"It is a time of waiting. The boy who would be the Lisan-al-Gaib lies between worlds.
He took command of Shai-Hulud, and the Desert War against all Fremen enemies.
And now, in the third year of that war, he has taken the Water of Life.
Because he did not die outright, hope has been given to the Ichwan Bedwine.
There still remains a few who would question the prophecy. Nonetheless,
their unquenchable patience for the one who will lead them to paradise,
is about to be assuaged. The sight is almost within the grasp of the Atreides boy."
—Sayyadina Nahlah....... of the Taymur sietch
Kedar took his repose in what may be called the living area of his yali. Although his body was comfortable his mind was far from the freedom of anxiety. His wife Suha was preparing the mid-morning meal, while his thoughts reflected on the previous evening. It had been a long night dealing with the smugglers; a necessary evil, he knew, but he had long since grown weary of the obligatory act. As Naib of sietch Taymur, responsibility for the safety of his tribe was his. Tau was strong among his people, and he would keep it that way.
The ride across the bled to meet the free traders had been long, but Jari, his first born, had called a worm worthy of making the trip. Kedar knew the further away from the sietch, the better. Smugglers, no matter how noble in appearance or behavior, were not to be trusted. Spice was traded for the two things of most value to the Fremen, water, and silence. It would not do to have the 'MU ZEIN WALLAH!' Harkonnen, to know of our dealings with the smugglers. The price of their silence was high, but Shai-Hulud always provided.
The curtain between rooms opened and Suha beckoned him to the mid-morning meal. "Kedar my husband, come eat and replenish the body."
Kedar rose, and smiling followed Suha into the other room. While making himself comfortable on the floor cushions scattered around the low table, he watched while his wife gathered the plates. Suha was a beautiful women, named after a star in the Arrakis sky. She had given him two strong sons, the oldest, Jari; would no doubt be a leader himself one day. His youngest Naim, was a quiet boy who could handle himself with both comfort and ease in any situation. Suha placed a plate before Kedar, and sat across from him with her own.
"Thank you my love" He said as she smiled back at him. "Where are Jari and Naim this morning?" Making herself comfortable she replied. "Training with the Ichwan that MUAD'DIB sent." Showing his approval with an affirmative nod Kedar said, "That is good. Soon, with the prana-bindu influenced weirding way, they will inspire profound fear in their enemies. Kedar lapsed into thought. 'It had taken a little over a year for the training of his people to begin. But now, his people would be ready when called upon. They had already proved their superiority over the Harkonnens in many skirmishes with their patrols.' Suha looked up at Kedar,swallowed the morsel of food she'd been chewing, took his free hand in hers and replied. "Husband. They were already formidable warriors." "Yes but...." "They are Fremen are they not?" "Yes but...." "And besides, they come from a union of potent Fremen blood." Kedar squeezed Suhas hand, smiled, and said, "Truer words were never spoken my love."
Releasing Suhas hand, Kedar gestured with his own while saying, "May I speak now wife?" With a slight lift to a corner of her lips, Suha, in turn gestured for Kedar to continue. "Thank you my love. I was only going to say I have personally experienced the enhancement this weirding way gives to our people's fighting skills. The combination of both, will undoubtedly multiply the dread in our enemies.... two-fold. With a prideful pitch to her words Suha replied, "Yes my husband. As always, you see the benefits to a good thing, before others recognize it." Kedar reached out with one hand, and palmed her cheek. Suha flushed lightly from his silent gesture of affection. Returning to their meal in a pervasive air of tenderness, both were surprised by a voice from their quarters' entrance.
"Naib Kedar. Sorry to disturb you, but someone wishes to speak with you."
Suha and Kedar looked at each other questioningly. Kedar gestured for Suha to stay while saying, "Finish here my love. Join me when you're done if you wish." Suha nodded as Kedar rose to answer the guards' call.
