Chain Border

Don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters.
-Bob Dylan

The pool was always calm and peaceful-bound on all sides by good iron-ore. It was said that once in each lifetime, the water would exceed its rocky cuffs. Ferro had not seen that ever-until today.

The torrent from the sky had peppered the calmness for fourteen turns of the heavens. Now there were new boundaries-green fronds dipping into water that once was earth. These green fronds brought fresh fare into easy reach. Ferro seized upon the opportunity-and the fruits of the sinking fronds became known to all his Loyals.

Ferro's world was being challenged. The pool was rushing into a furious cleavage at what he called Hell Gate. Hell Gate was where dirt met shining, and this day there was no separation of the two. Smaller swimmers were fighting hard to remain clear of its rush and swiftness.

Ferro's father had often spoken of Progunder-a place beyond Hell Gate. He said it was forbidden to the unworthy such as he. Ferro respected the words of his father and the knowledge that had allowed the Wise One to live a full life in peace. He demonstrated his respect when his father grew too old and weak to forage the fronds and reeds. Ferro brought snails to him every day until the wave of the old one's plates tired, and he cast himself as sheen upon the surface of the pool. His father did not move again and the furries consumed his float.

Since the Wise One fled the humble pool, such things as Progunder were left for Ferro to ponder. He fanned and tacked, and moved carefully toward the sucking wash of the Gate. Close behind him, in awe and admiration, were the first-year fingerlings and the shiny new hatchlings that came from the cypress-knee nests. Ferro's steering fins and his dorsal commander kept him clear of Gate's foaming funnel-a magnet that beckoned him closer. He sensed the pull of the current against his plates as he watched the wisps of moss and the bigger leaves skate hurriedly by and join in the plummet.

Ferro sensed that the Forbidden Place must surely be a richer world. Yes, past this pool must lay the promise of an abundance of crawlers and masses of careless flies falling into easy grasp. It was a place that did not rely on the benevolence of dipping fronds-it was Progunder-where play and merriment would replace the trials of hard forage.

The mirror that had always been his sky was disturbed. Its flatness was severed and it wobbled against unknown pressures as it drifted toward the draw of Hell Gate. Ferro turned his wide body to the Loyals who awaited his next move. They were assembled as uniform legions, in columns stretching almost out of sight. Their tight unwavering formations paid no heed to the disorderly green fronds that were happily waving their farewells.

"We must go where the Father calls us," Ferro said, "and we must know that His Firmament is right and good. It is the calling of the Highness Pescadora. He has said in his thunder-voice that we must go and seek Progunder."

With these words, Ferro hurled himself over the narrows and into the swirling wrench-committing them all to his unmapped adventure of faith. The slapping of his tail pushed against the cascading mud and leaves to make a trail for the Loyals. Ferro's tail had become the battle flag for those who followed.

The iron-ore pond quickly retreated behind them. Echoing through the froth that surrounded the travelers could be heard the song of a mournful Mymeetie. She had been Ferro's sidefish during this memorable year of only ten complete moons. She paused at Hell Gate for a moment, then fanned her long body back into the safe cuffs of the pool. She shed a tear-absorbed and unseen. Mymeetie was alone now. Soon she must mass her roe-without the fan of Ferro.

The current swept them all into its violent ribbon, contorting through stones and shards of grass that were yesterday's meadows. Over and over they rolled along a tumble-course to an uncharted destination. Ferro stayed well in front of the trusting. He knew that all of them were dependent on him for their safe deliverance.

Once-only once-did Ferro regret the calmness left behind. Red shame! He must never think of the iron-ore pool again. Such thoughts were soft and weak-like the carp left behind because their spines were of gel. The followers must never know of his brief misgivings and his lapse of great purpose.

Ferro felt a sudden float-free of all things touching him. He lost his view of the sky and the dirt at once. There was free-fall and then blackness. Ferro did not see again until the next light of the Great Globe awakened him.

Morning disclosed a pristine place. Yellow spears of sun shimmered through early haze to light a crystal pool. Around him were his brethren, bruised as he. They beckoned for his first words like good soldiers with long-empty sacks. Ferro composed himself-stiffening his dorsal and assuming a rigid and unwavering posture-like all leaders of free domains must do.

"See this! We have found the promise-pool and it is ours. Look at the majesty of the dripping caverns within Progunder's cuffs-examine the bounty laid before us. Celebrate the majesty of Highness Pescadora's world! It is a world that He has given us without asking for tribute-not so much as a pittance. Roil in His plenty."

And the Loyals roiled about-feasting on the abundance of prey that yielded themselves freely to the superior numerical force.

"Ferro is a good master-a wise Pescadorian!" Said the plentifully blessed.

"It is a place without toil-without care-with ample mollusks and grubs," echoed one of the despised whiskered-fish. Whiskered-fish had been known as the lazy ones at iron-ore pond. They forsook the honor of the hunt to forage the bottom for distressed and dying swimmers who could not escape their glutton-girth. But at least this one gave rightful praise to Ferro.

"But Master," said a Loyal who was still too tiny to be someone's evening meal. "The pool has no egress-how can it be a boon to us compared to our iron-ore pond? How might we make our way onward? Our travel past here is blocked by soils and wood."

Ferro smiled as he forgave the display of innocence by the young Loyal. He replied, "The only true knowledge of the morrow is owned by the swimmers who lay the orange roe. They are the chosen lots-those who can swim north against churning south-flow. But that is not us. Our morrows are this Progunder.

"But Master Fer…"began the Loyal again.

Ferro stiffened his dorsal once more. Who was this Loyal so small but with such a voice of peril? He raised his tone:

"You must not ponder me-have I not delivered you to Progunder? I have seen and heard Highness Pescadora-the Host of Hosts, Lord of Lords, the Knower of Knowers. Ferro is the voice of His faith-my truth comes directly from Highness Pescadora's swirling fin dorsal."

With that, the little Loyal quietly withdrew to the backside of a stone larger than himself.

Ferro had spoken directly from the Tablet. The Tablet was something he wanted to withhold for a more distressing or threatening time-not for this day of celebration. But now it was said, and no gill would dispute Ferro's place in the Great Divinity.

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