Brait awoke resigned to sinning against his God and betraying his vows. So certain was he that he would sin that he offered a prayer of apology almost immediately upon rising from his bed.
"Josslander, my lord, source of my power and lord of my soul, what I do today I do for me alone, it will effect no one but myself and the actions will go unknown to the world. My actions are self indulgent, weak and impotent and I apologize. But please believe that my faith and resolve have not wavered, and the course of my life, dispite this small crime shall be directed to invoking your greatness."
With that Brait donned the tight wool cap that had belonged to his brother and wrapped his maternal grandfather's blanket over his shoulders before leaving his sister-in-law's sod house. He started down the muddy slope that raised the house above the flood line not attempting to view the horizon or his surroundings. In a few minutes it would be dawn and the village, the mountains and the ocean would all still be there. He started when the figure of his sister-in-law broke through the mist, she was hunched and breathing hard as her slight frame struggled up the hill carrying two buckets of water, her breath misting in the morning cold, her feet slipping in the dew wet grass. Brait felt a shame at seeing the labor that often benefited him and remembered why he often slept till well past the morning labors were finished. He considered helping her, but he was already committing one crime by talking this journey. Josslander might not forgive him a second crime today. She passed with a bit of start and then the expression of blank resignation she reserved for Brait. Particularly when he wore his brother's old clothes.
The deep green wool hat Brait wore, was likely made for his brother by Uthel, his sister in law. His brother had not worn it the day he died, because he had rushed out of the house to meet the raiders without even dressing. Brait had ran too, and invasion could not doubt be his great chance to exalt Josslander. But the raid had been small, only a half dozen raiders came ashore, in the early morning and mist just like today. Brait could have used his power to kill all six of them with as many words, but the death of six raiders did not merit Josslander's attention and killing such a small party was unworthy of a disciple of Josslander. Thus Brait returned home to his brother's house and contined studying new incantations with which Brait could manipulate the growth of the mind: a potentially dramatic and power full ability. When the other men brought his brother into the house a gust from the open door swept the papers off Brait's desk and flushed out the fire in the main room. The men laid Jape (his brother) awkwardly upon his sister-in-law's spinning table, Jape (his brother) was pale, blue lipped and shivering. The wound beneath his heart was slowly oozing blood despite the rags and skins pushed into it. Jape died as the children of the house struggled to re-ignite the cook fire and warm their dying father.
The first man Brait had killed had been sailor in Galstar's fleet. Brait was living in the town of Faltrick, studying under a Jossland master and he had just learned the kill word and wished to test it. Galstar's fleet was doomed anyway, everyone in Faltrick was saying it. The fleet was taking on supplies for attempting to navigate the ice canyons of the Huspra sea. Brait had never seen the ice cayons but we had been told in uncertain terms that sailing them was death. Thus, just to test his skill with the word, Brait went down to the docks, again on cool morning before dawn. The sailor was tan skinned, with wrinkled flesh, eyes as dark pitch and just a blury. He was stumbling a bit, alone, counting barrels beneath a unmanned boom with a slate and chalk. The only light was a small brazer. Brait walked up to him, spoke the word and the man collapsed. The stench of the dead mans bowels hit Brait strongly as he check the mans breath. There was none, and unlike this morning Brait had felt pleased. All he needed now was to find a man worthy of his attention, a death that would make a mark on the world. The Galstar's men, they were dead already, killing or any dealing with this fleet would be a waste of effort.
Brait was outside the village, following the stream away from the ocean and up into the mountains. The stream was to his right he could hear, and in the pre dawn light he could see the outlines of the brush forest to his left. The sun broke through and exposed a large mass in the pass ahead of him. As he approached the form became clear, it was an elk. Just sitting on the trail. Brait puzzled over this a bit, and felt a tinge of fear. The elk had to be three times his size and with a full rack of horns it could easily injure him. Brait could use his powers to move the elk, or scare the elk but that might be two much action. Josslander would not approve of using his power just to move an elk that may or may not be a threat. Yet uncharacteristically Brait did not or could not turn around. Thus Brait kept walking. Finally as he got closer to the elk, he realized it was watching him as well, but also was keeping an eye on the brush line aside the trail. Brait could see clearly that the elk had an arrow in its haunch and the brush held a pair of feral dogs waiting patiently for the elk to give up the fight. Poor beast was likely trying to reach the stream, but didn't want to turn its back on the dogs to get it. Some hunter from the village had lost this elk. The hunter didn't know Josslander, and chose his actions poorly.
