JOURNAL ENTRY 4.

Ok, so I admit it. After my experience at the Pond with the Pond Lords, I sort of went off the deep end looking for Truth. I started by reading and re-reading all the books from my schooling years. I read up on anything about the Ancient of Days or Queen Sophia or anything with supernatural tendencies. I even borrowed a few volumes from Old Geitonas next door. Two volumes were not useful. One of them was a journal of one of his sons. His son had gone looking for answers much like me and ended up heading out into the Desert. He was found two months later by the Patrol and brought back dead.

I knew if I was going to find answers that I would have to expand my search in Receding. I made sure my duties at the Market were done, but the rest of the time was my own. I first scoured the South Rim Neighborhood which is the furthest neighborhood south in Receding one can live. After a few days of walking around and looking for clues, I had discovered nothing of note or anyone who could tell me more than I already knew. I also did not run into Cleric Koritsi von Sollemne which was probably why I kept going back there day after day.

After I realized my answers would not come from conversations from locals in the South Rim Neighborhood, I went to the part of town I had been warned not to go to. One day after I delivered my order at the Market, I headed back north, but west of where I had been with the pond. I stayed within Receding. I had gotten some distance from the Market when I noticed that the architecture changed. This was definitely a different part of town. It was Wellstone Neighborhood of Receding. Street lamps were visible every few feet. Most people carried a lantern of some sort as there seemed to be less light in this part of town for some reason.

The cobblestone street curved away from the Market, but on the right side was a small square. On each of the corners of the square were tall flagpoles. I had never seen flags like these before. The flags were a pale blue with an eye on them with three lines under the eye like tears.

Isn’t that strange? In the middle of the square, flanked by all the flags, was by my estimation one of the oldest wells in Receding. It must be one of the oldest wells being in this part of town. Around the well were men and women of all ages dressed in the same pale blue as the flags. They had the same eye with three lines embroidered on all of their garments. One woman, who must be the leader, had a large tall white headdress with the same eye in gold. One of the people dressed in pale blue saw me enter the area and motioned me over to watch. He was about my age. So I went over. Couldn’t hurt to observe, could it? After all, I was here to find Truth.

“She is the Grand Choprah,” the young man whispered leaning over to me trying to be reverent. “She leads us. Just listen.”

“We have come to the well to drink the Water of the Ages,” the woman in the headdress said to the crowd. She lifted her hands and continued, “We must open our minds to all the paths the rainbow spirits bring us, and we must find the divine within ourselves. Peace will guide the planets and love will move all the stars in the great beyond.”

Well, these people seemed to be all about finding paths. She seemed to be saying that the divine was not outside of us, but already inside.
She looked at the crowd and said: “Harmony and understanding.”
Everyone repeated.
She looked at the crowd and said: “Sympathy and abounding trust.”
Everyone repeated.
Everyone put their hands on the shoulders of the person next to them.
She looked at the crowd and said: “No falsehood or derision.”
Everyone repeated.
She looked at the crowd and said: “Golden living dreams of visions.”
Everyone repeated.
All the people then held hands and closed their eyes.
She looked at the crowd and said: “Mystic crystal revelation.”
Everyone repeated.
She looked at the crowd and said: “The mind’s true liberation.”
Everyone repeated.

The Grand Choprah continued to lead the group which seemed to be in a bit of a trance. She said: “When you submit and drink the Water of the Ages, you accept the truth that you are divine. The divine is all around you. The divine is in the land, the air, the trees and plants, all the creatures around us, and in our hearts. The divine is most importantly found in us.”

With that, the Grand Choprah took a large silver goblet from a small table next to the well. She took the goblet in her hand, held it over her head, and ceremonially showed it to all those who had gathered. She dipped the goblet in the well and filled it with the water from the well. When she did so, all the people dressed in pale blue started to hum and formed a line. They each began to drink from the goblet one after another.

