Tsemo's nose was itching. He opened his eyes and looked up to the round opening in the roof. Golden fluffs were swirling in the rays of light streaming in from a light blue, while darkness still obscured the interior the small round-house with the pointed roof. Inside the air was stifling hot because of the heavy curtain of fur in front of the entrance was keeping out the fresh breeze blowing from the sea of Marmora. But it was neither the itching nose nor the lack of fresh air that shooed away his sleep. On the contrary it was a slurping noise; it was the moaning and muted giggling arising from a couch on the opposite side of the dim room. The giggling was filled in by pep talk like, "Great! Go faster! Don't stop! Go on! Oh! Oh! You are killing me Kahin." Hami giggled and Kirketin breathed laboriously.
Tsemo, the run-away novice from the druid monastery, needed some moments to win back reality. He yawned and tried to sit up without waking Laong, who was spooning him. The evening before, as he recalled now, the Sun Seekers had gone on shore at the Fountain of Wisdom, a small bay, where the Oracle of Ecinli had his home for times unknown. There had been no peace settlement necessary between the voyagers and the keepers of Kirketin, the Kahin, just a copious meal and a good talk to seal their friendship. As a gesture of friendship, Dincer had invited the four Sun Seekers to spend the next days at the Fountain of Ecinli. "It's the time of prophecies! People will arrive from all over the country to ask the oracle to foretell the future and give advice. It's the big time of Kirketin, the Kahin, because he is the sacred Oracle!"
"But he looks like a retarded boy!" Buri had interjected disbelievingly.
"You are mistaken! Kirketin is the voice of the Mighty Trinity, the one and only, who is ruling the sun and the heavenly light, the thunder and the storm, the fertility of the earth and of the sweet tasting water, and of all the astral spirits." Kadem spoke up, hot-headed, "Adad, the almighty himself, who is living in a castle on top of the befogged mountains, has entrusted our Kirketin the Kahin, to the Mowbedem Mowbed himself, our highest priest. Our highest priests, brought little Kirketin down from the mountain and installed him as the successor of Kenan the Bilgin, who was ascended into the Trinity's realm in one stormy night seven years ago."
When Tsemo looked skeptical, "Look for yourself! Ask the Mowbedem Mowbed!" and Dincer raved on, "The chief of the clans are coming to ask Kirketin, the Grey Prince, how to make peace or how to win a battle! The peasants are coming to ask him for the right time to plant the seeds! The shepherds are coming to ask him when there is the best time to breed their sheep and goats! The fishermen are coming to ask for the best places for fishing and the pregnant women are coming to ask for the gender of their unborn children! The horny lads and the fair maiden are gathering around the Kahin to ask for the name of their true love and beg for his advice."
"You can't imagine the thankfulness of all these pilgrims! They shower the Kahin with offerings, not only with fruits, milk, cheese, fowl, birds and sheep, no they are also showering the Kahin with pearls and gemstones and gold!"
"Then Kirketin, the Kahin, must be rich!" Laong was staggered, "Richer than chieftains, even than kings!".
"No! No! The Mowbedem Mowbed will take the offerings and convey the gifts to the Mighty Trinity in their residence on top of the mountains!"
"So, there is nothing left at the Fountain of Ecinli, the shrine?" Aegir asked.
"There is enough left for the Grey Prince and ourselves to celebrate a big feast after the days of foretelling are over. When the tide is high the Mowedem Mowbed will come with his acolytes and after him, the pilgrims will arrive. Stay around, look and see!" was the prideful answer of Kadem.
"It's getting late, it's time to leave!" Dincer urged, "Can you give Kirketin the Kahin a ride with the boat to the Fountain of Wisdom?" when Aegir looked surprised, "I trust you and your friends! I know Kirketin will be save and arrive in time at the fountain. Hami will be your pilot, while we drive home the sheep!"
When Buri looked surprised, Dincer gave a second reason, "Kirketin is like an unwise kid! He likes to sniff at very flower; he turns over very wayside boulder. With him in tow, we never make it home tonight!"
The fast current and a stiff breeze from the north helped the Sun Seekers to cover the distance to southern point of the island of Ecinli before sun down. But for the last part they needed all their remaining power to fight their way against counter-current rushing along the seaward side of the island in front of the small bay harboring the Fountain of Wisdom.
