THE SLATE OF VALE PART 7
The Dreamers prophecy
The road the women had took led away from the forest into a huge metal gate. The gate was ajar but Rex hid behind a tree and surveyed it for any guard. The rough wall surrounding whatever was inside was way taller than any fence he had ever seen. It was a gray wall, which might have once been white. The algae on it made Rex wonder how long the wall had stood. Not a part of it was affected by an agent of denudation. If these people were always here, where were they when darkness plague the world and sent the people of Anadan on their heel? Rex couldn’t place an answer to that question. Convincing himself that the path was clear, he sneaked into the gate quietly, with his right hands steady on his belt, where his shocker gun rest.
To Rex, it was like travelling back in time, from a computer age to a stone age. Noise filled his ear and dust fogged his nostril. Rex stood by the city wall keeping a good distance from the busy street. The walls had different carvings and designs on it. Taking a closer look at the ancient white wall, Rex observed the reddish patterns of a man holding a tablet in one hand and another with a goblet of fire. The painting was vague and strange, but from it Rex was able to observe that the man was running away from a dangerous beast behind him. Maybe it’s a story, Rex couldn’t guess less.
The people in the city wore jovial looks, making the dusty air smell with a mixture of festivity. Nobody spared him a second glance, the ones who did laughed at him like he was a fool. Most of the people wore different scary costumes as though they were celebrating Halloween. Some masked their face with animal skull; others were in animal hide and little skeleton tied round their waist. The noisy busy street was piled with masked men on horseback, carriages, and wagons. Along the road were different goods displayed for sale, ranging from fruits to sea food, skewed animals, caged birds of different spices and sizes. Beside a fish trader were two men in patched colored clothe. One of them was juggling four colored balls and the other was playing a harp. They had a cloth spread out in front of them, where people toss coins as they passed by or stopped to watch.
Despite the oddity in this big city, the place looked beautiful and neat. At the center of the street where there was a cross road, was a huge lion, with fountain of fresh water pouring out of its mouth. The houses here were built with white stones and had intricate patterns, designed identically with the city wall. It was hard not to stare.
Rex stood beside the old wall trying to hide behind a neat stable which was totally empty. Someone coughed behind him and Rex turned in time to see a masked face, supporting his weight with a strong cane. It was a man in a leopard vest, with wrinkles running down his whole body like the scale of a reptile.
“Because we call this feast the iron feast, does not mean you should come with iron costumes.” The man laughed but his laughter roared like the cracking of a stormy cloud, making him to cough. The four remaining brown teeth on his mandible, made the animal mask he wore appear alive.
Rex stared at him with confusion. He hadn’t understood the man’s language. The man was struggling with his cane to maintain his balance and his body convulsed at interval. A man at his age in Anadan was well taken care of by the government.
Rex held his tongue tightly as it threatens to ask the man what the hell he was talking about.
“Go to that building over there” the man pointed and Rex’s eyes followed the weak finger. The man spoke more clearly now but his ascent was an old Anadan’s tongue. ‘If these people are speaking my language’ Rex allowed his thought to wander ‘does it mean they are the lost blood line-
“There are free costumes for block heads like you” The old man said, interrupting Rex who wasn’t paying attention until then. “Change into something less amusing before the king of kings throws you into the cell of the damned.” The man laughed again and disappeared into the growing crowd.
“Wait…what do…who are you?” Rex stammered, but the man was already engulfed by the crowd.
Rex didn’t know what to make out of the man. He strode towards the building hoping nobody had paid attention to their conversation. The building was piled with assorted attire. Some were hung to the wall, others in what appeared to be a closet, and some littered the clean wooden floor. The shoes and sandals here were made from animal skin. They were beautiful but Rex found them odd, he would pick his polished leather boot anytime.
Two paces away from the door was a black dog sleeping peacefully.
Rex walked deeper into the room. The ceilings were painted black, but the rays of the sun, was sufficient enough for him to see the sparkling jewelries, displayed adoringly inside a case. The walls had strange paintings too and hung on the eastern part of the room, were voodoo masks, Animal hides, ranging from antelope to leopard to lion and some others he could place a name on. The dog sleeping beside the door growled a little, stood up and walked out of the room.
“What the hell” Rex gasps and reached for the gun on his belt. What he had mistaken for a dog was a huge wolf with deep brown eyes. Rex gulped and relaxed, the eyes of the animal were oddly familiar, but where had he seen something similar? He shook of the thought.
