This chapter makes me cry every time I read it. It's a silly thing but also emotional for me.
The Noble Death
Living in the desert is painfully hard in my world. The Mifuno Desert is thousands of kilometers across and roughly the size of Asia. It has no rivers to speak of, terrifying wind storms, and an unrelenting heat and dryness. There is only one continent in the “known world” and most life is gathered in the 500 km strip along the coast where moisture still reaches the ground.
I think, mainly because I never finished the map.
There are many reasons for why the desert clans remain in this inhospitable place. Mostly, their magic is here and they have a tight symbiosis with their spirits that gives them what they need to survive.
The last of moisture and rain also means that there aren't a lot of resources. Every oasis Rutejìmo passes is a fortress or shelter created by only a few spirits who used their energy to provide liquid or shade. Every city is carved and crafted by a clan who spent their energies building it. It is very personal, this world.
It is also brutal. The hunt for resources means that clans attack each other with regularity. It was only recently that the clans found an uneasy peace with each other and started to pull themselves out of the sand into the great civilization. The old ways are still there, which means warriors still have powerful magic to defend their clan (and its resources) from attackers.
This realization is part of the fabric of society. It is a failure, a weakness, for a warrior to die of old age. Somiryòki, his step-grandfather spent the last decade of his life with PTSD and nerve damage from a battle he almost didn't survive. He is relegated to a cave because of the shame that he didn't die in that fight. Of course, with this culture's obsession about not talking about it, he was basically left in a cave to die where no one could see him. Only Rutejìmo's grandmother, Tejíko, took care of him much like Mapábyo cared for Rutejìmo in Sand and Ash.
In Sand and Blood, Chimípu's biggest struggle was the realization that she was going to die painfully in service to the clan. It was an obvious conclusion, mainly because of this cultural belief that warriors have a “good death”, a noble one if you will.
There is a reason Seven Samurai was an inspiration of this book. It is about the noble death of warriors and the pain that goes when you lose someone close to you.
The title of the chapter might give you an idea of who Rutejìmo loses.
Sand and Bone 18: Brothers
Along with the others, Rutejìmo ends up running for his life. He sees his friends and families for what might be the last time before he sets off on his own perilous journey. Before he goes, however, his brother has one last thing.
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