To What End
Adam was helping fetch clean water for the chloinne ceabain when he overheard two osyaba and Fionn discussing a celebration of hatching. He curiously sat the large container on the floor and leaned in. His grasp of their language was tenuous at best, but he could get by.
“The elders will be cranky, having to attend the festival in this cold.”
“Ha! I can see it now, ‘my bones ache, why couldn’t this be held in my cabin?’” the three chortled at the small joke.
Adam, seizing on the gap in conversation asked, “What is this celebration?”
Fionn responded, “Oh! It’s a celebration of how many years have passed since our hatchings. They’re spread out through the seasons and a lot of fun.”
The golem smiled and thought back on how many seasons had passed him by. Five winters had passed during his time at the laboratory and one had passed during his and Radish’s journey south.
“I think I’ll be seven this winter,” he happily told the other three, who quickly stilled.
“Are you certain?” Fionn asked, her gaze deadly serious. “Are you sure it’s seven?”
Adam was puzzled at the steel in her voice and the looks of fear the other two were exchanging. “Uh… I think so? I don’t know the day. Just that there was snow the first day, and six other winters after,” he shifted uncomfortably, “...why? What’s so important at seven?”
Fionn’s tone was grim, “That’s when the talamh nahm become feral.”
“Feral?” Adam had heard Father deal with failed experiments on occasion. It never occurred to him that he was capable of the same level of violence that left the experimentation chamber in shambles. A cold shudder ran through his aching scars as the night he murdered Father flashed through his mind. If that hadn’t been feral, Adam didn’t think he knew the definition of the word.
“Hey,” Fionn interrupted his spiral of fear, “you, Radish, and definitely Deirbhile are different. Nothing might happen. We don’t know.”
Adam and the two osyaba didn’t look like they had the same confidence.
The whispers spread like wildfire, gently lighting the tinder of the more suspicious of the osyatao, and as they began to blaze their reactions ignited the more middling of the villagers. Soon the children who had once been so eager to play with the little golem were hidden behind skirts while fearful eyes followed Adam as he would walk through the village. Fionn was stalwart in her defense, arguing that they didn’t know what would happen, that Adam and his children were clearly distinct from any talamh nahm they had ever encountered. Those villagers who resisted the inflammatory whispers found comfort in her words and sided with their leader, chastising those who questioned the wisdom of Fionnaghal. A schism clearly divided the clan and there was little room for those caught in between. Insults were exchanged and rocks were thrown at buildings and passersby alike. Fear and distrust were rampant and Adam couldn’t blame any of them.
Adam stared at his palm as he sat outside Fionn’s cabin in the swirling blizzard that had beset the village shortly after the divide. His fingers slowly opened and closed as he contemplated the situation.
He’d heard mention of the golems father had worked on eventually expired, but Adam had seen none of it. After his awakening, all of Father’s creations had refused to animate as he had. But for the few snow golems Father had made for him to play with, he’d not encountered another golem, other than of course, Radish.
His eye shut as he thought of his child. If he would go mad, lose his mind and strike out at the village around him what would happen to the little golem? Had he doomed Radish and Deirbhile to a fate just as his own? Would he be able to stop himself when he turned into a monster?
”Aren’t you one already?” A voice asked in his head, “Remember the bleats? Your clay stained with the blood of your father as you mercilessly tore apart his corpse? It’s only a matter of time before you destroy them and the village. They don’t have to worry about the snow monster in the coming storm, you’ll do the job yourself.”
His hand clenched into a fist as Adam desperately tried to deny the guilt that flooded over him. He had done those things, he was more than capable of murder. All the things father had done for him, and Adam had broken him as the man begged for his life. And with the best of intentions, he had accidentally crushed the little bleat.
The purpose for which he had been building Deribhile rushed back to him. He had needed a caretaker for Radish, as he clearly could not do it himself. That had been lost in the recent months as life with the osyatao had given him hope that he was capable of being a father and boon to the community. Now he was disbarred from the chloinne ceabain and shunned by the majority of the village, he was a rock out in the middle of a frozen lake. It was only a matter of time before he crashed through.
Radish needed someone to care for him. And with his inability, Deirbhile would be the one. Certain in his task, Adam opened his eye and released his tensed fist, some frozen clay flaking off from the tension and cold. The clay giant stood and turned to walk inside, squaring his shoulders for the difficult conversation ahead.
The door to Deirbhile’s room creaked open as a gentle knock echoed from the hall. She lifted her head from (insert osyatao hobby) and saw her father’s face in the small opening.
Even with the recent tension, a small smile crossed her face. “Hello, Father. Do you want to speak with me?”
A sheepish look crossed his face as he pushed open the door and entered, but faded quickly into the most intense expression she had seen from the large golem.
“Yes, on a very serious matter,” Adam sat beside a now very concerned Deirbhile, the sturdy stone floor holding their weight just fine. “I…” he faltered, worrying her even further, “I need to tell you… why I made you.”
Adam had begun to gain steam, resigned but determined to accomplish his goal, “You were made for a purpose, Deirbhile. I was reaching a point where I felt I could no longer care for Radish.” He looked away, staring into a horizon only he could see. “I created you to do what I could not, raise my son.”
He placed his arm around her, even as his hardened gaze met Deirbhile’s shocked eyes.
“I need you to do this, to fulfill the purpose I made you for.”
Deirbhile was shellshocked. Her entire existence was relegated to a single purpose, one that her father was pleading with her to dedicate her life to. What could she say to that? What could she do? If she didn’t complete her purpose, was she meaningless? Thoughts whirled around her spirit. Then, as if someone else was using her voice, her mouth opened and the words poured out.