Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Rise of Huti

Title: The Rise of Huti
Word Count: 1934
Genre: Fantasy

I'm pulling out a couple of my rough drafts this weekend, since I've been letting them sit for years without really touching them now. And I have a bit of 'free' time. I actually have a lot that I need to do, I'm just completely unmotivated to do it. At any rate, this is another short story from the Kamore world. I wrote it ages ago, and recently went through and made a few edits. I'm still not sure how happy I am with it, but whatever. This isn't one I really plan on publishing, ever. Enjoy!

The Rise of Huti

Once, not too long ago, there was a time of deep unrest in our nation.

“We cannot stand for this! The Agnassen must be put down for the survival of our own people!” one man raged. Despite his old, wizened appearance, he was quite animated. His years seemed to melt away from him, though his long, gray hair remained the same. His cloak, which was stitched with a fine gold thread, showed his position as an elder. He looked around at the other elders of the village.

A young boy, sitting along the edges of the tent, worked a piece of yarn worriedly. His short black hair framed his face and put his eyes in shadow from the sun, and his worn, brown cloak indicated that he was a mere commoner in the village. He was only permitted in the elders' tent because he was the student of one of the more prominent elders, Tahi.

“Come now, Odar. War has solved nothing in the past. Why should we throw innocent lives away for such a pointless activity?” A slightly younger man, his hair still showing the brown of youth, remained calm as he sat beside the fire. The young boy straightened as his master spoke. “I think it far better if we wait it out. The winter will come soon, and it will be more difficult for the Agnassen to come over the pass to fight us. They will wear themselves out.”

Odar grew enraged at this suggestion, and responded with new fury. “How can we just sit here and wait? What if they manage to move over the pass before the white blanket settles over the land? How should we protect ourselves then?” His voice was loud and booming. “Or are you simply afraid of what might come to pass?”

Tahi remained calm and slowly rose from his seat on the floor. “I am simply showing respect for the lives of the young men that would be put in danger if we were to follow your plan, Odar. Not to mention the women and children who would be affected by such a loss.”

Odar's face turned purple in his rage. “What makes you so sure we are going to lose men? With a good plan, we can easily defeat the Agnassen, and not lose a life in the process.”

“A life is always lost when we result to war. Even if not one man of ours died, many would come back completely changed by the fighting. Is that something we would so easily wish them to deal with? War is not our only choice at this point, so why turn to it so easily?”

The others in the tent looked from Tahi to Odar, and back again. The two most respected elders had differing opinions as to what should be done about this threat to the people, and so the village would follow whichever had the most support from the other elders. Many of the younger men seemed to side with Odar, while the women and older men among them paid more heed to Tahi. The atmosphere in the tent was charged with tension.

The young boy chewed his lip worriedly. After seeming to deal with his internal struggle, he moved behind Tahi and whispered something in his ear. With a short nod, Tahi dismissed the boy, and the boy moved to the edges of the tent again. Tahi looked around at the elders. “Huti, my student, makes a fair point. Regardless of what we decide, we must ensure that the favor of the gods is on our side. It is pointless to chose a path that would only lead to our own destruction.”

The elders muttered their understanding of the idea, and Tahi continued. “Huti suggests we seek the guidance of Jaya. She would be able to empower us with the strength we need to face whatever situation is best. Her favor would be very important in determining the outcome.”

Odar seemed to glow at this suggestion, his face cracking into a frightening smile. The elders murmured their agreement, and the tension in the tent eased slightly. Perhaps they wouldn't have to choose between them.

An old woman stood and inclined her head towards Odar. “While it is clear that Odar should go, being the highest among the wise men, I believe Huti should accompany him. It was Huti's words that brought about this agreement, and he is to become an elder himself some day.”

Odar's face became tinged with pink once again. “I will not speak to the goddess with such a young boy at my side! It would be a disgrace!”

The old woman looked at him sharply. “Were you not a young boy yourself when you first made that journey up the mountain? Why should Huti be any different than you were? I can think of no one as brave as Huti in this instant, for only he and Tahi have the courage to stand up to raging men as yourself. He is to be one of our leaders some day, and must be prepared as best he can be for such a task. Do you know any better way to initiate him?” Her eyes seemed to glow with a power that her appearance did not indicate she had.

Odar looked as if he were going to retort, but backed down instead, bowing slightly to the old woman. Huti looked around uneasily, but the old woman rubbed his shoulder in reassurance. He felt strangely empowered by the gesture.

