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Cobalt Silence

Written as a response to my time in a psychiatric unit

By Ruben De EscapadoPublished about a month ago 37 min read
Taken on my camera. My last trip to Costa Rica.

Cobalt Silence

By Dario

“This is the way,”, said the elder to the younger, “it is the way now for it is what was. All must pass so that what may come will be received. Do not maintain the truth that is and was, then the great eagle will come and pluck the sight from your eyes.”. This is the way. My face is the younger. My face is also the elder. My face is the women of my tribe. My face is the men. My face is the ancient soothsayers that have released themselves. They are not, so that we may. They are all of me. My face is all of them. My face looks to my palm and it is the palm of the elder. The mirror shows my face and the ears of my sister. My face is the elder. My face is my sister.

The elder continued to speak. My face was silent but was also the face that speaks. My face listens. My sister and my face sat while they stood. We sit and stand.

“Do not fill your heart with anger.”, the elder continued. This elder was all of us. We are all of them. Their face is called Sheathed Saber. Sheathed Saber is a well-respected face in our community. They have sharpened their blade for a lifetime. My face has sharpened my blade for a lifetime. We become what we pay attention to. This is the way. They are famous for their diligence, resolve, and strength. My face is diligent. My face is resolute. My face is strong. We look to my sister. She is me and my face is her. Her face is called Narrow Path. My face is called Dented Shield. We are diligent. We are resolute. We are strong. We have much to learn.

“To fill your heart with anger, is to confuse the senses. To confuse the senses is to confuse the way. Do the mighty hounds of the leafless forest howl at a moonless sky?”.

My face could not answer the question, we had asked ourselves. For though my face was the elder, my face was also bound by the youth of my senses. Bound the way the staffs were bound in the hands of ancient warriors. Bound the way the leather wrapped around the sticks propping up our huts. It isn’t until my witness has been consumed by the moon for the tenth time, that my face may actualize. When the moon would eat the sun, and life is painted with death. Every eighteen full faces of the moon. For the moon was pure death when it consumes the sun, but when the moon held the stars, it reflected sight through the darkness. It was only when death consumed life was it time for rebirth, but death alone illuminated danger and was wedded with silence. Nighttime became the ideal time to contemplate life, for life on the cusp of death is the truest form. This is the way.

The days of our birth are irrelevant to Pamarotu culture. Our witness is merely the returning of life from within to outside through pain. Pain requires a face to understand it. The same for pleasure. For all life from inside to outside, a debt must be paid to the sun. Pain and pleasure is the release of light. The sun returns to the earth from which all flowers must come. The sun is the great flame, the source of our face is flame, subtle like a candle, for this reason tears burn as they stream your cheek. This is the way.

“Do we remain silent for we do not know the way or we wish to disrespect us? ”, the way said through Sheathed Saber’s face and voice. “To disrespect others is to disrespect oneself.”. He borrows words from the moon and the sun, so that they may communicate their wisdom.

Narrow path is confused. Her face has only seen five consumptions. This will be my face’s tenth. Every ten consumptions, through the tribe’s reunion, the way abandons our faces and returns with the light of the sun. It is then we must see through our ears. Listen to our eyes. Smell through our lips. Taste through our nose. It is then the way reveals the new name for our face. We must touch within, by returning blood to the soil. We are meeting with Sheathed Sword so that the wisdom of the moon and the sun may prepare my face for what it must do. Narrow Path is here to bear witness, for one day she must do the same to her face, and she must understand that it is just a face. That she is not it. That she is nothing. That she is everything. That she is the death of my face. That she is also it’s rebirth. This is the way.

“Well!?”, Sheathed Saber’s face containing the marks of many consumptions, wrinkled and scared, like the clay of our earth. These were symbols of wisdom for other faces to understand and respect, but some faces said Sheathed Saber contained too much of the way for one face. They scold us over the dangers of anger, and yet they wield the way with behavior like that of our stone smasher that wears the face of our creator.

All the men who made us were the sky. All the women who gave birth to us were the earth. The soil and the trees that sprouted from her. The birds flew in his mind. The faces of our creation were seen as the voice of the sky and the earth until our tenth consumption. After the tenth they are us and we are them. They are already us but we become them after our tenth consumption. To allow us to become them, they must participate in the ritual, releasing us from their grasp so that we may rid ourselves of our past and our adolescence to become.

“Great elder, we can not know the way, we can only be the way. This face knows not the fate of great hounds in the leafless forest, for my witness has never been beyond our village. To speak when not knowing is to not know the way. Silent when ignorant is the way.”.

The tips of Sheathed Saber’s fingers touched their tired face. Their nipples looked down to the ground. The hairs on their neck looked up. They grabbed the great saber from the wall of their wicker hut. We sat about the fire. We stood about the fire. My face grabbed the blade. My face listens.

“Does your face see this?”

“My face only sees the way.”

“Very good.”

