The rush of distant cars created an eerie cacophony of the swamp- crickets, frogs and a nearby alligator hawking. A faint wind from the south stirred and rattled the palmettos.
Talking Panther stared strangely at the golden orb. Robin was too stunned by the sight of it to speak. Somehow, some way, Ian’s impossible notes were real.
He leaned on the rough bark and thought through these recent events. Too much money was involved. None had been spent. There wasn’t any rationale for a swindle. Whoever set me up did it perfectly. I’m out of control. Initiative is impossible. All I can do is wait and try to make something happen.
Talking Panther remained silent. Robin saw her shift in the dark. She looked directly at him and said “There is trouble here. There is something in the vibrations I do not understand, a feeling that someone knows we are here. I have never experienced this before. It is as though they are blocking your future, or that you have no future. This cannot be. It is as if the rain rises into the sky and the river flows up to the mountain. What is, is not, and what is not, is.”
A scent of dog fennel caught Robin’s awareness . He leaned closer to hear her last words. When he looked over at her, Talking Panther was gone. Her body was there, but in that instant, an undeniable transformation had taken place. Her posture had changed and her breath was not the same. The glint in her eye and set of her face told him he was facing someone, something, different. Something new. A stranger looked directly into his eyes.
The metamorphosis stunned him. He realized that he had no defense and nowhere to run. He tried to rise. Predator eyes immobilized still.
He was drawn deeper into the eyes. A voice, dry and raspy began. “In the beginning, we were one. We all had the words and these words were the all. Then many left, and we were no longer one; the knowledge was lost by the Leavers. We who stayed accepted a covenant to keep these words pure. Our prophecy was that one day all would again have the words. We gave these Golden Words to only a chosen few to pass them through each generation. Until now. The prophecy has been fulfilled.
“You, an ancestor of the Leavers, have asked for the words. But something is wrong. Talking Panther cannot find the Golden Words for you. We have waited since the beginning of time to assure this duty would be fulfilled. Now, someone wants to stop you, and wants this prophecy to end. Some want these words only as their own. This cannot be. We are all of an intelligence that flows through all veins. These words belong to the universe and life’s eternal quest is to exchange this ancient knowledge and treat it as new. Its search is to forever blend this knowledge among all things, so everything evolves and improves.
“Freedom is whatever we wish, but fewer freedoms are dealt with by nature as quickly as the ones that resist this urge to blend. So I will speak for Talking Panther and give you these words.”
Robin pressed his back into the rough bark of the tree. He was frozen like a mouse trapped by the hypnotic gaze of a snake,.
“In the beginning, we were one. We were all in the middle and this was good. All knew the other and were in harmony with nature. Then there was change. Some of us wandered and left the middle. Some went east, and others went west. We lost touch.
“In the east and the west they settled, and they forgot that there was a middle. For their sons, the east and the west were the middle. To them the middle was the east or the west. This was unstable. Those who departed from the middle saw it no more, because blindness often seems an easier way. Those in the east saw our sunrise and called it sunset. Those in the west saw our sunset and called it sunrise. The difference was confusing and the confusion made the differences an issue.
“In the beginning, we were one. We were united by all that was common. We became united by all that was different. Spread so far apart, the view was truly beyond even the vision of the eagle. The distance was great and each had his daily toil. In this way, it became easier to look only within the horizon rather than beyond. One group became the left and the other the right, and each from its homeland could not see the position of the other. None could see they were part of the whole. Few saw that there was a whole.
‘This was the beginning of ignorance and its son, fear. Fear made each feel less and made each want to be more. Fear blinded the truth that each was equal. Fear became the father of the desire for control. This desire for control brought deaths and pain. A few decided to leave. In those times there were many places where man was not, and we went to such places. Some went to the mountains, others crossed the great ice or the great waters of the south.
“Our people crossed the greatest waters and came to the land where time began. Order was restored for us because we had the words and knew how to use the stones.
“With the stone we could see the future. We could see where the deer would be, where the rain for our crops would fall, and where to avoid misfortune. We lived in harmony, generation after generation. For others this was not so. Many misused the power of the stone.
“They forgot the sun would always rise and would always set. They forgot that nature would always provide, and they felt a need to control nature. Only a fool can hope to make the sun rise in the sky or the sun set, but fear clouds the most boundless vision, just as morning mists cloud the power of the sun. Those in fear used the stone to control rather than flow with nature. They began to conquer others.
“These conquerors understood the power of the stone and began to gather them. More stones to them meant more power. These men conquered far to the east and far to the west, and collected many stones. They called themselves Controllers.”
Robin blinked when he heard Controllers. They were the ones the old Scotsman, Clague, had said were after him. This voice in the wilderness knows about the Controllers! leaned forward, to hear more.
The gravely voice said “Over generations, conquering became so common that the fear from which it all began was forgotten. Fear became a way of life. The more stones the Controllers gained, the more they desired. They also desired to control the Golden Words used with the stones. In many places, only the Controllers knew the words and they gave false words to confuse and weaken all others. Then the Controllers learned of us, and of our stones. And learned that we knew the words. They felt great dread and that led to great desire. And they came in large boats, wearing iron.
“When they arrived, they were few. We were many, but we were of the old ways and did not know of such things as domination, subjugation, possession and war. We did not understand hiding in the stone. The killing and the robbing began. Those who knew the Golden Words and had the stones were killed. Only a few, who learned how to hide in the vibrations, were able to escape. This was when the prophecy began that a time would come when the sons of the Leavers would arrive for the words so that all could have the words again.
“You have come, but the Controllers have come as well. They are alert and searching. Something is amiss and they want to know. Talking Panther cannot use the stone now. To do so would let them know, but I of the spirit have brought you these Golden Words.”
Robin was startled from his trance. Distrust echoed in his mind. Did I just dream this? This can’t be real/ This must be a con!
Talking Panther interrupted his thoughts, in a frightened tone, “Robin, take these words and go! Your doubts can be seen. You must set them aside and go now, quickly. Death approaches. Death is looking for you! We must leave. Hurry!”
He rose and followed the medicine woman from the mound, running into the brush. A blinding brightness appeared nearby. A beam of light swept past him, stopped, remained still for a moment, then changed direction and began creeping directly towards them both.