Rise from the Ruins || Part 1 - Beyond the dunes

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is the story of Zayer and his friend, who live in a village controlled by strict traditions. What would happen if they broke some of these rules?

Sar, the little town where everything began. In a small house, passed down from one generation to another, I was born, and my mother named me Zayer. The town was surrounded by huge dunes from all sides. Middle class villagers used to live in small mud hoses or Musgums. In  Sar, some rules were unbreakable. Do not hunt in south during summer, do not hunt north during winter, do not go beyond the second row of dunes surrounding the village, only elders (60 years and above) can talk to travelers, and nobody ever is allowed to talk with a “Crosser”. I’ll talk about them in a minute… Anyways, I had a brother, or so they say, but he did not return form one of his hunting journeys to the west. Tragedy, but not unusual around these villages. We live merely a day or two away from the Yarsa mountain chain, which separates the east from the west. We didn’t show any interest in the wither there were any further lands to the east or the west, but some travelers were whispering

“Many souls lies in the east, and many in the west.”

 What we know for sure is the all the lands to the east are warm deserts, and all lands on the west of the mountains were freezing cold. These mountains acted like a barrier, separating the snow from the desert. But once every few years, strong wind would blow from the west through a small strait in the mountains known as the to us as the Wanzar strait, which literally translates to the messenger channel. The strait would freeze, carrying the snow from the west to cover all the deserts. Now do you remember those Crossers I talked about? A crosser is whoever dares to travel across the strait. We never saw an actual Crosser. Some say they are so tall they can reach the top of Yarsa mountains. Others say they are a cross-bread between humans and water creatures. What we know for sure is that they are expelled from all the eastern villages… That is, if they exist.

These winds are unpredictable, but we depend on the shaman to predict the winds. She doesn’t give us numbers necessarily, but she tells us of some signs. She once said.

“Roaring, the lion will be… a feast to the sneaks is he… his body will freeze, and will never set free”.

The next year, a hunter fell in a trap made by the Deep Snakes. Deep snakes are at least five times as big as regular eastern snakes, and often fat more intelligent. When his son found him dead, he was wearing lion’s head. By the time he reached the village and told his clan, the Wanzar wind were blowing from the west. All villages referred to the Shaman’s prophesy. Oh, the Shaman also didn’t have a name. They say it’s a common practice among Shamans not to have a name.

It was a fine morning, the temperature was moderate, as in in will not cock you alive. I went to the local bar, in the middle of the old busy market. hoping I will see my friend Shalith there. But today, old Daldar was himself serving foods and drinks. We called them drinks just because they were not completely solid. They were closer to swamps’ mud than they were to water. I sat toward the corner of the bar, not to upset Daldar, and ordered nothing more than Northern. I know, sounds fancy, but it was northern mud, literally. Northern merchants gather the mud from the surrounding of their villages, where the mud is rich with all kinds of life, worms, grass, insects and so on. They boil the mud in the local bar to “purify” it, and serve it hot, or with some ice. As I drank half the mug, someone pulled my curly hair from behind, I looked back ready to strike whoever is behind be. I glanced non-other than Shalith son of Daldar with a wild rabbit in his hand. He handed the rabbit to his father.

“Stay home Shalith, a lot of work to do” said old Daldar with no expressions, perhaps he did make any facial expressions, but how would we know when his massive mustache covers every inch of his mouth. 

Daldar headed to the far side of the bar after taking the rabbit, to chat with the elders while Shalith served the reset of the drinks.

“Where did you get that wild rabbit from?” I said with a sly smile.

“From the market, the far end of it, from Lisiqui’s shop”

“Nice, didn’t see Lisqui selling a southern rabbit before”

“ Southern!”

“Shalith, you know its illegal to go hunting south of the village right?”

“Shhhhhhhh.. old Daldar will hear us. How did you notice! Doesn’t matter, I just hope he doesn’t. I’m really not in the mood for another lecture about our social status in this silly village”.

