1st story of the Children from the Heavens Below
Caligula and the Shellfish Romans
Sometime in the afternoon the serpent head was spotted in the distance by a coastal lookout and fishermen at work in the waters of the highest tip of the Crescent Moon. A horn blared a warning to let those in the distance know that potential danger was on the way but soon stopped at the confusion of the head at their mast being dismembered by the people on board as many ships on the horizon approached the very large forested island. None of the other ships were dragons so they were not sure what they were supposed to do in this situation. Perhaps the head was removed to indicate that the horn should not be blown once and if this was the case than it was important to remain silent. Understanding the people from the Heavens above took patience and sometimes work but the end result was always worth it.
The head of the serpent began appearing on ships that would come visit from a tradition long ago and it was an indication that goods carried with them or possibly some of the people among them were not from the heavens and in fact from far away, perhaps the bottom of the below, which made their interaction somewhat dangerous due to the spread of illness or other foreign threats such as mysterious bugs or treats that might be considered forbidden or deadly for the most part to the people of the Heavens. By removing the head of the serpent right after the horn was blown may mean that the visitors were asking for silence as there was no threat of the serpent among them even though it almost always was at least by a little bit during those changing times.
Because the sky was out for much longer in the Heavens where the boats were coming from, the people considered that direction toward where the True Source pointed to be closer to the sky and above everything and everyone else in the other direction. Being so closer to the Heavens gave the people the task of watching the night sky for fallen stars for any changes that should occur for all of the other cultures found below them.
It took awhile longer than expected as if the boats carried a lot of weight but eventually they came into range and an arrow was fired onto the beach with parchment attached. All of the men in the vicinity gathered with weapons and prepared for the encounter while a scout was sent to the nearest red-flagged area vastly populated and immediately returned with dozens of men who would wait in the foliage for the worst-case scenario should it occur. The ravens were seen circling the boats and the seagulls seemed to join them and they together scout the beaches.
No one seemed very alarmed or afraid as if conflict were possible but more curious as to why the dragon head of the lead ship was taken down. While someone went to read the parchment a few others argued whether they should blow the horns more or not and eventually decided against it when the parchment instructed silence showing the face-print they trusted but also asked for discreet preparation for battle with various symbols and artwork drawn. In the distance among the ships some whales could be seen with them. It seemed that more animals than usual led the visitors to their island so something important must have been happening.
White flags were seen waving from the ships as they hit the waves and unlike past visits they did not slow down or send one to greet them first as tradition demanded. Instead they all came in at the same time as much as they safely could while showing all of the opposite signs of aggression. The white flag indicated peace at all costs and the people of the island were more curious than anything while they waited for their man adorned in blue trim and a clam painted on his shield to greet the first canoe-like boat to hit the safest area to come ashore. One of the ravens from the ships flew above the forested areas and cawed at the many curious and hiding men. Pretty soon a man wearing some orange color came running to join with the other by where the arrow landed.
Upon seeing the men heavily armored and prepared for war the islander scout adorned in bright pieces of yellow went back to the red-flagged area to gather as many men as he could just as the parchment had asked along with as many horses and carts that they could spare. As the people aboard the ships were seen with their faces painted for possible bloodshed the men on the beach became nervous and looked at one another in confusion since their neighbors from the Heavens above were always at peace with them but these were different times as violence and war was known to exist in the world, especially in the Below, or at times small disputes in the outer Yellow of any area may have a small scuffle.
The men from the first ship to hit the shore did not waste any time and acted as if they were in a big hurry, without any concern or signs of anxiety towards the islanders themselves, but appeared to be hustling as if it were a life or death situation. The Head who had imprinted the parchment with his trustworthy face still had the paint covering half of it and wore a necklace bearing his hive name, Wing. Every islander seemed to recognize the old foreigner as the raven from the sky came down to land next to him. With a few caws at the man, he seemed to understand the bird, and looked back at the islander in blue shaking his head as if he disapproved of something.
