Mukti Atyashanti ~ Venusianfire
(Play the song and read! They go hand in hand. There are pictures along the way as well.)
A young boy sits on the edge of a tall bluff, watching the sun set in a palette of red, orange, and pink hues which bleed across the darkening, star speckled sky. The boy, known as Hania by his people, gazes in awe as the colorful rays saturate the sparse cumulonimbus clouds, lighting them up with radiance and casting long shadows over the lush green valley. Below the precipice rumbles the sparkling Euphrates river, twisting and turning in powerful knots towards a far off land.
Hania stands, in a state of simple existence with the sun, the stars, and the mountain. The soft fresh breath of rolling mountain wind presses against the boy’s cheeks, brushing his raven black hair out of his green eyes. A tiny flame ignites within his heart. The clouds part to reveal a glowing full moon high above as it slowly trades the falling sun for ruler-ship in the heavens. A particular patch of stars shine brightly behind the moon’s majesty; the constellation of Scorpius.
The boy sinks low in a feral crouch, arms planing out behind him in a state of perfect balance. His fingers molt and ripple away into elegant black feathers, stretching along the length of his arms, then shoulders, and down his muscular back. In one fell swoop, he throws himself forward into open space, plummeting over the tall, tree-capped ridge. Blood rushes to his face, and an odd feeling of total and perfectly controlled terror consumes his mind.
His wings catch the airwaves and he soars, arching upwards into the heavens. The boy sheds his mortal form and all of his worldly attachments, surrendering to the supreme and primal nature of the eagle, who is king of the skies, and observer of the world. God has bestowed this gift upon young Hania, and along with it an obligation to rid the world of fear.
The boy glides back down to earth, immediately enthralled by the weaving motion of the Euphrates river. It glistens and shimmers with the reflection of the starry sky, teeming with galaxies above its surface, and ecosystems beneath.
Curiosity drives the boy along the river’s course, all the way to its fertile delta. As he rises in towards the river’s mouth on warm oceanic thermals, an object far out at sea catches his keen eye. Lazily he tweaks his steady trajectory towards the oddity and coasts in for a quick glance, but as tall masts and billowing black sails take form, the boy realizes he has stumbled upon a pirate’s shipping lane. Atop the tallest reaches of the main mast he finds a safe perch in a moldy net of rigging whereby he rests his wings, and maintains a satisfactory vantage point to spy upon the dirty, bickering humans down below.
Two rival parties exchange rough words in an indiscernible language; one group headed by the ship’s captain, marked by a large feathered black hat, and the other presumably by a burly and vicious looking first mate. All of the sudden, the large, bald, tattooed man lets out an unearthly bellow, slamming his jagged scimitar between the ribs of his opponent. With a spurt of blood, he rips the blade out of the man’s chest leaving him to topple over the wood rim into foaming ocean blackness. In a flash, the seafarers meet each other with steel, with the mutineers steadily pressing the aged captain further into retreat. From below deck, the first mate’s comrades emerge toting a large oak-wood chest. As the last of the captain’s men are slain down in cold blood, the scarred bald man motions for one of his inferiors to break off the chest’s thick iron lock. Finally, he kicks the lid open to reveal an ocean of jewels and gold coins. Hania watches in dismay as the pirates erupt with cheers. Laying atop the pile of newfound treasures sits an ivory talisman. Hania is horrified to recognize that the talisman is marked by the most powerful symbol known to the ancient world.
The greedy first mate snatches up the ivory token with a victorious cackle, relishing his ill-gotten fortune. Immediately, the eyes of the bald man turn the darkest shade of obsidian, his skin hardens and cracks, and his laugh warps into the spine-rattling chortle of a demon. Consumed with power, his comrades join in with jeers and yells of delight.
With haste, the boy leaps from his perch and banks hard, dropping in a wide circle, flanking the mutineers. He swoops through the crowd of men, snatching the ivory symbol in his beak, and flaps his wings in an almighty burst of desperation, dodging blades and spears on the ascent. Without the idol’s power to sustain them, the jewels and coins remaining in the chest fade to dust, and the malevolent pirates disintegrate in shrieks of pain. Without a moment’s hesitation, the boy sets his sights towards the east in search of a home for the nefarious artifact.
For days he flew over rolling white caps and blistering sand dunes to the uncharted corners of the map. He encountered many an individual and stoic tombs for harboring even the best of secrets, but he saw that the world was greedy and spiteful.
