The Natural World: Prophets of Stone – Chapter 10: Threat

Chapter 10: Threat

      Four days had passed. Sunlight beat down on Sara as she struggled to lift her left leg through the Barren Lands. She was moving slower than the previous days. Valquire placed his hand in front of her and told them that they needed to rest, otherwise Sara would collapse. Chavis, however, said they should keep going. They had not eaten since their boat was destroyed. Sara was persistent, however, and said they had to keep going or everyone would starve.

      Sye asked Sara if she was alright to walk, and she said, “Yes.” Later, however, it was apparent she was not, for she collapsed behind Sye.

      Frantic, Sye screamed for his sister and ran to her side. He moved her body over and shook her, but she didn’t wake up. Chavis pointed toward a small smoke puff in the distance.

      “Someone has to live there.”

      Valquire lifted Sara onto his back as Sye watched with a disturbed eye, but he just breathed harder then turned around. Leaving the others behind him, Sye ran toward the smoke.

      After the stone creature incident, everyone had agreed that taking the path would be a death wish if there were more of them. However, since they had barely left Gaia before their boat was trashed, they had a long walk ahead of them. They survived on various berries and the occasional apple and pear tree along the way, but there was no natural food after entering the Barren Lands. After a few days, they ran out of food, and then, the last 4 have been without any sustenance. The Barren Lands were also slowly transforming into a desert, but this was the only way to move forward safely.

      Sye arrived at a house near the smoke, where a little girl was walking. This girl held her head down and moved forward in a small, sluggish manner. She did not acknowledge Sye’s presence when he arrived.

      “Is there a doctor? My sister is sick.”

      The girl shuffled in a straight path, ignoring him. Sye grabbed the girl’s shoulders and shook her.

      “You must know something? Tell me.”

      The girl was unfazed. Her gaze stared at the ground. She tried walking despite the fact Sye blocked her path. Sye pushed her back, but she kept walking. Sye shoved her out of the way and ran into a house.

      An elderly woman sat in her chair, rocking. The house was bare. Except for a small rug in the middle of the floor, there was no decoration or furniture.

      “I need a bed, please. My sister is dying.”

      The woman stood from her chair and staggered toward their room. Sye followed the woman in, where she placed her hands over the mattress and pulled it closer to the door.

      “I just need a bed. Stop that.”

      The woman dropped the bed, walked back into the living room, then sat in her chair and rocked. Sye stared at her as she rocked, but her eyes never glanced his direction.

      Valquire appeared at the door, holding Sara. Sye snapped out of his trance and told them to follow him into the bedroom. Valquire laid Sara on the bed. Sye returned to the woman and asked if she could get them some water. She left, then minutes later returned with a bucket of water. After putting the water down, the woman returned to her chair.

      Sye brought the bucket in and filled his hands with water, which he then poured onto Sara’s mouth. After five splashes, Sara coughed, appeared startled, then fell asleep.

      “Let her sleep. She has never been pushed this hard before, I assume. With enough rest, food, and water, she will be fine.”

      “Something is wrong,” said Valquire. “This isn’t Gaul.”

      “Gaul is huge, I’ve been there once before. This isn’t it,” said Sye.

      Valquire walked toward the door then turned his face into the room.

      “Watch over her Sye. I’m going to look around.”

      Valquire walked through the town, but there were only twelve cabins. They were poorly constructed, too. Some of the wood stuck out further than it should. Door and window sills were not aligned correctly. Six people were constructing a new cabin, but they moved so slow that it would take many weeks to finish.

      Behind the construction workers, a boy stood with his hands behind his back. Valquire called to the boy, but he did not respond. Valquire assumed he was like the others as he approached him, but the boy responded to Valquire getting close with a roundhouse kick. His leg made no impact, stopped by Valquire’s grasp. Startled, the boy froze.

      “What are you doing?”

      The boy did not respond. He fell to the ground and yelled out.

      “Attack him my slaves.”

      The construction workers dropped the logs and tools they held. One even dropped a hammer of his foot, but did not feel it. The workers approached Valquire like zombies, moving slow, but posing no threat, especially not with one of Valquire’s background.

      Valquire punched the first man in the stomach and knocked him to the ground. He smashed the heads of two of them together, the swung one of the workers into the last one. All this took place in less than twenty seconds.

