The silver fish comes
I come down off the mountain when I see the silver fish float out of the sky and land in the meadow beyond the pond.
I have watched for days – a floating piece of silver metal glinting in the sun as it searched for something or someone here.
I do not yet know for what it is looking, but I feel its call and stumble down the loose stones of the slope, trying not to get loose a rock slide, seeking also not to tell the silver fish that I am coming.
The slope ends in a sheer cliff and I know I have made a mistake.
I must climb down the stone face or slide off it trying to climb back to where I started.
Sweat streams down into my eyes and makes my palms slip when I grip the sharp cliff face, each sharp edge poking into my flesh as I ease down.
My bare feet feel out each next step to make certain the stone I step on won’t pull out and send me to my death below.
Finally my feet find
solid ground at the bot
I run so fast and breathe so hard my chest aches.
My head aches, too, with urgency.
I push through the brush I might otherwise avoid, branches scraping my chest and sides where my leather jerkin does not cover.
Smoke rises over a nearby hill from out of the outlying farms near Thraor.
Is that why the silver fish came down there?
Does it seek some secret of Thraor the rest of us know nothing about?
At some point in my climb down I lost sever arrows and I clutch the few I have left in one hand and my short bow in the other.
I cannot imagine what a flint-tip can do against the metal sides of the silver fish, until the skin is more like a real fish than it is metal.
When the brush clear along the shore of the pone, I run.
The urgency is great.
I must know why the silver fish came.
Vaguely I wonder why none from the village come.
Surely other eyes than mine saw the silver fish land.
This thought slows me and I pause near another stand of trees.
I am no hero.
I fight only when the war lords tell me I must – or die.
I survive because I do not wish to die the way so many other do around me.
It is this wish that makes me want to turn back, some danger in or around the silver fish I know will cause me harm.
I squint passed the budding branches to see the surface of the silver fish – so smooth a glass blower could have shaped it.
What does it want?
Ware are there no others coming to see it?
The smoke over the hill seems thicker.
Movement comes from the top of the hill – tall shapes dragging a line of shorter, darker shapes behind.
The tall figures shimmer in much the same way the silver fish does, as if made of the same metal. They seem to have no faces.
The shorter darker people I recognize as from the village. They are tied. Some even bleed.
As they come near a section of the silver fish’s side opens – a door way so dark I can see only blackness inside.
The silver men push the villagers inside as if shoving loaves of bread into an oven.
The old wish to survive tells me this is not a good thing I see, that the silver fish have come to collect our people, and will land other places soon to collect more of us, and something deeper inside of me makes me think of the mountain lions that visit our herds of sheep to feed.
I run – my legs taking me through the woods and around the lake, openly now, drawing the attention of the silver me.
But they won’t waste time seeking one many when they might lose many.
I get to the ill knowing I must watch the skies as I once watched the woods and fields, not against the war lord’s enemies, but to keep free of this new threat.
I must survive.