Iridium – Part I

The cold sweat poured down his brow as he froze in his tracks, hidden from view behind a fallen wall. If they saw him now, they could shoot right through the fragile construct, shattering it and piercing him with the fury of a thousand arrows fused into one. He tried to control his breath, in a vain hope that they may not hear his gasps for fresh air, even though such air is rarely found in the land he was in.

The glow of the strobe lights hit the walls behind him, casting numerous shadows as they moved about like sentient images. They would not cease looking for him, at least not for the next hour or so, before the sandstorms would come to erase all traces and threaten to bury them too with him. Perhaps they theorized that they would try to capture him while they can and play with his body amidst his tortured screams, or leave him to die in the savage storm that was to come.

He thought that the sandstorm would be a pleasant alternative to being naked in the presence of their hands and instruments, for he has seen what has become of other prisoners like him. Yet, he had managed to evade them this far, until one mistake made them aware of his presence, and made them chase him to this desolate city, which is plagued endlessly by day-long sandstorms.

Their horrid chatter filled the air, yet he could not understand what was been said, as it was said in a tongue which he did not recognize. Their language seemed to be older than that of his or his tribe and so were their weapons and power. Yet there was something they wanted from his tribe, which is why he found himself hunted so, and his kin imprisoned in their underground fortress.

A sudden change of wind, and the tell-tale smell of burning earth heralded the arrival of the sandstorm. He could hear their chatter intensify and then fade away, as they hurried back towards their vehicles. The Yana roared as they left the ground, carrying with them the hunters who had given up pursuit for the sake of their own precious lives. He watched them leave with relief, although he knew that surviving the sandstorm would mean yet another ordeal.

Quickly, he crawled out of his hiding place and scanned the area for a suitable place to hide. The ancient city seemed to be full of old buildings and huts, yet he knew that if he hid in them he may be buried there for decades to come, especially if the sandstorm did not end in a few days. Thus, he made his way to the tallest tower he could see, which seemed to be in the centre of the long dead city.

It seemed that this tower was meant to serve as a station for the ancient wizards who pursued their arcane sciences in search of new vistas of occult knowledge that was deemed too delicate or dangerous for the normal minds of their time to understand. Had this city been alive and thriving with its now vanquished populace, he would be thrown out of here immediately, as he was never a man of mind; or so he was taught to think.

The ancient tower stood firm and still as he made his way up the withered stone steps to the very summit. Many levels later, he stopped out of breath, and wished that he had something to drink with him. Yet the lonely tower offered nothing but the sound of the whistling wind that the sandstorm brought, leaking through the ancient windows and swirling about him.

As the sandstorm engulfed the old city, Ketu curled up and fell asleep, his hunger shadowed by his fatigue.

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~ by Prageeth Thoradeniya on August 16, 2010.

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