The orange islander to greet him had a jug of water, wore a garlic necklace, and started flicking water at him and then pointed to a garlic trail on the ground with a questioning look. This was the traditional way to greet them when they had come out of desperation for food. He shook his head and smiled as he hugged the islander but did not waste much time on greetings. After a few glances around the forest for someone who was present that spoke his language or anything like that, he sighed and then went to work on the sand knowing that it would be impossible to talk to them since they spoke a different language and came from land far away above them.
With a stick he drew a spiral that appeared to be a six from the perspective of those on the island watching him but was a nine from his perspective. The clockwise direction he drew indicated that a plan had to be worked out that was timed accordingly. Some people started to emerge from their hiding spots to approach the beach and join the markings, knowing the importance of seeing the sixes being much different from the usual trade spirals that looked more like circles and were drawn counter-clockwise.
He did not appear to have much time to explain, but drew a crude map of the Crescent Moon and marked the beaches on the other tip, all the way on the other side of the island below them. As he kept going, someone from his boat joined in with many hides with intricately painted images for the discussion and behind that man several others were unloading what appeared to be more artwork than they had ever previously seen before so this occasion was very different. In the spiral he marked the times in which they had to meet the lower tip below them for what they had come to assist with. It seemed to be plenty of time for them so the islander was not sure what the rush was all about until his response which was a counter-clockwise spiral to start discussing the trades was smoothed over and then a circled was drawn. By the time he finished the other circle drawn within the first one, the islander knew what the visit was about. This had to do with those from the Inner Circle and could be the beginning of intense warfare that the islanders had never before witnessed. The circle drawn within the circle made men from all over who were silently prying start rushing the beach to assist in whatever was going on as the message of timing being crucial began to set in. The visitor was relieved at the realization that this was news to the islander so they had time to act before those from the Inner Circle came.
The Inner Circle was also known as the Boot but long ago in more ancient times they ceased to call it this when they became more violent and cut off the ways of the True Source Above and reinvented their own ways in the Below. The wars which raged around the Boot ended most of the songs of praise and worship to the animal sacrifices and the songs became more focused more on the human sacrifices since that was more feared and more commonly occurring from those who would die in battle or defending their homes that were colonized by what became the Inner Circle.
The first painting on the hide held by the visitor adorned in furs with hints of orange decoration shown the amount of intruder ships and men from the Inner Circle probably coming to their island on the other side to take what they wanted and conquer it for their own and the second hide shown the suggestion of no horns blared, of being spied on, and keeping their plan and work as discreet as possible but at the same time getting the attention of every single person who was available, including the women and children that would be useful in creating the illusion of having a larger army. Some islanders took off running back to their home right when they saw the painting of those from the Inner Circle outnumbering all of them but most were anxious to know what was painted on the remaining hides and the crowd gathered around the messenger almost came to the point of pushing and shoving as more and more people demanded to see what the fuss was about.
At this point, the islander Heads among them began shouting orders to the Foot for every beach to be watched and checked for intruders while others were sent to the Red to get the attention of all the rest, especially those from the Violet Clan of the Hawk to have their birds scout the beaches as much as possible for them although this was probably not necessary since they were expected to come on the other side of the island from the direction of the Boot in which they had lived. They were to meet again where the visitor drawing in the ground marked the first spot on the six. Every Clan was made up of a Head while the rest were either a Hand or a Foot while every Clan had a belt which made them part of a Tribe. Every individual wore a necklace that was also their name when they would attend any major feasts or trading circles for those encounters that were with others who did not speak the same language. Normally they would be wearing such necklaces to greet those from the Heavens Above but this visit was unexpected so no one was prepared for it and because of this they started to shout out for someone who spoke their language until they sent to get someone they knew who was related to those who had recently settled here in the violet-flagged area just a couple generations ago. The removed head of the dragon mast was given to one of the islander Heads as he gave it to his Foot to show as proof of the visitors should anyone doubt while several other Heads had their Foot sent to ride below as fast as possible to warn them and then return later report back in.
