Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Box (II)

The sound happily permeated the garden grove as the peaceful Velt-hur people gathered for feast. It was a sound of energy and of music issuing from a single source.

"It is the magic of the Shaman," remarked Seona to her husband, as she delighted to hear the familiar chatter of the box.

"No," he gently corrected, "the Shaman merely brings us this magic from the idol."

Of course, she realized. She smiled, signifying that they were of accord.

Seona and her husband, Zoresh, were one of many couples attending the fertility ceremony. Having children was rare in those days, and the Shaman had a vision that the box would lead them forward.

Unlike the previous Shaman, Dan-a was prone to explaining and communicating with the others what his reasoning was. He would express his uncertainties and indicate when he had doubts, something which his father had frowned upon.

But Dan-a's father, Irsh-ta, had been a traditionalist, and had barely had the vision to collect the box to begin with.

Dan-a refleected on their fortune, that his late father had the sense to do that, at least. To see something important for what it was. Traditional though he may have been, he broke with tradition in that matter and in conceiving a child--Dan-a. This was unusual, but reproduction was never frowned upon; it was a rare and holy miracle.

Acording to the Velt-hur, there was a musical voice that came from the sky in ancient days, and brought fortune upon those who heard it--the Divine Luck. This they had believed for several generations before this strange box was found, emitting unusual music and voices in an alien tongue. Of course its finders were overjoyed, for they knew what they had found.

Irsh-ta was never wary of magic in the way he expected his followers to be. It would have been unthinkable for him to be seen behind his veil while in a spirit trance, partaking of mushrooms; but he likely would never have been so cautious of other shamans, had there been any.

So he took the box and found for it a grove, where he might contemplate the voices.

But by that time, Irsh-ta had been quite old, and had not made any decision regarding the black box, save that he had informed his son of it. Then he ascended from Earth, leaving behind a stray child with only basic Shamanic knowledge.

However the Elder of the village had concluded that the unusualness of a Shaman having a child should be sufficient sign that the child was to succeed him, and so it was agreed by all who owned a house and could vote.

Dan-a was something new, everyone quickly learned.

And he had to learn quickly as well, lest he be caught off guard by demons or other such creatures.

Dan-a watched pert-breasted Seona and strong-legged Zoresh as they entered the grove, holding his right hand horizontally in greeting, fingers pointing down to indicate peaceful tidings.

The couple smiled and took their places before the long feast table, as dictated by Zoresh's rank and Seona's pedigree. This placed them about halfway down the split-log table, just to the right of center from Dan-a's perspective on the slightly raised dais of stones. This dais was where the box sat, and magnificently carved and gilded stonework projected and amplified the sound of the box so that all could hear.

Dan-a had been pleased by the acoustics of this tiny amphitheatre.

Soon he sounded the chime and rose, at did the attendees of this fertility feast, the finest couples in the small village, the best hope for creating a new generation.

Dan-a announced to them, "this day we shall hope to conceive in you the next generation of Velt-hur!"

Silence. Smiles.

Dan-a continued, "moon full at dusk, sun bright before leaving, the voices cheerful and bidding thee: partake!"

At this, the people began to eat, happy with this sermon, though unsure of what might come next. The speech of the box halted. Everyone paused and listened, and then a strange few seconds of sound were followed by a song.

It was a holy song, which had blessed Irsh-ta at his death. This was truly a sign.

The feeling enraptured Dan-a, joy filled him and he half-closed his eyes, mimicking the sounds of the song.

In an alien tongue: "Dar sa lae di ooh nos ul dar glit tas sigol en zie spyeen dar ster weytu hev un", accompanied by soft, bird-like sounds and gentle strings, surely divine in nature, for no instrument of the Velt-hur could produce such sounds.

It surely was the tongue of the gods--incomprehensible yet so coherent, so clearly it was not gibberish.

After a time the song had risen to crescendo and ended, leaving Dan-a drenched in sweat. Grateful, he looked at the box, smiling and bowing his head forward slightly to the right, signifying gratitude.

He also uttered the greeting, "Keyz-ee oak ay!" which had been learned from the box itself.

Dan-a had explained that there was no magic when he recited the holy songs. It was simply a musical prowess he had, such that he could know what the words were and sing even as he heard them, without flaw.

The magic, he had explained, was in the effect that the recitation of the songs had on himself and those nearby. He always felt invigorated, as if possessed by the Divine Luck, and this had given him the idea that the box could be used in a fertility rite.

This he hoped to impart to the married couples that eve, and he would use his voice upon each woman to impart to them fertility and fortune. Hopefully this divine magic would help some of them to conceive, for it had been a time since a child was born.

Over the course of the evening, people ate and were happy, and several times Dan-a sang, convincing others that could could as well. The mood in the grove was optimistic and happy, and soon the full moon began to rise over the box on its stone resting place.

After a joyful evening, Dan-a blessed all who had attended. He then kissed each woman on the neck and each man on the ear, as was customary in parting.

Seona seemed to linger almost imperceptibly before she split off with the women--it was another custom for the men and women to split into groups when traveling after dark. This made it harder for demons or sprites to impersonate the opposite sex, thereby impregnating women with monstrous children, or to contaminate the men, making their seed corrupt or infertile.

Both groups left by torchlight, first men, to clear the way and ward off spirits with their howls, then the women shortly followed, in silence to avoid attracting attention from the same spirits.

Dan-a would leave last, being safe since he was possessed of special magics. This ensured that the women were surrounded on two sides to protect them from all manner of creatures. However, Dan-a thought he was being accosted himself and he grasped his bracelet of magic beads--only to realize it was Seona, returning alone.

Before he could speak, she held up her hand indicating silence. She crouched and opened his loincloth, using her mouth to arouse the Shaman. The grass in the grove was soft and she bade him down onto it, whispering but one thing: "bless me Shaman, bless me."

They copulated on the grass, under moonlight, seen by no other eyes, and it was exquisite for both of them.

Seona hurried then to her home, telling Zoresh that she had spoken with her friend Gima and lost track of time. He promptly took her to bed, to try their Divine Luck.

Dan-a, in peaceful trance, lost consciousness on his back upon the grass, wet now with dew and his sweat. It was the highest of spiritual moments, the noblest of energies possessing him, and he could feel that he and Seona had been exercising the will of divine forces. Their people would continue.

In the coming months, only Seona conceived. It was regarded as a holy miracle, and Dan-a gained great respect from the Elder as a wise and truthful Shaman.

He could only attribute it to the power of the black box of sound.

Praised be the box, for many generations.

(If you're wondering what this box is all about, the most explanation you'll get is here. For this whole 'miniseries', try this: The Box)

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