Sunday, April 24, 2016

Chapter 16

Lagolen makes a crash landing onto the shore of the river at the base of the gorge. He works his way to the top of the gorge and through a rice field until he arrived at the main Temple. There he followed the long tradition but recently outlawed practice of bowing before the Temple to honor their religion and their former leaders, the Masters. Knowing his action would alter his future forever, he fell to his knees in the prescribed manner and honored his traditions. Immediately, he was captured by the Temple guards but, as he was being taken away, he overheard that the Kevutian man in charge (the maceoran) was dead and managed to tell others before he was taken away to the dreaded detention center.

An excerpt:

Lagolen’s feet hit the wet ground on the bank of the shallow central river, but he had come in too fast. He toppled over himself and rolled head over feet, then sideways, until he ended up flat on his back on a bed of wet stones and gravel. HIs bodysuit helped protect him against cuts and scratches but his hands were left unprotected and now had several bloody abrasions. He gathered himself together and moved to the edge of the moving water to wash his hands. He wiped his wet hands along his forehead and noticed some additional blood: a cut on the side of his head just before the hairline. It did not seem serious. What was more difficult than the scratches was the overall pain in his body. It reminded him that he was no longer young and agile. Muscles and joints ached. He moved slowly and assessed his pains to make sure there was nothing serious.

Satisfied that his pains were mostly just bothersome he moved away from the river and walked along its stony bank, heading north. On either side of him, the walls of the canyon rose straight up. It was dark down at the bottom because the sun’s light was fading, but the slit of sky above him was still bright and tinged green. He was not in a hurry; the dark of night would be what he needed to complete his journey. He was able to make out a stairway that led to yet another bridge overhead and made his way up the steps until he reached the top. By the time he had worked his way there, it was mostly dark.

He headed east and found his way into a rice field. With the fading light on his back, he simply pushed forward through the wet grass. By the time he reached the other side of the field the landscape was almost completely covered in darkness but this was no impediment to him. He knew his way all too well. He had been making this journey all his life, though he usually approached from his home in the north. He knew that soon the wet rice field would become more dry and solid and then he would reach the graduated terraces that led to the chantry.

When he did reach the first of three levels, he stopped to catch his breath. From here he could make out his objective. The torches set inside the chantry lit its interior and shone as a shining landmark in the dark. It was large; in fact, it was several buildings connected together, for it once served as the residences and the administrative center for the Masters. All the buildings focused on one central but forward edifice that stood higher than the rest. Inside were the symbols that represented the Masters and the history of the people of Myshka. It was the focus for adoration and consecration. It was also his goal. He could just make out the corner of the tower of that building from this angle. He was approaching its northwest corner and would need to come around to its front to complete his task.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chapter 15

Erut loses his grip while crossing the rickety rope bridge. He is saved by a safety rope and the efforts of Lagos. On the remaining trip across, Lagos explains to his friend Omin how his religion has been changed by the discussion by Erut. From the gorge, the small group of four make their way to a place called the Pivinia Plateau–a flat rock formation at the edge of the province below which is nestled the sanctuary. Erut attempts to trick one of the Kevutian soldiers surrounding the sanctuary but he only succeeds in distracting him long enough to be knocked out by Ony'a. The rescue team sneak into the sanctuary and talk to the person leading the revolt named Fok Lyrin. When they get in they find themselves surrounded by rebels with knives pointed at them.

An excerpt:

The view from the center of the gorge looking down was, literally, dizzying. Erut gasped at the vision of the gaping hole below him, lost his senses, and panicked. His foot slid off the center rope sending his body plunging into the chasm but his progress was stopped as fast as it had been started by the safety rope that caught him and jerked his body back up. Lagos had seen it coming so he had been able to brace himself for the impact, but Omin had his back to the scene and was caught off guard by the sudden jolt. Erut’s body yanked the rope on the right side causing ripples to flow through them all. Omin’s foot slid off the central rope and he was sent down in the same direction as Erut. His safety rope caught him as well and another round of jarring vibrations was sent through the ropes. Omin, being much heavier than Erut, sent more violent waves through the cordage. Lagos had, once, again, to deal with the repercussions and just managed to avoid slipping off the main rope for the second time. Everybody remained as they were until the ropes ceased moving. Lagos helped Erut get back on his feet, although it was difficult to maintain balance himself, as he lent a hand to the Kevutian. Omin managed to get back up on his own. Erut just kept chanting “I’m sorry.”

