The Binding of Sohno

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A boy named Negundo is waiting for a wasp to be born.

Submitted: September 03, 2018

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Submitted: September 03, 2018

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Out of the northern Mountains Seer-ja hurls her bulk down through the narrow ravines and fissures she has cut in the old rock itself.  Here, near her birthplace, she is terrible, swift, and deathly cold.  Any creature who would partake of her, be they Man or Insect, must be cautious to a fault for she does not give her gifts easily.  At the end of her journey in the high mountains she leaps with abandon off the cliffs to dash herself a hundred feet below in gout of white blood.  She lies at the foot of the cliff for a long moment before continuing on, but it seems her fall has humbled her.  No longer does she froth and leap.  Now she glides gracefully down the valley and when the people approach her to partake of her gifts she gives them freely.  She leaves the valley to meet her sisters and together join their great salt mother, but we cannot follow her.  We must stay in the valley, because today a boy named Negundo is waiting for a wasp to be born.

He sat cross legged in the dark cave and listened to the wet crunching sounds from the spider’s ruined body.  The only light he had with him was a tiny firefly lamp barely bright enough to see the twitching hulk.  Negundo was trying to prepare himself but his excitement kept eating away at the edges of his meditation.  He had waited almost a year for this day and he was abuzz with anticipation, but now he needed to be calm or it wouldn't work.  He closed his eyes and entered the world's dream.  Slowly and carefully he went through the breathing exercises and litany that would bring him calm.  

“This is a moment, I am this moment but I exist beyond it, I am the eternal blue sky, I am the black bones of the mountain I am the waters of Seer-ja.  This moment cannot move the moon, this moment cannot shift the sun.  This moment cannot move me.”  

When he opened his eyes again his breathing was gentle and regular.  For what felt like the thousandth time he surveyed the objects arrayed around him. The knife, the cloth, the ceramic pot, the leather skin, and the complex assortment of wood, silk and metal that sat hunched by the door.  Everything in this cave he had made himself.  His father had shown him how to do it but he had selected the wood and clay, he had beaten the metal he had worked long hours in the chemical kitchen to fill the pot and he had woven the cloth.  They were all of him and thus a part of him.  He had brought nothing of any other into this place, he was prepared, he knew he was prepared.  He ran through the litany again.

After hours the sound began to change and in the dim light Negundo saw the wasp’s head begin to emerge from the spider's abdomen.  As quick as a mantis he was on his feet the knife in his hands.  This part had to be done quickly if he missed the opportunity all his efforts would be wasted.  With practiced strokes he cut around the head trying to emerge from the body.  He widened the cavity making its passage out as quick and easy as possible, between each stroke he passed his hand holding the knife in front of the wasp’s mandibles.  It had to get his scent as early as possible.  As he cut he thanked the spider, it had given more for this moment then even he had and would get far less in return.

When he was done cutting he placed the knife on the floor and very gently reached in and helped the wasp free.  He moved slowly and deliberately keeping his eyes always on the task and away from the eyes that were now watching him intently.  He helped guide each cruelly hooked leg out of the hole he had made and down onto the soft earthen floor of the cave.  She was covered in viscera from the spider and her wings were wet and limp by her sides.  Her curled antenna moved sluggishly around brushing his face and arms as he worked. 

He scooped up the folded cloth and began to clean her.  This had to be done carefully.  If he were too fast he might startle her if he were too slow she might decide he was more trouble than he was worth.  He began with her wings quickly and expertly sliding the gunk off them and onto the floor.  As he worked she began to raise them and flutter them to aid him in his efforts.  He moved to her back and legs polishing her iridescent carapace until it shone. He was very careful around her stinger.  One prick from that spike would drive him mad with agony.  But she was still so groggy from her emergence that he was able to clean it without much danger.  There was a moment when she twitched and flexed that he almost lost his calm but, he steadied himself and kept going a little more slowly.  Her head was last, he very, very carefully, slid the cloth over her mandibles, around her huge eyes; and as gently as possible over her long curled antenna.  Then, and only then, when all of the grime was cleaned from her body did he look her in the eye.  

It was terrible, behind those huge segmented orbs there lurked a mind totally alien from his own.  He tried to imagine what he was to her, how her eyes beheld him; this small soft creature that had helped her from her prison of flesh.  This part was crucial and it was one of the few for which it was almost impossible to train.  He held her gaze for a long moment a hand on either side of her head, the mandibles, that could tear out his throat in a second, inches from his face. Then, as he had a thousand times before, he slipped into the world dream, as always it was a place of marvel and fear a place, simultaneously of him and of all living things,  but today he had no time to explore, he had a task.  He kept his eyes fixed on those huge alien orbs and silently called for her to follow.  And after a moment of hesitation she did.  In the dream she appeared as formless, a shimmer on the air, an idea of legs and wings.  Even as he watched though she began to form, she began to pull together legs, and wings, and segmented eyes to become a mirror of what she was in the physical world.  It was a marvelous process to watch, but he wasn't there to watch.  He leaped in and interrupted the process, scattering the smoke and shimmer before it could solidify.

