“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
VERY Rough Chapter 3
Brave – ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.
Strength – the quality or state of being physically strong.
Intellect – the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh
Though the four had lived in a world full of change, they did not feel it, nor did they think much about it. Their lives had been, up to this point, rather monotonous. Not overmuch happening. Not like the days when their ancestors lived in the four corners. Those days were full of change even the catalysts felt, which was saying a lot. For a catalyst to actually feel change, it must be on a global scale. What these four did not know, could not know, was that those seeds of change, themselves, were about to embark on a journey for the ages. One that would have made even their ancestors concerned.
Unlike the East, the West was hot. Very hot. Hot and dry, not wet and humid like the East. No, the West was dry, arid, desert landscapes, with rolling sand dunes, and distant mountains, which surrounded the Valley of the Sun. It was in this Valley that Lorel, and the people of the Sun lived; and, where the Castle of Sand was located. Like Sheldon, Lorel was the Mage of the East, and as such, fulfilled their obligation to the people of the Sun. Unlike, Sheldon, Lorel preferred to live alone. No Quara running after them, no house servants picking up after them. Just Lorel. Well, Lorel, and Hok, Lorel’s falcon, who, like Lorel, had lived in the Castle of Sand for generations. In fact, Hok’s ancestors had served Lorel’s ancestors as far back as anyone would care to remember.
Lorel was in their study at the top of the Castle, when Hok flew in and perched just over Lorel’s shoulder.
“What’s the matter, Hok?”
And, just then, Lorel sensed it, them. Lorel quickly made their way to the window overlooking the vast dunes to the East, and sure enough, five riders were making their way to the Castle.
Surrounding the Castle were hamlets, many of them. This is where the people of the Sun lived. Lived, and thrived. Even though the Sun People did not take care of Lorel and the Castle proper, they took care of all of the surrounding landscape and hamlets.
And, though no one took care of Lorel and the Castle, there was one in particular, one tribesperson that looked in on Lorel regularly. Talom was their name, and their dedication to Lorel was complete.
Talom was a senior advisor among the tribe of the Sun People, and was known for their great intellectual prowess. Even Lorel considered Talom one of the smartest people they had ever met.
As the riders approached the hamlets, Talom readied themselves for a conversation with the horse people.
The first rider was younger than Talom expected, and gave off waves of arrogance, which Talom was not surprised about. The other four riders stayed back, while the youngster dismounted, and approached Talom on foot.
The hamlet’s inhabitants spilled out into the narrow streets that connected the small homes constructed of sand. Children and teenagers raced up to stand behind Talom, while their parents yelled at them to stay back.
The young man approached, and said “Who are you, old man? We are seeking Lorel, Mage of the East. We are not interested in talking to the likes of you. So, simply point the way, and we will pass in peace.”
Talom snickered inwardly. The arrogance of such a boy to suppose he could simply ride up to the Castle of Sand, and speak with Lorel. Funny. Absurd. Talom gathered himself, breathing slowly, patiently, and just as the boy was about to speak…
“Who am I? Why, who are you, young master? We are the People of the Sun. This is our hamlet, which lies in the shade of the Castle of Sand.”
The young horse rider paused, grinned, then stepped back, looked over his shoulder, and said, “Seems like we have an issue here. This old one will not let us pass. What should we do boys?”
While the young horse rider was speaking to his fellow riders, Talom could sense something. Yes, it was Lorel communicating with him through fire. Fire was the Mage’s Art, and they could do just about anything with it, including using it to communicate.
“Talom, what is going on? Why is this young human boy here with four other men, and those infernal horses? What do they want?”
Talom still breathing slowly and patiently, answered back, “Master, I don’t like these horse riders, there’s something wrong with them. Not sure what it is, but something is amiss.”
Just then the first horse rider advanced toward Talom at an amazing speed, drawing a throwing knife as he did so, and as he was about to throw, a curtain of fire erupted between the rider and Talom. The horse rider almost ran right into it, yet stopped just in time.
As the horse riders sat on their horses, and the first rider sat on the desert floor looking up at the unbelievable wall of fire, Lorel came walking down the narrow hamlet streets towards the wall of fire. As Lorel walked, they brushed heads of children in the streets, and shook hands of parents and caretakers, young and old.
Lorel made her way to Talom, stood right beside them, and in an instant withdrew the wall of Fire. Hok was sitting just over Lorel’s left shoulder, on the top of one of the hamlets, taking in their Master’s poise under pressure.
“What do you men want? You do not belong here, and are not sanctioned to be away from the Center. The Center is where you live, and where you are to stay. The far reach of the West is no place for you. Now go.”
The young horse rider, stood up, brushed himself off, and called to one of the other men to bring him the pack.
