The Star

A cloudless sky unveiled a sweeping view of pinprick stars across its navy surface. Pale, grey light played on the hills and valleys below. The peaceful quiet of the night seeped over the countryside. A village, a few miles distant, emitted an orange glow as a bonfire filled its center and tiny black figures crowded around it.

A boy, nearly a man, of no more than fourteen or fifteen years of age, stumbled through a hedgerow into a field far from the main road to the village. He trudged onwards at the slow pace of exhaustion, sweat drying on his body and tightening his skin. Dust and dirt had kicked up over his sandals and simple trousers; streaks of it ran across his face where he had previously wiped away the sweat and tears.

A small gash had been torn into the side of his trousers as a makeshift holder for a crude dagger. The jagged and bent metal of the blade had left crimson marks on the boy’s leg as it rubbed with the walking motion. The boy did not seem to notice this however and continued his journey up the slope of the hill.

On reaching the apex he slowed to a stop. Looking down at the ground he trod forward a few paces and sighed. His staunch face crumbled and tears issued forth amidst unrestrained sobbing. He clamped his hand over his face and through sheer force of will stopped the sorrow leaving behind only a trace embodied in periodic sniffing.

The boy turned to look out across the land and towards the village bonfire. Shakily he pulled the dagger from its pauper holding and raised it forward stabbing the air in the direction of the village.

“I will with pleasure wreck your homes!” The boy shouted to the vast reaches of air before him. “And with gluttony shall I gorge upon your shrieks, and your misery. I shall revenge myself,” the boy said, his anger softening as his voice broke down verging on the sobs of before. “And you shall ask yourselves ‘How have I earned this wroth?’ as I have.”

The hand with the dagger dropped to the boy’s side and his head fell. He stood for a while, motionless and staring at the ground. He sniffed, and sighed again. Then, looking at the land around him selected a reasonably flat area and sat down.

“Here I have retreated, to this miserable shelter.” The boy used his dagger to hack at the ground before him, isolating pebbles and small rocks then levering them from the ground to be flung down the slope. He looked up briefly as he muttered to himself, “Away from the barbarity of man.”

The boy turned his attention back to the de-stoning of the land and general idle destruction. Occasionally he would pull a clump of grass from the mostly barren earth and sprinkle the blades in the air.

“What have I done to deserve this?” He began to speak again, his voice barely more than a whisper. “Am I so hideous, so disturbing, so wrong? Am I nothing more than a monster. A mere beast in the eyes of others. That is if, their eyes should even see me. A blot upon the landscape, I am treated as a perversion.” The boy’s voice was rising now as the words tumbled forth from his mind freely. “And yet even amongst the beggars and the detritus of humanity I am still an oddling. A creature of no more worth than a dog.”

The boy dropped his dagger on the dry earth and rose to his feet once more. He began pacing, treading out a circle, his fervour rising as he spoke with a tear broken voice. He directed his words towards the stars in the heavens above him.

“I wish for an end, and yet I know in my mind that I am hopeful still. I see others and a thought crawls into my head that they might think kindly of me. It is buried deep, an infectious creature called hope. One that persists in maintaining my existence, ignorant of the futility.

“Why do I suffer this? Why do you, accursed creator, stand idly by? You who have created this insurmountable between life. I am not so special as to be praised nor am I so reviled and despised as to be pitied. I look around me and I see none who are the same. And you are the one who has put me in such insupportable misery!

“Do you not pity your creation? Do you not offer aid or succor? Am I to be abandoned by even you? Of course not. I am but one of hundreds. I bleed as they do and their suffering is equal to mine. Or so I should believe. It is hard to think that they hurt so in their hearts as I do now and have done for so long. Are there others who are treated as I am? For whom no saviour appears. I think not.

“For them a hardship is an event. It is over as soon as it occurs. Their sadness is equally matched by their happiness. Do they, in grief, think only of how to end their sadness or do they wallow in pity until it passes?”

The boy knelt and retrieved his dagger. He ran a finger along the blade and pricked himself on the broken point. He was silent as he considered the weapon, turning it in his hands. His gaze passed over the squat huts of the distant village.

“I should wreak havoc upon them. Dash them and revel in my brutalistic glory. If I cannot inspire love then I should create fear. Fear demands reverence, respect, acknowledgement…” The boy’s words trailed off. He plunged the dagger into the earth up to its bare handle.

“I am malicious because I am miserable. I know better than to harm only to satiate my own desires. What would I receive in recompense? To be abhorred, how can I possibly believe that would be a better existence. And yet it tempts me. But were I to stand with dagger in hand and body against blade I do not think I could take a life.

