Sirclik and Linus: A Flat Earth Tale Part 1: Sirclik Chapter 2. Lizabeth

by nielskunze on September 17, 2016

Previous Chapters:

Part 1 Sirclik Chapter 1 The Outskirts



(Wonderous Stories by Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty)

2. Lizabeth

Sirclik had known of Dragons, from folktales and ancient myth. Though he had doubted the veracity of such claims, or alternatively, had thought that they belonged solely to an ancient bygone era, a part of him had always wished them to be true. But even so, he had never held any reasonable expectation of ever meeting one. Yet, here was one of the giants descending upon him, encircling and redirecting an ignominious destiny… for Sirclik, for Dragons, for all the Worlds.

Dragons are matriarchal. It is the female of the race who is the larger, the stronger, the fiercer, and the wiser. The female Dragon has such far distant sight into matters, strategies and fates that she stands unchallenged as the Guardian of Worlds. None would ever think to second-guess her. As she rode the spiral arc of descent to the tiny landing strip where Sirclik lay, he could not help but wonder nevertheless that perhaps she was mistaken, mistaken to ever bother with these dregs of his own draining mortality. What could such a fine majestic beast such as this deem of import with him?

Her dark wings stretched like a canopy over the sea on either side of the land-spit, dampening down the spray and the wind, as she leaned back the full bulk of her mass, coming in to land at Sirclik’s feet. She dragged the salted air with her in a final beat of those wings, sending gusts and rains into his face. It couldn’t be helped, and Sirclik found no insult in the maneuver. Finally, she folded and tucked her wings as best she could at her sides and stood towering over the shivering man half buried in the sand among boulders and the deep black ocean.

Sirclik knew little of protocol. He recalled that only folly chose to look a Dragon directly in the eye. They were glamorous charmers, schooled in hypnotic magicks. A Dragon’s will was said to be second to only the will of the gods. But what was he to do? He had already accepted death once, and that gave him a reckless courage now in this reprieve, as he met the gaze of his new… companion…? tormentor…? master…? guide…? He was determined to find out which.

She seemed to accept his stare as a queen might accept a bow from one of her subjects. In her stare, there was no obvious rebuke, nor was there anything resembling tenderness either. It was an acknowledgement, a greeting; and that in itself seemed to breathe a measure of life back into Sirclik’s being. He would not be made a snack, not on this day at least.

The immediate challenge before them both was now one of language. Sirclik was reasonably familiar with the use of vocalizations, although among the People themselves they were seldom used. Their typical rapport was more in line with telepathy, though not based in words. Theirs was a tight communion, one of knowing the other’s mind… through the shared heart of the tribe. The giant Dragon towering above him however was such a foreign entity that such communion was simply not possible, at least within no reasonable degree of immediacy. Furthermore, Sirclik deduced that a Dragon’s voice was not particularly suited to the articulation of spoken words; it just seemed too farfetched to hope for.

“Greetings,” he said aloud to the world, to the sea, to the Master before him. His voice was soft, broken and unpracticed, but his entreaty reached her ears nevertheless, evidenced by the slight tilt of her head in immediate response.

Her proper reply came as words, telepathically, fired into his brain like arrows or bullets, beyond any recourse to choice. “Forgive the intrusion,” she began, and Sirclik was awed that her discourse should begin with an apology. “Our languaging may pose some difficulties, as we are wholly unknown to each other, and so shall it largely remain. We are neither friend nor foe to the other, but we share a common purpose.” Before the question could even properly arise in his mind, Sirclik felt the indication internally, directed from her, pointing to the egg of strange compulsion within him as the source of this momentary kinship. “I see that I know more of your purpose than even you or your tribe,” she continued. “I shall assist to enlighten and invigorate you to the very limits of your apparent frailty. It is my hope that you are more robust of character than your obvious deficiencies suggest.”

Sirclik truly perceived no insult. The sheer absurdity of the situation precluded any such egotism. His heart swelled with gratitude for the mere hint for assistance. He began assembling appropriate words in his mind for a diplomatic response, but the Dragon commanded that he speak aloud. “It would not be wise,” she explained, “to allow one such as myself full entry into your mind. I will not seek your responses there. You would be irreparably harmed in such a mergence of our cognitive disparity. Speak aloud, into the consensus we share, this place between worlds; my ears are keen. And I, in turn, will continue to place only words within your mental grasp, the gentlest projections I can muster… for you are correct to assume that my vocalizations are not suited to the human tongue.”

It was not lost on Sirclik that she had easily read his thoughts in determining that a Dragon could not physically speak aloud. And now he took comfort in her tacit promise to respect the sovereignty and the frailty of his mind. It seemed that she could easily pick up any outward-directed thought, but respectfully declined from possessing the entirety of his cognitive domain. The insistence that he speak aloud was a clear demarkation of her respectful regard… and that she harbored no desire to destroy him.

“Will you survive the next hundred heartbeats?” she asked, peering down upon the shivering and frail stick-man.