When they went ashore the sickle of the waning moon already was reflected by ripples of the shallow water in the bay and the three round-houses, being the center of the sacred site, looked like dark shadows in the narrow valley indented into the rocky coastline. Hami, running ahead, announced their arrival to his brothers having reached the settlement already.
Shortly afterwards they all were seated around a low glowing fire in the roundhouse left to the sanctuary, the temple of Holy Trinity. The glow of the fire could hardly reveal the construction of the house. The rough walls of dry stone were just breast-high and standing upright was only possible in the center below the conical roof with a smoke hole in the middle. The entrance of the house was a roundish opening halfway up in the wall about two feet wide pointing to the beach. The only way into the house was to wriggle through this hole, because there were no other openings in the wall, no windows. There were couch-like platforms along the wall covered with sheepskins. Cups and bowls were sitting on shelves, while tools and weapons were hanging on hooks. Meat was roasting over glowing coals and an appetizing smell filled the small room. The substantial meal was short, because everyone was dead tired and soon went to rest on the couches while the fire died out.
Tsemo, the run-away novice from the druid monastery back at the tributary of the Bred-Ström, yawned and tried to sit up without waking Laong, who was spooning him. Spying at Kirketin and Hami he suddenly felt Laong stirring beside him and then his friend was sitting up beside him still drowsy and with sleepy eyes. The giggling and the slurping noise, however, had aroused the others as well. Dincer, feeling responsible for the orderly conduct of Kirketin and Hami, hissed, "Stop it! Kirketin, Hami! You horny bastards stop it!" and then louder, "Have you completely forgotten about our guests?"
With "Don't stop now, Kahin! I am cumin! Oh! Oh!" Hami pleaded to Kirketin to continue. Then the young boy came and suddenly only his heavy breaths were heard. A moment later Hami railed back at his big brother, "Horny bastard yourself Dincer! Let me and my Kahin have our fun! I don't mind if you breed your Keciii, your lovely woolly-haired ewe! You bugger! You don't let us do her, so we make out together!"
Dincer turned beet red and Kirketin licking the remainder of Hami's spunk from his lips started blaring mockingly "Baa! Baa! Baa!"
"Hey! Hey!" Kadim jeered good-humored, "Imitating lovely Keciii doesn't help you Kirketin and neither you little Hami! You just can't turn on Dincer like his lovely ewe!"
Now it was the others turn to laugh. Cheered up this way, they started on an exciting new day.
Thrusting aside the heavy curtain covering the entrance of the roundhouse Aegir was overwhelmed by the wonderful view across the bay. For a moment he forgot the reason for his early rising. The blue, nearly smooth sea seemed to touch the horizon. Only small ripples were reflecting the rays of the early morning sun. The rays of the sun god were bathing the woodland on the western slope of the valley in bright light, while the trees on the eastern slope were still enclosed by twilight. The bottom of the narrow valley was covered by a lush green carpet of grass studded with white, lilac and pinkish flowers.
The hard pressure of his bladder reminded him of the reason he woke up. He had to take a leak, urgently! He decided to do it behind the house as he was used to do right from the cradle. He walked around the small building he had spent the night in and suddenly was in the shade of the sanctuary. The sanctuary sprang up like the mountain and its looming silhouette shaded the green meadow. Its walls were more than three times higher than those of Dincer's hut and the point of the conical roof seemed to scratch the blue sky. Its sheer dimension made Buri shudder. He turned to look for a place to take a leak convinced that this place close to the sanctuary at the Fountain of Wisdom was not to be the right place for such a profane act. Meantime the others had left the house hatching out through the small exit like a butterfly emerging from his cocoon.
"Looking for a place to pee?" Dincer greeted him with a grin, "We offer it to Phorkys, the ole ruler of the seas!"
"Let's hurry my bladder is bursting!" Hami wailed and soon nine youngsters were lining up at the edge of Wadj-ur trying to win the long distant peeing contest.
"Guest or no guest!" Dincer turned to their guests apologetically, "The daily chores have to be done! Kadir and Kadem you have to milk the sheep!" he ordered, "Hami, you are due to collect the gum of the mastic trees and I will check the weirs for fish and crabs." Smiling at Aegir, "Will you come with me Redhead, son of a seafaring clan? You could teach me your skills and I teach you ours!"
