BACKGROUND

The story is DERIZAN’S JOURNEY. The scene below precedes the first new story scene added on Facebook. Exiles forced from the City have escaped their guarded column, and are now trying to find their way to some refuge in the mountains and the wind-driven snow. This band of exiles is all from one family in Arcus Coll.

In the Descending Road novel, Ezzar is a principal character. She is the granddaughter of Alumaras, and the daughter of his son Derizan and his daughter-in-law Astina. From the Descending Road scene INSURRECTION VOTE, Ezzar learns of her family’s forced relocation:

“Ezzar chafed. Her youngest aide, a chunky girl in black coveralls, handed her a datasheet, listing the names of those most recently gone in the latest SRD. In the midst of the list, she read the names of her father and mother, Derizan Alumaras Uni Junusium and Astina Turianoch Teron Harridium, and five more: all from her own family.

“Stunned, she counted. Among the new thousands, nearly all coming from the four colls at the meeting, her father, her mother, her father’s father Alumaras, her father’s sister Ajina and her husband Selech, her mother-uncle Daryuz and her father-uncle Denzari had been taken, sent by government train to the Northwest Marshes over two thousand kilometers from the City. They had had no chance to contact her or leave word — probably the rest of them, husbands, wives and children, were gone too.”

Now we join Derizan and his family in the wilderness in the last scene already written in “Descending Road and its World”.

 

PRUNE A FEW RED BRANCHES

Scene 5  1560 4D

They wound their way down along a slowly-widening crack in the mountain rock, gloved hands out to balance on the shingles of blown, icy snow. Derizan kept one hand ready for his wife Astina in case she needed it, even though he knew she'd rather fall and hit her head than to be forced to depend on him that much. Even here.

Seven elders from one Arcus family. What would Ezzar do when she found out? She was so young for all the heartbreak she'd already had, and so full of rage. Boren had been just the right man for her, and then... Derizan thrust the thought aside as distant shots echoed, and a soft rumble began to build into a roar. He and the others looked wildly up to the hanging snows, eyes wide in the wind, but nothing moved.

His brother Denzari wiped ice from his eyebrows. "It was on the other side. The fool guards must  have triggered it."

"How much farther?" Alumaras came to his sons, his white hair kinked in the soaking cold. "Our women need some warmth soon, and so do we."

Derizan took his father's hand. "We've got just the one map, and it shows a network of caves, but I don't know what's in them. They're about twenty feet around this–"

"Caves?" It was sister Ajina's husband Selech. "My feet are nearly dead."  He stumbled as they moved forward.

Derizan caught his arm. "You shouldn't have given away your extra socks to that Hejji kid. At least it could have been to somebody Arcus – then you'd be freezing your toes for a good reason."

Selech grinned. "Can't help it. A kid's a kid, and this one was turning blue." He hobbled alongside Derizan, his coat flapping, his scarves loose in spite of the driving winds.

"Here." Daryuz, Astina's brother, pointed to a tight, low hole in the snow, almost invisible behind an outcrop of tumbled boulders. He got down on hands and knees and vanished inside. Derizan waited until the others crawled in, then trudged back to obliterate their trail as best he could. The wind would do what he couldn't, he decided, and he finally wriggled into the darkness after the others of his family.

The light surprised him. He blinked twice, squinted, and a man he didn't know came to him and helped him to his feet. At that moment his knees nearly buckled.

"Slowly," the man said, with a slight Monford accent, a bit of Arcus cadence in his wording. "You've just been through hell, and you're blest to find us here."

"Who are you?" Derizan asked.

"We come here to help anyone who gets out of the columns. The corpos don't know about this place yet, and we have to keep it that way. Call me Inkurisar." The man walked over to the low entrance, beckoned a solid woman to join him, and they rolled a pair of boulders into a locked position in front of the opening. "That won't open now, not unless they blow it open with a rockmuncher."

Derizan introduced his family, as two women joined Inkurisar, who said, "This is my wife Nakiran and her sister Munizkara."

"Han," everyone said together, nodding slightly.

Derizan said, his face warming slowly in the still air, "Now is the time when we ask each other what we're doing here. We were supposed to be bound for the Northwest Marshes, but they shoved us on the train north instead. Some excuse about engine breakdowns. A woman I knew had a map showing the caves here, but that was all. Better caves than snow."

Inkurisar shook his head. "They lie to you. There's no rail line to the Marshes. We found that out months ago, but there's no way to communicate back to the cities and the colls. What we do is shuttle people between here and a takeoff point back down the pass. With some good hard work, everybody gets down to the plains, and there's a road out to Purusil. A long, hard trip. If you get that far, you've got a chance to get on down one of the deep crevasses through the Great South Fall. After that, I don't know. There are no cities down there, and not much news coming back."

"Why haven't the corpos found this place?"

"We keep coll discipline. Nobody tells anyone who isn't Arcus, and even then we screen everyone. We've had to prune a few red branches." Inkurisar looked down at his feet. "My own brother..."

Selech burst out, "You've shed Arcus blood?"

"We had to. Do you know how many have come through here? Thousands. A Harridium chieftain overheard my brother talking with a Novander guard about the caves – they were negotiating. We killed them both under a rockfall. If they'd made a deal, you wouldn't be here - they'd have shot all of you."

Selech looked disgusted and said nothing. Derizan asked, "How will we leave here?"

"We wait two days without opening the cave. There's a huge storm setting up right now, and it'll roll through this reloc like the breath of the Taker. The guards will haul tail as soon as they're sure no one can follow them, and they'll go on back to the railhead. The next reloc up here will simply take another pass through the mountains, and the bodies from this one will still be standing where they froze. We leave here just before the storm ends, at night."

Derizan remembered Darvelia and her children. "There's Arcus kids out there dying right now," he said. "We have to try to get them here."

Inkurisar glared at him with reddened eyes. "No. That door stays sealed. If we open it now, we'll all die. I've seen it happen too damn many times. If those kids didn't follow you, they're not going to get saved now. Were they alone?"

"No. Their mother was with them."

"She had a choice. She made her choice. Turn your face to the wind and move on."

The old Arcus saying made Derizan want to gag. "I won't forget this. I'll make those bug bastards pay for it all."

Inkurisar came to him and brought his face close. His eyes, red and tired, still held gentleness. "Out here, you go one foot at a time. When you get free from this, then you'll have a chance. Just don't try anything too soon. Friend, it's time for some food. Come and eat."

 

First new scene.

Last Updated Friday, June 21 2024 @ 02:51 pm  29 Hits   
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