“The Attack of the White Clouds”; Chapter Two Part Two

It was mid-day, when the sun was at its hottest and we all felt the most exhausted we had been in days, when the ocean was spotted. The sight of it pushed many to tears in fright. The ocean! Many of us had never even known such a thing possible. And yet here we were, set to flee across it.

It sent chills over me. That strange tugging within resumed and I could not understand it. The jug came to mind, relentlessly within an image of Mara pouring bounty forth for her guests. I sought out the seer. Hopefully, in her power, by now she would have understood it.

“J-j-j-,” I said to the seer as I walked by her side. The metal implants across her face glinted under the black scarf she had covered herself with. She gazed at me with exhausted confusion.

“She wants the jug,” the red one said sharply from behind me. “Just let her see it, then maybe she’ll leave you alone.”

“Oh, here,” and the seer drew her flimsy bag off her back. To my shock the jug was shoved within, hardly carefully padded or stored. It had already been scratched by her cooking implements! I clutched it to my chest, tears threatening. Mara would be so upset to see her pride treated in this way.

“They’ve gotten her all riled up about it,” the red one said, easily stepping between me and the seer in more ways than one. “They’ve been trying to get her to talk about it. As if she knows something about it.”

The seer sighed in misery. “But she can’t talk. When will they understand?”

I can so! I spoke last night! I’d spoken many times with Mara and even amongst my tribe- but in my protest the words no longer were words. I babbled, sounds repeated. Both looked at me. The pity in them stung and made me more angry than ever.

“She’s pitiable, isn’t she?” the red one said as if I was deaf too.

The seer sighed, and began mournfully talking about how I’d been so well cared for, yet now she was not sure what would become of me-

I drew slower and let the flow of bodies seperate me from them. The jug was safe in my arms now. They could be ignorant and talk all they liked- I had known Mara the best. H- and D- knew it. Mara had confided more in me than in a thousand others. In a burst of confidence I knew they had been right to attempt an interrogation of me. If anyone knew what this jug’s sudden return meant, it was me. I would find the meaning.

Newfound pride filling me, I walked amongst the others with determination. As the ocean approached beyond cresting hills and rocky outbursts, a plan began building within me. I was not sure what it was. But the urge to do something was growing greater and greater. An unfolding sense of direction was coming over me. The jug was the key.

Boats awaited us. They were rumored to have long ago been built by some ancient beings. They floated in their stone majesty, ethereal and impossible. Yet there they were. Stone that would carry us to supposed safety.

I could not convince myself to set foot upon them. Neither was i alone. Many were bursting into tears. The desert folk nervously fidgeted. Their few wandering travelers had often seen these ships, yet never had they dared to claim them as their own. Never had anyone tried to sail them.

Yet the last remaining cheiftain had made his choice. Standing tall before us and so broad of shoulders, he claimed this as our last chance. With sails, we could ride the winds ahead of the white clouds! Just like the kite-flyers used to, before they were snatched away and eaten up by the white eyes.

“Yet we will be in stone!” he proclaimed with a feverish need bordering on joy. “What is left when the wind passes? Always the earth and stone! We shall be safe, even if it captures us.”

Sobs were heard and once again I found myself stifled as the group clustered together. Yet this time I slipped towards the back. No one had come to reclaim the jug from me.

A single file was formed, siphoning us towards the boats.

“This is madness!” a familiar voice called out. It spoke in anger. In vitriolic pride and disgust. It stepped aside, red armour gleaming in criss-crossings. A hand planted on her hip, the red one dared all. “I am not getting on a boat! Is nothing sacred anymore? Are we so cowardly that we will break all our people’s rules? Damnation comes to all who step on there! We of the desert and sand know this to be true! How can you- who did not live in the deepest of the hottest sands, ask us to betray that?”

“We have no choice!” The cheiftain called desperately. “What else would you have us do?”

