April 12, 2011

A Lesson In History Part 2

Part 2

“We make for the ruins, we can hide from them– it’s our only chance!” We sent our horses into a hard run, as soon as we bolted the bandits pursued . Luck was with us as we were ahead of them and rode hard, our horses were fresh and ready for the run. When we no longer saw them we slowed the horses to a trot giving them a chance to rest and keeping a constant eye on the horizon. At last we rounded a dune and looked upon the ruins of the city of Ur.

Exhausted from the hard run we dismounted and walked, leading our horses into a labyrinth-like walled city, laying partially buried beneath the scorching sands.

The midday heat waned as the sun began its slow descent towards the distant horizon, we welcomed the cool of the desert night. We wandered for some time with without any sort of strategy. There seemed little here but old crumbling stones and sand, occasionally a small reptile scurried past. We walked for an hour before we found something stopped us cold. A statue towered into the sky, worn and weathered by time. It stood in the middle of the road on a dais about a meter in height. The statue had the body of a man but the head was misshapen, where there should have been a mouth appeared tentacles. The look of it sent a cold shiver through me, Gerald felt it as well, and in my darkest imaginings I’ve not seen its likeness.

“What is that?!!” I whispered nervously, as if my words would disturb and awaken the terror. He looked at me and shook his head wordless.

With legs of stone we crept closer and a foul wind blew upon us, carrying with it the stench of rot and something metallic like copper. The smell grew worse as we got closer and there was something at the base of the statue, lying on the dais. I covered my nose and mouth with a handkerchief, the smell of three days ride barely masked what was there. The remains of what I can only guess was an animal of some kind lay on the dais, its underside cut opened in a jagged dark red line its entrails laid upon the statue’s feet like an unholy offering.

“Looks like something ate it,” I said, pointing at the remains. Gerald said nothing and moved onward, an odd feeling fell over me when I ran from the gruesome remains.

We continued walking for some time but the place looked as if we were the first to be here in a long time.

“Did your uncle say where he was? This is a rather large place.”

“He mentioned he was near the main palace in his last letter. But that was months ago.”

“Any idea where that may be?”

“My guess is that the main palace should be the tallest building in the city, but these buildings seem to be about the same height as far as I can see.”

The setting sun fell behind the buildings casting long shadows along the empty streets like a dozen skeletal fingers reaching out for us from antiquity. We continued in silence until we came across the remains of a small campfire. Gerald poked the coals and debris and took a piece of burnt wood in his hand.

“These are cold, but, it couldn’t have been here long since the sand and dust would have covered it,” he said examining it closer. “At least in part.”

The sun was nearly gone now and the frenzied winds whipped the sand into small clouds of dust.

“We shouldn’t make a fire in case the bandits are still looking for us.”

“Let’s take shelter in one of these small buildings then,” I said pointing.

Gerald nodded in agreement, “Let’s secure the horses there, then try to get on one of the roofs– if your uncle has a campfire we may see it.”

“Hopefully we are the only ones.”

We found a structure that seemed mostly intact and secured the horses. He took a holstered pistol from his backpack withdrew a second one, “Do you know how to use this?” he asked pushing it toward me.

I nodded, “I’m afraid that I’m a lousy shot though.” He laughed as he handed it to me and attached another to his belt, I did the same. He pulled out two small lanterns from another bag, lit candles and placed them inside each and handed one to me saying, “We’ll need these when we get inside.” “Careful, this top will get hot quickly,” he warned pointing at the top of the lantern.

He then produced a length of rope and what appeared to be a small grappling hook. Then he secured a knife in his boot. I regarded him for a moment, “What kind of explorer did you say you were?”

“The adventurous kind,” he said with a smirk. I eyed him a moment longer and we were off.

The stars were very bright and we picked our way through the gloom. We moved slowly keeping an eye on where we were so we wouldn’t get lost.

In a low voice, he said, “That seems to be one of the taller buildings.”

I nodded following his lead. As we walked I thought for a moment I heard a voice on the wind. “Do you hear that?” I whispered. He paused and held his head up and listened, then shook his head that he didn’t.

We inched closer and I heard something move ahead of us, a chill ran down my spine like ice water. He had heard it too and we both froze and searched the gloom and waited with raw nerves. He drew his pistol and I did the same. For some moments we heard nothing, and then we heard it again this time behind us! We both spun around as something ran towards us I shrieked and jumped aside as a large reptile ran past us and disappeared in between the buildings. I looked at Gerald, and he turned away quickly, I thought I heard him stifle a laugh.

We continued to make our way towards the building in the dark and arrived without further event. The building was made of the same sand colored stone that the ruins, everything about it seemed old and decayed. Above us there were holes in the walls where the bricks had weathered away and leaving black holes like dead eyes watching over us. We found an opening in a wall near a door. We tried the door but it didn’t budge so we stepped cautiously through the opening.