A Day of Changes
Who was this child that now held sway over her life? Jamis bested by someone who was not much more than a wali? NO! It could not be. Harah was not worried for herself. She was a Freman woman and could hold her own. But her children. How could this child provide for her sons? He wasn’t even a Freman.
Many people considered the Freman savages, barbarians. True the Freman had customs that differ from other cultures but it was those differences that had allowed the Mizr to survive on this harsh world.
Those who looked down on the Freman made the same mistakes that other ‘superior’ races had made throughout history. They feared what they would not understand and instead of making the effort to learn they chose to try to destroy those who were different. But they would fail as others had.
And what of this boy? Could he learn? Would he? They said he was the son of the Duke Leto. How could someone so water-fat learn to survive in this environment? True, in the short time he ruled, the newest Duke seemed more willing to accept the Freman and their way of life than his predecessor had. But this child? He was not yet even a man.
Yet Stilgar was. And he was a good leader. He would make sure she and her sons were done right. And this man-child did have the weirding way. She had felt it herself when he had spoken to her. It had frightened her a little. And fright was not something she was use to.
‘Usul’ Stilgar had called him. ‘The base of the pillar.’ Strong. Supportive. Important. With out a secured base the pillar cannot stand long. Cannot hold up the weight it is designed to carry. Could this off-worlder prove worthy of his name? Harah guessed only time would tell.
As she gathered the food for her new master -- now that would take some getting use to --she wondered about the strangeness of this… lad. His voice and mannerisms spoke of age beyond what the eyes could see. He had said himself that he was only 15, but he held himself as a full grown Freman would.
It had stung when he had chosen her as a servant instead of wife. She was woman enough, and young enough, to want to be desired as well as respected. But she was also a bit relieved to be honest. No matter how he held himself he was barely more than a child.
But what if the rumors were true? Some were already saying he was the one of which the prophesy foretold. Could it be? Would the Lisan al-Gaib really be so young? Stilgar said the test had not been preformed yet so she set the question aside as she returned to her task.
Picking up the tray, which now held the food for Usul, she arose and passed through the hangings to the chamber she would now share with this stranger. She stopped short as she realized he was no longer alone. There before her stood her sons, not much shorter than their new father.
Kaleff was just a babe when his father had lost to Jamis in the Tahaddi Challenge. For most of his life Jamis was the only father he had known. Harah doubted if he could even recall his true father Geoff. And little Orlop, so much like his father, what did he think of the man-child standing before him? Neither son wore green yet. Did that mean they had already accepted this stranger as guardian-father? Jamis would be proud of them.
Jamis, her Jamis. She would mourn him in due time. She had come to care greatly for the man over the years. She had loved Geoff but they had been together such a short time when Jamis had called him out. And nine years she had called Jamis husband. Yes, she would mourn in due time but for now there was work to be done.
“Here is your food.” She placed the tray next to the cushions. “Will there be anything else?”
He seemed to pause for a moment. “Not at this time.”
“Then we shall leave you to eat in peace. Boys. Come.” Orlop started to open his mouth but closed it sharply when she gave him the warning look. They exited quietly, leaving the young man to his thoughts and gathering time for their own. This was a change for all of them.
Paul ate while he allowed his mind to drift. He barely tasted what Harah had prepared for him, but he could taste the spice. The spice was everywhere.
But where was Chani? And where was his mother? These two thoughts were foremost in Paul’s mind; however, they were not alone. So much had happened in such a short time.
The betrayal of Dr. Yueh, then his unexplained assistance in helping Paul and Jessica escape. The awakening of his senses. The knowledge that his mother is descended from his enemy and therefore his enemy’s blood runs through his veins. How could she not have seen it? How could he have missed it for so long? Had his father ever suspected the truth when he looked upon Jessica? His father had truly loved his mother. Of that he was sure. His father had told him so before--
His father. How he would miss him. Yet, he had not been able to cry for him. Why? He had managed to share a tear over a stranger, why not his own father? And now the fatherless is a father to the fatherless. He almost wanted to laugh at the conundrum of that statement. Except there was nothing to laugh it. So many things had changed this day.
Chani, Kaleff, Orlop, Himself -- They all had had their fathers taken from them through no fault of their own. And now, from this day forth, their lives would be intermingled. Paul would do his best for the young boys as well as their mother but what about Chani? He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that her life would be connected to his. He had seen that long before coming to this barren planet. Those dreams seemed like another life time now.
Paul thought of the two young boys outside the quarters. They were not that much younger than him. And Chani. How old was she? She had to be near Paul’s age. They were all fatherless now, but not alone.
The soft rustling of the hangings drew Paul back from his mental wandering.
“It’s time.” It was Farok. It must be time for the council that Stilgar had mentioned.
Paul rose and met the two young boys just outside the entrance way. Proudly they offered to be his guards so that onlookers would not bother him. Paul accepted with a smile. Had he been so eager toward his father?
If this Usul had bested their dad, then there must be something special about him. Kaleff glanced at his ‘new father.’ He couldn’t be that much older than him, yet he held himself in such a way as to remind Kaleff of Stilgar.
When Orlop and him had been told of their father’s passing they both were saddened by the news. After all, the Freman were not as cold-blooded as the outsiders made them out to be. They just did what they had to do in order to survive. Despite his love for a good fight, or perhaps because of it, Jamis had been a good father to both Kaleff and Orlop. He knew he was not Jamis’ by blood, but Jamis had shown time and time again that Kaleff was just as much son to him as Orlop was. Kaleff was the oldest and Jamis had instilled in his son the responsibility of a Freman youth. Kaleff would make his father proud of them.
Whether the rumors about his new father was true or not Kaleff did not know, but he could tell there was something special about this young man. Usul’s eyes were strange to Kaleff who was so use to seeing the Eyes of Ibad. To see eyes with white in them inside of the sietch was weird to say the least. But that wasn’t what set him apart. Besides, Kaleff knew that the strange eyes wouldn’t last long. Soon they would be the blue-in-blue that marked those who lived a life of spice. The melange left its mark on those it touched. No, there was something else about this man child who walked beside him. He might not be able to put a name to it, but Kaleff could sense it none-the-less.
Harah watched as her sons ‘escorted’ Usul to the ceremony. They seem so proud. So grown. Their blue-in-blue eyes daring anyone to come too close. And despite their youth they would do well in a fair fight. Their father had taught them well.
But Harah knew that they would not need to prove their skill with a blade this day. No one would dare interrupt this ceremony, much less go against Stilgar’s word.
As soon as Stilgar stepped forward, the crowd hushed. All listened intently as he told them that they would leave the sietch tonight. How the Reverend Mother Ramallo would not be joining them but that the one called Jessica of the Weirding would attempt the rite.
The crowd watched and accepted as Chani, the daughter of Liet, was consecrated in the Sayyadina. They all watched the Ceremony of the Seed. As one Reverend Mother was created another passed away. The Water of Life was changed and the Tau orgy of oneness began.
So many things changed for Harah that day. But looking back years later she knew she would not have changed it if she could. For Mahdi had come that day.