Unknown - Chapter 22

      Chapter 22

      Day three on the ship was another day of silence. Edabu sat with the two Guardians, talking about things none understand lest he had lived as long as they did. Alen and Enil sat with Kalvel, learning swordplays with his cutlasses with huge difficulties. Alen kept fumbling his stance, Enil kept fumbling his sword. Kalvel’s voice dominated the ship next to the silence whisper of the waves around them. Eliza kept herself to the kitchen and the cooking, saying nothing about what had happened when she went out to follow Enil. Kalvel asked her nothing, respecting her decision as what to follow. He kept on pushing the two teenagers, sparring with them occasionally when fatigue began to take over their heads with the repeated slashes and parries and thrusts.

      As the sun began to waver to the west, the first sight of the port town of Lhamira came to the horizon. The huge lighthouse sitting above a sole rock alone out in the sea contradicted the cool blue white sky. Alen and Enil stood at the bow, swords scattered onto the deck, much to Kalvel’s disappointment, though he hides it with a smile. The black silhouette of the port town rose from the sea as the lighthouse went past them. “It’s Lhamira!” the two teenagers shouts, fingers pointing towards the emerging dock.

      “Yes, marvelous, but come and collect your cutlasses kids!” shouts the huge man behind them.

      The two teenagers scrambled on their feet and plucked their cutlasses from the deck before handing them back to Kalvel who gladly opens his hands to reach them. “Bad mistakes don’t do it again” he warned them to which they gave a nervous nod.

      The port town of Lhamira opened to them with the great whiff of spices and metals and steel blowing in the air. Seagulls decorated the rooftops and edges of walls made of stones. Wooden doors leading to cases of stairs rose few feet above the sea, landing directly into the docks. Merchant ships, sloops, war galleys and small boats adorned the busy dock. The black ship sailed gentle and swift, docking next to a war galley. The three Guardians were the first to step onto the dock, slow and gallant. Alen and Enil trailed behind him while Eliza and Kalvel were the last to leave the ship. Sazara spoke with the dock master sitting underneath a huge archway, waving his hands around, pointing at the ship. The dock master replied with his hands and Sazara paid with a small leather pouch.

      “The dock master will resupply the ship as long as it docks here” said Sazara. “I will go and get us a caravan and some supplies for the journey” he turn back to face the huge archway that leads to the center of town.

      “I’ll wait at the tavern, look for the sober man once you done with everything you want to do” said the old Earth Guardian and walked away.

      “We’re going to see the city” said Alen with Enil nodding next to him. “I’m going with them” Eliza interrupted and turned to her father. “Can I?” she asked to which Kalvel only smile and give an approval nod.

      “I will go see what rumors I could gather from the townspeople” said Edabu. They all shot a look at Kalvel. “Join Shamah at the tavern” he said simple and everyone parted ways.

      The smell of spices and metals and steels were vigorous as the sea stayed behind and the stone roads narrowed in front of them. Beggars sprawled around between rows of houses that rose into the sky like claws. The street opens up into a small compound with a small dried up fountain at the center. Alen and Enil sat on the grey walled fountain watching the veins of dried mosses between the cracks. Eliza sat beside Enil on the fountain. “What to see, what to see” Alen joked. “Makes you think of Naresh, don’t you think?” said Enil smiling.

      “What kind of town is Naresh?” asked Eliza. Alen and Enil looked at each other. “It was busy and foul smelling and, well, busy” said Alen. “Yeah, the place is a merchant city so it’s hard to not have a busy day” Enil continued. They both gave a weary laugh though they know it’s not always so, especially between Trade Festivity.

      “Let’s go and look around” said Alen and both of his companions nod in agreement. High rise houses made of clay and stones surrounds the open area divided by a road every three buildings. Each road littered with ragged booths and stalls and the homeless lies in between. Alen looked around and saw a huge wall at the end of one road. “Hey, let’s see if we can go up that wall there” he points towards the dark stone wall. Enil and Eliza looked. “Is that accessible?” he asked. Alen shrugged.

      The fence cringed and creaked open. Three shadowy figures stepped onto the flight of steps and leaped two stairs on one stride. Cool spring breeze moved from the eastern horizon and floods the walkway above the wall, creating a shield against the sun. Six legs stopped on the walkway.

      “It’s beautiful” said Eliza.

      “It’s like an unknown territory” commented Enil.

