A Shower of Sparks

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is the same chapter I posted before, this is just a much more refined draft, it doesn't mean I won't go back and edit it, but this is where I want to be in this chapter. I thoroughly went over spelling and grammar, but don't be afraid to correct it.

This is about a political prison on death's row. Just read it. Will be posting another chapter from another race later.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Prologue: The Prisoner

Submitted: August 17, 2012

Reads: 168

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 17, 2012



Prologue: The Prisoner

It was a wretched cell. The darkness was so profound it seemed as if he could reach out and grab hold of it. His vision was failing him before the cell. It was possible that he was completely blind now, though it wouldn't make much of a difference without any light.

He missed the light. From time to time he saw a soft glow at the edge of his vision, increasing slowly in size and intensity until it consumed the room. This hallucination wasn’t illuminating, nothing hidden in the shadows was revealed. Instead, it was as if the darkness decided not to be black, but to instead be yellow, white, or red. He would stare into the shadow-light with awe as the colors grew around him. Other colors grew within the shadow-light, forming an abstract tapestry. But when he blinked, the hard blackness was restored.

The cold stone had long since wormed through his old scales and doused his internal fire. He had been left in the cell for a countless number of days. There were no windows, chimes or calendars. Days could only be differentiated by the number of times slept and times the meals came. He couldn’t have guessed how much time had passed since he had last been outside. It might have been a few months or perhaps over a year. Time crept forward as a minute blurred into days, blurred into months. There was nothing in the cell but four walls, a door and a small hole in the back corner. All he could ever do was eat, sleep, and occasionally defecate.

Food and water arrived every day in stone bowls via a small slit in the door. When the food was delivered, no light came through the slit. The only sounds that were made was the scratching of stone on stone as the slit was opened, stone bowls being removed, and new ones taking their place. The meal was always a hunk of stale rice bread, and lukewarm water. To eat it he dipped the bread in the water, then let the bread dissolve in his mouth. He couldn't chew the bread because he only had a few teeth left.

After a while he stopped eating and simply lied on the floor in torpor. He remembered being told that people were known to eat their own tails in the cells. If he had the strength he would have laughed at that thought. Food wasn’t lacking, only life.

Early on in his detention he had tried talking to himself. Not out of madness; or so he told himself. Rather, to occupy his mind and hear some sound other than the food slit. After a while, talking got boring, so he turned to just thinking in silence. Sometimes he didn’t think. Sometimes he lied on the floor, awake, without a single thought entering his head.

If he had the will, he could have lit up the cell with a quick flash of his fire. Back when he was first confined, he coaxed a small fire in his hands, and sustained it for hours at a time. Its hypnotizing glow captivated him, even though he could no longer see the fine details of the flame. After a while he only used his fire to navigate to the hole. But before long he just stopped trying. Conjuring fire required strength. His captivity had weakened him beyond this ability.

Death occupied his thoughts more than any other topic. He wondered what it felt like to die. He thought it might be painless, like falling asleep. It might be like one of those thoughtless days, only longer. It might also be blissful, like stepping into a warm bath on a cold winter day. He wondered whether he was already dead. Perhaps his thoughts refused to leave his body like a bakke from his bed. If he wasn’t dead already then it would only be a matter of arbitrary days.

With his eyes open, he slipped into another moment of thoughtlessness. A couple moments or hours later he noticed a change. On the far side of the cell a light shone with a brilliant intensity. It was steady and hopeful, the most beautiful thing his old eyes had ever seen. He heard some noises but he was so transfixed on the light that they didn't mean anything to him.

The beauty of the light was so absolute it led him to one conclusion. “I'm dead.” He croaked.

A sudden pain raked his left cheek, and brought the realization that there were two guards standing above him.

“Not yet Pokota, you're summoned.” One said gruffly. The name they used confused him, though it sounded familiar. He reasoned it must be his own. It didn't seem to be directed at the other guard, though it was hard to be sure.

