"...so the woman Ka-shok, who would become Mother of the T'Sel, sat in the shade of a fish-hook bush, looking through the heat shimmers across the gravel pan where the only midday movement was a drill bird flying from thorn jug to thorn jug, to listen and peep, peck and swallow. And Ka-shok wondered what the truth was of our origins. For to her, the old stories of gods and demons seemed unreal in the world of heat and drought, of hard labor beneath the stars, of bore-worms in the root crops.
It occurred to her then that one should be able to look at a place and what had been there in its past, seeing things the way they had been instead of the way they were at present. If one knew how. It also seemed to her that she did know how, if she could only do it right.
Now to do something, one must first start and she decided to start by closing her eyes to what was there at that time; perhaps then she could see the long before. So she closed them, but before long went to sleep and saw only dreams until a scorpion stung her.
That was but her first attempt, for its failure and the failures that followed, did not discourage her. Before the season of rains came two more times, she had begun to see the past; and not only the past of where she was, but the past of other places. And of living people - things that had happened to them before that lifetime. which she had not expected. And she spoke of these things to her husband, who thereupon beat her and called her crazy, and to her daughters and son, who, in fear, began to keep her grandchildren away from her.
But she continued looking, seeing more and more, and further and further back, only saying no more about it. And it was as if this activity, though pursued in silence, was like a signal fire in the night, attracting seekers. For a certain few people, both old and young, some of them strangers, sought her out, confiding in her their dreams and wonderings, seeking her advice. Until at length, she and some of those few went away, west into the Jubal Hulls, where they lived on the sparse catch of snares and fish traps and the roots of certain planets, and together they sought back in time, with her as their guide.
Mostly they kept apart from any others, but this one and that would return to their homes from time to time. And when anyone asked them what they had been doing, they answered simply that they had been praying in the hills with an old woman. For what they had seen seemed at the time too strange to tell others, who might beat them for it, or drive them away.
Nonetheless, bit by bit, others, not knowing why they did so, decided to go and pray with ka-shok, who by then had begun to be wizened and gray-headed. And they became too many to be fed from snares and fish traps. So one who owned land and water rights took Ka-shok and the others home with him, to the dismay of his son there, and they dug many cells into a hill, that each could have his or her own. And this man declared rules of conduct, and rules of duties, that so far as possible they might continue to seek without the distractions of misconduct, for they did not yet know T'sel.
And not only did they see more and more of what had been in the past, but they began to glimpse behind the Here and behind the There. And before Ka-shok departed the ancient husk her body had become, more and more seekers had come to her, until the community moved again, occupying an entire valley and building irrigation works greater than had been seen before on Tyss.
For they had seen marvels in their past, not only of vessels going among the stars, but of the place they had come from. And from the seeing, learned much.
And of even greater import, they began to perceive the T'sel.