Sirclik nodded and affirmed aloud “Yes,” though his certainty was based more in hope than physical reality.

Without the slightest hesitation, she was airborne again with a practiced leap and the beat of her powerful wings. She disappeared quickly from Sirclik’s sight toward the landmass from whence he had just come.

Sirclik closed his eyes and conserved the very last of his strength, hugging his own remaining body heat in a tight ball with knees drawn up and head buried in forearms and elbows. His quaking breath spilled into his lap in broken gasps resembling sobs, but he could still feel the minuscule heat of a life not quite extinguished. How long he remained thus was impossible to measure; Death was a poor timekeeper. His determination to draw just one more breath rewarded him time and again… until finally the Dragon returned.

Even before landing, she dropped a parcel of deadwood from her huge talons in close proximity to where the frail human still breathed. She circled once more and came in to land, being careful not to churn up too much sea spray that might douse the wood, not to mention the man. She easily arranged the wood into a neat pile and immediately ignited it with her legendary breath.

With the crackle of burning wood, the smell of smoke and the promise of light and heat, Sirclik raised his face to the bonfire, and then crawled within the providence of its warm embrace. He shivered in the dancing light, reaching out his limbs one-by-one to capture the intense heat in all the places it was needed most.

Without a word, the Dragon leapt into the sky again, retracing her flightpath once more. Sirclik was left alone with the soothing fire.

When next she returned, this time she dropped the carcass of an unknown beast on the side of the bonfire across from Sirclik. He gazed upon the dead thing horrified. It was mangled and bloody from the rapacious dexterity of her claws. Then she proceeded to land again just beyond the place where the carcass lay.

“You will eat,” she instructed Sirclik matter-of-factly. In the present context, those three words made no sense to Sirclik. Surely, this could not be considered food. His objections were clear and palpable, hanging in the air unvoiced. The Dragon continued nonplussed. “For the place where you are going,” she inserted into his mind, “this is most appropriate food.” She then proceeded to draw a long talon down the midline of the carcass, eviscerating the beast, spilling its guts in the sand. She scooped those up deftly with her mouth to gulp them down, and then she tore the remainder of muscle meat into manageable chunks for Sirclik, first removing the hide with little effort. “If you roast it in the fire you may find it to be somewhat more palatable. If you can stomach it raw, it will better nourish you and your quest.”

The hunger was insistent. There was little Sirclik could do to fight it other than to heed the dragonly advice already given. He arranged a few parcels of meat around the raging bonfire, allowing them to char and sizzle. The smell, he noticed, wasn’t completely unpleasant. After a time, with the Dragon’s keen insistence, he began to tear the cooked muscle from the bones with his hands and teeth. It was tough and required a great deal of chewing before it could be safely swallowed. It fell heavily into his stomach, squashing the siege of hunger as it had so mercilessly gripped him. In the process, the only life Sirclik had ever known truly and utterly vanished, and now was replaced by the life of this beast violently stolen… and shared with his unlikely companion.

Once the she-Dragon was content that Sirclik was reinvigorated and beyond Death’s immediate grasp, she began to instruct him on the mysteries he still faced. He huddled close to the ample embers of the fire, stealing heat still as the flames and their light diminished.

“Much of my instruction,” she began, “will seem incomprehensible, yet it will be available to you in the future flowering of comprehension.”

There was something about this hollowing-out process that had left Sirclik empty and unknown to himself that now allowed the Dragon’s guidance to fill him up beyond the usual personal identity among the circle of his ancestors. The words, though alien and impenetrable, found space in Sirclik’s psyche like a subtle magick spell. He had given up everything familiar about himself in the pursuit of this quest so that a different kind of hero might arise in place of the mundane. And Sirclik knew none of this; he had no basis to relate to any of it. Just the strange egg buried within him jostled and vibed to the burgeoning song of new adventure.

He settled deeply into a listening posture, preparing for the noxious dialogue that was about to infect his entire being, making room for the disease, welcoming the madness already embraced. He drained the last dregs of liquid from his water-skin to dilute the reality of the digesting beast in his belly. And before she began her crafted oratory, Sirclik had one question to ask of his unlikely benefactor.

“What do I call you?” he asked innocently enough. “What is your name?”

“There is power in names, and destiny intermingles with identity,” she answered curtly. “You will refer to me simply as Dragon. I do not disclose my personal fate to mortals.” It was not a rebuke, rather just a clear line of demarkation, or perhaps a safety valve; what was to follow would flow in only one direction. This was no friendly exchange; this was the battle-plan for worlds in collision… and Sirclik was being briefed for a mission he lacked the tools to even understand.

“There are worlds within worlds within worlds…”

Worlds of Flat Earth

Worlds of Flat Earth (source: Buddhist newspaper)

The Dragon’s tutelage lasted for what might be regarded as days in this twilight realm between the proper worlds of creation. She filled him up with the oratory of an incomprehensible lore, citing dire destinies and uncommon need. She further assured him that his future experience would provide the context for eventual understanding of all that which was well beyond him now. Sirclik could only listen and absorb the strange words and concepts as they replaced and overwrote the last echoes of his former identity.