The young man leaned over to me and whispered again, “The water tastes a little funny because its well water, but it is good for drinking.” He went on to tell me, as I watched the line of people dressed in pale blue, that the only cost to drink this water was the mind of the participants. I must have looked at him strangely because he explained. “You must become one of us,” he said with excitement in his eyes, “committed to our way of thinking and our beliefs. To drink the water from this well means you are one of us. The commitment also means you promise to not drink any other waters in Receding. The Grand Choprah tells us that only our water is pure.” Pure water… now that would be something to experience.

I stood in line for a while and realized I had never had well water before. My family got all our water from the Market which came from Lake Receding. Also, I had not heard “the Ancient of Days” talked about or “the Traveler.” This just wasn’t the place for me to find answers. I slowed my pace in line and started to back out of the square slowly. The young man who had initially motioned me over was too busy chanting and caught up in the moment to notice my departure.

Once I was out of the square. I turned a corner of the first street I came to. I walked down the cobblestone street away from the Market and away from the folks in the blue robes. I had not gone far when I came to a portico off to the side of the cobblestone street. It was massive! The portico had a triangle peak that reached into the sky. The whole building was carved with horses and scenes which looked like people living in tents. The portico housed a well. It looked much like the one I had just seen. The whole structure seemed to be made of a bronze metal of some kind. I walked up to the closest pillar and rapped my knuckle, and it resounded like metal. The portico was supported by five large pillars spaced throughout the structure. I walked around and noticed each one had a word artistically carved on the base.
The first said “Testimony.”
The second said “Prayer.”
The third said “Giving.”

Around the pillar that had the carving “Giving” were people that looked like all of their clothes had worn out. Most pants had holes all over. Many people did not have shoes. One person looked like they were just wrapped in a blanket. I was looking at the poorest of the poor in Receding.

Also at this pillar were people from what I must assume was this well. They had a large cart from which they were giving out shoes, blankets, pants, and shirts. The line of needy people seemed not to end. Once one person had a set of clothes, two more would take their place.

I was on my way strolling to the fourth pillar when a horn rang out from what seemed to be a tower just to the north of the portico. After the horn sounded, people started streaming into the portico from all directions. The volunteers at the “Giving” pillar ceased their activities and moved into the portico. People came from down the street. The worshippers came out of houses. Each of them had a mat in their hands and began flopping it on the ground and got on their knees. They were in row after row facing the tower and the well.

All of a sudden, I felt like I was in the way. So I ducked behind the fourth pillar. I noticed it had the word “fasting” at the base. After a few minutes, it seemed like all the people who were coming had now gathered. I watched and out from the tower came a group of four men. Based on what I had seen thus far, I could only assume they were the leaders. They stopped at the well right at the base of the tower and splashed their faces and washed their hands in the water. After they had washed, each of the men stood in front of all the others on their knees.

“We are here purified,” cried out the first man in a low, authoritative voice, “to worship the true god.” As soon as he said the word ‘god,’ all the people bowed with their foreheads to the ground and then returned to sitting up straight.

At the moment I heard that my ears perked up. No one at the other well had even mentioned a god or supreme being. I felt like I was getting somewhere because I was finally with a people that might know something about the Ancient of Days or maybe even the Traveler. If they did, what were they doing here and not at the Map Society? Certainly, the water in their well was just like all the others… not pure… but combined with shine root to make it palatable or useful for washing. My thoughts drew to a close as the next man spoke out.

“We are here,” cried out another man, “to read the instructions in the kharitat almuqaddasa.” As soon as he said the word ‘kharitat,’ all the people bowed with their heads to the ground and then returned to sitting up straight. It looked like a large map. They had a map! Was it the same Map as the Map Society? I thought for a moment and realized clearly not since I know almost certainly the only copies of the Map are found in the Map Society and maybe with the Monks in the Encampment of Mercy. This must be a different map of some kind. What was on the map? Where did it go? I just had so many questions and I realized that none of them would get answered by hiding behind a pillar.

