Wisdom, like Muad’Dib and Shai-Hulud, was born in the desert.
—Korba the Panegyrist
I remember the days when everything was simpler. We Fremen used dew collectors to catch water, we hunted Harkonnen patrols, sayyadinas would bless the Water of Life … we still had the desert! You claim to know us Fremen, but sometimes I wonder…
[The guards are called back before they could harm the accused.]
What makes you think I know anything about Muad’Dib? He was trapped, as all living gods are trapped. Who was truly at the center of our worlds-spanning panopticon? We Fremen didn’t see that, of course, and it is only now, nine years since he left us, that I can say with any certainty that we are the ones who killed Muad’Dib. I can see it in her eyes. She knows.
Stop where you stand my former colleagues. The Reagent asked me of Muad’Dib, and I think I’ve earned the right to say my piece.
Besides, I do not think I’ll survive the night.
I was about ten years of age when the name ‘Muad’Dib’ first fell upon my ears. He had just killed Jamis, who had invoked the amtal rule. Although I had no real interaction with him, I had once played with his sons, Kaleff and Orlop. They were pleasant and friendly enough, so of course I felt a pang of grief when I learned of Jamis’ fate.
It was strange enough that it was an off-worlder to defeat Jamis in the tahaddi-challenge, but what struck me was that this ‘Muad’Dib’ had given water to the dead. Like the rest, I found myself deeply stirred. Even to this day, I can’t even imagine what it was like for those who actually witnessed this at Cave of the Ridges.
I was a friend of Jamis. However, if there was ever a man to lead us against the vile Harkonnen, it would be Muad’Dib, champion of Jessica of the Weirding.
Selim, from my sietch of Cave of Birds, had gone to Sietch Tabr to learn the weirding ways from Muad’Dib to become one of his fedaykin. Though I watched his movements and listened to his words, Selim would not let me participate. I was still a little mouse to him, despite having already ridden a worm. Even though I respected him as friend and teacher, his admonishment of teaching the weirding ways forced me to learn in secret.
No small wonder my awe of Muad’Dib only continued to grow. Although I was too young to fight with them against the corrupt, water-fat Harkonnen and their so-called Emperor, I saw fit to enlist in Muad’Dib’s jihad when I was a little older.
And why wouldn’t I have joined his jihad? The supposed Great Houses profaned the name of our Mahdi when they declared rebellion. Our cause was just. Our religion is just … but then I heard the statistics on those killed and I shuddered.
Were I not Fremen I would gladly give water to those poor souls, those that had no chance against the Fremen and Muad’Dib’s Fedaykin.
We say of Muad’Dib that he has gone on a journey into that land where we walk without footprints … the only time I truly felt the breadth of His words was the day I entered the Qizarate. I can still remember Muad’Dib saying: ‘The real universe is always a step beyond logic. There is peril in finding ultimate perfection. Such perfection is bound by its own fixity. In an ultimate perfection, all things move toward death.’
I think it was the first time I felt that I had became something more. My eyes and ears opened up and I felt a connection to my ruh-spirit. I became one of the select few tasked with protecting His Words and holy name. Through His Words I felt the unknowable alam al-mythal made real and tangible.
Looking back, I realize that he was just going through the motions and had probably said this to all the new initiates, and had I known this then I would have been angry. Now I recognize that that moment was but a pebble cast into the lake of His Knowing and Understanding. How does one such as me compare to the troubles of a living god?
Funny, I never would have been able to imagine a thing such as a lake had I not joined in jihad.
It was a shame when the stone burner blinded him, forcing our Mahdi to walk into the desert alone. I had always thought Korba to be a loyal, trustworthy Fremen, but, seeing now with the open eyes Muad’Dib always wanted from us, his guilt was true.
Korba the Panegyrist had became a sort of father figure to me. As a fedaykin, he knew the Lisan al-Gaib in a way denied to most. Though I was no fedaykin, we both had fought for the honor of our Mahdi and both of us found a much needed tranquility in the qizarate that jihad had taken from us. Korba was one of the few I felt truly knew the scars created by jihad.
If only I had been able to see the signs of Korba’s betrayal. I should have seen it! Perhaps I could have stayed him from that course. Every night I’m plagued by this thought; I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself that.
Muad’Dib was a great man, Reagent, and I saw the signs of greatness in both young Leto and Ghanima. Though we are all in mourning for the lost lad, I cannot believe that Leto is truly gone from us. An even greater fire burns in him than did his father, and as we all know Muad’Dib was never one to be taken lightly.
The desert is a part of him, now and forever.
So, how can I denounce him? He was our Lisan al-Gaib. The Misr loved him. They love him still.
[Despite the claims of the inquisitor, there were no hints of Voice on the accused tongue.]
Stilgar recently related to me words from young Leto: ‘Have you noticed how beautiful the young women are this year?’ Most would say that Leto was finally feeling the pangs of preadolescence, but I see it differently for I know that he was like you, Reagent. Though it may not seem like it, when I was younger I had played the challenge game and, like Stilgar, I can see a hidden wisdom behind these seemingly casual words.
It is something I think Muad’Dib would have said had he lived, I believe.
The world of the Fremen is changing; I can see that our ways are slowly dying out. And, no, Reagent, despite what you claim of me, I am not like Muad’Dib though perhaps I’m just able to sense the mortality in all things, Reagent.
[Hands quickly moved to crysknives, though a glare from the Reagent kept the blades sheathed.]
As long as Ghanima lives, Muad’Dib’s wisdom and knowledge continue to exist in this world. That is the world I desire to live in. A great coriolis storm is coming, and I fear what may befall Naib Stilgar. He is a good Fremen and is undeserving of what you plan.
As I said before, I cannot denounce him, coan-teen, any more than I could denounce my being Fremen.
I was a friend of Muad’Dib. May your blade chip and shatter.
—confession to St. Alia of the Knife by an unknown qizara accused of being prescient