Jagged-edged parchment lays compressed between two pieces of shark hide, bound together by a cord of the same grey hide.
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
The Father Shark of the Night Sky
There in the midst of the water, gliding peacefully in concentric circles, were seven sharks.
The first, being the smallest and most nimble of the seven, swam near the surface of the water. He would break the still waters with his dorsal fin, leaving a wake of rippling waves behind him. You see, he was still young and free of the cares that trouble sharks in their later years. Humans were not the enemy, and he did not have the taste for blood as his brothers did. Did he eat? Of course, but there was not the Blood-lust driving him. Not yet. Ignorance reigned in his young life; only when the Father Shark would cast a darkened and scarred gaze towards the brightened waters, would the pup return to his ritualistic circles.
The second, having lived a mere two years longer than the first, already encountered the primitive humans that walked along the shores bordering their domain. A long slash from gill to pectoral fin was still giving him troubles, now a year removed from the accident involving the fishing boat and the hooked oar. He had learned the temptation of blood, learned how to give into it completely, learned the consequences of not listening to those older, those wiser. He often swayed from the ritualistic circles, and not even the Father Shark's cold gaze was enough to bring him back to the path. It would take the brutality of the third shark to keep the second in line.
The third, despised by the older for his 'youth' and rejected by the younger because of his place of authority in the circles, spent endless marcs swimming his circle. There, in the mixture of warm and cooling waters, where the rays of heat from the 'rifter were just enough to make the water a sickening lukewarm temperature, he would contemplate the path he had chosen. Between the occasionally glances upwards to check on the pups, and the longing looks towards the lower rungs of their ranks, he would devise improbable solutions to eradicating the human threat that loomed over them any time the seas were still like this.
The fourth and fifth, brothers born simultaneously, would spend equal time swimming in their circles before switching. It was their idea, and one the Father Shark approved of without hesitation. Their reasoning was that they were born together, and should share all with each other. When one was struck by the blunt end of a long spear as a pup, the other bit the hand off of the fisherman, then to share in the experience, he cast himself against a reef; feeling the pain and sharing the blood. Kind sharks, they were the most ruthless when it came to protecting the treasure below. Unspoken communication made them deadly, as one would strike just as the other would retreat; never allowing their enemy a moment of rest.
The sixth, direct son to the Father Shark, was to take his place at the lowest rung when the Father Shark went the way of the long flow: taken out to the darkest depths of the sea until his passing. At that point, another pup would be appointed, and each shark would swim a bit lower from the surface. It was this one that truly watched over the Shiver. The Father Shark was almost a figurehead at this point; though it was not always that way. The sixth was meant to watch first, learn, then when the Father Shark determined he was ready, lead. To move to the seventh rung was nothing more than a place of honor after that point.
The seventh. The Father Shark, so aptly named not because he was the sire of all pups in the Shiver, but because he was the provider, the protector, the one to strike first when another Shiver came too close. He swam the largest of the circles, furthest from the treasure, having senses long since trained to distinguish between friend or foe. It had been years since he gave into the Blood-lust, years since he had to lead his six to war with another Shiver. Peace was coming to him, and his ancient soul longed for it. With one eye to the darkness surrounding, and the other towards the treasure, he kept the course.
It was then, as he was rounding the Spear-Rock to the south, that a fissure opened and cast the most brilliant of lights the Father Shark had ever seen. A voice echoed from within, praising him for his duty and dedication to protecting his Shiver. His mind, aged but still sharp, urged his body to swim fiercely towards the light.
Suddenly, the light vanished and the Father Shark was returned to his previous course. Confused, he turned once more to investigate. Upon reaching where the light emanated from, a beam shot down from the heavens, illuminating the Father Shark and suspending him in the depths. Slowly, he was pulled towards the surface, passing by the other rungs of sharks; though, none noticed the light or the ascending shark. Just as he broke the surface, the demon eyes above glowed down upon him, turning his skin from the rough, aged, gray to a pristine black. Further, still, he rose into the air. Each passing moment brought him a greater peace.
Finally, resting among the stars, he looked down and could see clearly each of the Shiver still swimming below. The voice rushed forth, once more, praising his duty and dedication. It spoke of home and joining the Father Sharks of lore. Here, he would rest and watch over his Shiver permanently.
And so comes the constellation of the Father Shark.