"Black Stones" from Part II: Early Migrations
A man and boy are standing on a beach.
The boy is about seven years old, slight with dark hair and eyes as clear black as the pebbles on the beach. His father is not tall but he is a sturdy man with muscled legs and strong shoulders. A well-traveled man. Far-ranging and far-seeing. A long arm sweeps across the horizon and limns a scene for the boy, who watches rapt as the imaginary landscape unfolds. He nods. His lips move. He is repeating what his father says. The man reaches down, pauses thoughtfully, and then selects a stone which he places in the boy's hand. The boy looks up into the man's eyes and finds there the father's intent and the stone's message.
The years pass.
The island beach sees many storms. Black pebbles wash out to sea and the sea brings them back. Makes faithful deliveries on the incoming tide with a steady rhythm.
The man never again returns.
But the boy grows into a man and as a man, returns. Each time, he stands looking out to sea, his lips move, his arm sweeps the horizon, and at the end he bends to the ground, pauses reflectively, and selects a black stone. He closes it in his hand and behind his own eyes, he sees with the eyes of his father. Each stone is a story. Before his own hearth in Vrontados, a cairn has grown, honoring the gods and the heroes whose stories they represent. Honoring Hermes, the messenger god who brings them.
Above all, he listens. The sea is singing and its song has a rhythm. An ebb and flow. A cadence. He stands and once again his lips are moving. Now he is singing with the sea. His are the words. The stories they tell are his father's. And his father's before him. And before that, a long lineage of bards. Of singers whose words go back, far back, even before the disaster that brought the black stones to this shore. Before the Great Darkness that swallowed one of the world's finest cities, far down into the deep sea. A monstrous earthquake and a fiery eruption that hid the sun and was felt in far-off Egypt and beyond. Poseidon, Earth-shaker, had wiped those once-proud people from the face of the Earth. All that was left were the black stones.
But there was Memory. There were the Muses. Like a salve over a wound, singing of the story knit the world back together. Nothing was forgotten. Fathers told sons, bards carried the songs abroad as far as ships could reach. On the mainland, five miles across the water, and on the islands of the south—Crete, Delos—Theseus still danced with Ariadne and their friends, only now it was young men and maidens re-enacting their joy, threading new labyrinthine paths with their feet to the rhythm of singing. And the great genius behind them both, brilliant artificer and designer of the labyrinth of Knossos who could create wings to fly upward toward the sun… Daedalus. Mysterious Daedalus. Neither warrior nor king, yet his deeds might outlast them all..
Now the boy is an old man. His father had not lived to be so old. He has returned to the beach, with the aid of a staff and of a boy. Not his son. But still his heir. In spite of his blindness, with his free hand he gestures with the accuracy of an inner eye, eastward toward the near shores of Asia Minor, southward toward Naxos and Crete, and toward the Greek shore which lies invisibly behind them. His staff rises and falls rhythmically as his lips move and the boy's lips move in synchrony, feeling the tempo of the staff and seeing with his master's hand the great armies of Greek ships—a thousand of them, plowing the waves of the wine-dark sea. They will pass to the left of them and far up the coast to the East, another great city would soon fall. A new curtain of darkness was about to fall on the age old lands. Not Knossos but Troy. Not Theseus and Ariadne, but Achilles and Hector, the great combatants, the noble heroes. More stories to be sung, carried as far as ships may go.
The old man's name is Homer.