Meanwhile Elsewhere on Rifts Earth
The Final Journey
[The following is a piece of fiction. The inclusion of gods, and tribal Africans is meant only to be fictitious and does not represent the beliefs of myself or any of the players. All quoted conversation is meant to be direct translations of what is said and does not reflect the level of language or intelligence of the characters involved but rather the differences in languages.]
The sky is a clear crystal blue, like a perfect shining dome miles above the canopy of the forest, miles above the tall waving grass of the savannahs, miles above the white sand coasts off the deep blue ocean, miles above the shifting sands and the golden pyramids.
The male villagers gather around the Rain Man, high priest of the tribe. They hold hands and caper around in their war-paints and long ceremonial loin-cloths. Their chants rise and mingle with the prayers of their priest. The priest shakes a monkey skull filled with small stones to a beat only he can hear. There are drums beating a quickening tattoo, and the dancers raise their voices drowning out the priest. The sky begins to darken as small grey clouds start forming from nowhere. Soon a big cloud blots out the sun over the village. The cloud darkens and grows. A strong wind rises up bending the tall grass all around the village. The dancers are almost screaming in their joy but dare not break from the dance nor the song. They swing around and around the priest more quickly then ever. The first drop of water hits the land, then slowly the rain begins to fall.
The dance stops. The people stand raising their faces to the rain, praising the gods, and praising their priest. The priest crumples to the ground, a mild grin appearing across his dark features. He has saved his people from the drought. He is drained after his three day vigil to bring the rains. The villagers set out clay pots to catch the rain, then they sit down around the priest. They have only been dancing for a day as their priest did not immediately require their help. Sometimes the whole village must give of themselves to show the gods their faith. The priest is not only their spiritual leader but also their tribal leader. He is very wise, and very old. His name is Abdulahi Abdulgani.
Abdulahi speaks to a man painted stark white except for around his eyes and the streaks where the rain is wiping it slowly away. The man gets to his feet and walks into a hut. He comes back out with a woman, like all other women she is topless and wearing a short loin-cloth. She walks up and lowers herself to the ground next to Abdulahi so that she is sitting on her feet with her knees in front of her. She faces Abdulahi and waits for him to speak. He looks at her momentarily, "Wife, get the others, the rain have come, time for tribute to gods."
She gets to her feet and walks back to the hut. Moments later several women exit from the tent and help their husbands to their feet. They then all go to their respective huts. The first woman comes out again and sits next to Abdulahi. They speak quietly. "Too bad I much old to pay tribute as well. Very thankful for this blessing of rain. Come we will sleep, let others who's time it be pay tribute."
Three quarters of a year passes by. A cry fills the night, as other cries filled other nights just passed. The tribute has come to pass, the tribe is now many members stronger. Abdulahi looks upon the last child to be born, the final tribute to the gods for the rains that came many months ago and stayed often enough for the village to prosper. Not all have had their tribute come to pass, but that is how it is, those have been blessed in other ways. Abdulahi touches the child upon the head conferring a blessing then retires to his hut. His wife is no longer with him, having gone to join the sky many days before. He feels the sky calling to him as well. The last child has been born, his time is now come. They will do without him. In the morning he plans to announce his leaving and to proclaim the new leader. They will be without a priest but they will make due as they always have.
Morning comes, Abdulahi comes out of his hut and gathers all around him. He speaks, "Last night the last of the child was born. Now like wife I must go join the sky. <Several people gasp, others nod their heads sadly.> Be proud, I not leave you alone. Achmed, <a young man approaches at Abdulahi's beckon> you have lead many good hunt, and show true skills of leadership. I make you leader of tribe, do as I know you will. <Turning back to the assemblage.> I now prepare to leave meet the sky."
He walks back to the hut and gathers a few things that he must give Achmed to pass on to the next Rain Man of the tribe. Abdulahi has no apprentice but someday one will rise to the position. He goes and gives Achmed the things. Then everyone gathers in three rows. Abdulgani walks along each row laying his hands upon foreheads of men and women that he had done similarly to at birth, and those that he did not, giving his blessings. Each in return wishes him a swift journey to the sky, the most devout among them in their souls wishing him well on his transition, the most petty kicking themselves for being envious of the transition to come. They are a good people, a proud and strong people. The gods love them and they the gods. They are as strong in faith as they are in body.
