31 Fantasy Characters, #25: Istrafe

31_fantasy_badge“They say you exist,” Istrafe said aloud to… well, he wondered if to someone. Or something. “If you do, then show yourself to me!”

Istrafe stood atop a high mountain peak. Weeks of preparation, days of travel alone, he rather enjoyed the journey here. The nights were cold, but he was used to freezing winters. This land was foreign to him, with its hot deserts and barren fields. Although from this height, it wasn’t as bland as he thought. It was rather beautiful.

But the scenery was not his reason for coming.

“How does a god expect to be worshiped if he won’t make himself known?” Istrafe said. He wasn’t convinced he was being heard.

A former prisoner of war, Istrafe was released after five years in captivity. His nation, hundreds of leagues away, was defeated. He had no idea if his wife was still alive. But he couldn’t go back. He couldn’t bear to see her, dead or alive.

“My captors have tried to integrate me into their culture, tried to convert me to their religion. They call you ‘The Only God.’ My people believe there are many…”

Istrafe stopped. Could his people even call themselves a people anymore? Most of the men were dead or captured. The women taken for slaves or as new wives. The children were taught to call themselves by new names, taught new a language, and culture.

No, they were gone. An entire people erased.

A rage that Istrafe had kept inside him for years grew furiously in his gut. He let out a growl so loud and fierce the few eagles nearby fled.

Istrafe could have wept then. But for what? It was over. He pulled out his knife, held it to his throat, and challenged the Only God.

“What god is so impotent that he cannot stop the suffering of his world, even when unchallenged by other gods? If you care at all for your creation, you will stay my hand!”

Istrafe waited. Nothing.

“SHOW ME A SIGN!” Istrafe shouted.

A faint rumble sounded. A small avalanche of rocks on a lower peak to his left fell, and he turned to look. When the dust settled, a hole in the mountain was revealed.

Probably a den for some mountain creature, Istrafe thought, and he started to turn back.

Until a light started to shine from the hole.

Istrafe dropped his knife and ran toward it.

(The word prompt today was “Sign.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

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