We Listeners have been alive far longer than we have been in this land. But it was not until we arrived here that we heard. We began to hear the spirits around us, the sand between our feet, and the whispers of our brothers and sisters that are not said aloud.
Nabi called us to this land, of this we are sure. While our lives here in Miradelle are more toilsome, more difficult than before, we are more together. We understand so much more through the knowledge that Nabi shares – the history that is held in each grain of sand.
We arrived here many years ago from a land across the sea. That land is almost lost to us now. When we first washed upon these shores we tried to do what all do – stay. We built, we dug, we did not move. But we struggled.
For many years we were stubborn and resistant to Nabi’s guidance. And then we heard. First it was one, a mystic from before. She was old and frail but insisted upon venturing into the sand. She returned two days later with nothing, but guided a few of us back out with her. There was nothing but dunes for miles. We thought she was lost – had gotten us lost. But she pressed her withered hands to the sand and it separated quickly beneath them. A small spring bubbled to the surface.
She weaved the water from the ground into a waterskin. We returned in silence. When we got back to the township, she whispered Nabi’s name to us. Our group subsisted like this for several more years until the others wanted to know what we did in the desert. We left our failed home and ventured into the sand that had subsisted us.
It is hard to track time in the desert. The next history we heard was of others. Nabi whispered to us that her brother, Jotur, had become jealous of us. He created his own followers who called themselves the Marls. She assured us that we need not meet them.
Without seeing them, we heard much of the progress of Jotur’s kind. They sought riches and lands and received them, knew little strife that they did not enjoy. Jotur spoiled them. Some of the Ishtu wanted us to ask Nabi for riches, but we did not. We spoke to the others no more of the Marls.
For a few years Nabi did not speak to us directly, only guided. She was upset. Or worried. We did not know. When next she spoke she warned us of a third sibling, her sister Ranuk. Ranuk was young and impatient. She did not wish to wait for followers like Nabi, or to bend to their will like Jotur. In her haste she made mankind – a selfish, needy race with no guidance.
Ranuk did not have a plan for her people. She was amused by their endless wandering, their destruction, their short lives. Nabi bid us to their outcropping in the north but we did not dare confront them, lest Ranuk seek ruin for us for interfering. It seems the Marls tempted fate and have forged some sort of camaraderie with the humans.
They expanded rapidly. They left more humans wherever they went. Even with disease or disaster, their numbers swelled. Once the humans encroached upon Nabi’s domain again, we acted. We pleaded with them to leave, for there were no resources for them here. There were no animals, no farmlands, no jewels. It did not matter. They stayed. We threatened war or disaster. The desert winds came to our defense.
But it was no use. Somehow the humans had the upper hand. A young human approached us alone. He held out his hand and clenched it into a fist. The water Nabi had guided us to swirled into his hand. There was nothing we could do.
We had nothing but the harsh sun and the air that swirled the sand. The Marls had the earth. But Ranuk had given the humans a gift. She had given them the oceans, the rivers, the streams.