The guards did not even bother about this as they knew that the prisoners would have tough luck scraping the thick concrete with their home-made tools. I then called out to my dad trying to move to the side where I could see into the cell and where the makeshift curtain would not obstruct my view.
Precisely at the moment, I spoke I heard a noise from within and it sounded like someone trying to get up. Then out of the darkness, that covered most of the room, a face emerged slowly. His skin was a tone of pale green which indicated he hadn’t been out in the sun for a long time.
Although he had been in prison he looked as though he had actually gained weight but since my father was always a little fat since I had remembered, it seemed like the only source of him becoming fat was him liking the meals the prison was serving him. He also had his thin oval-shaped glasses on which meant he was reading something although how was one question I had to find out. “Oh my boy!” he said in a voice that was rather young for his look. “Hello, father!” I exclaimed as he reached out his hands through the bar to meet mine. “Hope everything is going as positive as ever.” his voice strong as ever. “Yes dad, everything is positive.” I responded holding my father’s hands strongly like the way he used to hold mine when I was younger.
A moment of silence passed as we both examined each other. The silence, however, was shattered by the sweet annoying voice from behind me “Yeah! Please forget about me!” it said.”Ignore her.” I whispered in an almost audible voice into his ear as he embraced me in a hug as I wore a smirk on my face bearing the mark of my recent comment. My father, however, as expected, did the exact opposite and called out to her still holding me with his hands. “Forgetting you will be the last thing on my mind.” he continued as he took me and my sister into an everlasting hug.
It was nice to be in his arms again but we had to break it at some point. After a few more joking around my sister spoke her voice sounding like an eight-year-old who had just found an interesting piece of a seashell on the sandy beach. “We just had the most amazing of encounters with the Gurzal gang,” she said. “Oh! it ended with a fight?” He said with his face suddenly becoming full of color. “Yes, it did!” Replied my sister with almost the same excitement as him. “So of course after my intensive training you should have been the last one standing there,” he said as his tone became suspicious as he eyed my sister for the resounding answer. “Of course we were the last one standing!” My sister exclaimed like she was stating the obvious. “You do know that your training has helped us beat so many people that Xaya is going around town challenging everyone she sees to a fight,” I said trying to throw my sister under the bus. “Xaya…” my father bellowed his voice going low. “Dad!” snapped Xaya as she pushed me to the side rather hard. “Just to be clear I did not, unlike this lazy guy who turned up seven minutes to the fight because he was sleeping….do u know how much I had to stall those ungrateful bafoons just so that Aiden here could get some piece of that action.” “Oh yeah? I thought you were stalling them because you could not handle all of those pork chops alone? Isn’t that right Ms. Weeky?” I knew that calling her ‘weeky’ was something that would irritate her mostly because she used to pronounce the word weak as ‘weeky’ when she was just a toddler.
As expected she did but before she could dish out all her anger our father caught our attention. “You both don’t need to have a full-fledged fight right here, there is more than enough entertainment for all of us here.” His voice was calm and he seemed to be enjoying what he was seeing but it seemed like he did not want us causing problems outside the house within ourselves, especially inside a prison complex. “Sure father.” we both said unanimously as both of instantly turned to face our father. He was the one who has taught us, disciple, when we were young and some most of his life was spent behind bars we had strayed our boundaries a little bit but our frequent visits to our father helped us retain our disciple within a few hours.
Composure regained, we continued our talks with our father until it was the early evening after which we bid our farewell and walked out feeling somewhat content after meeting him. The walk back home too was quite pleasant as we continued our unfinished argument with each other laughing hard at the comments each other made.
We only stopped laughing and our pretty heated argument when we came near the village center which happened to be in front of the ruined bastion, where a big crowd had formed. “What do you think is happening here?” I asked as we neared the crowd. “Just as clueless as you are brother,” she said as she tried to look above everyone to see the source.
Exactly at the time we were about to ask the crowd around us for answers everyone who had till now been talking amongst themselves suddenly looked directly in front of them and the gossip that was going on till then fell to a hush as a figure rose above everyone else presumably on some sort of stage. I then realized where we were. We were right in front of the ruined bastion that was in its golden times had huge dias right where we were.
