would be better if she would say her desired one.
Though a moment of contemplation led him to instead believe that he should just begin. She seemed rather distraught.
It was hard to find a good prayer that would not derail the mind too much. Something that would not be hard to grasp to a first-time listener either. Though there was one he knew well.
He rose his body before kneeling, and then he began to slowly recite, so it would be easier to follow.
»A man has died a thousand times.
Born of dust and died as stone.
Born as water and died as air.
Born as plant and died as soil.
Born as beast and died as bone.
A man has truly died a thousand times.
Thus a thousand lives more he shall live.
And a thousand times more he shall die.

Turn purer each new life with your deeds.

Thus I cleanse my heart of all it's woes.
And cleanse the heart of all my kin.
Thus I cleanse my heart of greed.
Thus I cleanse my heart of pride.
Thus I cleanse my heart of ego.
Thus I cleanse my heart of anger.
And to love,
I open my heart.
Each day, closer I am to my god.
And when a thousand lives have turned to one, I shall return to him.«
 

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"That is a strange prayer. I am not used to hearing a prayer that is meant to be informative, that gives instruction in it. Most prayers I am used to manly come in two forms: Thanks that they are not dead, and requests for things from insight, to survival, to wealth."

Amailia did not like most of what she heard. Amailia knew her soul was destined to go to a god's domain on her death, and could only hope that that did not mean suffering. The last thing she wished for was to live and die repeatedly. Also she felt no real need to grow closer to any god. What did he mean by: when a thousand lives turn to one?

"Also what does it mean to, or how does one, cleanse their heart?"
 
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»...I would understand why, « The swallow remarked on the notion that most prayers ask the gods for favours or forgiveness, or to reset one's status quo of life. Of course, the Swallow's religion was different...
It had to look inwards.

»If I knew, I would be enlightened, « chuckled The White Swallow, but then his tone turned slightly more serious. »Every day you try to better yourself, you treat your fellow man with respect and give him guidance, aid. You do not feel anger for others, you do not feel envy. But such emotions are hard to overcome. Like lust for drink and sex.«
»But one can...begin to not act on such impulses, even if they still exist. To not call out the one you loathe, and in time you may not feel anger anymore.«

The white swallow sat down again. »Everyone is on a journey for self betterment...And not always it's something one can achieve alone. But how one can do it? That's something to figure out for yourself. «
 

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Amailia slowly took in the Swallow's words. So to avoid the fate he spoke of all she had to do was give in and act on her anger? Amailia let out a content sigh, and smiled at the man feeling very comforted by his words.

She could easily keep her anger. More so, if the man's word held truth she could possibly move in the right direction with it. If she acted on her angry impulses, and continued to hold him responsible her anger might even increase. That is if the logic worked both ways that is, but couldn't hurt to try putting his words to the test.

Amailia looked to the sky focussing on all the pain her father had caused her: Abandoning her and her mom, Showing up only because his farm had been attacked, sparing the bandits, abandoning her and her mother a second time, never coming back, not even to see her dying mother, turning her teacher into a monster who then attacked her school, and causing unrest in Amol-Kalit. She held her eyes closed as she meditated on his wrong doings, focusing on pain and anger. Each memory like fuel for the fire.

Slowly within her power began to build up, it was similar to the magic she had spent years learning to call forth within The College of Elbion, but while that came from careful learning, discipline, and practice, this new power was more raw and primal based on her strength of will, and emotions.

Amailia quickly lost focus though, surprised by the sudden feeling of power. She opened her eyes in shock looking at the ground where her hands had rested now with small burn prints. If she could train more and use this power it would be a great boon. Amailia was filled with joy and excitement for the future the likes of which she had not felt for a long time, likely since she had first arrived in Elbion. She threw herself into the Sparrow, wrapping her arms around him for an embrace. Midas took flight, and cawed annoyed at the sudden movement, and waking him.

"Thank you!"
 
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The hug came at a surprise And the white Swallow seemed lightly startled, his eyes going wide as well. Though his expression calmed, and he wrapped his robed arms around her body at first lightly before tightening.

He'd slowly let go of her. Now wondering just what kind of turmoil reached a resolve.
»...Hey, look up before you miss the stars.«


The first falling star zapped past the chasing eagle. Going the direction of its gaze, it's desire. Thus the eagle with its heart pierced with motivation, its wings would lead it to its goal.
Everyone will attain their desire if they put in the effort in for it.
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