Sea People

by Ruwen Rouhs

Chapter 2

The gust of wind from north east churned up the water and gigantic whitecaps filled the boat again and again with the salty water. The rude gale threatened to upset the dugout made primarily to navigate rivers not for cruising the wild sea. Aegir at the helm and Laong at the bow had a hard time to keep the boat windward, while Tsemo was clutching to the walls of the boat with closed eyes. Feeling seasick like never before the run-away novice tried not to throw up again and again. Buri was sick also. His complexion was more greenish than black. He felt like vomiting but tried his best to divert himself by bailing the water out of the boat.

Tsemo got frightened. He never had experienced a storm like this before. The oncoming waves seemed to have no other purpose than to drown him and his comrades and their boat. Now his education by the druids back in the monastery at the Holy Circle came to pass. He took his mind from fear of dying by entering the state of trance concentrating his mind upon something unearthly.

Fighting his fear Tsemo closed his eyes and despite his spinning brain he needed just the split of a moment to remember the legend the blind seer had told them at the departure, the legend of Khaiy, the fearless Khaiy, who defeated the Almightiest of the Eternal Beings, the one who has rescued his people from the flood.

Two days ago while Theyris was about to bless the Sun Seekers at their departure, he suddenly stopped the benediction: "Wait", he urged them, "You are leaving for the unknown, wait my young friends. My dear sons! Wait a moment more, because I have to give you an advice, an advice your fathers should have given to you at your departure!" He paused and then spoke solemn voice: "Never trust someone! Never trust the farmer, who offers you food and a place for a rest! Never trust the friendly stranger who offers you amusement and pleasure! Do not even trust the solemn assertion of a king promising you his kingdom or his daughter's hand! Above all do not trust any prophet or any priest claiming to be the representative the Almighty. Do not count on their advice, count on yourself only!"

Theyris took a deep breath. "You don't believe me? Well! You may believe me after you have heard the legend of fearless Khaiy!" A radiant smile crossed his wrinkled face. "It's the legend of the genesis of the Gorge of Bogaz that separates two realms, the kingdom of the Sea People in the West, the Ekwesh and the one in the East, the Luka. But get me right, it's first and foremost the legend of the triumph of a victory of a humble boy over the seemingly invincible Eternal Beings."

The four Sun Seekers looked surprised because the seer knew they were eager to set out for their quest without any delay. However. none of them objected, neither Aegir, nor Buri, nor Tsemo, nor Laong refused to listen to the advice of the seer:

"From the beginning of the world the Bredd-Ström from the West, the Tyras and the Kuzey from the North, the Tanais from the Northeast, the Sakaray from the South like many, many other creeks, brooks and rivulets running down from the mountains empty their waters into the basin of the Black Sea. Year for year their waters filled up the wide basin between the circles of mountains surrounding the Black Sea. The water however, never flooded or drowned the banks of the lake because of the deep Gorge, the Gorge of Bogaz, its spillway." He took a deep breath, "But the Strait has not been there at the beginning of times. Thence every spring the water level in the deep basin rose some feet. Every spring the rising water flooded the shore and from time to time drowned the settlements close to the waterfront. First one settlement vanished in the depth of the Black Sea, then another, then the next. The first centuries' people didn't care too much and just moved their settlements further up the slope of the hills. However, when the range for living around the Black Sea got smaller and smaller they began to worry. They had to leave their homes at the waterfront every other year and had to rebuild their houses further up the steep mountains slopes."

Theyris twilled his beard and his expression got cryptic! "The people prayed to the Almightiest. They asked the Eternal Beings to ban the water. They began to celebrate rogation services; the men began to flog their backs with thorns to atone for possible wrongdoings and women made vows to stay abstinent. All in vain! The water level of the Black Sea rose and rose and the range for living around the lake got smaller and smaller."

Theyris heaved a deep breath. "People were in despair! The Gods didn't answer their prayers. On the contrary the deities continued to enjoy their life in their imperial residence on top of the misty mountain, celebrated their festivities unimpressed by the people hardship. The people send emissaries to appeal for help, but the Eternal Beings just laughed these out of court, "Don´t bother us with your stupid fears you brainless earthlings! Heaven helps those who help themselves!"

The four friends listened eagerly. Tsemo, shaking his head in disbelieve, asked: "Aren't the Almighty Being supposed to be kind hearted and care for their creatures? My teacher, the famous druid taught me so!"

Theyris shook his head and answered with a mysterious smile, "Wait my gullible boy! Just wait and listen!" and he continued his tale.

