At this Roob looked up at the old man, looking for signs of deceit or trickery. Surely the old man knew what that entailed; he was a Rain-Keeper. Would he think that Roob had not considered that possibility? Carefully Roob spoke, “I have considered the Ritual of Attonement, Ex-… sir. But there are other ways than giving myself to the Rain. Our family is small, and given our place only by our profession, as is the way. We cannot spare our patriarch or the eldest son to the ritual.”
“What if there was another way? What if the way was truth, or knowledge.”
Roob was well beyond confusion by this point. He felt the desire to know what this Rain-Keeper meant, the desire to be exonerated of his guilt. It was a strong desire, but Roob knew that it could be heresy. If it was a Rain-Keeper telling him though… perhaps this old man knew something that his Rain-Keepers couldn’t tell him? Certainly there was more written in this dome than in all his Tribe’s Barrows combined. Roob’s desire won out.
“And what is this way, this knowledge that is true?”
The old man smiled, happy to finally be sharing this burden with another. “The truth is that the Rain is not a divine force. The truth is that all we know is a lie. The rain is nothing more than the death-throes of an older time, the last remnant of a civilization that we cling to. It burns with the mistakes of our ancestors, if it burns with anything more than acid, NOT to punish us for leaving the waters, NOT to push us deep within the Earth. It is a chemical, a substance. It creates the things we are dependent on, yes, but only because we choose to be dependent on them. If we are ever to be free of this barren existence, to rebuild the glories of the Lost Days, as the Rain-Keepers claim to want, it is not through the rain that we will do this, but through the Forest.”
Each sentence was as though the old man was reaching into a bag and pulling forth something new, something he longed to show another, to share. In Roob’s mind the worst part of all of it was that the old man was pleased to be sharing this; as though this was not high blasphemy. Heresy even, if you considered that the old man was a Rain-Keeper. The worst part of all of this was that Roob could not stop listening. The desire for release was too great to not consider these things. Finally though, the force of Roob’s belief, of what his family would say to this, was enough to win out. He stood up from where he sat and walked towards the door. He would leave this place of heresy. He would tell his Tribe of this Barrow-in-the-Canyon, he would tell the Rain-Keepers of this heretic and they would come in force and take what they needed. His job here was done.