About the Towers of Highwaters

Many years passed since that time was, or were these centuries, perhaps. But I'll tell you how it happened.

They lived in foothills or preferred hills. Some of them inhabited abandoned ruins, and some built their own houses. They settled not far from human dwellings, so that they could take power and life from there.

Noone knew where they came from. They came and lived near people so long ago, that noone knew their story. Some people said that someday they came from Italian hills, from the temples of grey stone that were destroyed, and called them stregoi and it was the closest to the truth. Some called them "Cain's sons", but there were no Cain's blood in them (was there Cain at all?). They were called so because of their gloomy mysteries that they continued to celebrate in the tradition, but now secretly. The mysteries of the World-Under-The-World they inherited, the mysteries of the underworld gods, the mysteries of life and death, the mysteries of death, giving life. That is why they could turn ploughed fields fertile or barren. Because life finds its beginning there, below, where an ear of wheat appears.

But they called themselves Those Who Knew Blood.

It was said that they rose from graves, and people were afraid of them because of this. But a superstition it was. Their bodies were mortal - for body is exposed to getting old even after a long youth. Sooner or later death finds the body.

Their spirit was immortal, and that is what they valued, and honored themselves as immortal to some extent.
Leaving, they returned again, remembering themselves and continuing their life. This is why they counted their years in centuries, rather than years. They tried not to move far from the places where their bodies died, tying themselves to their own grave, and waiting for a suitable chance to incarnate in a wanted body.

If they did not have a chance to appear in the world among ones of their kin (and so difficult it was, for they tried not to cultivate more of their kin), then a human child was chosen.

And having entered him, the spirit of the one, who decided to be born again, slept, while human was a child and didn't grow old enough to meet adolescence, to awaken one day. The spirit slept in a human shell of spirit, and the shell of spirit was inside. When the spirit awakened, he tore the human shell of the spirit; no, not the body, but just the shell of the spirit. It was like a butterfly leaving its cocoon.

But then it seemed that the human changed, that he is insane, that his place is overtaken by an alien, that the man is obsessed. But, in fact, the one who slept inside had awakened to breathe some fresh air. Then he would start seeking a chance to leave for the ones of his kin if he had found them and if they had accepted him. If he could not then life turned into sufferings, for there is nothing more painful than to live among strangers, falling asleep again and forgetting yourself.

They lived in clans, but not always they were together. And it was a lie that clans were fighting with each other, and it was a lie that their blood flowed in never-ending wars. They knew magic, kept the tradition and could not afford themselves to fight without point over a carelessly said word or abuse of their ill self-esteem. They were careful both in their words and their deeds. The life of the tradition and knowledge cannot be threatened because of emotions and childishness.

Two could snatch; two could claim a war with each other and the Beginning of the Hunt. And it happened often that, and this ritual was in concordance with the tradition, the strongest survived, and the other one died, giving in his life and power, bound to no rebirth for a long time. This is where a mystery of life and death was concealed. But the law spoke for everyone not to interfere in their Hunt for each other; noone could bring peace to them. Never interfere business of the ones of your kin - this is the law. And those who remembered their circles more clearly, the circles of previous lives, won in this encounter more often.

People said that they didn't have shadows, that they could pass through the narrowest holes; that they moved as fast as they wished - and it was true. For there is no need for the Knowing to step to reach - his spirit moved in a second there, where he wanted, and walls were no obstacle, and he saw as far as he needed to see.

People said that they were werewolves; that they turned into a bat, a polecat or a wolf. And there was nothing special about it, for their spirit could take any appearance, and in any appearance follow there, where the Knowing needed.

People say that they drank blood, and it was true, although it was no food for them. But in their rituals they poured not only human blood, but their own, for one volunteer sacrifice is worth of thousand of violent sacrifices.

They say that people died in the surroundings of their dwellings more often than in other places, and it is true, for they knew how to come to man, even though he was far, how to penetrate his thoughts, how to enter his dreams, how to pass to the cellar of a spirit, to find a door and to come into man's soul, how to drink his power, how to gain control over his soul and lead it into the dance of �������������, to follow him to the world of shadows. And it happened to be like this.

You say it is unfair? But they had different view on fairness. Death and life were a sole dance for them.
And it was a place called the Highwaters. It was a high stone house in rapids of the river. It was a big house, almost a castle. Sometimes it was empty, but sometimes those who knew each other well gathered there. I can't say that they lived happily there because what seemed 'good' for people meant nothing to the Knowing ones. People said that they didn't like fire, but it is not true. On winter evenings they burned fire in the fire-place, warmed their hands, and talked to each other, and greeted old friends, and laughed on jokes, and they were joyful of their intercourse, and they told stories. Yes, they could feel joy, there is nothing special about it, for, as it was already said, they knew more than (��������� ����������� ����������� ��� not only, �� ������������� more than ������� ��������; ��������, ����� � ����� �� �������) death. Those, who know death, know life too, because one doesn't exist without the other one, for it is the whole. And having known death, they could feel joy of life.

But it was a Night of Fires one day. No, it wasn't an ancient festival of the Night of Fires. These are people who came with torches and fires there, where Blood-Knowing lived, and killed many.

You say it was unfair? But they had different view on fairness - they didn't consider it such. They fought fiercely, but advantage abandoned their side. But they thought of their death as fair, for the one who takes a sword in his hand, must be prepared to die. They were ready for death, they thought of it as a mystery, which is followed by re-incarnation and continuing their path. They served an ancient tradition and were honest before themselves. For no true tradition of mysteries of death can exist, if those, who follow death, are afraid of it and flee from it. Hypocrisy is to doom someone to death, not having given your silent consent with the fact that, possibly, you will face the same death some day.

They breathed their last breath, and there are no more of them on this land, for there wasn't a chance to return to the ones of their kin, and living with strangers was unbearable for them. They broke up, and from that time on their paths lied far from these places. There was no home at the rapids of the river; there was no castle-house on the hill. Every thing got buried in fire - just blackened ruins stayed there.

But the legend runs that those, whose path led different ways, will return some day. Their souls will strive towards ruins and will wait for each other there.

For they will find no peace. Wherever they were, they continued their path, their souls always kept a piece of the Highwaters, and it will be calling them there. Like a whirlwind the Knowing will rush through life, but in the murkiest darkness, and in the brightest light he will endure, he will save himself, he will save his memory. And that is why he will be yearning for his native land, desperately attempting to return there, where there is no road already.
And the one, who sleeps, will awaken. And he will take out a sword to destroy the cocoon where he was sleeping. And he will remember. And he will stand firm aground before this memory. And he will start his long way back home, where the Call leads him, pulling the strings of the soul.

And then from the ruins the Towers of the Highwaters will swiftly rise up.

This is how the stregoi's legend goes.

(с) Zau Targiski

translated by Ilaidj Cave