Rex scanned the entire room quickly and his eyes fell on a brown hood sitting almost the position where the wolf had been. He wore it immediately over his amore, walked out of the building and followed the streaming crowd blindly.
The crowd was heading to an arena and Rex who had been following them all this while, saw an empty spot and sat down on one of the spectator’s seat.
Down below was a rectangular ring which was almost six feet deep. The surface of the ring was covered with black muddy sand. Its wall had old marks and scratches, which look like a rough painting when viewed from afar.
The crowd cheered and stood up clapping, as two beast set down two thrones. The two thrones, made of gold, were escorted by battalions of solders on feet and on horseback. The solders had spares, swords, cross bows and were dressed like knights. Rex watched keenly as a handsome but old man stood up and waved his hands. Everything he wore was snow white, from the silver crown resting lazily on his white hair; down to his feet. His white robe was long but not long enough to sweep the floor. The crowd kept cheering as the man continues to wave his white gloved hands like a choir master. Rex’s heart skipped a beat when the other person on the throne sat up.
It was the woman from the stream. She was in a robe-less white gown. Her face had colors on it now but her eyes still sparkled and twinkled like the stars of a silent night.
She is heavenly beautiful, Rex admired just as the woman threw back her hair with her right hand and her dark hair fluttered in the gentle wind. She looked younger than the man in the white robe. Her simple white dress fitted into her body, making her attractive, both physically and emotionally.
“LET THE FEAST OF BONES AND IRON BEGIN” the man in white robe shouted and took his sit. He had spoken with an old tongue, a language that is obsolete in Anadan. The crowd cheered in return, just as the dark muddy sand on the pit ring was disturbed.
About twelve bare chest men in pants walked out through a gate at the southern end of the pit ring. They were skinny and pale, with hair shaved to the skin. They had swords which were blunt and rusty. They look weak and depressed and different emotion was plastered on their faces, but the one that was common was FEAR.
Another door at the northern side of the ring opened with a loud cracking sound and what came out from it was a living dead. They were skeletons, with flesh scattered on their body. The sinus of their cranium was visible anywhere the dangling skins failed to cover. Their hair was bald and scanty, as though infested by hair eating worms. It was difficult to distinguish the tattered skin and the rag cloth, from what seem to be a wing, attached perfectly on their spine, just on the cervical and coccyx of the vertebra.
Oh no. Rex stared in horror, trying with great attempt to force down the nausea. The two creatures were like nothing he’d ever seen or heard. As they attack the twenty men, he saw blood lust written all over their faces.
Majority of the crowd were cheering, while about a hand full were mourning with red eyes. Rex felt the urge to do something. He wished he could comfort those crying hopelessly. He empathized with the twenty on the pit and wished he could fight with them. The urge in him was too intense that he sought for the familiar extractor power, but couldn’t reach it even though the sun was up. As hard as he tried he couldn’t. Rex didn’t know what was wrong, so he stared pitifully at the ring. He was of the red linage, the fastest in the history of Anadan. With the Extractor power he was sure he could kill those creatures on the pit ring, as fast as the rays of light on a plane surface. But now, panic filled him, when he realized that he couldn’t extract, he felt vulnerable and empty.
“You shouldn’t have come here Rex Alba” Rex turned immediately to the direction. The words were tiny that it could have been impossible to hear it from the noise of the crowd. It was precise and familiar, with perfect intonation like a pure Anadan citizen.
“How did you know my name?” Rex asked. The owner of the voice was sitting next to him and was in a leopard vest. Rex recognized him now. It was the man from the gate who had showed him the boutique.
The man sat calmly not looking at his direction. His masked face was staring at the pit ring and dropping on his leopard vest, above his collar bone, was tiny droplets of tears.
Rex Gasp, why is he crying? “I didn’t mean to offend you good sir, I was just curious about how you knew my name” Rex added, surprised at the old man’s strange behavior. Something about the man’s calmness was similar to the deer he had met in the forest and the wolf in the boutique.
“The prophesy Rex, the dreamers prophesy” the man sobbed quietly not looking at him.
Prophesy? Rex was totally confused, he had not heard of any prophesy and the books in Anadan never mentioned any. Even the book of blood and feathers never said anything about prophecy. What is this old man blabbing about? Rex didn’t know the question to ask first.