“We go north.” SHe proclaimed proudly. “We go to the lands of ice. This cloud came from the south. Beasts from the heat die in the cold white that lays in the land of the north. We will lure it there, trap it, and defeat it.”

“It is a cloud!” “It is a spirit!” “It can not be defeated!” The people cried out to her in fear.

“I will go fight this beast!” She called out with pride. “Who will come with me?” and she held up a fist. Whispers carressed my skin, the crowd moving away from her more and more. I let it draw away, and began walking against me.

“Me!” I called out suddenly, the sound surprising me. Thrusting the jug aloft for all to see, I went to her side. THere I turned around. “I will go!”

“I don’t want you!” she hissed under her breath.

“Me neither,” I snapped back. Then, once more I felt the vices of silence clamp over me. The crowd was watching.

Two more stepped forward. H- and D-. “We will come as well,” D- said, their bodies approaching lithely. Turning around, they faced the crowd as they reached my side.

“Go and seek shelter,” H- said. “We will not hold it against you. We will fight, and if ever you return, hopefully we will have grown older and the lands will be safe once more.” And he bowed to the crowd.

“Wish us well,” D- said in that melodious voice, bowing as well.

I nodded politely, dipping into the slightest bow, the jug now held tightly to my chest.

The cheiftain implored us to come with them. THey needed us to help turn away the eye! But we remained fast. I shook my head as stubbornly as I could, and in the end none of us could be swayed. Our people boarded the boats, and we watched them sail away as the sun lowered.

Once the boats were specks on the horizon, H- cleared his throat. D- nodded in silent agreement. The red one puffed in pride. “Let us go-”

D- held up a hand. “We did not come to follow you. We are following her.” And they turned to me. “Where are we going?” The special one asked me gently.

the red one gasped. “She is following me!”

I pointed south. “Ma-a-ra,” I struggled to say.

“See?” D- said pointedly to the red one. “She has a better idea than you.”

“A-A!” the red one shrieked, stamping a foot. “She doesn’t know a thing! Up north-”

“South,” I insisted, pointing to the jug. “South.” We had been left with a bread crumb. Wasn’t the winds driving us north? If it was afraid of the cold, why did it chase us heedlessly towards what it ought to fear most? No. South.

“We go south,” H- said with confidence. The red one deflated. Her pride no longer held her together. I nodded thankfully to D. They returned the gesure with a smile.

Then, I hesitated. I turned to face the red one, who was now significantly redder in the face. She looked me over with such hatred, such vile continuation of all the troubles our tribes had suffered at each other’s hands- so I held mine out.

She looked at it incredulously. Glared up at me.

I offered myhand again. “N-n-n-”

“No,” the red one said, just before I blurted.

“Name? You-your name? What’s-”

She crossed her arms and scowled. Snorting, she looked aside. “How embarrassing. Why do you follow someone who can’t even ask properly-”

D- slid to my side, graceful as ever. “Her name is CH-{?} and she is a pain in the ass of anyone who knew her. That was before her entire tribe was eaten up. She survived because she was out on a hunt. Proud as ever, and alone.” D- added with a sneer towards Ch-.

And probably blaming herself every minute for not having been there. I had heard great tales of her before the white enemy came. Since, her tales had grown. So she was the one who had saved three lost bands from the clouds? I offered my hand again.

This time when she looked at it she faltered. Heaving a sigh and muttering “so disgraceful,” she took my hand. Looking away she shook it as if it was too much to bear. After half a shake, she dropped my hand and crossed her arms. “Ew,” she might have said, so softly i wasn’t sure she actually had said it.

I turned around, pleased as could be. Peace was made as far as I was concerned. A fresh slate was begun. Cheered, i pointed south. Now, we went to face this wind. We had no one to protect but ourselves. If we failed, nothing more was lost. It was freeing, in it’s own strange way.


  1. Amber Drake says:

    I really like this new story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michael says:

      Yayyyyy! I’m so happy that you do! I’m super hesitant about it, but hey it’s already half written so I might as well share it. I’m so glad though! Thanks so much!


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