The Mystical Journey of an Empath

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

The empath in the story can feel people's emotions so he often appears to be unbalanced. However, this ability allows him to help others, and he rises to the level of a hero because of his patience, courage and perseverance. When he is banished from his own society he manages to find a better more spiritual community.

It was the time of famine and a season of despair. For three consecutive springs, the life sustaining rains that once poured down from the generous sky had failed to appear. The once idyllic landscapes of golden meadows, crystal rivers and teeming forests had now been reduced to cracked, parched earth and swirling dust. Now no living thing could take root and flourish. So it happened that the Barbary Tribe that had once made these fertile lands their home prepared to flee. They sought to emigrate from their once peaceful world in search of food, water, and shelter.

In their urgency to establish a new community somewhere to the west, these three hundred desperate souls agreed to favor expediency over compassion. Realizing that the sick, lame, and elderly would quickly slow them down, a unanimous council decided to abandon them. This harsh edict was softened somewhat when the council donated some meager supplies for these thirty forsaken citizens, but the empty gesture provided the illusion of kindness without actually interfering with the tribe’s quest for self-preservation.

These old and vulnerable tribe members had no choice but to rely on the compassion of their other doomed companions, in order to face the truth about their betrayal. Incredibly, several of the condemned appeared to be so confused by the council’s decision; they actually took the side of their leaders and expressed approval for their decision. It seems more likely, however, that the truth appeared to be so cruel, it couldn’t be believed without some twist in interpretation.

However, it would probably be unfair to simply blame the Barbary Tribe for the plight of their least fortunate members. In actuality, the entire tribe had to desperately toil to remain alive, and their lack of compassion can at least be partly explained by their own unrelenting hunger and distress. Therefore, their hard hearted attitudes came about as a result of their relentless search for relief which required them to either leave behind the weak or die alongside of them. Who can know the depths of selfishness one may descend when survival itself is at risk? After all, in the final reckoning, often the courageous descend into cowardice and the persecuted rise up as heroes.

Regardless of the reasons, when the dawn appeared above the barren hills on one sultry summer day, the grimly despondent tribe lumbered out of their village. They simply abandoned the old and weak without looking back. Had the tribe been more physically and mentally sound this would have been unthinkable. Yet, because of their desperate situation, the tribe’s verdict seemed to be the only realistic choice available to them.

It should be emphasized that the Barbary Tribe hadn’t always been a desert wasteland ruled by fear and self-centeredness. Before the rains had vanished, the village had been blessed with abundance. The rains arrived often, and the spring planting gradually evolved into a ritual of promise and joy. This sense of well-being re-energized the tribe inspiring mutual respect and cooperation. Along with their rituals that sanctified their connection to “Ra” and the other “great ones”, the tribe’s self-confidence and hard work brought every kind of mutual prosperity. This abundance even allowed for the pursuit of art, philosophy, and science.

Equally noteworthy, the children actually participated in the responsibilities of their community just as their parents. The children’s sense of innocence and their natural intuition offered the tribe hope and direction. They also helped the community explore the mysteries of both the material and spiritual worlds. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to assert that the Barbary Tribe had once provided an ideal home for all those fortunate enough to live under its protection, and guidance.

So, although it remains inexcusable that during the famine, the weak received far less respect than did the tribes’ common material possessions; the villagers’ complete rejection of their moral compass could also be seen as both despicable yet understandable. Their all-consuming dread of starvation eclipsed all social and spiritual concerns that had once ruled their society.

Even as the inhabitants failed utterly to engage their moral principles of right and wrong, one young individual decided to remain behind with the outcasts. This brave soul named, Peregrine Pearl, accepted the responsibility for the impossible task of nursing and comforting those who stayed behind. In so doing, he not only offered his assistance, He also accepted their fate.

However, Peregrine’s kindness prevailed as much because of his own needs as from any genuine overwhelming concern for others. In essence, Peregrine couldn’t leave his fellow villagers behind because he had a very unique dilemma. He could actually feel the emotions of others, as if they were his own. While other gifted individuals could read minds, Peregrine could feel the actual emotions of those around him. This strange ability meant Pearl could be described as an “empath” - an emotional magnet.