Before he could respond he was distracted by the soft light the guards held. He opened his mouth slightly and stared back into the fire. Beautiful, he thought. He watched the fire's light reflect off of the guards' polished helmet and onto the walls and ceiling.

Not realizing he had dazed off, Pok awoke in an unfamiliar room. He sat up, and allowed his eyes to adjust to the new light. He was sitting in a large bath within a stone room. He whipped out his tongue and smelled soap, oils, and fragrances from flowers lining the sides of the room. Carvings adorned the walls in rows, and danced as the billowing steam played tricks on the natural lighting. The light in the room was far brighter than that of the cell, and it hurt to open his eyes more than a squint.

There was a mirror on the wall by the side of the bath. However, between the steam and his poor vision, Pok couldn't see much in it. He imagined that he was thinner than when he first entered the cell. His skin probably draped over his frame like loose robes.

Pok closed his eyes and sank deeper into the bath. The warm water seeped into his scales and warmed his core, providing a new energy. He recalled the events leading up to his incarceration. He was a member of the council, an old one at that. Pok had received a note on his bed the night before everything happened. The note read, Do not attend morning session. He rarely went to the morning as it was, his joints acted up in the morning. He thought perhaps the note was from a fellow councilman, asking him so he could pass a measure that he opposed. If the sender of the note had gone to the trouble of laying it on his bed, he felt he may as well heed it.

He remembered being told the following morning that a small group of students, all his students, had conspired to assassinate the council. They succeeded in killing eight and wounding many more.

One of the belligerents was captured, but the rest escaped outside the city. Pok doubted they were pursued. After years on the council, he knew that the only concerns of the city were within its walls or upon its fields. The captured belligerent admitted to being a student of Pok's, as well as naming Pok as the inspiration for the attack. That was all the evidence needed to justify his imprisonment.

Pok knew the process. The prisoner was held in custody until an investigation was preformed and proper punishment decided on by the council. The fact that he was out of his cell meant that his punishment had finally been decided, but he preferred not to think about what it would be. There were only a few options, none of them pleasant. Instead of worrying, he let himself slip deeper into the hot water and drift back to sleep.

Pok woke standing up. Looking down he noticed that he was wearing a new white robe. No clothing was allowed in the cell, so the clothing was welcome against his scales. He realized that he had a rope around his neck. As he moved to touch it, he found that his arms were bound behind his back. He also noticed a harness around his waist. This harness bound his tail to a wooden rod, and restricted it to a low swinging arc. He looked in front of him and realized where he was.

He stood in the center of the great city of Durakka. Thousands of people stood in front him, some looking at him, others conversing in the crowd. Behind him was the Tal Durak, a massive stepped cone which served as the temple, prison, and public forum.

Judging by the shadows, Pok knew it was high noon, and he was exiting the north gate of the Tal Durak. He noticed that he was accompanied by three guards. One on his left, another on his right and a third in front of him holding the rope tied around his neck. All three guards wore the ceremonial red robes of the guardians, along with the traditional helmet and greaves. Their armor was a shining polished bronze. The guard holding the rope was a head taller than the other two guards, and had a golden accents on his robe signifying higher rank. All three of them were much taller than Pok.

The guards started toward the Sun Road. People crowded the path, but made room as they passed by. The small procession moved slowly forward, hampered by the congestion.

Pok flicked his tongue to smell if any of his students were in the crowd. He sensed thousands of people, but not any individual; all the smells blended together.

Before him was a massive staircase, escalating an even four hundred fifty steps. Pok’s old and arthritic legs had weakened through disuse. And the trip up would be difficult without atrophied legs.

The first step was difficult, and the next ones weren’t any easier. By the end of the first level at the fiftieth step Pok had collapsed twice, and was aware he would never make it up without being carried. Pok fell down on a step, and choked a little from the guards pulling on his rope.

“Get up you rotten meat bag, or we’ll haul you by your neck.” The leading guard ordered.

Pok struggled to get back on his feet, but his legs weren’t strong enough and he couldn't balance without the use of his hands. He felt helpless and pathetic trying to stand. After his second attempt he looked the lead guard in the eyes and said, “I can’t”.