“What is a dream?” Rex asked. “And what prophesy are you talking about?” The words felt strange on his lips. He watched the old man, who flippantly ignored the question. Or so Rex thought. The old man only paused and lifted his head, trying to no avail to damp his wet masked face. But when Rex thought he would not answer, th man said.
From shadows will he rise again
When then the balance shall be altered
And like a basket on sea water he shall destroy light
But when the twin stars of the light comes
Nature would harbor its own
And so would the world of dreams.”
Twin stars, Shadows, Dreams? What does it mean? “What in the Heroes city are you talking about? Are you sure you are sane?” Rex blinked with frustration. The old man had stopped sobbing now which was at least welcoming, but he was murmuring to himself quietly.
“Am not mad Rex Alba” The man finally said. He stared directly into Rex’s eyes. Rex shivered. The eyes were brown, like the eyes of the wolf and the deer. Oh no, could it be that this old man was the deer and the wolf I met earlier?
“I only mourn Rex” the man was saying “I mourn for the blood that would be shed here today.”
Just like a puff of smoke, the man vanished into a thin air.
Rex stood up frightfully. He turned in a three sixty degrees just to make sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. The crowd was still chanting amid his confusion. Nobody but him had noticed the old man.
“Where did he go?” Rex wondered. In his dilemma, his eyes went to the king’s throne which was at the opposite end. It was far enough not to make out the face of the person sitting there, but with the Extractor power, he adjusted his eyes for a long sight. At least my long sight didn’t go away with the rest of my speed. Rex thought. Just there, sitting next to the king, were beautiful copper eyes staring directly at him.
Rex’s world melted away, the thought of the old man and the mysteries surrounding him had lost its track in his mind. He held the gaze with the queen, battling with a part of him that warned him to avert. He knew he couldn’t, even when he tried his eyes won’t obey. They stared intently at the beautiful queen. Rex felt some kind of connection, as though everything that had happened was meant to be, as though he was meant to fall in love with this woman the moment he saw her. The eyes of the queen were welcoming and encouraging, but behind the glamour of her eyes, fear and sadness were written boldly.
All eyes turned to the blue sky as a troupe of air Tripler filled it. It came first like a humming song, like a fleet of birds migrating to a favorable weather, like a swamp of locust seeking for green vegetation. The sound became more fervent and loud as it came nearer. The people in the stadium all gasps, with a cloak of fear wrapping itself around them. Some who couldn’t withstand the noise fled to their respective abode, and others whose legs were too heavy to carry the weight of their body, watched with clapping teeth.
The air Tripler, with an A-shape; all landed inside the pit ring, which was now empty. The wing creatures and the twenty men had all disappeared.
Off all place to land Zack, you chose the arena. Why are you always a confident fool? Rex murmured irritably, he couldn’t tell if it was because of the fact that the general’s appearance had brought him back from his trance with the queen, or the fact that he was suddenly jealous of the captain general.
The whole place was quiet and the people watched with fear. The king’s knight made to stop the intruders, but backed down when the king gave the signal.
The captain general in his brown uniform stood tall, with his helmet covering his face. Three others in black and white stood beside him, and the keepers – the robots – stood behind them with shocker guns ready.
“Greetings to you my lord” The captain general said as his helmet folded into a plate and covered his right ear. “How great is your kingdom, may your reign be forever.”
The general and his companion knelt with one knee touching the mud, facing the king’s throne. The once tensed crowd was now returning to its state of rest, as it saw no course for alarm.
Rex was impressed, he never knew the captain general as a lamb. They had fought together for years, but all those years that had forged them into men, the captain’s behavior today, was nothing compared to what he once was.
“How dare you interrupt my feast” the king bellowed. He had spoken well this time in pure Anadan’s ascent.
General Zack and his companion stood up and gave a gentle man’s bow. “We are sorry good king; we were only looking for -”
“YOU ARE DOOMED” the king stood up with anger flashing its radiance in his white eyes. An icy scepter appeared in his hands out of the blue. “Summon the damned” the king roared.
The crowd at that moment let go the cloak of fear that once held them captive and cried out in delight, but Zack and his companions were confused, not knowing what the pandemonium was all about.
The southern door of the arena opened silently this time and people in black gowns, about three of them came out from it.
