Tudana, 12th Yassad 7844
“Once upon a when, there were two shepherds,” Uncle Kahaal leaned forward, into his story. “On the night the sky fell they were tending to their flock, far from home and far from help.”
Quin had heard her Uncle tell this tale many times and more, but still her mind failed to grasp it. The very thought of burning rocks falling from the sky and setting the desert on fire was just too terrible, too incredible.
“The shepherds watched as a bright star appeared in the west where none should be. They were simple folk and as that star grew bigger and closer in the night sky they were terrified! Wouldn’t you be? Terrified for more than their lives, they feared for their very souls. They still practiced the Old Ways in those days,” Uncle’s eyes darkened and locked upon hers. Quin knew better than to say anything.
“I won’t lie to you young Quin. I would have you know the truth in the telling. The shepherds were heathens. They knew no better. In their ignorance, they thought to appease their Goddess with an offering from their herd. When their offering went unheeded they sacrificed another, this time using it’s spilled entrails in a divination ritual. But, their Goddess is a fickle and cruel mistress and their prayers, their pleas and auguries all went unanswered as one could only expect.”
“What would you do Quin? They knew not what to do and so with the comet blazing in the sky above them, the shepherds fled. They abandoned their flock to fend for itself and they made for Yhakkoth. Ignored by their own Goddess, the heathens placed their hope in the City-Gods of the north. As you know, Quin, the City-Gods live among us. They do not abandon us. They protect and care for us. The Mother-Goddess cares nothing for worship and offers nothing in return.”
Quin nodded quickly and fidgeted in the sand. They were in their favorite spot in her Uncle’s yard, he on his bench in the shade of the huge cactus and she sat cross-legged in the sand. It would not do to ask the wrong question here, her Uncle held no love for the Old Ways and could easily become derailed from the story. And, they were just getting to the good parts…
“With the falling star now as large as the sun above them, fat and low in the sky, the frightened shepherds braved the dangers of the unforgiving desert. They had no time to prepare and the trackless desert between here and Yhakkoth is a dangerous place for the unwary. Can you imagine their journey, young Quin?”
Quin’s eyes widened at the thought of such an ordeal and she shook her head wildly, as she always did at this part of the story.
“This is why you must always stay close to home Quin. We are safe here at the Oasis. But beyond the berm?” Uncle Kahaal’s voice trailed off theatrically and he scratched the shaggy white fur that covered his chest.
“Many an unwary pilgrim has vanished beneath the sands to drown in a hidden sand trap. Many and more have choked or poisoned themselves to death simply because they cannot tell one cactus from another. The shepherds knew a thing or two about all of these dangers and still they were sorely tested. They were attacked by scorpions as large as you are child, with venom dripping from stingers sharper than any Templar’s spear.”
“The shepherds, in the growing shadow of that awful burning rock, faced all of these dangers and more as they raced northward across the desert.”
“They could see a much smaller, sickly green star that seemed to have broken off from the massive comet. Can you imagine it, child? Do you even think you can?”
“Imagine! You are so thirsty and exhausted that you cannot take another step, the shadows of vultures criss and cross your path as they circle impatiently above you; and you are so, so terrified that you cannot think. An abandoned tower, half-buried and more than half-forgotten rose out of the sand before them.”
“And, once there, the shepherds simply ran out of time.”
The Night The Sky Fell
Written by Ian Hewitt
Artwork by an unknown talent. Used with love and not permission.
Played at the tabletop in Laramie, Wyoming