The Astronomer

The astronomer was led away in chains, into captivity and exile, when the holy city fell, its great towers and walls broken down. Although he mourned his dead comrades and the ruins of his city, the astronomer could not help but look forward to seeing the wonders of the enemy city, as it was renowned for its observatories. For years, he lived in the prison of the city of exile. Those that escaped its walls whispered of the great secrets the former royal astronomer would undoubtedly uncover in the libraries, observatories, and planetariums of the city of exile. In his old age, when the astronomer heard that the holy city had been resurrected and rebuilt, and that captives were allowed to return, he made haste to depart for his home. When he reached the frontier of his native land, he wept, for his fellow citizens had come to greet him and embrace him. They embraced him with their questions, and he made the long awaited announcement. I was informed of the death of the sun, he said in the ancient sign language, and of the death of its warm machinery. In its place they have raised a surrogate made from an alloy that will be hard to breathe. They told me they would sever my hands, and I would not be able to scream. All of my words fell from my mouth, hammered out with their strange scissoring. Some of my words looked like glass marbles. They gathered these marbles upon long, dark tables. They weighed these marbles on scales and clicked their abacuses. Then the marbles were sorted into burial mounds. They also informed me of the death of my tongue.


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