Above the Winds
I didn’t know much of the outside world beyond Chetiwimoch because there simply wasn’t a reason for a man of my caste to know about such things. They taught me how to cut stone and to use which tools offer the most precision, and they taught me of the Moch-Maker when he made the tribes one all those years ago. None of my studies have ever taught me of the lands to the north - but everyone knows of the Gold Expanse.
People who were spat out by the sun when all Ganche still lived in paradise were forced to live there. Even entering it would make your skin swell and burn if you were not a Sun Son. The edge of the world where no Ganchean ever strayed into.
But the people that had taken me didn’t look like a Sun Son. As far as I could tell, they were as Ganchean as I was when they spoke to me in unaccented Tiqwa. They kept me in my bonds, but they fed me generously. More than they themselves would eat. Even when I felt sick from all the food, they would let me throw it all up before returning to feed me once more.
Every so often when I cried too loudly in the night to disturb their own sleep, one of them would come up and threaten to beat me still if I kept it up. They never touched me however - they never intended to harm me I know, now - but at the time it was enough to scare me into silence.
As we passed through the many mecs of the Gold Expanse, with their high walls of stone cobbled on top of one another, my captors, who called themselves ‘the Hornbulls’, would speak with one of them, occasionally bringing me up close to one of the Sun Sons as they talked in a language made of breaths and throat sounds. They would discuss, it would become heated, and we would be off again, going further north as we left city after city behind.
We were on the Gold Expanse for a very long time, as far as I could tell. Longer than my journey north from Chetiwimoch for Kaiaomec. The land began as no different than where they had taken me, gradually becoming more sparse as trees made way for dead-coloured grass. The more we travelled however, the less and less I would see any trees until finally I could see mountains in the distance in the direction we were travelling towards.
We went into the mountains, snaking along the narrow roads carefully before coming upon a small village. Here too they didn’t look like Sun Son’s - but they neither looked like Gancheans or spoke the same languages as us or the Sun Son’s either. The Hornbull’s spoke with a richly dressed man, covered head to toe in fabric and with skin that resembled red tree bark. They spoke slowly, meticulously, in an even rougher imitation of the Sun Son’s Tiqwa before they brought me forward to the strange foreigner. He eyed me closely with his eyes, golden-flecked and intensely obsidian, squeezing my arm and moving my head by the jaw like a buyer would to a head of goat. He straightened up and said something without expression, and they cut me loose from my bonds.
“You’re free now, little pup” One of the Hornbulls smiled at me, ruffling my hair before he mounted his beast and went away with the others, leaving me with the strange foreigner and his party.
They didn’t bother to put binds on me as we departed the small village - figuring correctly that I wouldn’t run away this far away from where I was taken. We travelled three days through the mountains, carefully along the dusty trails that hugged cliff walls and stayed in caves during the night from an unbelievably cold night. On the third day, we emerged from the mountains - and ahead of me was nothing but an empty stretch of sand dunes and distant mountains in the horizon. School had taught me the name of a place like this; a land even Twae had forgotten about, one that had never witnessed paradise in their past lives, and a place devoid of the redemption and chance to return to his light. A fate worse than the many deaths and rebirth towards the path of salvation.
My heart shrank at that thought. A fate worse than even a thousand deaths or anything that I had been subjected to all this time. Senitwaa’iti - The Land that Water forgot.