Chapter 11 – The Village –
The village bordered the northern exposure of the great river. The market was set up throughout the main corridor of the village with buildings and huts of different sizes and conditions surrounding it on both sides. This main corridor stretched to connect with the path that Grandfather, Gremha, and Cha were traveling just outside and to the west of the busy bustling market. It appeared that many people from the surrounding area were also visiting the village on this warm sunny spring day.
Gremha said as they entered the village, “Look Grandfather, all these people came to celebrate my birthday!”
Grandfather, however, was on a mission. As he ignored Gremha’s youthful exuberance Grandfather responded by saying, “We will first visit Tamurai today. My good friend Jian works there. He was with me during my many campaigns throughout the rule of your father’s kingdom. He was such a formidable field commander. Much of his ingenuity and cleverness helped us achieve victories in many of our decisive cavalry assaults. We learned the many methods of successful war strategy together coming up through the ranks. The ways of the Sacred Spirit of God; he knows as well. It will be good to see him once more. I look forward to introducing the two of you. Too much time has passed since the two of us have visited.”
As Grandfather led the way in the direction of this place called Tamurai, Gremha looked at the many sights that lined the village market. He first noticed a group of men arguing intensely as others were in competition throwing axes and knives at large leather targets. Men were exchanging what appeared to be money as others yelled and shouted. He observed numerous men as they through these various weapons in the direction of the targets. As Gremha then looked at what appeared to be a butcher shop bordering this competitions area, he could see rather large women in bloody white aprons selling large pieces of animal parts to the men that were visiting their table. Next to them, there appeared to be a vendor selling a variety of what appeared to be alcohol in bottles. There were several men tugging at the bottles as the merchant tried to find calm amongst the commotion. Across the main corridor was a rather large building painted yellow with a gaudy weather worn sign on the roof. The sign read, “The Yellow Garden”. Outside of the Yellow Garden were several very beautiful women sitting on the front porch dressed in what appeared to be under garments exposing varying degrees of their anatomy. Several men were walking in through the front door while counting and exchanging monies seemingly won at the weapons throwing competitions.
While Gremha’s attention wandered through the various displays and activities of the village market, Grandfather raised his voice to hurry Gremha’s pace. Grandfather exclaimed, “Hurry Gremha. We are only here for a short time today!” Grandfather revealed a small portion of the knowledge he learned earlier that same morning by making this statement. He then tied Cha up to a post outside of the building called Tamurai.
As Grandfather led Gremha through the Tamurai door, they each noticed a drastic sense of calm contained within its four walls. This calm was very surprising as it significantly contrasted the sense of chaos and tumult in the village market. There appeared to be a large area to the left containing about 12 silent individuals being led in meditation by an old baldheaded man in the corner. Gremha wondered if that was Grandfather’s friend To. Just then a distinguished looking little gray-haired lady touched Grandfather’s arm lightly while stretching her torso. It appeared she also whispered into his ear. She next led Grandfather into another part of the building while Gremha in turn followed. This attractive and stately gray-haired woman seemed to glide with an ease contained within her long silky robe. Gremha was amazed at how much quieter Tamurai was from the loud contentious market outside. This peaceful little lady then pushed back a brightly colored heavy curtain covering a large doorway. As they entered the room, their little curious stately guide departed through the back of a dimly lit room. All that filled the room was a mighty wooden table with several men seated around it. Through the flickering light of a stoked fireplace and several assorted candles placed throughout the top of the heavy wooden table, one of the men stood to greet Grandfather. Grandfather reached out to embrace this man who was about the same height and age as Grandfather. This friendly soul had a much larger build and a black beard contrasting Grandfather’s smokey white facial growth. It appeared as if they both had fond affection for each other.
Grandfather said, “Hello Jian. Am I interrupting your meeting?”
This large framed man responded, “It is so good to see you again General. It has been far too long. Is this young man your grandson? I remember years ago that your daughter had given birth to a boy soon after the exile from the kingdom”
“Yes, he is called Gremha,” Grandfather replied. “He is 14 years today.”
“Well, it is an honor to meet you on your first day of manhood Gremha,” said Jian.
“Thank you, sir,” responded Gremha.
