The Causality of Time (Book 1)

By Jonnathan Strawthorne All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Scifi

Chapter 10 - Circumstance

Had it been six months since Sapalulmea’s death? Talmido had not properly mourned her passing, and yet there he was, staring at that woman. It could not have been proper, could it? He missed her so much his heart bled with the tears of shame and loss. His inability to save her or keep her protected haunted him.

“What kind of man am I? How is it that I can lead these people and fight the battles of liberty’s quest yet not protect my most cherished loved one? It is a shame that I will bear for the rest of my life. I cannot forgive myself,” he thought. “The gods had to be protecting us, wanting us to build a new dynasty. We had overcome every obstacle so far—and with some perseverance, patience, and blessings—we would succeed. It was either that, or we would perish on a fool’s journey. What have I done? Stop! I have no time for this.”

The responsibility of this woman and the rest of his companions rested on the depth and strength of his character. They needed strong leadership, not questions full of doubt and fear.

Talmido wrote down all he had witnessed for posterity so future generations would hopefully learn from him, but he did not believe it would be enough. Each successive generation needed to learn through trial and error the way of life and the relationships surrounding it—the very fact that all are intertwined in a cycle of life, love, and death.

“Admittedly, that cannot be all there is,” he thought. “What is it that the gods are playing? What is really going on?”

He still had no answers to many of his questions. It was as if the gods found it humorous to play with the minds and hearts of men. Are men in one big play, acting out the desires of the gods, manipulated to commit all those horrendous acts of violence, betrayal, lies, and theft?

Who knows? It may genuinely be the nature of man to commit all those acts due to the inclination of his heart’s desire, or perhaps it is the freedom of choice that throws out all common sense. “Who knows?” Talmido whispered out loud to no one in particular. It was most certainly not him. Only the gods knew, and they were not revealing the answers at that time.

“Men and their desire to build nations and empires and enslave others to do their bidding and building—what a mess. Will it ever stop?” Talmido doubted it. “No, each successive generation will have its own perception of the times and how to rectify or change the old ways to suit their needs. That will inevitably involve the use of violence and lies. It seemed to be the only method that worked effectively. I digress,” he thought.

Talmido was lonely and in need of succor. He really missed having a relationship with a woman—the nurturing effect of a woman’s nature. Yes, he missed it deeply. Sleeping alone did not bring the depth of peace and calm he had felt with Sapalulmea by his side—when it was evident he was indeed needed and wanted by a person he truly cherished and loved. Could he love again?

Talmido looked down at the ground and let out a quiet sigh of bitter loss, then glanced up into the tree canopy. He listened to the rushing of the river and the slap of the clothing against the boulder. He began to turn.

“My lord, what troubles you so?” the woman asked while looking at her work.

Talmido stepped back in surprise, thinking she was not aware of his presence, let alone knew he was in deep consternation and contemplation.

“I . . . I am not sure,” Talmido replied.

“Please come here and help me with this wash, and let us talk,” she suggested.

Talmido moved forward, approaching her slowly, with anxiety clearly showing on his face. His hands wrung a small bit of bark into a mash of cellulose and bits of fiber. His stomach clenched up, and he breathed through gritted teeth. He knelt down and took one end of the linen cloth to help her.

“You are in turmoil, my lord. What is on your mind that a beautiful day full of hope and happiness could inflict upon you?”

Talmido bit his lip and looked intently at the robe. His hands shook a little while he stared at the fibers and the colors. The mourning process engulfed all people at one time or another in very different ways, although along a very similar path, and Talmido had not had the time or the way to grieve appropriately.

He squeezed his eyes shut, holding back the sob that was buried in his throat. The upwelling of emotional pain was too sharp to understand. His breath came out in a long exhale of anguish that loosened the tension he had felt for so long.

Looking up with creases of despondency upon his forehead, he replied, “My love was lost in the shade of light’s day and has left me bereft of all hope and happiness, my lady. My life has been cleaved in two by the tides of a god’s desire. She died the death of a martyr with no one to hear or see, no one to remember her by, no songs to sing or toasts to be given for her bravery—her courage, no tales of might or defiance, and no poems of desire or laughter. I am losing touch with her face, her smell, her laughter, her thoughts—what am I to do? What . . . am I to do?”

