Crimson chorus from the.., p.7
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       Crimson Chorus, From the Nine Kingdoms (Chapter 2), p.7
 

          
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  ***

  The horizon had hidden, and Soluna was shining in her 2nd copper-hour. The merchant neighbors were making their last trades and others were preparing to leave the city; like the caravan of the merchant Veledden.

  “Will we take the north or the south route?” inquired Resso while was giving to Zoria, who was locating on the wagon, a pair of things asking for lodeleean clients.

  “We’ll take the south route,” said Veledden a bit hurried, “it’s preventable to do so, because the advice given by watchers.”

  “Even if we late?”

  “Sometimes it’s better to lose some hours than lose our travel equipment,” responded chief Veledden calmly. “Zoria! How are you?!”

  Zoria was doing the last tasks.

  “All set to leave chief,” she responded, finalizing.

  “It’s time to go Resso. Let’s don’t waste more time!”

  All on board, they left East Neighborhood; they went around the south wall way for next deviate trough East Sand Sea. In the middle of the silver night, they zigzagged across blue shadow dunes. Zoria with her art was doing the best she can, guiding; she was indicating safely where to go, the darkness wasn’t impediment for known their location, contrary, it favored, thanks to the night wind that was less dense than the day wind. They were traveling to Lodeleaan’s Mud town, and to arrive that place they must cross two deserts: East Sand Sea and Far Sand Sea.

  “We’ll take the woods route ...” said Zoria, deciding without asking for another opinion.

  Veledden was the caravan chief but when it was about guiding, he left her in charge, trusting her blindly, because she was competent. Taking the decision to go around the woods wasn’t her whim, but the answer of her experience and knowledge. As she knew the nigh inconveniences of the sandy sea, like was the Silver Tides: sand waves that ascended high up and devoured everything around their path; Soluna-nature whims.

  Many guide-beings rookies, and many others reckless, had perished for ignoring the recommendations and advices from the wise ones.

  They approached to Coral Forest, the only territory of the desert that was decorated with Palm-trees and Coral-bushes. Going northwest through the limit of the forest was a route well knew by those who was travelling during the night, due to the terrain was firm without dunes and far of the danger of sand waves. Deep in that woodland was occulting the Tribal-Guide Village of Akaria, the genesis place of Zoria.

  While they were advancing, she was observing melancholy the trees that hid the vision of the place where she had created most of her best Golden-memories. Those days as disciple, when she still didn’t dominate the guiding art, in which she remembered her mentor, a hoary hyperactive guide-being who fantasized with traveling “again” around the Four Scratches with only his guiding art -well, that’s was he presumed to the young and naïve Zoria-, but that because of his elder age he couldn’t accomplish it again...

  “Papario ...” she said, as murmuring to her witness, the wind, to get him the message.

  So close and at the same time so far from her home; she couldn’t return. It was a law that every guide-being had to respect. Any young guide-being couldn’t abandon the village at least there was a reason to do so. There were two ways to do it: one, to join to a merchant caravan to bring the service as guide, and the other was the self-exile. The second option was a breaking the rule of the tribe, and those who did it lost the opportunity to return home. That’s why the Far Tribal-Guide Village existed; it had been founded by all those guides who took the self-exile option and they wanted to return but couldn’t. For those who took the first option, the return represented to finish their service as a guide of a caravan, but this only could happen if the chief merchant liberated them from the compromise, and that rarely happened with the adult-age-beings, and scarcely with the young ones. That luck only arrived when they reached the elder age.

  Zoria lacked much to grow, she was still young.

  It was at 7th solunar silver-hour. They finally crossed East Sand Sea, entering to Akario’s Territory, a midpoint before reach to Far Desert. In that place were many guide camps positioned strategically. Akario was the chief of all those camps that extended to Coral Forest. It was considered as the second village of guide-beings but it only was conforming by elite guide-beings. Its reputation was compared with the Sandean Militia. Veledden’s Caravan was stopped in the checkpoint.

  “Identify you” said the guide in charge, who had spoken in wind language, the main language of guide-beings.

  “I am Zoria,” she said in her language, “tribal guide of Akaria, and I protect this caravan, which the chief is Veledden, oil merchant, and the third one is Resso his assistant.”

  She had spoken taking a serious posture, sharping her gaze and countenance determined; strangely to her regular behavior...

 

  “Where are you going?”

  “To Lodeleean’s Town,” she responded.

  “Young sister, the sands have been very restless this night. For your own security, you must stay here until the High authorize it,” explained the guide, and left.

  “What did he say?”

  “He said that for our security we must stay ...” translated Zoria, “Chief?”

  “Let us do as they say,” responded chief Veledden. “Although, it seems to be that we aren’t the only stopped ...”

  They checked the surroundings and noticed that another caravans were also in the same situation. Most of them were heading to the outskirts of the desert, towards the northern settlements. The drove to where the crowd was concentrated. Some were restlessly and many others were impatiently. Chief Veledden descended from the vehicle and get close to other merchant.

  “Good night, fellow. Why the restlessness?” inquired chief Veledden noticing the anxiety of the near ones.

  “Good night. It seems the desert has been aggressive on this day ...” explained the merchant intrigued.

  “So bad was it that they are like this? I suppose, Was it a silver wave ...?”

  “I wasn’t just a silver wave!” responded another of the merchants perturbed. “I can assure that it was something more ... We had never seen waves of such magnitude. It was like if they had been provoked intentionally to attack us.”

