The Turaga of the Stone Tribe raised his hand, and with the last of his strength, began to carve:
The battle is lost. On this day, the Fire Tribe has taken our village, our people, and our valuables. But there is one thing they have not the strength of body or of will to take from us. This is our history. For two hundred years and seven we have resided in this valley, sheltered by the great stone cliffs that surround us. The Walls of Stone, the same walls upon which I carve my final words at this very moment, are covered in the runes of our people. These runes have stories to tell, volumes upon volumes of stories. And even if these Walls crumble to the ground, there will be those who remember what they said. They will carve new Walls, greater walls, and if those are destroyed, the stories will live on still. You see, Akuma, even if your Fire Tribe manages to erase these sacred words, you will never erase those who carry them within their minds! While the actual stone upon which these words are carved may not be eternal, the Stone will survive far into the future! This is what you don’t understand, Akuma. Values and traditions are things even fire cannot burn. And the values and traditions of our Tribe are connected with the Stone, forever intertwined into the future.
With that, Thenor, Turaga of the Stone Tribe, carved his last and final words upon the Walls of Stone and passed into the void.
The Stone of Iron
As I slip the cool mail mitten over my hand, I am surprised almost that I’m not excited, that my heart is not racing. Outside the clash of arms can be heard, as well as the groans of the wounded and dying. My armor is on, and so I belt my broadsword at my side, slip my arm into the straps of my kite shield, and readjust my helmet, a simple metal skullcap. My real helmet is slung on my back, for use soon. For now, I prefer visibility.
There is a frantic pounding on my door, and with my hand to my sword I call out,
The door is flung open, and a rather scared page stands in the doorway. I relax my grip on the sword.
“What is it, lad?” I ask, slightly more relaxed. I reach over, grabbing my lance.
“The lord sends the summons; all men who can bear arms are needed at the walls.”
“All who can bear arm?” I ask, even as I move past the page. “There is no time to waste.”
Outside, the world is dark in the late night, with only torches lighting the world. Arrows fly over the wall, which I see is well manned. I wonder for an instance what the urgency is. Then I look to my far left, to where the majority of the noise is coming from. A twenty foot gap has been blasted in the wall, and the gap is filled with bodies. I can see the white surcoats and the red cross of my brother Templars holding a desperate line against the invaders, whose curved swords and round shield flash like a flood against the armored knights. I reach back, sliding my own great helmet on. My walk turns into a run as I move towards them.
I can tell that my brother knights are hard pressed, and many have fallen. The banner is in the midst, and seems on the verge of falling. But the white surcoats of my brother knights are especially grouped around it, even as they begin to advance, foot by foot.
I reach them swiftly, thrusting with my lance to slay a turbaned swordsman. I am assimilated into the line, and in the close melee, my lance proves useless. I quickly draw my broadsword, keeping in careful line with the knights next to me. Inhuman they seem, in blood drenched surcoats, and the same inhuman great helmet. Like stone they are, even though their fallen account their humanness.
We are wading through bodies as we advance, both those of our brothers and those of our foes, far more numerous. The onslaught lessens slightly, and then more so, as our line reaches the gap, barring it. Living stone replaces the dead stone of before, and we strike out with burning fierceness at the invaders. Above us, the banner of the Temple flies, shewing with its height the strength of our stand.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
“Nurse Withers, if you have nothing useful to say, I would appreciate your remaining silent. The doctor is working.”
The operating room was crowded. Dr. Hakase, age 45. Dr. Tendo, age 36. Nurse Withers, also age 36. Nurse Reston, age 52. Anesthesiologist Myer, age 37. Patient Alan Kesters, age 8. The oppressive, painful, foggy atmosphere Dr. Hakase had always loathed and always returned to, age two hours, or seven years if you went by the vintage of the bourbon.
The scalpel hovered over the boy’s skin. It did not shake or tremble. It had no reason to – a statue’s hands couldn’t shake, you see.
A statue’s mind most certainly could. A statue’s mind could also spend thirteen years off the bottle. Thirteen years and not one second more.
The scalpel came down smoothly, opening an incision along the boy’s abdomen. Perfect. Dr. Tendo murmured in approval and went to open the incision with the forceps.
Dr. Hakase didn’t respond. Statues’ mouths could not open to talk. They could open to drink, of course – rainwater in most places, but a burningly refreshing liquor would do the trick in a pinch.
The appendix stared up at him, distended and red, happily pumping pus and poison into the blood of the boy who harbored it so generously.
Silently, Nurse Reston tied off part of the appendix’s connection to the intestine. Dr. Hakase reached out a hand for a new scalpel. Statues did not look. Their eyes simply focused on whatever was in front of them, be that a patch of street, or a child patient, or the two simple words that had been hiding in the back of a marriage for years.
He brought the scalpel down to where the ties had been made. It hovered over the exposed organ, unmoving. It had no reason to – a statue’s hands couldn’t shake, you see.
Statues are made of stone, though.
And stone erodes.
Under his feet, the stone had been slick with moss. The balance of the man had been steady as he climbed with assured steps up the large boulder. It had taken quite a few hours to make his way through the path of jutted rocks. Solid stones, massive in size all around him, each gleamed with a light outer layer of moisture. As he had taken his time in admiration of his atmosphere, the constant crashing of the waves against this incredibly large and enclosed rock formation, the way his bare feet felt in pools of water and sand, the crystal blue sky…
It was too much for him. This was an amazing wonder, and the island he had travelled to by boat was just too great, so much greater than what he had seen in the pictures.
So it had never occurred to him, that here, in this beautiful, healthy and untouched place, that he might meet his demise. Because while the sun had glared into his eyes as he climbed, this one large boulder that stood above the rest had been able to shield him from it. And if he could reach the top, he’d see the entire island, the water, jungle, cliffsides…everything. And each small rock seemed perfect for moving on, and up, all surrounding the much larger one, like a large slope to heaven.
It was perfect.
Pushing himself between two of rocks and catching his body in the notch, he pushed his back against one and moved his feet to the other. His legs pressed and he pushed himself upward to grasp the next rock which was high above.
He had it… just a little more…
His fingers felt around the edge of the next rock, and he pushed himself a little higher, both hands…
His feet buckled from under him and with a sway he felt the weight of his entire body on his arms. He blinked in disbelief as he could only stare upward, the strength leaving his arms like water dripping through is fingers.
His first hand unbuckled, the muscles in his fingers baring too much strain. His body twisted around at the unbalance and despite all that he had seen on this day, he had no way out of this situation. The drop below was so far… Could he make it? He didn’t have a choice.
He could only let go.
And scalpels slip.