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The Valley of Humanity – Part 7

February 1, 2015

That night Kele’s dreams were invaded by a dark and twisted vision of his village being consumed by a black cloud. It weaved and crawled along the narrow streets and tunnels of Lycian. His Mother and Brother were nowhere to be seen and he was powerless to stop the darkness from swallowing the fleeing Alysmon who ran past him in horror; he just watched it approach, frozen and fixated and afraid. There was a sudden booming, almost like drums as it touched his skin and surrounded his body; then he woke up.

It was like this for at least two weeks. His leg was healing nicely and he could walk about the village almost without any pain, but his dreams were steadily taking his sleep away. Most days and nights he’d been thinking about the device and what he and Drath had seen. Drath had locked himself away with it from the moment Kele left that night. There were rather uninformed rumours whispering around Lycian that Drath had finally been killed by one of his contraptions or that he’d simply gone mad and starved to death; but Kele knew the truth, or part of it at least. He ignored the rumours, although, the “death by contraption” part did creep into his mind once in a while.

One day it came like a thunder strike from the very walls themselves. There was a metal clanging noise and shouting, and from all over Lycian the war cries from the guards rang out into the early morning air. Someone or something was attacking. Kele felt a cold sweat coat his body, as if the very rush of dread had sprouted from the base of his fur. He clambered out of his hammock and, still careful about how much pressure he applied to his foot, hurried out of his chambers. No one was on the landing, but there were noises coming from the bottom of the stairwell. Kele warily started down the spiralled staircase, the cold surface under his feet grew warm with each step he took and the noises grew louder until he heard the horrifying scream of death. He stopped, staring intently at the bend in the stairwell; every segment of his being told him to run back upstairs and barricade himself in his room. But he was an adventures and curious creature, and so he slowly moved down two steps which enabled him to peek passed the curved wall to the half open door. Through the gap he made out at least two of his house hold guards in the hall beyond. They were fighting what sounded like a large number of opponents, all obscured by the rest of the door and the wall. Kele slowly moved down a few more steps to get closer to the door, hoping to see the attackers. Fate was unkind however, as his foot slipped from the edge of a step and left his body collapsing toward the door, but something like a tree branch hit his stomach. The door remained ajar and for a moment he just stared at the gap, leaning over this new obstacle like a fence that prevented him from falling into a river. ‘Not this way’, said a faintly raspy, yet feminine voice, it came from the dark alcove to the left of him. The branch moved slightly, and Kele quickly realised it was an arm; it pushed him upright, forcing him to put his hands on the cold stone either side of the staircase for balance.

Out of the shadows stepped Drala, one of the senior gate guards and hunters, fully armed and wearing her light plate armour; which was partially stained with blood. Kele took a slow step back with his right foot, and felt for the edge of a step, readying himself to run back up to his chambers. ‘I’m not going to hurt you Kele, we must get out of here, they’ll kill us if they find us. There’s a secret way out of the palace outside your chambers’. Kele looked at her face, at the frantic glance and the obvious exhaustion from fighting, yet he was cautious about her. ‘H… How do I know I can trust you?’ He said, not sure if it would make any difference to her honesty. ‘Simple’ she replied, ‘I could easily kill you now if I wanted and put your body in your chambers and say the attackers came in and killed you before I could help you. I could also drag you out of that door and throw you at their mercy, and make a run for it myself.’ Kele’s imagination went wild with horrible ideas, but what she said started to make sense. ‘Do you see me doing that to you now?’ She grabbed his wrist, and then moved down to hold his hand; he felt the sweat on her palm. ‘I serve your family and your mother said I must protect you most for all if the need arrived, and it has.’ The fighting noises grew closer; they both looked to the door as more anguished cries rang through the gap. ‘You could go out there, it’s your choice, but I would have to go too, and I can’t fight all of them on my own’. All the confusing and terrifying thoughts that clouded Kele’s mind at this entire change of events were suddenly silenced by the offer Drala had put before him. The sounds of death had reached the door. ‘Let’s go then’ he heard himself say, and as quick as a biting snake, the tall warrior pushed her way passed him and pulled him up the stairs; behind, the door burst open…

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