At first, glance, it would appear that this ability would be a great blessing both in relationships and in life generally. By knowing what individuals felt, an empath might be valuable in understanding and helping others. However, for Peregrine Pearl, it remained mostly a curse. Nearly every moment of his life, he experienced the feelings of others that could overwhelm his senses and cripple his ability to function. The abandoned villagers he had decided to help proved to be no exception. They flooded his mind with every kind of negativity including doubt, fear, and despair. Whenever Peregrine attempted to distance himself from their pain, his inner turmoil grew so intense that only by returning could he mentally withstand the abandoned villagers’ despair. Just weeks before when he had tried to secretly leave the village and ease his pain, the agony of the vulnerable outcasts proved to be unbearable, so he had reluctantly returned to them.

Still, Peregrine could be called a compassionate being. He discovered that by absorbing the troublesome emotions of others, he could somehow lift their dark emotions of gloom. It wasn’t that Peregrine willed for these emotions to overcome him, but understanding they did, at least, helped him to bear the deep anxiety and negativity that never left him for long.

Peregrine staying behind became popular with the departing tribe as well. They felt openly antagonistic to the young empath, and they felt elated that Peregrine decided to remain behind with the other abandoned villagers. His strange mood shifts that included the whole range of emotions from euphoria to despair were interpreted by the villagers as signs of disease. Furthermore, Peregrine’s words and actions could be dismissed as pathetic attempts to gain undeserved attention.  Even after Peregrine stopped explaining his ability, the others continued to disparage him in both subtle and obvious ways. Their overall opinion described Peregrine as abnormal and cowardly.  Sadly, the ruling committee didn’t support Peregrine either, and so he found himself relegated to the fringes of society.

Peregrine’s decision to remain with the undesirables turned out to be a way for him to console his friends while also allowing the other tribe members to leave him behind so they couldn’t harass him. As the healthy Barbary Tribe members slowly disappeared beyond the horizon, Peregrine and his companions watched in silent alarm and disappointment. The hopelessness of their own situation began to really take hold, and they felt the fear and humiliation of being vulnerable and unwanted.

In contrast, the other members of the Barbary Tribe felt optimistic. As a result of their cold hearted decision, the remainder of the tribe assumed their strength and determination would lead them to a new and prosperous territory. They remained confident and trekked quickly over every obstacle they encountered. Yet, even after traversing countless barren hills and conquering several scorching plains, they remained unsuccessful. Despite all their efforts to find relief, the exhausted villagers found no deliverance. Instead, they found only desolation everywhere around them. Every new territory they reached seemed to be a dead and dusty inferno strewn with corpses of animals, the rotting trunks of dead trees, and low shriveled bushes.

In spite of all their weeks of determined prayers and courageous perseverance, it became apparent to all that the healthy tribe members couldn’t escape their fate. Finally, they all agreed to end their pointless wandering and reluctantly decided to return home. If death appeared to be their fate, they wanted to die back in the village where they grew up which at least had some positive memories. In actuality, they had almost no remaining resources, and they had nowhere else to go. The next day, they gathered up the few belongings they still possessed and headed east.

However, just as the exhausted explorers prepared to depart, one tribe member named, Timothy Pilgrim, decided to head west again. He wished to continue the search for a new place to settle, so he spoke abruptly and conveyed his daring proposal to the tribal leader, Brother Beneficent. “Sir,” Pilgrim began respectfully.  “We will surely die if we return to our village. I’ve decided to continue the search for a new and promising place to live. If I do find such a refuge, I’ll return and guide you there.”

Brother Beneficent gazed at Pilgrim in a dull and disinterested manner. “You can die out here or in the village. It makes no difference to me.”

Timothy felt somewhat surprised by the leader’s growing severity expecting Beneficent to be more appreciative. He had also expected the other members of his tribe to praise him for his courage and sincerity. However, when it became clear that no recognition would be forthcoming, Pilgrim headed west into the unknown territories before him.

These wastelands appeared to be as hostile and desolate as the areas the tribe had recently passed through. To make matters worse, Pilgrim had no maps to guide him and no friends to lighten his burden. Yet, in his hopeful mind, Pilgrim truly believed that if he explored every possible trail; he would eventually discover a new realm. Then, he could return to the Barbary Tribe and deliver them from their despair.

Within a month, the dejected exporters who had betrayed the defenseless now encountered the same dire circumstances which they had tried to escape. All around the poverty stricken town, there appeared bloated and foul smelling corpses. Barely recognizable, these dead bodies were simply dumped in massive pits without any prayers or even positive identification. As the mute and ghostlike clan members finally finished their gruesome task, they absentmindedly huddled together and waited for their leader to speak. Although, in the past, they had trusted Brother Beneficent with all matters relating to their welfare, they no longer expected or even hoped he could rescue them in this their most desperate hour. Instead, the group expected nothing because he and the other counsel members had failed them completely.