The third of the men standing in front of the rows of worshippers pulled out a book and held it high in the air. He made sure everyone saw it. He then opened the book and began to read. He said, “He is god, the one god. He is who the creatures turn for their needs. He begets not, nor was he begotten, and there is none like him.” As soon as he finished reading the verses, all the people bowed with their heads to the ground and then returned to sitting up straight.

The last man addressed the crowd of worshippers. “We are a people who do not compromise our faith. We have great blessings from the true god. He sent his prophet who taught is the true way for us. Unbelievers are filthy. Respect to god. Respect to god’s prophet. Respect to believers. You will find in our town many wells that offer water. They offer false teaching.”

I was listening and started to wonder about what I was hearing. The Lecturer from the Map Society spoke about The Boat Maker, the Ancient of Days, and the Traveler who was His representative. Cleric Koritsi von Sollemne told me that the Traveler was the Host who bore the Name of the Ancient of Days. This sounded like the same thing, but if it was the same thing, why were they not using the words ‘Ancient of Days’ and ‘Traveler’ or ‘Host?’ Where did their Map lead? Who was this god? What kind of being has no beginning? Who was the prophet they spoke of?

They all started calling out the name of their god in prayer and in praise. I say “their god” because it wasn’t the Ancient of Days they were speaking about as far as I could tell. Yet, these people were indeed devoted to their god in works and sincerity. Would Ancient of Days’ worshippers be here at a well? Probably not. Maybe not. I don’t know. After a few minutes of prayer, the first of the people rose and walked to the well and washed in the water as the other men had done earlier. Purity was certainly a virtue to be sought after! Purity seemed important to these worshippers.

Once they got back to their places, a few of them noticed me. They began to talk amongst themselves as others joined them. A few of them began to point at me. I suddenly got the sense that I had intruded on something holy or private and should not be there. Someone shouted about a “kafir,” but I don’t know what that is. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable because I felt like I had intruded.
They noticed me.
They pointed.
They pointed right at me.

Just then a man came up behind me, and I turned to face him. He was so tall that I had to look up to meet his gaze. He grabbed my shoulders and lifted me a little. I did not feel like I was in danger, but I certainly felt like I was intruding. A few automatic apologies came out of my mouth, and the tall man let my shoulders go.

I left.
Quickly.

That was indeed a place I would need to go back to. Maybe I needed an invitation to join them in their gatherings. That was definitely a well worth looking into especially since they seemed so sincere and devoted. It sounded similar to stories I had heard at home about the Ancient of Days, but at the same time, it was different. To be honest, I was not there long enough to know. It felt different though. My desire to know about the Traveler grew more in my heart and in my mind.

I had spent most of the day wandering around Wellstone Neighborhood and exploring two wells. I did not want to return home. So I went back to the Market. I arrived just in time for the last hour bell to be sounded. The last hour bell was the signal for those merchants who sold perishable goods to discount the items and get rid of their stock. I bought a few durum biscuits and gobbled them up. Walking had given me an appetite.

I was just about to leave the Market for home when the acater and actuary from the general store spotted me through their large front window and motioned me inside. The bell on the door dinged my entrance.

“Well,” the acater asked leaning forward on his elbows on the counter, “where have you been? You have not been home I can tell. Speak to me truly and I give you my word we’ll not tell your father.” Both men looked at me expectantly. The actuary squinted a little with his bushy grey mustache invading my space accusingly.

I sighed and told them of my walk to Wellstone Neighborhood and my experience and two of the wells in the neighborhood. I shared with them that I was seeking information about the Ancient of Days and the Traveler and the Map. I, of course, did not mention anything about my previous experience at the Pond. I did not tell my parents. I don’t think I will share that with anyone except you.

The actuary said, “Oh my boy you will need to be careful in Wellstone Neighborhood. And in North Wellstone especially.” He went on to explain what I already knew that everyone in Receding needs water and can get it in several different ways. Families like mine have always relied on Lake Receding. Others rely on other sources in town. He continued, “They are just control-freaks and some weak-minded people who like being controlled.” The man looked at me with eyes full of history and seemed to be remembering some of his own past.