Their skins were pale like the ash on a hearth. On their left eye was a lightning bolt tattoo which ran down to their check bone. Their hair was scanty, but they were more human than the last time.
This is not good. Rex thought as he ran down the stairs and let go off the brown hood. He jumped and spin in the air landing smoothly inside the pit ring, in front of the general. This brought silence back to the growing crowd.
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t fry your brains with a ball of electricity.” The general asked angrily.
“Because you would use my skill to battle those” Rex pointed with his shot electric gun. The general frowned and typed something on his control pad. He hadn’t seen the creatures until now.
“Great king” the general said “We came looking for one of our own, we would return in peace and tell our people how kind and great you are. Call off your men and there would be no bloodshed today.” General Zack warned but the king only stared. The general pushed a red button on his control panel and the keepers turned their attention to the three creatures advancing.
“I said call of your creatures now.” The general repeated. But like before, the king kept adamant with boredom. Without much ado, the killing started. The keepers’ rain down balls of electricity at three creatures and in a flash of seconds, the three creatures were down with smoke popping out of their body.
“IMPOSSIBLE.” The king shouted in rage; with a tiny fragment of enthusiasm written somewhere in his voice. The crowd watched with mouth agape, not even an ant was moving at the moment, for they had not seen a damned army defeated before.
“I warned you” general Zack said proudly “but now you have tasted my patient, and left me with no choice.”
“What do you mean? Let’s get out of here.” Rex said to the general, he couldn’t believe his ears.
“I won’t leave until I raise this place and these barbarians to the dust.” Zack chuckled and typed something on his control pad.
“No” Rex said aloud. The people in the arena might have heard that as they started running helter-shelter. Mother’s calling out to their children, brothers calling out sister and wife calling out husband. The whole place was in total disarray.
“You can’t do this”
“Watch me Rex, just watch and learn” the general said and Rex stared at him thoughtfully.
“Now I understand. You wanted to destroy this place all along, it was never your intension to report back home that this place actually exist.” Rex pointed accusingly.
“Bravo. Look who’s finally gotten smart.” The general said “Anadan is the only place where life is meant to be and should be. I was born to keep it that way.”
Rex stared into the eyes of his co-solders standing next to the general; they were new cadets who would do nothing but to follow orders. None of them met his gaze, they were in the same league with the general and Rex knew he could do nothing, they must follow orders. Rex for the second time that day missed being captain general.
“I won’t let you do this; I don’t mind to die trying.” Rex pointed his gun at them with determination.
The general chuckled. “This is hilarious; can’t you see you are outnumbered?” Rex stared around him. The keepers under the general’s command were all pointing their guns at him.
Rex cursed and regretted for once in his life that his keepers were not with him.
“You don’t have a choice but to surrender, even with your speed glow you can’t defeat all these keepers. The extractor power has limits.” Rex spat angrily at the Generals words. He reached out for his powers again but like before, he felt empty. If only he could glow, the general’s warning would have been meaningless. Rex was about to drop his shocker gun when the sticky dark mud swallowed up the whole keepers, about a hundred of them.
Rex turned behind and was surprise to see the queen in the pit ring. Her eyes were ablaze with a desert sun and her dark hair was now white and was dazzling like a pure diamond.
“Run Rex. Run.” whispered a soft voice in Rex’s head. Rex was sure that those words belong to the queen, but he hadn’t seen her moved her lips, her lips were locked when she said that.
“How did…you…, what…are” Rex stammered and stayed put. “No I won’t.” He said firmly. Just then, an icy spare pieced his black armor and embedded itself in his heart. Rex shrieked with anguish and held the icy spare.
“Why?” he asked the queen who caught him before his kneels could reach the ground. “It wasn’t me” Rex heard her sobbed. From the corner his eyes he caught the king making another spare out of the air.
“Where you go I go. We die together.” The queen whispered. Before Rex closed his eyes to darkness, he saw a vague image of the queen stabbing herself with a dagger.
“Kneel” the king’s voice thundered and the crowd shuddered. The whole place shock as the king’s whole body disintegrated into white smoke and floated down to the pit ring.
“I have waited for this day” the king was saying “now that it has come you would serve my purpose” he finished and laughed wickedly, just as General Zack and his companion, held their throat and struggled for breath. Misty air surrounded their head and chocked them to death