Yesterday the hunters ate only roots and grubs but now, in the fading light, they chance upon a lame bokkie. Hunt and kill are over quickly. Careful for the tinder-dry veld, they make a fire within a ring of stones and each eats their fill, leaving a portion for Aquila, who guards their improvised camp from a hungry howling wolf until dawn spreads her golden fingers.
The sun climbs and the dry savannah shimmers. A green smudge rises from the ripples and the hunters hasten to the acacia-shaded spring.
The eagle calls out Owab attends the warning: beware the serpent!
In case you’re wondering what in the world is going on, the previous episode of this little adventure is here.
Aquila flies over the desiccated veld, periodically checking on the hunters who march like ants across the dry savanna beneath his substantial eagle wings. Owab is the youngest of the band; it is to him that Aquila carries the mystical connection.
Now in early autumn, the earth still waits for the rains. The ground is dry and the game has scattered. They travel east to the purple mountains in search of the great beast who, with a nod of his gracious head, will call the storm clouds.
Over the parched soil the eagle leads us onward seeking the Rain Bull.
The Mark of Gaia flares on my back and I cling to the towering North Stone for support. The sun blackens, the moon and stars fall from the sky; the world is cast into blackness: a void. Her pawn again, my consciousness expands.
A sun rises in the west and Gaia’s words fall from my lips.
‘You will live without hunger, thirst, weapons or injury; you will exist, casting no shadows; all humanity will share a single language and belong to a nation without borders.’
Our hearts fill with joy: our world is new and fertile reborn, we give thanks.
Author’s Note: Gaia’s words are taken from Zoroastrian eschatology.
I fall through a shower of effervescent light particles and land with a jolt, my nostrils filling with the simple scent of sandalwood overlaying the smell of decay. My uncle’s kindly face comes into focus, he sits in his library, surrounded by his cherished possessions; the lines on his face are entrenched, his shoulders stooped; he has aged – a decade or more. I glance at my hands, the still-smooth skin suggests I have not.
‘Hasten to the Stones,’ he commands. I rise and approach him, but I’m dismissed.
Megaliths murmur: On the Eve of the Dawning Gaia greets your return.
Leaving the devastated city behind, the road leads me past pockets of people, scattered across wildernesses where they scratch a living. Their eyes hollow and dark, they stare at me as if I’m a ghost; perhaps I am – I have no hunger, no thirst, I just walk and watch, a dignified presence on the periphery of a broken world.
Time and existence are unravelled; I know not over which continent I travel. A shining figure in the distance beckons. I hasten, knowing she will lead me home.
Rapture transports me out of carnage and decay: bound to be reborn.
Back in my corporeal form, my sense of self reasserts itself. I pick my way through the detritus of another ruined city, the remnants of a multinational conflict: the world’s leaders have destroyed each other and, in a mad orgy of annihilation, almost the whole of humanity has perished. My world has been burnt to a crisp and I take no pleasure in the part I have played.
Am I the only one left? I long for my home, my uncle and our secret pact with Gaia – but where is she?
Abandoned, alone I trudge the blackened back-roads seeking redemption.
Gaia’s mantle shifts; I gear up for another astral transformation. I multiply, the same being, my very essence, replicates exponentially. Shimmering but not silent, the words of suggestion well up in my mouth as I creep into the consciousness of the rich and powerful that govern so-called humanity; the privileged who instigated their own rescue from the Great Wave that destroyed lesser mortals.
I unleash insidious whispers; spilling into seductive thoughts, temptation floods their avaricious hearts. Now’s the time to strike: the world can be mine!
Hypnotised by greed they’ll unleash the dogs of war: which one will strike first?
Threaded with trails of ruby magma, blackened viscous air enfolds me; far beneath me the ocean seethes and thunders, rising up in gargantuan walls of water and yet, all the rage passes through me, washes over me. I am immune, while fun-filled bars and sun-kissed beaches are obliterated.
The devastation spreads. Coastal conurbations, north, south, east and west are drenched with deadly, dripping force. Forests flatten, creatures flee; my only thought is for them.
The human infestation is weakened, badly damaged, yet not even decimated; I am still not done.
In Gaia’s service as rival to Pandora: her jar is emptied.
Borne on sacred scents, my development is complete. Now, incarnated in astral form, I hover over the occidental shore of the earth’s most populous continent.
I brace myself for the coming cacophony. My throat fills, and at Gaia’s command, I throw back my head and let fly the discordant melody that holds the power to move mountains: an unstoppable force, unleashed from the fragile firmament to the barely broken azure below.
Waves of disharmony filter through the air, a hideous marriage of chords of doom and pitches of despair.
The earth’s crust shatters sulphurous strings billow forth: Mount Teide tumbles.
Here, at the centre of the stone circle, looking towards the rising sun and channelling the power of the converging ley lines through my naked feet, I inhale the scents of selene and artemesia. The spirit of Gaia is within me; my journey begins.
Flying like a great winged eagle, I am guided by her sacred compass. I feel the strength of surging ocean currents and the might of spitting, smouldering volcanoes; she shows me the signs, the patterns I should follow. Now I know what must be done.
Teeming hominids Gaia has shown me the way: penance will begin.