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The Valley of Humanity – Part 5

April 21, 2014

Kele sat on the edge of a four-point hung hammock, his wounded leg resting in a warm bucket of water. The healer busied himself as Kele held his rucksack close to him, caressing the lid. He waited until the healer was fully engaged with the injury then opened the lid minutely and pulled out the device to see it once again. It wasn’t doing anything, the black surface was blank and the coloured flashing lights had long disappeared. Kele tapped it here and there very lightly, so not to disturb the healer. He couldn’t remember how he made it happen the first time and tried holding it in different ways, regrettably so, when the device suddenly beeped back to life and lit up. The healer bolted up in alarm and spun around looking for the unnatural sound. He then looked at Kele suspiciously, who hid the device behind his back, and gave the healer a confused glance. Lamps burned throughout the room with only a whispered crackling; the rest of the room was silent. The healer slowly descended and returned to the treatment.

The Mayoress stood on her balcony looking across the northern half of the village. She had been waiting for hours for news of her two sons, the eldest of whom she had reluctantly sent out into the wilderness knowing that he was still young and not quite the warrior the others were; not yet anyway. But until that day came he would still be her baby son, the one who always followed her around when he was still but a cub. The cool night air sent a breeze over her face and flowing into her hut room where it circulated and disturbed the fabrics. She focused on the moving lights in the village below, the little specks of the torch-wielding guards in the maze of streets and tunnels. There were faint calls and cries from below, each one pricked her ears and sent her senses rushing to tune in to hear if they were about her sons. They were not; they were just random members of the inhabitants communicating with each other about this and that, whilst guards strolled through the streets laughing and occasionally barking orders at their inferiors. It was a typical night in the village. She breathed a long sigh but did not flinch when Feran put his arms around her. He held her there for a long while.
‘I haven’t heard any news of them for hours now,’ she said finally. ‘Not since Nelco left to find Kele,’ she added.
His grip grew tighter; they watched the flicking lights under a full moon as it proudly ruled the abyss above them.
‘Nelco is a strong lad,’ replied Feran. ‘As is Kele, despite being smaller and naïve; they may be boys still, but you’ve taught them well and they know how to look after themselves. Their father would have been proud.’
She heard his words, but continued to stare into the night. There was a knock at the door, she ripped herself from Feran’s arms and hurried through the hut room and arrived at the door.
‘Come in!’ she said loudly.
An Alysmon guard came into the room and stood in front of her.
‘My lady, your sons are here, they’re safe,’ he said. The Mayoress, not caring about her appearance, breathed a very audible sigh of relief.
‘However…’ continued the guard. Her face immediately fell; the relief sucked back up through her throat and strangled her like an assassin trying to correct a mistake.
‘Your youngest son, Kele, is in the healers hut.’

Nelco sharpened his curved blade on the whetstone wheel in the palace hut armoury; he waited for the bell call of his supper. Sparks fell towards the floor, disappearing before touching the stone surface. The hearth in the wall of the rectangular room roared with subdued fury, sending thick smoke up through the long chimney and out into the black sky. He thought about Kele and his current state, he thought about the newest venture into the wilderness and the encounter with the pack of cogier. Again he had proved himself as an effective soldier; soon they would recognise him to be good enough to lead the Guardship of Lycian. He would be a hero of his people and would lead the Alysmon into a new era. Nelco had drifted so far into his imagination that he didn’t notice Feran walk into the chamber. Startled, Nelco pulled the blade from the stone and positioned himself in a crouch with the blade held with his right hand, keeping his left behind his back; he was ready to pounce. He held it there for a moment; the blade across his face and his fierce eyes glowing, the whetstone wheel slowly came to a halt.
‘Good, I’m glad to see you still keep your guard up, even when in the safety of the village’ said Feran.
‘Although it may have been too late had I been standing behind you’ he added quickly.
Nelco eased himself back into a standing posture and sheathed his blade.
‘I would have used my knife to counter your attempt to slit my throat’ he said, as their eyes connected in mutual respect and discussion.
‘I would have stabbed you in the heart’ replied Feran.
They smiled awkwardly; Feran made his way around the left side of the room and glanced at the various weapons on display on the walls. Swords, spears, knives, bows, crossbows, bolts and arrows lined the entire room, either on the walls or in the many weapon racks. To the left of the room was a narrow alcove that gave way to a short corridor where another armoury housed various forms of armour and spare materials for repairs. It was dark and unmanned; a cool draft made its way up the corridor and embraced Feran who stood staring intently into the darkness. The cool air collided in confusion with the heat from the fire at the opposite side of the room; Feran stepped away from the conflict.
‘I heard about this evening’s event, I’m glad you both made it back safe. Your mother was afraid she’d sent you out to your death looking for Kele. Of course…’ he chuckled to himself, ‘that’s no surprise, she worries about you both, and you are the village’s next leaders.’
Nelco began tinkering with a crossbow on a bench in the corner of the room; his back to Feran.
‘I can handle myself, she knows that, and one day I’ll be ready to lead the warriors of our people,’ he said. Feran smiled
‘I know, but to your mother you will always be that little cub who followed her around morning noon and night. This is one of the reasons why I currently have this task until you are ready.’
Nelco winced in secret.
‘Yes I know’ he replied, a hint of bitterness floated with the words.
Feran fished two wooden blades from a barrel full of practice weapons; he held one in each hand.
‘So what do you say to a quick match before supper?’
Nelco smiled and turned in time to catch the blade at its hilt.

 

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