The old man had been invited to the council of elders of the desert Eighth Kingdom, a collection of leaders of the traders that moved from the interior of the Black Hills to the shore kingdoms around the land. They had invited him to stay a while and tell some of his stories. They all knew by now that they weren’t light tales to tuck a child into bed with but more of a history of what was going on around the world. They didn’t know how he knew what happened so accurately around them and outside of them but as traders, information was power and her information would make them more powerful.
Each of the coastal nations that sailed the seas had representatives, usually the leaders themselves or their wives, had sat by his knee when growing up, listening to the wild tales and when they traveled, they found that the tales were real. Giant, air breathing fish, playful followers of ships, islands populated by strange, unheard of animals and fruits, and one island group that hosted groups of natives that traded with each other.
The hardest thing to accept was that he knew of their defeat on another continent. The sole kingdom that had prompted that raid had been chastised by the ruling counsel and had oh so politely asked him to come to them and stay a while and tell them exactly what had happened. Magicians of power, landholders over vast terrains, merchants over huge fleets and the combined rulers of the land would sit figuratively at his feet while multiple scribes would take down his story so that all could share. He knew that none of the powerful would stay for long, but many would take much time to witness his tales. Perhaps they would accept them as history, given time.
As for Atherma, he came to the tent city that they had built for him because he had planned for this day for many generations. They housed him in comfort and even gave him scheduled periods of privacy where he could be by himself, uninterrupted and at peace with the countryside.
A cool zephyr ruffled the shades that surrounded him and acted as a backdrop for the audience. A cool drink and been given and full meal which was cooked to perfection. He had seen this luxury before and enjoyed it each time, but it was a simple life that pleased him most. There would be no way of explaining this to his hosts and simply didn’t try.
The swing he sat on was much like his old one, blanket, cool drink and any snack he wished for, just for the asking. He was content that it eased their minds that he would be comfortable. Comfort was a state of mind and as such, he created his comfort when needed and desired. It was time to begin a tale. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too long for their patience, but they had to learn the lessons that it imparted before they destroyed their world with their desires to conquer it.
Atherma walked from her swing to a large field. Calling a child, he said, “Summon the council. I will speak to those who are ready to listen.”
The young girl ran off as quickly as she could and within a short span of time, the men and women of power began collecting with their assistants. Assessing the situation, they had the assistants call the others as they stood and waited for Atherma to begin.
A cool breeze intimated the beginning of something special as a light cloud cover gave shade to all. The old man sat and waited for the gathering group. As he sat, so did them. He began his story.