These were the hills of home. These were the valleys where we began. This is the river of life, now the dead have sailed into the Far World.
We gathered the bodies as the village still smouldered. All of us limp with grief and loss. There was not a family left without a tragedy and many who were no longer families at all.
It has always been a hard life here, despite the sheltered valley and the protecting hills. Now the invaders have come, it is no life at all. It is time to leave, time to flee while there are still enough of us left to make the journey.
The Shaman says there is more of the world out there, but we do not know. All we know is the dead sail down there in their burning boats and never return. Occasionally, a young brave man will sail off too, down the River of Death, to see what lies beyond this valley. They, like the dead, never return.
Now, if only because of the invaders, we know there are lands out there beyond this valley. The invaders, though they act like vengeful gods, devils or demons, are as human as we are. After all, we managed to kill some of them and they die like us. Their wounded ones handed to the grieving mothers scream like us too. They scream as they die slowly in the savage revenge of those still-sobbing mothers who had their children torn from them.
When the mothers tore the life from those wounded invaders, it was justice. It would not bring their children back, of course. Nevertheless, they needed that justice, even though some call it revenge.
So now, we stock the boats we have left after the last bodies set sail on the river of the dead. As each dead soul takes their last flaming journey, the fire burns their souls free of the lifeless bodies, freeing the spirits.
We don’t know if those freed spirits will follow us down the river of the dead, or if we too will join them after we see what lies beyond the river bend, in the mysterious lands beyond.
All we know is that the invaders will return. We know there will be many more of them. All seeking their justice, their revenge, for those they lost.
We know we must not be here when they return.
All we can hope for is that this, our journey down the River of the Dead, will become our journey down the River of Life to some new land where we can start again.