The Merchant’s Legacy
Part Eleven – The Legacy
Kythias had not joined Nhaqosa as his band buried Alyan, allowing them their privacy to grieve a fallen companion and friend. After they had left the freshly dug grave, buried beneath a cairn of stones, Kythias sought Nhaqosa out.
“I am sorry for your loss.”
“He was a good man,” Nhaqosa told Kythias, “And he fought bravely in the face of evil. How can man die better?”
“What was it that you laid on his grave?” In the aftermath of the burial, before the cairn had been built, he had seen Nhaqosa remove an item from a pouch he carried and place it in the earth.
“I have sent him a companion to guide his feet home,” Nhaqosa replied, touching the small pouch at his side. Within were simple stone carvings in the likeness of a wolf, one for each member of the band, should the need for it arise.
“You have them for all of your people, but not yourself,” Kythias observed with uncanny insight. Nhaqosa could not fathom how the man could have known it, but it was true.
“It is so. One can not carve one for themselves.”
“And if you die in this place without one for yourself?”
“Then there will be no companion to guide my feet home, and I shall be lost to my people until the end of all time.”
Kythias looked up at Nhaqosa, his expression one of both profound sorrow and awe. “You would risk that and all it entails by placing yourself in harms way, for a world not your own and for people who do not truly trust or respect you?”
“I can do no other. A man once showed me a better way, and I must follow in his steps.”
Kythias slowly shook his head, trying to adjust to the magnitude of what Nhaqosa had said to him. “Friend Nhaqosa, though I may not have approved of your methods, I can not fault your convictions, nor your willingness to sacrifice all that you are for them. You have given me much to think about. I must be making my leave now, but before I go, I wish for you to know that I will not forget this and that I will leave a legacy for you.”
“A legacy?” Nhaqosa asked, studying the merchant with obvious curiosity as his ears twitched. “What exactly?”
Kythias smiled enigmatically in reply. “You shall see in time, friend Nhaqosa.”
* * * * *
It was a simple village, like so many others they had seen, blurring one into another. The band of former gladiators and slaves had made their way into it, dusty and weary from a long march, and once more the villagers gathered to watch, to stare, whispering low amongst each other and pointing.
This time, something different showed in their expressions, something Nhaqosa had not seen before. Not fear, or shock, but something that approached awed respect.
Their whispers grew in intensity and Nhaqosa caught one phrase repeated over and over, one that he did not understand.
“What are they saying, Abasan?”
“Yahalat Tamar, Kwaza.”
“And what does that mean?”
“The Noble White Bull, Kwaza. They have been expecting us, expecting you.” Awe could be heard in Abasan’s voice. “They have been told that you are the one who vanquishes evil.”
Nhaqosa laughed deeply, the sound rumbling out through the village.
“Thank you, Kythias,” he said softly and started to walk to greet those who had come to see him. Then, from far beyond the village, came a sound alien to the world, though of profoundest importance to Nhaqosa. The howl of a wolf echoed out in the wilds, a howl of respect.
Nhaqosa laughed and, despite everything, all was well with the world again.
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