Their back was turned to us as the blade was held. Then, without warning, my witness sees a contraction of the muscles in their back. The movement was sharp, which means it was balanced. To be balanced is to act with courage and humility while containing the same face. My youth contained the silent serpent, all youth did. To be tempted and to be venomous is youth. This is our flame’s spirit until the first commencement. Our next flame is revealed through our faces' new name. Revealed through the name and the interpretation of the elder’s who have contained the moon and the sun for many consumptions. This is the way.

The blade came whistling in my direction. The muscles on their arm, despite being harnessed by the flame of a turtle, displayed the vitality of youth. My face does not contain the turtle. My face saw the blade through each independent drum of the heart. This is the way.

My chin to my knees as the blade passed overhead. The serpent strikes, bringing my heel inches from Sheathed Sword’s face and with fingertips catching the blade before it lays waste to Narrow Path.

“Your training has come a long way.”

“Every day is an opportunity to reveal the will of the tribe through my actions.”

“This is the way.”

“This is the way.”

“This is the way.”

“My bones tell me you are ready. My blood tells me the consumption will happen tomorrow.”

My face’s pride got in the way of my flame, “Has your blood ever been wrong? What of your bones?”, as I returned to resting upon the soil. Their stare was more agonizing than the blade they had spent a lifetime sharpening. Before my face could sense anything, their movement was one with the wind, the palm of their foot struck the chest. The back crashed upon the wicker wall. My face could sense the light burning through the marks that were made.

“What is to doubt!?”, roared the elder. In their fourth consumption, they contained the flame of the lion. It was only then did he cease, and they became. For all know that Lion’s travel in prides. This is the way.

“To doubt is to be an enemy of the way.”


“To doubt is to be an enemy of the way!”, rising to my feet. Now their fist lay waste to my face. The light burned and immediately swelled as I covered the mark with my face’s dirty palm.

“Do not step to me like you are a warrior! The way of the warrior ceased with the man who showed me the wisdom of the sky! Now louder!”, they screamed and then suddenly made themself as small as their whisper, “What is to doubt?”.


“Are you an enemy of the way?”




“Yet you doubt my face?! Does my face not contain the way!?”

“Of course, it contains the way.”

“Ah, then you are an enemy of the way!”

“No, my face is mistaken. All faces are just mirrors of the way. Each mirror forged with time, forgive my witness, ancient soothsayer, my face is still forging.”

My face looked towards Narrow Path. Her gaze was unwavering toward her toes. Violence and shouting makes her flame dwindle greatly. Experience tells my face it is true. The fear for her face was greater than my frustration and curiosity. The serpent of my flame began to swallow it’s tail.

“On a white sandy beach, beyond the sea of love, is where the turtle came to me and removed this blade from it’s shell. Then my face awoke from it’s slumber and the blade remained in my bed, where the warmth of my flame used to lay her head. My flame dwindled and the darkness of desperation made me foolish. Mistakenly my face gave the blade to my sky, the Pamarotu’s last great warrior. Do not dare speak the name of his face! He contained such great wisdom, my face thought it best, he have the blade. He would do what was right, is what my darkness told me using the voice of my flame. My face could not be more mistaken. The sharpness of the blade inspired a bloodlust through doubt. He doubted the way and lead some of the other men beyond the mountains, saying he had visions of a glimmering stone that would provide more than the way could. He was a great poet, and temptation is most dangerous to those with the insatiability of poetry. To seek more than the way is to already have less. They rode the ostriches beyond the mountainside. To leave our village is quite simple, but to return is impossible. The group of ostrich men left and never returned. The grinds from our coffee tell us they drank the blood of lizards out of thirst and became lizards under the moonlight. A punishment for their greed is to live the remainder of their days with the passion of man in the slow pace of the lizard. Does your face understand why it hears this legend?”

“Legends are to be experienced, understanding comes with time. This is the way.”

The elder smiled. My face smiles. Narrow Path smiles. When the way smiles, the moon and the sun are in balance. As are the sky and the earth. The sea of love and the leafless forest.

“This blade,”, they said looking at it with great ambition, “was rediscovered while I was away grieving the loss of my warmth. Her flame was a canary and the bird visited me in a naked sunrise. The song released a great deal of light for my face knew it was hers. The song soothed my flame and restored its ability to guide. My witness followed it with obedience, absent any doubt, though my face did not know where it was going, it knew that it must trust the way beyond doubt. For to trust the way is to be the way. Eventually, beyond a path of lizards, at the top of a mountain was this blade driven into the ground. With great strength my face removed it and while holding it again, my face experienced the wisdom the dream turtle tried to bestow.”, he swung it up directly. The light from the fire reflected off the obsidian. A blade as dark as midnight. As sharp as dawn. With a handle made of green ribbon like the shell of a great turtle. My snake told me to steal it. To swing at the warriors of my imagination. “Would you like to experience the wisdom the blade bestowed upon me?”