Kedar walked toward the front room passing between the curtain that separated the main living area from the rest of the yali. Small but larger than most living quarters in the sietch, his and Suha's area consisted of four rooms. A small luxury afforded to a Naib, Kedar thought as he passed into the front room, but inessential to his comfort. Pulling back the flap that sealed the entrance, Kedar was greeted by the sight of Sayadinna Nahlah.
"May I speak with you Naib Kedar?" "Yes, yes of course. Come in Sayadinna." Nodding his thanks to Shihal who was standing guard this morning, Kedar ushered Nahlah in with a flourish of an arm.
"Subakh ul kuhar Naib Kedar?" "Subakh un nar Sayadinna Nahlah?" "I am well also."
With the formalities out of the way Kedar bid Nahlah to make herself comfortable among the cushions on the floor. In turn, Kedar knelt across from her, making himself comfortable. As Nahlah removed her Aba Kedar noticed a look of apprehension coloring her face. Something is troubling the young woman, Kedar thought, and she's unsure of how to proceed. I need to till the sands gently, as we would for the burro bush or sand verbena; only then will I reap the rewards, much like our dew gatherers.
"May I offer you something to eat Sayadinna. Suha is still in the other room finishing the mid-morning meal." "No thank you Naib Kedar, I have already eaten this morning. And please, Naib Kedar, you may address me as Nahlah." "Very well, Nahlah. You may drop my honorific as well." Kedar was answered with a low exaltation of breath and a smile, followed by; "Thank you..... Kedar."
Kedar recognized the change in her mental and physical condition as she relaxed. Whether it stemmed from his gentility with her or from her training with their Reverend Mother, he was unsure. Too many things were still uncertain in his mind. There was only one thing he was sure of since the news of the Atreides boy and his mother came to his sietch. He would no longer follow the orders of the Reverend Mother blindly. Caution first, was his rule for now. It was time to press Nahlah for her reason to speak with him..... judiciously.
Carefully, but with the confidence befitting his place among his people he asked, "So Nahlah. How may I be of service to you today?"
Nahlah sensed the inner conflict Kedar was struggling with. She may 'still' only be a Sayadinna, but she would never have been chosen, if not for her predisposition. I can't worry about Kedar's position right now. I must help the Reverend Mother Bayan. But, I must not reveal too much. I must let him see and decide for himself. We will deal with that decision when it is made.
"Oh, it's not a personal matter Kedar. We are both in service first, to each other, and our people, are we not?" Nahlah could see the questioning answer in his eyes as she continued. "I'll get right to my concern Kedar, and that concern has to do with our Reverend Mother Bayan." "Is she alright?" Nahlah heard the real worry in his question. "Yes and no Kedar." Kedar sat upright and said, "What is that supposed to mean Sayadinna?" The formality had returned too quickly, along with a flash of impatience. Nahlah decided a touch of honesty was in order for now. "She has been ailing the last couple of days, nothing serious." Nahlah could not go into detail about what had befallen, and the resultant erratic behavior of the Reverend Mother Bayan, directly related to that occurrence. Kedar's impatience increased, making it hard for her to read him. The conversation should be cut short. She now knew, she should never had tried to preface the Reverend Mother's request to see Kedar. "No need to worry Kedar. She is feeling much better today, and has requested to see you."
"Why didn't you just say that at the outset Sayadinna Nahlah?" Kedar had grown impatient with her, and let it show. "Thank you for relaying her request Sayadinna. I must make myself presentable. Let the Reverend Mother know I will attend her at the mid-day hour." "Yes Kedar."
"You may go now Sayadinna Nahlah." "Thank you Naib Kedar."
Both stood, and Kedar escorted Nahlah to the door. He did not offer to help with her Aba, nor did he hold the flap while she exited. He had turned his back to her as she passed; a slight to her standing he knew, but she had perturbed him with her manner, and besides, he told himself....... she was not a Reverend Mother..... yet. Kedar passed through the curtain into the other room and immediately locked eyes with Suha.
