Water. Water is the essence of life; it controls who lives and who dies; it controls who gets rich and who gets starved. In a way, if you possessed the water, you would control life itself, and that is a weapon of its own. You don't need a spear; you don't need a sword. All you need is a way to control the essence of life. So as I watched the guards of the red poison flower put a rag over my dad's face and pour water down his throat, I realized who controlled the water.
“Tell me, where's the money? This is your last chance!” My dad said nothing back to the guard.
“Answer me!'' The two other guards standing inside picked him up off the dirt ground. “I hope your money is worth it” the third guard punched him once, twice, over, and over into the gut till he began to regurgitate our lunch, smoked zacodish stew. One belted out a chuckle, then turned to the closet. Was my cover blown? I don't want to be sent to the training camps. My breathing grew heavy as he slowly approached the closet from where I drew my shelter. Soon he stood in front of the closet. “Shhhhh, be quiet, I hear something.'' Silence fell over the room; only the coughing from my father's breathless lungs could be heard. One second passed, then two, then another. It felt like a whole hour had passed; I was staring right at him. My heart pounded uncontrollably; thud- thud- thud- thud-. The beating of my heart continued until “hey, he’s not telling us anything. Let’s get a move on; we can take him with us,” one guard said while the alternate guard kicked my father, tied him up with a rope and started to take him out to the carriage. The Fahiil stood in his uniform for a second longer before exiting with the other two.
The carriage doors shut. I could hear the faintest coughs as the carriage moved its way down the Stoney path pulled by racing horses. I stumbled out of the closet and toppled to the floor. What a coward. How could I not have fended them off? I'm an ogiim they are just Fahiil dressed all up in their uniforms. I'm 17 Naholt suls old! should I not be able to defend myself? The thoughts pursued me, thrashing the sides of my head. When suddenly it hit me…
… he’s gone.
I fell down onto the dirt and clutched a loose stone in my hands. Water fell from my eyes, and blood dripped from my hand and became mud as it hit the floor of ar- the hut. The rock was sharp. All that happened was a shortage of taxes; he paid all he had, and still, that wasn't enough. I could still hear the faintest of a gallop in the distance. The red poison flower guard was something of pure evil. What else would strip a son from his father for a few coins? What else would go across the land teaching us to be less than we are! Or maybe we are less of a race; maybe we were born of dust just to become dust again. There is a reason the Fahiil stand up on their benevolent stage while we, the Ogiim are stuck being stomped on by the Scythe’s heal, bulging and bleeding. But, NO! Where did we get off thinking we deserve this?
I stood up, put my feet on solid ground, and walked over to the straw cupboards above my bed. My knees still weak. The walk over hurt with every step. What am I to do now? I reached my hand into the cupboard and grabbed a piece of flint my dad had kept for camping. I moved back to the mess I had made in the middle of the floor and grabbed the rock I had once clutched. The one end of the stone was pointed, almost shaped like a weapon. I could see myself using this sharp face here today. After thinking about it for a good time, I put the flint and rock on the table next to me. I Grabbed a sack by the door and put just a few things into the bag. What do I need?
Food! I moved my way to the kitchen, a small fire on the ground with a few pots and pans. Today's lunch was still in the pan, well, half of it. I don’t need it. I need something more lasting; I go into the basket by the wall close to the burnt coals of the fire. Potatoes, bread, and a few water sacks for later.
Now for the house, what am I to do with something full of blood? There is too much pain in this. The flint and rock should work.
As I stepped outside, it hit me like a ton of logs; where will I go? I stood staring at the barren land that I called Home, Rivaak Pindaar. No joy came to mind. Revak Pindaar is a wasteland where the other islands dump what they don’t need. The only reason we live here is that the scythe stuck us. The land has nothing but trash piles left here by the red poison flower guard and the ogiim. I live on the island's northeastern coast in a city called Jer Kor. It’s the import capital of garbage. Everything everyone doesn't want anymore gets dropped off here. I turn around and stare at the hut made of wood, straw, and rocks for a somewhat foundation. And with a bloody hand and now bloodied rock, I motioned to say goodbye to my life. With one stroke of the flint, the rock sparks caught fire to the building I once said I lived in.
As the building burned, a terrible smell rose from the base of the hut. One worse than the regular muck and guck you get every day; no, this was much worse. It was the smell of defeat and perish. We, as a race, have been disgraced our whole lives. What are we to do when we have never even gotten a chance. The smell burnt my nostrils while I walked down the path into the middle of Krassaar and off towards the docs. Just maybe I can get out of this literal dump. But how could I leave my Ogiim? They are my family; I know them. I grew up with them. No, again, I must go, get out of this place.
“Dez!'' Someone familiar called me from behind. I turned, it was my good friend Xarlug and when I saw his face a sharp pain like a knife cut threw my chest. How could I ever tell him what happened? I mean, it happens. We know that, but this one is close, too close. “Did you see that fire? It looks like its coming from over your way.” “Mhmm,'' I replied. “What's the wrong Dez?'' My head was down, and when I looked up at him, our eyes met for a single second before I glanced away. “Oh,” I didn't even say a word, but we both knew who had shown their face today. “Your dad?” Xarlug Asked with a real look of sorrow. I just stayed silent, and he knew.
