The Revolutions of Time
Chapter 12: The White Eagle
It was only a few moments after Onan and Zimri left me that the Munams arrived, for they had run, spurred on, apparently, by their great desire to meet me. In appearance they were like I had seen from afar: hairy and stooped, almost using their arms as legs, but not entirely. Their skulls were large and oddly shaped and their mouths were pushed out from their faces like an ape’s. A limp, furry tail hung down from their lower backs, and their hands had a tough, leathery appearance.
There were eight of them, and when they drew near, the foremost hailed me with an eager gleam in his eyes, like one who has long hoped and long been denied. His voice was low and gravelly, but not at all uncivilized sounding, as one would have expected by his appearance, and his facial expressions were equally as livid and distinctly humanoid. He began:
“Hail, the White Eagle, sent by the gods to deliver us! Hail the redemption from paradise, coming to bring us home.” With that he held out his arms and embraced me in a very warm, heartfelt manner.
“Hello,” I replied, somewhat embarrassed by my lack of authority.
“I am Ramma, leader of the Munams,” he told me, “And I welcome you in the name of us all.”
“Greetings, Ramma,” I replied, “I am Jehu.”
“We are joyous at your arrival, oh Jehu of the White Eagle.”
When he said this I had a flashback, a moment of memorial deja vu, when the present and the past are morphed together by one thought, when one idea from the past and the present exists in such a way as to connect the two times around it, forming a nexus between the two moments. I was brought back to two separate times, the first being my initial meeting with Onan, when I saw the muraled dome, the genetics of history, and its depiction of the events which were symbolically representative of Daem: the deformed man, the warring races, the worshipers of the White Eagle. The other was my arrival in the Temple of Time, when the King showed me the altar to Temis, the God of Time, depicted as a great White Eagle, wrought in diamond and grasping the altar in its talons. There was something about the White Eagle that connected itself to me inseparably, something that converged us into one form. I had a sense that it was somehow a key to the mystery of the end times, but I could not make the connection. I thought back to what Onan had said to me just a few moments before, that he and Zimri were close friends, and not enemies at all, while those on earth believed their rivalry was a serious conflict. Yet while I had two separate memorial deja vu’s, I could not make the connection between them to figure out what they meant.
“Tell me,” I asked of Ramma, “What do you mean when you call me the White Eagle?”
“The prophecy said that our kinsman redeemer, who would bring us out of the lands of desolation and into paradise, who would come to us like a giant eagle, soaring high above the sea. Across the ocean there,” he said, pointing to Daem, “Is Daem, the paradise land, wherein dwell our enemies the Zards and Canitaurs. They keep us off of the island and on the mainland by force, and here we have suffered ever since the great wars, in these desolate and barren wastelands, where there is neither life nor death, but only a hazy in between. An ancient one with wings like an eagle was to come and rescue us, the White Eagle, and under his guidance we are to be led to victory against our enemies.
“To them he would be sent first, humbly he would come to redeem them from the woes of their own causing, but they would receive him not. Instead they cast him away, and he was to come to us, to bring us to the promised land. What a blessed sight it was when we saw you soaring through the sky on your white wings, and now you have come, my dear Jehu, you have come at last, in the hour of our greatest need. Come, oh White Eagle, and let us go to Kalr, our city. Tonight is the Feast of the Hershonites, celebrating the night that the prophecy was received, and on the same day shall it be fulfilled!”
With that he turned and set off with a step of exuberance to the northwest, the other Munams and myself following him. He walked quickly, and it was all that I could do to match his pace, so that I was left without breath enough to ask any more questions. From what I saw on our journey, the landscape was the same across the whole mainland that was near to the coast, and there was neither change enough nor any landmark conspicuous enough for me to take any bearings. Without the Munam’s company, I would have been lost.
Ramma led us on a straight course for about half an hour, there being nothing to steer around, and when that time had elapsed, we found ourselves in a small, battered city. There were no great buildings or infrastructure like in Nunami, nor any complex labyrinths like the Canitaur’s military base. Instead there were only weak, unsound huts, built with a framework of oddly shaped driftwood and covered with a thick layer of insulating sod. A road ran through the center of the city, only distinguishable because it was packed down by constant use, and on either side were groupings of the huts in semi-circular patterns, with no space between them left unfilled by soil. This created a wind barrier, preventing the strong winds that whipped across the desert lands from harassing the inhabitants as they worked and played in their communal yards. Each such grouping had a field of a strange, potato-like plant that spread across the back ends of the houses, where the fierce winds piled up loads of nutrient rich top soil from miles and miles around. In the center of the protected areas, each of the communities, for such they were called, had a well that reached hundreds of feet downwards, bringing them almost unlimited supplies of fresh water. Using these two major systems, they were able to live in a comfortable manner, not comfortable in a sense of comparison with the Zards or Canitaurs, but comfortable in the sense that they had food to eat, clothes to wear, and shelter to protect them. Under such conditions humanity can thrive, for happiness is not found in the accumulation of excess comforts, but in the accumulation of excess love. This the Munams had plenty of, and from that point of view were more the evolutionary form of humanity than the devolutionary.
The Munams all wore a sort of close fitting frock, a plain colored one piece suit that displayed their practicality and modesty. It is a hobby of mine to observe the clothing worn by different groups of people and compare it to their characteristics. As I have said before, clothes do not make the man, but the man certainly makes the clothes, and it is possible to judge a person’s character by the type of attire that they wear, in that it is an expression of their tastes. The Munams were shown by their clothing to be a very friendly people, for their frocks were hung gently about the body in a manner that was at once both carefree and conservative. This is perfectly analogous to their personalities.
When we came down through the center street, which was really the whole city, for there were no other roads, the people rushed out to meet us, and when they were told that it was the White Eagle, they began to dance joyously about in the streets. There was laughter and play going on all at once, and it was like a great burden lifted from my heart to see them rejoicing, for it almost reconciled their sufferings with the Zard’s and Canitaur’s ease of life, in that they seemed to be much more happy, in spite of the circumstances.
Ramma gave a short speech to the people, in which he detailed the prophecy and its fulfillment and, in general, encouraged everyone to hope for what was to come. When it was over, he and I retired to his home, which was rather larger than the others and formed its own semi-circle, containing as it did both his private quarters and the official offices of the government, which, while extremely limited in number, were well outfitted. The door of this building opened into a short hallway that had several doors adjacent to it. He led me down one of these and it proved to be a dining hall, though it was not as commodious as most, with only a round wooden table with a few chairs around it and some cupboards and cabinets.
Pulling my chair out for me to sit in, Ramma went through all the normal duties of host with great ease, and within a few moments we were eating heartily from a great dish of boiled potatoes that had been brought in by a servant, or rather, a deputy minister of state, for such was his title. We did little talking before we ate, because I was greatly famished and as such was ill-inclined to be jovial, not that I was sullen, but I found it hard to be completely relaxed without a full stomach. Yet when that was remedied and I found myself satisfied and comfortable in a warm dwelling, I opened up to Ramma and we had a long and entertaining discussion, some of which I will record here, as it shines a little more light upon the mysteries of my story:
“So, my dear Jehu,” Ramma began, “I trust your stay on Daem has so far been enjoyable.”
I chuckled quietly and told him, “No, not entirely, for there is a war afoot on Daem, or at least there seemed to be, and it made quite a bit of trouble for me.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he replied, “But also gratified, for it will help us in our offensive if they are against each other as well as us. Still, it will be hard.”
“What offensive is that?” I asked, my interest being perked.