Brait carefully walked around the elk, avoiding the horns and the dogs. The dying beast reminded Brait of the first man he healed. It was like the case of the Galstar sailor, Brait had been studying at the Citadel of Juhno on the Steppe of Galtland. Once the Galstar and his fleet had successfully and repeatedly navigated the ice canyons the world had opened up. The ancient Wisdom of the Cloisters and Keep of Gatland had begun flowing through out the lands. Brait booked passage on a ship as soon as he could, the Josslander faith had several temples in Gatland and Brait needed to study. After five years at Juhno he was ready to move on, he acquired a plethora of skills and with the Gatland innovations of paper and type, he had enough material to last him life time. Thus Brait headed home. As he was crossing the Steppes on foot he came across band brigands assaulting a caravan. The Brigands had seen Brait and threatened him, but he simply spoke a few words and Josslander made Brait invisible to the brigands. On the other side of the caravan just on the far side of little rise, Brait came across the wounded body of a youth. He was dressed as a pilgrim, and had wounds on his back and face. He lay on a mat of blood soaked grass and was surrounded by the grey ravens of the Steppee. Brait knelt over the boy and rolled through the incantations he had learned at Juhno. He took the blood from the grass in his hand and pooled it in palm. Then he spat into it and swirled it around while invoking Josslander's power. It took him awhile, he was not familiar with this incantation and it didn't come readily from his memory. But he managed and the boys wounds closed up and his breaths grew deeper.
"Please, there are others who need help." the boy said. Not even a thank you nor recognition of Brait's action.
Brait moved on, and eventually came back to his home island of Leafmark. Jape welcomed him and he continued on with his studies, preparing for the day an action or course worthy of his power would be laid in front of him. But despite being on the island for ten years he had never returned to his grandfather's waterfall until today. It was slightly after midday when he first saw his grandfather. He didn't remember the journey being this arduous or long when he was 9 years old. Back then his uncle had woke him at dawn. And they had walked through the darkness and into the morning until they reached this precise point
"I am a follower of Josslander" my uncle said. He was breathing hard and looked older than he had the day before. "So was your grandfather, your grandfather sank the fleets of Pithtarl Raiders, destroyed the city of Curook, and crushed four legions of the Black Watch soliders." I didn't know what all those names meant and I had never seen a city, a fleet or legion but I could tell by my uncles tone this was impressive. "Your grandfather did this all with Josslander's power. And as reward when you grandfather died Josslander turned his soul into the waterfall you see before you. I am going to put you on the path of Josslander Brait, you must learn all the powers and secrets of Josslander and when you do you will be able to sink fleets, raze cities or smite legions. But that power comes at a price of sorts." He paused and looked at the waterfall and looked at me again to see if I was listening. I tried to look like I understood, though I didn't. "You see Josslander does not allow you take small actions in his name. Josslander is not the God of peasants or craftsman, Josslander is a god of mortal titans. If you take on the path of Josslander than you must use that power to change the world dramatically and perhaps permantety. And if you do Josslander will reward you, your soul will live for ever like your grandfathers does as the waterfall."
We walked around the water fall, fording the stream that fed it and down to the base. My uncle knelt beside me, "You see there in the mist" he pointed. And in the mist I saw the image of man, a man that looked liked my father and uncle. "Father lives for ever because he left Josslander's mark in the world. If you fail Brait, if you take on the path of Josslander and don't leave a mark, if your name is forgotten and your acts washed away by tide or wind than Josslander will strip you of your power and throw your soul into pit of torture. Your actions can only be to prepare and study or to make that mark. Your life will no longer be a small man's life, your life is intended and directed so that you may be a God on earth."
That was over 30 years ago and today I am the wisest most educated man I know. I have stopped studying now, I have learned no new powers for six weeks. All I do is eat, sleep and wait. I live in my sister in laws house, live off the fruits of her labor and have nothing of my own save a pile papers and a frozen river of potential. A rage filled me at that moment, I lifted a great stone from the ground with my powers and raised it high above the waterfall and dropped it on to the stream. The falls sputtered and died. There is a mark for you Josslander, and I turned my destructive eye back towards the village and set out to make the world know me.
Additional Ideas (1)
This idea is only half baked, I am quarantined today, so I have some time. Anyway as required by the Oekaki challenge I sat down to write a religion cold. This is not in some setting I have in mind and I only spent about 5 minutes thinking about it and 30 minutes writing about it. I used 'stumbleupon' for inspiration, I found a picture of waterfall in iceland and picto-tree describing how different philosophies of moral behavior overlap.