And the Great Dragons of Earth and Water shall clash and the Heavens shall be their battlefield. The mighty Sandwyrm and the equally mighty Seawyrm shall wage their war and the sky shall turn to mud and raineth down on our fair city. Ever was it thus and ever shall it be, until the Saviour doth come to, well, save us.
Falcon cowered under a hastily assembled fort he’d constructed from bar furniture. He’d hurried to brace chair and table legs and any other bits and pieces he could find against the bar. Then arranged whole furniture items on and around that basic frame. It was crude, ramshackle and haphazard, but it was the best he could manage.
It was the only thing braced in the muck-spattered ruins of the tavern. He peered out from his hovel and watched and waited for the rest of the place to tumble down around him.
He was miserably aware of the fact that he was cowering. Unlike most of the times when he ran – he could run free and never once think of the word ‘run’. But here, all the while he cowered and listened to the slop, slap and thud of the muddy deluge, his head seemed to fill with the single word. Cowered. Or coward.
Their phonetic similarities were a curse. One or the other, it made no difference. At times they teamed up and conspired to accuse him together.
At least his self-recrimination kept his mind off the open grave in the kitchen. Mostly.
Poor Ishmed. And the landlord. Had the man been the boy’s father or merely his employer? Falcon would never know. And how many others had perished in there? Falcon was not about to sift through the debris and count bodies.
For the seventh time, he drove out thoughts of the dead and focused on the living. Him. Alone and cowering.
The drumming mud pattered and petered out. Wet percussion slowed to fewer and fewer spluts and splats. Falcon imagined the sounds as the gentle slaps of a hand waking him from his nightmare.
He crawled out of his fort and looked about. The building appeared to have weathered the rest of the dread storm. Although the ceiling above creaked and groaned as though under a great weight.
Falcon scrambled to his feet and raced to the shattered window. He vaulted through and flopped into the mud-mired street.
Rolling over, he looked back at the battered tavern, expecting it to crash in on itself. It defied him and remained standing. Although it was heavily bruised and caked in mud.
Falcon stood, conscious that his own condition reflected that of the building. He was in good company, as far as that went: the entire street had suffered a similar beating.
Slow and nervous, people emerged from half-demolished structures like desert rats from burrows. Or barrows, perhaps, given how many might be buried in the mounds that used to serve as shops and houses.
The skies were clearing, clouds parting like glacial curtains. But as Falcon looked up, hoping to bathe his eyes in a little light, he saw that the clouds were not clouds.
Two monsters, the size of large islands, drew apart.
Claws raised. Cavernous mouths bared giant fangs, stalactite canines and stalagmite incisors. The beasts backed from each other like combatant cats, both done fighting for now but neither willing to show weakness. Great wings fanned turbulent winds, their writhing serpent forms coiled and curled. One boasted a segmented body of swirling sands, raging granular motion in place of scales, as it retreated towards the desert beyond the city walls. The other was a fluid chain of churning whirlpools, bright shimmering water and thrashing fringes of white, withdrawing over the rooftops in the direction of the bay.
So staggering a sight, it was a miracle Falcon didn’t fall down on the spot.
And lo! The Saviour shall be sore afraid. And the people shall know him by his fear. For he shall be a solitary figure wandering the wasteland aftermath of the battle. He shall roam the chaos and destruction with wonderment and terror and bewilderment fixed upon his pale befreckled face. For the sight of the Seawyrm and the Sandwyrm shall be new unto him.
While all around, the people shall huddle and seek solace in one another as they rebuild and mourn the dead. For to them the devastation shall be all too familiar.
And yet in the Saviour, the solitary wanderer, they shall see hope.
For here before them, meandering as one lost through the field of ruin, shall cometh the hero who shall set the people free.
And he shall be named for a bird of prey. For he shall prey upon the Wyrms.
And he shall slay the two Dragons.
Numbed, Falcon stumbled from one street to the next. Feeling like he was trapped in a maze and a nightmare at the same time.
And feeling , most of all, that he had to get out of this hell-hole.
The sooner the very much better.
[To Be Continued…]