She was gracefully leaning against a preparation table, her eyes questioning. Kedar threw up his arms and asked, "What?" "What, my dear?" was Suha's reply. "Yes wife, what!?" Suha walked calmly to her husband, took his hands in hers and said. "Calm down my love. That is my question also. What was that all about?" "I am not sure, he sighed. She made me uneasy and anxious with her way. I think there is more to this than her words told." "That was my impression also husband." Kedar smiled at her. Knowing that she had been listening did not concern him. He relied on her counsel for many things. She was wise, as well as beautiful. "I must ready myself for the Reverend Mother wife, if you will excuse me?" "I will not." Suha replied adamantly. "I will accompany you and help you relax." Kedar, eyes beguiled, took Suha's hand in his and said, "Come with me...... Wife."
Reverend Mother Bayan..........
After an all too brief period of relaxation with his wife, Kedar readied himself for an audience with Reverend Mother Bayan. Kedar knew that the visit would most likely turn into a catechismal dialogue, meant to probe his state of mind, and make him feel ill at ease. If that were the case, he could do nothing about it; the Reverend Mother would know if he tried to mask his thoughts or feelings. He would be honest with her -- as always -- and deal with whatever came his way. Kedar took three deep breaths and pulled the door flap aside.
Shihal greeted him as he stepped out into the cavern hallway, and fell in line two paces behind him. Shihal knew Kedar could check any type of frontal assault, but would be vulnerable to his rear, if that should happen. It was rare inside the sietch, but enemies of the Fremen had infiltrated their places of sanctuary before, and it was best to be vigilant. With that thought in mind Shihal spoke.
"Naib Kedar. May I ask our destination?" "Yes Shihal. We are headed to the quarters of Reverend Mother Bayan. I have an audience with her this day." "Very good Naib. Thank you." Shihal palmed the crysknife in his sash and increased his vigilance, as they continued their march through the sietch tunnels.
Upon arrival at the quarters of Reverend Mother Bayan, Kedar and Shihal were greeted by two guards standing watch. They were both well known within sietch Taymur, specifically because they were hand picked by the Reverend Mother, herself. Akil, the taller of the two, for his intelligence and thoughtfulness, and Fateen, for being clever and resourceful, as well as intelligent.
"Will you please announce me." Kedar spoke softly with an air of command. "I have a meeting with Reverend Mother Bayan." "At once Naib Kedar, we were told to expect you." Akil answered the request while turning to enter the Reverend Mother's quarters. Shortly, Akil reappeared and informed Kedar that Sayadinna Nahlah said she would be with him presently. Kedar felt the impatience returning. Of late, Kedar found himself being put-off more and more by the demeanor of Sayadinna Nahlah and the Reverend Mother Bayan. Oh, he knew that they remained first and foremost Fremen, but something more than sand was in the air of this God forsaken planet he called home.
Once again the Atreides boy and his mother came to mind. There was much talk of the young boy amongst the Fremen people of late.The magnitude of his victories against Fremen enemies had many convinced he was the Mahdi, finally here to lead us to paradise. And what of the boy's mother. She had brought the weirding way to his people and survived the spice agony to become the Reverend Mother of sietch Tabr. Kedar however, was treating the whole affair with guarded optimism.... for the time being. Until he could see with his own eyes, and hear with his own ears, his feelings about the matter would remain.... his alone. Kedar was brought out of his inner thoughts by a subdued laughter. Akil, Fateen, and Shihal had been conversing off to one side of the door, and apparently something funny was said. Kedar wished he had been in on the conversation instead of thinking on such things as he had. He could use a good laugh right now. As Kedar moved closer to get in on the conversation, the door flap suddenly opened with a flourish, and Sayadinna Nahlah appeared.
"The Reverend Mother will see you now Naib Kedar." She extended an arm and with an ushering gesture said, "I have been instructed to escort you into the Reverend Mother's sanctum sanctorum. Please follow me Naib Kedar."