My face and Narrow Path nodded vigorously. “Of course, you’d like to experience, but does the way compel you to experience.”. Sheathed Saber was providing us a moment for contemplation. My witness touched within. Felt the wind of my moon. The soil of my sun. My snake vomited it’s tail and laid an egg.

“It is not our face's choice to experience or not experience. All we may do is receive. This is the way.”, spoke the voice of Narrow Path. We speak when she speaks. She listens when we listen. This is the way. Sheathed Saber looked at Narrow Path and allowed for the turtle to speak to her flame through the eyes. Her's was a silent doe. The serpent coiled it's throat.

“This sword’s name is truth. A competent wielder of this blade can know great strength. This sword’s name is honesty. To strike another with it is to know great humility. For all faces and all things are mirrors. To strike another is to strike oneself. This is the way.”

“This is the way.”, all voices became one voice.

“This is why we train. To wield but to never strike.”

“Sheathed Saber?”

“Yes, Dented Shield.”

“My sky tells me that this was not always the way. That there was a time, many faces ago, where our village was great. That we used our spears to slay the lizard people while on the backs of our ostriches. That the way was to strike those faces who had lost the way, and allowed doubt to traverse on to this side of the mountain.”

“Your face speaks of truth. For all that is spoken, is the word of the way. Many faces ago, these palms that belonged to my face, my moon and my sun, my sky and my earth, knew the quench of blood.”

“If all things that were must remain, and we do not strike down the enemies of our village, are we not in obedience with the way.”

“Your face is wise beyond your consumptions, but this is no longer the way.”

“How can this be so?”, spoke a silent voice from a distant corridor. Narrow Path’s face was curious. My face is curious. Sheathed Saber is curious.

“To doubt me is to doubt the way.”

“Sheathed Saber. Please.”

Sheathed Saber's shoulders dropped. They contained the weight of every stone they had smashed.

“We fought with staffs then.”

“What difference does it make if we fight with staffs or obsidian!?”

He sat. The night in his color expanded.

“For obsidian may be the truth and strength—honesty and humility—we know not it’s source.”

“The source of all things is the way.”

“To doubt is to corrupt. Though the source of all things is the way, even doubt is the way unexpressed. One should step gently when the floor is known to crack.”

“To step gently is to still risk walking.”

Sheathed Saber burst out into laughter. Rolling back and slapping his face’s knee.

“You are wise, Dented Shield, my face longs to see how you change.”

And without answering any more questions the lesson was complete.

“Do not forget to tell your sky and your earth that you see them.”

They proclaimed as we left their hut. Our sky was arriving at the same time we were. His face’s hands were calliced and bloody from a long day of smashing stones.

“My sky, if you know the ocean and the earth. The mountains and the leafless forest. Why do you pass your days smashing stones?”, asked Narrow Path.

“It is true what you speak, young Narrow Path. My face has eyes that have seen the oceans, the great plains, the mountains, the leafless forest, and the place where the sun burns too greatly for the soil to drink in time. Where the moon brings in the tides before the soil may dry. And yet my choice is to smash stones.”

“Yes. It is your choice, but why not choose something different?”

“If it is not my face then it is another. My face has it’s warmth in your earth. My face doesn't need more. This is the way.”

“She has had enough lessons for the day, Righteous Fist, leave her be and get washed up. Supper is ready soon. Dented Shield, what says you of your coming consumption?”, said my earth. Her face’s name is Hushed Wave. Her face was a fitting representation of the earth for when I looked at her she was surely the singing birds, and the gentle breeze, and walking rain, and blooming flowers. We ate. The meal was when we’d know that the way was expressed the same. Different spoons, same flavors. It was in these brief moments where we allowed ourselves to come before the way. To embrace.

We slept. The reeds of grass sung in the wind. One could hear the silence of the bright darkness. A face was waking. A face was sleeping. A face would never wake again. Twas the night before my face’s tenth consumption and my face saw visions in my sleep. Such violent and true visions that trying to recount them is dishonest. The one thing that was clear, my hand reached for the obsidian and my face heard one distinct question, “What color is invisible?”. My face woke in a sweat.

“The Consumption will be at midday! The canary in the willow tree has spoken.”, announced the face of Sheathed Saber to the many faces of the way. “It is Dented Shield’s tenth consumption. We witness the death of our friend and watch the way give life to a new one.”. The many faces of the way looked in my face’s direction. My face nodded.

Righteous Fist placed his face’s heavy paw on my face’s shoulder. “Come with me my life.”. My sky walked beyond the camp and my face followed, never looking away from the valley in his face’s back.

Such strength and he chose to smash stones. This is the power of warmth. The grass path went away from the mountains and toward the plains. My face could hear a running creek as the palms of my feet ceased upon the earth and felt the cool softness of the blue grass.

We walked upon the grass for some time, until we began to climb, the stones were loose and one must use your face’s hands. The creek that ran beside us was flowing away, we were heading up against the current. As our face’s pressed forward the roar of water became immense.