“You know,” the acater said in a sorrowful and forewarning tone, “people lose their family members to those folks. I know your father loves you dearly. If you want to love your family, don’t buy into such foolish talk like you heard at those wells today. I know they give their water away for no money, but your dear family is worth more than what that water costs. Your mind is what they be after. Stay away from them that are after your mind.”

I thanked the two friends of my father and the bell at the door signaled my departure. I went back home. I had a restless night’s sleep thinking over everything I saw:
People who drank well water and considered the divine as inside them and part of them.
People who washed in well water and considered their god to be the right one rejecting all others.

I decided to explore more wells in the following days. Maybe I could do it all in one day. The next morning, I got up earlier than usual and put in my order at the Market. The men asked where I was going. I told them I was headed home. I lied. I lied on purpose. I went immediately back to the Wellstone Neighborhood.

As I was leaving the Market, I was again thinking about the wells in this part of Receding. Wellstone Neighborhood was offering shine root rich water for anyone who wanted it. It wasn’t fresh water. No one had that in Receding. It wasn’t really free water because it all had strings attached to it. Each of the wells had water for the people, but each well was controlled by a different group. Certainly, the people yesterday in blue robes had nothing to do with the Ancient of Days or the Traveler, but they were still offering addicting shine root water for anyone who passed by and would join them. The other folks seemed to have quite a ritual around what they were doing. They washed themselves with the water instead of drinking it. That was different, but they had a solid belief in a supreme being for sure.

My mind was lost as I was walking. I knew there were more wells in the neighborhood. I just had to walk around until I found them. I walked a few blocks, and I could smell the next well before I saw it. The air was filled with the smell of many spices. Or was it just one? The air smelled savory spicy and yet sweet at the same time. It was the smell that drew me at first as it wafted over the light breeze in the air. I arrived at a large oval plaza and around the edge of the plaza were small raised platforms with braziers on them. Men and women were at the braziers tossing handfuls of something into the fire. The fire would briefly turn from normal yellow to a bright green and then back to yellow. The smoke that wafted from the green flame was the smell that drew me. I stood and watched for a few minutes.

At the entrance to the plaza were thirsty people. They sat. Most of them were rocking back and forth and moaned into the sky because of their thirst. They raised their hands pleadingly towards the plaza. Every so often a person from the plaza would come out with a pitcher of water from the well. He or she would fill the cups of the thirsty people, and they would all drink swiftly.

At the entrance to the oval plaza was a large banner. It was pale yellow with a stick figure of a man on it. On the man’s head was one eye. Interesting. I moved closer to the plaza entrance and went in. All of the people in the oval plaza were so very welcoming. They greeted me as though I had known all of them for 100 years. I was greeted with hands placed together and slight bows. I thought it appropriate to return the gesture so I did. Different people said different things to me as I walked around:
“May obstacles be removed from you.”
“May you have strength this day.”
“May samsara be removed from you.”

I walked around the plaza for a while just taking in the sights. It was very peaceful.

One of the raised platforms towards the far end of the plaza had just one person at it. It was a young woman a little older than me. She stood in front of the brazier and every so often tossed something into the fire like all the others. Her fire, like all the others, turned from yellow to green and then yellow again.

I stood a little bit from her and just watched the flames dance.

After a few minutes, she turned to me and spoke in a soft voice, “Brahman greet you. Are you here to visit with one of the Enlightened Masters?” She asked and waited for my response. Her eyes were black and coal and I found myself looking into them as intensely as I had been the flames.

I shook my head briefly and spoke: “I am new here. I don’t know any masters. Could you tell me of this place?”

She tossed something into the flame that looked like sand or a spice and moved closer to me. “We come to the Cyclical Plaza to meditate to help us achieve ‘moshka.’ ‘Moshka’ is our word for enlightenment and connection with Brahman the source of all things.”

Source!