"One village after the other was swallowed by the rising waters till only one was left. In their despair the villagers summoned a meeting to discuss a way to soften the hearts of the Almighty Beings. They discussed the problem over and over again. However, not one was able to put forward a convincing proposal. Finally a woman older than the hills spoke up: "You all know that the Almightiest of the Almighty Beings is a philanderer who can't resist deflowering girls. We have to find a girl that will trade her virginity for our survival." Silence spread and after a while the headman's wife declared: "All my daughters are married. My youngest just got married two moons ago and she is already carrying a baby." The boat-builder's wife shook her head, "There is no virgin in a suitable age! Either the girls are still under aged or they are spoken for and no virgin anymore! No chance!" Still another woman added, "Who can tell if this proposal works? No mother would sacrifice her own flesh and blood for the trifle of a chance!" The conversation died away because nobody knew a way out.

Suddenly from up a tree at the edge of the meeting place a boy spoke up. "I go! Mother, dress me up in your wedding gown! I dare to go! I know a way."

"No Khaiy, you are a boy!" the headman objected, "Forget it! Nobody can deceive the Almightiest! Don't get us into more trouble! The Eternal Beings may annihilate us for sure for this fraud!"

Laong was riveted by the narration. With doubting eyes he stared at the blind seer: "Did he dare to go? He was a boy! Wasn't he?" he asked.

"Yes Khaiy did! He was the only child of a widow living at the outmost corner of the village. He was a beautiful boy, but his beauty was hidden by the torn clothe and the dirt in his face. As soon as he had cleaned his face and his mother had dressed him up in her wedding gown Khaiy's rosy cheek surpassed the flowering cheeks of the girls around, his blond hair was glowing shinier than the sun at noon and his blue eyes mirrored the blue sky.

The same night Khaiy left the village and began the ascent to the residence of the Eternal Beings on top of the mist-shrouded mountain. When he arrived at the gate of the residence his gown was torn by thorns, his feet were bleeding from the cuts of the sharp flints on the path and his golden hair was ragged and studded by thistles. But his blue eyes were shiny like always."

"At the gate Khaiy asked for the Almightiest himself: Tell him! I am here! I am the virgin he had dreamed of since the ever. Tell him, I am waiting for him on a love-bed in the cove by the summit."

"The Almightiest got curious. These earthlings! Do they really believe I have been waiting for a blue-eyed girl from the beginning of the times? He laughed to himself. I will teach the girl a lesson, that cocky lassie!"

"But when the Almightiest saw Khaiy on the love-bed in the cove he became inflamed with passion. Beautiful earthling! Love me and I grant you every request that is on your heart! I never have seen a girl more beautiful! Your blue eyes, your blond hair, your beautiful body, your soft voice and pure heart are unsurpassed. But soon he found out that Khaiy was a boy and not a girl. But he didn't mind. Boy! he laughed, You have taken my heart. Nothing can stop me to make love to you! The Almightiest made love to Khaiy till both were completely exhausted and the deity fell in a death-like sleep."

"But? But?" Laong asked and Aegir, Buri and Tsemo stared at Theyris with a questioning look.

"This was what Khaiy had had in mind." Theyris continued, "He also was tired and furthermore deadly wounded because the Almightiest never had taken into account that this beautiful boy had been a virgin when the night started. Despite his pain Khaiy never considered to deviate from his plan. He took away the brightly blazing thunderbolt from the sleeping deity. He had expected the bolt to be hot like embers, but no, it was cold like an icicle and made his fingers growing stiff. With all the will power could he master Khaiy took the steep ascent to the top of the misty mountain dragging along the heavy bolt over rough and smooth."

"When the faint sickle of the moon appeared on the horizon, Khaiy raised the bolt over his head and directed its full energy to the southern edge of the dark sea. Go! he commanded, Go! Split the circle of mountains around the Inhospitable Black Sea!"

"The thunderbolt of Almightiest obeyed his young master. With a hissing noise it cut through the clouds unleashing flashes of fire and tantrums of thunder. Its vigour inflamed the air when he crossed the Black Sea and when the lightning stroke the mountain ridge at the southern edge of the water filled basin. A deep gorge was created in the circle of mountains and the surplus water build up in the centuries before immediately began to force its way through the gorge into the Marmora Sea and further on into the Wadj-ur."

Gradually the faces of our travelers began to brighten but the seer went on: "The growling thunder broke the Almightiest sleep. He awoke with a start. With eyes wide open he witnessed the change of the world around caused by a feeble boy. Looking around he observed the gorge in the circle of mountains surrounding the Black Sea. Then he turned his eyes to the top of the misty mountain and witnessed the beautiful earthling bursting into flames. Like a torch the burning body of Khaiy bathed the mountains in a light illuminating the sky up to the very rim of the world. And the heart of the Almightiest got sad thinking of beautiful Khaiy."

"And Khaiy's countrymen? The earthlings?" Tsemo asked after a long pause.

"The roaring thunder chased the frightened earthlings out of their shelters and the lightning made their hearts skip some beats. But then they rejoiced and thanked Khaiy for his braveness." Theyris stated, "Since then once in a while a flickering light can be seen wandering around the misty mountain top above the residence the Immortals reminding the earthlings of Khaiy, a small boy, defeating the Almightiest by his boldness, intelligence, determination and selflessness."

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