All Should Be in Order

Gergely Sülye

All should be in order. Of course we never think about that because it is a given in our lives, for most of us. I say most of us because there are people out there, in less-developed places, who live without order. They live per se, but not for long, not without order. Thus their chances of seeing this letter are really thin, making it appropriate to assume that the person this reaches lives in a civilization with successful guidelines. After all, a civilization is fully dependent on an orderly structure with its rules and regulations.

This is what the me of yesteryear would have said.

My coming-of-age ceremony was held in winter. I received my share of the heirloom that Father had left behind, and I departed to the West, on the same passage my older brothers had walked before me. Despite my appearances I never wanted to be a wild man. Building a shack and hunting animals for the rest of my life while trying my best to stay alive, I never wanted that. Apparently an easy life is a cowardly one, according to my family. They despise the Southern people, but it is a mutual feeling. The South hated us too.

Somehow, in my gut, I knew that fitting in someplace where I was unwelcome would still be much easier than managing alone. A rebellious feeling to be sure, but it was rational. Seeking to live under order instead of the chaos our homeland offered.

I don’t remember much after taking that sharp left turn. I travelled through forests and plains for a while, taking some time to camp and regain my strength. I eventually found a road. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that. Strong and elegant, it reminded me of my image of the destination it inevitably led towards and gave me hope. I encountered some merchants; they weren’t natives but they sure acted the part. They offered to let me ride along, in an odd fashion as if I threatened them, but I was actually trying my best to be as kind as possible.

That ride was really long. I counted neither the nights nor the days, since I trusted the merchants would do it instead of me. They were men that I aspired to be like. Intelligent, calculative, without physical strength but always with full pockets. They had routines and plans and together they formed something even greater. I learned that they were scouting the area in search of settlements or villages that they could mark on their maps. They started at the northern edge of the known maps and went back down from there, coming upon me in the process. They told me a great number of people came from the North like me, although they had their own horses and moved in larger groups. I never knew there were like-minded people living in the nearby regions, so it took me by surprise. Perhaps they could help me find a stable place within civilization, as they should have already settled by the time I arrived. Or so I thought.

The first notable thing we came upon was smoke. A small town near the road we were traveling on, empty and in ruins. The merchants insisted on going past, but I couldn’t help it, so I hopped off in search of remains or survivors. There was nothing. Not even corpses. It was as if something had consumed everything that moved, and left behind nothing but ash. In lower spirits, I went back to the road. They were gone.

I continued towards the capital on foot. The road made it easier to travel. It was delicate and smooth, unlike the harsh terrain I had faced in the forests and plains. I stopped time and time again to camp down and take some rest, although less frequently than before. There were more villages just like the first one. With the intention to find food I inspected the first few but found nothing, as expected. I don’t know when, but I stopped even caring. Sometimes the smoke was dense, and in some places the fire was still burning, but I ignored them, focusing on the road ahead.

And there it was. After a long time of seeing nothing but the road getting swallowed by the horizon ahead of me, that scenery finally changed. A giant town, no, a city! Buildings I had never seen before. The beautiful architecture you’d expect from a civilized group of people living together. The great columns, delicate bricks, perfectly chiseled shining stones.

The chilling empty roads that connect everything, buildings that are partly destroyed, but standing proudly. The great dense smoke in the sky, the bright flames coming out of every window, the screams. The screams. I didn’t want to believe it. After coming so far, I only saw the ruins of my dreams. Maybe if I had come with them, those who had embarked before me? On their own horses, in their own groups. Of course not. I knew they were the cause of this, but I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted to see the order I had always wished for. That was how I witnessed it. The fall of Rome. Back then, I didn’t understand that the way I went about things was close to the truth but still far. Civilization exists because of order, yes, but my people still managed to organize themselves and take down something great. That makes their efforts greater, and their order even more commendable. Order is made to ward off chaos, but chaos is required to then create order. And once its time is up, order shall become chaos once more.