D. Paul Angel
When the Tower fell the peoples all scattered as with seed upon the wind.
All the Tribes left, save one, who called themselves the Nubespatii.
For them the land was sacred, consecrated by the Tower’s fall.
Amid the Tower’s rubble and carnage they dug out their meager village.
For generations the Nubespatii slowly reclaimed the lands around their huts.
The Tower’s stone flesh slowly gave way to fields and pasture.
Though the Tower was remembered in festivals, in song, and in story,
None could remember its shadow, nor had ever spoken to one who had.
A Nubespatii shepard was the first to notice a Cloud stop over their village.
Even as other Clouds rushed past, above, below, and through, it was immovable.
It scared the Nubespatii who soon huddled together outside the village.
For though the Cloud was the starkest of white, its shadow was darker than night.
The Nubespatii’s Shaman was brought to them borne upon a reed stretcher.
She had been in fever for exactly a week before the Cloud’s appearance.
She awoke from her fever with fervent clarity and cryptically spoke before she died,
“Our salvation is upon one yet born, who must stand upon White to grasp the Blue.”
This frightened the Nubespatii, who were clamoring together and begging for succor.
The Village Council spoke loudly to their people for peace and strength.
The Council and the Shaman’s apprentice firmly walked back into the darkened village.
The Villagers followed, and waited as their leaders met and quietly spoke.
It was a year and a day from that conclave that the first column was erected.
More would be needed, more than could be counted by a person in a day.
Hewn from the very corpse of the fallen Tower, the columns soon multiplied.
Each was thicker than the largest man could grasp, and thrice his height.
A new Tower soon rose, with each level up having one less row of columns.
The base was wide enough that no light could penetrate its heart.
Soon, none of the Nubespatii could remember when the Cloud had appeared.
Nor had any ever spoken to one who could remember that day’s terror.
With increasing cleverness and ingenuity the Nubespatii built.
Travelers soon appeared, having seen the Tower from leagues away.
One and all they were invited to help with the Tower; or to leave.
All were overcome by the Tower’s ambition, so that none ever left.
The Tower reached high enough it took more than a day to climb its height.
High enough its workers chose to camp on its pinnacle instead of alighting.
High enough that the Old Tower’s bones were finally picked clean.
High enough to feel the common clouds’ wet touch as they passed.
After so many years, the number of levels was reaching its logical end.
But the Cloud they sought never appeared any closer from the tower.
Such was the case when the Tower needed but one column more.
And as one the Workers decided to wait before the last column’s erecting.
All the workers slowly climbed down over the course of a week.
Workers who had been born atop the tower touched Earth for the first time.
A feast was held in the Village for all of the many, many workers.
And those who had been born, worked, and died, upon the Tower were remembered.
With the feast at a close the discussions soon began.
The Tower was near completed, but they were no closer to the Cloud.
Many voices spoke late into night, many of fear, most of bewilderment.
Continuing even until dawn first lit the highest levels of the Tower.
Until, finally, a young woman spoke and pointed at the Tower.
“The Old Tower’s stone is grey, but the new stone is white.
We should finish the Tower with a column of the Whitest stone.
When it is placed I shall walk across its plinth and grab the Blue sky.”
Though her parents wept at her possible fate, the woman remained determined.
The Nubespatii elders blessed her and her family, and lauded her bravery.
None, save one, would rest that night as preparations began immediately.
Only the woman herself rested, lightly sleeping in contemplation.
Over the next fortnight the entire village emptied, down to the last child.
Those who could not climb themselves were carried by the crowd.
By the fourteenth day not a single Nubespatii foot directly touched the Earth.
The final column was placed with deep solemnity, a thick, square plinth its finish.
She clamored to the very top and faced the Sun at its zenith.
One step, two steps on the White; the third strode into empty Blue.
As she stepped she reached up, clutching at the very sky itself.
She was hanging by her arm, her hand grasping firm, solid nothingness.
The Nubespatii who could see her gaped as one.
Her mother cried out, clutching at her shawl.
Her father clenched his hands, even while nodding to her in encouragement.
The Village Elders and Shaman raised their hands in triumph.
She stretched her other arm and clung once again to the azure wall.
Hand over hand she steadily climbed towards the Cloud, ignoring all else.
She didn’t even heed the Sun, which was so close its brightness felt like burning.
She continued on until her very next reach would touch the Cloud.
She took a breath, closed her eyes and reached for the Clouds soft belly.
But all she grasped was nothingness, for there was no longer sky to hold.
She fell towards the Earth, the wind filling her ears screaming.
The Nubespatii in silence, shrieks, and gasping wails could only watch her plummet.
Just before she was about to hit, a quiet peace overcome her.
All on the Tower felt the same, even as it disappeared beneath them
She floated towards her parents, past throngs of surprised Villagers.
They embraced and laughed and spread their joy amongst the Nubespatii.
Across blue sky every Nubspatii was soon lightly treading.
Knowledge and peace replaced the weight of their very being.
From cloud to cloud they would hop and play and laugh think.
Where they yet remain and will forever stay, even to this day.
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