This was the place where one might assume all the important messages and public announcements were made. Now, however, the huge dais was reduced to a small rock having barely enough space to fit more than two people at a time. Nonetheless, it was quite high and helped people have a glance as to who was spreading the words to them. Today it turned out to be the leader himself which was quite the surprise considering how rare it was to see him even though we lived in a village so small where practically everyone knew everyone else. He was taller than most inhabitants which made it easy for many to see him as he walked silently onto the stage.
As he centered himself on the stage a hush fell over the crowd, keenly listening to what their leader, Ivor Osborne, had to say. By now we had worked our way to the front of the crowd where we were able to get a proper view of the leader. There was no clear expression on Ivor’s face when he began to speak about a rather exciting event. “Most of us know why we are here.” he started almost abruptly. “We are here for Zelia!!” he said now his pale face showing a hint of excitement. Still, silence, as the crowd anticipated more details from their leader. Sensing this he continued his voice now growing stronger than before. “As we know tomorrow when the birds go to sleep we are going to have the fight. This fight as you know is of utmost importance to us. Not only does it give us the chance to settle the dispute of the despaired one but it also produces us an opportunity to gain our standards and help us get some resources that could help us. Alas, we have been struck with the dark cloud as we could not win the fight even once. Fortunately for us, the same cloud that has struck despair amongst us has also struck our competitor as they too have never been able to win this fight even once, even though they are way more superior than what we initially thought about them. So we still have some hope, if it had not been for our next contestant for tomorrow night.”
His voice fell drastically back to his unexcited mood as he spoke the last sentence as he waved one his hand to the back like as if a television host was presenting a guest. At that cue a nervous figure appeared on stage, shaking from head to toe as he clenched both of his arms in front of his chest along the length of his body almost like he was praying. Praying to the gods that he was not going to fight in a match against an opponent who at the worst could kill him if he was not lucky.
He was quite fat but seemed quite strong by the looks of it. However, the kind of strength he possessed had never been used against fight rather than something that was much harmless something that made most of the villagers happy about. The shaking figure in question was Muite the farmer who had his house off to the far end of the village near the border where the soil was fertile enough to grow most of the crops and where there was vasts expanses of unclaimed land which made it easy for him to grow his variety of crops without any interference of the villagers.
I and my sister usually visited his area when we needed a break from the bustling village. It was peaceful there without any annoyingly noisy kids and peddlers who constantly tried to sell their cheap toys to us. It was a vast landscape with very few trees around which gave us a beautiful look at our surroundings for great lengths. Most of our talks to Muite described his personality which was calm and relaxed, the complete opposite of what he was experiencing now. He now stood quietly next to the leader shivering feverishly.
The leader after a glance at Muite as if he was confirming that he stepped onto the stage instead of cowardly running away, spoke again with his bored voice. “It is a pity that he has to be the one to fight, but I don’t think we have a choice. After all, he decided to fight this…” he said and at this, there was a squeal from Muite who seemed suddenly full of courage as he spoke from the shadows and his voice quivering a little as he spoke. “It…was a decision I made hastily, something I regret deeply now. I…..made it…..out of anger I say. I was devastated when that piece of burning garbage ruined my crops and when I reported it…..reported it to his greatness, the leader I muttered that it would be great to punch whoever threw that flaming piece of garbage and then his highness-” he was cut off when the leader whistled and two hefty guards walked over and closed Muite’s mouth silencing him as they dragged him away off the stage and off away from the crowd.
There was utter silence amongst the crowd and it seemed like everyone was thinking about the same thing. But this silence was not going to last for long as Ivor himself realized this and before anyone could speak the leader who’s composure hadn’t swayed a bit spoke. “I pray to the gods to unite our souls and give him the strength to face whatever beast, monster or all hell that stands in his way.” And then suddenly everyone present in the crowd repeated his line in unison.
It was a custom to speak this line and something that was recited whenever one of villager faced any threat all alone without the help of his fellow villagers. It was what brought us together and although many of the villagers faced different problems or had fights or just did not know one and another when telling this line they all would spare a minute of their time to think about the villager who was about to face things that would scare any other villager.
This was not used only for the ‘Zelia’ when the unlucky one had to face inevitable danger but was also used in cases when a villager left our village or was banished or captured by the other villages. Now there was that minute of silence where all the villagers gathered there closed their eyes and prayed. The leader did the same and then the most amazing thing happened.