Melting An Ancient Heart
Melting an Ancient Heart
The next morning Sahn was sure to wake up early and put out the embers before Shareena arrived. He dove for a couple crabs and ate them in the darkness of his cave. Shareena soon was heard climbing down the rope ladder, this time she had to make two trips, as she had more to carry. She paused a moment, as she saw the message that was scribbled in the sand, ‘I am Sahn’.
“Hello Sahn,” she called out toward the cave. “We are going to come over to bring you some things and talk to you.” The woman called out. She gave a small cake to the little girl to carry and she picked up a pile of clean clothes and other items. Sahn shuffled to the far back wall of the cave, as Shareena and her daughter made their way around the perimeter of the lake toward the cave. “We’re coming in now. Please don’t be afraid.” She announced once closer to the cave.
Shareena and her daughter stepped into the entrance of the dark cave carrying the items they brought for Sahn. “Hello,” she called out again.
“Please don’t come any further. I can hear you well from there,” Sahn said from the darkness of the back of the cave.
“There is no reason to live alone like this,” Shareena said to him, as she set down a pile of items. “I baked a cake if you’d like a piece.” Shareena encouraged her daughter to carry the cake further into the back of the cave.
“Please just set it down there. I’ll get some later.”
The little girl stopped and turned to look at her mother who nodded to her and the girl set the square cake down in the center of the dark cave near the ashes of the fire. The girl picked up a piece of the already sliced cake and brought it to her mother. She then went back to grab a piece for herself. The little girl sat near the cake with her legs crossed and took a big bite spilling crumbs on her dress.
“My name is Katarosa,” she spoke with her mouth full of cake. “but my friends usually call me Rosa, or Kat. What is your name?”
Sahn sat very still and quiet at the back of the dark cave and just as it seemed he wasn’t going to answer he replied.
“That is a very nice name. My name is Sahn,” his meek voice whispered from the darkness.
“Won’t you come out and talk to us Sahn?” Katarosa asked, after shoving another bite of cake in her mouth.
“Not right now please,” Sahn replied quietly.
“We have some more stuff for you.” The little girl got up and walked back to where her mother sat in the dim light near the cave entrance. “We brought you a thick blanket and some more clothes.” Katarosa pulled through the items one at a time and held them up. “Oh and Mr. Gronkett gave you one of his spare pipes and some of his tobacco. Everyone said it was alright if you wanted to stay in the empty room. No one else is using it. Won’t you please come stay with us?”
“I don’t think I can,” Sahn answered after a long moment.
“Oh please? I think it would fun,” the little girl pleaded.
“Honey let’s not pressure him. He’ll come if he wants to,” Shareena told her daughter, as she brushed her short white hair out of her eyes.
“Alright I’m sorry,” Katarosa said with her head hung and shuffled her foot along the sandy cave floor.
“Alright let’s let Sahn be alone now,” Shareena said in a soft parental voice. Katarosa smiled and ran over to grab another piece of cake.
“Goodbye Sahn,” she said with a mouthful of cake.
“Goodbye,” Sahn replied from the darkness.
“Maybe tomorrow you can show us where to find the crabs,” the little girl turned around to say after taking her mother’s hand.
“We’ll see,” Sahn replied, as Shareena and her daughter left the cave and worked their way around the lake over to the raft. They gathered up the mussels and crabs, and put them in their bucket. They started up the rope ladder without setting out to do any fishing.
“Well they’re gone,” Darvin announced after Shareena and her daughter finished climbing up the rope ladder.
Sahn made his way out from the back of the cave. He reached down to grab a piece of cake with more than half of it remaining. He took a bite of the cake, as he walked over to look at the clothing they left in a pile by the cave entrance. After finishing the piece of cake, he picked up a bar of soap which was also in the pile and shred the soiled clothing he was wearing and slid into the lake water.
After scrubbing himself thoroughly, Sahn got dressed and seemed in a much better mood, as he whistled while getting dressed. Rather than dive for more seafood, Sahn laid back and ate the rest of the cake while wearing the clean trousers and tunic Shareena had left for him. Darvin didn’t appear at all the rest of the day, as Sahn went about his normal routine. After hearing the screw stop, he again went up to gather dry grass and firewood. He had to search more ground to find enough fallen branches and twigs near the trees and had to wait as a mounted Shrkai man walked his klaatu slowly along the perimeter of the farms, before climbing back down into the underground cavern. He then removed his clothes and dove down to get more crabs and mussels. He carried them over to the small pit and dropped them in before heading back to light the fire in the small cave. He smiled, as he watched the fire flicker before him, then rolled over and pulled a blanket over his body before drifting off to sleep.
