The Fall of the Lost Civilisation
The gleam of the yellow face crept up over the rise of the mountains, a bleak atmosphere suddenly blessed with the warmth of the sun. Plants seemed to stand up as if digesting each of the golden rays and the roar of the waterfalls increased in volume. The sharp cry of a passing Conana, a bird relatively common in the valleys, could be heard by Karni’s ears as it glided on the gentle breeze. Dawn had come and with it came the beginning of the daily cycle of life for the valley.
Ordol stood by the entranceway of the chamber, a sharp beam of sunlight twisted through the crack leading to the world above and implanted itself across her face causing the twelve year olds eyes to recoil from the brightness. She did not notice Karni’s presence until he was within one leen of her. She jerked slightly from his unexpected appearance, but he did not notice as the rays of the cool morning had temporarily blinded his vision also.
“Morning”, said Karni. “This evacuation is a tad unexpected don’t you think?”
“As always, we’re left in the dark”, Ordol replied.
“I’m sure my father will explain it once everything has settled down. He wouldn’t hide something this important from his own son.”
Ordol looked unsatisfied. “The rebellion isn’t important then?”
Karni shrugged and was about to reply when Gadmen himself walked into the room. His eyes drooped from what could only have been a sleepless night but before either Karni or Ordol had time to say anything he forced a smile and asked, “All ready then?” Karni raised his bag of supplies onto this shoulder and nodded. His father opened the boy’s hand and placed several coin shaped items into it. “You’d better take these as well… just in case”.
Karni pulled back his fingers to reveal five small, red circles. Although he was not aware of all the rebellion’s antics, he knew well enough what these were. “Blast chips?” he stammered, “Has it really come to that?”
Sensing his son’s panicked reaction, Gadmen placed a hand on Karni’s shoulder. “There is always the remote chance that you’ll come across some of our enemies, and if you do then it would be better to hide rather than to fight, but I think your journey should be a safe one. We’ll be joining you soon on that bridge near the canyon’s bend and then there’ll be nothing to worry about.” He said the first part with confidence and truth, but Karni couldn’t help but notice an uncertainty in his father’s eyes as he stated that there was nothing for them to fear.
Ordol stepped outside, obviously impatient to get started. She took every opportunity she was given to explore the outdoors, a passion that Karni shared, and was eager at this chance to explore beyond the restrictions of the rebel’s hideout. Karni walked outside and followed Ordol. The pair bid farewell to Gadmen, walked over the growth-covered span of rock that separated the island from the rest of the valley, and dissolved into the undergrowth lining the canyon wall. Before doing so, Karni looked back to see the patient, yet grim face of his father, standing on an island isolated in a sea of emptiness. He waved and then headed off into the unnatural, yet picturesque jungle beyond.
The two children walked in a non-hurrying manner for several hours, often stopping to admire the scenery or to observe the delicate formation of the environment that the Towers had molded to fit humanity’s need. As they walked, neither of them spoke much for a while, although every now and then Karni cracked an amusing joke sending Ordol to the ground in splutters of laughter. However several times they heard a sharp cry, which, although it might have been a bird, was enough to make the two of them stop in their tracks and remind them of the seriousness of their situation.
The morning was growing old when, out of the blue, Ordol suddenly spoke up about an unprovoked topic. “Do you think we’ll win? This rebellion I mean… whatever we’re actually fighting for.”
Karni looked towards her. “I think my father has it under control for the time being.” He did not tell her about his father’s increased tension over the last few days.
“Are you sure?” came Ordol’s reply. She seemed to have guessed something wasn’t right.
Not wanting to conceal anything from the one person he knew he could share secrets with, Karni felt he should be honest, despite not wanting to worry Ordol. “Well, no actually.”
“I thought so. What’s more, I find today quite peculiar. Two children are sent off into the wilderness on our own. Surely it would be safer with adults to accompany us? I just hope…” Ordol’s voice became stiff. “I just hope we aren’t in for another event like what happened twelve years ago.”
Karni knew full well what she was talking about. Twelve years ago, soon after Ordol had been born, her parents along with many other members of the rebellion had died in a raid on one of the science laboratories of an institute that belonged to the government. According to his father, Karni’s own mother had also died in the mission. Rather than being given up for adoption, Gadmen had raised Ordol himself, almost as a daughter, although all of the rebels had played their part as her guardians.
Knowing that it was a fragile subject, Karni hastily diverted it to something less hurtful to think about. “I overheard several of the men talking a few days ago. They were saying that when our struggle becomes too much, when the people cry out that they’ve gone as far as they can, he’ll come. He’ll save us.”