By this time the biggest and last boat was dragged ashore but not very far due to the excessive amount of weight carried. Islanders came to their senses as hosts and went to the assistance with this large vessel that they were having trouble with and as they approached it, the alarming stench of decay hit them. They covered their noses and only breathed out of their mouths as much as possible as they helped until several dozen of them were able to drag the boat far enough to the shore that it would stay and not be swept back into the tide.
They did not have to ask what stank as it was obviously the dead but once the visitors started to toss the human bodies overboard and onto the beach, the islanders did not know how to react since they were at most expecting animal carcasses. They looked at one another as if expecting someone to stop them but remained silent and saw that the corpses were of those who had obviously died of starvation. Some of them hurried back to the discussion for an explanation while shouting out to the other islanders who had not yet noticed but were hushed with an ominous circle drawn in the air by those tossing the dead onto the pile. A few islanders shrugged and then climbed aboard the ship and began to help them unload. The visitors seemed to be focused on hurrying with this more than anything else.
The next drawing on the hide shown many carts and horses with blankets while he placed the next mark in his six and knew the islanders would comply but also felt that they would need an explanation and was not sure how to explain, even with artwork, what they were going to do and what they had planned without wasting too much time so he gestured at another who was a female among his kind to go to for those who were demanding an explanation while the others were discussing among themselves if they were capable of what was being asked for and how soon. Some islanders right away ran off to get busy with the plan without any question or more hesitation but most felt the need to stay until they had learned more or were commanded to leave and get started by their Head. The woman helping them translate seemed to know a few words in the language of the islanders and she was dressed for the occasion of a wedding which seemed totally out of place, but not like any wedding any of them had ever witnessed, she still had all of her rings attached as if she was still a virgin and the dress was a bit more elaborate than usual. Her attire may have been the most expensive thing found on the beach yet she did not seem to care if it became dirty as it was as white as the clouds above which scattered the sky on this cool day. The rings were twigs that were glued around her right arm like bracelets, four of them. She wore the name Douse around her neck symbolized by water being poured onto a fire.
At first the visitors who came from the boats dressed in coats more suitable for the cold were trying to prevent the islanders from telling everyone about the bodies but it was too late to stop them and they did not know how to anyways. Pretty soon everyone was shocked and startled by the massive amount of skinny corpses piling up on the shoreline at alarming numbers, enough in the end to make a pile a bit taller than a person, some of the bodies coming from other boats as well since there was so many of them.
The beautiful woman interpreter using sign-language attempted to explain as they were shown the next hide painting by gesturing at the circle within the circle and then pointed at them and bit her own arm. She kept repeating this gesture as the confused people tried to figure out what she was conveying and they knew that they did not have much time to wonder. The next picture caused a lot of ruckus and turmoil among the crowd that kept growing as they understood the request to dig up recent burial sites and carry them with the carts and horses to the tip of the Crescent Island below them all the way on the other side which would take a lot of time, as long as a week or two for some, so it was no wonder why they were in such a hurry. They had to beat those from the Inner Circle in reaching the tip of the Crescent Moon below.
Frustrated, Douse tried many different gestures while remembering some words in the islander language until finally an islander seemed to catch onto what the woman was expressing and told the other islanders that she was saying that those from the Inner Circle thought that the islanders were cannibals and wild barbarians that needed to be civilized in their version of the ring which was said to be much different than the traditional one from the Heavens. This was when the look of understanding started to appear on the faces of some who would immediately take off running to come back as soon as they could with carts, cattle, and horses.
The next piece of artwork made the plan make a lot more sense now as it showed the deceased being decorated and an elaborate art-walk of sorts for the intruders and the woman in rings was to be offered as a human sacrifice gift for them along with a feast of shellfish as if there was nothing else to be found on the island to eat. The crowd of people started to catch on to the brilliance behind their plan enough that the Head visitor and his beautiful interpreter decided that they had conveyed as much as they needed to for now and that the sooner they would head out would be the better. They focused on the pile of bodies first.
