In response, Sage -- sort of
I was but a small lad, in size and experience true. But I remember the words. The figures moved with the flickering sunlight that filtered from the trees. A shadow there -- no an arm. A fluttering bird -- no a laughing smile. Perhaps there were no words -- only a random drifting of sounds from amidst the leaves. "When tears are seeds on the lowland meadow, we will sure come again."
I have thought long on the gifts they have, both real and imagined. The forest skills to track a deer or hide from marauding bear. How to drop a bird in flight and not loose the arrow point. How to prepare for a storm long before the clouds have formed in the western sky. But other gifts too, perhaps. How to steal a wayward child in the night. How to attract a careless boy to deep waters. How to make barren a faithless wife. Gifts? Magick? Tales of gossiping crones?
These things called gifts, are sometimes blessing, sometimes curse. Are they born or learned? My father can find water with a twig but stumbles over the smallest stone. My brother cannot sing a note but can catch fish in his tiny hands. My sister is plain of face but has suitors all down the lane. And I -- I have none of these gifts, nothing for prayerful thanks. No skill at arms or story told. Flowers die at my feet and the squirrels chatter incessantly when I pass. I am passably fair at everything, and I get by. But surely there must be a gift for me -- something that sets me apart.
When they came there was no warning, these soldiers from the south. They did not seek land or wealth, but only pleasure in blood and lust and ale. If there was a leader he be not in control, though perhaps that was their way. Oxen lay half-eaten in the fields and grain rotted in broken barrels. Waste, waste everywhere. No help -- no hope -- our knights were serving in another land. Our simple gifted life would vanish here in mud and mire and sharpened despair.
Then it happened! I walked alone into the square and stood on the piled stones. I reached out wide my arms with fingers in dance. Our love of the earth, this land, swept up though my loins and into my heart. A flash of invisible light burst from my eyes and I was knocked to the ground. A primordial sound alone crashed through the glades and canyons. Its silent might crushed pottery and churned the placid stream into boiling rage. No one understood what had passed. But we all knew!
They came. The arrows rained down on the drunken brawl like hail on a summer morn. Though they ran and hid, each was found to die in agony. We of the land stood very still. Though the blood gathered in pools at our feet, none was ours -- none would feed the land save those who would defile it. Silence -- only silence. The shadows twisted into human form -- hunters, gamesmen, outlaws -- the simple of the forest. Then gone!
I will never have a gift, they say, for heaven's touch does not extend beyond God's simple harmony of man and earth and faith. They call me "The Given." "The Given", just that. Not in honor or awe or respect or fear. Just fact. The memories are mine.
So are the tears.