Like a living, waking beast, the sands rose and stirred. The huts that dotted the landscape trembled in the cold. And the wind, the devilish wind, it wailed and lashed out at the torches that lit the walking paths and gave sight to the scouts. A scout called Davu by his people stood lonesome at the village entrance, wearing no more than the skin of a gazelle like a cape on his shoulders and a horned hood upon his head, a loincloth over his genitals, and a spear sharp enough to pierce the darkness on his back. His skin was brown and strong like dark wood. His eyes were emeralds in the night. But strong and brave as Davu was, he felt his hands quivering when first he saw the beam of golden light descending from the heavens, like a star come to plant its children in the earth. The wind blew across Davu’s skin, raising his pores into bumps. He took the spear from his back. The gods were coming to stand among men, but only Davu saw their approach.
Behind Davu, at the entrance to the valley where his people slept for the night, was a narrow canyon. It was dark, too dark to see the steps one would take to pass through it, and from it there blew a wintry wind that chilled Davu’s bones. But even as he watched the light from above, the star come from the land of the gods, it landed just beyond the canyon. Davu looked over his shoulder, seeing the scattered huts standing still in the night, and trusted that the other scouts would be due protection as he ventured into the canyon. The Davu that the people of his traveling village knew would not return.
A solemn, slow step at a time, Davu moved through the canyon. His spear was held at the ready, pointed ahead of him so that any oncoming threat would meet first death and then Davu. Water poured gently from the canyon walls, seeping from some nearby lake, and trickled into the mud beneath Davu’s bare feet. His toes gripped the ground, digging into the earth with the force of a man scared. His knuckles paled against the spear as his fingers wrapped tighter around it. Despite the cold, sweat dewed Davu’s forehead and chest, and the sweat glimmered gently in the light sprinkling through the far end of the canyon. A light so white, so beautiful, that Davu knew at once it was truly gods walking the sands of his world. He pulled his hood back to bask in the light.
But Davu was only just lowering his spear, for fear of offending the gods, when the light died. Left in its place, silhouetted by the pale light of the moon and the outline of the canyon, was a being like Davu had never seen nor imagined. It stood tall and slender, with wings lied down its back and feathers sprouting from its head. Davu kept his spear halfway up then, and he felt his throat tighten. His emerald eyes weren’t shining with resilience, but with horror. The winged creature come from the light turned about, gazing across the land, its back turned to Davu until at last the scout breached the exit of the canyon and stood behind the being. But without so much as a wavering step for pretense, the creature collapsed.
Davu swiftly returned his spear to its place on his back and kneeled beside the creature. But it was no wild bird man, nor a creature of dread. The feathers upon its head was a crown, and the wings upon its back was a cloak. This being come from the sky had a narrow face and skin as firm and brown as the barren cliffs of the desert, and its eyes were like that of a man’s and its ears like that of a hairless fox. Davu saw that this being’s form was that of a woman’s, her hair long and shining silver. And Davu let her head rest on his massive forearm, pulling her close though he knew nothing of her, and she looked up at him with the same awe with which he looked down at her.
Blood trickled down her face and seeped from her torso, turing her golden cloak crimson. She was near death, but even so, she wearily raised her hand to show Davu that which she held, a shining blue stone carved with a foreign symbol. He did not speak, because he knew she would not understand, but he took the stone from her hand as she wanted him to. It was nearly weightless in his palm, though he couldn’t clasp his fingers all the way around it, and it illuminated his face with the light of a sunny river. The woman who was dying in his arms, the woman he thought to be a god even still, reached up and closed his hand around the blue gem. But all of Davu’s delight withered with the stone, turning to dust in his grip. In the same moment, to his horror, the world of his people and the valley of his tribe disintegrated into nothingness all around him, falling away like a decayed flower. Then it was gone. But should anyone have seen, it would have been Davu who had truly vanished, and the goddess with him.
Only moments after Davu and the goddess who lie in his lap had departed from the ancient desert plains of Africa they were in a moss-coated jungle. Birds with wings like canopies flew overhead, and the trees were as broad and tall as Davu had once imagined the gods themselves to be. Above them, amongst the trees, the sky was grey and out of reach, engulfing the treetops before their peaks could be seen, and no great stars glinted in the cosmos above. Davu knew then, seeing no glimmering eyes in the atmosphere, that he was truly in the land of the gods.
The goddess whom he held pointed ahead, grunting in agony, and Davu followed the direction of her slender finger with his eyes, where he saw an obelisk of stone hidden behind the trees. She seemed to be talking, and though Davu could not understand her words, he deciphered her meaning. He lifted her from the ground, draped over his arms, and began trekking toward the obelisk.
Those great birds in the trees and the scaly critters of the ground hid and watched as if in awe at the coming of this man who was unlike any creature they’d seen. The mist in the air gathered upon his bronzed skin and on the porcelain face of the goddess, whose hair was so long that it dragged through the grass and mud below Davu’s feet. Her eyes fought to stay open and fresh blood still soaked through her tunic from whatever injury in her torso had jilted her lifeforce. When finally they came upon the obelisk, it was no pillar in the jungle, but a temple suited for the gods. From the corner where Davu stood, the temple stretched farther than his trained eyes could see in two directions and into the sky as high as any tree. Paths followed the temple walls, occasionally curving away and into the jungle, but always returning back to the temple. But while at first he was taken back by the structure’s magnificence, he was soon in a panic for direction from the dying woman in his arms. She mumbled and tried to point, but her hand barely raised. Davu had to make a choice, and so he did, taking the path that seemed more traveled, beaten down by feet and years.