As soon as she said that word, I got very excited. “I have been looking for answers as to the Source. Could you tell me what you know about the Ancient of Days?” Again, the conversation seemed to stoke the embers in my heart at finding out about the Ancient of Days and the Traveler.

The woman looked puzzled at me. She cocked her head ever so slightly and then began to explain as best she could. “I do not know of this Ancient of Days. I know that we worship Brahman which is the supreme source of all things. We are trying to become one again with it. We come here to meditate and cleanse our karma and deal with our samsara. Forgive me. I am using my words as though you know exactly what I am saying. We are believers here. We come and push ourselves to remove the obstacles and suffering that we all endure that we might join again to the all-powerful source of all things. We do have several Enlightened Masters here which can help lead you along your journey and rid you of your ignorance.”

“Well, I have to say,” I said looking at her, “removing obstacles and suffering sure seems like a good idea.” I thought back to Puella who was definitely suffering. Her suffering and questions led her to the Pond Lords. Once I seemed to understand what she was saying, the young woman led me to the center part of the plaza. There in the center of the plaza sat several people on the ground near the well. Their legs were comfortably crossed, and they were humming as they sat together. Every so often, the man in the middle, whom I would assume was an Enlightened Master, spoke words of affirmation as they would all drink water from small cups in front of them. He was definitely of advanced age. His hair was slicked back and entirely white, and his eyebrows were white. His extremely long horseshoe mustache reached from his face almost to the ground as he sat. He stroked his beard absentmindedly as he sat there.

“What are they doing?” I asked my guide in a hushed, respectful tone.

“They are meditating and seeking enlightenment with the force that holds the universe together,” she responded in a hushed tone.

“I wish to know about him!?” I questioned her with extreme exuberance.

The young lady pulled me to the side away from the Enlightened Master and those humming with him. We walked slowly back towards the raised brazier from which we came. She spoke lowly and with a firm belief in what she was saying. “Brahman is not a him. It is not a her. It is not a him or a her or a thing to be known. It simply is.”

With that, she tossed more spice into the brazier and watched the flame flicker different colors.
With that, I realized her concept of God was not what I was looking for. I bowed to her out of respect and left the Cyclical Plaza.

I was suddenly getting the feeling that while all of these people at the wells meant to seek the Truth, somehow, they were missing it. They were missing the truth about the Ancient of Days. There was no emphasis about the Map or the Traveler. That is what my heart burned to know about. The water at these wells was given freely, after a ceremony, but surely it was full of shine root which means it was addictive to anyone who partakes. Some drank. Some washed. None are lead to Truth as far as I can tell.

I walked around a little more. This Wellstone Neighborhood, other than having a different look than mine, was about the same size and age. The wells in Wellstone Neighborhood must be as old as Receding. I found a small stand selling sausages and had a snack. I asked the vendor if there were any other wells. I mentioned the three I had been two thus far. He mentioned two more. One in Wellstone Neighborhood and one in North Wellstone Neighborhood towards the Pond. I thanked the vendor and bought another sausage for my walk since he had been so helpful.

I arrived at the fourth well on my journey, but could not find the well. I looked and looked in the area the vendor mentioned, but just could not find it. I was walking along the indicated avenue but saw only a large wall with an enormous building behind it. Just as I was about to give up, two men came out of the gate. They were dressed nicely. White shirts. Black pants. Each of them had a large square name tag affixed to their shirts. “Elder Smith.” “Elder Young.”

They greeted me with big smiles. “You look lost friend,” Elder Smith said with a loud voice. He raised his hand in an overly friendly wave.

“I am,” I responded to them both. I with vigorous handshakes as they were offered. “I am looking for a well. I was told it was in this part of town.”

“Oh, you are in the right place,” Elder Smith said with exuberance in his voice, “The building behind this wall was built over the well to protect it. We are leaders here. May we introduce you to our well? It should not take long, and it will be good for your soul.”

“Absolutely,” I said as they lead me to a large bench at the wall. This was precisely what I was looking for. Someone to sit down and share with me exactly what the Truth was. Once I knew what the Truth was then I could spot all half-truths and pretenders.