And while he came to embody the Dragon’s gift, he continued to feast upon the flesh of the beast she had provided, regaining his strength, conditioning his resolve. From the hide of the creature, he fashioned himself a cloak and rudimentary footwear according to her instruction. The next leg of the journey would prove to be a challenge to them both, and preparation was essential.

“I will take you to where the ice-shelf begins. Further I dare not venture, for the cold would still my blood despite the fire in my breath. A dragon cannot fare long in winter; perhaps you can.”

Winter was just another concept unfamiliar to Sirclik. He had never experienced such a condition, but the Dragon promised that soon he would understand, as learning would click into context of the journey moving forward. She had filled him with so many odd notions like… like the world of his fated destination being in quarantine… and that it had been seeded by gods and creatures, creators and spies… that it was a time-capsule, like an egg preparing to hatch into a brave new cosmos… that it was a place of intense beauty and jealous cruelty… that her own progeny gestated in the moon… and so on. Sirclik didn’t even have the faintest notion of what a moon might be, but he was nevertheless excited to find out.

And then it was time for their departure. Bundled tightly in animal skins, Sirclik was invited to climb upon the Dragon’s back, and to make camp in the level spot between her shoulder blades. Her scales were just loose enough to allow Sirclik a chance at grasping and holding on, and they were not quite so sharp at their edges to threaten to cut him to pieces. Nevertheless, this next leg of the journey would prove to be somewhat other than comfortable, and definitely precarious, even frightening.

He lay flat on his belly at first, encircling her neck with his arms as best he could. She was much too big for him to clasp his hands at her throat, but he felt reasonably secure when the moment came for the pair to become airborne.

She leapt mightily into the air, unfurling and beating her wings simultaneously. The muscles of her flesh rippled beneath the armor of scales under his belly. He was tossed and jostled by the mere mechanics of the dragon’s flight, but managed to maintain a lifesaving grip as he quickly got used to the constant motion and the constant threat of falling. His face bounced against the unyielding rigidity of her scales; he noticed the typical fetid smell of dragons…

This was an experience! Unimaginable.

Very quickly, any sign of land vanished from sight below them. Now there was only the deep black unending sea… as far as he could see in any direction, roiling and churning in this twilight place. Time was still… rather meaningless, being the measure of change. There was a humbleness, almost an insignificance which blanketed Sirclik’s psyche. He was a mere mote of dust upon the wind… one with a powerful ally and protector. She gently reminded him that he would stand in the remainder of this lifetime upon the fence between humble insignificance and sacred duty. Both sides of the fence would squeeze a new personality from between their vast insistence and constancy.

Finally, there appeared a white streak across the horizon ahead, and beyond it a new source of light. The air had grown markedly chilled and unwelcoming. The Dragon prepared to land by gliding downward at a furious rate of descent. Her body was as cold as a rock beneath him, despite the workings of her muscles, the stoking of her breath. Sirclik clung to her like a doomed sailor to the tip of an iceberg set adrift– though he had no basis for understanding the metaphor… yet.

She skidded unsteadily upon ice and snow, coming in to land. When she came to an abrupt stop in the bank of snow that had gathered around and swallowed her feet, Sirclik was flung suddenly from her back to land in a forward drift. Snow was unknown to him; even ice on such a scale as this was beyond his ability to imagine. In the shock of the cold, he brushed himself off, coming to his feet in a wobbly stance. His muscles were cramped and sluggish beneath the protection of animal skin wrapped around his soul.

He was again filled with questions but couldn’t settle on a single one. The Dragon answered him all the same, reminding him that she had already given him what she could. It was obvious to Sirclik that the environment was extremely hostile to his benefactor… and friend, and she was eager to get away to safety.

“You are three days away from the barrier,” she told him. “Once you cross it– and I have no idea what that might be like or even if it may be accomplished– you will belong to the World called Earth. Remember, it is an anagram for heart… encircled in ice. Follow the yellow light ahead, during the day; rest at night. The stars in the sky are the creator gods looking on, influencing in subtle delight. The Sun is the son of the Infinite Designer of the space for all the Worlds. His Life is given to all whom venture here. He is invested in you– and all you meet– completely. When the Life of the son is dimmed, the moon shall hatch, and all the world of Earth will likewise hatch as One… to herald the new beginning of cosmic communion. Fare thee well.”

Mostly it was more gibberish to Sirclik, yet her final speech rang with an undeniable nobility inside him. He stood before her, still awed and silent. Tears representing unknown, complex emotions rolled down his cheeks… as she was the witness to his resolve. Barely above the level of a whisper he managed to say “Thank you.”

She bowed her head to him– a most unlikely gesture– and then imparted one last tidbit before again taking to the air, headed for warmer climes. She said “I am Lizabeth.”

And then she was gone.

(The Prophet by Yes from their 1970 album Time and a Word)

3. Ice-olation

to be continued soon…

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