The vessels were concealed a bit with branches while most were dragged into the trees to be hidden better and this took a lot of time, even with the help of the islanders. The islander Head from the Red Clan of the Beech stayed behind and made sure that every boat was concealed well just incase any spies were to circle their island and come this far to the tip above which was unlikely but every possibility had to be covered. More boats in the distance came into view as more visitors came to join the islanders for what would possibly become a very bloody battle, should this plan of theirs fail to turn the Inner Circle back to the Boot.
Once the last body was loaded onto yet another cart led by cattle, most of the immediate area had been surveyed by their birds, reporting everything to be clear, and the visitors of the first canoe-boats were all headed for the long journey to the tip of the Crescent Moon far below them, many of them riding on carts. They kept ominously quiet and rejected every offering of food that the islanders had for them. Fasting the day before any time of possible conflict was a common practice as sometimes fights would last very long but they had already ate one of the biggest feasts the day before although they did not have time to celebrate and definitely were not satisfied with the amount of time they had to say what could have been a final goodbye to their families. Once they would receive word from the Yellow below them, it would be safe to have a meal but until then they would feel the high from fasting.
From these later boats also came some old Crones with their wolves who were escorted as the most honored guests to the Green and nearest Crone from the island, many meeting them for the first time. These women, like all Crones, were extremely old and gray-haired and knew much from many foreign languages to aid them in sharing the knowledge of everything with the Oracle, the oldest woman of the Heavens, for the purpose of medicine, discovering the unknown, and increasing the lifespan of everyone. Most Crones never met the Oracle like they used to in the older days and instead would document everything to be delivered to her through traders or others who would be visiting the Heavens.
As the other huge canoes hit the shore, they were greeted much more quickly than the first batch, and everything from their boats were unloaded to join the train of goods headed to create the wall of art to face those from the Inner Circle as fast as possible. Countless spears, shields, helmets, and various shiny metal trinkets came from these vessels, far more than what would be used should a fight actually come up and enough to ensure several decoys or give something to what would normally be unarmed women and children who would be most distant, only for show.
Many islander Heads joined near the front of the cart train where Wing traveled with many Heads who had donated corpses and weapons to aid their cause from lands further away than the Heavens toward where the Sun rose. Thanks to the Douse in the rings at their side and a couple other interpreters from the island who had come to join them, they were able to communicate much better and exchanged various ideas and possibilities but their communication was very limited. Although with the addition of just a dozen familiar words it made all the difference.
The Boot was feared everywhere and most all of those above them would band together to ward off the invaders when that would occur but what most every person really wanted was the violence to be prevented through political and trade influence from within the Inner Circle. What many people feared was the possibility of a certain house coming to upmost power in the Inner Circle’s political infrastructure that would be most capable of hurting surrounding cultures that they considered less civilized or have the best tactics to use against those that they had fought and were allied with those from Above. Some of the time many believed that all it really took was the right family on top of the Inner Circle for several years of peace and good trade with other cultures but within their democracy was a lot of corruption and scandals going on behind the scenes so that was not an easy task. Although it was almost impossible to catch some of the spies it was said that if one was caught it may be better for the spy to commit suicide before the possibility of an interrogation where the entire network could potentially be discovered but of course much of what was said was exaggerated. Because it was so difficult to land a spy in such a powerful place in the Inner Circle, once one was in there, it was much easier to allow more in and to make sure that no one would be caught and this took several generations. One of the main flaws of the more recent culture of the Boot was that they kept conquering other cultures and the merging of slaves into their society created corruption and paranoia where it would otherwise not exist but this also made them richer than most other cultures so they had a tendency to make up excuses for further expansion whatever they may be but still had the need to feel that they were a righteous cause. No Inner Circle house was pure enough to be invulnerable to the dagger in the back and in reality may have been more at risk for it during these violent times.