Growing in sound and anticipation. Finally, we arrived at a small pond beyond the trees, it’s source was a series of small waterfalls. Here the water was fresh, and the stones were sturdy. The color of their green reminds my face to consider how to step. This is the way.

Eventually, my sky leaped on to a large stone with the agility of a face with still few consumptions. My face followed his lead, we sat and watched the falling water. Sitting there, our legs crossed, our flame became the water, both still and rushing and falling and crashing and still. A puma came leaping down from the trees. Their eyes were orange. My face began to unfold, ready to dart for the slippery stones, but before that my sky placed his hand on my thigh. The rest of his body had not moved. The puma showed him their teeth. It exhaled and it continued to walk by. It drank from the water that had become both of our flames. It turned and walked away. My sky said nothing and after some time he rose, walking back down the blue grass path.

As the path began to transition from blue to mud---my sky followed the horizon elsewhere. We cut through trees and bushes until in the middle of pure distraction was a meadow. We walked to the center and laid on our backs. The celeste dome of our being seemed so silent and so profound.

Nothing more than what it was, but it was everything that it is. A vigilant hawk flew and began to circle, painting the sky with it’s path.

What color is invisible? The question of night visions plague my witness. My witness could see it’s path painted along the celeste of our being, though it was not there. Only my face and my sky. The hawk was accompanied by the great eagle; they danced for some time.

Do fish fly in the great ocean? Do birds swim in the great sky? The eagle dove beyond our vision and my sky flinched to pursue it, but my face rested my palm on his chest. His face looked at mine and smiled. “Do not fear what is to come. Your name may change, but your face will remain. Be one with the way and you will be great.”. It was all that was said. The sun being approached by the moon, we understood that death was upon us. No time to lay in the pastures. Rising; this time he followed upon the forgotten path. My face now knew the path.

The village was outside, gathered in silent meditation, their faces pressed to the earth in the direction of the sun. The consumption was upon us. As my face passed them, they sprung to their feet and wiped the soil from their face. Then began to spit on their dirty palms. They rubbed it together and spat again. Then they dropped to their knees and showed their palms to life as it was consumed by death. The clear day was being consumed by the flames of death and nightfall. Our flames were dwindling. Sheathed Saber was there with a staff, their face painted in beautiful colors of mango and sea shells and sleepless nights and dormant days. Their strength was eclectic and mysterious. They were the way in it’s purest. To his left was my earth. Narrow path was on her knees with muddy palms. She was still as she wept. “There is nothing to fear.”, my face told her. My face told myself.

“OOOOooooo”, Sheathed Saber began to sing from deep in their belly. The rest repeated. My face knew the power of the chant by being one of it’s many voices, but now as my witness is upon death at the center of their semi-circle, my face became nothing but life. Deny my face this body, so powerful is the way, my flame bursts at the seams. It can barely be contained. My sky and earth look at Sheathed Saber with pity and they nod with understanding. They stepped before me. My sky to the right of death. My earth to the left of life.

“OOOooWAYkeetocaminata!”, bellowed Sheathed Saber, slamming his staff to the stone.

“OOOOOWAYKEETOCAMINATA!”, the many faces of the way echoed and filled me with strength. They slammed their fists to their chest then their thighs to the rhythm of Sheathed Saber’s staff.


“DIEANEW”, the many faces of the way; a force as great as the wind.

“AWaaaay! aNEW!”

“AWAAAAY! ANEW!”, the sound was as immovable as the mountains.

“CaminARR! NavigARR!”

“CAMINAAAR! NAVIGAARR!”, they were a storm upon the great sea.

“Begin.”, Sheathed Saber spoke as he gazed upon doom. The moon was moments from consuming the sun.

“Oooway!”, then, “Heeeee!”, with either a drum of the chest or a slap of the thighs between. My sky brought the blade to my face. He made a horizontal cut below my right eye. The rush of blood freed my face from the way and life. My earth took the blade and did the same below my left eye.

“LET THE DEATH OF THIS FACE BE AS GENTLE AS HIS REBIRTH!”, screamed Sheathed Saber. My sky and my earth brought their lips to my wounds, they contained my blood in their mouths, they then dropped to their knees and spit it out. They mixed their hands in it, schmeared it to their faces. The moon completely consumed the sun. Even Sheathed Saber was upon their hands and knees showing the muddy palms to death.

Facing it alone; this is when it began. With blood streaming upon my face's cheeks, the village went silent, all that could be heard was the distant singing of the reeds in the wind. It was a convulsion of ecstasy. My face was dead, but life had not returned. The flame that filled me needed to wrestle with the moon. It also needed to win.

In a complete surrender, my body stripped naked and began to howl, leaping and thrashing about. Fists laid waste to my own cheeks. Gripping and ripping locks of hair. Dropping to knees; claws peeled at chest. Life was there, just beneath the surface. As the light burst through from the right of the moon, the body panting and sweating, but did not cease to convulse. Leaping with all the force of the way. Scream. My face was returning. Scream! As life returned, my face tore it’s throat to pieces. You may knock on my door, but you may never enter. Do you hear me?!

