Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter Two: Nod.

Yesterday Cain remembered his childhood and how after killing his brother he fled his home, cursed to wander the earth. Today he remembers how he thought his wanderings had ceased.

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The next day, as always, the sun rose bringing with it light, warmth and hope. It also brought hunger and I became very aware of how ill provisioned I was for a journey. Fortunately as I travelled I saw plants I recognised and foraged as I went along. As I picked and ate a little here I found myself missing my fields. Yes farming is hard backbreaking work, but at least it is ─ to some extent ─ predictable. That day the sun reached its highest point and I was still unsatisfied. That night I slept hungry and unhappy.

I travelled for several days. Always hungry. Too busy foraging by day to curse my stupidity, but at night I would weep over my lost family until I fell asleep. I did not sleep well. Every sound would wake me. The fire that warmed me made the dark impenetrable and so my mind saw demons and wild beasts lurking beyond the firelight.

Every morning the sun rose again and I went on. I knew not where I went, but I could see the land was fertile and often thought to stop and sow seed. However I was alone and lonely and went on. Grandfather had told me that the parents he made me were the first people. Logic should have told me that if that were true I would meet no one else. We humans fortunately have a gift for ignoring logic and so, in hope, I went on. Besides my treatment at the hands of Grandfather and his willingness to favour my brother had introduced me to the concept of lying. My logic told me that if Abel could lie then why not Grandfather?

There were fewer people in the world back then, but after many days further down the fertile valley through which I walked I saw people. I was torn between my fear of the unknown and my need for company. If it were true, as Grandfather said that my family were the only humans, then what were these? I stood watching them, trying to decide what to do.

Suddenly I heard a noise behind me and turned to see a man with an animal across his shoulders looking at me. He looked surprised. Startled, I stepped backwards, tripped and fell. I may have lost consciousness, I’m not sure, but when I sat up I found myself surrounded. They were speaking, but then I could not recognise the sounds they made as speech. They were equally at a loss to understand me.

I noticed they were naked, their bodies covered only in their own hair. I had about my waist a sheep’s hide. Grandfather had told my parents to be ashamed of nakedness and to cover themselves. When Abel cultivated his flocks our bark garments were quickly substituted for hides, they were more practical and far more comfortable. These people were utterly unashamed of their nakedness and seemed to be heedless of the nakedness of others. Amongst them was a beautiful girl with smiling eyes and when I looked upon her I discovered, for the first time, desire.

I stayed with those people and with the girl with the smiling eyes. And in time I learned their language. In return I taught them how to cultivate crops, how to gather seed, prepare it and sow. They called their Goddess the Queen of Heaven and prayed to her in the Moon each night. Unlike Grandfather the Queen of Heaven didn’t speak to her people directly, but through the girl with the smiling eyes whose name Hecate. Hecate took me as her mate and bore me children. Our family and her people flourished.

One day one of the men, Naboth, came running from the fields in a panic to warn the village of attack.The raiders came from even further east every few years to carry off women and children for sacrifice to their God Moloch. Children of Moloch were big hairy men, savages with teeth filed to points and – like their God – they enjoyed the taste of human flesh. Our people had stone axes and clubs as did the Children of Moloch. I had years of practice at keeping animals and birds from my crops and so I quickly gathered a pile of stones the size of a child’s fist and carried them onto the roof of the house dedicated to the Queen of Heaven. The children went inside and the people with their clubs formed a circle around the house. I stood on the roof with my stones and as the first of the Children of Moloch entered the open space that surrounded the house I threw the first stone. It struck him above the right eye and he collapsed, unconscious. Several others entered the area, I felled two and the others retreated, bruised from my missiles. In the past the Children of Moloch had raided with impunity, but now they approached more cautiously reluctant to rush into the path of my stones. Suddenly Hecate gave a shout of “Ashtaroth” and the villagers charged the invaders. The Children of Moloch, unused to encountering resistance broke and ran. They left behind several men felled either by my stones or by the clubs of the villagers. The villagers dug deep pits for the bodies and buried both the dead and the living captives.

That night the villagers were exultant and celebrated, but I was anxious. Hecate asked me why I was so quiet after our victory.

“I fear we have taught the Children of Moloch a new way to fight,” I replied, “the next time they return they will too hurl stones.”