“And as for your question my General, you do not interrupt our discussion as these men were actually here asking about you,” Jian said.
Upon that response, Gremha turned his head to look at the three men seated directly across from where the greetings were being exchanged. Gremha recognized these three men as the same ones that visited their hut several weeks ago when Cha brought home the large black stallion.
“Please sit General and Gremha,” said Jian. “These men have quite a story to tell and I will let them tell it, as much of it will concern you.
“Hello General,” said the chiseled faced soldier. As he continued, he adjusted his posture in his chair and the men seated at his sides did the same in unison.
Grandfather did not move. Nor did he take his gaze away from the soldier speaking.
“As you know from our last meeting, we are of the Emperor’s personal security detail. Our Emperor has died. He has been taken by the plague that invades us from the north. The General of our army has been infected as well. We do not expect him to be alive upon our return from this journey. There is much fear within our army as well as our nation. The Emperor’s son has taken over rulership of our nation upon his father’s passing. His advisors have instructed us to reach out to you as you are the only individual with the experience and wisdom to lead our great nation through this time of trouble. We have stopped at Tamurai first as we were aware To was once a great commander within your revered army command. We felt compelled to discuss our approach as we have great reverence and respect for you. We are here for his advice. We had no idea you would be joining him here. We were to be traveling to your home in the morning with this information,” explained the warrior soldier.
Grandfather did not appear surprised by this information. He looked as if he was expecting it. Grandfather then responded with the single question holding no sense of emotion and eliciting no movement of any kind, “Are you not aware that I and my family are in exile from your nation?”
The warrior soldier then said, “Yes sir. The new Emperor has instructed us to tell you that your exile imposed by his father is lifted and you and your family are free to return to our nation with your full authority and the same privileges bestowed as Supreme General over all of his armies reinstated.”
“I do not see how my reinstatement as the General of the Emperor’s armies will do you any good in the fight of a plague.” Grandfather replied while still appearing to be coldly amused by these three stalwart yet menacing warriors.
“There is more sir,” said the soldier. “The northern tribes from where the deadly plague originated are banding together to form a great army. The new young Emperor’s advisors believe their invasion is imminent.”
Grandfather paused a moment as his piercing gaze tilted downward toward the flame of one of the older long burning candles. He then turned toward Gremha with his eyes expressing all the love held within his breaking heart. Gremha seemed to instantly know what it was that had been troubling Grandfather from early this morning. Grandfather had known the 14-year journey of loving and teaching Gremha was soon to end. The time Gavi had discussed two seasons last was at hand.
After several moments of unspoken communication, Grandfather turned toward these three men, stood, and said, ” I will give you my answer in the morning.”
The leader of the three warriors acknowledge Grandfather’s words. They thanked Jian for his hospitality, turned, and existed Tamurai through the same back door the little gray-haired lady departed from earlier.
Jian broke the remaining heavy silence by saying, “I am sure you are both hungry and thirsty from your long journey to the village.”
Grandfather replied, “Yes, we are, but before we settle to have a meal, I would like to take Gremha on a tour of the village. May we join you for that meal in a short while?”
With that said and a confirmation nod from Jian, Grandfather led Gremha out the front door of Tamurai. They passed the same group of people still in their meditation setting. While making little noise, the two travelers passed through the front door to find a fight taking place over at the target competition. Gremha was amazed how Tamurai was able to maintain its calm and peaceful atmosphere while the outdoor activity was extremely loud and disruptive. Grandfather untied Cha and motioned Gremha to follow him past The Yellow House to avoid the fight. Gremha embarrassingly looked away from the growing number of scantily clad women lounging on the front porch of The Yellow House. Several of these women attempted to flirt with Gremha as they passed. A few attempted to call out to Gremha and Grandfather in various ways. One even offered Gremha a free pass on her services due to his youth and virile good looks. Grandfather ignored the flirtatious activity while he passed as Gremha did also. As the two men walked toward a clearing close to the great river’s banks, Gremha noticed numerous fishing boats traveling a slower tributary of the river.
As Grandfather sat on the riverbank, his eyes engaged its panoramic beauty while Cha attempted to graze on the long green vegetation bordering the shore. Gremha also gazed out over the vast river before them.