Nevertheless, Brother Beneficent and his counselors felt the need to address the dispirited assembly. They wanted to encourage their followers by persuading them that they could all still be delivered from their awful distress. When Brother Beneficent finally stood up to speak he faltered, but then finally began paraphrasing an old, half remembered song.  Then, he directed his aides to follow his lead. Next, he addressed his beleaguered followers in a seemingly proud and persuasive tone. “My fellow tribe members,” he began forcefully. “We are all children of the great god, Ra - the sun that lights the sun. Surely, we will be delivered from this evil cloud that has overwhelmed us.  We must join together and cry out to Ra.”

But as might be imagined, the rest of the tribe remained silent, too famished to listen and too despondent to pray. As the assembly broke up, the sense of community that had been barely holding them together now completely unraveled. In addition, they all totally lost their ability to rely on their consciences to monitor their thoughts and behavior. As the days of despair dragged on, some of the individual tribe members began sinking almost to the level of beasts. Those who remained the strongest stooped to cunning and blatant aggression in order to increase their chances for survival. The toughest monopolized all vital resources, and the weak continued to perish, denied their fair portion; so others could live. The following year, when the life sustaining rains finally returned, the Barbary Tribe had been so decimated that only about seventy-five group members remained.

Nevertheless, inevitably, the earth finally responded to the return of the life giving rains. Green plants sprouted again, rivers overflowed, and animals returned to the forests and meadows. Equally important, the Barbary Tribe began to recover and experienced a growing feeling of trust in their god, Ra, and in their own abilities.

Unfortunately for Peregrine Pearl, his personal state of mind during the famine year had been excruciating. As a result of the tribe’s mental state during the catastrophic drought, he became far too confused to respond coherently to the others nor could he really understand what had happened to him. In fact, Pearl had been so infected with the dark moods and criminal behavior of Brother Beneficent and the tribe that his emotional well-being completely collapsed. Throughout the spring, his almost nonsensical words and erratic behavior had consistently attracted the attention of the other villagers. Before long, Brother Beneficent and his allies began taunting him and excluding him from all opportunities for social interaction that might have helped him to recover.

Consequently, it wasn’t long before Brother Beneficent was able to fabricate an insidious link between Peregrine and the recent devastation of the Barbary Tribe. He believed this deceitful connection would pacify the villagers and help him solidify his own leadership position. So, instead of assisting Peregrine find his way, the cruel leader exiled the struggling empath to the wastelands beyond the Providence River to the west. “You are a deranged imbecile!” Beneficent shouted angrily in front of the entire village one evening. “You brought famine to our tribe. Be gone and don’t return!”

Peregrine, of course, felt far too disoriented to even begin to comprehend what was happening to him, so he simply allowed himself to be driven from the village. Then, with his mind in a state of indescribable anguish, he began wandering in the wilderness accompanied only by the chaos of his incoherent feelings and thoughts. Now, the anger and hatred directed at him became truly horrendous, as he pulled his hair and screeched like a tortured animal caught in a trap. Fortunately, this spectacle of despair wasn’t witnessed by his former tribe members who would have bullied him even more if they had been given the opportunity.

Now, completely abandoned by the Barbary Tribe and Brother Beneficent, Peregrine began searching his ever shifting inner wilderness in a dangerous attempt to make sense of his world. His empathic abilities would now be somewhat beyond influence of the Barbary Tribe, but he would face the loneliness and unpredictability of the unknown.

Fortunately, however, even as Peregrine continued to advance in the wilderness, he had been unwittingly headed in Timothy Pilgrim’s direction. In addition, unknown to either wayfarer, a strong inner resolve had been welling up within them, leading them forward, like a silent, secret song. Now, both sojourners were under the influence of the sun god, Ra; so despite the extraordinarily difficult circumstances they both faced, the secret inner sun now directed their steps. Whether both explorers would remain faithful to this guiding light-spirit seemed possible but far from certain.

However, for now, Timothy Pilgrim remained true to his principles and continued his journey. Then finally, after tireless weeks of searching, he discovered a trail that led directly to a colossal mountain wall. This immense obstacle appeared to be over three hundred feet high and incredibly steep. It also seemed to be constructed with huge rectangular blocks that were perfectly aligned and so solid, they looked like they might be impenetrable. As Pilgrim began examining the massive structure more carefully, he soon realized that the wall looked so enormous in length that he couldn’t discern either end. Even after hiking in both directions for over an hour, he couldn’t find any boundary nor could he discover any fracture in the barrier itself. Growing more inquisitive, Timothy began digging in the ground right next to the fortification and determined that the structure also extended deep into the ground.

