Sea People

by Ruwen Rouhs

Chapter 1

The fast current carried the dugout southward. In the first morning light the boat gathered speed like a feather in the wind. Aegir's only task was to keep it going straight ahead along the coastal line of inhospitable Black Sea south of Agysst, the City of the Great Mother.

"The Great Mother? Is she good or evil?" with a questioning look Laong turned to the other Sun Seekers, to Buri and Tsemo enjoying the first rays of the sun wrapped up in their warm coats. Turning to his young companion Tsemo the run-away novice of the druids in the North asked, "Do you see my hand, Laong?" than changing his mind, "No Laong, better take my hand and put it to you face." Waiting a moment, "How is my palm?" smiling at the student he was inquiring, he caressed Laong's cheek, "Soft, soft like the fur of a kitten. right?" When Laong nodded, snuggling his cheek deeper into the warm palm, Tsemo suddenly clenched his hand into a fist and socked him on the jaw. "And now dear friend? My hand? Is it still soft?" waiting a moment, "It's hard like stone! Do you agree? My hand has turned into a weapon now! It can give you a black eye! It can break your jaw! Do you still love my hand? Love me touching your cheek?" When Laong shrugged his shoulders irritated, Aegir at the helm picked up Tsemo's train of thoughts, "The Great Mother is both! She is evil and good, soft and hard, loving and hating, she's is black and white at the same time. Remember she is forging wedlock for a life-time between lovers but disposes of her lovers immediately after the bridal night and discards their bodies like worthless rubbish."

"I can't agree with Aegir! No not at all!" Buri objected fiercely, "No, the Great Mother is evil by nature! She is the embodiment of evil." rising his voice, "Why does she forge wedlock? Think over your argumentation Aegir! She is a selfish bitch! She is egocentric! She demands a return, a barbaric return! She demands the firstborn of the loving! She cuts off the small boys from their parents, she ravishes the defenseless children. She makes the poor boys her servants, the servants to her wicked priests. She turns them into wicked priests. She does not only separate the poor creature from the society of men, no! She deforms their mind! She turns them into heartless monsters."

"You are right Buri. The Great Mother deforms the helpless little boys into puppets, into marionettes of her malicious priests! She so creates an everlasting chain of deformed minds!" Tsemo pursued the issue, "I know the thinking of priests, of druids! I know their perverted mind! I know it well, because I was raised by druids!"

"But you came free of your own accord! You did shed your bonds and you became my friend!" Laong embraced Tsemo. "Let me kiss……!" he couldn't finish the sentence because all of sudden icy fog enwrapped the boat of the Sun Seekers like on command of the evil Great Mother. Cold air coming down from the coastal mountains merged with the humid air above the calm sea and the mixture of water-saturated air and salt droplets immediately condensed to a thick fog. This icy haar soaked their clothing, condensed on the cover of the dugout and made all four shiver with cold.

The morning sun was now just a pale disc just above the horizon in the east. Due to the haar Aegir was unable to orient himself, but luckily the sea current was fast and strong and kept the boat of the coast. After a while neither Aegir nor one of his friends was able to spot the coastal line. As they got worried Tsemo consoled his friend: "Let's pray to the three Norns, to Urth, to Verthandi and Skuld! I am sure the Holy Three will protect us! So far they have guarded us well and they know our fate:

Urth is one named,
Verthandi the next,
and Skuld the third.
Laws they made there,
and life allotted
To the sons of men,
and set their fates.

Little by little the tranquility in the grey clouds of fog and the clam sea made them drowsy. Wrapped up in their coats they stared into the grey haar and one by one drifted into drowsiness. Every now and then when the high pitched cries of sea bird broke the silence they got real for a moment again and then went back into stupor again. Step-by-step the pale disk of the sun climbed the sky. After the solar chariot had crossed the zenith the air became warmer and finally a sea-born breeze began to disperse the fog and in the late afternoon a cloudless blue sky merged with the surface of the Black Sea.