That’s when the silence of life revealed it to my flame. Somewhere deep within, there was a snarling coyote. I collapsed to my knees. My flame was a forgotten candle in a distant cave. My earth draped my face with her cloak. The village rose to their feet. My sky gripped my hand and pulled my face in close. His eyes fought tears. His bloody mouth fought smiles. The village came and smeared the mud of their palms upon my chest. Narrow Path was crying as she did the same. My face pulled her in, “Hug me, my sister.”, my face whispered in her ear. Her face wrapped her arms around my neck and held me tightly. In my face’s exhaustion, a whisper more, “Tighter.”. She squeezed tighter, the love from her flame was warm. Sheathed Saber commanded that my face stand.

“On his knees, this face once belonged to Dented Shield, but as he rises to his feet this face is ever-new. We witness the death of a good man, so as to see the birth of the way in a better one. Rise! Tell us of your name!”

My face stood, upon legs that just sprung with life were now weak. The snarling coyote echoed somewhere within. “Tell us your name!”, they proclaimed.

My face looked at my earth’s kind eyes. My face looked upon my sky’s proud smile. My face looked upon my sister’s admiration. My face looked upon Sheathed Saber’s contempt. My face felt the presence of those who had spread mud upon my chest. This was the way and though they had all gone through what my face had gone through, there was an assurance that this face contained wisdom that they didn’t. “Cobalt Silence”, rolled off my face's tongue.

It was as if my words made me the moon as it consumed the sun. My sky with one hand gripped his head and with the other reached to my earth. Her hands had begun to claw her cheeks as she collapsed, screaming in horror. Narrow Path became confused and ran into the arms of Sheathed Saber, who wore a heavy flame. The village walked backwards slowly; their attention tethered to my face. The wind that made the reeds sing became violent. Sheathed Saber released my sister from their grip and walked toward me slowly.

“Please! Not my child! Do not leave me! DO NOT LEAVE!”, my earth screamed, clawing at her eyes. My name had caused madness in her. “Sheathed Saber, surely, he has made a mistake. He is too young.”. Sheathed Saber placed his hand upon my sky’s trap as to remind him that the way is beyond us all. “My earth! My earth! My earth! What is happening!? SKY!? Please!?”, Narrow Path was running in place. Her tiny feet created a pitter patter that only added to the wind’s violence.

“What is the spirit of your flame?”, asked Sheathed Saber.

“The Snarling Coyote.”, my face said it but there were no thoughts.

“NOOOOOO-a-a-a-AAAAAH!!”, wailed my earth from the deepest recesses of her past. My sky quickly wrapped her in his strong arms. He then reached out for the other and shielded Narrow Path.

“You must annihilate your body or never come back. This is the way.”

My face looked to my sky and my earth. “They are your mirrors now. Your face cannot look to them for guidance. This name that you contain is of a great warrior. You must leave and find your war before you bring it to our village.”

“Where must my face go?”

“It must be at the mercy of your flame.”

“If my flame commands that my face remain?”

“Then extinguish it.”

“If it commands that my face walk?”

“Then move and do not stop.”

“Weary Stallion!”, shouted Sheathed Saber to the village medicine man, “bring me the obsidian blade and some molasses.”.

My earth contained herself and whispered something to Narrow Path. She looked to my sky, and he told her it was okay. She darted off in the direction of our hut. My sky kissed the forehead of my earth who was too weak to stand. He tore a garment from his pants and wrapped it around my face’s forehead. Narrow Path returned with a satchel and a pair of moccasins. Righteous Fist tied a cloak about my shoulders. Narrow Path helped me put on our sky’s old moccasins. He then placed the satchel upon my shoulder. Within it was a stone that one could hold in their fist. Some berries. A canteen with water. My earth’s poetry, bound between leather cowhide. My sky’s flute. Then Weary Stallion returned with the obsidian blade, he handed it to Sheathed Saber, then removed his straw hat from his head and placed it on mine.

“Though the sun is life, too much of it will burn your skin. One face can only contain so much.”. He then smeared the molasses above my wounds. Placing the rest of the cup in my satchel. It was then my face saw that there was my sky’s tea kettle and my earth’s tea pot, alongside a sack of herbs. Sheathed Saber was considering the obsidian they held within their hands. They swung it upward so the entire village may see the way the darkness cut and caught the light. They then sheathed it and tied it to my waist. They then kissed me on the mouth and said “Take the love of our village wherever you go and your blade will forever remain honest. You may go to the mountains, find the world of shining metals and greed, but then you may never return. Or you may see if you can cross the great desert, for beyond it is the leafless forest, and if you can survive it’s mysteries you may find your way to the sea of love.”.

My sky helped my earth to her feet, and they all gave me a hug. Things would be different now. My flame would not waver, but my face must learn to remain warm from a distance.

