From his hiding between the boulders at the foot of the ravine Buri had a pretty good look at the scene around the sanctuary, the round-houses and the majority of the beach. The six boats of the pirates were bobbing up in the water in the early light morning light guarded by one the Ekwesh members only. The other intruders, more than two dozen of savage-looking men, had gathered at the Temple of Trinity for what looked to Curlyhead like a war council. Therefore, he was absolutely positive that the strangers knew the houses were abandoned. Soon his consideration was supported by the fact that a camp was pitched up between the sanctuary and the beach.
In the first light of the day, three patrols were detached to search for traces of the inhabitants of the houses at Trinity's temple along the beach and in the valley along a creek. The others of the savage pirates stayed back in the camp and gathered around a tall, balding man wearing a cape made of a lion's skin, the big mane covering his shoulders like a collar. Buri had had never seen a lion before but his father had told him often stories about these dreadful animals and of the war chief's habit to wear the skin of lions as capes.
Tucked away behind the boulders Buri felt safe as the eastern slope of the valley of wisdom was still shadowy while the sun rays lightened it's the western slope. He just had decided to return to the hide-out to inform the others when he shot a last look at the camp. A heated dispute between the pirate's headman and an unarmed young man caused him to take up his former position and wait for the matters to happen. Due to the distance and because the pirates used a strange idiom, he hardly was able to follow the heated discussion. A severe disagreement seemed to have broken the peace in the pirates and as a consequence they split up in two groups, the smaller backing the youngster. Suddenly the headman slapped his opponent's face. The young man staggered and nearly fell to the ground. After steadying himself the young man turned around and took off straight across the valley heading to the ravine, while his followers were shackled.
"This is my chance, our chance!" Buri knew by intuition. If I can get him captive, we will get first-hand information about the objectives of the pirates and eventually we can make him an ally. Buri stayed tucked behind some bushes, counting on the shock effect of the teen suddenly confronted with a big black man.
At the foot of the ravine in the cover of high bushes the young man, rather a teen in Tsemo's age, got down on his haunches crying out his disappointment or rather his despair. For a moment Buri got sorry for the teen. Then, however, he took the chance and to take him captive. It was easy to sneak up to the teen who was completely absorbed in his grief. Holding his prey's mouth shut to keep him from screaming Buri flung the young man to the ground, gagged him, blindfolded him and put his arms and feet in fetters. It wasn't easy to carry the struggling teen up the trail to the hide-out. About one-third of the way up Buri put the young pirate down, untied his feet and forced him to cover the remaining distance by foot.
At the hide-out, Kirketin was the first to set eyes on Buri and his blindfolded booty. Like a wary dog he circled the tethered pirate before he suddenly dragged him to the olive tree, he had spent the night with Tsemo and the others. All the time he was babbling words incomprehensible to Tsemo and Laong, who were walking along mustering the Buri's catch curiously. At the tree, the Kahin compelled the stranger to go down on his knees.
Meanwhile, Buri had informed Dincer about his catch. Dincer wasn't happy at all. On the contrary, he got very upset and yelled at Buri, "You don't know these shrewd pirates! You are a big guy, but you acted like a kid! I had assumed you are an experienced warrior! Did you really believe the pirates would not look for him, search for him?" Dincer stared infuriated at the curly-head so that Aegir thought he would attack him!
"You are right!" Aegir tried to calm the situation. "Buri acted without due consideration, that's right! But now we have to do our best to avert any danger!"
Little by little Dincer regained his coolness. "Maybe it was even a lucky catch! On a second thought at least! The kid is dressed like the son of a clans' chief! He sure is not a simple pirate. If we are lucky, he is a valuable catch! Now that we have him as a hostage and we could hold him for ransom." He beckoned brothers over: "Kadir, Kadem! Let's obstruct the trail further down the ravine. Buri has jeopardized the Kahin life! Hurry! Hurry! There is not much time left!"
"It's my fault, Dincer! Can I come along and help!" Buri asked trying to make good for his ill-considered action.
"No! Nobody except my brothers should know how I intend to mislead our enemies. You and Aegir better climb up to the outlook and watch out for the pirates."