  “Don’t exaggerate, fellow ...” responded chief Veledden like scolding him.

  “I’m not exaggerating! We were many the injured!”

  “I still don’t understand; explain you ...” demanded another merchant subtly.

  “So many other times I have dealt with waves but, against one like that ... never. It stalked us ... Almost ... almost loss the course ... If it hadn’t been by the elite guides, we weren’t here explaining ...”

  “And can the others talk?” asked chief Veledden still unbeliever.

  “Ask them if you don’t believe me ...”

  Behind him the scared merchant were three wounded who belonged to his caravan; his disciples and his guide, who had been rescued from the suffocation of the tide. There were others in the same predicament but, there were also those who were watching them in disbelief, as did Veledden as nothing had happened to his caravan.

  “What’s that?!” said a guide of the merchants, scared, fixing his glare to the north.

 

  At the distance, a big and long figure was displacing slowly over the sand, as if it cuts it while was advancing. The only ones who distinguished it were the guides because their eyes were accustomed to the night; as all them, Zoria.

  “What do you see Zoria ...?” asked Resso intrigued.

  “It’s big ... seems like a wall, a bigger one ... like if it was sliding through the sand ...” explained Zoria.

  All the guides, sensing what was coming, began to alert all merchants, commanding them to refuge inside de woods; while others were forming in rows, protecting the camp perimeter. More guides went out from the forest to join their comrades who were protecting. The tension was felt in the night wind.

&n
bsp; The displacing wall that wasn’t a wall but a kind of ship whose onyx hull had carving horizontal and vertical lines that was connected, from bow to stern, that it didn’t distingue in the darkness but, after a few minutes began to do it as silver glow that increased until the point that was illuminated all the ship structure.

  “That ... that is ... relampeean art?”

  Definitely it was about relampeean art. They were recognized for craft artifact that worked with solunar-light. It could explain because the energy manifested was the same silver energy of Soluna in her splendor night. The ship was alimented with light, absorbing it, and it seemed in any moment it was going to burst...

  Before the confusion of all spectators, it wasn’t long before to manifest its intention. The accumulated energy impacted in the sandy ground, as a silver flash that caused the rise of tides that were amplifying as they made way towards their goal, the guide camps.

  The elite guides started to declaim in unison in wind tongue, incomprehensible to the merchants but not for the other guides, because they knew that they was preparing their defense, using the geomancy art of bending sand. The tide didn’t take long to ram, and the guides with their act achieved to decrease its size and strength, defragmenting it in many tides but, it wasn’t sufficient to stop it. Already divided in many, the tides trashed the security going to the camp, hitting everything what they touched. But, the merchant guides imitated the action of their comrades to defend their friend...

  Veledden and Resso hid behind Zoria, while they was watching how the less prepared were hit by the tides; waiting the same end. One of the tides was approaching to them at a menacing speed. In the collision, the young Zoria imposed all her will-force to stop it but, she found out of something strange; she couldn’t feel the harmonious and controllable wind characterizing but an aggressive and destructive wind. There was a clash between the two will-forces. She was resisting to be dragged, and the tide wanted to destroy her.

  The duel finished in a sand explosion and silver flashes; the only one buried was Zoria.

  “Zoria! Zoria! Zoria!?”

  Reso was exclaiming while was looking for her in the sandy grave. He dug until found the hand of his friend who was looking the surface. Both hand found out, holding tightly to each other. He helped her to get out. She was hurt and barely can move. He checked her, and stopped a little confused to observe her.

  “Zoria? What happened to you ...?”

  Her physical wasn’t the same, not for the received hit but...

  “Is she fine ...?” asked chief Veledden reappearing.

  “She is ... I think yes ... but it seems ...” responded Resso while still analyzing her.

  “Let me ... check her.”

  Veldden touched her face, then her shoulders, arms and last he stopped on her chest.

  “Yes, What I though!”

  “Chief, what happened?”

  “She has grown. It seems as the result of the duel, she grew ...”

  “What happened ...?” she asked reappearing.

  “Nothing young, or must I say lady,” responded chief Veledden. “Now you are one ... a mature lady ...”

  “No!” exclaimed Resso alarmed.

  The ship was repeating his act.

  “It’ll do it again ...”

  “We must stay away, chief ...”

  “It’s useless Resso. All guides had been defeated, and I doubt the woods could protect us ...” explained chief Veledden.

 

  “No ... I will ... protect everyone ...” said Zoria, feeling weak.

  “You have already done it, now you must rest,” said chief Veledden scolding her.

  “Who is him ...?” asked Resso wondering.

  From the density shadow of the forest, a slender figure had come out. Although he was far away and the black cape who was wearing overshadows him, he emanated a will-force that could perceive from such a distance. It was a strong creative will-force. He was moving on the sand, at high fast, as if the wind carried him. In a few minutes he toured al the camp.

  The ship finished accumulating and repeated his act, raising another sand tide.

  “I can feel him ...” expressed Zoria amusement, “he is ... the high guide, Akario ...”

  The figure raised his hand and pointed to the coming tide. One single word in wind tongue was enough to submit it. As if it had been frozen in the act, the great tide stayed thus for a few seconds to then begin to deform, and change its course; it went back to the ship, burying it completely. The duel had concluded.

  Soluna was at her 8th and last silver-hour. The ship started emerging from the sand to then head eastwards, and getting lost among the dunes. The guides who had evaded the tide, was searching to their companions in the sand. The lucky ones were been helped to get out of the sand, and the unlucky ones just dug out theirs graves...
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