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A New World
Leading a group of Niravasi across the mountains isn’t easy. Less so when they aren’t sure that doing so is what they want to do. Even less so when they are being forced to leave everything they love and care about behind. But it is made a fraction easier if they trust you with every fiber of their beings, are loyal to you in their hearts, and respect you as a leader. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard, but it becomes doable.
After months of traveling, our first sight of the land across the mountains seemed surreal. Satya spotted it first, in the late afternoon. He had been scouting ahead with Dhalna, like usual, but had come running back with her hot on his heels.
“Letra! Letra! The mountains end up ahead! It’s,” he had stumbled to a halt, panting heavily as he tried to get out his last words, “beautiful!” His amber eyes were bright with a joy I hadn’t seen since we had left his homeland. He had grabbed my hand and begun to drag me along after him.
Anokha and Pardeshi had bounded after me, Anokha sliding on her sleek white chest in the snow, Pardeshi simply leaping over the huge white mounds. The rest of our followers perked up, mothers grabbing their younger children and pointing towards our fading forms, the slightly older children darting after us of their own accord.
Satya had slid to a stop at the edge of a rock ledge that trailed down into the valley below us, beaming from ear to ear. He had been right. It was beautiful.
The land stretched far below us before it rose back up into a small series of switchbacks that dipped down into what appeared to be another distant valley. The trees below reached up with exquisite limbs, caressing the distant sun. A deep blue river, glistening like a vein of sapphires in some deep, forgotten mine, writhed across the land, splitting the forest from what appeared to be a small plain.
“Wow.” It was all I could think of to say. After so long, we had made it. “I guess we should take everyone down there.”
He had reached out to take my hand as we turned to face the hoard of people that had traveled so far with us. “I won’t go anywhere. Speak to them, tell them how special this place is. Tell them what they need to hear.”
I had smiled back, then turned to my people. It had still been hard for me to think of them as my people, but I knew that I had to at least give them this last bit of closure. “You have all come close to my heart in these last several months, and I want to thank you for such a wonderful journey. But at long last, we have made it. Our journey was not without its own perils and losses, but it has brought us to this wonderful place I hope we can begin to call home.” The words just seemed to pour forth, each seeming right.
The people I had come to love stared up at me as I stood in their midst, weighing my every word, my every intention. I had led them through some tough times, some even tougher places, and we had developed a level of respect for each other. Some mismatched eyes met mine moist with tears, others with a new level of respect.
“I don’t want us to forget those we have lost, but I don’t want them to hold us back, either. We have a chance at a new life, and we must take it. We need not be laden with the heavy burden of being different, the hefty yolk of our neighbor’s mistrust. We, too, should be able to be free in our own right.
“I propose a world where there is no different, only equality. I propose a day where our children can be free to do as they wish, where they don’t have to worry about the color of their eyes, their skin, and their hair. They should only have to worry about the color and intent of their soul. This is the place I wish to create.
“I know that this is a new land, possibly one rife with new challenges and terrors, but I think we can do it. I think we can make this into our home. Let us go into this new land with joy in our eyes, courage in our hearts, but caution in our heads. I do not wish to lose any more of our number to any of the unforeseen horrors possibly lurking below.
“Come, my friends, my family. Let us walk into this new world with a spring in our step, hand in hand with our loved ones.” I suddenly was just a young girl of 16 again, no longer the leader of this mass of people, but I smiled anyways and beckoned them towards me, towards our future.