“Look at that rabbit, his ears aren’t pink, and he has not tail … and I don’t recon old Daldar will notice anything, he is too busy talking to the elders… but tell me how was the hunting?!”  my eyes widened whenever I mention anything of the outside world. Anything beyond the storehouses that marks the ending of this village drives me crazy. But Shalith looked around in fear and said

“Sometime later Zayer… not now”

“you didn’t go past the second dune did you!”

“ I went past the fourth!” His eyes popped in excitement before he realized that the bar is crowded “not now Zayer, you’ll get us in trouble”.

Once I opened my mouth again, he grabbed me and walked with me outside the bar.

“Where are you going Shalith, I said don’t get out” Daldar said.

“ Just going to the restroom”

“Together?!”

We didn’t reply, as we got outside the bar and walked along the road passing by the center of the village. Where a lot of cloths and pottery were sold. We then walked a small street connecting the market to the old neighborhood where few people were home, and only rats shared the road with us.

“Tell me all about it Shalith”

“ I went south to get my shoe after ancle Vaya’l fixed it, but as I walked across the new road …”

“The one they’re building to expand the market?”

“exactly. I glanced a wild rabbit eating some flowers off somebody’s yard. I ran to catch it, but it ran south. I didn’t have any weapons in hand so I had to catch it with my bare hands. It passed the first dune and I was right after it, but it rushed toward the second dune, and I thought I could catch it before it reaches the top of the second dune. I almost did, when it jumped off the top of the second dune. I slowly peaked over the top of the second dune, only to see it on top of the third one. I crawled covering myself behind the small trees, as I got closer and closer to the rabbit. I pushed my hand toward it and it jumped to the next raw of dunes, but I jumped almost as high as it did, and catch it just before the fourth dune.”

My stomach got troubled hearing that Shalith broke one of the four rules of the village.  But wait, I thought to myself, nothing happened to silly Shalith.

“and nothing happened? Like there wasn’t a sea of lava? The ancient Dardara wasn’t there watching over the forbidden dune?”

“ n…. no. not really”

“Maybe these stories hold true if you cross the forbidden dune toward the west”.

“yea, yea probably. Or perhaps if you cross it intentionally”.

“well then, if we cross the dunes from the same spot again, with no intention to anger the ancient Dardara, then maybe…”

“Ooooh no Zayer, I know you think adventures are fun, but the forbidden dunes are… well, forbidden. I mean, there must be a reason why they are!”

“of course there is a reason. Its not to challenge the law, and we are not. Just imagine what could exist beyond these dunes”.

“ I don’t know Zayer. More dunes probably, I mean when I climbed the third dune… unintentionally of course! I saw nothing but desert and sand.”

“what if there were things on the bottom of these dunes that you couldn’t see? Imagine all the things that we will see. All the things we will know, and nobody else will know.”

“ I mean the Shaman knows everything, and she almost never leave her room. She said that wisdom comes from within.”

“ Well, it might be true. But what lies there is knowledge, and when we come back, we will lock ourselves in a room to be wise and to not do it again”.

“ I don’t know Zayer. It just seems wrong.”

“ You went there, and nothing happened, what would possibly happen if we both go?”

Shalith stuttered but I pulled him by his arm. We took a water sack and moved southward. We checked our surrounding when we reached the last row of houses and stores in the southern side. We ran so quick passing the first dune, but as we got closer to the second dune our steps got slower and slower. None of us said a single word to each other. It was if the heat of the sand paralyzed out feet, for we did not find ourselves but passing the fourth dune. As we got at the bottom of the fourth dune we stopped, gazed at each other saying.

“Nothing seems to be happening here” I said.

“I mean, it can’t all be wrong… can it Zayer?”

“I guess we’ll find out”

“you seem… exited”

“Aren’t you?”

“ I am… I guess, but we are too far. What if something happen? We won’t be able to get help, and our families will be in sorrow”

Silence doomed us for a while, I almost heard the sand grains hitting my skin. I decided to look at the good option, the good thing that might happen… optimism is whey call it I recon.

“ Maybe, but there is another chance. To take a glance at what no other villager took. Something new. Can you even imagine what an unseen thing can look like Shalith?”