She sprinkled some lye onto the cloth and threw the robe out over the water while holding on to a corner of it. She did this two more times before replying to him.

“When I saw my husband and son lying there on the ground like so much refuse, I was ashamed and shocked by such treatment. I lost all that was part of my life. I understand you, my lord. It is the way of life. We are all destined to die one day. It is unfortunate that our loved ones died much too early—much too early for justice to be given. Our grief is a natural way for us to remember and protect their legacies. It is our nature to love and grieve, my lord. How else are we to be human? These emotions were instilled in us as gifts that allow us to experience all sides of life today and later in the life to be. No, my lord, we are not animals meant to reproduce and die with no aim or purpose to our lives. We are meant to live on through our descendants’ memories and the emotions attached to those memories. That is why we laugh and cry and love and hate, my lord—to teach them the ways of life and how to experience the most from it.”

Talmido shook his head in acknowledgment and looked her in the eyes as she talked. The flow of her words captured his mind, easing the waves of grief before they crashed upon the shores of his mind and laid waste to his sanity.

He began to calm down and sit back, listening as she slowly, deliberately, and calmly talked of her life. She loved the little things her husband would do for her, and the impetuous actions of her son’s love for her, such as flowers suddenly showing up on their table at odd times throughout the day. The little things were the most important to her. The subtleties of her husband’s desire, the warmth of his heart, the caresses of his hands upon her skin, his breath along the back of her neck—those were the memories locked up in her mind and heart.

Talmido occasionally interjected with his memories of Sapalulmea—the little things he missed so much. It was her smile and her occasional, deliberately imperious stature that brought a smile to his face and a chuckle from his lips.

She would tease him remorselessly if she thought he was taking himself too seriously or if he was frustrated with a situation that was not life-or-death, always reminding him of the blessings they had that day and the very fact they were still alive and together.

Talmido thought to himself, “This woman is captivating me with her words and demeanor. It seems she does understand me. I wonder if she is owned by another man. I will find out and continue this conversation with her. I am very intrigued by her manner. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can make a life together, if she is so inclined.”

She began to laugh at Talmido behind a hand calloused by years of work and with eyes sparkling from behind lashes of demure. He flushed red with embarrassment and looked away as she reached out to comfort him.

“My lord, I did not mean to offend. Please do not take exception to my laughter. It was the look on your face that prompted my response. You looked completely confused and in a stupor of loss. How else could I respond except with some humor? Please forgive me, a foolish woman of no consequence,” she implored him with eyes downcast and her hands shaking with regret and potential fear.

“Oh, no, no. It is of no consequence—none at all. I thank you for this discussion and time. If I may ask, what is your name? Perhaps we may meet sometime again.”

“It is Gelal-Tiamat, my lord.”

“Please, my name is Talmido.”

“Yes, my lord. Talmido,” she said as Talmido stood up to take his leave.

“I will see you another time, Gelal-Tiamat. May the gods bless you.” Talmido bowed with his hands clasped together and turned to leave.

Gelal-Tiamat looked on with a slowly blushing face as it began to dawn on her that he was the Talmido of legend—the man who, so far, had saved the people in the camp and had defied an empire by winning successive battles for freedom. She put her hand on her chest and let out a long, slow breath of pent-up anxiety and stress. She began to hum a song of hope that her people would use when happiness settled down on them, and the future declared its intent with open arms of bounty and satisfaction.

Lost to the arms of love

Taken to life above

No time for delay

Go forth without dismay

A woman from lands afar

A man from cities ajar

Seeking solace and peace

Stumble upon a lawless masterpiece

Of broken lives and promises

Baleful people of duplicitous dominance

Holding sway to futures hope

And happiness’ long slope

Go back young man

Stay away young woman

For the gods of today

Give no quarter in the fray

It is not for man to walk among

Lost ancestors of an ancient tongue

To hold judgement upon the dead

Nor the living upon their bed

Confined lives of broken dreams

Weep for the dead and life’s shallow seams

As time takes the sweet smell of lies

And twisting perception of our shallow lives

We toil with desperate energy

Struggling to free ourselves from the memory

Of our ancestors’ warning cries

Meant to guide us from time’s lies

Go back, young man

Stay away, young woman

For the gods of today

Give no quarter in the fray

Lost to the arms of love

Taken to life above

No time for delay

Go forth without dismay

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