Year 315, Moon 1
If you were to ask me how to describe the sound of the ocean waves breaking on shore, I would be able to tell you. It is a great, rushing, portentous sound, the kind that never simply ebbs but seemingly engulfs everything in its path. The water does not meander through the eddies of rock pools, as it does in Bow River. It is never placid and calm, and certainly never as blue as the waters of Arrow Lake. The ocean is a monstrous force, taking everything in, and holding onto it. The sound it makes is the sound of a thousand hidden lives, of watery graves and starry dreams. It is a sound like no other.
I still remember it.
But for the others, the remembering becomes too difficult. After a certain point, not even we can run from senescence. In the old world, they used to say that age was but a number, but lately even I have begun to feel the weight of my own bones. 140 years are more than I should have been allowed.
But why do you care, reader? Why pick up this lonesome journal, so far removed from your usual fairy tales and romances? Was it the leather-bound cover that intrigued you? Was it the smell of dusty ink and charred parchment? Why are you still reading this?
Or are you? I hope you are. For if you are, you have encountered your own history. I have created here an account of my history, in fact. But it is a history that is directly tied to your own. And if you are careful, and if you pay attention to my words, it is a history that will teach you what you need to know.
For if you are anything like me, and if you have truly found this journal in the place where I have left it to be uncovered, then you too are searching for a way out.
Perhaps I have the answer. Thus, read and conquer, Templar.
For me, Temple was just another place. My parents preferred the wandering life, and so we swept from one barren and broken town to another for the very first 7 years of my life. I was fortunate to get to see many different places of the world. But this world, the world that now belongs to you and I and the leader known as Shiloh, is not the same as the old one. It is both a part of it and yet not. It lingers just underneath the surface of the old world, and it speaks to all of us. But I digress. There was an old world.
We came to the new world for freedom’s sake. How could we know that things were any better in a new world? My parents didn’t. They had instead a tenuous string of hope that they clung to. This was their anchor – otherwise I fear that we would never have made it here. We did not land on the shores of this new world by ship, nor did we journey here by wagon or car or train. We walked, led by that very same elusive leader that now pastes his face across the walls of our boundaries. He led us through deep woods, and even greater forests, and then to a system of caves that I cannot much recall. All that lingers of those memories is the sound of silence and a deep, corrosive darkness. From there we entered the water.
And from the water we were baptized, and emerged to face the settlement of Temple. Like many before us, this was the last time we planted our feet in the unknown soil of the Great Forest. From then, the town was all we knew. So I grew up here, and loved here, and saw many die here. Not much different than anyone else, am I? But what do you really need to measure a full life by?
I didn’t measure it in moons, as everyone else does. My memories of the old world lingered, and so did my curiosity for it. But such desires for this knowledge were punishable by the Creed, as they still are. We are a world unto ourselves, we Templars. That is law.
But the sparks of rebellion grow everywhere, even in utopias. They follow hard times, and stubborn minds. The first embers glowed brightly after the first 25 years, as you might recall from your classes. Many perished in the Great Famine, for the settlement was still adjusting. Everyone was still learning how to go back to the old ways, and how to become simpler. Something was bound to fail. The Great Fire followed not long after, and the embers glowed even brighter. Sabotage was not thought to be the cause, but some of us disagree. The historical records have all been lost, anyways. How would we prove it? All we know about the first years are the words handed down to us.
The Golden Age came and went rapidly, and a season of pestilence swept over the settlement. If you look carefully at the graveyard, you will see all the graves that are marked by “X’s” – they are deaths marked by disease. Look at how great their numbers are. Ponder. How could a civilization and society as forward and utopian as ours not be able to quell such flaws? The first public executions came shortly before our arrival. Where one doubt begins, three others follow. 17 burned brightly those few weeks. Their bodies were thrown into the river, and for this folly, the river dried up.
When weapons are developed, there are those that use them. For good or for evil, they still go off. So they went off in the town center and killed all 4 heirs, and the bicentennial celebration turned somber and cold. Great rains flowed ceaselessly. All was darkness.
But the honey managed to flow, and the river was revived, and so everyone lived on. The sunshine that followed was measured in achievements both great and small. Yet human flaws lingered on. Utopias are such for a reason, you know. We are all inevitably human. When the food resources run low, when our families are killed off one by one, there can only be one way to live on. There is a hunt for revenge in the human soul that is like no other when awakened. The new heir’s arrival was marked by the swift executions of many plagued by such desires.
He was not an emblem of hope. He was a harbinger of death. 1,023 perished after his birth, of pestilence and disease. Go hunt down their graves if you can. They are not all there. Some are buried in the cobblestones of the marketplace, some deep down by the garden where the flowers bloom most brightly, others near the beds of the river, their bones crushed under the weight of our machines. But don’t you know this already? This is your age now, after all.
You must know about the new creed, the new adjustments. You know about the unease, the marked disturbance in your neighbors and friends. Or are you one of the others? Can you live on in silence and disrupted dreams? Can you be satisfied with a life lived unfulfilled? Of expectations followed through? Where is the bedeviled spirit that was birthed in the wilds of the old world? Does it still run through you? Do you look at the stars and wonder where else they burn?
Or am I just speaking to my own ghosts?
It is no matter, my dear ones. I am coming home.
Word Count: 1281