Not long after his discovery, Pilgrim began to believe that the magnificent structure had been constructed to either imprison the native people behind it, or to protect them from Pilgrim’s side of the wall. His common sense chose the latter possibly because he believed there existed nothing on his side of the barrier worth acquiring, nor did there exist any tribe on his side capable of building such a huge wall. Furthermore, he felt a strong desire to find a way to reach the opposite side where hope, he felt certain, existed.

In sharp contrast to Timothy’s conviction, Peregrine Pearl felt lost and utterly miserable. Wandering around in the wasteland, his agonized spirit reeled from the lingering emotions of the Barbary Tribe, and the isolation of the emptiness he now experienced. Of course, in his present state of delusion, Peregrine had no understanding that he was merely days away from Timothy Pilgrim, and substantive help.

Meanwhile, back at the Barbary Tribe, the whole clan had further descended into savagery and selfishness. Without Peregrine Pearl’s unspoken influence, their own worst personality traits now took complete control. The leaders used this opportunity to form sinister alliances and so became even more influential. Sadly, even their desolate village which possessed almost no resources still had tribe members who disputed over the most insignificant possessions and titles.

For example, Brother Beneficent acquired more household provisions than anyone else. He invited his peers over to his house frequently in order to display his possessions.  Others would sometimes claim the tiniest sliver of land and then threaten violent retaliation if anyone dared trespass on their property. Without Peregrine, the negativity of the tribe members intensified like an impending gale. Eventually, the tribe’s hellish circumstances created a whirlwind of hatred, selfishness, and greed. However, if Peregrine would have remained in their midst, his life could have surely ended in a cauldron of misery and pain.

Yet, Peregrine’s dire state of agony in the wilderness didn’t remain without hope despite his inner turmoil. If he could overcome the hold that the tribe held over him, he might be able to find relief from his overwhelming anxiety and fear. If Peregrine could also control and direct his own emotion, perhaps his life would improve. Then he could possibly help the tribe in ways they couldn’t understand or possibly imagine.

Unlike Peregrine’s uncertainty in the wilderness, Timothy Pilgrim’s discovery of the colossal wall had already become something of great importance for him. Now he could return to the Barbary Tribe with proof that there existed a life sustaining realm beyond their deteriorating village. Timothy believed that the tribe’s existence depended on its unreliable rainy season. This created an unpredictable existence that required his fellow tribe members to rely solely on the dictates of the natural forces. So, despite the tribe’s despair, hope might be possible, even if virtually nobody else but Pilgrim could discern it. Therefore, Timothy’s determination to climb over, under, or around the enormous wall appeared to be vital for restoring the tribe’s sense of purpose.

Pilgrim eventually developed patience and perseverance in his efforts to conquer the mysterious wall. He attempted to find its edges by running for hours in both directions. Next, he grabbed his utility shovel and dug beneath the wall until he had created a hole more than fifteen feet deep. He even constructed a primitive grappling hook which he tried to pitch over the gigantic stone. But absolutely nothing worked, so after repeated attempts using innumerable strategies; Timothy finally temporarily gave up, leaned against the wall and fell asleep.

By the time Pilgrim ended his investigation several more days had passed. Then, at the moment of absolute defeat, Peregrine Pearl miraculously staggered into Pilgrim’s primitive campsite. At first, Peregrine didn’t recognize Pilgrim because of the empath’s delirium. But Pilgrim soon woke up and addressed Peregrine in a quiet and respectful manner. “Is that you, Peregrine Pearl? Are you Peregrine Pearl?” he asked attentively.

 “Yes, I mean no, I mean … What did you say?” Peregrine answered in surprise.

Pilgrim, recognizing Peregrine’s pitiable condition, decided to invite the deeply troubled acquaintance to sit and share a meal. He also decided to refrain from asking any more intrusive questions. In addition, although Timothy seemed mostly ignorant about Peregrine, he felt deeply upset when he correctly inferred that the tribe simply banished him leaving Peregrine defenseless. He allowed Pearl to rest for awhile and then asked, “How did you find your way here? Of all the places you could have found, how did you discover this exact spot?”

“Because I’m Ra,” Peregrine exclaimed more placidly now. “I am the secret sun.”

