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Rebellion Chapter One
Chapter One: Instigation
Tak rushed across the crystal roof of the house, the chiseled amethyst that was the trademark of the city Tethra digging into his feet. In his hands he clutched a parcel, the brown leather wrapping tied tight. He jumped onto the next house, his momentum keeping him from falling.
He flung a glance over his shoulder, the light of the full moon revealing five Sordinian soldiers leaping from rooftop to rooftop, matching his pace. Their graceful agility wasn’t hindered in the least by a full suit of crimson plate armor.
He leaped to the next house, but slipped as he jumped, falling just short of the roof. His hands grasped at the edge, holding on only barely to a small lump of amethyst with one hand, the other clutching his precious package.
The Sordinian soldiers landed on the house, without so much as a whisper, their feet quickly finding purchase on the crystal roof. One slowly reached down and grabbed his arm, the one holding on to the roof. Without a word he drew Tak up to his face. Through the narrow slits of the soldier’s helmet, Tak could see the blood red eyes flash. “Give me the package, you foul Arsunian,” he said, each word echoing coldly through the air.
“Never!” Tak shouted defiantly, and hurled the parcel into the air above the street 50 feet below. The soldier reached out a hand in a useless gesture. From out of the darkness of the night shot a Pythagean hawk. Almost filling the street, the huge 15 foot long bird snagged the leather wrapped parcel in its hideously green beak, and shot into the night sky. The rider on the hawks back whooped triumphantly.
Suddenly, an arrow whistled through the air past Tak’s ear and embedded itself in the spiked helmet of the soldier, penetrating the thick metal with more ease than a knife through butter. The soldier screamed, and threw Tak onto the roof. The man began to convulse, shedding his armor and helmet as the poison flooded his blood, causing him to go instantly mad. But the wound by the arrow was already fatal, and the man gasped and slumped over, dead.
An archer fifty or sixty houses away stood up and shouted. “Yeah, you take that you lousy racist dictatorial imperialistic dogs! Beat that shot!” He stood, his arms spread, daring the remaining soldiers to try to shoot him. The poisonous green cloak he wore flapped in the crisp February wind. He laughed devilishly as their crossbow bolts flew many yards to his left and right, and then jumped off the roof. A Pythagean hawk swooped up from the street below and caught him, carrying him off into the night.
The other soldiers turned on Tak, and one pointed his crossbow at him, but Tak was one step ahead. His bow was out and drawn, the poison tipped arrow pulled back to his cheek. He let it fly just as the soldier let his bolt go. Tak’s arrow hit the soldier’s head on. The soldier’s arrow splintered and broke, while Tak’s arrow sped on unhindered and lodged itself in a chink in the soldier’s armor. The soldier fell over, gasping, as the air was sucked from his lungs.
“Suck on that!” Tak roared as he jumped into the air, flipped around twice, and landed on a third Pythagean hawk’s back, not quite realizing the irony of his statement. The hawk cawed, a dangerous, threatening note, before flapping its wings and speeding away.
The soldiers roared with anger as the watched the three silhouettes disappear into the rising sun, the package safely in their hands.
Tak guided his hawk into a small cave on Mount Afra, the closest mountain to the city of Tethra. There, Tak’s two compatriots were sitting around a small fire. The birds were nestled together in the back of the cave, sleeping.
“Hello Tak. Glad you made it.” One of Tak’s friends said, emotionlessly.
Tak motioned towards the unopened bag at the feet of the other friend. “I can see you waited for me.”
“Of course we did. You stole it, didn’t you? It’s only right you should be the one to open it.”
Tak reached over and grabbed hold of the rope that tied the leather around the object. His golden eyes sparked with anticipation. Finally, here was the climax of all their plans, their dreams. This was it, the start of the Arsunian rebellion against the Sordinian oppressors. He undid the knot, and let the leather fall away and reveal what was underneath.
Isaiah’s little brother, Samuel, shook him awake. “Come quick, Isaiah! Something terrible is happening!”
Isaiah laughed at his little brother. “If you mean our lessons, they were canceled, remember?”
“No, not our lessons! It’s Mount Afra! It’s exploding!” Sam exclaimed fearfully.
Isaiah jumped out of bed, wide awake. Mount Afra, when the snow on its peak melted, was the cause of the immense flooding of the river Isil. If the anything happened to Mount Afra, the river would either flood early or not flood at all. Either way, the crops that supported Isaiah’s family would be destroyed.
“Sam, where’s father? Does he know?” Isaiah asked, matching his brother’s worried expression.
Sam nodded. “He’s already at the river bank.” Isaiah nodded, and pulled on a ripped up wool shirt and an equally shoddy pair of brown deerskin pants, and then rushed out of the room and into the foyer of their small farmhouse. He flung open the door and rushed down the stairs to the dirt path that led to the Isil.
Reeds encroached on either side of the path, but he just brushed them aside and ran to his father, who was standing hallway in the water, staring agape at Mount Afra. Isaiah looked up at the humungous, three mile high mountain and almost cried.
The south face, the one that looked down upon the Isil, was collapsing. Explosions blew rock outward in immense geysers, hurling fifty foot boulders off the mountain like they were pebbles. Isaiah fixed his gaze on the waterfall that was the origin of the Isil. Suddenly, a Pythagean hawk crossed in front of the still frozen waterfall, nimbly dodging the boulders that were already tumbling down the falls. Two more shot out from behind the mountain, and followed the first one. Isaiah could have sworn he saw a rider on the lead hawk, but that was impossible. Pythagean hawks were untamable, wild and fierce. No one has ever domesticated one.