      The boy of the ground moved away from Valquire, but Valquire was angry. He gripped the boy by the neck.

      “I want answers,” he said, squeezing the boys neck tighter, “now!”

      The boy sprung a needle from his arm and stabbed it into Valuire’s shoulder. Valquire threw the boy to the ground. The boy simply turned and smiled. Valquire clenched his fists to prepare to execute the boy, but then he felt his hand grow numb. He looked at the needle the boy held in his hand.

      “You, bas…..”

      Valquire moved forward one more step, then collapsed in front of the boy’s feet.

      *       *       *      

      Sara awoke hours later, asking for food. They now had apples, carrots, and beets.

      “We made it to Gaul?”

      “Not exactly.”

      Sara saw Chaivs smile as she looked at him, but then she realized Valquire was not present.

      “He’s been missing for hours,” said Chavis. “But until he returns, how about I tell you a few jokes?”

      Chavis told jokes for the next hour. Sye and Sara laughed, but during one particular joke, they did not notice Valquire enter. He didn’t speak a word. He didn’t walk like one who was proud, he walked like one who was hungover, yet still able to move forward in a straight line.

      He grabbed Sara by the neck and held a knife by her throat.

      “Valquire, what are you doing?”

      Sye pulled Valquire’s arm away from Sara, but Valquire’s arm was twice his size, and a contest of strength was already decided before it began . Sye found himself on the floor in pain. Valquire lifted Sara up and dragged her feet along the floor. Chavis staked his staff on the ground and arose from his chair.

      “Valquire, what are you doing?”

      Valquire did not speak, he only continued to drag Sara away. Sye pushed his hands on the floor and rose himself up. His eyes burned. Sye grabbed his sword and followed Valquire outside. Chavis looked at Sye and shook his head. Sye nodded in response and showed three of his fingers to Chavis. He moved one finger down, then quickly dropped the other two, at which point they both charged Valquire from behind. They pushed him off Sara, but he quickly moved between them and pounded their backs. As they fell to the ground, Valquire lifted Sara up again.

      Sye pulled the sword and pointed it at Valquire.

      “If you harm my sister, I’ll kill you.”

      Sye was too enraged to notice the woman from inside the house walk outside. The little girl from earlier, the construction workers, and four other people marched into view. They stopped in front of Sye.

      “Fight me,” said Sye. “Fight me.”

      Valquire tossed Sara to the ground and drew a sword. It was not his sword, but the one Sara had recently acquired. Sye slung his sword through the air, expecting Valquire’s sword to crack and break from his magical sword, but he was met with a metal clang. Sye, bewildered, drew back.

      Valquire swung, but Sye managed to be far enough away. Sye swung overhead to take Valquire’s life.

      Unknown to him, the boy had approached Sara and placed a knife over her throat. Still week from exhaustion, Sara was unable to move and retaliate. Sye noticed this out of the corner of his eye and ran toward the man, avoiding Valquire.

      The boy stuck Sara with the blade. A small tinkle of blood tinkled down her neck.

      “Stop fighting.”

      Valquire lowered his sword.

      “You’re a hypnotist, aren’t you?” stated Chavis.

      “Very perceptive historian, but I suggest you all leave now, and leave me your strong friend.”

      “Leave? Where are we?” Sye checked behind him to make sure Valquire was, indeed, still standing still.

      “This is my town. One by one I’ll make Gaul my own. I’ll have them all under my control.”

      “Fifteen followers,” said Chavis, inspecting one of the hypnotized men who stood frozen, “I can see you will definitely make one of the best rulers of all time.”

      “Leave here,” said the boy. “Sunlight beat down on Sara as she struggled to lift her left leg through the barren lands. She was moving slower than the previous days. Valquire placed his hand in front of her and told them that they needed to rest, otherwise Sara would collapse. Chavis, however, said they should keep going. They had not eaten since their boat was destroyed. Sara was persistent, however, and said they had to keep going or everyone would starve.
Everyone’s mouth salvated. The world seemed ready to drag them down, as they movements converted from pacing to struggle. Sye asked Sara if she was alright to walk, and she said, “Yes.” Later, however, it was apparent she was not. Sara collapsed behind Sye, he face pounding into the sandy plain. Your strong friend and the girl will stay, but if you leave now I’ll not kill you.”

