(Show/Hide Browsing Column ->)
The first sign that something was different, that the world had changed in some minor way, was the rain.Author's Notes
It was fall, and sometimes, before the biting winds of winter, there would be rain, so that wasn't entirely unusual.
But this was warm rain. Warm and beautiful, with mild, gentle breezes. The Matriarch stood out in it and gazed up with curiosity. It was unusual, but life did not change so very much because of rain.
The winter that followed was bafflingly warm, with blankets of moist snow instead of driving, needles of ice.
The Ibabesh matriarchs sat and puzzled at this, calling truces between clans to consider the strange weather.
In the end, however, weather was only weather, and the Ibabesh people were not farmers. Their herds grew fat the following spring, which came with more unexpected rains, and their conflicts grew lazy, because there was plenty of food and plenty of space. The Matriarch smiled and bore fat, healthy children, and life did not change so very much because of grass.
The strangers came out of the sea, in tall boats with heavy armor on the bows, and they spoke oddly and bore weapons. The clan traded for the weapons, and signed papers they did not really understand. When the strange people took privileges they should not have, they were slaughtered in their steps.
The other clans saw and coveted the weapons, and they fought over them, stealing the prizes back and forth until the points grew dull and worthless and the ropes frayed and broke. Trebuchets like skeletons stood useless guard in what had once been desert.
What had been desert was now plains - watered by the rains that now came regularly and brought unexpected life. The clans were still not farmers, still wandered, and life did not change so very much because of plains.
More strangers came, overran the trading places and built tall cities. The clans were fewer; these new people were violent in their ownership of the land, and firm in their right to farm it. The Matriarch saw her children fling themselves against the stone walls and iron spikes, and drew her clan back from them.
She left the plains to them and found new places. Still-desert places, past stone walls like the end of the world, where the new people didn't care if she lived her clan life and bore her clan children.
The herds were lean, and clans were cautious, and life did not change so very much because it was a different desert.
Written for the February 9, 2010 Muse Fusion, from a prompt by Michelle Goldberg.