STRAY CATS
COLD WATERS
Cold Waters was one of Babylon`s more unorthodox philosophers. He was born into the warrior-priest caste of the Temple of Ishtar and first gained fame as a brilliant swordsman
in the Second Desert War. The Emperor, claiming that the Assyrians were secretly amassing Weapons of Great Destruction, invaded Assyria. The Assyrian counterattack pushed the Babylonian army all the way back to the city. Cold Waters, then known as Berossus, was one of the Heroic Seven; one of only seven brave men still left standing, defending the Gates of Babylon against the invaders.

The city was saved by the propitious arrival of an army of Medes, the traditional allies of Babylon. But not before over 50,000 soldiers from both sides perished. Berossus, was so appalled by the senseless savagery of war, that he buried his sword next to his fallen comrades and renounced the world of men. Eventually, after years of wandering, he retreated to a cave in the deep desert. The cave, known locally as Cold Waters because of a small spring flowing from its base, became Berossus` adopted home and his namesake. There, he acquired wisdom and compassion in proportion to the depth of his solitude. His writings, drawings and life story have become the stuff of legend.
Cold Waters had little patience for the pomp and pretence of the aristocracy. His sympathies lay with the downtrodden, dispossessed of human society and with the poor creatures of the wilds. When the Emperor and his court, with much pageantry and showy ceremony, paid their respects to the venerable sage, Cold Waters was singularly unimpressed. Seeing the unshaven, squalid, philosopher squatting in the dirt like a feral beast, the Emperor asked if there was anything he could do for him. Cold Waters answered, "Move a little to the left. You`re blocking the breeze."
When the Emperor asked what he would like to hear from the court musicians, the sage answered, "Silence!" Then the Emperor, red-faced in anger shouted, "What`s the difference between you and an ass?" Cold Waters calmly replied, "About six feet."
Cold Waters` powers of philosophical concentration were legendary. Once he meditated for days on top of a rock without moving. He meditated so long that his body became magically transformed. Little by little, his carbon atoms were replaced by silicon; first his legs, then his upper body and arms, and finally his head metamorphosed into crystals of feldspar, mica, quartz and hornblende. Cold Waters had become granite.

It was then that he first clearly heard the Voice of the World. He heard the sound of water
dribbling down the unhurried centuries, converting hard rock, atom by atom into pebbles, pebbles into sand, sand into mud, mud into organic chemicals; different stages in the evolution of stone to spirit, mud to mind. He heard the sounds of mountains moving, oceans rising and falling, boulders splitting under pressure of root and frost. He heard the patter of human activity, faint at first and then gradually more loudly insistent. Many secrets he heard that day, a man-rock meditating on rock.

By the reckoning of the earth, his metamorphosis had lasted only a few seconds. But when he was changed back into human form, he found that a hundred years had passed and the world of men had changed much.
If Cold Waters had a human weakness, it was for chocolate. Upon realizing his chocolate supply had dwindled precariously of late, he decided to soujourn at a distant oasis, famed as a city of delectable confections. The oasis was a five-day journey on foot across some of the harsher desert in Babylon.

After three days of tramping through a desolate wasteland of sand and stone, Cold Waters had become hoplessly lost. Exhausted, thirsty, half-choked with dirt, he was fortuitously rescued by a caravan of spice traders. Though he had lost a lot weight and almost died, he was nevertheless able to procure enough chocolate to last the season. Unfortunately, most of it melted on the way back to his cave.

Sometimes even a sage, it seems, can be a fool.