Merchants of Truth

A girl in search of the truth looks to the mystical Auriye, prophets of the mountains.

Shall I ever be free? That is the question that I asked myself every single day. It was a question no one could answer.
That is, no one except the Auriye.

The Auriye. No one knew much about them. No one even knew their individual names. They were just the Auriye, as though their souls had merged and become a single entity. But this could not be true, for many nights I had lain awake listening to their voices rising and falling on the wind, a multitude of voices which no single being could possibly produce.

They sang almost every night. And in their mouths, what should have been discordant became beautiful. The fact that some of the Auriye's voices were low and spoke of heart break, that some were high and spoke of joy, that some keened with anger - none of made their song discordant.

And yet I could never see them.

Only one linked to the Auriye could see them, but everyone said that such a procedure was monstrous. But how else, I often wondered to myself, how else was I supposed to get answers? How else was anyone supposed to get answers, if none but the Auriye knew anything?

I fell asleep wondering, many nights. When I woke, I never had any answers. Nothing seemed to come of my wondering.

Until that night. That night that I woke gasping from a dream I could barely remember, that night that I slipped from my bed when the rules said I should stay. That was the night.

I wasn't planning to do anything in particular, but I felt I needed some air after that unsettling dream. I wondered out of the dormitories and down the winding paths of the snow-laden mountains, listening to the song of the Auriye. Without any real thought on my part, my steps fell into path I had walked so many times when I lived with my family, when we would pretend to look for the Auriye.

That was only pretend, I reminded myself, though the song seemed to be growing louder. That was impossible, though: it was one of the peculiarities of the Auriye's song that it never grew stronger or softer, but stayed consistent throughout the mountain range.

But I could not help thinking - wishing - that the song of the Auriye would grow louder. Perhaps, if it were louder, I could finally make out its words.

I’m not sure what sort of premonition jerked me from these thoughts in time to look up, to a point halfway between me and the mountain’s peak, but I did – just in time to see a brilliant flash of scarlet-tinted light. I blinked. My impulse was to brush it off as a trick of the eyes, but I couldn’t quite make myself believe it. And had it been my imagination, or had the pitch of the Auriye’s song spiked with the flash?

I scrambled forward, slipping on a patch of slush.

After a few minutes’ climbing, I reached the place where the light had flashed. Everything looked normal. My heart sinking, I turned to make my way back to the dorms. It was then that I heard the voice: “Child.”

I froze. Slowly turned back.

Two eyes peered at me from a drift of snow. “Child,” the voice croaked, “I didn’t think anyone would see me ... in … in my final moments.”

I made to run back down the mountain.

“No,” coughed the voice. “Stay with me child. Don’t let me die alone.”

The End

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