Excerpt from my novel: The Substance Hoped For:
They were wealthy men. And wise. These were qualities which they knew set them above other men. However, they did not allow that knowledge to warp them with pride. They were too wise for that. Rather, they knew that these qualities begged their service to mankind. They used their wisdom as entrepreneurs, bringing trade and prosperity to their countrymen. They used their wisdom to learn more of the world and its workings. They brought organization and planning to their country, and it grew. In this way they worked with the world as it is seen by men.
But they also knew that there was more. There was an unseen world which overlaid the one they saw and understood. It was a world of gods and spirits. These were what really moved humanity along its course with men seldom realizing it. But they knew. It was more than a suspicion. They knew. Their conclusion was supported by the writings of the ancients, those who lived when the world was new. Those who walked with the powers now unseen. Worldly fortunes grew, but those paled to the growing thirst to know what the ancients knew. So they studied.
They focused on history and folklore. They were acquainted with a great many religions as well as myths of gods and the beginnings of the world. They hoped there was a god. Otherwise, the knowledge they held, the riches they enjoyed, the civilization they called home was all without meaning. There would only be the rule of might. There would be no right or wrong, only opinions. However, with all of their study and experience, they were sure that “right” and “wrong” were absolutes. They were sure that there had to be a god. One, at least.
There was more. They had the distinct feeling that the histories they studied were not complete. They felt sure that these old, dry writings pointed to further events. These events had yet to occur, but their eventual fulfillment seemed as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise. Their study focused more than ever on where these incomplete writings pointed and how those times would be marked. They had felt themselves poised on the brink of something, at the lip of a chasm in time that would send mankind hurtling into…what? They could not tell. Not precisely.
The feelings they held were of anticipation as well as foreboding. Humankind and change did not always mix well, even when the change was for the better. That was why they felt their hearts stop this night. The breath was stolen from their lungs as they gazed into the sky. They felt as though time had stopped, and, indeed, they almost wished it would. If time would not stand still for them this night, they knew they would either find themselves destroyed with disappointment or swept into a maelstrom of events that would turn the flow of human history into a violent backwash of time as humanity searched for its new direction.
Since the dawn of time, men had looked to the stars to determine what the fates held in store for them. Some had erroneously viewed falling space debris as a sign of either greatness or calamity. Others, like these men, had learned to read the motions of the stars and could determine the times of the years. But very few, if any, had their knowledge of both the skies and the stories of men and gods. Although the brightly shining body that they beheld this night was like none they had ever seen before, they knew what it meant. They knew what they had to do.
In the centuries that would follow them, a great many scientists would guess as to just what was seen tonight. These scientists would put forth theories of suns gone nova or planetary alignments. These scientists in the future would be individuals of high learning and resources that would be far beyond the grasp of these three men. These scientists, not yet born, with all of their learning and tools, may well someday provide an accurate description of how what these three men now saw had come to pass. But they would never truly understand it. They would never be Wise Men.
The Substance Hoped For by Jeffrey H. King