Early the next morning Sahn, was again awake before Shareena arrived. He found himself anxiously waiting for her arrival. While he remained in the darkness of the cave, he sat closer to the entrance, so that he could see her and Katarosa climb down the rope ladder. He shuffled to the back of the cave however, when he saw them come around the perimeter of the lake straight toward his cave.
“Sahn, Sahn we’re here,” Katarosa called out, as she got to the other side of the lake and ran toward the cave. “Are you going to show us where the crabs are?” she called into the cave when she stopped at the entrance.
“Alright meet me over by the lake.” Sahn finally answered from the darkness of the cave.
“Yes, yes thank you!” the child exclaimed, then ran over to the edge of the lake. Shareena soon joined her daughter, and the two of them removed their shoes and chillsuits revealing the swim clothes they had on underneath. Inside the cave Sahn also put on some short trousers then squeezed out a small side entrance to the cave and stood before Shareena and her daughter. Katarosa ran over to grab his hand and pull him closer. “How deep are they?” Katarosa asked excitedly, as Sahn seemed transfixed on Shareena in her swim clothes.
“Uhh how long can you hold your breath?” Sahn turned to ask the child finally.
“Oh a long time… let’s go.” The child tugged on his arm pulling him into the water.
“Alright, but it’s rather deep, you’ll have to climb onto my back and put your arms around my neck.” Sahn said after he stepped out a bit further in the water and laid down so that the girl could climb on his back. “Alright now if you find you’re running out of air, just tug on my hair and I’ll come back up.”
“Alright like this?” Katarosa gave a good tug on a lock of his hair.
“Yes, but uhh not so hard, just a gentle tug will be enough.”
“That’s alright now take a deep breath of air and hold it in, tug on my hair when you’re ready.” Katarosa did as he said and after filling her lungs with air, she gave a gentle tug on Sahn’s hair and then he dove beneath the water. Shareena dove right behind them and Sahn swam straight down deep into the lake toward one of the glowing stones at the bottom. He pointed to the crabs crawling around on the bottom of the lake and looked to see that Katarosa saw them. He got close enough for her to reach out and grab one. Which she did quite carefully avoiding the crab’s pinchers which were raised up and ready to strike.
After a short time, Katarosa tugged on his hair and Sahn darted up to the surface so that she could breathe in some air. After a brisk swim they poked their heads up through the surface of the water. For the better part of the day, the three of them swam around in the lake and dove for crab several times. One time after Sahn handed the girl back to her mother and saw her holding the girl in her arms, he had a brief flash of his wife holding his infant daughter so long ago, just before they were burned to death by the ash-flow from the volcano.
Sahn brought both his hands up before his face to block out the vision, then turned to swim back to his cave.
“I have to go! I’m sorry,” Sahn called back, as he swam to shore.
“Wait! Aren’t you coming back with us today? Mommy said you might come back with us today,” Katarosa called out after Sahn, who didn’t answer. After he climbed out of the water, he disappeared once more inside his cave. “Sahn! Sahn!”
“That’s alright honey. He had to go. We’ll talk to him again tomorrow.” Shareena said then the two of them swam to shore and dried off.
Sahn pressed himself once more with his back against the far cave wall curled up in the fetal position. He stayed in the cave until late in the day when he heard the noisy screw stop. He ventured out of the small cave and went up to find more firewood. That night, as Sahn lay sleeping beneath the blanket with the fire flickering nearby, a vision entered his mind…
Sahn saw himself running through the streets with the crowds of people desperately trying to escape with a massive volcano erupting in the background. Tiny flakes of ash were just starting to fall on the doomed city when Sahn stepped into the portal opened by Lunarri the high priest of the Shrkai. “Ammaline,” he called out over and over as he looked for his wife, when he heard her call his name outside the portal. He turned and pushed his way toward her through the crowds flowing in through the portal opening. He was just about to step out, when two men grabbed him. “Wait what are you doing? My wife is out there,” he shouted to no avail.
