Fire Stone

Fire Stone

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Houses:

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Houses:

Summary

First attempt at putting down on paper what I have in my head. All comments are more than welcome. The more criticism, the better. Thank you in advance.
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Summary

First attempt at putting down on paper what I have in my head. All comments are more than welcome. The more criticism, the better. Thank you in advance.

Chapter1 (v.1) - The protector of Adale

Author Chapter Note

One of the main antagonists is introduced. In this chapter you actually get to see the 'noble' side of the antagonist, and also part of his background story. I'm trying to give the reader a feeling of his home, and why he wants to protect it so badly, without going into details (because I want the reader to 'discover' things as the story progresses).

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 16, 2017

Reads: 33

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 16, 2017

A A A

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Nasus walked in the complete and utter darkness of the East-African night. The sand of the dessert shifted, with each step, under the weight of his feet. Nasus breathed in deeply through his nose. The wind carried the scent of the Indian Ocean to him. In the darkness he could not see the ocean, but he still knew precisely where it was. Here, on the coast of Somalia, its entire surface covered in sand, he knew where everything was, even in pitch-black darkness, thanks to his power.

He walked with a calm but uneven rhythm. He had a limp; his stiff right leg forced him to use an old wooden cane to walk. Nasus was an old and tall man. He had dark skin, long curly hair and intense green eyes that he hid behind black sunglasses. Africans rarely have green eyes, but the truly peculiar thing about Nasus weren’t his eyes: it was the small green stone, shaped like an eye, that protruded from the palm of his hand.

Slowly, the sun rose up, throwing warm light on his skinny, tall body, like a warm greeting from an old friend. He halted for a moment to look around him. In the distance in front of him he saw the ocean, coloured a beautiful purple by the rising sun. To his left and right, the sand stretched on endlessly, here and there touched by the green of some plants and small trees. He turned his head and saw behind him the white houses of his village shining brightly in the morning sun. Further beyond the village, a group of tall table mountains towered, like giant guardians of Adele.

Nasus continued to walk until he reached a large area surrounded by a meter high wall. This was the market place next to Adale. A group of vendors had already started to set up their market stands.

With some difficulty, Nasus sat himself down on a rock, under a small tree, that stood right next to the entrance of the market. Tired off the long walk, he dusted off his old flannel shirt and kaki pants. He pulled a stroke of hair back that was hanging over his sunglasses, and rested his head on the wooden cane planted between his feet.

 

————————–

 

The sun continued to rapidly climb the cloudless sky. The morning sun now coloured the sky and ocean a beautiful blue-orange. Nasus was sitting in the shade and enjoyed the quiet of the still empty market. The air was fresh and cool and the vendors shared cheerful chatter or prayed for a good sales-day.

‘Perhaps’, Nasus thought with his eyes closed, ‘perhaps we can have peace?’ He held his right palm in front of his face, opened his eyes and looked at the eye-shaped green stone imbedded in his flesh. ‘No,’ he thought, ‘Peace is always temporary and can only be taken by power. My power.’

Nasus looked in the direction from which he came, Adele. In the distance, two young girls were walking down the path that led from the village to the market, the path he took earlier this day. He recognised them as his niece Gwani and her friend Aisia. On their heads they balanced woven baskets made from pine straws to carry groceries in.

As the two girls entered the market, his niece noticed him and gave him a friendly little wave. She knew not of their kinship. To her Nasus was not her uncle but a poor old man. His nod to her was very slight, almost imperceivable.

Other villagers started to make their way to the market, strolling down the sandy road that connected the village to the market. He observed each of the incoming early customers of the market carefully, unnoticed in the shadow of the small tree, but had, so far, not seen any suspicious individuals.

He stopped observing the people at the market for a moment, and drew a series of lines in the sand with his cane. The lines he drew formed a large cross within a large circle. Having finished the encircled cross, Nasus placed his left foot in the circle. He then, with some effort to move his stiff leg, placed his right foot in the circle. With both feet in the circle, both on one side of the drawn cross, he now placed his cane in the centre of the cross, and activated his power. Unnoticed by those around him, Nasus his green eyes and green stone started to glow. His world suddenly no longer limited by his physical hearing range, he could hear people talking to each other miles away from him. He felt the people at the market walk on the sand, his sand.

Before long, the market grew into a fully packed, crowded and lively place. Nasus remained hidden in the shadow. He saw his niece and her friend had sat down at the tea stand under the shadow of the three largest trees on the south-end of the market. Clearly relieved by the shade and soothing tea, they seemed to relax and enjoy themselves. Around them a group of young children ran around the market, and tested the vigilance and patience of the vendors – the vendors playfully told the children off, clearly not bothered by their antics.