Timothy immediately comprehended that Pearl appeared to be deeply disturbed, and he knew he needed to help the young empath restore his intelligence. Obviously, Peregrine couldn’t be Ra, but Peregrine did most certainly have some providential reason for joining him, even if that reason was unknown to both of them. As the trust between them intensified, Timothy spoke again. “Why do you say that you are Ra? How do you know?”

Peregrine remained quiet for only a moment and then spoke with conviction. “I am Ra, the most respected of beings. I am here to deliver everyone from their sorrow.  Those that hate me now will soon respect and honor me. They will finally be grateful.”

Timothy took a very slow, deep breath. He understood that Pearl’s delusional beliefs were due to his desire to escape the tormented emotions that so haunted him. But Timothy also realized Peregrine felt a deep need for acceptance.

“I am Ra,” Peregrine soon reiterated. “But I will stay here until I must leave.”

Timothy felt compassion for the young man who looked so confused and had so little self-esteem that he believed himself to be divine. Sadly, Timothy also remembered how he had ignored Peregrine’s misery when the tribe bullied him and treated him as an inferior. Pilgrim wasn’t aware until now the extent to which this ceaseless harassment had affected Pearl. His self-confidence and even his identity appeared to be completely absent, and this fearful nothingness seemed to be only a replacement for his thoughts and feelings about the tribe. Finally, Pilgrim’s conscience utterly convicted him, and he resolved to help Peregrine in any way he could. He realized that restoring the deluded empath would undoubtedly take time away from his investigation of the mysterious wall, but his awakening conscience demanded that he help.

As Pilgrim studied Pearl more closely, it became apparent that the first things needed must be food, a bath, and then sleep. So, after coaxing Peregrine to eat a hearty meal of biscuits, potatoes, and tea; Pilgrim gently escorted Peregrine to the river and persuaded him to wade into its cool, bracing current. After a few minutes, it became apparent that the river could be very helpful, so Pilgrim continued this ritual for several days. Eventually, Peregrine began to recover. In addition, Pearl finally began sleeping through the night without any nightmares.

Within a few weeks, Pearl’s hallucinations had left him and his new identity began to assert itself. It appeared the crystal clear river had washed away all the negativity of seventy-five angry tribe members. Their anger and frustrating presence that so crippled Pearl had now completely disappeared and his identification with “Ra” receded. To Timothy Pilgrim, it seemed like a miracle had been unfolding before him.  He felt comforted to know that the pain he and the others had inflicted on Peregrine might soon be over, and his delusion left as well.

It should be noted that Timothy Pilgrim’s compassionate attitude and behavior toward Pearl did in themselves also affect Peregrine favorably. Not only did the residual anger of the other tribe members dissolve, but also Pilgrim’s unselfish service and unconditional love had also been extremely helpful. In fact, it wasn’t long before both men were of one heart, and what were once two solitary seekers had become one small but united group.

Within three weeks, Peregrine had fully recovered, from both the angry emotions of the tribe and the identity crisis he had experienced in the wasteland. This miracle occurred mostly because of Pilgrim’s help, but also partly because Peregrine had been required to manage negative energies all his life; so once he received substantive help from Pilgrim, his recovery accelerated. A few days later, Pearl started to carefully examine the massive wall himself, attempting to solve the mystery of its purpose and imagining what might be behind it.

Inevitably, Peregrine reached the same disappointing conclusion that Pilgrim had already discovered. After trying various pulleys, scaffolding, and ladders, they realized they had failed miserably. They even attempted all the methods employed by Pilgrim days before with the same result. The mysterious barrier now became a conundrum that couldn’t be understood. When all their ideas had been completely exhausted, Pilgrim finally decided to return to the Barbary Tribe. “Peregrine, it’s useless.” Pilgrim announced assertively. “We’ve tried everything. We must return to the tribe and tell them about this mysterious mountain wall.  Maybe they can help us.”

Peregrine felt angered by Pilgrim’s suggestion. “Have you forgotten?” he shouted. “They all banished me. They also tortured me, so they could rid themselves of their own rage. I won’t go back! Now you’re going to leave me here alone!”

Timothy’s conscience soon resurfaced, and he felt hurt by Peregrine’s accusation. He immediately regretted his remark. But he also remained pragmatic. “There is nothing more we can do here,” Pilgrim asserted gravely. “I’ll explain your situation to the others once we return; surely they will understand.”