      “I’m not leaving without my sister.”

      Sye stared into the boy’s eyes. Sara tilted her neck back, still trying to escape the blade. Chavis whispered into Valquire’s ear. Valquire moved his head to the left, then the right.

      “What are you doing old man?”

      The boy stuck his arm forward, and Sara took the opportunity to bite his bicep. The boy screamed and dropped the dagger. Sara rolled away as Sye hacked the boys arm off. Blood drained onto the grass.

      “I told you,” said Sye, raisng the sword behind him, “I’m not leaving without my sister.” The sword slashed forward. Blood spat on Sye’s cheek. The boy fell back, blood still dripping from his neck.

      Sara looked at Sye, then held him. She moved his bloody sword from her view. But, no sooner did he try to move Sara that he realized she had passed out. He dropped the sword to the ground, lifted his sister in his arms, and carried her back to the bed.

      Later that night, Sara awoke.

      “What happened?”

      “The people here are sleeping. I will awaken them from their hypnosis in the morning the way I did Valquire; just tell them to stop being hypnotized. It seems the boy was just a beginner, and was not able to teach them to obey only one specific person yet.” Chavis stood up. “But I can see you still need rest. When you are ready, we will finally make it to Gaul.”

      Valquire stood over them. “I’m proud of you Sye, you acted like a true warrior.”

      “I almost killed you.”

      Valquire smirked. It was the first time Sye had seen him smile.

      “If I can survive a duel with Magnard, I doubt my end will be by a kid like you.” Valquire suddenly turned his face away from Sye and held his chin. “Hmm. Once we arrive, Sye, we will stay awhile, for you both need to train, and, we need to plan.”

      Chavis and Valquire left the room, leaving Sye sitting on the bed next to his sister. Sara looked at Sye, but Sye lowered his head.

      “I already know what you’re going to ask me.”

      Sara sat up and covered her knees with her arms.

      “I just want to know how you feel.”

      “I want to say bad. But, the truth is Sara, I killed a man,” Sye turned to face his sister with unwavering eyes. “And I don’t feel guilty at all.”

      *       *       *      

      How is the government run in Odisious? I have…

      Lycious, Atius will be destroyed. As will the rest of the independent countries. I do not see this, but I feel it is inevitable. None have any armies. They thought the civil war ended and that was that, but that is further from the truth.

      Octom was a very large country, covering ¼ of the continent. But, it got too big to run effiecently. Many people who were hired to oversee that the main rules were being followed, relied less and less on those rules. The people hired, called mayors, were to report any rule breakers to the main Octom government in the capital. However, many mayors threatened people into thinking that if they didn’t obey, they would turn them over to the Octom government. Octom had a very large rumor of torturing its rule breakers. No one wanted to be turned into the Octom government, so they obeyed. But, many people secretly planned rebellion. Ten years after magic was banished, the civil war occurred.

      The Government, being in one large central area, could not cope with multiple attacks from everywhere in its country. In the end, thousands of people rejected the rule, and Octom was forced to let it’s people roam their lands and establish their own rule. The people that fled stared their own city and their own system of government, such as Gaia, while others simply lived in towns already constructed by the Octom empire, such as Gaul, and adjusted to a rule of their own creation.

      As spread out as most of the cities were, no one wanted them under one rule, for they saw how hard it was to control such a rule from Octom’s mistakes. Instead, they formed a League which would meet every six months to discuss matters of importance to all of the independent countries.

      However, in their new-found happiness, most of the defecting countries have ignored Octom, but the next generation wants to succeed where it’s fathers had failed. They train to unite Octom into the largest country in the world once again, and they will succeed unless help is sought elsewhere. No real army exists in any of the 23 independent countries. Even a combination of all their forces would be destroyed in less than an hour.

      Don’t you see any hope?

      I have seen neither hope nor death. I cannot stand watching without interpreting. I see neither of these, but all evidence of what I see points to Octom wining control, but, it that is true, why have I not seen into Octom at all?

      I thought I was the one with all the questions.

      Sometimes, Lycious, I wish you were.

Return To “Chapter 9: Traveler”                         Continue To “Chapter 11: Praise”

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