Pack, what pack, Talom thought. Talom didn’t like this any better, even with their Master right beside them.
One of the older men brought the pack over, handed to the young horse rider, then made his way back to his horse.
The young horse rider then said, “We were tasked with delivering this to you. It was not an easy journey, several died, and we are what remain of the dispatch. This if for you.”
Lorel took the pack, opened it, and almost fell over upon seeing the contents. What in the world was the East Mage’s Book of Change doing with these human men, and what was it doing in the West, about as far away as you could get form the most distant East? And, Sheldon?
Commitment – the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
Patronage – the support given by a patron.
Dedication – the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” -Charles Darwin
Quara’s commitment was clear from a very young age. Take care of Master Sheldon, that’s it, period. Sheldon and Quara had a strong relationship, built on trust and mutual respect, over time. Many envied Quara’s post, Wiki believing that they should rise higher in the Caste system, and take on more responsibilities, yet that is not how service worked. Service was handed out by the tribal elders at birth. As a child grew, they were given instruction over three areas – general education, their service training, and, understanding their patrons Art. And, as Quara was the one selected to serve Master Sheldon, their training in the Art was that more extensive.
As Quara moved down the spiral staircase towards Sheldon’s rooms, cautious to be ever so quite, as this was Sheldon’s meditation time, which was not to be disturbed under any circumstances, they noticed a shadow playing on the outside of Sheldon’s main room, light flickering from inside the room displayed by the fire that was in the hearth. The shadow moved this way and that, and Quara froze in their place on the stairs. Waiting. Breathing. Slowly. Slowly, one step at a time towards the Masters room, one step, two, three, and suddenly the Master burst through the room, rushing past Quara and up the stairs to the main hall. Quara stumbled back against the wall, sank down, and sat. Waiting. Breathing. Slowly.
Sheldon dashed through the main hall and into the library. Sheldon’s library was extensive, handed down from many generations. There were regular books, tomes, articles, and every imaginable script on and in the history of the world.
The library was…
Sheldon moved quickly, rifling through the books, grabbing a few, then to the tomes, flipping, blowing off dust, then to the articles and manuscripts doing the same, selecting the ones needed. They moved all the items gathered to their desk, sprawling out the papers in an array to get the best look. Sheldon lit a couple more candles as the day was dank and dark, as it was often in the East at this time of year, well, at most times of year.
Meanwhile, Quara, catching their breath, hurried up the stairs, through the main hall, and into the library after their Master.
Quara burst into the library and said “Master, what is this all about? You nearly knocked me down the staircase. You gave me an awful fright!” Sheldon did not respond, and continued to study the papers, and books strewn out all over the desktop. Concentrating. Breathing. Slowly.
“It’s not hear, I cannot find it, Quara!”
Quara, of course, had no idea what Sheldon was talking about, so probed, “Master, I don’t know what you are talking about. You are supposed to be in meditative practice. I am confused.”
Sheldon continued to search through the papers, combing books, tossing them aside.
“I know it’s here, Quara. It has to be.”
Quara stumped, decided to take a different tact with their Master. “Master, why don’t you sit down for a moment, breathe, and what it is you are looking for will come to you.”
Sheldon, not hearing Quara fully, yet sensing reasonableness in the docile way Quara was approaching them, sat down on the floor, closed their eyes, and breathed. Slowly. In and out, in and out.
Quara stooped down, sat on the floor across from their Master, and did the same. Concentrating. Breathing. Slowly.
5 minutes, turned into, 10, which turned into an hour.
Sheldon opened their eyes, looked at the strewn papers and books littered across the library floor, looked over at Quara, who was still eyes shut breathing, and sighed.
“It’s no use, Quara, I cannot remember where it is. All these years, the Book of Change has been in this library, and now, it is gone. Poof. Gone. I don’t understand it. Cannot understand it.”
Quara slowly opened their eyes, looked at their Master, and also sighed. “Master, I know not where the Book of Change is. Surely it is here. It must be. Where else could it be?”
Sheldon sighed again. Rose to their knees, stood up, and walked over to Quara, lending them a hand, pulling them up.
“Oh, Quara, I am upset, and concerned. That the Book is not here is unsettling, and I fear, not the most unsettling thing that has occurred today.”
Quara looked at their Master quizzically, “Master?”
“In my meditation today, the light brought me a Vision, one that I dare not say overmuch about, yet know that, though I do not feel change as others do, there are great changes coming, Quara. Changes that will affect the entire world. Nothing will be the same. Nothing is the same.”
Quara started to shake. When the Master had a vision, which did not happen often, something was definitely wrong with the world. “Master, you are frightening me, and I do not understand your meaning.”