But Pearl remained unconvinced.  “I know they won’t believe you because they don’t want to understand. Either they will bully me again or enforce the banishment law again. I thought you wanted me to stay safe.”

“Listen,” Pilgrim answered solemnly, “we can’t simply stay here forever. I must go back even without you. If you remain here, I’ll try to convince the others to take you back. We’ll all return to this infuriating wall, and by the time we’ve arrived, I will have convinced the tribe to treat you with more respect.”

A short awkward silence prevailed as Peregrine tried to understand how Pilgrim could so easily abandon him. But his experiences with the others soon allowed him to see Pilgrim as a basically good but flawed individual. His need for self-preservation and for the companionship of the tribe took precedence. Pearl also realized Pilgrim wanted to convince himself of his plan of action even as his words sounded selfish and cowardly.

Finally, Peregrine decided to reassure Pilgrim as he hurried to leave. “Don’t worry, Timothy,” Pearl said cheerfully. “I’ll be all right. I’ll wait for you to return with the tribe. But you’d better hurry. The sun won’t be with you for much longer, and you need to travel as far as you can before twilight.”

Pilgrim gratefully believed Peregrine’s deception because it allowed him to leave with a feeling of having made the right decision. “I’ll return soon. You’ll see. Then we can work this whole thing out.”

As Pilgrim disappeared behind a cluster of boulders, Peregrine shook his head in bewildered silence. He couldn’t understand how individuals could so easily deceive themselves whenever they wanted an advantage. He softly began to weep, alone in a foreign land that neither wanted nor needed him.

But, the very next day, just as the dawn began to reappear above the mysterious wall, Peregrine felt a sharp rap on the top of his head. He jumped up and to his astonishment; a rope ladder attached with wooden steps had suddenly fallen to the ground beside him. When he glanced up, he realized the ladder extended to the summit of the huge edifice. After recovering from his initial surprise, Peregrine shimmied up the rickety ladder, as it swayed in the air against the vertical mountainous wall. When he finally reached the summit, he gathered it up, and then tossed it over the far side.  Without any further hesitation, he descended.

Timothy Pilgrim’s mission to return to his Barbary Tribe, however, appeared to be mostly uneventful. However, once he finally arrived home, he felt shocked and frightened by what he encountered. The members of his once diverse clan had now reorganized into ruthless gangs with Brother Beneficent as the brutal leader. Pilgrim could also discern that the old, frail, and sick couldn’t be found anywhere. In addition, small groups of cruel soldiers surrounded and intimidated the more apprehensive citizens. They appeared to be terrified, as the soldiers threatened them both verbally and physically. Pilgrim quickly apprehended that the reprieve from the hardships of the drought and subsequent famine hadn’t brought the tribe closer together. Instead, it had actually increased their aggression until they appeared to be little more than animals.  Even though the land had recovered, their lower instincts remained. The strong actually preyed upon the weak and an atmosphere of terror filled the daily lives of “unimportant” citizens.

Timothy didn’t react at all to the bizarre and dangerous situation he encountered.  He simply sank into a stunned silence.  As his fear and inability to act continued, a group of Beneficent’s soldiers found him and decided to arrest him for treason. When the next day dawned, Pilgrim found himself kneeling before the Barbary tyrant fearing for his life.

“You have been gone a long time, citizen,” Brother Beneficent began coldly. “Where have you been?”

Pilgrim clearly understood that the response to the dictator’s question would probably determine whether he would live or die. “I have been to a mysterious mountain far to the west. There, I met Peregrine Pearl, the empath.”

The callous dictator appeared surprised as he listened to Pilgrim’s answer, but the leader’s expression concealed a measure of cunning as well. Pilgrim recognized Brother Beneficent’s deceit, and it frightened him. “So, you visited that imbecile even after we banished him,” Beneficent continued, ignoring Pilgrim’s earlier statement about the massive wall. “Why did you meet with him? Were you planning to sneak him back into our midst, so he could disrupt our lives again?”

Even while the tyrant spoke, Timothy Pilgrim knew he would be betraying his friend, Peregrine Pearl as soon as the dictator had finished speaking. Pilgrim’s promise to help Pearl reintegrate into Barbary society would prove to be impossible. He could see this clearly now, and in his doubt and fear, he lied to save his own life.

“I encountered the empath near the colossal wall that I discovered, but I drove him away, so he couldn’t meddle with it and possibly damage it. I believe this mysterious wall has some powerful purpose, but I can’t understand what that purpose might be. I believe if a number of us return there, we can find out what exists on the other side.”