Hami shifting impatiently from one foot to the other inquired, "Tsemo and Laong will you both come with me! Please! I have to show you something you never have seen…," However, before the youngest of the brothers could finish his sentence Kirketin started stuttering "No! No! Tsee my friend! Come with me! Pretty bbirdss!" and he took Tsemo's by the hand dragging him towards the wooded valley side. Hami laughed, "Kirketin is in love with Tsemo! He told me so this morning! Come on Laong, we have to catch up with the sweet couple otherwise they may get lost."
Now only Buri was left. Kadem looked first at him than to Kadir and asked shyly. "Would you like to come with us? We could need some help!" affixing his twin brother ridicule "Kadir is afraid of you, he is the younger one of us both and always afraid of strangers!"
"You are the chicken!" Kadir responded turning scarlet.
"Not Kadir! No never!" Buri laughed, and flicked an arm over Kadir's shoulder. "Your brother is just careful!"
"I will beat you!" Hami challenged Tsemo and Laong, "The one of you outpacing me to the big tree over there will get my part of the cheese tonight!" Laong entered the competition and raced Hami, giving the smaller boys a fair head start. Tsemo however had to stay behind, not because he didn't want to race Hami, but Kirketin stuck to him like a burr. Hami won by a nose and being a generous winner, he offered Laong the cheese anyway, "I won, but I give one half of the cheese to you anyway because you enjoyed it so much."
The rocky hillside was densely covered by head-high shrubs and knobby trees unknown to Tsemo and Laong. "We are looking for mastic trees." Hami pointed to the smaller trees, "Look! These small twisted trees over there with the grey-green leaves! The bigger trees are oaks and the gnarled ones with the grey leaves are olive trees." When both, Tsemo as well as Laong seemed to be in the dark, Hami smiled proudly, "You have eaten olives yesterday! Remember the fatty brown fruits? These are the fruits of the olive tree. Remember the flatbread you ate? These have been made of ground acorns of the oaks. Olives and acorns are harvested later in the year. Today we are looking if the mastic trees are producing gum already." He began to scramble up the steep incline and stopped a crooked tree waiting for the others.
Tsemo wondered, "Why have you been hurting the tree? The tree is wounded! Look Hami! The tree cries, he sheds tears! No living being should be treated like this."
Kirketin, who had finally caught up with the others, tried to comfort Tsemo, "Dnt! No, dnt cry! Tears are good! Tears help sick people! Heaven has told tree to cry because of the sick!"
"The Kahin may look to you like a child, but he tells the truth!" Hami put an arm around the Kahin's shoulder, "We are collecting the tears. We take them to the Temple of Adad where the high-priest and his helpers use the tears to heal the sick ones, the ones with a cold, with a bad stomach, with thick blood or bad teeth. The tears can even save people bitten by snakes!"
Suddenly Laong got very interested. He wanted to become a healer like Tsemo. He had asked the run-away novice to teach him all he had learned from the druids in the monastery on the tributary of the Bred-ström and Tsemo had tried. But today it was the first time that both were students, students of a ten-year-old boy. Laong was happy, Laong was eager: "Are these the brittle, translucent, yellow beads here on the stone-slaps? Are these the Tears of Mastic? Are these beads the resins of the tree?"
"Sure, they are! The tree sheds tears, they are dripping down onto the stones and the sun dries them and after a time they change into golden pearls. These golden pearls are the Trinity's gift to us mortals. However, they are not only remedies for diseases of the body! Ask Kirketin, ask the Kahin!"
First, the Kahin looked with blank eyes, but then his eyes lightened up. "When I am the Oracle, when I am crouched in the darkness of the Temple in front of Adad's statue, when the scent of the incense makes my mind squirm, it's the scent of the Tears of Ecinli that makes me travel to the otherworld, Adad's world. There I can see the past and the future of the pilgrims. I can answer their questions and give them advice!"
Tsemo and Laong where frozen with respect. Not only because these clear words but also because Kirketin the Kahin, this clumsy looking teen was speaking without his usual stammer.