“We are Elders in the Gathering of the Traveler of the True Map. We are believers in the Ancient of Days and in His representative the Traveler. His ways lead us to fresh water.”

I could not believe my ears. Finally, I was exactly where I needed to be! Here were believers in the Ancient of Days. They knew about the Traveler. They followed the Map. I had so many questions, but let them share their faith. I would just soak it all in!

“You see,” Elder Young began, “long ago we received a message from the Ancient of Days, and we received the True Map. It leads us in the way we should go and the way we should live. The True Map led us here to this well, and we built our shrine over it. We drink from this well, and it gives us life. We open ourselves to it, and we receive life.”

“Didn’t your True Map come from the Traveler?” I asked. I followed up that question with another obvious question, “Is your True Map the same as the Map from the Map Society of Receding? The Map from the Map Society of Receding leads to the Highlands where the Ancient of Days dwells with fresh water.”

Elder Smith looked at me straightly with honest eyes. “No. Our True Map is not the same as the Map from the Map Society. It is another map. A truer map. A companion map. It did not come from the Traveler all though it talks about Him.”

Huh.

“Well please tell me at least about the Ancient of Days,” I said pushing all the inconsistencies in my heart aside. These were people who knew about the Ancient of Days and were not fooled by Queen Sophia or the Face or colored flames or anything else.

“The Ancient of Days,” Elder Young explained, “is one among many gods in the heavens. The Ancient of Days is the god and lord of this world. He instructs us how to live. One day after our life we will be gods with him.”

“So, the Ancient of Days is not the only god?” I asked. “I thought that was a basic truth. I get that from the stories passed down in my family about Him. The Ancient of Days is the only God, and He created all of us.”

“Well we disagree on that point,” Elder Young explained. “We are the Gathering of the Traveler of the True Map.”

“Can you please tell me all you know about the Traveler?” I asked this question and wished I had paper and pencil that I could write down the truths they were about to explain to me. I was becoming convinced, though I am not sure how the Truth I was seeking was found with the Traveler, who is the Host, who bears the Name of the Ancient of Days.

“Oh yes,” Elder Young said affirmingly, “The Traveler is the first spirit born in the Highlands to the Ancient of Days. He is the brother of Prince-Nachash, the Lord of Receding. They are equal brothers. Do you know about them?”

I nodded.

Elder Smith continued for Elder Young, “The Traveler came to Receding, but his Map could only help some people. Not all people. You can call him the Host if you want, but we have different ideas. That is why we have the True Map to help all people find water and what they need for life.”

Strange. I was pretty sure I did not hear any restrictions from the Map Society Lecturer when he spoke in the Market. Cleric Koritsi von Sollemne from South Rim Neighborhood, his daughter, mentioned none of this, but I am not an expert about Receding ad so I took what they said and added it to my knowledge. “Thank you for taking time with me,” I said thankfully.

“Hey,” Elder Smith said, “could you tell us where you live so that we can come and share with your neighbors all about the Gathering of the Traveler of the True Map. You don’t seem to know anything about us. We would love to share with you, your family, your neighbors all about the Gathering of the Traveler of the True Map. We must not have been in your area yet.”

“No thank you.”

I walked on from those two fellas and went north. By this time of day, the light in Receding was much subdued. Wellstone Neighborhood was actually divided into two. The sausage vendor had indicated that the last well was in North Wellstone. North Wellstone had only a few houses, seven actually, but they were large and impressive. Each one looked as though they could hold a dozen families of reasonable size. I also noticed that even though the time of day was late, North Wellstone did not lack light even though there were no street lights like everywhere else in Receding.

The roofs of each of the sizable houses were glowing with light. As I found out later, the roofs were reflecting light. Each of the roofs of the houses was flat but had on it sand from the Desert. The sand from the Desert reflected the light from the moon and stars and gave North Wellstone a perpetuating light to live in. It was amazing. These houses reflected their own light from the sky.