When everyone was back in position, Lagos spoke to Erut: “Now, you see? You’re not going to fall to your death. Just do as I say and we will all get across.”

Erut took his position again and found that familiar place on Omin’s back to send his concentration and fears.

Omin started walking along the ropes again but leaned his head to the side so that the others could hear him talk. “How many times are you going to save this puny fool’s life, Lagos? He’s just going to get us killed.”

Erut and Lagos followed him across while Lagos responded. “That’s where you’re wrong, Omin. He is the one who is going to save us.”

“I am?” Erut said as he started to turn his head, but thought it better just to keep it locked in a forward position.”

“Our little friend here brought us the words of The Cyclonus and I realized the truth of our own situation in those words. We are masters of our own destiny,” said Lagos.

“We are Yocugu, not a bunch of blindly compliant, um…. uh…” Omin said defiantly.

“Paraks?” Lagos said.

“Sounds more like "parasite" to me.”

“No, my friend Omin. We are more than Yocugu now.”

Omin said, “Lagos, what has happened to you?”

“Our path has been clearly set out before us, we just have been too blind to see it. Our Kevutian friend here has lifted the hood from our eyes.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

Chapter 14

Lagolen makes his way to the central temple. As a lifelong devotee of the Yocu religion he feels compelled to complete his religious obligation to pay tribute to the temple. Along the way he contemplates the conversation that he and his children had with Erut. He comes to the realization that his son was right about the Kevutian had revealed to them. They come to believe that their old rulers, called the Masters, were not forcibly removed from the planet but that they left by their own plans. In effect they were telling their people that it was time to grow up and develop themselves. He and his children realize that the destiny of the Myshkans is in their own hands and they decide to take action to get their lands back.

An excerpt:

Ny Lagolen stood at the edge of the gorge and looked over. It was dark, but the torches set along various parts of the canyon walls lit his way. He checked his fittings and connections, then spread his arms and fell into the depths. Immediately the air filled the material connected between his arms and, after he spread apart his feet, the material between his outstretched legs filled as well. He glided up the length of the gorge. Gentle ripples of air tugged at his arms and legs and he could feel the gentle turbulence against his face. Though he was slowly gliding down, subtle updrafts from the sides of the canyon helped keep him aloft for a long time. He would be able to make the journey in two lengths. There would be plenty of time to just enjoy the flight, and to think.

Lagolen welcomed the chance to ponder. He had just been involved in several strange and disturbing conversations after the meeting with Erut. A proud Yocugu of many risings, Lagolen carefully followed the rituals prescribed by the Masters for as long as he could remember. Even now he was on his way to the Chantry for the requisite pilgrimage, but, somehow, everything he had known and felt about the ancient Myshkan religion was different and it was all because of that squeaky little Kevutian. He had spoken the words that set off a firestorm in the mind of his son whose thoughts, Lagolen always insisted, were rarely coherent. Suddenly the young man was focused like never before on an idea that even Lagolen had to agree made some sense.

For lifetimes the Masters were exactly what their title inferred. They were the rulers of Rishivon. They showed their people how to construct the dipda and kova barriers that made it possible for them to live and survive. The Masters also showed them how to start fields for growing food and how to glide through the gorge. The people started building the first province–Kodok Province– and then expanded to add the other provinces. The Masters also taught them the principles of honor and courage in battle as the provinces settled into contestant feuds between each other.

