A F T E R W O R D
The deep-orange suns were sinking into the horizon, sending shimmers of light on the cracked, worn path. Its dark surface was warm against the traveller's tired feet, if somewhat rough and dry.
The traveller wondered why the path shimmered like it did in the dry seasons; some sort of magic, perhaps?
The local shaman said so. He’d pointed to the suns setting on the horizon, on a day like this, telling the traveller that fire leapt from them and illuminated the path, causing it to shimmer. The traveller, being curious, asked how, and why they did that. The shaman had just clicked his teeth and shrugged. He said the suns were weary; they set fire to the path and sky so that the night could be lit while they rested.
Both he and the traveller were skeptical of that, though.
The sky oft filled with clouds, even at after sundown, obscuring the glowing starlight. The traveller didn’t like the clouds. They were omens of the blowing wind, kicking up dust and getting sand in his eyes and joints. That wasn’t the case today, however.
The traveller could see no clouds. There was just enough light so that he could see the village just up ahead. The white flags just outside the temple were easy to spot.
The shamans who inhabited the temple claimed it and the flags were older than all of the ancestors of the village - they said the Spirits had left the temple behind for their great-grandfathers to discover.
Had there been no light to illuminate the path, the traveller could still smell the temple before he saw it. The thick scent of iron, like the smell of the metalworker’s forge, permeated the air around the ancient structure.
The smell emanated from the numerous piles of metallic flakes, scattered around the temple’s courtyard. The piles had other objects within them, shaped plates, like that of armor, which were made of a strange material, almost like stone.
The shamans strictly forbade any from touching or modifying the piles. They claimed that the Spirits had used these piles as incenses, and enchanting perfumes from whatever rites they practiced. Therefore, the piles were the property of the the Spirits, and they were not to be touched by the unclean.
The traveller considered how these strange, smelling piles could have been anyone’s property.
Even stranger were the symbols atop the external spire of the temple:
The traveller didn’t know what they meant, neither did the shamans, but they claimed they were the symbols of the Spirits.
He shook his head and moved on, walking into the village, where more concrete matters awaited him.