“The Snarling Coyote resides in the leafless forest. It will try to trick you. Listen to your flame.”, my sky whispered in my ear. “Kill it. Be swift, it’s life or yours.”, whispered my earth. My face held Narrow Path one final time, “Don’t go.”, she said to me with tears streaming. “This is the way. If my face remains, then my face will surely die. This is my only chance at life. One day my face will remain with a new name and new stories. Be safe and be strong. Enjoy the good and the bad, it will all pass. This is the way.”.

Without thinking, my face began to walk.

Twinkling sky, upon dying evening, life was absent—absent the sound of distant birds. Dust upon skin left thin, left then right then within. Forgotten paths weren’t meant for walkers intending on destinations, but there was no walker left to walk. Upon this path a choice was made, to the mountains and claim to fame or across the desert and into empty trees. Survival be thin like the smoke that hovers above flames, but if the choice be golden glimmer throughout golden hours within---the choice was always illusion, for the way is without doubt. Humility is the pride of the soul. Greed is the soul’s price. A cobalt man in silent land headed toward the desert to discover what was right. Valleys of false god’s were but the moon's distant sway. Canteens ran dry before there ran the rain. The heat cracked the earth below the surface of one’s face. If only there be words to eliminate the snarling coyote that contains no place. There is no such thing or deed or task or dash of grace, rather one’s movement is the only way. Wicker hats and molasses cheeks, if not for their sweetness contained my face would loathe the smell of my body absent rain. The reeds of wind were in my past, but when the belly grumbled; the night placed blankets of invisible ice, my flame no longer flickered rather it blew out the songs of forgotten days. The seventh day of travel was the third of absent rain. The heat danced upon the horizon that no matter the movement remained ever distant. A great eagle swooped down before my dying dead body.

“Your conditions are weary and prospects are slim.”, said the eagle to the dying man. With the strength that was left, we conjured a gaze that showed the eagle only knew the world from above.

“Don’t you know that the way is false, and the only servitude you owe is servitude to him.”, the eagle raised one of the claws, while balancing pointed a single talon. The belly rumbled to the rhythm of the horizon’s quiver.

“Do you know the eagle’s greatest strength is their sight? I can see your conditions for what they are and not what they ought to be. I must tell you, it is time you look within and wonder what exactly is the price for your life?”.

There was a snarling coyote. The growl was as clear as the words that left the eagle’s razor beak. “Eagles contain magic, the way all creatures do, to gain strength in the realm of their greatest virtue. I offer you a deal, I’ll fly to the leafless forest from high up above, then beyond it to the white beach upon the sea of love. I’ll scoop some of it’s water into my beak and fly it into your mouth.”, just as the deal was about to be sealed the eagle reached when saying, “I’ll even give you the snarling coyote’s whereabouts.”. The fate of the journey had remained sealed, as far as the eagle knew my face's body was but a weary traveler desperate to make a deal, but he knew of the coyote the one that howls at the moon at night. The one that haunted hunger, the mountains, the desert, the fields. The one that in this body's dying moments, the distant sound was a reminder that destiny was real.

“No deal. No deal.”

“Surely you will die out here unless you let me spit water inside. All I ask is that you let me look with your eyes. Your sight shall remain and look where you may, just know that if you accept the water then my flame shall remain hidden within your gaze. How else do you think I know about your past, without hearing you tell me; without having to ask?”

My sky gripped my body in the face of the puma; my body reached out in the pasture.

“No deal. No deal.”

“You’ll die!”

“One must be something to die, what is before you is nothing. Nobody. If this body ceases, then it has lived a life in which the destination of it’s bones would remain a mystery. This is more than one can ask for. If death be the way then my face will know it’s truth. This is the way.”

The great eagle smiled, a sinister smile, one that hid joy that must remain unexpressed for to express it is to kill it. A smile that revealed to any spectator that it knew them well and that it would continue to know them. It raised it’s wings as wide as it could, revealing smooth feathers beneath the spand. The feathers were a mosaic of different colors. Some feathers were shades of red and pink and orange and yellow and teal and magenta and burgundy and brown and black and white and all that fell in between.

“Pluck a feather and it will guide you on your journey.”, before reaching there was noise. The snarling coyote was becoming increasingly present. “Which color is invisible?”, the question was raised to the great eagle. The sinister smile grew but this time the wings flew to cover the eagle’s beak. Not able to contain whatever was bursting at the brim, the bird erupted into the sky in a spiral of bliss.

Where the great eagle's claw had rested remained a single feather that was clear. Cobalt Silence picked up the glass feather and used it to bind the two ends of his cape. Though Cobalt Silence was just as dehydrated and tired as before, his interaction with the great eagle had returned warmth to his flame. His face had new vitality. The invisible feather, for some reason or another, his face understood that only his face and the eagle could see it’s outline.