Following Nahlah's lead Kedar traced her steps through the rooms of the Reverend Mother's quarters. The trappings were sparse but comfortable. The Fremen people were by no means poor, the spice could afford them many luxuries, but that was not their way. Upon entering the Reverend Mother's inner sanctum the surroundings changed dramatically. Kedar was always amazed by the vast panoply of opulence within this room. Most, if not all were gifts from the people; her 'Ichwan' was how she referred to them. Kedar had no problem with this. It was a show of respect from the people, and besides, he was guilty of her indulgence himself a few times.
The Reverend Mother was sitting comfortably on a plush array of cushions designed to give her the upper hand in one on one discussions. Kedar smiled as they approached the Reverend Mother, and was presented by Sayadinna Nahlah. "Reverend Mother Bayan, Naib Kedar, as you requested." Kedar bent slightly at the waist while the Reverend Mother said, "Yes, yes. Thank you Nahlah. You may leave us now." Nahlah bowed, turned on one heel and was gone. Kedar spoke.
"Reverend Mother Bayan. This day finds you well I hope." "Yes Kedar, as well as can be for a woman my age. And you Kedar, how does this day find you?" "I am well Reverend Mother Bayan." "Please Kedar," Reverend Mother Bayan said while scoldingly wagging a finger in his direction, "must I tell you every time we see each other. In private it's just 'Mother'." "Yes. My apologies Mother. I will try not to forget again." "Hah," a rare laugh escaped the thin lips of mother Bayan, "no doubt you will try; but a man with your responsibilities can be forgiven such a minor thing." "Thank you Mother." Kedar was taken aback by her whimsical nature. "Sit Kedar. Make yourself comfortable. I have things I would like to discuss with you."
Kedar made himself comfortable on the cushions directly opposite Mother Bayan. He was a full two heads below her. Mother reached over to a low table next to her, picked up a cup, and sipped. Placing the cup back on the table Mother said, "I would offer you a cup Kedar, but as I recall you do not care for the spiced tea." "No Mother, I do not." Kedar replied with a slight disapproving tone. "Ahh, yes. I know it is an indulgence Kedar, but the 'Ichwan' provide." "Yes Mother." Kedar could say nothing else. Mother Bayan read faces and tonal inflection as well as any Bene Gesserit Mother. "So Kedar tell me. How are our people fairing these days?" Kedar was well aware she knew the answer. Mother was making small talk to put him off guard. "They fair well Mother. Spice and dew collection is going well. We are able to pay the smugglers handsomely to keep our positions and numbers hidden. We have not lost anyone to the Harkonnen patrols since the Atredies boy and his mother, brought us the weirding way. Mother Bayan flinched and grimaced, as if in pain, at the mention of the boy and his mother.
"Are you alright Mother?" Kedar asked sympathetically. "Nahlah told me you were not feeling well the previous few days." "Yes Kedar. I am well. I have been ill the last couple of days, but it is under control." Under control? Kedar asked himself. That is a strange way to put it. "That is good Mother. I am glad it is nothing serious." Kedar replied while thinking; my ears hear one thing, but my eyes see something else. "I did not say it was not serious Kedar." Mother's tone acquired a slight harshness. "I am in control, is what I said." "Yes Mother. I apologize for the misunderstanding." "No...no...no, Kedar. There is no need for apologies. You could not know what I am going through." Kedar nodded his acceptance of her explanation.
Mother Bayan took another sip of her tea as she quietly observed Kedar, taking the full measure of this man before she continued. "Kedar.... Naib Kedar. Leader of men. Sworn never to be taken alive by the enemy. Having said, 'you do not know what I am going through', brings me to the topic I brought you here for." "Yes Mother?" "I have concerns regarding the Atreides boy and his mother, now.... the Reverend Mother Jessica." The 'Atreides boy and his mother' were almost spat from her lips, as if it were a Fremen curse. Kedar was struck dumb for a moment by the vehemence in her voice. He quickly regained his composure and said.
"Mother Bayan. You know me well. Whatever you say to me goes no further. I beseech you. Tell me what is wrong."