Beneficent finally focused his attention on the esoteric wall. But, clearly aware that Pilgrim might be bartering for his life, the dictator stood silently for some time and then finally assented. “How many soldiers do you require, and how long will it take to reach the barrier?”

Pilgrim looked noticeably more relaxed when the dictator finished speaking, so his answer sounded clear and self-assured. “I need six soldiers, and it will take at least two weeks to reach the mountain wall.”

Brother Beneficent, now exceedingly curious about the wall and what might be behind it, softened his harsh expression and replied, “I’ll give you what you ask.”

“Thank you Brother,” Pilgrim replied.

Then, suddenly returning to his harsh tone, the dictator ordered, “I want to know about everything that happens on this expedition. If you fail to return, I’ll send soldiers to capture you, and your life will not depend on some clever explanation. It will be forfeited. You leave within the hour.”

Pilgrim’s self-confidence vanished when he considered the dangerous mission he was now about to lead. As he waited for the soldiers to gather supplies and assemble near the edge of the village, all thoughts of Peregrine had already dissolved. Now his only concern focused on finding the wall again and figuring out a way to master it.

In sharp contrast to Pilgrim’s uncertainty, however, Peregrine easily descended the far side of the wall. Soon he encountered a world so intriguingly beautiful that it seemed like paradise. Gazing out at the forest and meadows before him, he felt a sense of inner joy that had long been absent in his life. Now, its presence enveloped him with peace and protection. He carefully jumped off the enchanted rope ladder, which then tumbled to the ground.  Peregrine hoisted the ladder over his shoulder and entered the mystical woodland.  Soon he found himself trekking along an indigenous trail that wound its way through a gigantic stand of majestic oak trees. He patiently hiked through misty valleys and over blustery canyons.  He crossed ancient streams and slept in sun drenched meadows.

Fortunately, some native inhabitants discovered Peregrine’s presence. Soon he encountered these compassionate souls who gently persuaded him to travel to their village. This sanctuary appeared to be cheerful and loving with a definite spiritual atmosphere. Everywhere both children and adults radiated peace and friendship. This influenced Peregrine in a wonderfully powerful way.

Instead of the cryptic anger of the Barbary Tribe that drove him to despair, these beings actually eased his mind by releasing the negativity that always seemed to find him. Every moment seemed to be touched with a kind of radiant grace that seemed, to Peregrine Pearl, like a forgotten secret. The young empath, so bruised and betrayed by a culture that either couldn’t or wouldn’t understand him, now sensed that their hold upon his emotions had been absolutely spent.

Unfortunately, Peregrine’s life of joy and companionship would not remain unchallenged for long. Eventually, Timothy Pilgrim returned with the Barbary soldiers to the magical wall, and their thoughts immediately focused on conquering it. Paying special attention to their own survival and their relationship with Brother Beneficent, the group also desperately tried everything possible to reach the summit of the barrier. In their desperation, they even childishly began whistling and screaming.

Ironically, these last attempts by Timothy and the others did reach Peregrine who once again began to experience the almost forgotten sense of anxiety and fear which had once created his constant inner conflicts. Understandably, he seemed reluctant to assist the very individuals who had treated him so disgracefully, and he struggled to decide what to do.

However, Peregrine could not only be courageous, he could also be forgiving and compassionate. As he listened intently to the soldiers’ anxious cries echoing from behind the wall, he decided to share some of his knowledge of the secret sanctuary even though the Barbary tribe probably didn’t deserve it.

Predictably, when Peregrine returned to the ashram to discuss his decision with his new friends, they remained kind but completely unsympathetic. These beings from beyond the chaos of the Barbary world certainly seemed benevolent but not naïve. They understood the ways of the Barbary world and weren’t willing to risk their way of life if their village came under attack by a band of criminals. Their compassion appeared to be balanced with wisdom.

But Pearl felt differently. His suffering which eventually brought him a sense of liberation now created the desire to return home, and at least attempt to offer hope to the Barbary Tribe. Perhaps, if they could be exposed to a different way of life, they might progress in a more favorable direction. He wouldn’t reveal anything about the village just beyond the wall, but he felt determined to teach the Barbary villagers some new rituals and beliefs that might help them rise above the darkness that now invaded them.