Gwani noticed him, sitting hidden in the shade. She waved at him once more and raised her cup of tea in salute. But Nasus failed to return her greeting this time. From his circle, he had to devote all his concentration to listen to every conversation on the market.

 

———————–

 

The sun had climbed high above and was now looming over the market, slowing all activity down with its scorching heat. Adir Gudu, who sold bottles of water that he filled with water from a nearby well, looked up at the sun and thanked his gods. Gudu was originally from Haramka, but had recently moved north to Adale to try his luck there. His decision had proved very lucrative indeed.

From the shades, Nasus saw Mrs Zwali, an old woman in bright yellow clothes, go to Adir Gudu’s stand and buy a bottle of water for three Somalian shilling.

Although they were out of normal hearing reach, with his power, Nasus used the sand to hear Mrs Zwali talk to Adir Gudu in Somali.

‘There is nothing better than water to quench one’s thirst,’ Mrs Zwali said

‘No, there isn’t, Mrs Zwali’ Adir Gudu said.

Nasus saw Mrs. Zwali notice him sitting under the small tree at the center of the market.

‘Did he drink any water today?’ Mrs. Zwali asked, and nodded with her head in the direction of Nasus.

Gudu turned his head to look at him and shrugged. ‘No, he never buys any water from me. Just sits there every day, in the shade. I don’t think he has any money, poor guy.’

‘No luck on that one,’ Mrs. Zwali said, shaking her head.

‘You know him Mrs. Zwali?’

The old woman looked at Gudu. ‘Clearly you are not from around here,’ Mrs. Zwali frowned.

‘No, I’m from Haramka originally. Why, is that man famous?’

‘He is from a village that used to exist, a few miles over there,’ Mrs. Zwali pointed her bottle southwest.

Nasus wished Mrs. Zwali would talk about something else. He did not like to remember that part of his past.

‘Used to exist?’ he heard Adir Gudu ask.

‘It was about thirty years ago, I was still a young woman back then. In those days, the region was very unstable. There were groups of armed men everywhere, that attacked the villages for food, money, and to recruit new soldiers. We were all living in fear of being attacked, every day.’

‘One day, that old man’s village was raided,’ Mrs. Zwali said with a sad tone in her voice. ‘Now these were the worst militias, even for those times they were exceptionally brutal. They killed all the male adults and took all the children to become their new soldiers. All the houses were burned down. And the women were… – Nasus’ grip on his cane tightened – I don’t even want to say it.’

Mrs. Zwali drank from her bottle.

‘Anyway, he was the only survivor of that terrible onslaught. Apparently they caught him out in the field where he was working, and beat him almost to death. Luckily for him they actually thought he was dead. That’s why his right leg doesn’t work anymore, and he uses a cane to move around.’

Gudu opened a bottle of water from the stack he was leaning against and took a sip, looking distressed by the violent story. Nasus saw the vendor turn his head and look over his shoulder at Nasus with sympathy.

‘What happened to the militias?’ he asked.

‘Nobody know for sure,’ Mrs. Zwali said. ‘They could be anywhere really. As far as I know not one of them was caught. But then again, nobody knows what they look like, because they never leave any survivors. That man was the only one they ever let live.’

‘To carry the weight of such a terrible story, without even being able to find some relief in knowing that the perpetrators were caught.’ Adir Gudu said softly.

‘I’ll be right back, Mrs. Zwali,’ Gudu said. He crouched down and grabbed a bottle of water from the stack.

To his discomfort, Nasus saw Adir Gudu walk up to him, bottle in hand.

‘Excuse me, Sir?’

Having to talk to the vendor made Nasus nervous. He wiped a drop of sweat from his eyebrow with the back of his hand and looked up at the approaching vendor, who seemed to have noticed the green stone embedded in his palm. Obviously not wanting to stare, Adir Gudu quickly turned his attention away from the stone. Nasus in turn hastened hide the stone by turning his hand.

‘Can I help you?’ Nasus said.

‘I just wanted to offer you some water, Sir,’ Gudu said, holding up the bottle of water.

The old man turned his head towards the water vendor and smiled, showing more pink gum than teeth; Most of his upper teeth were missing or broken off. The vendor involuntarily took a small step back. Nasus immediately stopped smiling.

‘Thank you kind man, but I’m not thirsty.’

Adi Gudu looked at him with a sad expression.

‘All right Sir,’ the vendor said, and started to walk back. He stopped, turned around and pointed at his stance. ‘Should you change your mind, Sir, my stance is right over there.’

Nasus nodded slightly and waited for the vendor to rejoin Mrs. Zwali.

‘So, what did the old man say?’ Mrs. Zwali said.

‘Not much really,’ Gudu said, leaning on his stacked bottles of water. ‘Said he wasn’t thirsty.’