"You come with us, Buri!" Kadir asked resolutely, "You will not regret it! Or do you know how to milk sheep and make cheese?" When Buri wagged his head and shot him a doubting glance, "You may need this skill during your voyage to the sun!"
"Please come along!" Kadem begged, "You will not regret coming with along with us. Do you like yeanlings? Most of our ewes have already lambed! The little ones are so cute!" he added beaming brightly. "I bet you will cuddle every one of these gawky lambkins you can catch!"
Walking at a good pace the three left the valley of the Fountain of Wisdom in a hurry and turned into a small side valley to the right. While walking, Kadir tried to worm out of Buri all information possible, about his parents, his life with the cavemen, the hunt for the crescent of moonstone and the way to the land of the glorious sun. Contemplating this information given, Kadir asked, "I don't believe you! You can't possibly be the son of a princess! No! Never! I do not believe you. You lie to me! I know what a prince should look like! My granny told me over and over! His skin is as white as snow on the mountaintop, his shiny hair reflects rays of the sun and his eyes are blue like the morning sky. He just has to look at girls and they will faint." Kadir eyed Buri meticulously, "Your skin, however, is as black as the night, your hair is as curly as the fur of a newborn lamb and your eyes darker as coal! Tsemo is looking more than a prince than you do!"
Shy Kadem walking some steps behind his brother was thinking along similar lines, "You can't be the reincarnation of a god! I don't even have heard of a god with the name Geb. All the divine beings that are caring for the land, the fruits and all living being are known to me and my brothers! The name of the mightiest is Adad and does accomplish his work together with Atar'ata, his wife, and Simios, his son! But Adad is the highest of them all!"
Buri turned to Kadem smiling knowingly, "I am not all-knowing, but this is the truth: The divine being caring for the land, the fruits and all living have different names. In the North, the dark and cold North, his name is Buri, in your country his name is Adad and, in the south, in the hostile desert in the south, people gave him the name Geb. The name Buri was given to me by my father at my birth in the holy Temple of the oasis Siva. There at my birth, the midwife, a holy priestess, called me the reincarnation of Geb! Buri, Geb, Adad are the same and I am their reincarnation!"
Kadem was still not convinced, "That's your point of view, Buri. But I like you, Kadir likes you, Hami and Dincer and even Kirketin! However, take into consideration calling yourself Ahad would be blasphemy to the priests and the Highest Priest would order his servants to kill you. You better stick to Buri, because nobody around here knows that it is the name of a deity! Then the high priest will not get suspicious."
Meantime Kadir had already arrived at the sheep pen, a well-grazed pasture surrounded by a fence of thorns and traversed by a shallow creek. He was greeted by some dogs with tails wagging, "Hurry up you two! Two more ewes brought forth lambs! Now we have already more lambs than I can count."
When to Buri entered the pen, he was attacked by a ram with big horns. While Kadem successfully distracted the attacking ram, Kadir pulled Buri to the newborn lambs, "Look Buri, the fur of yeanlings is just as curly as your hair!" and then jokingly, "Are you a crossbreed between man and sheep?"
Buri laughed heartily. Petting one of the lambs, "I am a crossbreed, that's right, but none between sheep and men! My dear father was a pale-skinned man from the cold north and my mother a dark-skinned woman from the south, from Ta-Seti, the land of the bowmen warriors! But…."
Kadem got angry. Kicking Kadir and cutting Buri short, "Save your offensive remark for your friends, Kadir! Buri is our guest and hospitality is sacred!"
"Cool down Kadem, brothers shouldn't fight each other. Kadir just wants to be funny!" trying to calm down the situation Buri asked "But what did Kirketin talk about this morning? Wasn't he talking about lovely Keciii? Wasn't he talking about lovemaking? Where is Keciii, where is that girl?" when there was no answer just a diffident head-shaking, "Is Keciii a sheep?"
The twins turned crimson and Kadir poked his brother in the ribs, "You tell him, Kadem! I! I just can't." He turned and started busying himself with the sheep.
"I…I can't! Now!" Stuttering Kadem begged, "Can we explain this to you later; first, we have to milk the sheep!"