The Reverend Mother Bayan sighed and said, "Yes Kedar. I must trust you with this knowledge I have been subjected to. You may be able to do something about it. I will not try to explain how I gained this knowledge. You would not understand. I will say only that, the constant and prolonged exposure to the spice, from the air we breath, to the food we eat, has enhanced my abilities. Know only, that what I tell you is truth." Mother paused shortly, then continued. "Our way of life stands on the brink of a precipice Kedar. The Great Makers and all they give to us are in danger. The Ichwan Bedwine is threatened by this phenomenon." The Reverend Mother Bayan inhaled deeply, held the breath for a brief moment, and upon exhaling said.....
"Kedar, the Atreides boy has taken the Sacred Water." Kedar would have fallen to the floor if not for the cushions being on it. Kedar dragged a hand down his face to cover his gaping mouth and quickly recovered. " But Mother. I do not understand. Why would all of what you speak happen because of this one boy's death." Mother Bayan shook her head in response. "He did not die Mother!?" "No Kedar. He has clung to life for three days now. And, in answer to your next question. I know this because his thoughts, and experiences invade my dreams every night. The essence of the boy comes as a wind out of darkness. I have glimpses of a place where wind blows fire, and circles of light expand and contract. Where row upon row of turgid white forms flow over, under, and around me; as the dim light reflects off them. They are, Kedar, glimpses of a place I have never seen." Mother Bayan slumped back into the cushions as if a part of her life had just been extracted from her.
Kedar tried desperately to process all that Mother Bayan had told him. His thoughts reeled around the axis of his mind with dizzying results. Grasping on to the one thing that made sense to him, Kedar spoke. "But Mother. If he does survive, and changes the water, is this not the fulfillment of the prophesy. Will he not truly be the Mahdi?" "Yes Kedar. That may well be true. But I am afraid of what this off worlder may do with that kind of power." Kedar thought, ' His kinship with our people has already been tested time and again. Why would he prove to be a danger to us now', but said; "What would you have me do, Mother?"
"You will go to his place at the 'Cave of Birds' in my stead. Be my eyes, that I may see; my ears, that I may hear. We must find out if this boy is a catalyst for good, or for evil." "Yes Mother. I will make the preparations at once." Kedar stood, bowed, and said. "Be well Mother. I will send word as soon as possible." Mother Bayan reached up, took Kedar's hand in her's, and replied. "Go safely my son. But go with haste."
Kedar turned and hurried out of Reverend Mother Bayan's inner sanctum. Without so much as a sideways glance at Nahla, he made his way to the front entrance. As he pulled the flap back to exit, he heard Nahla call after him. "May the winds of the Erg be at your back Naib Kedar." As he stepped into the tunnel Shihal was at his side. "Where to now Naib Kedar?" Kedar looked at Shihal, put a hand upon his shoulder, and said. "That is the question, is it not Shihal?" A confused look washed over Shihal's face. Kedar patted Shihal's shoulder while saying. "Pay no mind Shihal. For now, we go to make preparations for a long journey across the Bled."
Shihal smiled and replied. "Bi-La Kaifa Naib Kedar."
The people were called to the gathering place and Naib Kedar explained the significance of the journey about to be undertaken. A few details were intentionally omitted, those being Reverend Mother Bayan's concerns about the off-worlder. To the Misr as a whole, it rang in their ears as the Ijaz. The chant began quietly and soon crescendoed as it was picked up by more and more people...... Mahdi-Mahdi-Mahdi-Mahdi-Mahdi-Mahdi-Mahdi-Mahdi..... Naib Kedar quieted the people and asked for those who would make this journey with him to go to their homes and make preparations.
And so it came to pass that; on the fourth night of the season of Sihaya, with the ascension of Arvon in the Arrakis night sky, the Misr of sietch Taymur who chose to make the journey with Naib Kedar, gathered upon the rock terraces adjacent to their sietch. Shai-Hulud was summoned, and with resounding calls of HAIIIII-YOH!, the sandriders mounted the Great Makers. Thus Kedar's Hajra began. To see with his own eyes, and hear with his own ears; if Mahdi had come.