Cobalt silence pushed forward. Each stride contained each previous one walked. The earth was now resisting the palms of his feet. The palms contained no fight and were pummeled by the weight of each stride. To journey with no destination can be a dangerous business. Yet Cobalt Silence had a goal. To find the snarling coyote that was a permanent resident of the leafless forest. To find him and kill him. This was to come for now he had to focus each stride on preceding the next while also fighting the heat. A blaring life shining down hard and bright. When Cobalt Silence mustered the strength to look ahead and see where his movement was guiding him he could see the waves of heat dancing upon the horizon.

Just when all was felt to be lost by Cobalt Silence he heard a running brook. Could it be real? Is his dying imagination playing tricks on his waking presence? Cobalt silence had been walking along the edge of a growing canyon for about twenty minutes when he finally found the source of the running water. Untying the straw hat placed upon his head it fell at the same time he did. Half of his torso was submerged in water. His dry lips swelled at the sensation of cool hydration. He chugged senselessly, not even considering whether the water was clean. It was cold enough and it’s hydration was pristine. Nothing else mattered. After his belly was filled, he began to jump, sloshing around all the liquid in a celebrating not allowing the flame to go out. Now he was dancing. Cobalt Silence was convinced that had he seen the creek two minutes later he wouldn’t have made it.

“Follow the creek, through the canyon, and into the leafless forest. Be wary of serpents.”

Cobalt Silence heard it in the voice of Righteous Fist but swore he had never heard his sky utter those words. The way works mysteriously and all he had was his intuition. So he filled up his canteen with water, took down a few more handfuls, and continued following the stream. A watchful eye near stones and plants where a serpent can hide.

Eventually, he encountered not a serpent but a tortoise. It looked at Cobalt Silence. He remembered the legend of the blade he carried. He decided to sit with the creature. In silence, the tortoise spoke of the history of the canyon. How this small creek was once a great river and each of the lines you see against the wall is where the river once ran. Before picking up the tortoise, Cobalt Silence asked the tortoise a question. Is the river the water or the basin?, he said. The tortoise smiled and reminded Cobalt Silence that he should be wary of snakes. All that was communicated between the tortoise and the man were through the eyes. This is the way.

The tortoise offered the man his shell in exchange for safe passage. There is a bend in the creek that is also the marker for the beginning of the leafless forest. Where clay transitions from it’s red to a dead gray-green.

The tortoise spoke to the Cobalt’s flame directly. About the way things were and weren’t. What began with us and what ended with us. What we saw versus what we didn’t see. And the boy now man listened with a patient ear for the tortoise was a terrific story-teller but communicated slowly and softly. The tortoise was also very heavy and they were heading nowhere in no hurry. The boy informed the tortoise about his sky and his earth. About Narrow Path and Sheathed Saber. He excluded the tale of his name and new fate but the tortoise already knew. Though it hadn’t been a significant amount of time, the man could not help but feel the distance between them. The tortoise listened to the stories and the distance offering earnest laughter and perspective. When they arrived at the bend the boy thought it was best to build a fire with twigs from the beginning of the forest. The tortoise thanked the boy for getting him there so safely and then retreated into the shell. The next thing the boy saw emerge from the shell was a black snake. The snake said, take the shell and use it as a shield or a heavy fist. It would surely shatter, but it could deliver a necessary blow. The snake offered the man one final gift asking him to lean in. Cobalt Silence did and the snake bit his palm. The snake then told him to trust a snake to be a snake and a tortoise to be a tortoise. The snake slithered away into the impending darkness, while Cobalt Silence began to suck on the bite mark and spit out the venom.

That night, after removing the venom he smeared molasses and then bandaged his hand, immediately succeeded by collecting wood and building a warm fire. He had caught some mice and another snake. He squeezed the mice and beheaded the snake, cooking them on the same skewer. Cobalt read his mother’s poetry. His favorite was the third, it was a poem about the moon and the stars. How they danced when the sun rose and remained still in the cold of night.

He ate the snake first and then the mice. The snake was tender like chicken and the mouse was gamey. This reminded him of the birds he used to eat. This made him think about the interaction with the eagle. He touched his glass feather and thought of his sky. Had the eagle tempted Righteous Fist in his youth? Maybe this was a path all must walk in the pursuit of the way, which was merely the pursuit. To journey without destination, but he has a destination. To face the snarling coyote in the leafless forest. This was his fate but not his destination. A destination is a place of comfort where the mind may escape too. Fate is what challenges one's face encounters on the route to themself.

That night he slung his hammock on two of the early trees. These trees could have belonged to the leafless forest or the canyon. They were stuck in between and Cobalt Silence thought it was his best bet. To be neither in just the canyon. Or just the forest. Rather to be partially in both while being in neither. This would keep him safe or he believed it would.

