It was the children who saw it first.
They had come bounding back from the cliffs, hollering and shouting.
“A comet, a comet! Come see!”
Some of the tribes’ people went immediately, to get the scattles and screeching of excitement away as much as anything else.
But Id’Nojar, Shaeman of the North Coast, had seen comets before, and kept to his work. He was pouring over notes taken before dawn up at the observation altar, communications from Mother Veria, which he and his fellow shaemen translated into readings that usually foretold hazardous weather, crop yield expectations, or, occasionally, major foreign events such as war or famine. These messages were drawn out in long string patterns across the boiling clouds of her surface, and albeit reliable, were also open to interpretation. But spotted cloud cover had obscured much of the night, and he had only gathered a few word fragments from what appeared to be some very active messaging. By the time the skies had cleared, just before dawn, Veria was setting and he had only gathered one reliable translation:
The problem with that of course, was that Id’Oria, where he lived and where this message was directed as laid out by the direct axis of inclinations between Veria and his observation altar, was basically one large table of a rock in the middle of the sea, and once one ascended from the cliffs, the fields and forests were generally flat. The highest point, as far as Nojar knew, was the modest hilltop from which he made his observation. So…
Perhaps Veria wished him to muddle some causcin root into a tea and commune further under its’ alterative state? Nojar knew more than a few Shaemen along the coasts who believed that taking the root before a divination was the only way to do it. But he also found their readings to be more than inaccurate on occasion. Maybe this was different. It was certainly emphatic.
Soli, his niece, appeared at the entrance to his tree, interrupting. “You’re not coming to see the comet??” She belted.
“Soli, comets take several days to pass, and are better viewed at night, I have important work here” He retorted.
“But this one is bright! And getting brighter!”
~ ~ ~
The shaeman trailed Soli down the wooded path, though he need only follow the sounds of the entire tribe squawking along the coast. Whatever the children had spotted, it was quickly gaining attention.
Finally, Id’Nojar emerged from the clearing, the Great Gohra Sea before him. And he saw it.
Far to the West, halfway up from horizon, an object burned through the sky, a scar trail of smoke streaking behind it. But it was not a single line. Flashes of fire and light pulsed within the comet. Two other small trails had broken off at higher altitudes, their streaks vanishing in the distance.
Id’Nojar looked down to the beach, where the neighboring Osbuni Delta tribe was gathering to view as well. Despite himself, Nojar searched for the silhouette of Nati among them. He spotted her quickly, his awareness of her was and always had been effortless. And today the bulb of pregnancy made her an even easier find.
Nojar observed as she knelt down to calm her youngest, who was more interested in stomping the waves at his feet- what was his name…, it didn’t matter- it wasn’t his and there never would be a “his.” She helped the child find focus in the sky, and he stopped moving.
Then a flash occurred, and Id’Nojar was brought back to the moment.
The object, not a comet, as he could hear being hollered up and down the cliffs- there would definitely need to be some schooling on that, but rather the… what was it, in the books… a “Metor,” had split again. The larger piece was falling fast, like a speared wyvern. It disappeared below the horizon, and Nojar felt an unease in his gut.
But his sentiment seemed to go unshared. He spotted Id’Torgo, the Osbuni Shaeman, dancing among the rocks on the beach, and baptizing his tribe with splashes of water. Now there’s one who would’ve taken causcin at the first opportunity, Nojar thought.
Many of his own tribe began descending the cliffs and joining in Torgo’s festive celebration, while others looked to Id’Nojar to say… anything, really.
But Nojar was unsure what words to formulate. He was… not a talker. He was a thinker. A reader. Probably the only Shaeman for leagues who had read the entire book of Ghorys, twice. He had gained his tenure for his knowledge, but his lack of presence as an orator would always relegate him to local stature, barely known outside his neighboring tribes.
He would have to say something today. Get high? That could be popular…
Then he noticed the shoreline begin to recede, and he remembered something very clearly from the book.
Bad. Very Bad.
He looked for Soli. She was just turning onto the beach path.
“STOP!” He commanded her.
“But I want to join the beach party!”
“No. Come here.” She frowned, but hurried over, sensing the urgency in his tone. Nojar began unfastening the twine belt from his robe.
“Quiet.” He handed it to her. “Go to the altar, tie this around the stone marker- the big one, not the small ones, hear me?” She nodded. “And then wrap the ends around your wrists, tight.”
“And then what?”
“Hold on, and don’t let go- no matter what.”
“Hurry. Now.” She obeyed.
Id’Nojar ran toward the cliffs shouting at anyone in ear shot. “Run! Home and to the top tree! And all the others with you! Go, go!” He hollered as his robe flailed out behind him, exposing his nature.
“His tribespeople had never seen him so earnest or animated, …or exposed. A few listened, but many just stared.
Nojar continued on and clambered up the nearest clifftop. Looking out on the horizon, he saw the thick blue line, and his voice boomed, a power within never heard before.
“TRIBES OF ID’ORIA! WHEN THE WATERS RECEDE THEY RETURN IN FORCE! SO IT WAS WRITTEN. SO SHALL IT BE. NOW TO THE HILLS, ALL OF YOU, GET HIGH, GET HIGH NOW!”
Several of his own people listened, and a few others as well, but still not near enough. Many had followed Id’Torgo out in the fresh sands, too far to even hear Nojar. So he repeated, and again, and a few more people listened, and a few more. He looked down for signs of Nati, but a chaos had taken over the tribes’ peoples. They were all running now. Nojar looked back up. It was here. Higher and faster than he could ever imagine. And then it took him. It took them all.