Imrama High above the scrub plains and arid brush that compose the southern regions of Harborhead, Imrama leans over the deck of his ship. He has come to change the world, to transform a mighty enemy into a powerful ally, to hew justice out of oppression.(...)
Imrama And perhaps, he admits to himself as he surveys the vast plain below him through his battered spyglass, he has come to discover just a few more about the many, many things he still does not know about himself.
The lands of Harborhead stretch beneath Imrama's feet. Across the nearby plain, he sees several groups of the Totikari people, their huts folded on the back of their caravan beasts, their strongest warriors riding to the front and back of the column of children, elderly, and designated child-rearers.
The nomads are striking a path northwest across the dusty plain, towards what Imrama would guess is a traditional watering hole, where they will halt for as long as two weeks.
Imrama turns the Fable to follow the nomads on their course towards the watering hole, examining both the mobile community and their destination.
As the group rides towards the oasis that Imrama makes out in the distance, he notices something else the armed group of Izhalvi tribespeople, waiting behind the oasis' outgrowth of vegetation to ambush the nomads as they arrive.
Imrama sighs to himself at the sad predictability of the human condition in this age of strife and sorrow. He parks the Fable of the Reconstruction in a cloudbank to the east of the oasis, and walks down from the sky, reaching the ground with enough time to walk slowly and deliberately towards where the two groups seem destined to clash.
A group of the Izhalvi come roaring out of their hiding place, their long beaded braids streaming in the desert wind, and their voices rising high in a rallying cry. The nomads react almost instantly, readying spears and shouting their own war cries.
Imrama Picking up his pace a bit, Imrama dashes out take up the midpoint between the two groups. The air around him crackles with wind and heat lightning as he stands between the two groups, in profile to each of them, his hands raised to stop either from advancing.
The two groups pull up sharply at the sudden arrival of a newcomer in their midst, and halt their battle charge in surprise.
Imrama's eyes burn bright as twin suns, but he takes advantage of the two groups' surprise to address them in a calm, almost quiet voice. "Children of Ahlat - why do you quarrel?"
There is a pause for a quick moment, and then, a hundred voices burst into angry shouting at once.
Imrama From a bright sky without a hint of storm, lightning strikes Imrama, leaving him pristine and unharmed. He motions for silence again and says. "Any family, any tribe, wars among itself when it does not respect the leadership of its rightful head. Therefore, you fight because you do not respect Ahlat."
There is another silence for a moment.
One of the nomads speaks up. "A lie! We worship Ahlat and dedicate our battles to his name. Twelve of us have taken the pilgrimage to his Fane this year."
Imrama turns to face one of those he is addressing for the first time. "Empty words repeated without intention, the sacrifice of expedience replacing the sacrifice of dedication, pilgrimage in place of preparedness for just war. These are not what is to be expected of a people set aside, and dedicated to a righteous calling."(...)
Imrama "Mungwuli. A man of your years should display more wisdom than that."
The man is surprised -- to say the least -- to hear his name called by a stranger this way.
One of his compatriots speaks in horror at the statement. "Who are you, to speak so to us?"
Imrama "I am a man." The earth shakes at Imrama's words. "I am a wanderer in search of my home." Overhead, points of light like falling stars blaze across the noonday sky. "I have come to put right the House of Ahlat." Fire bursts from Imrama's outstretched hands, arcing over his head.
An audible gasp passes through the group, and a few -- from both sides -- immediately drop to the ground in worshipful poses. "The Ishadhi!"
Imrama lowers his hands for a moment, and looks down to speak directly to those bowing to him among the Totikari. "Rise up, brothers and sisters. The people of the Bull God were never meant to live on their knees."
Imrama rounds on the opposing band, calling out three of its most hardened members. "And you! Kshak, Meldiv, Oronti and each of your companions. What account can you give for your actions, that you would lie in wait for your brother and sisters with murder in your hearts?"
"We only sought to gain cattle, that we might feed ourselves." They hang their heads.
Imrama shakes his head, both for dramatic effect and out of real disappointment. "The people of this nation quarrel over every cow, in every field. They are killed, and eaten with the merest semblance of ritual. Is this fitting tribute to the God of Cattle? To treat his beloved charges, creatures blessed with his likeness, as the lowest form of property?"
Imrama "Kshak, Mungwuli: there is a better path than this, one wide enough for both your people to walk."
Imrama "The children of Ahlat have been riven by strife and animosity for far too long. The hour cometh and now is, when all who would answer the call of their hearts must strive together as one land, one people, one nation. It begins here and now:"(...)
Imrama "Let this be the place of a new settlement, where none shall ask 'Who is Totikari?', or 'Who is Izhalvi?'. Where they shall say instead, 'Here are my sisters', 'Here are my brothers', 'Here are my fellow soldiers in the service of Ahlat'. Who among you has the courage, the faith, to build such a beacon in the wilderness?"
There is a moment of deep, uneasy silence, as each of those present takes in the words spoken to them by the stranger, as they look at how each other has taken those same words....
And then, as suddenly as a thunderbolt, a much larger group, Kshak and Mungwuli both amongst them, raise their spears and shout a hearty cry in agreement.