Originally posted on July 11th 2008
Sorry Folks there is no audio to go with this one. Despite the fact that there is no audio, it has always been one of my favorite stories.
This is day 2 and I hope with a better story.
I went out to visit the prayer grove yesterday. It used to be a prayer tree, a holy yew where we hung our wishes to the gods. But ever since the local youth were conscripted to go to battle, the tree has expanded to the grove that surrounds it. I saw the shaman there, yesterday, on her knees, weeping. I stood to the side respectfully as she wrote her prayer on the parchment and kissed it, whispering a prayer. She’s unmarried and childless, so I don’t know who she was worried about, but as she’s usually the calm one, blessing our prayers as we hang them.
She left the grove without seeing me, and I went in to hang my own prayer, next to hers. Curiosity got the better of me, and I read what she wrote.
“Molly, get the kids we have got to go!” Dennis said shaking his wife awake.
“What? What are you talking about? Go where?” She said rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“Never mind where, we just need to go and now.” Dennis ran around the house picking up things and stuffing them in a bag. “Come on we have to go.”
“Dennis, you are not making any sense. What’s going on?”
“Look Molly, we have to go! You need to get the kids up and ready to go or we are all going to die. Now come on!” Molly stood up and walked into the other room and roused her kids. She had never known Dennis to act so odd, but he was not one of those people that gave into panic so something must be really wrong. She got the kids up and dressed them in their traveling clothes.
Five minutes later they were all standing in the main room of their three room home when Dennis burst in.
“Good, you are all ready to go now lets get out of here.” he picked up his daughter and walked out of the house. Molly and their son followed close behind. They were halfway to the village square when Molly grabbed him by the arm.
“Dennis, you have got to tell me what is going on. I am not going to take one more step until you do.” She planted her feet and waited.
“Molly we don’t have time for this, and I can’t talk about it right now. It is too dangerous.”
“Where did you go this morning?” She asked still not moving.
“The prayer grove.”
“Did you see an invading army coming or something? Because if you did then we should warn the…”
“No, please Molly, we can’t stop, and we can’t talk about it here. We have to get out of town.” She could see the anguished look on his face, and decided that for the time being that she would follow him.
“Dennis, you better be right about this, it is market day and we are going to loose our spot and not have enough money.”
“Market day will not matter.” He said walking faster. Ten minutes later they cleared the edge of town. The sun was just coming up and they could see a few people trickling into town.
“Ok, that is it I go no further without some kind of explanation.” She said when they were a hundred yards past the town wall.
“Alright, alright, but keep your voice down. Their still might be people around.”
“Dennis what is this about?”
‘Look Molly,” He said putting his still half sleeping daughter down on the ground. She groaned softly but then rolled over in the grass. “This morning I went to the Prayer grove and Abby was there.”
“Abby, you mean that red-head that sells the candles, Dennis what did you do? You know her father will kill you; I will kill you if you…”
“No! Not her, the shaman, please keep your voice down, look we could all get killed if others find out.”
“What? If others find out what!” She demanded.
“Look, Abby was there, she was leaving a prayer, but she was crying, you know like the widows or mothers who lose their sons, but she is not married and has no children so why would she be crying like that. She left her prayer, left the grove and she acted like she didn’t even see me. It was so weird. I mean more weird than she normally acts.”
“So you were there to leave a prayer, what’s the problem?”
“I was so startled by the way she was acting, and… and I just glanced at it.”
“What did you do?” She asked fear welling up in her for the first time. “You looked at her prayer? That’s not allowed! They could stone us if they found out.” She grabbed her daughter from the ground and pulled her to her feet.
“Look Molly, I’m sorry but there is more.”
“What more could there be, you read someone’s prayer! You put us all in danger. We’ve got to go!” She said pulling the two kids behind her as fast as she could walk
“That is what I have been telling you. But it was what her prayer said that has me worried.” He picked up the little girl and helped Molly pick up the pace.
“I don’t want to know what it said. If you read it was bad enough.”
“Molly you have to know.”
“I don’t want to.” She was almost running now tears steaming down her cheeks. How could he have been so irresponsible. Even in the next town they might be found out and they would still be stoned to death. And then there was the war going on. They would have to run from that too. It was likely they would die no matter what they did.
“Molly!” He said grabbing her arm. “Listen to me. It said, ‘Save us!'” Molly stopped dead in her tracks.
“You did the right thing. Now lets go.” The both walked as fast as they could without running until they saw the the light behind them. Then they ran. As the light grew brighter they found a place to hide, and prayed that they were far enough away from the town.
The heat was intense even a mile away, but she had to take a look, The fireballs rained down from the sky hurled by the gods. They obliterated the town and everyone in it. The last person standing was Abby. She stood in the middle of the town, arms raised to the heavens in thanks. then a fireball came down and incinerated her too.
When it was over they stood and looked at the remains of the town. Not a blade of grass was left standing. They turned their backs to the rubble and walked to the next town. All the could do was hope that theirshaman was not looking to be saved as well.
The Shaman by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.