That night he had a dream. It was stranger than most and he blamed it on having eaten both predator and prey the night before. In the dream, he had begun to pee at the foot of a dried basin. He peed so relentlessly that it began to burn. But despite his attempts to stop urinating he could not. It just continued to flow and flow endlessly. Eventually, the tortoise turned snake appeared. It begged for forgiveness and safe passage. It was only then did my face paused to pee so that the snake could slither across the basin. When back on the other side he began to pee again. It was a gorge to a running river and the snake having crossed safely began to consume itself. Continually consuming it’s tail until it could not further. It became a frozen circle that spectated the urine turned river.

Cobalt Silence rose with the sun. He packed his belongings from the fire and then sat in a smoldering contemplation. All dreams contain omens, he heard Sheathed Saber's voice. He removed the obsidian blade and it cut light. It’s edge piercing the eye. Perhaps the omen will reveal it’s truth with time. Perhaps. Time to move on. Destiny awaits. The snarling coyote must meet it’s reflection.

He proceeded down the silent path. Each step was like a whisper as he made his way further and further. After spending the morning hiking inward, Cobalt Silence decided to pitch a tent. For he remembered his sky talking about the hunt, “in order to capture a predator you must become prey.”. So, he pitched his tent between two trees. Built a fire at the mouth of the tent and sat. There he’d wait for three days and two nights. In a state that isn’t quite sleeping, but similar to dreaming. In a state that wasn’t quite waking, but similar to wandering. There he remained idling with a blade in his lap. Allowing the moments to come and go. This is the way.

In his waiting, he had visions of Sheathed Saber, his sky, his earth, his sister, and all the tribe partners. He had visions of the turtle, the snake, his dream, the great eagle, and the puma. Most of all he had visions of the snarling coyote. He interacted with those visions with a distant admiration. For all enemies and friends are benchmarks. The greater the adversity the greater the individual. All enemies should be admired and overcome with grace. There was nothing personal in his duel with the coyote, it was simply the draw of fate.

But on the third night, fate had rung her bell. There was a tree that had collapsed down a drop off from the silent path. From the edge, the coyote gently descended. Snarling ferociously. The mouth is foaming. Cobalt Silence lifts the blade and pushes it into the ground. He then twists and rests himself in a kneeling position.

“You have come to slay me? Many have tried.”

“I am not only many. I am also just one.”

“And what one might you be.”

“My face is called Cobalt Silence.”

“I was once called this name. Many lifetimes ago. I too slayed a coyote. I have slayed many since. You are me and I am you. And yet we are nothing.”

“We are everything. Today your form must change. My blade will be swift.”

“When my form changes as will yours. No combat shall be had. This vessel has served me well. Bring your blade down on the nape. Lay waste to my being, just know that when this body ceases so will your flame. The only way to protect it is to follow the silent path into The Valley of Fog. In silence being the protector of the mist. Until your vessel runs it’s course.”

“Tell me of the beast my face will annihilate. By dawn, I will choose.”

“You grant me one more sunrise. I will tell you any tale.”

Cobalt Silence, was no longer Dented Shield, and had no specific interests to deliver. Rather all he could do was recite his encounters. The Coyote listened while continuously snarling, faint enough where the man could hear it beyond the crackling of firewood. When he had recited all that had occurred. The coyote shined light on his adventures.

“The puma was sent by the way to tempt envy toward your father. By not acting upon it the way bestowed love. The eagle was the way tempting you with greed. Both times you resisted so you were bestowed generosity. Your generosity made you encounter the turtle, for your patience the turtle gifted you with zeal. But your zeal made you proud so the snake bit you to give you humility. Your humility has provided you with patience. Now with all that you are and aren't, how will you respond to the anger that lays before you?”

“The choice was never mine to make.”

He rose. Raising the blade and walking with consideration made his route along the fire. As he came closer the snarling became louder and louder. He locked onto those red eyes. The morning was navy blue. The sun hadn’t fully risen yet but it’s rays had pierced the darkest hour. There was a bird in a distant tree singing in fourths. One a little closer singing in twos.

The coyote leaped. Cobalt put his forearm with the shell of the tortoise forward. The teeth dug deep into the shell and before it shattered Cobalt was able to pull the coyote to the left. He was grazed by a claw going down the inner thigh. The shell was destroyed and the coyote faced him again. Cobalt placed the blade in both hands and squared his stance. He began to breathe concentrating all his energy in the palms of his hand. He raised the blade and stepped lightly towards the coyote. The coyote got real low looking to make a jump for the throat. Cobalt stepped closer until finally they leap.

The birds flew into an open sky. The blade fell upon the nape with a whistle. Molasses was spread on the thigh. The head of the coyote was hollowed and worn by our champion who was now nameless. The straw hat was left covering the vacancy of the headless body. He threw the sword on his back and made his way down the silent path. To protect what remained of his flame in The Valley of Fog.

FantasyShort StoryFable

About the Creator

Ruben De Escapado

Most know me as a poet sitting on a park bench in Central Park. Writing poetry for strangers. Before that I lived a life and learned a few things. Now I listen to what the world had to teach others. Believe in yourself and be honest. Okay.

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