“Who will save us?”
“The Divine Visitor. According to records from the old world, the Divine Visitor came from beyond the boundaries of the unknown and rescued the people from the destruction of their planet. They said he would return before this war is over.”
“And you believe that, Karni?”
“I don’t know. It sounded like a fairy tale, but at the same time…” Karni’s words were cut short by a piercing cry above them. Ordol grabbed Karni’s arm and the two of them scrambled into the bushes. A large flying beast, almost like a reptilian worm swooped overhead, its large mouth open hungrily. Two long crests rose from its back, and between them a human shape could vaguely be sighted standing between them, balanced perfectly despite the speed in which the creature was flying at. The rider was scanning the horizon and did not notice them, however the creature’s button like yellow eyes glanced in their direction, and for a moment Karni thought it had seen them, before it suddenly turned and headed in the different direction.
Ordol slowly released her intake of breath. “Whatever that was, it wasn’t pleasant.”
“Yes”, agreed Karni. “I’m pretty sure that was an enemy.”
“What’s more, it was heading away from our rebel hideout,” said Ordol with a look of worry stricken across her face.
“We’d better hurry,” agreed Karni. He sensed a need to get to their destination as soon as possible.
It was nearing noon when Karni and Ordol neared the bridge that allowed them to cross the canyon. They broke through the last remnants of the jungle-like growths that lined the sides of the valley and found their way onto a narrow track scattered with a greyish bark and fallen leaves. Below them a torrent roared; it’s clear blue strength descending from around the bend. The air was rich with life, yet Karni sensed something was wrong. There was an uncanny calmness around them. He looked over at the stone bridge ahead and suddenly realised why. Three bodies lay motionless upon the bridge, one of them clearly torn in half and unrecognizable at first glance, the other two badly injured.
Ordol raced over to the bodies, with Karni closely behind her. Ordol pulled her hand towards her mouth in horror as she saw that the first body was Ralfea, a women who had only recently joined the rebellion, lying dead. But Karni had not noticed for he was suddenly confronted with his own bitter definition of loss. Before him lay An’dus Gadmen, mortally wounded with a spinal arrow through his stomach. Fear was painted across his face, but not despair. With effort he looked up at his son and forced a weak smile.
“I did not want you to see me go like this. However my time has been cut short. I am sorry that I did not tell you the full truth regarding this rebellion… but I see now that I should have… now that it is too late.”
Karni restrained a tear. “I understand why… you wanted to protect me.”
“I wanted to protect your innocence… and Ordol’s,” he said looking up at the girl fondly. “But now I’m afraid the time for innocence has passed. Larson, the others in the rebellion… they’re good people… they will take care of you both now, and tell you all that you wish to know.” He smiled, imagining his son growing into an adult around such people. “Our rebellion is doing what it does because we want to protect that innocence and the freedom of the world… and if people are not truly in control of their own lives, then a great part of what makes this world what it is shall be gone.”
For so long all Karni had wanted for his father to tell him the truth, but now all he could think of was the long arrows implanted firmly into Gadmen’s body. Tears began to form in his eyes and he let them flow freely now, a wild stream of emotions.
“There is a group of people who plan to use the Towers…” He paused, struggling to speak. “They plan to use the Towers to try and control the world for their own evil purposes. It’s all linked… these creatures… the very living world around us… by a supreme entity called… called Sestren.”
“I won’t let them do this!” said Karni. He was surprised to hear his own voice speak out so suddenly and with such rage.
Gadmen smiled, seemingly gaining strength from Karni’s words. “I know you won’t. You have the ability to change this world… both of you… if you try to do so with enough determination.”
The two of them nodded. Ordol’s face was white as she anxiously absorbed his words.
“Listen… there is one… one other thing… I need to tell you,” he said but before he had the chance to do so his eyes came together and death consumed him.
At that moment two of the flying worm creatures that they had seen earlier swooped in from around the bend. Karni, full of rage towards the creatures that had murdered his father ran blindly towards them, his mind burning with wrath. Suddenly explosions erupted around one of the creatures and it fell screeching into the river below. Karni seized one of the blast chips he had been carrying and thrust it towards the remaining beast. It hit the creature directly in the eye, the explosion blinding it. Numerous shots erupted from the opposite valley wall, finishing off the disabled creature with ease.
A man ran up behind Karni. “That was a nice shot, lad.” Karni turned around to see that the man who spoke was Benjak. Seeing Karni’s tear stained face, he looked down at Gadmen’s body and understood what had happened. “Come,” he said, his tone was that of pity. “I will look after you now.”