“We must close the portal or we’ll all die!” one of the men shouted to him. Sahn looked again out to the crowd running toward the portal and saw a huge cloud of hot ash rolling down from the mountain speeding toward the portal, the crowds of people, trees and anything in its path was set ablaze, as it rolled over the city.
“Sahn!” Ammaline cried out with her outstretched arm and infant daughter in the other, as the ash rolled over them and the other people in the crowd roasting them alive, as the portal closed shut…
“AAAHHGH,” Sahn woke up screaming. He looked to the flickering firelight before him and kicked sand over it until it went out. The suns light was just starting to stream through the openings in the manholes above the underground lake, as Sahn carried everything away from the cave and slipped further back into the shadows near a different section of the underground lake. He watched in the darkness, as Shareena and her daughter arrived again. Katarosa ran into the cave calling Sahn’s name, but searched the dim-lit cave only to find it empty. Shareena arrived and helped her daughter search the small cave. They set down the cake they brought and walked quietly out. They pushed out the raft and resumed their spear-fishing, as Sahn watched from the shadows.
Shareena and Katarosa kept watch for any signs of Sahn and occasionally called his name throughout the day, but he refused to answer. Later that afternoon after catching a few fish, the two of them pushed their raft back to shore. They again looked around for Sahn one last time before they turned and climbed up the rope ladder.
Trajev ascended to his room on top of the assembly hall. His servants had his prayer mat laid out on the opposite deck so he could watch the suns set. He drank some of the juice set out for him on a small table nearby and knelt on the pillow, as the egg-shaped suns were just setting on the horizon. He couldn’t help but notice they were slightly more elongated than before and to the naked eye you could just see what looked like a new yellow sun forming in the space directly between them. He closed his eyes and meditated on the meaning of this trying to call on his earlier training as a priest. Training he had all but neglected before being appointed the newest Grand Chancellor, now as a Grand Chancellor it was expected of him to be the spiritual leader of the Shrkai people.
He could feel the heat of the suns on his face, as the narcotics in his drink started to show him images in his mind. At first he saw the flames of a massive fire burning away at what he now saw as Shrkai City. He had sought the council of some of the other priests after his previous vision and none of them had seen anything remotely similar to his vision of the mansions built on top of the backs of the people. It was left to him alone to analyze that vision as he now began to experience a new vision of his city on fire. As he could see further into the intense flames, he could see people running around burning to death and many bodies already reduced to a pile of cinders.
Trajev continued to view his vision now with flames reaching upward to the sky and even the soldiers and priests were also being burned alive. The flames spread throughout the city and even reached the tall pyramid temple. On top of the temple a crowd of people all with the insignia of the dragon clan stood watching the destruction of the city below. His vision then focused on the sight of the people on top of the pyramid mound. He could now see their faces, they were Ralomar with the rest of the dragon clan standing behind him laughing as the people below were consumed by the flames. One figure he could see standing there in front of all the rest holding a torch, but he could not make out the face of the man. Ralomar held a cloak for the figure and placed it over his shoulders. A cloak with the bright red dragon stitched onto it, the now infamous symbol of the dragon clan.
“You are now officially one of us,” Ralomar spoke to the shadowed figure holding the torch and wearing the cloak. “You are our great leader.” Ralomar and the rest of the dragon clan of Shrkai bowed behind the figure. His vision drew nearer and nearer the face of the man holding the torch until he finally saw that it was himself standing there holding the torch as the Shrkai people far below were burned alive.
Trajev’s vision suddenly ended, as he opened his eyes and saw the suns had finished. He fell over holding himself up by his hands resting on the warm stone floor of the west balcony. “You are our great leader.” Trajev heard the voice of Ralomar again echo across the dark purple sky with a few thick orange clouds still reflecting the light of the suns that sank over the horizon.
The sky rumbled early the next morning as thick clouds rolled in from the west. Anyone who heard the thundering sky came out from their homes to look up hoping for heavy rains to wash over them and cool off their blistering hot city. The sky rumbled yet again, as people looked upward and held out the palms of their hands hoping to catch moist rain drops on their skin. After a short wait, the clouds did open up with a steady rain that dropped first only a few tiny morsels of refreshing rain, then after a moment a heavy rain fell across the parched city. It rained strong for several minutes then stopped. The thirsty ground absorbed the deluge of rain leaving the soil once again dry and hard as if no rain had ever fallen.