In the years since the departure of Almustafa, the chosen and the beloved, the winds of Orphalese had intensified. And with these winds the spirit of the prophet encircled the homes of the people he loved and yet left behind. Upon these winds, that same spirit imbued itself into the expectant women, though the children of these women looked no different than those of any other age.
As these children grew, the people of the city saw in them something both beautiful and fearsome. In these children’s minds were the very words of God, though the people of the city no longer believed in the God of old. In these children’s hands were the kindness and care of the elderly, though the elderly in the city had become bitter. The people of the city, fearful of the children, said: These cannot be not our children. We do not recognize them.
These children found each other and took comfort in each other. They carried the pain of the city within them, blessing it with each step along their paths, giving silent comfort to the city that thought itself forgotten by God and by his prophet. They even stopped using the name “God,” because the word had become twisted with anger like a maiden’s face in a cruel fit.
The time of their initiation into adulthood was upon them and their minds were beset with both joy and sorrow. Their joy was the joy of fruition, of the splendor of the city that they knew Orphalese was one day to be. Their sorrow was the sorrow of knowing that they were only harbingers, that the people of the city may never see the city that was to be. The great sea that calls all things called them here, and it was here that they were to find their solace, here that they were to kindle their fires.
As sun rose on the morning of initiation, the children saw people of the city gather and shout at each other to attend. Not only parents, but distant relatives and even strangers gathered round to witness their entrance into adulthood.
The children were surprised that so many wanted to see them. The people of the city had previously been silent and distant. They asked each other: Is this the moment when we are to lift our heads? Is the time of speaking upon us no sooner than our throats are aged enough to make sound? Twelve years have we comforted each other in our loneliness, twelve years have our eyes been opened to our truth, and twelve years have we waited to speak it.
Will our timbrels and fiddles now be taken into the hands of the Creator to play the music of the stars? Let it not be our words that echo in our throats, but those of the great cosmos itself.
And when the people had gathered and the children had taken their places upon the altar, the priests and priestesses looked upon them and were shaken. They said: We had thought to speak to you wise words that might assist you when you cast off from the shores of this poor city. We had thought that your eyes would be calling to us for guidance. But we cannot bear the ritual to continue so.
Much have we loved you, said the priests and priestesses, but our love was caged by our fear of the mystery we see within you. Truly, you have walked among us as a blessing and we have struggled to find in you aught but a curse. If indeed you are now of age, then we ask of you, speak to us and give us of your truth. And we will take that truth into our very hearts that it may not remain hidden, but rather become the glass through which we might see the distant star from whence your spirits came.
The children, humbled by this request, answered, each speaking in turn: People of Orphalese, of what can we speak save that which is even now moving within your souls?
As they spoke, the light of dawn danced about them and their eyes shone with the brilliance of the rising sun.