“The Golden City” I posted the first 300 words for a contest, but I thought, for any that wanted to continue I would post the full Prologue
Tawque sat like a bird of prey, perched on the stone cliff face, watching the ghostly apparition weaving its mystic dance over the sacred valley’s moonlit sky. Vibrant hues of green, red and purple—silhouetted in a streaming glory of colors; ribbons twisting and intertwining to a silent song, calming the early winter winds to a whisper, marking the seasonal change to fall. The warrior had little knowledge of the science behind the phenomenon, but the strange occurrence appeared regularly at the full moon of the fall equinox every seven years after the “Battle of Flaming Eagle.” The light-dance was a reminder to the Blackfoot people of that desperate day over twenty years earlier when his tribe battled the “Sky Gods” in this very valley. It was believed the glowing aurora was the souls of the lost trying to exit the confinement of the firebird’s wrath.
To Tawque the reminders burned deep. He became an outcast before the war, but fought with his brothers at the battle to rid the land of the strange warlike demons that had plagued his people. Many of his tribe died when the winged goddess belched forth fire,—striking mother earth. The ground shook with pain and the wound that was opened spewed forth winds leveling the plains, bringing a sudden end to the war.
Tawque didn’t know about aliens, flying ships or understand the advanced weaponry of the visiting creature’s technology. Few, even in our day could explain how the explosion that ensued,— fused the elements buried deep within the surrounding mountains, charging their resources like a battery, and acting against the magnetic fields of the iron rich soil surrounding the hills,— could open a portal of mystery deep within the confines of the hidden crater below. Every seven years the energy built up to a point that ionized the surrounding atmosphere as it discharged its capacitance in a show of colorful ribbons of light, but the magic behind the show touched the superstitious minds of Tawque’s people and the valley was marked as sacred and off limits to all.
As self-proclaimed protectors of this secluded landmark the Blackfoot would kill any who entered its borders or encroached on its boundaries. But tonight Tawque eyed the marvel not as a sentry, but as an enemy. Somehow he was linked to the spectacle and its rhythmic silhouettes of dancing light; its beauty called to him like an evil mistress seducing his mind with pleadings of favor.
Tawque tried to resist. He was an appointed guardian of his people. Once an outcast he was now revered as a deliverer. Hadn’t he fought hand-to-hand with the war gods and been victorious? Hadn’t he killed one with only knife and tomahawk, lifting its head as a prize? The Great Spirit, Tawque felt, rewarded his valor with eternal youth and strength. Tawque hadn’t aged a day over the past twenty years, but the warrior didn’t understand the chemistry behind the miracle. He did not understand how telomeres affect the number of times a cell will divide, or how enzymes from the aliens—masked and suppressed the shrinkage of this control on aging. To Tawque it was a gift from the Great Spirit; same as the amazing strength imparted to his sinews by the alien fluid reacting with his hormones and enhancing his muscles in a powerful way; or the mighty bow he held in his left hand, gifted him by the white trapper, Ben.
It was a beautifully crafted weapon with the strange circles of a dream catcher at top and bottom of the elegant curvatures at each extremity. The unusual wheels (dream catchers) supported the bowstring. It operated on principles of physics, but to Tawque it was a reflection of his strength. It took him two years to develop the muscle to bend that mighty bow, but when he was finally rewarded by drawing it full, how amazed he was at the ease at which he could hold and aim. Big medicine worked its magic on the weapon as many years ago big medicine flowed with the coming of the sky demons. But this night, so long after the time of the gathering, the supernatural was at work again. Something was different about the shifting patterns of glowing colors and Tawque could no longer fight the urge heaving at his soul.
Silently the mystic warrior slipped from his perch and melted into the surrounding brush like a specter lost to the view of fleshly eyes.
Tawque was a master of stealth, but two young warriors took note of his departure. Although hidden in the dim silvery light of the sky’s lonely monolith that cast its warming hue, the braves guessed a trespasser had warranted the Guardian’s departure and took up pursuit as noiselessly as their predecessor. Tonight they were sure glory would follow as the deliverer was summoned to avenge their sacred lands.
Within minutes Tawque made his way to the valley’s floor and crossed to the opening of a small cave at the center of the vortex. From this epicenter the mystic show emanated, affecting the surrounding land in a wave that spiraled forth as trees near the area grew twisted and gnarled in a fight against the unnatural, unseen forces pushing at their very existence. No animal would venture near this marvel. Not even a bird would tilt its wings in the direction of the cave. Void of the sounds of insects, the anomaly rested hauntingly amid the sacred grounds. Hidden among the dense brush of the tangled mass growing outward,— vegetation bent, appearing almost crawling in a silent plea, as if desperately trying to uproot and vacate an unchosen home, —Tawque stood.
A hazy mist blocked the entrance, but light emanating from deep within the chamber’s tunnels called hypnotically to the Guardian. The rays filtered through the thin veneer of a fog, like a beacon,— very dissimilar to the aurora dancing in the night sky above. Tawque was captivated. The twirling show flashed and blinked without pattern as from deep within the tunnels the glow awakened the goose bumps on the brave warrior’s arms. Was this the called for Awakening… birth of The Swarm? Fear gripped the Blackfoot’s heart. The prophecy spoke of a passage opened: The blood of sacrifice, the feast of death.
Tawque could fight the urge no longer. Mindless: he stepped through the empty mist standing like a facade, blockading the widening chamber beyond. The Guardian felt dizzy as he almost collapsed. His skin suddenly froze as ice incrusted his eyelashes and the moisture around his lips. The warrior fell to his knees, but he felt like he was moving deeper into the tunnel at a blinding speed. The sensation was but a moment, yet the struggling brave could not even breathe during the occurrence.
Coughing and gagging Tawque’s dizziness subsided as numbness left his flesh and the tingling of a waking body part shook every inch of his muscular frame. He staggered to his feet, catching his breath and rubbing his freezing arms as he looked on in awe at the superlative room he had entered. A flashing glow from deep within the bowels of the twisting maze was his focal; but its radiant hues glimmered over the glossy rock and crystallized emeralds encased in the chamber’s inner walls throughout the ever widening amphitheater. A panorama of glistening colors and striking shades of beauty entranced the Guardian’s mind and captivated his soul. The rays bounced over the cave’s ragged structural anomalies, but the strange call that moved the warrior to enter the vortex in the first place again pulled at his very being as the marvel of the cave dissipated. Determined, his facial features turned to stone as his emotionless expression revealed he was unmoved by the display; his entire mind centered on the source radiating the magnificent light.
At the end of the large room the walls tapered down to the opening where the cave’s inner sun was emanating: a light beckoning entrance, a beacon drawing forth the fool. Tawque stepped through the passage and disappeared.
The two braves behind looked questioningly at each other, then fitted shafts in silent agreement to their heavy war bows. Perhaps material weapons would be useless in the spirit realm? And cautiously they followed.
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