“They may not return.” Said Hecate.

I shook my head, “Now they will hate us. They have to return.”

It was some time before the Children of Moloch returned, I expect they found easier targets elsewhere. I, however, chose not to wait and had a tall fence built around the village to protect the villagers had our enemies – as I expected – adopted the art of stone throwing. Around the base of the fence and several yards from it I planted a hedge of thorns. By the next time the Children of Moloch came the villagers had also made spears with viciously sharp stone heads. After that it was generations before they returned.

During those generations I learned again to sorrow. Hecate died an old woman. Our son Enoch and in turn his son also grew old and died. It was true I had great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren, but Hecate was gone and so was our son. I have to admit I did enjoy watching the young growing up, but that pleasure was tempered by the realisation that I would also watch them die. Worse still the village that had once taken me to its heart saw me as something other than human. I only saw one more attack upon the village and it was the last I ever wanted to see. If I had been horrified at seeing men buried alive, that horror was nothing to the slaughter of my last battle for the village.

My great whatever it was grandson Tubal one day discovered among the ashes of the fire a strange substance. He was a curious boy and set about learning what it might be. He reasoned, eventually, that if it was born of fire fire might be used to work it. So it proved and soon he was producing bronze. It was his father Lamech who had it turned into weapons. Stones may be made into knives and axes, but bronze into a sword. By the last time the Children of Moloch attacked the village the fence had become a wall of stone closed by a gate of wood covered with bronze. On one attack the fence had been burned and so the wall was made, but the hedge was replanted as the thorns still slowed any attack. Less so since our enemies learned to cover their legs and bodies with leather armour.

The Children of Moloch attacked wearing their leather armour, their wooden shields raised against the barrage of stones they expected. Whereas stones and stone spearheads had been deflected by the shields, the bronze spearheads pierced the wood and leather. Before the attackers had time to understand what was happening Lamech led the men of the village out from the gate. Each man had a bronze helmet, breastplate and shield. Each had a bronze sword and a spear tipped with bronze. The stone spearheads of the Children of Moloch were useless against the bronze shields of the men of Ashtorath-Cain as the village had begun to call me.

Lamech with his sons Jubal-Cain, Jabal-Cain, and Tubal-Cain led the charge that broke the besiegers. Lamech was not content this time with driving off the Children of Moloch. This time he and the men of the village pursued the retreating enemy and slaughtered them all. Those who were not killed as they fled through the fields were brought back to the village where Lamech cut their throats on the threshold of the house of the Queen of Heaven. Inside the house I saw the slaughter and wept. I heard the cries of Hail Ashtorath-Cain and despaired.

Lamech was exultant and shouted his boasts to heaven,

“My wives and my people bear witness. I have destroyed my enemies, I have killed men for merely challenging me. If seven men must pay for raising their hand to Cain, seventy times seven will pay for opposing me. I am Lamech and in all the world there is none like me!”

That night I dreamt of the Queen of Heaven, but she looked like Hecate.

“It is hard to be a God,” she said, “the more so if you are but human. The people fear you because you have lived too long among them, and what people fear they ultimately will destroy. Why do you think my people never see me face to face?” She asked.

“I do not know.” Said I.

“Because it is impossible to be in awe of the familiar. Your childrens’ children are around you every day, you are Cain and no great mystery whereas because I am not seen every clap of thunder, every earth tremor is attributed to me. I will have no rivals.”

“What can you do?” I asked.

She smiled and said, “Your Grandfather’s word will not protect you here. This is my land and these are my people. When they realise you are not a god they will turn upon you.”

I awoke from the dream and gathered my clothes and weapons, some food – actually quite a lot of food – and some few things I valued. I loaded them upon a couple of donkeys, put a blanket on my horses back and left my house quietly. Whether it had been the Queen of Heaven in truth or just my anxious imagination I knew it to be true, I had lived too long among my wife’s people and people will fear what they cannot understand. Besides my reputation had travelled from the west many years ago and people whispered my name to avoid bringing evil upon themselves. Although I had sought to bring nought but good to the people, I had taught them war. That night Tubal was in charge of the guard and he let me out of the gate. I rode towards the south.

Alone again, Cain the murderer, Cain the wanderer, Cain the accursed.

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