As My Life Past Away
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An old man and a child are walking on the sand dunes.

The old man has a bent back. A stray lock of grey hair peeps out from his fur cap. Bobbing up and down in the hot sand wind, harsh and dry. He has crepey skin on arms under the cloak. For decades, the dust and dirt on the Wasteland shaped his arm to something chapped and rough. Like the rocks along the way.

Gone are his vigorous days. Luckily, there is no need to assist him to walk at this moment. If somebody takes a look at his face under the hood, they might feel the intense gaze in his piercing eyes. In an instant, the phantom of that lanky gleg young man appeared again in the dusk.

In the Wasteland, some traits, such as that on seekers, are as obvious as Kalef’s opal crown. One can often identify a seeker. Especially an old surviving seeker who dedicated to historical sites and wonders.

The old man is leading the third grandchild of his youngest son. At this moment, the child is peeking at the little bell shaking in silence on the old man's necklace. And at the same time, grasping on the old man’s rough and bony hand. There is a ring on a finger of that hand. A ring with cracked texture. Texture identified as the emblem of York, who is the Patron Saint of thieves and wanderers.

Although the old man's appearance is somewhat frightening, the child is not much afraid of him. The old man is friendly. In the tribe, everyone respects him. From his posterity to those he gave grace to. Children in the tribe love getting together and listening to his stories. Some stories are his adventures in the ruins. Others are the old legends that have been handing down by generations. For example, the “Ape God” Abirt and his mystical talisman, the judgment of “Lord of Lords” Geyre, et cetera. Every tribe always needs a storyteller.

He preferred to be called Rone, but the kids know that the old man is a legendary figure in his youth.

At that time, he was well known even outside the seekers. People called him Beller, THE Beller.

Some say he has entered a great deal of Ceitus and found wonders more than the sum of everyone else. Beller does not deny the former, while he laughs and shakes his head on the latter. But, if you ask him whether he has been to Home Ceitus - the tomb of the gods, then the old man would only provide a laconic answer before walking away. Only to leave children arguing with each other. Some say he is the only person who has ever seen Everman alive, proved by the extra little finger on his left hand.

The child had played with that finger, and it was as handy as a normal finger with no hindrance. Probably, that’s why Beller keeps it. York's believers always love collecting medals and trophies.

The old man has achieved all a seeker can do in his life. Now his end is nigh. He has announced, in the concerned eyes of his relatives, that he is going to do one last thing before sluggish – to visit an old friend.

His family failed to make him change his mind.

Now he is here. The place accepts him as silently and generously as it had when he first fled into. The scorched air is coming through his chest, tainted with the bitterness of flesh and blood. The road is longer than it was as he remembers.

“Rone!” The child shouts in a young voice, “Look!”

A man in a leather robe appeared at the top of the sand dune.

“Hi! Beller!”

The sound echoes in the distant wind. The old man laughed and waved his arms as well. "Hey, it’s been a long time."

Benadam, within the decades they have known each other, still lives on the edge of the desert.

When Beller first met Benadam, Beller was a curious kid hungering for his stories. Now it's the other way around: Beller is aged and Benadam is a middle-aged man like on their first encounter. The rumor is probably true: Benadam is as old as the Wasteland.

Maybe a lot older than the Wasteland, Beller adds silently.

He feels as if he put his hanging heart back into the chest. Before the sun is at its highest point in the sky, they finally climb to the top of the dune, where there stands a small tent.

The hermit welcomes him as he has done for decades.

These two dusty travelers sit in the fur tent. They are soon caught in a sort of soft delicate circumstance. The host carries out two slender containers filled with pale greenish liquid. It looks like some plant juice flickering, shining in a misty fluorescent while shaking.

The child takes small sips with no suspect and sizes up this dwelling: some objects are easy to identify. Other objects are clueless, decorated with delicate outlines from antiquity. Beller knows two things: first, it is hard to see anything related to plants here; second, it is best not to dwell on the source of food. He takes a cautious taste of the juice, and to his surprise, the cool sweet taste sweeps through his tongue to his very mind.

“Then, I guess.” Benadam sits on the other side and gazes at him. "it has been years, hasn't it?"

If there were ever a gap, it would have melted, like snow meets fire. Beller looks straight into his cobalt blue eyes, with the melted snow bubbling in the heart. He cannot help but smile: “Sure is, old pal."

They burst into laughter and clap each other on the shoulder together.

So the fire burns.

When they move the bonfire and the sizzling savory wild goat leg out of the camp, the sun has set. The stars are beginning to appear one by one in the vast sky over the wild.

