Burning Witches: Heresy & Sand

What I Told the Camel

Told by Tsul to one who can keep a secret.

Tsul looks after the camels alone. The others are packing their supplies for their impending journey to Halach.

Hello Camel. Can I call you Camel? Of course I can. I imagine you realize how much you are worth to us. My brother burdened himself with favor debt and errand running so we could have you. We burden you with packs and days without food and sometimes even without water. Yet you shuffle through the sand one step at a time. You are made of stronger stuff than us.

Can I tell you a secret? Of course I can! You are a camel, and you cannot say no. I am also burdened, you see? I have been cursed with a gift. I am with the others for the purpose of hunting people like me as if we were animals. My own brother told me that a person with the gift is not even a person. If the others knew of my gift, they would slay me where I stood.

Perhaps I might be wrong in that account.

The foreigner would certainly try to slay me on sight. I say ‘try’ because he would not succeed. If the stories are true, he attacked a fleeing sorcerer, and still the sorcerer did not succumb to his wounds until he had fled outside the city walls! And still the sorcerer only fainted! I would not flee. Still, the sorcerer’s cowering slaves seem to be better off without him. They are healthy and finally free. I hope they find happiness. Perhaps the sorcerer deserved what was done to him for a reason other than sorcery.

The doctor, while very useful in our group, will be the reason I carry a hidden dagger with me at all times. Not for her, Camel, but for me. She wishes to ‘study’ sorcerers and witches. And a doctor with a knife knows only one way to work. She went off to study the sorcerer that the foreigner attacked. I cannot think what she has done to him, but I hope he is dead, for his own sake. I would quickly take my own life before she ever had the chance to do her research on me, God willing.

But it is my brother that I fear the most upon learning my secret. He raises me upon a marble pillar, and I discourage him from doing so. I fear he does not understand what he will see. It is my prayer that when he kills a witch for the first time, he sees that her death looks like any other death, and that there is no glory or righteousness in it. If he feels the primal pleasure of witnessing lifeblood drain into the sand and dust, then I fear the man he would become. And when he learns about me, what will he think? Anger. Betrayal. Despair. Death by his hand would be the most just of them all. And I would not blame him for it.

I am fooling them all, but I am unsure how long I can do it. I should take your example and walk my journey one step at a time. My gift can be used for such wonders and miracles, but I must hide like a villain to practice and perfect it. Until then, I need to be just a Kaldi. Can you keep my secret, Camel? Of course you can.

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Swamifred

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