Abdulahi finishes, then bows his head to the crowd and turns to walk off across the waving green of the savannah, heading for the far edge of the bowl of the sky. The village watches until he dwindles in the distance then they go about continuing their daily chores. Soon they will have to follow the migration of the antelope.
Days pass as Abdulahi walks southwards towards the heart of the land where the earth meets the sky. The village will be well cared for by Achmed. Though not very wise yet, he is a strong and spiritive man who will do his people proud. Abdulahi carefully puts away his thoughts of the world, and of his past. His mind must be clear when he reaches his destination.
One day trees begin to spring up on the near horizon, tall majestic trees that reach up into the sky. As he draws nearer the land among the trees is swarming with shrubs, small trees and ferns that almost reach the canopy of leaves way above. Abdulahi looks about him in wonder of the huge bizarre plants that are no where to be seen on the plains. Everything is so green, and amidst the green are flashes of other colours, brilliant reds like the sunset, deep violets like the twilight, yellows like the sun, and blue like the dome of the sky. He likes the blues, they remind him of his destination. He knows now that he is where he should be, for if there are small pieces of the sky then surely the sky must meet the land very nearby.
A noise startles Abdulahi from his reverie. He looks about and sees the leaves part. A short figure approaches carefully. It's skin a light tan colour, with slightly darker hair, lots of hair. It speaks, "Dark man lost?"
Abdulahi stands with his mouth wide open. Gaining his composure he speaks, "No, not lost. Thank you, jungle spirit. I go to join the sky. Come, that you may see where land meets sky."
The figure nods in understanding and turns to point into the jungle. "Frond will take. <Another deep thoughtful nod.> I come see." responds the figure.
"Frond..." says Abdulahi appreciatively. "I be Abdulahi."
They walk along together. Not saying very much. The figure says he is an Agogwe, who has left his tribe in disgrace, over a loss of face. He wants only to prove that he is still worthy. Soon a sound can be heard from way off. A sound like thunder very distant. The Agogwe turns in the direction of the sound. Beckoning Abdulahi to follow, Frond pushes his way through the thickening undergrowth.
As they travel the sound becomes more and more thunderous, just as the plant life becomes thicker yet. Soon Abdulahi and Frond stop. Sweat rolls off the both of them. Abdulahi knows that it is much safer to travel by night when the land is cool, but he must purge himself before he joins the sky. Abdulahi reels slightly as if ready to faint. Frond seems unaffected, and stretches out a hand to steady Abdulahi. He speaks, "Dark man, you must drink <he proffers a waterskin>."
Abdulahi declines and starts forward. Frond watches a moment then follows. Suddenly the undergrowth begins to thin out drastically. The noise is now truly thunderous. A clearing appears out of nowhere. Abdulahi looks up, tears glistening in his eyes. From up almost beyond sight the sky falls down between two mountains. At the base of the mountains the sky fills the ground, covering it. Frond reaches up and lays his hand on Abdulahi's shoulder and smiles.
Abdulahi drops to his knees and raises his hands towards the sky, "O sky, I come that I may join your brilliance. I am small in your sight, so I come to where you meet the land that you may take me up. I have come without my life here on the land, free of the stops of life and of living. I come to join the sky. I come to do thy will."
Frond turns to leave. Abdulahi turns and says to Frond, "Thank you jungle spirit. I may now join the sky. I give you my good medicine that return face so you may return to home. <He holds out the only charm that he brought with him, a strong talisman.>"
Frond steps up to Abdulahi, and Abdulahi lowers the talisman around his neck. Frond bows his head looking at the charm, "Frond honour you by always wear this gift. In return I give gratitude <He raises his arms out away from his sides in a half embrace and a pale light emanates from his chest and is breathed in by Abdulahi.>."
Frond then turns and leaves. Abdulahi watches him leave then turns back to the tumbling sky. He begins to chant, his voice low and reverent. The chant rises in volume and takes on the cadence of a song. It rises up above the thunder of the sky falling, and echoes with its own magical effect. The plants around him begin to move, like snakes charmed by a flute. Tendrils rise up and gently lower Abdulahi to a lying down position. His voice fades, but the song carries on on the wings of the wind, strong, and powerful. The plants grow up over Abdulahi's body, his eyes close, his spirit is jubilant that it can now join the sky as it was meant to do. The plants then lay themselves flat over Abdulahi as his last breathe leaves his body. Light shines out from within the layered plants and the plants wither into the ground, Abdulahi nowhere to be seen, having joined the sky.