Almost every man from every red-flagged area had joined the line of those headed to the Crescent Moon tip below them. They were not armored as the Inner Circle soldiers would be and were considered poor and dirty in comparison to the Boot. Training for the possibility of combat was part of daily life for many citizens of the island as they held annual competitions and great feasts for those who performed these exercises the best. If it came down to it, unlike those from the Inner Circle, they would be fighting to ensure that their families remained safe and free from the rings of Below which were said to be made of something much more than simple twigs glued together to make the rings used in the Above. The rings may have been considered slavery everywhere since everyone would rather be festive all day every day but unlike the Boot, those in the above wore them due to the pressure of tradition and having to survive more than being threatened and forced into them.
Those of the front leading the train were joined by someone from the Green Clan of the Walnut, her shield decorated with an intricate painting of the nut with beautiful green spiral designs, and unlike other islanders, she wore her name around her neck which basically meant Nutcracker. Her strawberry blonde hair made her appear more like the visitors than the islanders and she was fluent in both the languages. She was able to translate for the islander Heads what their human sacrifice adorned in rings had to say about the Inner Circle culture since she had living among them before and was the one who knew for certain that they would be coming to conquer their island soon. She had explained that many of the bodies donated for their plan had come from as far as the tribes midland closer to where the Sun rises in the above as she thanked those who had come to her aid in her plan thus far. The biggest men among them who appeared to be the most distant helper wore the name Trunk around his neck and he made a gesture for her to silence with a smile. She had not slept much lately under the pressure to make sure that they were as prepared as possible for the Inner Circle armies when they would come.
Eventually they insisted that she go to sleep in a cart riding along side of them when they had noticed her inability to speak due to exhaustion as she had come all the way from the Boot as fast as humanly possible starting at the Den of the Wolves where the sixes and nines first began and quickly spread everywhere above the Boot. Word spread and with it came the aid of gathering all of the starved corpses very far into the lands closer to the Sun above the Den. She was the mind and genius behind the plan as she worked with others to make several painted hides while traveling and after every brief period of rest she would awaken feeling like she had the plan to definitely turn the Inner Circle around back to the Boot and avoid conflict, saving countless lives. Because of her knowledge of the languages from the Boot, she was the most important person among them. It was difficult to fall asleep at first as she has been led with the aid of the birds during the whole journey who have a tendency to speed up a person’s mind. As usual, she felt all of the answers come in her sleep and awoke with many more possibilities resolved in her mind.
Douse, although a bit tanner than her kin, originally came from the Crescent Moon tip in the Above and her family sent her through the Ring in the Heavens at a very young age where she had an arranged marriage but was banished to the Den from the inability to have children. She then decided to take up life in the Orange Line for the Den to keep travelers warm and eventually was trained by Germanic tribes to infiltrate the Inner Circe. At this point she was an expert at acting, lying, and communicating with codes without the use of language and with the skills taught during the Ring, she was one of the most proficient spies to be found. Originally from the Tribe of the Bull, she tended to have larger breasts than most women and did push-ups to keep them as firm as a young-adult. With these she used them to get closer into one of the Inner Circle houses and fell in love with one of the commanders who would eventually tell her about the conquest for the Crescent Moon. She left her love with a final message that she had to leave to save his life and from an area above the Boot, she went to the Den and set forth the genius plan that came from a vivid dream. Because she had been one of the few people in the world to meet the Oracle, she knew through her teachings that every person she met in the dream world was a person who existed in the real world but many people already knew this. Because she had appeared to her husband as an old woman in the dream world, she was sent on more dangerous tasks since they believed that no matter how great a risk she would take, she was guaranteed to live as old as the woman in the dream.
