Q'lir

In a land far away, in another time, another world, the Q'lir tribe and their spiritualistic shamans are prey in a country, controlled by a tyrannical pharaoh, and his twisted propaganda. He is seated in his throne, in the city of Aegon, pulling the strings of fate, as he aims to cleanse the land of the tribesmen, as he sees them heretics and blasphemers. But two, determined tribesmen will not stand idly by, as they see their tribe being sent to the slaughterhouse, by the pharaoh.

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3. Chapter 3: Infiltration

 Opening this immense gate was a two-man job, yet it was still troublesome. Eventually they succeeded, and with a loud creak, the gate slowly swung open, revealing a dark, yet unsleeping city. The inhabitants were filling the streets, each in their own intentions. Great amounts of street booths were at nearly every house, every citizen trying to make their fortune. Aegon is, and has always been, a city of great trade, despite the forbiddance of nomads entering the city. Aegon has two harbors, one in the southern end, and one in the northern end. This allows the flow of trade to go right through Aegon, as it is placed in a bottle-neck position. If one intends to go north by sea, one can choose to take the long way around to the west, which also is infested by pirates, and sea-raiders, or one can go through the Aegon channel, for a somewhat “reasonable” price.

“It seems that they are unaware of our place of residence, fortunately.” Ammon said, without looking at Aapep.

“Of course, nothing is telling us off, currently. If anyone asks, we are simply travelers from the south, seeking a place to rest. And the robes are just coincidently black, nothing suspicious.” Aapep said, keeping the void of eye-contact.

Ammon sighed, rubbed his hands “well, say we get down to business? We are here for a reason, you must remember.” Aapep nodded at Ammon, and began walking towards the middle of the city. Although they seemed determined, they had no actual clue of where to go. Seeing that they had no idea which direction to go, Aapep approached one of the booths, where a bearded man was advertising about his wares.

“Greetings, my good man. Have you seen a caravan pass through town lately?” Aapep asked the man.

He looked at Aapep, and smiled “why yes I have. I do recall it was a prisoner caravan, filled with those heretical nomads. What business might you have with them?”

“Oh, not much really. Do you know what will happen to them?” Aapep asked, tilting his head

“Haven’t you heard? Hmm you must be new to town. Well, I do believe that they shall receive an execution, but not a merciful one, which a common thief may have received. These foul cultists shall be let out in the Hinterlands, where the wilds will be their inevitable doom. None which has been set out on the middle of the Hinterlands have returned. The same fate awaits these defilers.” The Hinterlands. A name which strikes fear in the hearts of even the bravest warriors. The wilds are ferocious, and unforgiving, and filled with nature’s miscreations, and failed breeds. The forest is thick, filled with choking vines, and poisonous vegetation. It is still a mystery where the food chain begins, and where it ends, for in these chaotic wilds, everything devours everything. Although, nobody dares perform a close study of the wilds, judging from the amount of survivors, it is a place of great danger. Aapep stood speechless at the dire news. The fate of being the last of the Q’lir seemed inevitable, yet they their pride forbid them from giving up.

“Are you alright, mister? You are sweating like a pig. Let’s get you a cup of water, before you faint.” The bearded man said, kneeling down to pull out a drawer, where a cup of water was placed. He handed it to Aapep, who snapped out of his thoughts, accepting the cup of water. “It’s on the house” the man said, and smiled.

As he finished the cup, Ammon sighed, and asked the man “tell me, can I by any means purchase a map of the city from you? As we are new in town, it would be quite useful.”

The man snapped is fingers, and said “why certainly. You won’t get a better map any place within the next mile. I drew it myself, have a look.” The man pulled out another drawer, grabbed a scroll from within, and folded it out on the table. The map revealed the great city of Aegon, round as it was, and with a channel going diagonally through the middle. The south-western side of the city consisted of shabby houses, and broken streets. It was a slum, for the citizens to live their busy lives in. Law was there little of, and crimes were an everyday event. Usually, the reason was simple: money. Money was vital in these areas, and unless meant as a welcoming gift, everything had a price. You wouldn’t be able to borrow some sugar from your neighbor without that person charging a certain sum for it. Of course, there were lending companies, who had a tight grip around this part of the town. Placed close against the western part of the slum, was a prison, which had a rare visitor, as the law was rather loose, and insignificant. The inhabitants were desperate, but the pharaoh paid little interest to this. He had his eyes on the north-eastern part, which was a flourishing district, where only the upper-class citizens lived. The houses were immense, and stood as a work of art for the beholders. The inhabitants of this part lived in competition of their neighbor, dueling of who had the greatest house, the most beautiful house, or whatever reason they can think of. Every inhabitant was covered in jewelry, and expensive clothing, and there was little conversation between each citizen, and when there was, they were bickering about their income, and how heavy their pouches were. Their arrogance was unsurpassable. And of course, the coliseum was placed nearly right in the middle of this district, which was a great source of entertainment for those with more coin at hand. The prices were outrageous, but that was simply all the better. That which cost much cash, tends to give you some sense of prestige, in that district. The channel which cuts through Aegon, serves as a border between the two districts, and is strictly guarded, day out, and day in. this is necessary, to prevent those from the south-western district, entering the north-eastern district. Many from the north-eastern district see those from the other district as vermin, and to be cast aside as fast as possible.