For the rest of the walk to the docks, we walked together in silence. Not a word was spoken. I knew he was just looking for the right time to bring up this speech on what we can do and how we can blah blah blah. But there was no good time, and how could there be? I had just lost my only blood name. So if you could be less than an Ogiim, this would be it. No father, no children and living life as a poor Ogiim.
As we sauntered, getting closer to the docks, a smell slammed into my face with a warm embrace. I looked to Xurlug to see if he noticed it as well, and for the first time in what seemed like forever, one of us spoke. “Xarlug, can you smell that? what I could do for some charcoaled Kaafaf right now.” “ya, I hear that.” I stopped to check my pocket, a few loose coins, but that should be just enough for at least one before the road. “Let’s check this place out,” I said to Xarlug as if I’d never been here before. However, we both knew that this was where my dad worked. Just 10 minutes from the dock, it was an almost perfect stop.
“Well, look who it is! The lost cause son” my dad's boss wasn't the greatest of Ogiim, but he gave us what we all needed to stay on our feet, if we could. He had a scar under the right side of his lip and he had a larger build that gave him a bit of a clunk when he walked, he was not a pleasant sight, and the grease stains were far from unnoticeable. “I'll ta-” “shut up, Dez, your as useless as your dad! where is he anyway he starts in five minutes?” he paused for a second “ahhhh, I don’t even care. Just get out of my face,” he turned around and raised his hand as to show I was nothing. “Guess we're not getting food,” Xarlag said with sarcastic tones flowing through his voice.” the smell of Kaafak slowly dissipated as we exited the restaurant. “I hate that place,” I muffled under my breath.
We came across the tree in the middle of town as we walked. The only life you will find her in Jer Kor. “beautiful isn't it” Xarlug said. “Beautiful,” I responded
“Let’s go down to the dock and see what we can find” my friend was right food is easier to find down there. The town itself is on a cliff with the docks at the bottom. The only way down is by a winding staircase big enough for maybe two horses to trot on. Doesn't leave much room. There is another way up and down if we use the pulley system, but that has a toll. “Wanna take the pulley?” I put my hand in my pocket and jiggled the change around “let's just walk,” I said. The staircase was cold but nothing we were not used to. The docks would be the rich part of town. If you lived by the docks, you were rich. As we walked down the damp, cold, rock, winding stairs, we passed many apartments carved out of the sides of the cliff face. “I wish we lived here; that way, there would be no way for those guards to burn are huts.” Xarlug said it without knowing, and as the light sprinkle of residue from the salt and waves hit my face, I spoke quietly, “it was me” “what?” “it was me ok I did it! My voice boomed over the side of the stone walls. “Woah, I- I,” he was speechless.
About halfway down the cliff, I sat down, legs over the side of rocks etched out the surface. “It was me,” I said with uncertainty, yet he and I both knew it was true. “I was in the closet. I saw the Fahiil guards torture my dad. They poured water down his throat. I saw him out of breath, I saw him at his weakest point. H- h- h-” I paused, struggling to find words; Xarlug still stayed silent. “When he saw the guards, he- h-h-he” water filled my eyes, my hand still pulsing from the rock I clutched back on the hut's floor. “Your bleeding! How did I not notice! are you ok?” “ya, I’m fine,” my arm crossed over my face wiping the liquid from my green muddy cheeks. Suddenly, calm and sure, Xarlug said, “no, you're not and don’t say you are.” I broke and replied, “I watched my father get beaten and taken away I stood in a closet doing nothing. Maybe we are as useless as others say.” Xarlug started walking down to the docks. The smell of blood, salt, and dead bodies filled my nose. “Let's go; I’m starving” Xarlug raised his hand and motioned for me to follow. I stood up and started to walk. He’s trying to Help me forget, but I don’t know if I can.
As we got to the bottom and the stone turned to the wood, we saw the red poison flower guard dropping off their monthly load of dead bodies and other disposable illegal things. “Now for Food,” Xarlug quipped. Yes, food, I had forgotten all about it. There were restaurants and taverns all up and down the docks; other than the smell of garbage and rotting flesh, you would think this is a beautiful place. So we continued to walk down the boardwalk, trying to find a good place to eat. Perfect the Dovah’s fire, the best tavern in town.
We stepped inside, and music from a Kliid was all but faint over the smashing of wooden mugs and conversation. Metal Chandeliers with candles hung down burning. Torches lay in holsters on the side of the walls. Still, it had slight darkness around the square room. Three rows of tables lined the tavern, and the bar was on the other end.