It was midmorning before the twins had finished milking the sheep, stored away the foamy milk in long-necked jars in one of the small round shelters build in the shade of some high oaks and had driven away the flock of sheep to a plateau slightly above the side-valley. Buri wasn't much of a help at milking because the ewes refused to produce milk when he tried his luck in milking, but later he was a great help at driving the animals to the new pasture assisted by the dogs.
Relaxing in the shade of an olive tree Kadem finally resolved the unraveled the mystery of Keciii. "Keciii really is a sheep! There are no women allowed on this island, except at pilgrim days. So, what can we do to learn about lovemaking? What can we do to get off our rocks? Dincer learned about the Keciii from our cousin."
"Hand tame a female yeanling in spring, his cousin told Dincer," Kadir added eagerly, "spoil her with herbs and extra milk till she is hooked on you. Then beginning with the summer, you can bugger her as often you like, and she loves it! You just have to make sure that she is not impregnated by a ram, because as soon she gets pregnant, she becomes less responsive!"
As Buri looked surprised to Kadir, the twin explained, "That's the best way to learn how to make girls happy." we were told, "We do our Keciii as often we can. Do you want to try? You can, but under one condition. Do not give away our little secret!"
Unexpectedly Kadem put his hand up, "Buri, you as the reincarnation of Geb, couldn't you turn my Keciii into a real girl?" he pleaded, "Every night I dream to do it with a real girl! Please do it! Prove you are a real god!"
Dincer readied a small float made of reed. It wasn't suited to cross the narrow strait between the mainland and the Island of Ecinli, but good enough to reach the fishing grounds and mussel beds along Ecinli's coast. While he steered the light float out of the cove of the Fountain of Wisdom and around the sharp edge along the coast to the north, Aegir studied the world on the floor of the rocky shore. "I never saw anything like this before! The bottom of the coastal waters of my homeland are just grey-green with long floating plants and brownish mussel beds, not like here covered with flowers, studded with starfish and brittle stars! Oh, over there! Look Dincer, a school of fish is sparkling in the morning sun!" he exclaimed delighted. "What kind of animals else do you have down in the depth? I have heard of sea-snakes bigger than a man, monsters with eight arms and sharp peaks like eagles, fish that give birth to younglings like cows and others with teeth sharper than knives of flint stone!"
"Wait till we get the fish traps out of the water! If we are lucky, we will get one of the eight-armed monsters, but just a small one! The really big ones are out there deep down in the dark abyss. But once in a while, a dead one is washed ashore by a storm. However, even the small once are dangerous. The beasts may bite off your finger if you are careless. In any case, they will splatter you with black ink!" Dincer grinned proudly from ear to ear, "I am sure there will be neither sweet dolphins nor the sharp-toothed murderers of the sea in our catch. Its spring and not the time for sharks now! Anyway, they are just too big to get into my traps! But we will get all kind of small fishes."
Scanning the horizon Aegir suddenly pointed into the grey mist covering water "Are these dolphins over there, these small points coming towards us? I do count six!"
For a moment Dincer watched the points narrowly, "No! Neither dolphins nor sharks." Drawing up to his full size to get a closer look, he exclaimed aloud, "Boats!" Then, however, he lowered his voice, "Hell, boats from the northwest! That means trouble! I guess that are the Ekwesh people, these bloody pirates. They already tried to abduct the Kirketin, our Kahin, three times!" He turned the boat, "I tell you, they are no-good bandits and murders. The Oracle Days are still more than one week away! Nobody visits the Fountain of Wisdom in between the Days of the Oracle, just bloody robbers and crooked thieves! Home, home we go!" and he turned the float back.
Paddling for all its worth they reached the cove at the Fountain of Wisdom in a short time. Dincer put the float ashore just beyond the rocky edge where reeds and logs washed ashore by the winter storms offered some shelter. "First we have to call back the others and then we take our weapons from the house and block its entrance. We have to erase all sign of our presence around the sanctuary. This may confuse our enemy and they may just raid the sanctuary!"
With three short and two long calls using a triton horn, Dincer warned his brothers. Without waiting for an answer, they took off across the small distance for the shrine trying to avoid all tracks on the sandy beach. Back there, Hami and Laong were already waiting outside the roundhouse while Tsemo lagged behind, dragging Kirketin along.