‘Don’t mind him. He has never been the same ever since that raid on his village. He has no one left. No family or friends. Best to just leave him alone. Let him sit out his remaining days in whatever peace he can find.’

Nasus saw the vendor nod, and help an approaching customer.

 

————————-

 

From under the small trees, he observed the people on the market. Slowly and meticulously he turned his head left and right, taking in the faces and manners of every single person. Through the sand he observed every movement, overheard every conversation.

He heard his niece and her friend on the other side of the market, their laughter ringing clearly, even through the sand that he used for hearing. He gazed in their general direction, scratching the green stone in his palm with his other hand. A feeling of sadness fell on him. This feeling quickly passed however, as he saw a man in military uniform walk in the direction of Gwani and her friend. Leaning forward, he listened carefully. His mouth felt dry as he heard the military man approach Gwani and her friend.

‘Hi, how are you fine ladies doing?’

‘Fine, how about yourself, Sir?’

‘I’m doing fine now, haha.’

Nasus relaxed again. ‘He’s not one of them’, he said to himself.

 

—————————-

 

It was noon, and the market was winding down. The vendors were trying to make a last-minute sale before the final customers would leave. Nasus still sat on the stone in the shade, observing the remaining people at the market that were walking on his sand. Tired, his green eyes were half-closed behind his black sunglasses.

‘No more UN forces’

Nasus straigthened himself immediately upon hearing this. Concentrating, he focused on the part of the sand that caught those words.

He felt two men sitting next to each other. Judging by their voices, one was an older mature man and the other one a young adolescent. He carefully studied them. The two men wore military uniforms, but it was clear that they did not belong to the Somalian official army or to the peace corps. They seemed tense and on edge. They were militias.

A pack of small children brushed his legs as he stood up and got out of the shades. The smallest child, a little boy, looked at him, and, frightened, quickly ran away. Behind his sunglasses, Nasus his eyes were glowing. ‘Found you,’ he said to himself.

The two militias got into a black jeep. As the jeep drove off, Nasus tapped his walking stick on the cross in the sand. Immediately his body dissolved into green sand that could freely move in the rest of the sand. He manouvred himself underneath the jeep and lu. ‘Not this time,’ the old man said to himself, as the jeep carried him.

 

————————-

 

The sun was now starting to set. Leaning on his walking stick, Nasus looked down at the market, far in the distance and hundreds of meters below him. He was standing on a mountain ledge of one of the mountains, where the militias had stopped their jeep. From here he could also see the village. The market was closed, he observed. Both customers and vendors had gone home for the day. Only a group of children remained at the site of the market, playing football.

He took another look at the city, then turned around and quietly moved to the other side of the ledge. Here, the old man saw four jeeps, all like the one that the militias from the market drove in, on the road a few meters below, hidden underneath a sand-coloured tarpet. Close to the vehicles, a group of men sat on the rocky surface and were eating and drinking. Some of them were armed with rifles and knives.

The men did not talk much. In the twilight, he could see that the militias’ eyes were calm and cold, like that of a predator.

‘Looking for prey, my friends?’ he thought.

The two militias from the market, he saw, were sitting on the edge of the camp. The younger militia seemed to be the new one in the group, and was serving the other, older ones. He seemed nervous, unlike the older men, who clearly felt at ease and safe in the mountains.

Beneath his sunglasses the old man wore a sardonic smile. ‘I’ll show you who is the prey.’ Slowly, he drew a cross in the sand with his cane.

An hour later, the sun had gone down completely and the mountains were covered in pitch-black darkness. The militias had finished eating and had retreated to their homes inside the mountain caves. He stepped onto the cross he had drawn in the sand, and looked at the stone in his hand that was glowing bright green in the dark.

He crawled into the cave, his green sandy body spreading. The young militia that he had seen at the market, sat at a broken wooden table. He was reading a book using a small candle for light. The old militia with the tattoo under his eye sat on one of the beds, smoking a cigarette, and observed the young militia with a disapproving look.

‘What are you reading for?’ the old militia growled in Somali slang that was typical for the area around Adele. ‘Clean our weapons.’

‘I already did, Sir,’ the young boy said, in polite Somali.

‘Then go to sleep, tomorrow we will move out early.’

The young boy hesitated for a second, but then earmarked the page he was reading, and stored away his book.

‘Be sure you ready tomorrow, boy,’ the old militia added. ‘We are attacking the village tomorrow. You saw it today with your own eyes.’ He smiled, his eyes small but sparkling with anticipation.

‘We are going to have some fun tomorrow, I can tell you that. A village that big, oh yeah, you bet there will be a lot of money there. Not to mention the women…’

The boy nodded shyly.