“I have been kind. As kind as a man of no money, no friends and no possessions can be. Is it selfish to ask for the ability to do more? Do you turn from me when I ask for love because I am not altruistic? I do not know what I can do to change this life. I need guidance, to know what would make things different. Am I too weak, or am I too foolish?

“Won’t you help me? I beg of you…”

The boy ceased his speech and began to sob silently having run out of words. The breeze atop the hill chilled him and eventually he lay on the ground where he watched the stars above. He turned his head at every noise, hoping that something, anything would happen.

Time wore on and the boy whimpered turning on his side. As he did so he caught sight of vibrant colours in the corner of his eye. He leant up on an elbow to see a figure standing behind him. He backed away instinctively, stumbling to his feet and nearly tumbling backwards down the slope of the hill.

It was a woman, fully matured, her eyes emitted the burning light of the sun and forced him to avert his gaze. In his brief glimpse he saw a matronly appearance, strong, rounded features in which a stern expression was set. Her clothing wrapped around her showing vibrant reds, greens and blues all shimmering like silk. Her thick, long hair and tumbled down her back tied with thin, green vines in a strong braid. She held a staff at her side, though her posture was strong and did not support herself on it. The staff was carved of wood and had golden rings adorning its length, each with a pair of red and green ribbons streaming in the breeze.

The diminutive boy and grand lady stood in versus. “You… Are you Spendarmat?” The boy asked, drawing on his knowledge of the mother of man.

“That is the name I have been given by the people of this land.” The lady replied. She stepped forward and the boy stepped back, then, ashamed of this he stepped forward again. Spendarmat approached and wrapped her free arm around him, drawing the boy into a warm embrace. The boy began to cry again, the comforting gesture returning his vulnerability. She held him for a long time consenting to sit upon the earth and hold the grown boy in her lap.

“Why?” The boy began to speak. “Why have you come to me now? When no one would assist or pity me. Do you bring me hope only so that it may drag me onwards in pain? To spite me with the knowledge that my prayers have been heard and yet ignored.”

“I am sorry. It is because, in part, of these things that I come now. I am old, much older than you would believe. I come from a time before this finery,” she indicated her clothes. “From before man knew how to craft those huts and hovels over yonder. From a time when humankind huddled together afraid of the darkness.

“I was given a responsibility. Governance over these people. They called me their mother and I cherished them. I still do cherish them. But they do not need me anymore, my ways are old and incapable of creating the balance that life needs.

“You, my dear boy, I confess I have ignored you. I turned my eyes from your plight because I wanted to test your hope. My own has grown old and withered without me whilst yours, which you bemoan as a cause of your suffering, is strong even in the darkness.

“It is you I have chosen as my successor, to be given what I was given. To become Spenta Mainyu. My selfish desire to be freed of this existence and to be spared the sight of suffering such as yours is my wish, but I have waited and bided to find you. I do not wish to abandon the people of this world unguided.

“Now stand and be recognised by the Creator.” Spendarmat pulled the boy up to his feet as she rose. She stepped away from him and pointed up at the night sky. The boy followed her finger and saw a golden light falling at speed like a shooting star. It was headed directly for them but decelerated as it approach coming swiftly and calmly to a stop in front of them.

The golden light was emitted from a large ring a few yards in height. It hovered above the ground before the boy. The ring itself was carved with intricate symbols in a flowing pattern across its entire surface. Two smaller rings, still big enough to wrap around a waist, hung on the bottom of the larger one. They each had a long, wide ribbon attached, one red, one green and they made a soft humming noise as gravity pulled them along the ever turning larger ring.

A flat, golden disk nestled in the centre of the ring, hovering just inside without touching. A pair of wings, with three rows of feathers each, were carved into its surface leaving a plain strip down the middle. This smooth surface reflected the boy’s face and as he stared he felt knowledge and power flow into him. His mind was filled with primordial thoughts and his soul swelled as the spiritual essences were bequeathed to him.

The golden ring and disk rose up in the air and shot away with the same speed as it had arrived. The boy looked at Spendarmat and could see her beginning to age. Her smooth and supple skin began to crease and wrinkle, her muscles shrinking and her posture falling. She smiled at the boy though and invited him to sit beside her.

In the time she had left she explained his duties. Of his role as Spenta Mainyu. Of the amesha spentas and the yazatas. Of the subtle influences on the physics and elements of the world he needed to manage.

Her voice weakened as time wore on. Finally she thanked the boy for taking on her task and her head with its fine, white hair, fell limp. Her body continued to age as the newly born spenta watched. The skin shrank to the bone and decayed. The hair fell from the skull. Finally the bone eroded and crumbled.

The boy picked up her staff and turned to look out across the land. He watched the village from which he had come and his knuckles whitened as his grip tightened on the staff. In a flash of light he disappeared. The dagger remained, stuck into the dirt of the hill.

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