The quarrel in front of the hide-out didn't distract Kirketin's attention from the captured pirate. Still babbling words incomprehensible to Tsemo and Laong he circled the kneeling teen. The Kahin looked as if he had entered another level of reality. Suddenly he stopped in front of the hostage bend down and removed first the blindfold and then the gag. The tethered teen took a deep breath, looked up to the Kahin squinting in the bright morning light. Suddenly the Kahin bowed down, touched the teen's forehead with his left and then pointed with the right to the sky. With a loud voice he recited:
Pain in the head
Dear Trokja dead
Then the Kahin turned the teen's head towards the sun so that the golden rays blinded the young pirate and continued with the incantation:
No pain in the head
Trokja not dead
Find the lad
For the first time Tsemo could figure out Kirketin's words, but he didn't get their sense. But the hostage seemed to do. He straightened himself, a look of relief crossed his face and all his sadness vanished like snow in the sun.
He asked: "Where oh Great Kahin? Where will I find my love?"
"Thanks, my Kahin! Thousand thanks! I owe you my life Great Kahin! I owe you Trokja's life! You may live forever, Great Kahin!" The young pirate sank to the ground in front of the Kahin trying to kiss his feet.
Kirketin, however, changed into the chubby inept youngster with the mind of a four-year-old. He helped the young pirate to rise, caressed his face uttering "Good boy, good boy Sejan! Good friend!"
"I go to Yyer, the island of crooked trees, the island of outcasts. That's the place where Trokja waits for me!" The teen was happy as a lark. He leaped up to burst away with his hands still bound. When Kirketin held him firm and didn't let go he pleaded "I have to go. Now! Please, Kahin let me go!"
Tsemo's, as well as Laong's countenance, reflected surprise and lack of understanding at the same time. Hami noticed their bewilderment. An impish grin flashed over his face "He is the Kahin, remember. Kirketin is the Fountain of Wisdom! He knows all! He knows the past! He knows the future!" Hami turned to the young pirate, took a knife, cut the fetter, "You are free! It's the Kahin's will!"
Neither Aegir nor Buri did notice what had happened at the foot of the old olive tree at the same time. Up in the lookout, their attention was captured by the events at the sanctuary of the Holy Trinity and along the beach. The pirates had broken into the temple as well as into the roundhouses. Greedy after booty they looted the temple and the houses carrying the stolen goods to the boats or piling them up at the beach. One of the scouting parties had already returned and joined the looting. The two others were still out searching the valley upstream for the Kahin and his protectors. The followers of Sejan, just about seven, were kept tied together close to a big boulder at the beach.
So far the pirates had neither discovered the Sun Seekers' dugout nor Dincer's float tugged away between shrubs. They all seemed to be concentrated on looting the temple and the round-houses and nobody seemed to be concerned about the whereabouts of their fugitive companion. Not even the headman was and for the moment he seemed to have written the Kahin off.
"What's going on at the sanctuary and at the beach?" Dincer called up to the raised look-out. "Aegir, Buri have the pirates discovered the entrance to the ravine already? Have they discovered the boats? Do they miss our hostage?"
"Hell! No! They are busy raiding the temple! No, nobody even came near to the ravine or the boats. They are not even missing Buri's catch. They don't seem to care for Buri's catch." Aegir called down to Dincer and the twins. "But two search parties are still scouting the island for the Kahin. You should care for the sheep and get them to a safe place!"
"They are just ransacking the buildings. The bandits not only raiding the round-houses but the Holy Temple also, these heathens! Ged may them wipe them from the face of the earth!" Buri was outraged, "It's time to use our secret weapon, the captive bird!"
"Not a bad idea, after all, using the youngster as a bargain. Come down! Hami can replace you as a sentry while we should hold a war council!"
Buri could hardly believe his eyes when they approached the big old olive tree. Kirketin was sitting like a king at one of the big roots of the tree surrounded by his court, Hami to his right, the hostage to his left while Tsemo and Laong faced the triumvirate. Absent-minded the Kahin was drawing lines into the sand using a stick, while other eyed him up and he eyed them up!
"Hey? Are you crazy? What on earth has turned a foe into a friend? Did that rotten pirate cast a spell on you?" Buri was in a rage. "He is our hostage and not our honorable host!"
