We finished fairly quickly. Tula continued washing the dishes, and I proceded outside for my nightly routine. I hiked out to the Star brother’s rock on the North side of the valley, just as I do every night to ward off the evil spirits. Considering that this was the one place in all the land where the Unknown can enter into, I have to repeat this routine quite frequently.
Trudging though the marsh, I thought about our situation.
It's much more dangerous than I would ever dare let on to Tula and the kids. If I failed to cast the enchantments even one night... we’d be run over with shadow and chaos and most certainly die. Well, not die exactly, just become consumed in shadow and cease to physically exist.
Still. Just as bad.
And now, I don’t know if my procedure is even enough anymore. When we first moved into the valley, I never saw the shadows. I just knew they were present, so I cast the enchantments every night to make sure they remained suppressed and out of sight, but I had no physical evidence they were really here.
But lately, every so often I’ll catch a glimpse of a shadow flying through the rocks at night, silently scuttling across the surface with no shape or form, momentarily vanishing the rock from my sight. Every once in a while, I'll hear them make a wispy sound, like a whisper too far away to understand, but still audible.
They’re becoming bolder, riskier. I can't tell if this is because they're becoming stronger, or just more desperate to get out.
I might need Kuruk’s help sooner than I thought.
I arrive at the rock, a tall, narrow stone slab leaning toward the center of the valley. It leaned so much, that if it were a regular boulder, it would have simply fallen to the ground with a thud, but this was no ordinary rock.
Even climbing up it, I can feel the warm energy it exerts, pulsing like a heart of an animal. Standing atop this rock, I feel almighty. I feel as if the whole world is at my feet, and I can defeat anything in my way. I feel the power tingling into the balls of my feet, slowly inching up my body, encasing me in an invulnerable coat of protection.
But this is a dangerous feeling. I have seen many great people fall subject to this power, letting it consume their minds, drunken them until they can no longer control the magic that leaves their body. And chaos always follows. And what follows chaos?
I see small flicks of black, streaking across the fields and up the hills. This is by far the most I have ever seen in a single night before. They wander around pointlessly, as if they don't know where to go... only knowing that they just want to... go.
I wonder why I'm not freaking out right now. Normally, a sight like this would make me pass out.
Just the thought of becoming devoured by the dark is enough to snap me out of my daze.
This rock is giving me courage... stupid courage... it's going to get me killed.
Watching them stray so close to the house puts me on edge. The possibility that they might slide in through a crack in the door, or slither down an open window.
I start my enchantment, reciting the ballad of the Star brother as I gesture the flaying with my hands.
A flay is a technique in which a wizard will communicate their magical intentions through movement of their body. This helps create and weave the magic into specific designs to follow the wizard's bidding.
There are many different techniques to shape magic, but this is the most common among wizards. Flaying is not a series of specific steps and movements for every single spell, but each spell can be woven differently, depending on the wizard.
I started learning how to flay with the basic routines that all wizards know, but these are only meant to assist someone in learning and developing the way they flay best. For some, it is dancing, for others, it is fighting. For me, it is imagining.
When I flay, I use my hands to imagine the task I am trying to achieve. In this instance, it is a ball of light, to expel the darkness in the valley. I cup my hands, imagining that I'm holding a small sphere of light, willing it to grow enough to shine through the chaos.
I chose the Star brother's rock because of it's light. The light scares the darkness, drowning it out until it no longer exists. Tula used to ask me, "If you want light, why don't you use the Sun brother's magic? That is the greatest light in all creation, is it not?"
I had once asked myself this question too, but I came to a certain conclusion.
"While the sun may possess the brightest light, it is nowhere to be seen in the night. But when the stars, seeming to be weak when by themselves, join together and plaster the night sky, there is nothing they cannot shine upon. Because together, their light shines too bright."
As I chant, the ball begins to grow, slowly at first, but as I continue, the ball absorbs more light from the sky and projects it across the valley, washing over every crack and crevice.
I watch as the shadows take notice of the illumination, stopping in their paths and then quickly vanishing to escape the force. There are some that are too slow and become washed out as this blanket sweeps over the valley.
And just like that, it's over. All the shadows have retreated back to their domain, and everything is still.
I maneuver down the rock, careful not to slip on any smooth patches. As soon as my foot touches the ground, I start to tremble. After having so much power coursing through my body, I feel weak and insignificant once it leaves me, and I become paranoid with the fear that I should've had on the rock.
As I walk back home, I keep my head constantly turning to watch for any surprises that might come up.
After standing on the Star Brother's rock, I started thinking about the conversation I had with Kuruk today.
"Father, which of the 5 Brothers is your favorite?"
After considering this question for a bit, I responded, "The Star Brother is my favorite."
"Why the Star Brother? He is not as big and powerful as the others."
This was true.
"Well, son, once you think about it, he is quite powerful. Do any of the other Brothers have millions of lights floating around, ready to use at anytime?"
He thought about this. "No... but the Sun Brother has one really huge light!"
I smiled. "And is the sun not a star, Kuruk?"
He opened his mouth, then closed it, clearly stumped.
I chuckled, pitying his lack of perspective. "The Star Brother is special to me because he shows the importance of teamwork and loyalty. When all the little stars work together to perform one big task... there is nothing they cannot do. They can always rely on each other to participate in a deed that is too small for one of them to perform by their self. This is how we should be."
I walked across the bridge.
A star is one amidst a million. It is insignificant and bland.
Yes, a common star may be weak, but I will shine brighter than all the rest, and I'll make a difference in this world.
Just you wait.