“No matter, Quara. It is time. Time to visit the West, and see Lorel.”
Now Quara was more than concerned, was frightened. “Master, you can’t really mean that. You’ve never travelled to the East. In all the years you have been Master of Castalistidom, you’ve never traveled to the East. Not ever. Oh, Master, you are truly frightening me.”
Sheldon began picking up the papers and books from the floor, organizing them on the desk. They stopped, hands braced on the desk table, sighed, head hanging.
“Of course, you are right, Quara, and yet, it is my duty to do so. There are only 4 Books of Change on the entire planet. One in the West, South, North, and, well, one that used to be here in the East, yet is no more. We must travel to Lorel. We have no choice.”
Quara, still confused, looked their Master in the eye, chin tucked in, back straight and said, “Very well, Master. I will inform the staff, and get your affairs in order. When do we leave.”
Sheldon smiled, maybe grinned.
“Why, Quara, we are leaving right now.”
Quara, head hanging a bit now, sighed again, picked up his head, and said, “Very well, Master. Then I’d better get busy!”
Catalyst – a person or thing that precipitates an event.
Change – the act or instance of making or becoming different.
Chaos – complete disorder and confusion.
Seed – the cause or latent beginning of a feeling, process, or condition.
They were catalysts, and didn’t know it. How could they? When life is full of change that you precipitate, it all seems the same. Change is only seen as occurring differently when there is a normal by which you measure such change. Normal is not a word, or a way of being, that they knew. No, change is what they knew, constant and ever present. Their normal, their every day.
Chaos, then, is what they knew well. Chaos is everywhere in the world, yet humans believe there is an order to things. Time is a good example of a seemingly ordered set of principles, and people rely on it immensely. Yet, time is not ordered. Time is, in fact, very chaotic. Time changes, and precipitates events, and also creates disorder and confusion, hence chaos. We put stability on time, time is not stable. And, this they knew.
They were seeds, and this everyone knew. Seeds of chaos and seeds of change, hence the catalysts.
Known – recognized, familiar, or within the scope of knowledge.
Being – the nature or essence of a person.
“The power of a bold idea uttered publicly in defiance of dominant opinion cannot be easily measured. Those special people who speak out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious catalysts for change.”
It was a day like any other day, chaotic, and ever changing, yet they knew it not, as normal was equal to change in every way and in every part. The winds change, the tides change, the moon changes, yet people believe they are static – for the sun is in the sky surely it is static, not moving – not true. True to them, was the every day occurrence of defying the traditional societal model. Pushing back on the status quo. This was their work. Their life work, in fact.
There were four of them. One in the east, one in the west, one in the south, and one in the north. Connected by a deep inner knowing, not by physicality, not by geography, but by a knowing. Knowing, familiar, recognizable, and within their sense of being.
Their being was their calling. Their mere existence was catalyst enough. No action necessary, though in action were all four, always. People, events, even ideas were attracted to them. And, inside of each of these people, events, and ideas even, were the seeds of change. Seeds that were drawn out and exercised by the four. One person, event, and idea at a time. And sometimes, on rare occasions, a person, event, and idea coalesced in such a way, that the confluence of which created change across the globe.
Was where Sheldon was located, atop a mighty castle stretching to the very bounds of the heavens, in the nether regions of the continent, tucked away in a hidden forest overgrown with hundreds of years of growth. Trees and bushes dripping with dew from the continuous rain showers that plagued this area of the globe. These forests were also home to many small tribes, all of which paid homage to the heaven stretched castle known as the Castalistidom – the catalyst.
One such tribe, the Wiki, were sworn to care for the Eastern catalyst and had been doing so for thousands of year, generations upon generations. Nestled within the forest all around the Castle, they tended the crops, raised the cattle, traded and barded with neighboring tribes, and of course, took care of the Castle grounds and Sheldon’s estate.
Within the Castle there were several Wiki, some cleaned the Castle, some prepared and cooked meals, some counseled Sheldon on affairs of the estate and neighboring lands, and one Wiki in particular, Quara was always with Sheldon, whether at home or afar. Quara was old, very old, and had been serving at Castalistidom their whole life. Generations of Quara’s family served in this same capacity, and though difficult, Quara would not have it any other way, for Castalistidom was the way of life, the only one, that Quara, and their people, knew of.
Sheldon was in their room, which was at the very center of the Castle, below the main floor, where it was often dark, just like Sheldon liked it. For it was in this darkness that Sheldon found the light. The light that was inside of the meditative practice, Sheldon’s Art, the gift given so many generations ago. Given by whom, no one knows. No one dare asks, for it was given at a time of great upheaval in the world, an upheaval not seen since.
Generally, peace was the tome of the day across the globe, yet that was about to change.
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