Where to sit ah the- “hello there lads, something we can help you with?” someone interrupted my thought. It was a four-seven Mal Vum with a long scruffy beard and hair as earthy as dirt. Dressed in not much clothing, it looked as if he had docked with a crew, which would make sense since you don’t find many Mal Vum around here. Even so, I do know him he is another friend. His name is Churluc, and although we don’t get many Mal Vum around here, everyone knew him; he ran the tavern. His accent thick, he said “what is it gonna be today,, lads? You know it’s on the house when you come around” he gave me a wink. Xarlug spoke up “just two pints of your best mead and some Zacodish cuts” “no, not zacodish cuts- I had that for lunch” “ok, how about pan-fried Dovah bread?” I agreed with Churluc, and we sat next to the front near the bar.
Just as we did, two Fahiil Guards came in. Xarlug was facing the other way. He did not notice. I clenched my fork. Do I approach? No wait till I have my mead, then let's see what I can do. Knowing in my head that my idea of killing them would destroy this place wasn't so far out of the picture, I just didn't care. These men are taking my father away and are behind schedule anyway. Know one would care if I kill one. Fahiil last years anyways too long all Ogiim think so. The flint and rock from before, I still had it in my sack, which I had forgotten about by this point. “Here you go” Churluc laid down the plate of purple Dovah bread; as I looked at it sitting there steaming, I thought it was not his best work, but I didn't care about this point. Next was the mead, and as he placed it in front of me with a splash, I asked, “could I have something to clean myself with? A rag.” “yes, of course,” Churlucs smile depleted from his face. He knew the look that I gave, and it scared him. He saw it all the time; he knew what had happened. “Uh, excuse me! It seems as if it's time to close for the day.” churluc yelled out to the hungry crowd. Complaints went about the place through the noise of the wooden floor trampled by the sound of unhappy customers exciting the doors.
I hadn't gotten up yet, and neither did Xarlug. He had caught on to everything going on. He could see the fire in my eyes, the hate that had overcome me. I wanted my dad back, and I knew whose boat he was on. Suddenly I heard churluc “look, I don’t want no trouble.” it was those two red poison flower guards, now's my time to act to get my dad back. They had him up against the bar counter. I jumped up on the table “hey, fahiil; you are no longer welcome here. We will set your boats on fire every day you come back.” “you what?” one replied. “you heard me, overgrown!” “that's it! There were two, one slightly shorter than the other; he had a bit of a stagger, probably an old war wound. I'll take him out first. They both stepped closer and drew their blades. Long and well-balanced their tips were not to be trifled with. I had a fork.
The one shorter guard ran at me first with a perfect cut left he aimed for my heels. Still the table, I readily jumped, and as he slowed to turn and charge again, I picked up the plate holding a meal. Now I had a shield or a disc of some sort for protection. “What are you doing Dez!” “trust me,” I replied to Xarlug. But how could he? He knew I intended to kill. Not because I had to but because I would hate myself if I did not stand this fight. I jumped off the table, the taller Fahiil behind me now tried to go for a stab, but Churluc had grabbed a pitchfork from behind the bar counter. Xarlug still didn't know what to do; these were red guards. “Nii Oblann'' the taller overgrown shouted as he went for a thrust to my backside. Xarlug jumped and was stabbed in the arm, saving my life. I turned, no longer facing my enemy. Churluc also had thrust around the same time and had caught the red Fahiil off his balance. Blood spat from his mouth as the points of the Pitchfork entered the overgrowns body. Anger sprawled over his face, but what could he do? He was dying. As I turned back to face my foe, I noticed he had begun to charge again. Quickly I dashed to dodge it, spilling mead from the right-hand table all over the floor; I needed a better weapon. The focus, however, was no longer on me, nor on Xarlug, who still lay on the floor, but instead on the one fighting. The Fahiil talked as he moved back and forth duelling churluc. “Why defend this Ogiim? Huh. he is nothing but a poor good for nothing. He has no place in this world; you do know this, do you not?” Churluc did not respond. Instead, he kept trying to hold off the speed of this light on his foot Red Guard.
There on the wall! A torch I grabbed by the base and yanked it out of the socket that kept it still. I would kill this monster. As I ran across the room to approach the Guard from the opposing side to churluc, he could not escape this way. As I went to swing, the Fahiil ducked and turned with his leg open outward, twirling in an instance and toppling me to the floor. The torch rolled its way across the mead-drenched wooden floor till it stopped. A few seconds passed, and we all watched as we saw the future in front of us. Then the room lit a blazing light fire from the floors, only intensified by the mead I had spread across the floor earlier in the fight. I quickly grabbed Xarlug and checked to see if churluc was behind; I saw no one. As we left through the doors kept alive by a distance in the floor, the fire had not been destroyed yet. Xarlugs leg caught ablaze. “We need to get you out of here,” I said quickly as we moved to the door.
We burst through the door. The light blinded me for a quick second. Then a cold sensation quickly drenched me as someone threw a bucket of water on Xarlug and me.“Halt! By order of the captain of the thirty firsts Troop boat, Faction of the Red Poison Flower guard” my eyes slowly adjusted to the light, Fahiil. Red overgrowns surrounded us. As the fire was put out behind me by Ogiim and Fahiil, I realized what I had done. Two guards came up behind me, and Xarlug tied are hands behind their back and walked us off to the ship.