‘You are lucky boy,’ the old militia continued, ‘it has been a while since we had a good hunt. I was starting to wonder if we ever would get another chance. But now that those United Nations bastards have moved out, we can have our fun again.’

As the old militia continued talking, the boy lied down on his bed and tugged his arms under his head. He did not seem at ease. The wind was howling through the mountains. The boy had also heard that legend says that the region of Adale was protected by the ghosts of the people that were killed many years ago.

From the corner of his eye, he suddenly saw something move in the corner of the room.

‘Sir,’ he said, sitting up carefully, ‘I think I saw a snake.’

‘Shit, where?’ sighed the old militia, reaching for his hatchet, and scanning the floor.

The young boy pointed at the corner, ‘Right over there, Sir.’

With his hatchet in hand, he slowly approached the corner that the younger boy had pointed out to him. There was something moving, but it was difficult to see, as there was not much light in the room. He was now standing in the corner. As he stepped aside for some light to reach the corner, he saw a line drawn in the sand.

‘Damned snakes,’ the militia muttered.

Suddenly, the line started to draw itself further, but there was no snake to be seen. It was as if an invisible hand was drawing the line.

‘W-what the hell?’ the militia stammered.

‘Attack the village you say?’ he said in the same Somali slang the old militia had spoken. ‘Plunder villages, kill the men, rape the women, abduct the children…’

As he reached the middle of the room, his green body split into three directions, forming a cross in the middle of the room.

‘Oh dear God,’ the young boy whispered, as he grabbed the golden cross that was hanging around his neck. But before he could pray, the cross in the sand started to move.

I will protect my village.

The sand around the cross rose up and formed a puppet like shape, the size of a grown man. His face including the dark sunglasses emerged from the sand, followed by a hand and the rest of his body.

‘Oh Jesus!’ the younger militia screamed, now scrambling up his bed, getting as far away from the old man as he could.

He ignored the child and focused on the older militia instead, who was standing in the corner, looking frightened but ready to defend himself with his hatchet in his hand. Planting his cane on the floor and leaning on it, he slightly hunched over. ‘Hey there, Zasua,’ he said. The old militia lowered his hatchet upon hearing his name, looking puzzled.

‘Who… who are you!?’

‘You don’t even remember me?’ he asked, grinning at Zasua.

Zasua looked at him, and seemed to grow even more confused. Then, he suddenly struck with his hatchet.

‘Die devil!’

There was dull noise as the blade hit. Zasua looked at his weapon. He felt that it had cleaved his skull right down the middle. The dark sunglasses had been cut in two parts, and fell down on the floor. His still grinning face was cleaved in two, but despite this there was no blood. Instead, sand was pouring from the cut that the hatchet had made. Zasua gave a startled cry

‘Pick it up,’ he said. ‘Why don’t you try again?’

Zasua looked at the weapon, but clearly had no intent to try to cut the old man down again. The old militia quickly turned around and made a run for the door. He raised his hand, the stone glowing green in his palm.

‘None of you will escape,’

A line appeared in the sand in front of Zasua. From the line, coils of sand shot out that wrapped themselves like snakes around Zasua’s legs. Still trying to run, the militia lost his balance and fell down. Immediately, the sand on the floor started to envelop him. Desperately, Zasua tried to scrape the sand off him, but the sand was relentless, and in short time the militia was lying completely covered under a thick layer of sand, with only part of his face still left uncovered. The militia was screaming now, pleading to the young boy, who still sat in the corner paralysed with fear, to help him.

He walked up to the helpless militia. ‘P-Please,’ Zasua coughed, as the militia tried to speak without swallowing the sand, ‘I can get you money, anything you want!’

He kneeled down, his face hanging over the pleading militia. ‘Money?’ he asked. He saw the green glow from his eyes reflected on the face of the militia and raised his hand. In the eyes of Zasua he saw the green glowing stone in his hand. ‘Recognise me now Zasua?’

Zasua’s eyes grew wide. ‘You!’ the militia screamed. ‘That’s impossible, you are dead! We killed you!’

‘Sand coffin,’ he said and closed his hand. Zasua’s body sank deeper into the sand. With a final scream the militia was completely absorbed.

He turned around, and faced the younger militia, who was in the corner praying and crying. He crouched down on one knee and faced the young militia. ‘Don’t forget what you have seen,’ he said softly ‘Tell every militia you find, that Adale is protected.’ He turned around, and stepped onto the cross in the sand. Then, changing his mind, he stopped and looked at the boy. ‘On second thought,’ he said, almost to himself, as he pointed his hand with the stone towards the boy, and opened it. ‘Not a single one should live.’

The sand quickly gathered around the boy’s trembling and thrashing body. ‘Sand coffin.’


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