As Lagolen flew along the gorge, he could see one of the many bridges up ahead. It spanned the narrow crossing of the chasm with a foot-lane wide enough to hold four people abreast. Its supports were underneath and formed a trapezoid. Stair-like structures ran along the sides of the canyon and lead to the edges of the bridge. They crisscrossed along the wall with small ledges built at the angles. Since he was still moving along at a good height, he flew underneath the bridge and continued. Certainly there were Kevutian soldiers and other Myshkans crossing that bridge, but he had changed from his Sifuti bodysuit to a more colorful and traditional outfit. Few would pay attention to him as he passed underneath. He whisked by with barely a sound and returned to his thoughts.

Lagolen had been one of the proud and honored leaders of the fighters of Kachik Province when the Kevutians had first appeared in the skies. The actions of the invading Kevutians were swift and relentless. Within only a few days they had destroyed most of the southern half of Lukva Province and threatened to do the same to the rest if the people did not resign themselves to their control. Soon after the Kevutians became the new rulers of the planet they named Pa’Myshka. Next the Kevutians committed the greatest and most shocking affront to the people of old Rishivon: they evicted the Masters. Some were killed, but most escaped on their own. This was inconceivable to the ones now called Myshkans. How could anyone remove those who had shaped and formed their lives? This was the unspoken thought that filled every waking moment of every occupied Myshkan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chapter 13

Erut finds himself at the gorge again and freaks out. This time, however, they need to cross it and the flying maneuver needed to do that is beyond his capabilities so they construct a rope bridge for him and help him cross it. To accomplish this two of the Sifuti make him stretch his arms out over the edge of the gorge until another can fly by and grab a boil of rope. A second flyer takes it from the first and makes her way to the other side where the rope is tied off. Erut then has to walk across the bridge. Unfortunately, he discovered he wasn't much better at that feat either.

An excerpt:

Erut stood at the edge of the southernmost end of the gorge. There were only a few hours of daylight available so Erut took the chance to look around. To his left, in the distance, he could see the virtual wall of dipda trees stretch from either side of the deep cleft and continue north and south. Their leaves, together with a carefully worked lattice of support vines and ropes, created a full canopy that stretched across and down the gap to mark the end of the habitable space of Pa’Myshka. He looked down over the edge of the gorge and was engulfed by the smell of the moist air.

“Oh, no! No, no, no, not again!” said Erut waving his hands back and forth. “I’m not jumping in that thing again.”

“You won’t have to,” said Lagos, now dressed in a borrowed Sifuti bodysuit. “The gorge is too narrow here to simply fly across.”

“What about the…”

“The bridge up north is crawling with your friendly compatriots.”

He came up softly behind Erut. At first, the Kevutian thought he was being pushed from behind into the dark space below, but Lagos grabbed him around the waist. In his hands he held a woven belt with a large iron ring worked into it. Lagos snapped the belt into place around Erut then pulled him back from the edge of the gorge just enough so that the small man would not fall. Erut turned away from the gorge. Other Sifuti were laying down a coil of thick rope taken from supplies hidden behind the Sifuti house. One moved toward them with another rope attached to an iron hook.

“Just relax,” said the approaching Sifuti. It was the voice of the young male. His head covering was off and what remained was a strong and full face lined with wisps of light hair.  “We’re not going to throw you in again.” The male Sifuti threw the hook in his hand into the ring now securely around Erut’s waist. He looked right at the soldier. “Ru Omin,” he said.

“What?” said Erut.

“My name,” Omin said. “I just thought you should know my name before you went falling to your death.”

“Before I what?” cried Erut.

Omin just laughed while he took the rope now attached to Erut and pulled back on it to make it taut. He walked backwards with the rope in his hands and continued to laugh. As he moved, Lagos came from behind the laughing man and slapped him on the back.

“C’mon, don’t scare the little guy,” said Lagos. He moved in front of Erut. In his hands was a ball of rope that ended in a coil on the ground. The ball looked to be made from three separate strands of rope tied together.