After saying goodbye to the villagers who had been so kind to him, Peregrine promised to return and then hiked toward the wall. With the rope ladder slung over his shoulder, he hiked to the wall and selected a very obscure segment. Next, he tossed the enchanted ladder over the summit, and ascended to the top. Then, pulling the ladder up and then throwing it down the other side, he reached the base of the barrier. Afterwards, he retrieved the wooden ladder and hid it near the wall in an animal hole near the base of a tree. His resolve now stronger than ever, he soon found Pilgrim’s camp and prepared to talk with them.

Timothy Pilgrim looked astonished to see Peregrine but quickly regained his composure. Seeking to deceive Pearl about his betrayal, he spoke warmly to the empath.  “I’m so glad we found you, Peregrine. We have been sent to rescue you and bring you back to our village.”

Of course, Peregrine understood the truth, but he really didn’t care. “That was so good of you,” Pearl craftily replied. “But I still don’t know how to climb over the wall. But, I did figure out a way to help our village. The idea came to me in a dream.”

Now, Pilgrim and the others became far less interested in Peregrine because they didn’t believe in the empath’s dreams, but they also knew they needed to return to their leader with something, or they might be punished. “All right,” Pilgrim sighed. “Tell us about how you can help us.”

All the soldiers sat down in a circle around Peregrine and then the empath initiated a wind song that calmly emptied the minds of all those in the circle. Then, Peregrine planted a mystical seed known as the “commonality” within the minds of the group members. After about an hour, a wondrous presence engulfed them all. Soon thereafter, Peregrine directed the group without relying on words or even thoughts. Then, the technique completely took over, and the entire camp became a peaceful and contented community.

After a good night’s sleep, they all departed for the village, and Peregrine had a renewed sense of hope that his plan to reform the Barbary Tribe might be successful. In less than two weeks, the scouting party all stood before Brother Beneficent and his advisors. The dictator’s words immediately gave Pearl reason for apprehension. “What have you brought me?” the dictator demanded. “I see no treasure, so you must have some important information.”

Then, Beneficent recognized Peregrine. “Or maybe you have brought me this simpleton instead. What trick is this?”

Timothy Pilgrim hesitated briefly and then began to defend Peregrine. He attempted to describe Pearl’s ability to create a kind of contentment based on the “commonality” which the returning group had all now experienced. “We have learned many things from Peregrine Pearl. He explained ways in which we can cooperate better. Although he couldn’t scale the giant wall, he could still be valuable to us.”

The shrewd Beneficent waited impatiently for Pilgrim to finish his tale and then called one of his soldiers who appeared from behind a slightly opened door. The henchman had been spying on the scouting party for much of the mission. In the soldier’s muscular hands was the broken wooden ladder that Peregrine had hidden in the hollow tree.

“Now!” the tyrant bellowed. “Tell me again that you didn’t climb over that wall!”

It soon became obvious that the empath had deceived the scouting party and even Brother Beneficent. The tense situation now quickly escalated and the overall anxiety caused Pilgrim and the others to lose touch with the peaceful commonality. In his terror, Pilgrim blamed Peregrine for lying to everyone, and the wrath of the whole community descended on Peregrine Pearl.

Reeling in pain, the empath screamed horribly and bolted from the village. In his despair, he instinctively raced westward in search of the mystical wall and his friends. He searched for days, yet the massive structure eluded him. In all that time, he seemed successful only in exhausting himself in the wilderness. Finally, he fell to the ground and mumbled the sacred word “Ra” repeatedly. When he felt completely exhausted, he glanced over his head and realized he now rested at the far side of the wall near the sanctuary of his benevolent friends.

Peregrine felt deeply thankful that his spiritual companions had rescued him in this miraculous way, but he still remained deeply remorseful about the stolen ladder. He felt certain it could be easily employed by Brother Beneficent and the others to conquer the wall. “I must tell you that I allowed the ladder to be stolen,” Peregrine began solemnly. “It will be my fault if you are all invaded.”

One of the inhabitants from the village gazed at Peregrine kindly and replied, “It will be impossible for them to climb over the sheltering wall. No one can find their way here without our help. We needed you to discover this truth for yourself.”

Peregrine smiled silently in relief. He remained now quite certain that the nefarious ruler of the Barbary Tribe would seek out the wall for only a short period of time. Then when he couldn’t discover its location, the leader would see the folly of wasting resources on such a questionable venture. Next, they would all stop searching and eventually forget the dubious story completely. Finally, the wooden ladder would be shattered and used for firewood kindling and restraint ropes.

Submitted: January 23, 2021

© Copyright 2021 John F Zurn. All rights reserved.

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