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Last Prayers

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The street is dark around me. I'm not afraid, though - this is my home. My hands stay on my knives as I walk, keeping an eye out for attackers. City guard especially.
The abandoned, decrepit plaza looms in front of me. Safety. I walk up to the only thing still standing, an old bronze fountain with an inlaid six-petaled flower. I stroke each petal. Gold, for the sun. Silver, for the moon. Green for the earth, blue for water, the red of the fire. White for air. I place my hand in the flower's center and push. A spiraling staircase unfolds from the fountain's base.
I descend. Instead of shouts, though, a thick silence hangs over the underground city. An occasional murmur breaks the silence. I start to run.
Cire and Kaltyen meet me as I run down the stairs. "Serelin," Kal says, relieved. "Thank the Sixfold you're here. There's a meeting in the Healing Hall."
The Healing Hall. Are there so many wounded, so many dead? I leave Kal and Cire behind as I race for the Hall of Air.
When I get there, there seem to be no more than usual. Aelyl is in the process of saying a last prayer over a body. I join him as he says the last lines. "Take our brother, Lord Erith, and help him through your fires into the Lady Ria's air."
Lifting the dead boy up, Aelyl looks at me and says sadly, "Too many last prayers."
I nod. Taire, in Htrae's green, walks up. "Thank Sixfold, Elin. The City guard is mounting an invasion."
An invasion. I stare blankly at him as the words sink in. An invasion! "The children," I whisper. "We can't get the children out."
Taire nods silently.
Kal chimes in with, "Or the scrolls."
We all stare at her. Trust Kaltyen to come up with something like that.
"Forget the scrolls," Taire returns. "The children, Kaltyen! The little ones!"
Aelyl comes back. I try to look away from the ash spotting his hands. "We need to mount a defense."
Teivyn, who's listened silently until now, shakes her head. "The city is too big! There aren't enough of us to fight."
"Healers roam the streets too," I point out.
Teivyn doesn't even look at me. "No. We need the healers to heal. The street performers are the only ones who can really fight, and there's only sixty-some of us!"
The gravity of the situation hits me. Sixty exceptional knife fighters against several hundred of the city guard, armed with ranged weapons. I try to keep the sobs from coming through my voice. "I'll go ready the healers, then."
At the end of today....
There will be too many last prayers.



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gjch said...
Sept. 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm:
I would love to read more of this story to see what they are fighting for and what the author can develop.  Keep it coming!
 
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