The Awakening of Raumaan
“They come! Welcome them!”, a man bellowed from the roof of his small house.
The Jannisaries could not imagine the power they wielded over this quaint people. Held in awe, most of the villagers knew they were laying eyes on the largest contingent of awliya (Friends of God) that they would ever see. The entire village was well aware that the army was passing through, lookouts and travelers had prepared them well in advance.
One boy was particularly heated by this announcement. Raumaan ran to them as their marching grew louder.
Like any boy of 13, he was fascinated by the army. He enjoyed transforming his favorite broomstick into something far greater.
Unlike other boys, this slip of the imagination took on a stark new reality. The clouds became inked in purple, moving too fast. The greenery of the fields shifted as well, becoming harsher in contrast.
In the depths of his other world, that wooden broomstick became steel, his sheep became his brethren, and together they faced an impossible defense. The distant predators that were always lingering came all too close. He would stare at their faces glowing with red eyes and in return they would stare at his. His eyes were of such a pure black that they swallowed all color within them.
Time circled around this battle of wills, which the enemies clearly lost once their red glow became a dull gray. Their frustration fueled a battle cry which would deafen his ears.
The battles were fierce, but he could remember little. Inevitably, each time it would end with him waking up lying in the field, breathing heavily. It was difficult for him to discern how much of this was the output of his youthful imagination or some other experience.
When he would return from this state, his mother would scold him for tearing his clothes.
“We are poor enough as it is, foolish one!”, she would squawk.
He was careful to hide the wounds, those would upset her far too much.
Raumaan knew that within this army troop he would find the answers he sought. What was happening to him during the moments every boy should be able to enjoy? Why was he hurt, who tore his clothes? Why would these wounds heal far faster than normal? How were the animals not dispersed when he awoke, his chores complete?
He dared not expose his questions to the village boys who already treated him with suspicion. The battle of wills within this other world had parallels in this one, and these boys had all lost to him.
The stories from his father’s careful letters made clear to Raumaan that there was a particular saint within each troop. Every troop had its spiritual Ameer. He knew these were true servants of Allah, living only to serve and protect the nation for as long Allah deemed it worthy of being held up high.
If anyone knew what was happening it was that holy one.
Now only to find him! Raumaan ran to them.