"Heyy brother what's wrong? You are alright? What's ahead? Enemies? Ekwesh?" Hami already inquired from a distance.
"Guess so!" Dincer hollered back. "Don't ask, help me get out our stuff, especially the weapons. Then we have to clear up the house and the place. Before the sun reaches the highest point at noon, we have to be at hiding place uphill."
Dincer disappeared through the small manhole halfway up the wall of the roundhouse and in the next moment he began to reach out the goods to be moved to the hiding place: daggers and axes made of shiny metal, wooden javelins with a tip of bronze, a big spear with a head of flint stone and different kind of foodstuff, bowls foe water and furs as covers.
"Where are your bows and arrows? How will you fight an enemy at a long distance?" Aegir asked wondering after checking the variety of weapons piled up in front of the house.
Dincer stifled a laugh, "We use another weapon. These," pointing at some slings made of leather and string-bags full of blunt stones piled up on the ground, "are at least as dangerous as arrows in the hand of a trained fighter." Then he handed Aegir one of the string-bags heavy with blunt stones. When the redhead protested, "There are pebbles all over the beach and flits everywhere along the trails, why for heaven's sake are we to carry stones up the hillside?" Dincer replied, "Remember the stones we shot at you the day before? These have been special stones; sling stones and we didn't throw them at you like girls throw apples. The slings we are using can hurl these stones over long distances and none the less hit an enemy very precisely. These stones can bust a head. They can even break the head of a bear." When Aegir looked surprised Dincer handed him the sling. "I explain the use of slings to you later in our hideout!"
Kirketin looking rather bored suddenly became active. Quick as a flash he dashed to the Sanctuary, disappeared the inside, to emerge from the round opening just a moment later carrying an odd-shaped object reflecting the rays of the sun. "You, you forgot the che.., the chepesh," and he brandishing the object in front of Dincer's face. "the royal scimitar, the present of the ruler of Kemet, the Pr-A'a Tutanchamun. His present will protect us, guard us, make us invincible!" Then he turned to Tsemo, "Yoou my love, yoou are to carry it!"
Dincer was surprised, as neither he nor his brothers had remembered the chepesh. Dincer hadn't remembered the daggers and shortswords either. Now he bends down his head in front of Kirketin, "Kahin, envoy of Adad, envoy of the holy trinity, are I allowed to retrieve the weapons from the holy sanctuary and present these to the Sun Seekers? They are in need of sharp arms to defend the holy Fountain of Wisdom." The Kahin, crouching on his heels and playing with pebbles like a four-year-old, just nodded his assent and continued playing.
Dincer, Kadem and Kadir wiggled through the round entrance into the sanctuary and soon came back with the weapons. "These are yours for the moment! Prove yourself worthy the arms, by defending the Kahin and the Fountain of Wisdom!"
Heavily loaded Dincer, Aegir, Tsemo, Laong and Hami started to a deep ravine running up the valley side. Not one of them complained about the heavy load, just Kirketin, carrying nothing at all wailed, "I'm tiired, I'm huungry, meee want milk! Don't walk on…! Want sleeeep!" The whining prompted Dincer to grumble, "Shut up Kahim, it's because of you, that we are on the run! Shut up! Don't you think the pirates are after us? The pirates want you! They want you because of your exceptional ability! They want to make you their Holy Oracle, their soothsayer, their Kahim! They want to earn wealth and fame by making you the Ekwesh's Oracle!"
The access to the small trail up the ravine to the hideout was concealed by head high boulders, rocks with sharp edges, coarse gravel and was partly overgrown by dense shrubbery and surrounded by nettles. Everybody was cursing while tracking through the field of men high tingling plant.
Halfway up the sharp incline they met Buri and Kadem coming down the path. "Let's set aside the loads!" Dincer greeted Buri and Kadem and then took the half-bred in a bear hug. Taking over the command he ordered. "Together with you two Aegir, Laong and me we should be strong enough to carry the heavy loaded dugout to the foot of the ravine and hide it there in the shrubbery. Hami you'll take Tsemo and Kirketin to the hideout and return later on to carry up more of our supplies!"
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Anthony for improving my writing.
Comments, reviews, questions, and complaints are welcomed. Please send them to Ruwen Rouhs
Last, but not least I would like to add thanks for reading.