Shalith didn’t reply, but looked at me, and gazed the horizon, swallowed an empty stomach and talked toward the fifth dune, and so I did. The way past the fifth and sixth dune were completely silent, but I could see Shalith smiling sometimes, and disturb sometimes. I thought a lot about sending him back, but he couldn’t go back without me. Will he?! We rested at the bottom of the sixth dune. When Shalith’s smile disappeared, and the horde of disturbance won the battle in his mind. He looked at me

“There is nothing Zayer. We passed the sixth dune, and there is just nothing at all. No wizards, no lost Shamans, not even the ancient  Dardara is here. We are far from home, we’re alone. Our families will be worrying. We didn’t even live long enough to …. There is a reason all these stories are there about the dunes. Maybe they didn’t say it all for nothing”. With every word, his neck’s veins popped out more clearly, until I thought they will explode.

I’ve had enough of his cowardness. If it wasn't for him we would have probably reached the tenth  dune by now. I wish he were more adventurous, more out there or something. I wish he would believe in my lead, or at least participate in leading our exploration... well, now that I think about it, maybe I wish I didn't know him. Maybe I wish I knew someone else. Someone better, someone who suits my interests in life. someone who would drag me with him into adventures instead of dragging me into a lazy village.

“Then maybe, we found out that its all a lie… maybe, just maybe if you wouldn’t doubt our adventure too much…”

Doubt our adventure?! our adventure is an idea that took few minutes to shape, while the traditions that you're trying to break and assume they're all wrong have been here for millennials. I don't know about you but I tend to believe things there are more mature, stories that are framed and shaped by the people and families of the village you are in shame to embrace. because the truth is, the village the people that you suddenly started to think that you're much smarter than are, they are actually the people who shaped your mind… so maybe, now just maybe, you need little lesson in humility”.

“Now don't be silly I did not say that I'm ashamed of the village that I am from. but look at it look at the village which speaking about. it is static there's nothing new nothing exciting in that village. Every sign is the same every moon is the same every season is the same even when the snow season comes, we get excited but in an ordinarily matter.”

“I know you've always viewed yourself as the special one the intelligent the smartest kid in the village the one who's always different from all the others because you know all the others are just nothing but I'm not like that I don't mind being like the others in fact I don't think the others are as bad as you think and I begin to doubt that you are what you think you are”

“Have you ever thought that maybe because you are just like the rest villagers, maybe that's why this village haven't changed maybe that's why it's so boring Maybe because you're like everyone else who just believe a story because it's old? They don't even put effort to discover for themselves, or even to judge things that they think are right or ture. do you think that's a proper way to respect the gift of a mind? Did not the older ones, the ones who invented these stories, have minds just like we do. Do not you see it is just because these stories are all that we spray them with some form of holy water?! whatever stuff you say today will be wholly probably in a couple of centuries.”

He exchanged looks for a moment, I bet some good soul reminded us of the good days we had, killing that fire that flamed our hearts for minutes. Shalith sighed

“ it is a sin Zayer. It is a sin to break the law”

“ it is a sin to harm another, how is it a sin to explore? If that was a sin.. Then only the biggest of sinners can be a saint”.

I walked up the seventh dune not caring if he followed me. I cared, to say the truth, but even if he didn’t I will not stop my quest. As I reached the top of the seventh dune, I wasn’t able to see the eighth dune. I think I can see it, but it seems far. There is a small dune between them though. It was a bit blackish, and the mirage would not let me see its details for myself. Wind blew from the west taking some of the mirage with it. It was then when I saw it… a pile of metals shaped oddly. Some of them had wheels, others had arms and legs! I even saw a small pile of it moving like an animal… among all of it, was a human, wearing all black climbing that dune of iron.

 

 


Submitted: July 06, 2021

© Copyright 2021 SaifAlmazrouei. All rights reserved.

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Comments

leilajoon

It was a good read. The last paragraph wasn't very clear. I hope I can understand it better after reading the second part.

There were typing and grammar errors in you work, but the reader can understand your story. If you want to publish your works in a large scale, you should correct such mistakes.

Fri, July 9th, 2021 7:51am

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