While the fast southward current had carried the boat off from the coast in the morning now the same current propelled it coast ward, till in the dying light the coastal line became visible in the west. When wooded hills emerged to the right they brought the dugout about, rowed to the shore and landed at a sandy beach in a small bay at the bottom of a steep cliff.

While Buri kindled a camp fire with driftwood, the others searched along the cliff for freshwater as their only water bag was close to empty. At the far end of the bay Laong came upon a trickle coming down the rocks and called for the others. His calls however, had an unexpected effect. Fierce barking and the intimidating growling of big dogs coming out of the dark made his hair staying on end. He nearly pissed his leggings when suddenly out of the dark a shape appeared. A grey ghost trying to retain two big dogs tearing on their leashes.

"A revenant!" was Laong's first thought and he closed his eyes.

"Son! Son!" the ghost called after him, "Son! Who are you? What brings you here to my beach?"

Laong opening his eyes for the split of a second but long enough to catch the man trying to calm his dogs, "Stop growling my dears, it's not an enemy, it's just a frightened boy!" Turning to Laong, "Who are you, boy? I am not a ghost. I am an old man and my dogs are not the hounds of hell." He tried to reassure Laong, "Don't run away boy and come closer!"

"Sit! Sit!" he ordered his dogs. "Boy, don't be scared of my friends!" The old man chuckled, petting his dogs he drew closer to the shivering Laong. "Let me touch your face boy, let me feel your hair!"

"Don't be afraid, boy! I am not a ghost. No! No! No! I am just a blind old man!" he repeated, trying to ease Laong's nervousness "I can't see you, but I know you are still young, quite young even! Your voice betrays you." Touching Laong's cheek with cold fingers and stroking his hair he explained, "Your tongue sounds strange! You are not from around here! Am I right? You are a stranger. Your voice tells it!"

Laong was frightened, not only because the sudden appearance of the stranger and the growling dogs but also because of the cold fingers investigating his features, "Tsemo, Aegir, Buri!" he called out loud "There is an old man, a ghostly man with giant dogs!"

"Are these three your friends?" the blind man asked, "Strange names indeed!" Wanting to assure Laong, "My name is Theyris!" The blind man was shouting into the dark, "Welcome at my beach, strangers! Welcome in my realm, the realm of Theyris the Seer!" Turning to Laong "Give me your hand boy and take me to your friends. Please!" But "please" sounded more like an order than a claim."

At the fire Aegir, Buri and Tsemo welcomed the grey stranger with a bow eyeing him suspiciously. Being aware of the strained situation the old man tried to ease the situation repeating: "Welcome at the Realm of Theyris the Seer. Neither do I carry weapons nor do I try to ambush you, nor do I have henchmen to take you prisoner. You are welcome strangers. But please let a blind man examine your faces with his hands to become familiar with you!"

First he turned to Aegir touching his head lightly with his bonny fingers, "Your hair is unruly like the whiskers growing on you chin! You body odour tells me you are a strong young man! It also tells me you are born in a country far away." Then he asked him. "Give me your hands!"

Touching them, "Your hands are calloused! You answer the helm! Right? You are a sailor by birth! What's your name? I bet your father named you after the ruler of the sea!"

"Yes Sir you are right! You are truly a Seer! My father called me Aegir. It's the name of the Giant of the Northern Sea! But who told you?"

"I am blind. But I understand the tongue of the birds, the tongue of the wind and the tongue of the wide sea! They are singing your secrets to me!"

Then Theyris turned to Buri, brushed the dark boy's cheeks, fondled his hair and after contemplating for some time he stated, "Your hair is curly and strong like the tendrils of vine. You smell sweet. It reminds me of the honey from a land far away! But I can't remember where I smelled this honey first. I know I have met boys smelling like you before. Yes I do but it was in a life long gone by." He smiled, "Help me! You are from far away, but where from? Tell me son, what's your name. Where you are coming from?"