The two set off for the goddess' shrine the next morning, at the first sign of light. They left quickly, bringing only what was necessary for their travels. The journey would be a long one, as they would have to climb to the top of the neighboring mountain in order to find the goddess' shrine. It was said that from that vantage point, she could see all that was taking place through the land.

By the time they reached the shrine, night had fallen, and the only light offered was that of a waning moon. Still, the shrine seemed to glow with a soft blue light, and the two travelers set aside their packs to kneel before it.

Huti's ears perked up as he heard a soft rumbling sound, and his head raised slightly to see a sleek mountain lion sitting atop the altar. It looked at him with piercing eyes, and its tail swooshed silently across the altar. Huti didn't dare make a sound, and held eye contact with the lion for some time before Odar looked at him.

“What are you looking at, boy?” His tone was harsh and demanding, but Huti did not dare speak, only continued to look at the mountain lion. The lion stood and jumped off the altar towards them. Odar saw the movement and fell back in fear, making a strangled sound as he hit the ground. Huti stood and bowed slightly to the lion, breathing deeply so as not to let his fear show.

The mountain lion's tail swished again, and in a flash of bright light, transformed into a beautiful woman. She had light yellow hair, unlike any hair in the villagers below, and piercing blue eyes. Her dress was the color of the morning glories in the valley below, white with wisps of light blue around it. Huti stared at her, shocked into silence. Odar fell to his knees and at once began praising the goddess. She held up her hand to his praises, and he stopped immediately.

“Young one, tell me of you journey.” Her voice was angelic, light and singsong. She moved with a grace very much like that of the lion she had previously embodied.

Odar, angry with the attention she was giving Huti, began to answer. “We have journeyed far to see you, wise lady...”

She turned to him, her gaze suddenly cold. “I asked the young one, not you.”

Huti held his breath and glanced at the hateful look of his elder. The goddess turned to him, her eyes friendly and warm. He took a deep breath and began. “Jaya, we come from the Kamore people, the village in the valley. We have traveled all day up the mountain so that we might visit your shrine and ask of your assistance.”

She smiled. “And what assistance might you require?”

“Our elders are divided on how we should deal with the threat of the Agnassen. Some believe we should go to war, and others believe there is a better way, and that war should only be used as a last resort.”

“And what do you think, young one?”

Huti cleared his throat, glancing anxiously at Odar, whose face had once again turned pink with rage. “War cannot be the answer. It has been done in the past, and has not yet succeeded. If the Agnassen do not see the threat of war as dangerous, it cannot be the solution we seek.”

Jaya laughed softly and moved towards Huti. “You are very wise, young one. You can see the balance of power in play here. While it is easy enough to fight war with war, the balance of good and evil will never be equal then. Act in a way which would preserve this balance, and you will see favor in my eyes.”

Huti bowed, thanking the goddess. Odar, furious that his way was not truth, spoke quickly. “The Agnassen must be destroyed at any cost. They are a vile people, and must not influence the world anymore!”

Jaya turned to him quickly, her eyes once again a bone-chilling blue. “You dare speak against me, Odar? It is I from whom you draw your power, and I can easily take it away. It is only through my favor you remain a wise man. If you do not believe in my power, though, I'll transfer my favor to young Huti. He will become, I believe, the youngest wise man in your village.”

Odar looked at her, fear evident in his eyes. “No, Mistress. I did not mean to offend. I was only speaking my thoughts--”

“Thoughts that were neither asked for, nor appreciated. Huti shall take your place in the council.” She waved her hand and Huti's simple cloak became one of great elegance and power. Odar's cloak seemed insignificant in comparison, though it had not changed at all. “Take note of Odar's position, young Huti. He did not put his own people ahead of his greed and hatred, and it has cost him dearly. Do not put yourself in the same position.”

Huti bowed again, and sensing that he had been dismissed, turned and began to journey back down the mountain. The sky was turning pink in the east, and he would soon have good light to travel by. When he made it back to the village, he would be welcomed as the new elder.

And so, the Kamore entered a new era. They made peace with the Agnassen, at least for a time. Huti led his people through the challenges they would face and would keep the favor of Jaya, heeding her warning throughout the rest of his life. Odar never returned to the village. It is said that he died of shame on his journey down the mountain, though some say he still haunts the mountain, waiting for a chance to redeem himself with the goddess Jaya.

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