The guard paused as if deliberating whether or not to go through with his jibe. After a few seconds he signaled the guard to his left and said, “Get the board.” The guard acknowledged the order and ran down to retrieve it.

Pok was carried over to the side of the stairs by the other two guards. They laid him so he could sit down with his back against the wall. The lead guardian tried talking to him, “If I were you, I would want to use my legs, it's not like you’ll get much of a chance later.” Pok looked at his with a scowl. He found the guard's attempt at humor wildly inappropriate. He looked at the large crowd below and thought about how he had come to know so many of them. Yet he reccognized no one from the distance. What are they thinking? He closed his eyes and pondered this as he waited for the guard to return with the board.

Pok crawled onto the board, facing downwards so his tail wouldn’t be uncomfortable.. After restraining his arms the lead guard removed his rope.

The small group started back up the Tal Durak. The guards were in the same position as before, only now the two younger guards were pulling him up the stairs. Time passed in a steady cadence as the board bounced against the steps. Pok could not see where they were on the massive structure, but he imagined that they were nowhere near the peak.

Each time Pok thought they had reached the top he was mistaken. He felt his body angle upwards once again, and heard the familiar clunk of wood on stone as the guards trudged up to the next level.

The entire journey up was miserable. Despite holding his mouth shut he managed to bite his tongue. The constant motion up and down left him feeling nauseous. Pok took a small pleasure in the fact he hadn't eaten, if he had he certainly would have lost it. He wanted the ride to stop, but at the same time, he dreaded stopping. Nothing good would await him at the end of the line.

Despite his wishes, they stopped. Above him was a domed roof with a circular hole in the top. It was nearly noon so the sun cast a disk of light in the center of the room, fully illuminating a triangular alter. The alter was darker than the stone of the Tal Durak, and instead of being uniform it was flecked with white.

A cloud moved in front of the sun, and made the room cooler. His guards unbound his arms, only to once again bind them to the alter. They positioned him in such a way that each arm was chained in a corner, his legs and tail were bound to the third. Pokota saw the silhouettes of three people. He recognized their smells as the three Kizers.

The three, Rubek, Talvin, and Dekut, were clever and cunning men. Officially they held no more power than the other members of the council. However, they each had a large following of councilmen who voted with them. While he was on the council, Pok tended to vote with his long-time friend Talvin. Generally these men did not disagree, when they did they divided the city.

The three stood in front of him with a menacing air. Dekut, the eldest of the three, turned to speak to the masses in the streets below. Dekut while old, still had a powerful voice. He addressed Pok but spoke to the crowd, “Pokota, your appeal has been deliberated by the council, and you have been found guilty of treason, practicing arcane, and corrupting the youth, do you acknowledge these charges, and accept the consequence?”

Pok gathered himself and replied, “As for practicing the arcane, I admit as much. I've explored into unknown forces to search for deeper reasoning. As for my students, their actions are theirs alone. Blaming me for their actions is like blaming stale bread on the grain. I never told them to attack the council, nor have I condoned similar actions.”

Rubek spoke in the same manner as Dekut, both to the crowd and Pok. “We consider your response as an affirmation. The council has established your guilt, you may choose your medium of death. As has been the tradition for all of our recorded history, you may choose death by fire, by poison, or by suffocation. If you aren't capable of making the choice we will decide for you.”

Pok's fears had been realized. Based on the longevity of his confinement, he thought the council had decided to banish him. Pok was frustrated, at the council for taking so long, and at his students for stooping to such brazen acts. Mostly he was frustrated with himself. He had avoided thinking about this choice, and now he was ill prepared to make it.

Pok knew one thing for certain, he didn't want to die. Despite earlier ambivalence, death seemed abhorrent to him now. If they only left me in there a few more days, I wouldn't need to choose. All three options seemed despicable. He could not opt out, nor could he take too long to decide, or else the decision would be made for him.

