My friends for the journey
The woman – she was a relative of mine I think… at least a neighbor. She came in a pair. There were always two of her: the dominant, mentally-stable one and the subordinate, mentally-handicapped one. Each incarnation they switched roles, but they were always bound together. She/they wore a lot of red. Often, there was a contorted face of displeasure also worn.
We lived by grasslands and on or near a farm. I got the sense that we either raised livestock or worked for those that did. Our homes were spartan huts made of stone, clay and wood. The hearth was the focal point of the common room. The open area served as our kitchen, lounge, meeting room and dining room. One long table sat under windows oriented to the East. The same table was used for preparing food, eating, talking and performing minor surgeries when needed. Our bedrooms were small with just enough room for a nightstand, a lantern, a washing bowl, a shelf for prayer or idols and a primitive bed of hay, wool and cloth.
I found myself often taking the journey from our hut to the town for supplies. By foot, it took several days. By wagon, I could be there and back in one day if I was energetic, efficient and not distracted. I usually took the wagon.
The town was all stone. I could see towers and small castles from the windows in our hut. A tall wall marked the perimeter of the town. Only certain people were allowed through the gates. We were known by many of the village officials so entering was never an issue.
The political climate of the village was not to my understanding. Over the years, I had noticed the hierarchy and how the preferred candidate to rule always seemed to gain control. All the leaders looked the same once they entered the system, despite how they may have looked before. They also all behaved the same… as if one man was re-incarnating himself into the ruler time and time again. My curiosity got the best of me one night. I called upon my Sky Dragon, invisible to human eyes, to take me through the village on the night of the passing of the metaphorical crown. With my black cloak, I was almost invisible in the dark sky of the new moon as I sat on the back of my Dragon. Perched on rooftops, we listened. Gripping the sides of the wall, we watched. It became apparent that my previous assumptions were correct; the ruler was a re-incarnation of a previous ruler, and he, a re-incarnation of a previous one, and so on. I do not know how the copies function; they all seem very robotic. Nor do I know the original blueprint, but already I have seen too much. No one caught me spying that night, thankfully. I haven’t ventured there at night on my Dragon since.
This day that I saw so clearly was not a remarkable one. The sun hung high in the sky as I started out to the village much too late in the day. The spring to summer transition was perfuming the air with ripeness and youth. The sky was clear blue and the plains were open and vast. I walked with my empty basket and pocket full of coins to where we usually kept the wagon. It was not there. A bit confused, I wandered our property, looking for it. No luck, so I started down the road on foot.
I met the Black Dog only about 50 paces from the hut. Funny that I didn’t see this stark black speck contrasting the greens and tans of the landscape from the hut. It seemed as if he had become more apparent the closer I got to him. He looked jackal if he turned one way and doberman if he turned another. He did not take his piercing eyes off of me. Naturally, I returned his stare. His glare made me slightly uneasy, but not fearful. I do not know how he felt about my glares back. As I passed him, he began to follow me. He trialed behind at a fair distance from me. His attendance did not feel predatory or even that strange to me, but still I wondered why he had chosen to follow.
I caught sight of our wagon on the road. The one harness was empty. After walking so far from the hut, I was discouraged to retrace my steps. I would lose much precious daylight. As I huffed, I heard a noise from behind me. A black stallion came speeding out of the horizon. He passed the Black Dog with a nod of recognition before stopping between him and I. All three of us just stood looking at each other for some time. I was a little baffled, but also somewhat hopeful that I may receive help from this spontaneous horse. Both the dog and the horse made some gestures that I did not understand at first. They paced a bit impatiently at my stillness. Not knowing what else to do, I sat in the wagon with my basket. Immediately, the Black Dog hopped inside and sat opposite to me, still staring at me with his pitch-black, whirlpool eyes. He sat calmly, not moving one bit except for a slight wagging of his tail. I drew my eyes away from him for a moment to watch the horse. He whinnied and cocked his head at me. I thought to myself: “You wouldn’t want to be a good boy and get in the harness to pull me, would you?” To my surprise, the horse responded by oriented himself close to the harness so I could put it on him. He trotted off rather tamely and almost happily. So I was off to the village with a Black Dog with a Death stare and black horse that was telepathically obedient. And here, all I knew I had for my journeys was the Dragon.