"I am Buri, named after the primordial being. They say I am the reincarnation of Geb, the God of the fertile earth. I am a half-caste, my mother's skin was black like the sky in moonless nights and she is the one I inherited that dark skin. My father's skin was fair, pale like snow. He was the one who inherited me the strength. Now I am on the way to the place of my birth, the kingdom of my mother, the kingdom under the sun!"

"And you," Theyris turned to Tsemo. "You are quite small, small like a young sheep but strong like a lion!" tracing Tsemo's features, "Your face is delicate, your skin is soft like a girl's and your hair feels like silk! You are not from this earth! No! Tell me, who was it he did leave you in the realm of mortals? Was it an angel? A fallen angel?

"No, no, Theyris! Sure not! But you are right! I do neither know my mother nor my father. I am a foundling! A half-blind aunt found me one morning in a thorny hedge and raised me! My mother an angel?" shaking his head vigorously, "No! Never!"

Later sitting on logs of driftwood around the dying fire Aegir dared to ask, "Sir, you have introduced yourself as Theyris the Seer? You have already proved you know more than ordinary mortal beings, but what is the secret of your blindness? Your eyes look like the one of seeing; they are clear and blue, but they are always pointing into the nothingness. Were you born this way?"

"People call me Theyris the Seer! People attribute a visionary power to me! But I am nothing more than a blind old man who knows how to read the wind of nature!" sighing, "I was not blind from birth on." Contemplating for a moment he asked flattered, "Do you strangers really want to hear my story, the story of an old feeble man?" interpreting their silence as assent, "You are going south I understand and there it happened! This account may be a lesson to you!"

Theyris patted the heads of his dogs and began: "I was born near Amnissos on the island called Keresijo in Great Sea, that is the middle of the inhabited univers. In the language of my ancestors this wide place, the home of storms, wind and rain, of creature living in its abysmal depth and populating the windblown sky. Its the home of deities and monsters. Te Great Seais called Thalassa, is called Akdeniz, the White Sea; is called Yam gadol, the Big Water, the Waste of Waters and sometimes Jâm haggadôl, the beautiful sea; its called Ti-hamtirabiti, the Posterior Sea. These are the names I know, but thre are much more. The the term I like best however is Wadj-ur. This means, the "Sea in the enter of the earth disc". Wadj-ur or Wadj wer or even Wid-jūra are terms that a used in country called Kemet. You have to cross it achieving your goal. This country is ruled by a king called Pr-A'a since time not remembered, since time the extraterrestrials created the univers. Lets stay with this name and call the wide, wild, blue and often hostile sea Wadj-ur.

My family was living from the land growing small spelt, emmer, barley, peas and broad bean in the valley, gathering pistachios and figs in the hills and tending sheep. I had to tend the sheep but more than tending sheep I loved the sunny, blue Wadj-ur. Every moment I could spare I went down to the beach. Unlike my brothers I liked to swim and dive and catch fishes like the sons of the fishermen. On the evening preceding the rites of passage I went down to the beach to clean my body and my soul. I went to my favorite cove and dove into the clear water. There hidden between the two big rocks I noticed a pearl boat, a nautilus shell. The shy animal looked at me with its big eyes. It seemed to wink at me, seemed to promise me pearls and gold. I smiled down at the pearl boat and it seemed to smile back. It seemed to promise me luck and happiness only by touching it. I dove down and touched it. Against all tales I had heard from the old ones the beautiful animal allowed me to play with it. I caressed it's fingers and the pearl boat in return caressed my hands. We played with each other till I got out of breath and had to surface to gasp for fresh air. I wanted to return to the surface but got stuck with my right foot in the small crack between the big rocks. I struggled to get free, but I couldn't! I just could get my head out of the water to breath. I looked back down for help, but the pearl boat was gone. I called for help, but nobody seemed to hear me. The night came and with the darkness the tide rose. At first I just called, then I shouted, then I hollered. But no living soul did hear my cries of fear. I panicked and then I called upon the Almightiest, the maker of all living creatures. In vain! I prayed to the Great Mother; I prayed to Potnitheron, the deity of the wild animals. In vain! I prayed to the mermaids. In vain! Then in desperation I remembered Halios, the Old Man of the Sea, the one that could morph into any other shape, in a big fish, in a sea snake, in a dolphin and even in a sea dragon. "Halios" I cried, "Save me! I will be yours for ever, but save me!" Theyris drew a deep breath. "Suddenly a white dolphin emerged out of the darkness of the sea. The animal swam circles around me making clicking noises. "Please Halios! Please help me! I will be yours for ever! I promise!" Suddenly the dolphin disappeared in the depth and I stayed back in blank despair. But the dolphin was not gone. He went down and pushed me out of the crack.