Sejan, the young pirate, turned pale with fear. The looks of his guests had confused him highly, first of all, the Kahin, the Fountain of Wisdom. All the people of the islands around, the shepherds, farmers, fishermen and pirates had spoken awestricken about the Kirketin the Kahin. The ones who had asked for his advice praised him as an awe-inspiring man sitting on a three-legged stool in the dark, chilly dome of the temple. They had talked of him as of a spirit from the otherworld, the voice of the Adad, the lord of the sky, the all-knowing. Kirketin however, who was called Kahin by his friends, who seemed to know all about him and his love Trokja, looked like a backward child in the body of a hulky teen. And the others! Hami was the only one who looked like an ordinary boy from the neighbouring coast, but the lanky teen with the auburn hair was definitely from far away. His loincloth was of soft leather; his dagger of flint looked dangerous. He was carrying a bow and a quiver with arrows was strapped across his shoulder. He smiled at him but at the same time he scanned him like a hunter his prey. And the third one, the one with a flute on a string around his neck! This young man looked even more strange! His body was delicate like the one of a feebly ten- or twelve-year-old kid. His hair was shining white like barley straw in the sun and his eyes were blue like the summer-sky. These eyes frightened him at first, because they seemed to penetrate his mind. But on the other hand, they were shining so gently like the waters of Wadj-ur. Sejan immediately knew he never would be able to delude this child-like man sitting opposite. He had to tell the truth, the full truth to this angel among the men. Who was this white-haired teen? Was he a magician?
A harsh voice suddenly startled Sejan out of his thoughts. Looking up he nearly died of fear. A man black as coal was towering him with eyes sparkling with anger. The pirate knew he hadn't seen the man before, but was certain he knew him already. Suddenly it dawned on him! This was the giant who had caught him like a careless fawn. His stomach turned out of fear! And then the terrible looking guy beside the black giant! A man, whose wild mane looked like burning fire in the early morning light? He carried a lance like a tree and axe of flint! Sejan was unable to avert his eyes from the two. But there were three more men staring at him intimidating. Trembling with fear he tried to hide behind the big body of the Kahin like a toddler clinging to his mother's legs.
Tsemo rose turned to Buri and the other newcomers, did a sweet tune with his sacred flute and the situation relaxed. "Kirketin the Kahin set Sejan free!" the run-away novice settled the tension. "It's Sejan the Prince of Rhaydeston, the city of flowers. He ran away from his uncle, his guardian since his father's death. The Kahin knew what Sejan was bothering! Sejan loves Trokja and not his uncle's daughter Elpinike, selected to be his spouse!"
Buri smiled. "Now I get the reason for the dispute on the beach!" He smiled at Aegir and Aegir smiled back, "Wanted your Uncle you to marry his daughter to cement his position?"
Sejan brushed away his tears and heaved with relief, "She is beautiful, and I wouldn't mind to become her husband and have many sons with her, but my only love is Trokja. I promised my uncle to marry her but upon condition that Trokja and I can live together forever! He agreed to this condition. He even did swear on Astghik, the goddess of love, but clandestinely he ordered his henchmen to abandon my love in the wild sea."
"Now we know why you clashed with your uncle, but why did he raid the Fountain of Wisdom? What's the reason behind his raid, the raid of the sanctuary of the Holy Trinity? There is nothing there, no worldly goods! Only the Kahin is living there, the fountain of wisdom, the voice of the Trinity, the interpreter of dreams!" Dincer probed enraged.
"My uncle didn't come for worldly goods! No! He strives for immortality. He uses each and every ploy to obtain this objective!" He was afraid to continue, but looking into the eyes of Tsemo he regained new strength. "My uncle is shrewd! He promised Astghik the goddess of love, the Goddess of fountains and springs, the Goddess of fertility a magnificent temple in exchange for her patronage, a place of perpetual adoration at the tip of a peninsular at our coast! My uncle was aware the new sanctuary had to be an attraction from the first day on! But what is the best way to attract the pious, the sick, the poor, the ones crossed in love? You need an oracle, a mighty oracle which can foretell the future and explain the past! You need a Kahin, a famous Kahin! This Kahin! And where he could get him?"
Tsemo's eyes grew big for amazement! Laong shook his head in disbelieve! Dincer, Aegir and Buri, however, flew into a fury!
"Why on earth?" Dincer cried out! "Has he lost his brains? Has your uncle lost his brains? Does he ignore that the Kahin is Adad's servant? The Holy Trinity, Adad, Atar'ata and Simios, will protect his envoy! Nobody can do harm to the Kahin without deadly consequences! Nobody is allowed even to threaten Adad's voice! Your uncle has forfeited his life! He will die without even touching Kirketin the Kahin!"
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Anthony for improving my writing.
Comments, reviews, questions, and complaints are welcomed. Please send them to Ruwen Rouhs
Last, but not least I would like to add thanks for reading.