Alas, he alighted for a rest on the outskirts of an expansive necropolis. However, an unanticipated heat wave overwhelmed his tired body and he crumpled to the earth, rippling back into his natural human form. For two days he lay at the verge of death, and just when death’s angels were about to claim him, a lanky Egyptian boy stumbled upon him. Luckily, the boy had been assigned with fetching water for his village. He propped Hania up against a boulder and poured fresh water into his throat. Hania quickly rose to consciousness, coughing up the water and sputtering. Vigilantly, the Egyptian gave him more to drink, introducing himself as Esai.
“I come from a village near Alexandria,” said the boy. His eyes were large and deep, the color of the sands. Hania could see friendship in them.
“I do not know of Alexandria,” Hania replied, “I am strange to these lands.”
“Then you must come with me!” Esai exclaimed, “It is not safe for you to wander any further without some rest and nourishment.”
“Oh no,” Hania said, “I cannot depend on you for any more hospitality, as I have no possessions to barter, nor any coins to repay you.”
“But you must,” encouraged Esai, “You will not make it through the desert without restoring your strength. Please allow my family this one kindness.”
Hania smiled, and nodded in admittance. The two boys set off across the dunes towards the legendary port city, talking of each others’ travels and experiences, and laughing about their chance encounter. When they finally reached the Alexandria, Hania was astounded that he had not yet voyaged to the wondrous city. It was filled with bazaars, colorful churches, people of all colors, and an unparalleled musical vibrancy. Not far off shore was Pharos’s Island, and atop it towered the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Seventh Wonder of the Ancient World. Even more dumbfounding to Hania was the beautiful library of Alexandria, built of polished white marble. Just as the lighthouse was a beacon for seafarers trying to find their way home, the library was a piece of enlightenment unto itself, holding the majority of humanity’s literature and documenting the intellectual progression of the human race thus far.
Hania had faith the library would hold the secrets within that would lead him to a safe home for the ivory talisman, away from the destructive hands of men. He knew very well that his quest must begin and end with a search for the meaning of the engraved symbol. Esai escorted him in, having been familiar with the book keepers and the organization of all the dusty scrolls. Each day they took one shelf at a time and poured over the contents of each document or book. After several weeks of searching, Hania had discovered that the talisman and the symbol were avatars for unimaginable entities. Some books indicated the symbol was a reference to an ancient spiritual entity, and others told of philosophers and alchemists that labeled it as the key to immortality. All books pointed to one original location; Ethiopia.
A fateful day that was indeed; as the boy had discovered his newest course of action to rid the world of evil, war trumpets sounded far in the distance. Multitudes of people began piling in to the library, disrupting the quiet, scholarly atmosphere it normally demanded, causing Esai and Hania to quickly rise and approach the windows in search for the source of all the ruckus. Outside, hordes of soldiers pressed onwards towards the Nile delta, preparing to meet some foe.
“We must get out of the city!” Esai panicked, snatching up his belongings.
Quickly the two boys pushed their way through the crowd towards the library’s doors, and forced their way around the guardsmen out into the streets. Screaming civilians ran the opposite direction from the onward pressing foot soldiers.
“Head north,” Esai directed, “we’ll make it home faster if we follow the crowds.” This was towards whatever conflict lay at the delta, but it was faster than fighting against the flow of military traffic. We slipped into the sea of marchers, watching in awe as archers gathered themselves on the rooftops, preparing for war.
“Who attacks Alexandria?” Hania asks the foot soldier beside him.
“Have you not heard?” he replied over the roar of battle preparations, “Rumor has it, Nero has come to seize the city. Legions of Romans and siege engines pass the Lighthouse as we speak.”
With the first available opportunity, the boys slipped away down a side alley and continued towards the western outskirts of Alexandria as quick as possible.
“You see!” said Hania, bitterly. The ivory artifact vibrated in his open palm, glowing with a maniacal intensity, “it’s this damn treasure. Everywhere I bring it, there are violent uprisings.”
“Perhaps there is something to it,” Esai agreed.
As they reached his home, the two parted ways. Esai left with his family for Tunisia, and Hania began his southbound flight.
Hania followed the Nile south into the wild African heartland. After a time, the unrelenting desert faded away into hard red clay, and finally a mess of vegetation began to dot the horizon. Reinvigorated, he doubled his pace, soaring above treetops, but he could see nothing but jungle and the Nile for miles.