Nothing New Under the Sun

Chapter 1 - Nothing New Under the Sun.

© 2007 by Ghaidin

This page was last modified: 2007/04/02

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It's been a few weeks since I took up my search in this tiny farming village. I sit today outside the only bar, in the one shadowed table in the old main square.

It's warm and sunny outside, the children of the village run up and down screaming and throwing a ball back and forth happily. The kids live in a paradise of perpetual mild weather, playing and enjoying all the sweet joy of being children in the southern French small town they call home.

Nothing new under the sun.

In the white house by the church I can see the tiny face of a child sitting by the window, looking outside longingly. He is very pale, and holds the curtains half open with a trembling hand while pressing his tiny nose against the window. I don't worry much that anybody should think it strange that I pay him so much attention, since nobody would suspect my eyesight to be so extraordinary. A short, stout woman comes near the window and the child disappears from sight.

* * *

Camus! You'll get cold! The worried mother covers the young shoulders with yet another blanket and takes the child away from the window, nearer to the fire that burns brightly in the fireplace.

You're not supposed to stay up for long. You could get cold and I don't know what I would do if you were to get any sicker. You are not well, and the cold doesn't do you any good, dear.

There is nothing to do by the fire, and the dancing flames long ago stopped being entertaining. No matter how hard he tries to explain to his mother that he does not feel cold, she just puts her hand on his forehead and shakes her head in despair at the non-abating fever.

It's mid February, Camus has had these strange fits of fever in mid winter ever since he was born and no doctor or priest has been able to find a cause or a cure. They come every year, stay for around a month and then go away just as they came. The child seems a little paler every time, and when the fever is gone his temperature stabilizes at a slightly lower level and his mood becomes a little bit more somber. Still, he's healthy and for another eleven months he becomes again a normal child.

Nothing new under the sun.

* * *

Outside, sipping at my wine glass, I have little doubt I've finally found him. It's taken me a good six years, but I have managed to group a few candidates for Aquarius and the rest of the Ice cloths. If I'm not mistaken, this would be the last of the small group of children that were born exactly when Aquarius light shone at its brightest in this cycle, sworn to the games of the gods even before their birth. Most of them will die before puberty, and the ones who survive to claim the Cloths will often wish they had perished with the rest, just as I have often during the last twenty years.

Nothing new under the sun.

I have taken a while with this last child, though. When I first came around asking questions he seemed just like any other kid, but I haven't seen him for a few days and the women talk about a strange permanent illness while they knit by the fire. I will not put a sickly boy through the hardships of gold saint training when there is no hope for him to succeed if all it takes to avoid such a thing is a bit of my time.

I have talked to the Kyoko about this and he agreed there is no need to bring the child if he is that sick. One thing puzzled me, though, when I visited the Kyoko's chambers two nights ago. He muttered something about an age long gone, a sign from mythical times, and then tilted his head in a most unusual way, as if he was looking deep into a time long gone. He came back rather suddenly, and –not for the first time- I wondered what kind of eyes hide underneath the metal mask. With it on, only the slightest tremor in his voice showed that something unusual had just happened.

As I bowed to leave, his words echoed in the hall: "Don't give up on that child too soon, Aquarius. Give it some more time, and make sure you get close to him before making up your mind. You have a strong intuition and a loving, caring heart; don't fall short of what I expect of you."

I nodded and turned around. I will never be certain of it, because the flapping sound of my cape could have confused me, but I would have sworn he whispered to himself "and be careful, my child. You may not like what you find in this search, be careful."

I must be mistaken, of course. If there were any risks, he would have told me. And what risk can there be, anyway?

* * *

The barkeeper comes with another glass of wine and a plate of cheese. She kindly asks whether I wish a blanket, or at least to move into the sun. "It's winter after all, sir."

I smile to her and shake my head. "I'm used to colder than this" - I say. She smiles back while putting down the glass and the plate. I know she likes me, everybody does.

We, Aquarius Saints, are well known for our tenderness and charm. We are people-persons, you may say. The ice that rules our Cosmos cannot melt away the warmth that seems to pour out of every Cup Bearer. There is no stray cat, no sobbing child that doesn't wind up in the Eleventh house sooner or later. I know she finds me charming and welcoming.

Nothing new under the sun.

I wonder whether my charisma might grant me access to the small white house, and the child and woman within. As the barkeeper walks away, I start to ponder how to obey to my master's orders and make sure I make the right decision concerning this strange boy.

The End of Chapter 1 -- Continued in Chapter 2

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