Aapep glared at the map “we should turn left here. Then straight down the road, and then the prison should be in sight” he said, pointing down a street. Ammon nodded, keeping silent. The streets were busy, leaving only a small personal space for themselves. After a time of walking, and several acts of bumping into strangers, followed by an apology, the prison stood as a great hill, towering over the other buildings. The wall was filled with windows, many of them empty. There were a few, where a sad citizen wandered within.

Ammon sighed, and said “Our first challenge is at hand, it seems. Let’s hope we can find them, before they get let out in the wilds.” Aapep shuddered, and clapped Ammon on the back “well, no time to spare, let’s get to work.” Fortunately, night was still present, giving a good opportunity for a prison break. The walls were immense, with a small, cramped gate in front. The caravan stood just outside, which formerly held their fellow nomads. Within the vicinity of the gate, stood only a single guard, with a lance, and donned in heavy armor. Obviously, it would be troublesome taking this person out with brute force. So they drew upon necessary options. Ammon nodded at Aapep, who returned the nod. He drew his relic, and began chanting.

O’ great spirit of sand, lend me your aid

powers of the desert, not one is not afraid

the sands are powerful, open your eyes

your vision deceives you, shows only lies.

Grains of sand began to ripple out from the cracks in the ground, rolling towards Aapep, and Ammon. Amoon took a step back, unsure of what was happening.

“Worry not, the spirit won’t harm you. Embrace his blessing, and be amazed.” Aapep said reassuringly. Ammon raised an eyebrow at Aapep, and halted. More sand erupted from the ground, eventually reaching their feet, and eventually, rolling up their legs. Aapep smiled at Ammon, who was still confused, and intimidated, but he kept his ground nevertheless. The sand crept up them, like an army of ants. Suddenly, the sands had covered them completely, creating a thin layer of sand around their bodies. The sand avoided the eyes, so no harm was done.

“uhm… I’m covered in sand. What do we achieve by this?” Ammon inquired. Aapep smirked, and began walking confidently towards the entrance. Ammon tilted his head at Aapep. He watched, as Aapep approached the guard, saluted, and the gate was opened for him. Ammon was speechless. What was this sand? Aapep gestured Ammon, to follow him. Ammon was confused, but walked towards the guard nevertheless. He hesitantly approached the guard, who saluted him, as he saluted Aapep. Ammon had little time to think, so he saluted the guard as well. The guard gestured him to walk inside, with signs of respect. Ammon trotted inside, and glared at Aapep who was standing with his arms crossed, smiling.

He moved closer to Ammon, and said with low voice “it’s an illusion. In their eyes, we are high-ranking officers, donned in an armored uniform. I called upon the spirit of the sands, to create a mirage in miniature size. It’s rather hard to comprehend, but as you experienced, it works.”

Ammon smirked, and straightened up “well then, better play my part, wouldn’t you say?” They had entered a dark, long corridor, with empty cells at the sides. Rats skittered across the floor, picking up scraps of bread, probably the left-overs of the guard’s lunch. The air was damp, and cold, with sounds of the occasional drip of water, echoing through the halls. Moss covered a large part of the walls. Merely thinking of a prisoner’s fate is repulsing. Living in a narrow, mossy cell, with mere scraps of bread, and possibly a cup of water now and then. At the end of the corridor, a shabby door stood. The lock was absent, so they opened the door, which gave a loud creak. Slowly, they peeked in, seeing two guards, with a hunk of bread in their hands. As Ammon, and Aapep walked in, the guards dropped their bread, and stood up straight. They saluted the “officers”, which saluted back.

Ammon coughed, and said “tell me, where do you keep these heretical nomads? I have some business with these defilers”. One of them pointed down a hallway, and said “that way sir. The first occupied cell on your left.” Aapep nodded at the guard, and said “thank you. Now eat up your lunch, and get to work” The guards straightened up, and said simultaneously “yes sir!” They marched down another hallway, whilst the Ammon and Aapep walked the opposite direction. Eventually, they found what they were searching for.

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