As promised, here is chapter two.  Chapter three by end of week ….  Please feel free to comment. You can pick up a copy of the book here.

2  GRIEVED

Kerim’s green eyes were heavy with exhaustion. Slowly they closed, even as she battled to stare at the landscape over which she had travelled—A landscape that was both thrilling and frightening. A landscape she thought she would never see again.

Mist swirled about the rocky ground and curled up her tattered dress which was damp from sweat and stained with sand and crushed plants. Branches had caught and torn and burrs had snagged at the fine fabric.

Crawling behind a clump of bushes, hidden from the rest of the outside world, Kerim fell fast asleep, though her rest was fitful.

Hiding had been all she had done since her escape. It filled her waking and sleeping moments. Even now her bloodied fingers twitched and pulled at the nearby branches.

It was a dreamlike memory. She had got out of the cage. Had someone feed her? Her intellect said no, but then how had the lock opened?

She travelled down the path and through the centre of the village all without being seen. How was that possible? Maybe this was her dream, her escape and freedom, but her aches told her it was true.

The villager knew who she was and yet this dream told her she walked calmly down the busy dirt path without anyone bidding her attention. Furthermore, she remembered her last meal, a meagre piece of stale bread and unclean water, but she was not hungry or faint.

She had accepted the fact that she blocked the events of the last few days from her memory. There was one thing that she knew for certain; she needed to find safety.

The screech of a distant animal startled her. Her drawn eyes flickered wide in fear, and she was on her feet. Chill ran through her veins, what little hope she had gained, she clung to. Her body, aching from trauma, and weary from real sleep, must react to her mind, it had to obey. But she had been set free, by some miracle, and now she was running. She ran on into the night and in a matter of seconds was gone.

I follow with a white streak of light, the exact path she makes.

‘Carefully you imbecile!’

‘Yes master.’ A short man bowed as he laid another flat stone atop a substantial pile.

‘It must be ready by daybreak. And it needs to be perfect or you will ruin it.’

‘How many more slabs master?’

‘There are enough to keep you busy for another half an hour. Now stop jabbering and get on with it. It needs dedicating tonight.’

 

A tall, pale man stepped from the shadows of a large tree pulling his sheepskin bag from his shoulder. He rummaged inside and then pulled out a folded and dried palm leaf. His bony fingers opened the packet and grasped a small handful of sweet smelling herbs.

The night that had been lit gently through the clouded sky, and the fragrant fire alongside the tree, suddenly became heavy. The darkness itself was swallowed by a deeper realm of night. The servant peered about, looking for a shadow that had darkened the sky, but there was nothing. Instead, all he could see was the sleek form of his master standing still, as if captured in a trance, listening to an unheard voice. Then quite suddenly, the tall pale man began to chant, scattering the herbs over the stone mound that had been built.

The squat man stood back and watched. He knew he had to wait until the chant was finished before the last stones could be laid, but he did not complain, he was grateful for the rest. Building the mound had taken two days, and he had not been alone. It was only at these times, when his master was so consumed in his acts that he felt the brief relief, but he was not alone, even now. There was something unworldly about the chant, about the darkness, about this whole drama which was starting to unfold.

At the bottom of the valley small specs of light flickered marking the community of which he was a part. He longed to be there right now. He could be enjoying a well deserved drink or two, or be tucked up in bed. Above him, plumes of smoke continued to rise into the night air, the shrouded moonlight captured in the swirling forms. There was no rest for Ishmillimech.

Beyond the ever increasing steam that issues from the mountain top, and the ceaseless blanketed sky, the lights in the heavens have been joined by another. Its light is not a single dot against the blackness. It is moving across constellations leaving a tail of light behind it. A mass, sent on its long journey when time began, soon to reach its destination.

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