The boy, Rymeth, has spent most of the days inquiring about the details of every conversation. After he points to the three stars which lined up in the eastern sky and obtains a new vision of the battle between Drakgin and Sikayt, Rymeth falls asleep with a belly full of barbecue and stories, finally.

The coolness is rising from the very deep of the ground, but it has not touched the defenses of the fire, yet. Beller strokes the kid's soft hair and covers him with a felt. The numbness and tiredness after making the hunger fulfilling, along with the undissolved myths, have occupied the elder's mind. Once the prolonged bustle is broken, the silence becomes ever more distinctive. He remembers the purpose of this trip, as he is trying to focus on all those lingering doubts, but couldn't get his tongue around them.

Benadam's blue eyes are sparkling on the other side of the fire. His eyes turn to the sleeping kid and a smile shows on his face: "This child is like you. York's followers are quite like each other. I remember the first time we met, and you wouldn't tell me your name, eh?”

The stories that have never been repeated for decades; the delicate instruments in Ceitus; the curving strokes of the ancients on old paper, and every wonder he had found. The past is rolling over like a tide, and, suddenly, the question shines in his mind: "…Do you always remember EVERYTHING?"

A pair of eyes are staring at another pair. Benadam does not answer the question immediately. It is hard to see this wise hermit hesitates, and it is even rare to see the expression on his face now as if it were a distant sadness and a strange sympathy.

After a long pause, he nods his head.

“Before the falls of gods?” Beller asked.

“Before the falls of gods.”

“…. Oh Geyre.”

Despite early speculation, Beller cannot help but marvel. The nature of the adventurer is rekindled in his decayed bones. He holds his tongue: "There must have been many wonders in the time of the gods." he says cheerfully.

“Indeed,” Benadam agreed, “but they tend to keep every… wonder, instead of letting them wander around as they do now.”

The smile of the hermit is mixed with some unspeakable complexity that Beller cannot understand.

"But…"He was slightly disappointed by the answer. "Why? If God can't use wonders, what's the difference between now and then?"

"Oh really, Beller?” Benadam smiles even widened, "Think of everything you've ever seen in the Ceitus and use your instincts."

As an adventurer who has survived countless miracles and monsters, Beller is accustomed to dealing with the incomprehensible. Maybe just part of them. In front of Benadam, he still looks like a fledgling man — and of course, as he has just known, he has always been.

This vague certainty answers a small part of all his conjectures. The old man searches for fragments of memory, remembering the white ruins. Ruins purer than most of the white on the Wasteland, bring solemnity to the silent building. He thinks of the neat corridors, the dedicated door, even the papers with the ancient language are identical - one could touch the smooth surfaces of papers under years of thick dust.

The world outside the Wonders. The world of the Gods is orderly and exquisite.

"I think I had thought of that." He says while mind-wandering.

"You're not the first to be disappointed." said Beneadam, "It was a good time, but it's not bad as well at present."

Beller is still struggling to put the pieces together. "I don't understand. If you've always known…", He waved his hand at random. "Why do you take no action?"

"Oh, Beller," laughed the hermit, "what do you think the Gods have done? They civilize the ancestors of the Wasteland, as a shepherd tending the flock."

"As for me, I'm just an ordinary person," he said leisurely. "I civilize stories."

Then, wait for The Tower to be built again.

When the sun rises the next day, the old man says goodbye to the hermit in a hurry.

"Goodbye, old friend." Benadam sends his regards.

Yet Beller is well aware that agreements on the Wasteland are often hard to achieve. He thought for a moment and added, "for years, when I waved someone, I always say ‘see you in Kalef.', although probably a lot of people want me to see Abirt, huh."

"You probably know, Abirt…" Benadam reminds him.

"… 'always come back when you want to see him at least', literally."

They clap their hands and laughed.

"So, the Abirt territories are in this world," says the hermit with great interest. "Besides, is there any good place where you and I can go to?"

Beller is stuck by the problem.

The child behind looks back and forth unconsciously at the two adults who have suddenly fallen into silence.

"Will you carry on my story to the next child?" Finally, he asked.

He felt Benadam's eyes drop on him: understanding and quiet, like a verse lasting for many years, flowing slowly.

"Out of the question. Stories would become legends."

"Well then," Beller says, "let's meet again in the legends."

The shadows of the old man and the child recede beneath the dunes, and the hermit is still looking in the direction of their departure. He thinks of the men whom he has worked with, whose real names have been buried. But, stories of the gods had been sung in the land for thousands of years, just as the sky is still far away, long, long ago, or long, long after.

"Legends, yeah…" he muttered, "is a good place."

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