Excerpt from the Recollections of Badu the Wanderer, on the Golkans of the Northern glaciers.  Scribed by Chosen Imrae in the three hundred and forty second year of Antefusta under King Anor Seren and the Seven Princes•

I spent years in the foothills of the great mountain.  I thought myself a peerless pioneer as I traveled through the jagged vastness of unbroken white.  Forging ahead into unknown territories to lay eyes upon wilderness never before glimpsed by the eyes of man.  Oh, I laugh now at my hubris but I was quite vexed when the Golk finally revealed themselves to me. Twice vexed because there I stood wrapped in the heaviest furs I could bear and the best alchemical heat lamps my coin could buy and before me on an ice strewn field was a man bare to the waist carrying his infant son.  

I liken the whole experience leading up to that first, true meeting to befriending wild animals.  Not to belittle their intelligence, for they had a grasp for language and nuance that had me convinced they were preceded by scholars and mathematicians and somehow managed to carry on vestiges of that legacy despite the barbarity of their lifestyle.  That is to say that you or some other, sheltered city-dweller would consider their lifestyle barbaric.  Me?  I would say they lived in the rhythm demanded by their atmosphere.

Ah, but I've strayed from the path.  I was speaking of the first time I laid eyes upon the fleeting Golk.  At first they were silhouettes on a distant horizon.  Shadows in the murky darkness of a mist-shrouded forest.  A breath on the back of my neck.  Felt but never seen.  They were the wind and the ice and the stone.  Truth be told, I was half convinced they were specters or I was betwixt by some fey land-spirit.  Always, as I drew closer to those silhouettes they would vanish, not unlike a mirage in the desert.  

Knowing what I do now, I realize I was lucky they stumbled upon me before the others did.  But I will not speak of them, nor will I name them for fear that naming will catch fire and incinerate all who hear it.  Suffice it to say that those I speak of are no less magnificent or mysterious than the Golk.  Nor are they malevolent in their nature.  Rather, the ferocity in which they adhere to their religion leaves no room for those who do not.  

I've wandered off again, haven't I?  There are simply no direct paths in the telling of this.  It is a tale with many false-trails, switch-backs, dead-ends and perilous drops.  But where was I?  Oh yes, of course.  It was at their preference that I finally came in contact with them.  I learned that only when they painted themselves in red, swirling designs would they tolerate my presence.  Pitty the man who unwittingly stumbles upon a Golkan huntress in shadow-paint.  

In them I saw vast intellect and something right beneath the surface that, try as I might, I could not comprehend.  It was like glimpsing something in your periphery but when you turn to focus on it you're met with eyes of stone and spears at your throat.  It was a thing they concealed from me.  A darkness, or perhaps a shadow.  A vestige of a sleeping secret that perhaps they themselves did not even know.  Now that I dwell on it, perhaps they were lost.  Wandering to and fro across the bones of their ancestors.  No, I cannot be certain what it was and I will not guess at such things.  What I can say with some certainty is that it all revolved around The Time of the Slumbering Light.  Or simply winter, as we call it.  That was when they believed their god, the Mountain, slept and with Him, everything else.  When the land died and the great rivers they called the Fingers withered to little more than frozen streams.  When the wild moved south or gathered together in great, wandering herds for warmth and protection.  They believed it was their duty to awaken their god from this slumber and by doing so He would release his hold upon nature and allow the Golks a time of plenty.  I verge on guesswork so I will say no more.  

Regardless, they were a beautiful people.  No, no, that word falls short in describing them.  They're not something you can simply pin down with words.  Why name them at all?  Humans have a tendency to diminish even the most spectacular of nature's wonders simply by naming them.  The Colorless, some people would later call them.  Simpletons and fools.  Just as well call a sunrise ‘bright’ or a flame ‘hot’.  They were as the snow.  Pale of skin, hair and eyes.  Sculpted by icy winds and fierce rains.  Beautiful to look upon and remarkable in their ways.  Hunters of beast and man, untamed and cruelly straight-forward in their ways, yet neither were they evil at heart. 

I thought they could help us, you see?  That is why I stayed so long amongst them.  I thought that our salvation lie in their way of life.  Their philosophy was such a simple one.  One that we have forgotten atop our throne lies of baubles.  We have strayed from the fundamental rule of the world. 

I'll explain.  You see, in nature the flesh and tissues of one nourish the body of another.  Life leaves one to strengthen another and to a city dweller who thinks this truth is relegated to animals  it may seem jarring to know that humans can and do live this way.  This is nature.  This is existence.  This is life itself.  Nature at its essence is a desire to carry on.  As the world dissembles all around us I hope you can see the beauty in this simplicity.  This elegant nature of life on earth.  

There!  Can you feel it?  The mighty grip of existence itself!  That is what it is to live!  Nature is talking to us.  She is calling us back.  No, not calling us back to her bosom like a mother calls her wayward child.  She stands before us in righteous anger telling us to stray no further lest She sunder everything we falsely hold so dear.  I often wonder if that would be such a bad thing.  Blasphemy?  That is what you say to me with your eyes.  Think what you will.

I believe the Golkans once discovered an ultimate truth and it nearly broke them.  Then, in their fractured state they let that precious secret slip through their fingers.

I often wonder what became of them.  I think I did them no favors by destroying their ignorance of this damnable world.  I urged them to stay.  Stay in their bastion of ice and stone atop the world.  Do not descend into this... pestilence.  Civilization is a contagious disease that will see mankind locked in an endless cycle of self-destruction.  For as long as we've roamed the world, we've had amnesia.  We are destined to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors until we too stumble across those bones and take from them their secrets.  We are blind to the world and beholden to our own shadows. 

But I digress...

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Evan McCleskey

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