From this moment on the white dolphin and I were best friends, and every day I went down to the beach, jumped into the sea and we played together." With his dead eyes Theyris was dreaming into the dark sky. "About two years later, I had grown up to a handsome young man my eyes I caught sight of the most beautiful girl of Amnissos. She was beautiful but known to be in vain. I wanted to catch her attention. I ransacked my brain for days how to impress her. Then I hit on an idea. "I will ask my white dolphin to draw me in a small boat along the sea coast!" I thought. "I will show her that I am able to command not only the animals living on land but also the beasts of the wild sea." Theyris sighted, "However, I didn't know my new friend well enough! He was not only able to produce the most beautiful tunes but he was sharp-witted also. When I explained my plan to him he got jealous and declined to go along with my scheme. I tried to persuade him. First I fed him his favorite fish. Without effect, the dolphin stayed away from my boat. Then I asked my friend for a duet. We sang together but he didn't come closer either. Finally I jumped into the water to caress his slick body what he liked more than anything else. This way I succeeded. I put the bridle over his head and hitch him to my boat. I back in the boat I begged him to pull the boat along the beach three times. But my white dolphin had his own head. He pulled the boat along the beach one time only. When the cheers of the girl and her friends on the beach rose to heaven the dolphin turned and headed out into the Wadj-ur. I begged him to stop and to return to the beach. But no, he had his own head. He swam straight forward pulling the boat along. I was so grieved to fail in the venture that I forgot about the weather. Suddenly a storm was breaking loose and waves high as a mountain broke the harness. My white dolphin swam away and left me to the blind forces of the nature. The gusts of the meltemi, the summer storm, carried my boat far out into the sea away from Amnissos, my home town."

The seer sighted mournfully, "I was nearly dying with thirst when one morning the boat was washed ashore on a deserted beach I had never seen before. Exhausted I fell unconscious. I don't know how long the blackout lasted. It was night when I recovered my senses. Stars twinkled above and sweet voices spoiled my senses. I found myself pillowed in soft grass. Looking around I didn't dare to trust my eyes! Fair maidens were dancing around me singing sweet songs and the fairest of them all was kneeling by my side moistening my lips with her soft kisses. I thought I had died and angels were biding me welcoming in paradise. But no! It wasn't a dream." The blind old man fell silent for a moment, just to continue, "Later I learned the sweetest of the maidens was the daughter of the king of Tekrur. This beautiful girl was the High Princess of the mighty tribe of Sea People settling along the Levant and the maidens were her servants. Neither the princess nor her maidens had ever seen a young man before, only old deaf-dumb rendered eunuchs and ugly old hags. With soft hands the some girls removed my salt-crusted loincloth, washed away the salt from my parched body, anointed my chapped skin with scented oil and kneaded my stiff limbs, while other fetched fresh water from a nearby spring to quench my thirst and other fed me sweet fruits to appease my hunger. But the most beautiful of them all, the princess looked into my eyes and smiled. Even before my body regained his strength my member recovered and grew to his full girth just looking at her. She was more beautiful than my beloved maid from Amnissos! She resembled the goddess of my dreams.