Grandfather said, “Gremha, early this morning prior to you waking, I visited the Tu fields in order to conduct my own personal meditation. Several moments into this meditation I was visited by Gavi. While she joined me in meditation, she brought to my attention the direction of your development as well as the pending visit of the three warrior soldiers. She had known of their journey as well the activities far to the east within their kingdom. Upon completion of the meditation, she expressed how pleased she was with our efforts and successful conclusion in the planting of the Tu seeds.”
While Grandfather paused in order for Gremha to absorb the message, Gremha responded, “Will you be going with the soldiers to their kingdom?”
Grandfather did not respond but sat only in silence. Gremha turned his head to elicit Grandfather’s response, but saw tears building in his eyes. Grandfather dropped his head as the tears began to stream down his face to find rest in his thick bold grey beard.
After a while had passed, Grandfather said, “Gavi told me what was about to take place today at Tamurai. She identified that our time together on this earth was coming to completion tomorrow morning. She knew that in order for me to complete my destiny within this lifetime, I would need to find honor for our family in accepting the invitation to rule the great army of the new young Emperor. This honorable return to my previous role of General of the Emperor’s Army would also erase the exile for you moving into your future adult existence. It would not only complete my destiny but would also allow you the freedom to move freely within the kingdom should you choose during your lifetime. Your life would not be limited by that of exile. You would find honor and nobility within the Emperor’s kingdom as well, not necessarily in title but in family. That honor is so important for the destiny of our family. I have found Glory in the Blessings of the Lord. Now I must complete this mortal life in an honorable fashion. Gavi knew this was the necessary path for my soul. It would restore honor and distinction to your mother and father as well. To begin your life as an adult with the honorable acceptance of the Emporer was necessary for the journey of your soul. The foundation of your young life has been built on a foundation of love and humble respect for all of nature. In my decision, the foundation and bedrock of your adult journey would be established in a highly respected manner within the kingdom of your father’s nation.”
While Grandfather was explaining this, Gremha had buried his head into his hands while sobbing and listening. Upon completion of Grandfather’s words, there was a silence broken only by the running river water and the sounds of the market. These distant sounds seemed as if they were coming from another world, another time. Gremha’s response reflected the state of Grandfather’s breaking heart felt earlier back at Tamurai. To know and to understand the necessity of Grandfather accepting the Emperor’s invitation was clear. The pain of this transition through life held such great sorrow for both. The love and affection these two souls shared made Grandfather’s impending departure so much more difficult.
Gremha then sat straight, gathered himself, and turned to face Grandfather. In a response expressing Gremha’s new found maturity and adulthood he said, “Grandfather, you have taught me that to unlock the love held silent within our hearts is the most noble of responsibilities. In this lifetime of instruction, I have learned that the sacredness of this love is not ours to possess. It must flow through us as it is an expression of The Great Sacred Spirit of God. I have been so very blessed to have you as my Grandfather and to love you and learn this from you. You make me proud in that you have such a great and noble history. You are such an honored and respected General. It is my privilege to have had you love me and teach me for the first 14 years of my life. I have been blessed by The Great Sacred Spirit to have been able to learn from you. The greatest of gifts that you have shared with me is the example of your great virtue, your great love, and your great wisdom. Your choice is imminent in the fact that our nation needs you. Their leaders understand that it is only you that can guide them from their doom. They and now I, understand that it is only you that can give them hope for tomorrow. We are both honored in this choice. Your destiny is now laced with that of my father’s kingdom. In this choice my father and mother live in honor for this day you are no longer just my Grandfather, you are my General as well.”
The sun suddenly sprang forth from the cover of a large foreboding cloud to seemingly energize the occasion. During this moment of intense sunlight, Gremha concluded, “You will always be on my mind Grandfather and will forever be in my heart. I thank you Grandfather for your love and dedication to my mother by devoting yourself to my love, care, and training. Please honor our family on this 14th year of my birth and choose to go with these soldiers. This day moving forward will always be a time to honor; not because of my day of birth, but because of the noble heritage you have so selflessly offered. Your departing and absence will be temporary for your memory will always rest within my soul.”
As Grandfather was listening, he was realizing Gremha was no longer a little boy.