Then, a second explosion drew his eyes away from the gargantuan birds. This time, it was an explosion of fire, not force. Flames poured out of the mountain in golden rivers, setting the whole left shoulder on fire. Smaller explosions peppered the slopes, creating pockets of flame.
Isaiah gasped as he saw the snow that blanketed the mountain, 30 feet deep in some places; begin to crumble and fall, sliding unhindered down the rivets the falling boulders had left behind. Whenever the avalanche of snow touched one of the fires, it melted instantaneously, becoming water so hot that it melted the snow surrounding it. Soon, tendrils of water were creeping down the ridges of the mountain, all heading towards the frozen falls.
And then, terribly, catastrophically, the falls crumbled. Shards of ice broke away and smashed into the ground below, throwing up clouds of ice and snow. Bubbling hot water poured down the cliff in torrents so great it looked like the mountain was melting.
The water flew passed the steep banks of the Isil like they were nothing, fanning out for miles along the floodplain. Isaiah’s father looked in horror as the massive wave of scalding hot water touched the edges of his field two month too early, and then swept past the edges, drawing ever closer to them
“Quick, get behind that rock!” Isaiah’s father ordered, and Sam and Isaiah instantly obeyed, ducking behind a boulder that thrust out of the ground at an odd angle, creating a sort of a cave, but with only one true wall. Their father followed right behind them, shepherding them inside, and then huddling over them, covering their bodies. The wave swept over the top of the rock, crashing down on either side. Water flooded in, at first waist high but it slowly rose, coming to their chests within a minute. It was hot to the touch, but not unbearably so, and if the water hadn’t been the cause of the destruction of their fields, it might have been fun to play in.
Their father was crying, Isaiah thought at first that they were tears of frustration; A year’s hard work in the fields destroyed, their small, one room house soiled, and hunger imminent. But when their father spoke, in a dark, defiant tone, Isaiah realized that he was crying tears of anger. Harsh, numbing, consuming anger. “Do you know who did this?” he asked, almost growling. He didn’t wait for his sons to reply before saying, “The Sordinians. Those mangy dogs, invading our homeland, beating it’s people, our people, the Arsunians, into submission. Now they’ve destroyed thousands of people’s livelihoods.” Standing up now, he shouted, “Well, you’ve gone too far this time ‘Commander’ Skye, you Sordinian bastard! We will fight! You hear me? We! Will! Fight!”
The High Lord of Arsun, Commander Skye, walked into the spacious command room. The thirteen generals seated in plush arm chairs, arranged in a semicircle around a table, rose and saluted, being careful not to bump their heads on the priceless paintings lining the walls behind them.
Skye marched stiffly over to the table, which was actually a painstakingly crafted marble map of Arsun and Mothra, the two islands under Sordinian control. He slammed his fist onto the small blue groove that was the River Isil. The map actually had water pouring out of Mount Afra and down the Isil, and was showing the exact progress of the flood sweeping the banks of the Isil, and small pores in the marble opened to suck away the water that had been displaced by Skye’s hand.
Skye addressed the generals, who had sat down again, and pointed at the flooded River Isil. “Does this river usually flood in the middle of February?” He asked menacingly.
“Uh, no, commander, sir. It usually floods in April.” General Sythin, one of Commander Skye’s top generals and good friend, said.
“So why is the damn thing flooding half of Arsun?!?!?!? Every one of those inferior Arsunians on that river is blaming us!” Skye roared. The generals paled, and Sythin spoke up again.
“Actually, commander, I do know,” he said. “For the past decade, all of our top scientists have been working on -”
Skye interrupted him. “Yes, I am aware of the Mountain Crusher. I was the one who authorized it’s repositioning to the city of Tethra, in Arsun.”
“Which I advised against.” Sythin spoke up, but regretted it as soon as the words left his mark. Skye glared with the ferocity of a dragon, and Sythin paled
“Keep the editorials out of your explanation, General.” Skye said, refusing to call Sythin by his name.
Sythin glared back at Skye, and continued icily. “Three Arsunians stole the Mountain Crusher last night. Apparently they evaded capture on the backs of Pythagean hawks.”
“You lie. Not even our best falconers can tame those beasts.” Skye said incredulous.
“Yet the so called ‘inferior’ Arsunians did.” Sythin said.
“Are you suggesting that the natives are better than us?” Skye demanded.
“No, commander. May I continue with my story, sir?” Sythin asked innocently, but his eyes betrayed the truth. Sythin did think the Arsunians were better.
“Yes, General. Please go on” Skye said in a voice that stated silently, “if only to make you shut up sooner.”
“Well, these Arsunians used two of the charges, the incendiary charge and the explosive charge, to melt the snow on Mount Afra, the source of the river Isil. The river flooded months too early, and the thieves escaped into the Capis Forest. Reports are that they are gathering an army of some sorts.” Sythin said.
“An army you say,” Skye responded, his anger dissipating while he mulled that thought over. “But the only living creatures in the Capis are beasts. Are you suggesting that they are making an army of animals?”
“If they trained Pythagean hawks, maybe they can do that too.” Sythin said.