      “It’s a jungle” said Alen.

      “I wonder how far it stretches though” said Enil. He squints and puts his hand above his eyes. “It’s a jungle through and through”

      Alen looked around. “There are columns of stones over there, I wonder if that’s the checkpoint Sazara talked about” he said.

      “We’ll know once they’re ready” said Enil and pats his friend’s back. “Let’s get a change of clothes. We’ve been holding on to these for what, a week? It reeks” he continued and points his finger back towards the city. Alen nods and the three fell back to the busy street behind them.

      The door to the tavern opened and all eyes fell to the silhouette of a man standing at it. The green robed man scanned the tavern and saw what he seek sitting with his face looking at the ceiling at the dark corner of the room. Ten empty mugs stood on the table in front of the man and his hand was holding the eleventh. The green eyes underneath the man’s hood glowed. Heads trailed his motion as he steps inside and walked towards the sober man.

      “Master Shamah” he spoke. Eyes behind him disappeared and the sound of chattery rekindled. “Master Shamah, it’s time” he spoke again but the sober man only snorted.

      “Wha-!” the sober man jerked almost hitting the man in the green robe. “Oh, it’s you” he rubbed his forehead and his eyes. He grabbed the edge of the table and pulled himself up. “How long was I out?” he look around and shook his head. “Two days I think” said Sazara. “I have the caravan ready and the others are already waiting for us at the gate” he bowed. Shamah looked at the Wind Guardian. “God, my neck’s stiff. Come, pull me up” he said and waved his hand towards the man in the green robe. Sazara shouldered the old Guardian and drag him across the room. Eyes fell to them again and trailed them until they disappeared outside.

      “Ah, the sun…” Shamah’s eyes turned to a slit and he pushed Sazara away. He let out a groan and stretched his back. His body pops and cracks as he moved his hands and neck and shoulders. “That feels better” he said and gave the Wind Guardian a weary smile. He slapped his face hard several time and the hardened eyes of the old Guardian lit to life. “Come, let’s go” he said and the two departed for the gate.

      “This thing feels weird” said Alen as he flaunts his travel robe around. “Not to mention it’s heavy” he cringed and took the robe off. “I like it just the leather shirt and pants and boots, light and easy to travel with” he slapped his shirt as he utters the words. Enil picked the robe from the street and threw it inside the caravan. “I don’t know, I think this suit me” he said and looked at the heavy robe draping down his body. He pulled his shoulders back and stretched his neck. “It’s comfortable” he said and smiled.

      “It is not Kevilian though” said Edabu who was watching them from the seat on the caravan. His hands were holding onto the reins as the horses neigh. The caravan mumbled and snorted with a deep voice. The air was still, humid but warm as spring. The two teenagers looked at the dark skinned man. “What do Kevilian wear?” they asked. “Metal armors” the man answered short.

      “Come on pricks, it’s time to go” Shamah’s voice leaped to their ears. They turned to face the square face man, wearing a brand new tunic and short pants with white sash. His huge arms dangling at his side as he walks. The green robed Guardian walked behind him face still unknown to the others save for the green glow of his eyes. “Where is young Eliza?” he asked.

      “Here” a girl’s voice came from the side of the caravan. The dark skinned girl emerged with her hair bound behind her head like a tail of a pony and a leather tunic with leather pants and boots. “Wow, you’re like a girl warrior now” joked Enil. Eliza kicked his shin and laughed at his scream. She slid a small dagger at her waist and cracked her knuckles. “Ready” she said much to the surprise of everyone in front of her.

      Edabu whipped the rein on his hands and whistled at the horses. They startled at first but quickly trot along the stone road past the metal gate archway that divides the port town to the outside world. “Steady it, you dumb prick!” Shamah complained. Sazara laughed underneath his hood while Enil and Alen smiled as they watched the port town of Lhamira slowly descend into the earth behind them.

      Sazara tapped the young Fire Guardian’s shoulder. “Take the route to the left and avoid the rocks please” he said to which Edabu nods. He pulled the rein and the horses walked at a much slower pace.

      “This jungle, is it safe?” asked Alen.

      Sazara looked at the young seal bearer. “Outside the realm of the Lordship, my young seal bearer, nothing is safe” he said. “Everyone” he paused and smiled. “Welcome to the Jungle of Jahuupha, where the dead lives and the live dead”

      Everyone gulped and watched in fear as the sky above them turns black.