Darkness began to collect in the air. Somewhere beyond the fog and jungle a sun was blazing behind a mountain range and readying to vanish for the night. Davu’s visibility lowered and seldom drops of rain found their way through the branches protecting the jungle floor, but he pressed on. His path veered from the temple, leading him into the thick of the overgrowth. And ahead of Davu, in the dark places, now darker by night, there lurked someone in hiding, a slithering dagger in hand. Davu came upon the hidden killer, but as the dagger rose and Davu realized the fate that he’d stumbled on, the killer froze. He was as dark and porcelain as the goddess that Davu held, with pointed ears and black hair cut off jaggedly at his shoulders. A cloak flowed out behind him when he’d lunged at his prey, but it had slapped against his back when his blade stopped just short of Davu’s eye. Holding the dagger steady, this nightcrawler scanned the goddess and her injuries. The goddess’ chest moved up and down ever so slightly, showing this attacker that life was still in her somehow. Then he turned his silvery-grey eyes on Davu’s face and tried to speak. Davu couldn’t understand, but he shrugged and gently lifted the woman in the direction he had been taking her. His attacker lowered the dagger then and waved for Davu to follow him.
Davu released the breath he’d been holding for nearly a minute, letting his heart slow, and followed this man who resembled the goddess. Through the jungle Davu was led to the temple gates, steely and looming in the night. His guide held up a hand, telling Davu to stand back, and then the robed god kneeled before the gates and spoke in hushed breaths. To Davu’s awe, a design like a fiery leaf illuminated upon the gates, shining brightly across the jungle and casting their shadows against the trees. The gates opened as the light died, and two more slender, sharp-eared beings stood beyond it, guarding the entrance. Their skin was jet-black and speckled, and bronze armor covered their bodies, with leafy wooden belts holding their swords and spears at their waists and on their backs. They looked upon Davu with quizzical eyes as he passed, but upon the goddess with only concern, dread.
Torches of golden light lit the temple walls, glinting off of regal portraits of gods and goddesses and casting light on the artifacts from their history, displayed with little grandeur. Davu had grown all too distracted before he turned his eyes ahead to find a gray-bearded god, tall and as beautiful as any star, dressed in flowing robes and wearing a crown of wood and silver. Davu’s guide kneeled before this being of greatness, who sat upon a massive throne surrounded by an arbor of tree branches and grass. The two conversed, though Davu knew nothing of what they said, and then the god who sat upon the throne stood, bringing with him a staff with a radiant orb upon it. He snapped his fingers, calling one of the guards over, and she took the goddess from Davu’s arms and carried her with ease through an archway beside the throne. Then the god stepped down from his pedestal and held his staff out, softly pressing the glowing orb against Davu’s forehead. “Speak,” said the god, with a smile, “and your words will be understood.”
“What have you done?” Davu asked.
“I’ve opened your ears to our language and placed it upon your tongue. I am King Gudrun; this is Ranveig.” The king motioned toward Davu’s attacker and guide. “And what do they call you?”
“I am Davu. But, my king, king of the gods, but who am I to speak the language of the heavens?”
King Gudrun only laughed and sat back in his throne. “We are not gods, Davu; we are elves, dark elves some might say. And you have as much right to our language as anyone should who would carry my daughter, Ranveig’s sister, to safety.”
“She is your daughter?” Davu asked, placing his hand on his chest to feel that his heart still beat.
“She is. Hilde Gudrun, heir to the throne of Kervossa. But I do wonder how you’ve come when all of the land is at war, ravaged by disease, decaying into ash.”
“I could not know,” answered Davu. “The goddess came to me traveling on the light of a star. And when I found her she placed a blue gem in my palm. When it turned to dust, I was here.”
“The stone,” said Ranveig. “She took it from the tomb.”
“Quiet, child,” said King Gudrun, holding a hand up to Ranveig. “The stone your sister gave unto Davu helped to saved her life. You’re of Earth, yes? You’re human?”
Davu looked to Ranveig, hoping to find some hint as to the king’s meaning, but Ranveig was staring at the ground, his eyes closed as if in shame. “I do not know,” Davu answered at last, though every word he spoke felt foreign in mouth.
“You are a Child of Earth,” said the king, nodding. “I foresaw a fate such as this long ago… I must ask, did anyone see you leave with Hilde and the stone, Davu?”
“No. The night was cold and my tribe was sleeping. I was far from the others in the valley.” Davu nodded assuredly, though he was incorrect. For someone had seen him disintegrate into the desert winds. Someone had seen, indeed.
In the deserts of ancient Africa, where life was still budding and culture was young, Adaeh watched from a sharp cliff, studying the shifting sands below. The wrinkles in her skin were deep chasms, and her eyes were blossoming moons. Her tunic and cloak were woven of the finest hide, and the petrified pendant about her neck shined in the light of the stars above. The winds had awakened her and called her to the cliff top, and there she looked for what the winds had intended her to see. She did not look long before the beam of a shining star appeared in the sky so that she had to turn from the light. When at last she looked again, there lie a creature of beauty in the sand, and Davu the scout was holding her in his arms. Adaeh held her pendant tightly in her fist, fear locking up her frail limbs, and she gripped so tightly that the jagged edges of the tooth pendant drew blood from her palm. In a glow blue and fluorescent, Davu and the goddess vanished like dust on the wind, and Adaeh closed her eyes. A tear dripped down her cheek, soaking into her wrinkled, brown skin.
The end of all things had come.
The End of Part One
Part Two will hit the blog in two weeks, so stay tuned! If you want something to read now and you’re into books, Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty and my other novels can be found on my Books Page. They’re all available in both paperback and eBook on Amazon.com.
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Weekly Writing Prompt:
You’ve just woken up on an alien spaceship. Tell us about what you see.