The Book of Knowings


She sat staring at the flame, as had her mother before her, and her grandmother, and their mothers and grandmothers for countless generations before them. She allowed her eyes to grow softer and then she saw it, the dark tunnel that brought the Visions, the fragments from the past. This is what she saw:

In the time of tribulation when the earth stumbled and spun upon itself, the young woman gazed into the valley below, knowing what she had found—a home for herself and her adopted people.

 As she stood there, the fierce winds whipped at the warm furs wrapped around her thin woven shift. Her brother, Samus, put his arm around her. “You have done well. The Sight has not abandoned us altogether, I see.”

 She smiled. They were the last of their people to survive the journey from their sunken lands to the East. A dozen or so had made it to this wild shore. Now only a very few were left. They would marry into the people who had taken them in. Otherwise their line, their heritage would be forgotten. Mageon could think of a couple of men she fancied. Samus had already taken a bride and had a son.

 “We will put up stone shelters and cover them with earth. When the rock storms come from the sky, we will be safe there,” she told her brother. “The storms will not last forever, I think. One day the earth will find her balance and there will be peace again.”

 The thunderbirds, taller than a man and with wingspans to match, had followed the people west. But they, too, had diminished in number. When the rocks fell from the sky, it was hard for birds so huge to survive. Many had crashed to earth and died there. Now only a very few old ones flew overhead and Mageon wondered if the generations to come would even remember to celebrate the wonder of them. And so she decided to spin yarns to teach her daughters and, in this way, the majesty of the birds would live on, if only in legend.

 In the months that followed, the chambers were built. Stones were piled high, sometimes around dirt mounds to hold the corbelling in place. It was a technique known to the tribe that had adopted them, a technique adapted from building snow chambers, ones that had melted with the retreating of the ice sheets that once covered the land.

 It was the women who found the rocks for the walls of the chambers, choosing only the most beautiful. In the firelight, they sparkled, a suitable backdrop to the tales Mageon would tell her daughters so that they might not forget their past.

 The last stone–a large slab that would be the roof–was the heaviest and hardest to place. It was Samus who first fashioned sails from animal skins and tied them to these hulking stones. This Samus had learned by studying the dynamics of the thunderbirds. The fierce winds of the shifting planet quickly caught the animal skins and raised them toward the sky.  No longer a matter of lifting the rock, the men now had to hold them down and guide them into place.  

 Many shelters were made in this way, one for each family.

Then Samus’s medicine chamber was built. He chose the side of an earthen hill and fashioned a small window in the west so that the light of the setting sun would slip gracefully down one wall as it set on the two equal days of the year. With this, generations to come could track the seasons, knowing when it was time to plant the grains, to move out to hunt, but most of all they would know when it was time for the festivals that would balance the earth and keep her steady.

As an old man, Samus has one more task, to build a replica of his lost city so his sons and their sons would remember. Using fire and water, he shaped hard rock into crescents. These he placed in three concentric circles, each to represent a ring on the sunken isle that had once been home.

 If he’d had the right metals at hand, Samus would have lined each ring with the proper ore, making a coil that would…do what?

Old now, Samus’s memory was failing and he could no longer remember. 

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