“Now, listen to me carefully and do exactly as I say,” said Lagos. As he talked, he pushed Erut to the edge of the gorge. Erut swung his head around to try and avoid the edge, but the combination of shoving from Lagos against the pressure of the belt around him made it impossible to resist. Lagos stopped pushing when the Kevutian was at the absolute edge of the crevasse.

“First of all,” began Lagos. “Don’t move.”

Erut was squirming and making indistinguishable noises. He looked around for Avin and Oyn’a, who had joined them in the mission, but had now gone missing. There would be no support there.

“Don’t move!” barked Lagos.

Erut stiffened up and fell silent.

“I need you to listen to me very carefully,” said Lagos, “and do exactly what I tell you.”

Erut stood stiff and silent.

“You need to become as rigid as a board and hold on to that ball of rope.”

Erut was already rigid and clamped his hands around the rope ball as if squeezing it harder might make this scene just go away. He simply did nothing.

“Alright,” said Lagos. “Here comes the fun part.”

Friday, April 8, 2016

Chapter 12 Overview

Erut finds himself in the depths of the Sifuti's hiding place. They, again, want to know why he was running away from his own fellow soldiers. He tells them he was set up in an internal feud. His words reveal the fact that he is not a typical loyal member of the fighting force and would prefer to just go back home to his home island of Kwanchu. He also reveals that his family are members of a counter-culture religion that was thought to be eradicated but, instead, was pushed further underground. He goes on to explain what his people believe. As they are talking news is revealed about the seige of Lyrin and his people. The Sifuti decide to risk a rescue mission.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chapter 10 Overview

We are introduced to Fok Lyrin, a large scraggly old man with a knack for reminding fellow Myshkans about the injustices of being held captive by people from another planet. He manages to collect a small group of followers and takes them to the local sanctuary which is meant as a reprieve to the Myshkans since they are no longer allowed to go to their own main temple. There he erects temporary shelter for his followers in a depression around the sanctuary. The Kevutians discover the holdout and decide to lay siege to the whole group by surrounding them. He and his followers are slowly starving to death. The Kevutians, however, are not willing to risk massive bloodshed so a standoff with the defiant Myshkans is underway.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Chapter 9 Overview

Erut is thrown into the depths of the gorge. Fortunately for him the pack put onto him by the Sifutis turns out to be a kind of small parachute that opened when he frantically waved his arms. Now he finds himself gliding through the gorge instead of into it. Two of the Sifuti join him in flight and give him some field training. There is not much he needs to do except keep himself flying straight by adjusting a couple of cords attached to the chute above. He has time to get the hang of flying but not landing. He has to be captured in a large rope net in which he quickly finds himself entangled. The Sifuti cut him out of the mess but before he could even say thanks, the black hood is thrown over his head once again.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chapter 8 Overview

Lagolen takes his children away from their home but not where his daughter Oyn'a thinks they were headed. Oyn'a asks her father about her mother and how she died but Lagolen is evasive. He says he wants to protect them but she rejects that. Lagolen relents and tells her about her mother. They are heade for one of the sanctuaries that have been built in each province as way to let the Myshkans practice their traditions without going to the main temple which has been taken over by the Kevutians. When they get to the sanctuary they think that they are being watched but find out instead that others are being watched. They observe the Sifuti runnig from the sanctuary just before it explodes. The Sifuti find the three and ask them to follow.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Chapter 7 Overview

In Chapter Seven we meet Rhian who is a Kevutian soldier assigned to the infamous detention center. He is known for his singular excellence in just one talent–the ability to torture people from many different worlds while getting them to talk. In the occupied collection of planets the Kevutians call The Conglomerate, Rhian has found plenty of victims to aid him in refining his skills. We see him applying his craft to yet another unfortunate Myshkan. Rhian describes to him how the Kevutians are doing them a favor by bringing their superior culture to them. Instead of trying to obtain information about the ongoing attempts at sabotage and disruption by the Kevutians, Rhian seems more interested in discussing outlawed ritual practices much to the consternation of superior officer listening quietly in the shadows. Despite his best efforts Rhian seems unable to get the prisoner to repent and his determination leads to disastrous results.