As morning came the many spears brought from the boats had been distributed among the Hands while their Heads were told by their translator enough of their plan for him to give the orders of what to do with them when they would arrive. Almost every person on the trail at this point had three to four spears and carried at least one shiny trinket of something metallic while there still was more to hand out for those who would later join them. Several more horses and carts were donated for the cause and the first visitors to arrive who were the most important Heads made sure that their Foot who were most skilled at everything creative would be the first to arrive on the other side of the crescent island so they would trade shifts and sleep on the carts with the corpses, wrapping a blanket around their eyes and nose so not to breath in the stench while traveling nonstop, so that they would arrive at their destination within a few days rather then the week or more it would probably take the rest of the line.
The Head from the Yellow Clan of the Raven who had come from the Heavens lost sight of his ravens and had to back track some to make sure that they knew where to go but like usual, the ravens would not be lost and he would feel stupid for doubting or having concerns as they seemed to plan ahead better than man sometimes in an impossible way. As a collective, the ravens were known to have more intelligence than an individual person and they were much of the reason that peace was always found in the Heavens Above along with the wolves and because of how impossible it was for any foreigner to enter their lands without leaving a trail of footsteps left in the snow or fires that gave away their location with smoke. The only time that those living in the Heavens Above or their neighbors who were almost always peaceful with them were concerned was when the mists would come and make things harder for the wolves and ravens to detect intruders. This man was known for being a direct descendant of an important God and had already summoned lightning several times during ceremonial communion. He was also one of the only people who frequently visited the Oracle and some of the birds with him today were hers. He wore the name Talon around his neck and was almost as large as Trunk.
Some Heads of the islanders kept to their side for informing all of the new-comers who would join their line, their faces imprinted on the thighs of their horses, leaving them half-painted for war. The few Hands among them with horses had a hand-print on the horses thigh, always using the color of their clan that they represented. Very few horses were to be seen as they were the most expensive asset possibly found on the entire island, usually purchased when those from the heavens came for trade annually, or bred as much as possible within their own tribes. The visitors from the heavens were known for paying a handsome price for lighter-colored horses and animals of all sorts since they would blend into their snowy environment easier. Typically, the islanders were not as rich as those from the Heavens since they had more access to furs and other animals that were not found on the island as well as more trade options and traditionally held more responsibility for spreading knowledge from the Oracle and held secret meetings for plans to avoid conflict, feed everyone, and survive as long as possible. It was believed that the Heavens were once connected to the Crescent Moon and the Eye and the land directly below them but after so much time, the snow had melted, and the sea appeared for protecting the islanders from those with the Tickle below them.
As they continued through another day and another night nonstop their horses and cattle became weary and they were forced to trade them with new ones provided by those who lived below the tip of the crescent moon. Some green-flagged areas and purple-flagged areas were seen which were almost as large as the original red-flagged area they had come across as the island became more populated and then more private again. Red meant that the area was most heavily populated, Violet were a populated area typically along rivers found between the Blue and the Red, while the Green were found most inland in the forested more private areas. Hardly any clans representing Blue, Orange, or Yellow were among their now gigantic line as they tended to live on the outskirts, beaches, or even diplomatically among foreigners and those below them outside of the Crescent Moon although that changed from time to time due to complicated politics and changes of land ownership. Blue typically were the cleanest and lived among the beaches while Yellow were the lookout and most distant who were protected by the Orange who often were those who would welcome visitors as well and dealt with most foreign politics. Tribes were made up of many Clans, sometimes large enough to contain every color, and they were dedicated to the worship and respect for a certain animal found, usually the most common Tribes representing the animals that were domesticated. Every person wore their tribal belt proudly around their waist and their shield or color they adorned indicated which clan they were part of. People were encouraged by their Crones to mingle with others outside of their Tribe as much as possible, especially regarding marriages, but they had a tendency to be the opposite way and kept closer to their own.
Finally, by the time they neared the bottom half of the Crescent Moon, scouts had reported to them that the coastal beaches of the Below were clear. The carts of rotting stench had gone as far as a day ahead of what might be considered the front of the line for most people who would later meet them at the mark in the nine and the line became crowded once again with Heads riding along beside them to verify all of the info which they had.
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