I also noted that on each door and each window was a symbol that was a sharp star with 5 points. The seven large houses all sat at the bottom of a small hill and surrounded it. Next to each of the homes there stood a large warehouse of some kind. Each one was different, but I have seen enough of Receding now to know a storage space when I saw one. I walked and noticed that some of the houses had people milling about in the front. No, wait. Not milling. There were guards. As I passed one of the houses, I noticed the three men were dressed in black pants and a black vest with a white goat’s head stitched on it. That was the same as Lord Luxuria at the Pond!

Wait! Seven Pond Lords. Seven large houses. Seven large storage buildings. Men dressed as those at the Pond. I suddenly realized that North Wellstone was where the Seven Pond Lords called home in Receding. It made sense as I walked closer to the well. The Pond was not far from North Wellstone.

I came to the well at the top of the hill. The only thing that occupied the top of the small hill was the well. I could see it plainly because of the intense glow from the houses surrounding the hill. As I came to the well, people were already there participating in some ritual. It was starting as I approached. A man with a long brown beard was speaking. His beard was full and braided in several large braids. He wore a black cloak which shrouded his head but also went to the ground. The tips of his sleeves were stitched with red corded fabric. He bore a large silver necklace with the star symbol I drew earlier.

“Lord Ira,” someone called out, “lead us!”

The man in the black cloak, obviously the Pond Lord Ira, began to lead the group gathered.
“We are here to worship Prince-Nachash, the Lord of Receding. We are here to ask his blessing on us! We reject the Ancient of Days. We reject the Traveler who is the Host who bears His Name. We reject the Map. We reject being weak. We accept ourselves as we are. We accept our appetites as normal, and we celebrate them.”

The people gathered would raise their hands at different times as he spoke. After he initiated the ceremony, he grabbed a large silver cup. It was much like the first well I had gone to. It looked identical actually. Lord Ira dipped the silver cup in the well and drew water from it. He set the silver cup down and picked up a knife that sat on the edge of the well. Lord Ira flicked the blade on his hand and drew blood. He let the blood drip into the water in the cup all the while speaking:
“The knowledge of Prince-Nachash runs in our veins. By our blood sacrifice, he shares his knowledge, and we are healed from this world, and his knowledge satisfies our thirst. By his knowledge, we see this world for what it really is. By his knowledge, we clearly see his power and submit to him as our host. By his knowledge, we make this water through our sacrifice to him which brings his favor to sustain us.”

After he was done, saying those words, he took a small cloth and brought it to his hand to stop the bleeding. People began to go up to him and drink from the cup mixed with their well water and blood. He would say as they drank:
“Drink of life for you.”
or
“Drink of living water for you.”
or
“Bask in the light of the gods.”

What was I witnessing? My mind was racing, and I realized I was witnessing those that followed Prince-Nachash. They drank from this well and… and… of blood. Some of them called it living water. Prince-Nachash was a hero to these people. The man already said they rejected the Ancient of Days and the Traveler. This was definitely not the place for me to be.

I turned around and headed down the hill. I marched past the large houses and the large storage buildings. I realized that these storage buildings were the seed of the black market in Receding. Here was where the Pond Lords gathered their treasures from those at the Pond. Here was where they amassed their wealth and sold to citizens of Receding bypassing the Market. The Pond Lords had so much. The wealth in North Wellstone was more than I had ever seen. They had so much, and yet, I noticed, among the walls and guards, that there seemed to be a sense of distrust. Guards looked at me warily from their posts. Windows were covered in curtains. Most people here seemed walled off from the world.

How much love did they have in their homes?
What ruled their lives?
Greed.
Self-interest.
Pride.
What ruled their lives?
How much love did they have in their homes?

After having spent several days exploring Wellstone Neighborhood and North Wellstone, I realized that the questions that were burning in my heart about the Traveler would not be found in the Market or at the Amphitheater or at home or at the Pond or at a Well. I would need to find some people who believed much about the Traveler and knew about the map. And with that realization, my uncle Kalogeros popped in my head.

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