This is a continuation of a story I wrote last year, Rift.
Everything had seemed so simple! Jeg had received word from Ashna herself, queen of the godlike Atonee, that he was the key. All he had to do was go back and mend the rift with Dalph and all would be good between their peoples.
Well, she didn’t say it quite like that. And healing the wounds between himself and the beautiful Iniyan princess would not be easy by any stretch. And that was the least of his worries.
Jeg’s mind clouded over.
It had been an uneasy alliance. Many of the people of his race, the Marishny, actually sided with the Zergs. Many others didn’t care, thinking that there would be few changes in a life under the Zergs.
Dalph had insulted Jeg by calling him a Zerg.
But the alliance needed Order! They were so undisciplined! They…
Jeg laughed at himself.
Perhaps he could see why Dalph had used that insult!
The Zerg were nothing if not very disciplined. They worked very well as unit, and could achieve good. If there was reward involved, that is.
Even though ant-like in their communal actions, they were all also selfish and self-serving. Part of their mentality was the built-in idea that they could gain the most by working together with others who were likeminded in their single-minded pursuit of physical wealth and power.
But if not working together, they would kill or maim another of their type without a second thought. In fact, they enjoyed watching the pain of others. Nothing gave them as much delight.
Jeg had long left the deep woods and was making his away across the trackless moor, looking for some sign of the Iniya army.
Sabtoo was not happy when Jeg had returned early without the hoped for alliance of the Hill People. Without the Iniya helping, they would need to get other bands of Marishny on their side, and Sabtoo was powerful.
“You spoke to Ashna? Really?” Sabtoo snarled the words, not even trying to hide his contempt. “You? Jeg?”
Jeg had held fast.
“Yes. The Atonee cannot interfere in our daily lives, but she does want us to work together with the Iniya. She told me to make the peace…”
“Make the peace with that bunch of uppity brats? We’ll do better Zerg. I, for one, understand them better…”
“And they are gone?”
“Good riddance. As soon as they found that I had sent you to the Hill People, they left.”
“I have to find them. I must talk to Dalph.”
Sabtoo pushed Jeg, making him stumble back a step. “Go, then, now before I have you killed.” He pushed him again. “In fact, since you are a complete failure, first by talking me into that insane alliance and then by destroying it and finally by failing to make a real alliance, one with our own kind, I am banishing you.”
Sabtoo had whirled around and taken three large strides. He had stopped and said without turning towards Jeg, “You have an hour in our camp and then four hours on the run before I announce my sentence to the others.” There was a long pause as neither man moved nor spoke. “Good luck,” he had said at least before disappearing into his field tent.
No, nothing was easy.
That had been the day before. He was now far, far from the Marishny camp and deep inside of Iniya territory.
Jeg closed his eyes. He had been following the feel of Dalph, the connection that still existed. It had been growing stronger and suddenely it was gone. Where was she?
It was no use. Either she had cut the connection, or something was blocking them.
He continued on following his best guess, the pass visible between the hills just ahead.
Or at least he thought they were just ahead, for the clouds had lowered, blocking his view of the hills.
As he watched, the clouds continued to move in, eating the land ahead. Soon the wall of fog struck him, totally encircling Jeg.
A swirl of clouds gathered and began to glow red. Out of the amorphous glob of steam, a giant figure appeared.
“Zergonmal,” Jeg said.
The giant cloud of a man bowed. “At your service.”
If this sounds a little interesting, but you are scratching your head, read part one, Rift.
This was written for Sue Vincent’s writephoto challenge. The photo at the top is Sue’s. She also gave us the key word, “Clouded”.