 

In the cave the mandibles snapped dangerously close to his face.

 

Then Negundo began reforming the essence he had scattered, not into the wasp that waited in the cave but into something ells.  He began near the ground and formed small feat only two in place of her six.  Then he built up legs and a torso, he formed her essence into arms with five clever fingers.  From her back he drew wings like those of the wasp in the cave and last he pulled together her head and carved into it the slightest approximation of human features.  He stood back to survey his work.  The new form that stood before him was crude but functional.  Now came the hardest part, he had to wait.  In forming her it was important that she be able to move, function and feel at home in the body if she weren't she would break apart and the second forming would be harder.  But if he imposed too many details upon her if he made her in a specific image she would reject the form so she had to do the next part she had to fill in the crude blanks and make the form her own. 

The essence of the wasp began to walk, it looked simultaneously ridiculous and frightening as it shambled around with its misshapen body and crude features.  Apart from the shape the essence just felt wrong, and it was.  It hurt Negundo deeply to misshape something here, here where all things bore a true shape, but he had a great need and had offered his apologies to the mother so he steeled himself as the body bumped against him in its flailing.  There was a moment when it almost tripped and he thought for a brief second that letting it collapse would be a relief, but the thing that had been a wasp stayed standing, and slowly began to refine its form.

The body straighten and gained definition until it was all but indistinguishable from a human woman. She could have been his twin.  She was small and light like Negundo and had skin the color of weathered brass.  Her hair was straight where his was curled and black and iridescent as her caprice.  Her wings quivered behind her in all their glory dwarfing her body. Her mouth moved but no sound came out, for all she looked human she was still an insect.  She looked terrified, and very cold.

He went to her.  With open arms and a broad comforting smile.  He approached slowly, making sure at all times to radiate peace, and warmth, and comfort.  He had to turn himself into a refuge.  She came to him hesitantly, slowed by fear and inexperience.  He let her come.  And at last she let him hold her; and, as though learning the motion by wrote she hugged him back.

They stayed like that for a long time.  Then he began to cloth her.  This was tricky, his body in the world and his body in the dream had to move independently of each other.  In the dream he pulled a shift down over her head helped her into loose fitting pants like his own, then wrapped a warm robe around her shoulders.  Her wings past through it as though it as though they were made of smoke. 

In the real world of the cave he took the lid from the ceramic jar and applied the paste inside to her armored shell.  It was a special resin that would insulate her from the cold, her species didn’t live as far north as the falls.

In both worlds she began to look more comfortable.

He fed her.

In the dream he took a flower from the ground chewed it three times and transferred it to her mouth.  The flower became sweet nectar in his mouth and she drank like a baby bird.

In the cave he opened the bag, inside was a mixture of watered honey and Negundo’s own blood.  The great armored head dipped into the bag and drank hungrily as he gently stroked her long antenna.  She needed to have the taste of him in both worlds.

Now came the last part.  The part that would seal all he had done and make it permanent.  For the first time he stopped doing anything.  There was time.  He could take a day if he had to, she was well fed and he had food enough in the cave for a week.  He didn't have to finish the binding.  He didn't have to take responsibility for this life he could claim he had failed, go back to being a child and she, this still blessedly nameless wasp, could fly off to the south and forget that she had once thought herself human.  But he had made his promises, and as he watched her run across the fields of the dream he knew that he would never forget.  Maybe that was the true reason he had been taught to reform her as human, so that she would bind him as effectively as he had bound her. 

She ran to him across the waves of the dream skipping and flying over the water and in wordless glee handed him a flower like the one he had used to feed her.  It was time.

In the cave he took the saddle from the corner by the door and approached her.

In the dream Negundo raised his hand as though to take the flower but instead placed it on the center of her chest, flung the saddle over her back and spoke the binding.

“I have taken you into the world with steel. I have washed death from you with the fruit of my hands, I have formed you with the power of my dream, I have clothed you with fire, and I have fed you with blood and honey.  Now I bind you to me with a name.  Sohno.” 

A little tremor passed through the world.  And it was all over.  In the dream she knelt before him faint from the power of the binding.  As gently as he could he laid her in the sand kissed her forehead then very gently slipped out of the dream; leaving Sohno to rest. In the cave Sohno stood saddled, waiting for Negundo to mount.  She bent her head and met his eyes, eyes that were no longer alien to him.  

They left the cave in a flurry of wings and a flash of iridescent black and shocking yellow.  Up into the sky they flew, over the valley, past the fort of the mirror court, and even above the falls of great Seer-ja.  Negundo had never felt so powerful in his life he had never flown so fast or so high.  The breeze rushed through his hair and over his skin.  Below him Sohno thrummed with life and vitality he could feel her excitement, she had been born for this.  And down the valley they flew, the boy, and the wasp that thought herself a girl.


© Copyright 2018 Benjamin M Glatt. All rights reserved.

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