First she just looked into my eyes, but then my stiff manhood aroused her attention. She touched it and started to ask questions. Since I didn't understand her words she illustrated her question with gestures. But not only she became curious about that unknown tool, no, all her other maidens too." Theyris sighed. "She took me to her house, a temple-like estate she shared with her maiden and nursed me back to health. In return she asked me to teach her how to use my tool and I had not only to teach her, but all her maidens too. And be sure strangers they couldn't get enough of that lessens I taught them."

Theyris' smile was visible despite the campfire had nearly died out. "But nothing lasts for ever. One evening the King of the people of Tekrur arrived to visit his daughter and her playmates. Finding his lovely daughter and her thirteen maiden pregnant he foamed and wanted to kill me on the spot. But the princess asked him to spare my life. He agreed but hatched a terrible scheme of revenge. He took me to his palace in the city of Tyruus, the capital of Tekrur. There he blinded me, dressed me up as a kedeshah, a temple prostitute, and ordered: From now on you have to serve every man, the old ones, the young ones, the educated ones and idiots, the soldiers and the bumpkins."

Theyris' blind eyes began to water. "At first I suffered and cursed my fate but then I realized my opportunities and I became the most wanted kedeshah of Tyruus. Soon every important man of this wealthy city wanted my services. I became famous and when the king's youngest son heard the rumors about my skills the young man visited me against his father's will. He fell in love with me and I with him, without knowing of his kingly descent. He took me to his palace in the back land of Tyruus and we had a wonderful time together. One night he asked me about my past. I told him the story of my involuntary voyage. As soon I told him about the rescue by the Princess he began to smile and asked, "Has this been about eight years ago?" when I confirmed his assumption he laughed with all his heart, "Now, I finally know who had fathered the boys of my sister and her playmates. Congratulation, my dear, you have fathered 14 wonderful boys, 12 with the maidens and a pair of kingly twins with my sister." He kissed me, "Now the boys are seven, but in four or five years you will be able to teach them to love how you taught me."

Theyris breathed a sigh, "Times changed however. My beautiful lover was killed in a fight and I was able to escape. My prince so sweet and brave!" he sighted deeply again. "Now I am here after passing many cities, many countries and crossing many waters. I am old now, but I still long for the beautiful princess and her brave sweet brother. I can visualize the princess' beautiful face in my mind but her brother's perfect face is only engraved in the senses of touch."

Next morning one of Theyris' black dogs came to their camp on the beach to escort the four voyagers to the seer's home on the top of the cliff, a small temple. Pilgrims in search for advice were already waiting in front of the small shrine. They had to wait, while the four were received for a special audience.

"I am an old man and tend to ignore the most important issue for voyagers to an unknown destination. On your way you will pass by the country of my fate. All of my beloved are surely already living in the Elysian Fields but their descendants still may rule the kingdom of Tekrur. The people of Tekrur belong to the wicked tribes of the Sea People like the Ekwesh, the Teresh, the Luka, the Sherden, the Shekeles and the Peleset. When you pass the country of Tekrur do never cast an eye at one of their women. Tekrur's daughters are only allowed to marry Tekrur's sons. You should not fall in love with one of the girls! Beware! However, you can fall in love with a kedeshah or one of the soft-eyed boys you met on the streets. Falling in love with the Tekrur's daughters' spells doom but falling in love with one of the beautiful brothers will bring happiness."

"You are blind, but you know the tongue of birds, the tongue of the wind and the sand and the tongue of the ocean! They are singing your secrets to you. Do you also know the secret of us four Sun Seekers." Tsemo asked.

"I know the red-haired loves the black-haired and the white-haired the maroon-haired. But are you sure your love will last for ever? Maybe the almighty Adad, the god of the rain and thunder, of fertility and agriculture, the Lord of Heaven puts a spell on you as soon as you arrive in the country Tekrur! I will pray for you my sons. Receive my blessing, the blessing of a blind old man."

The four did spend one day more in Theyris' realm, to get rest, refresh their supplies of food and water and listen to his advice.

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