The manner of death determined where the soul would travel to as it left the body. Those who chose death by fire would rejoin with the great fire, adding to its strength to sustain life, light and energy throughout the world. Death by suffocation would quell the inner flame, and allow the spirit to move past the body, like a puff of smoke after a candle is blown out, to later rejoin with flesh and scales in a new life. Most of the people sentenced to die chose one of these methods.

Poison killed the soul, not just the body. If someone met poison as their fate, they couldn't live after their physical death. However, poison offered final release, no more responsibility to the people and the world. Poison was a painless death, but it was slow. Pok remembered the first time he saw a poisoning; watching the life slowly ebb away, and leaving an empty shell. It was a haunting sight because there was no defining moment to signify the end of life as there was with the fire and suffocation.

Pok had to choose quickly or the choice would be made for him, which traditionally was fire. He had seen other bodies, sentenced to death, writhe in pain as the fire charred their skin, or their lungs struggled to find another breath. He feared dieing in pain. He heard a roar from the crowd below. It seemed to be telling Pok his time was up.

He turned to face Dekut and said, “Poison.” He thought he saw Dekut nod in affirmation. There was a chalice on a table by the side of the room. Dekut walked to it and with his left arm excreted his bodies natural poison into it. He returned to the alter and said in a normal tone to Pok, “Any last words?”

Pok turned his head to see the three Kizars, he pulled his focus on Talvin and noted his silence. He never was very outspoken but normally all three Kizars would speak. Pok was sure that it was because of Talvin that he was incarcerated for so long. He probably fought for his banishment, but Pok wasn't sure if he was thankful for that.

As for his last words Pok had nothing planned, so he spoke, “Over my long life I have done many things, I have said many things, none of which I regret. Though now I have nothing to add, but these words. This is a pretty miserable ending to my story.”

Pok's nearly toothless mouth was held open by the head guard as Dekut poured the poison. The poison tasted like a nutty oil that reminded him of the Dama Day Feast.

The effects of the poison started immediately with a numbing of his tongue. Pok began to feel tired, as if a layer of fog was building in his mind, obscuring the details. While he still could Pok gathered the memories of his first and only .

Her name was . They had met as pages and became close friends. He remembered spending full nights speculating about the nature of the world. Their partnership was different than any other in Durakka. Instead of a mere physical relationship, they were partners of the mind and body. Pok remembered the day his wife died, the day she laid the egg of their son. Pok had never been more sad.

He remembered the pain of losing her, but he didn't feel it. He couldn’t feel anything, the poison had a numbing effect. There was no feeling in his arms or legs, they felt like clubs fastened to his body. He also couldn't remember anything else. Each time he tried, the memory slipped away from him.

A large boom broke over the clamor of the crowd. The noise confused him, it was wrong, it shouldn't have been there. He saw someone running up the stairs. The person must have been young and athletic because he didn't seem exhausted by the climb. Pok flicked his tongue to smell the intruder, but he couldn't smell anything, the poison had already robbed him of that sense.

“Teacher, I'm here for you.” The stranger said.

“You are too late to save him” said one of the Kizars, “He already drank the poison. He fire is dying.”

“No, no, I can still same him.” The stranger replied in a strained tone. Everything started to sound far away. As though he had fallen in a deep hole, and they were calling down to him. The voiced got quieter and quieter until Pok couldn't hear anything.

His vision was all that remained. His vision started to dim. First around the periphery, then closing in until he could see only what was directly in front of him. Which was the hole in the ceiling of the Tal Durak. There were several flashes of a dull orange light, accompanied by a wave of heat. Then a flash of blue light. Then everything was dark.

Pok couldn’t feel anything outside his body. He couldn't move, he couldn't see, hear, or smell anything. He felt his body being manipulated. Something was moving him and bending his arms and legs. He felt himself moving downwards, then stopping, then moving downwards again, then stopping. This motion repeated a number of times. Suddenly, the world fell out underneath him. Pok felt himself falling, down, and down, and down. Then he felt nothing.

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