cliffs hung over the countryside, their redclay towers standing like a citadel
above the sandy plains. They were part of nature, yet not natural to the human
observer. They were eerie and foreign. Their tops went too high into the sky.
They jutted out in too many places. The shadows they cast were too large, dark
and cool. Their sunlit sides too bright and hot.
But, most of all, the treasure within the largest one was so valuable
that it could be accurately described as being dangerously valuable. The
smallminded would only see its beauty and their thoughts would go no deeper. But
the treasure's beauty was not only skindeep. It had more powers than a mediocre
mind could comprehend. Only the intelligent and clever would understand once
told, and even they had to be told of its power. Their minds would not
comprehend something as it to be a tool of magic.
The hot wind blew up the red dust in gusts. Its force, over the years,
had carved amazing shapes into the hard rock. The clay had once been soft, but
those were the old days. One day, the sun had become brighter, the wind had
become hotter, and the clay had been baked as a pot would be in a kiln.
That day, the creatures of the country looked up. They believed that they
had been blessed. The gods were happy with them. They would now have warmer
summers, the trees would be greener, the sky would be bluer. Later, they
rejoiced even more, because one of the gods had seen fit to come down from the
heavens and rule them. He came down the dusty roads, looking no more than a mere
traveler at first. He then told them the purpose of his visit. The citizens now
realized that, while coming down the windblown road, his loose garments had not
been whipping against the wind as it should have been. The entire countryside
had come to the beautiful city to throw a celebration in his honor. It was a
The stars shined their brightest, the moon was its fullest. The city was
bathed in light from lanterns hanging from wires that criscrossed every street
and every turn. The town square was full of food. Everyone brought their most
valued possessions – that is as the god had wanted it. He had said, that, in
order to share a kinship with his followers, he would need to keep something
they valued. Were they fools?
No, this god had bestowed upon them many pleasures, and now he wanted to
be close with them! He wanted to share a kinship! He was a most wonderful god
indeed! They would give him whatever he asked.
Their god was a kind, giving god. He had insisted that they not call him
a god – king would be good enough. What a humble god this was! This god
deserved a throne atop the highest mountain in the East. No, no. One in the
palace would be good enough, he had said. What a gracious god! He wished to live
among the common mortals instead of close to the heavens where he could speak to
his heavenly companions whenever he liked. They were insistent that he should
not eat the poor, earthly food. It was not worthy of his greatness. Instead,
they suggested, they would send out their best men to find the greenest leaves
atop the highest, most sunlit trees. That's what the old stories had stated as
the foods of the gods. Oh, no, he said. He would eat the fine food that they had
prepared there. He wanted to learn their ways.
How considerate he was! He wished to know about them, live with them, and
eat with them. They were convinced that he would be the best king they had had
in ages. The former king handed over his crown and placed it atop the god's head
with the utmost pleasure.
The day the god came – they called it The Day the Sun Came Closer –
was a day placed in the city's books of history. That night, they all bowed to
him as he sat, for the first time, on his new throne.
The next day, the sun burned bright, but the sky was not blue.
It was now a dusty red.