Adriana and Kemir had arrived at the border of Spira with Konteki. Not that there was a notice board or a border post to indicate you entered the land of the men with the black turbans. At the moment that the dense Forest of Bandar made room for the open Plain of Kon they both knew they came into another department. Here and there on this plain, they saw blackish-gray spiraling columns sticking out.
Everybody knew the Pillars of Teki. The story of the God Teki and his human beloved Kon often was told by the parents to their children. Teki, the God of the Stones wasn’t happy in his realm between the clouds. He had searched for centuries after a dear female companion between the cloud people but had found nobody to share his further life in his majestic palace. He was so sad that he would stay alone and lonely that now and then he shed stone drops on a plain of Downland. These hard drops piled up every time he was miserable. Each of these times, they formed a column of blackish-gray stone that disfigured the lowland somehow.
One day he was so helpless he decided to descend one of these sky-high towers to try his luck on earth. He put a spell on himself using the hard magic he possessed and became a shepherd. To make the illusion complete he also made a flock of sheep out of some boulders. And so he searched the plain after a human partner. After some days, he arrived at the border of a village. It looked like a wealthy hamlet. The houses were of an elevated quality and there were, at least, two harbors and just as many pens too at the disposal of possible travelers. However, he was thrown out every of these establishments because he was only a shepherd and had no money. The sheep were his fortune and what they would produce. He hardly could cut some wool and trade for a place for his sheep and a bed to sleep in.
Eventually, he ended up in an almost run-down barn at the border of the village. He led his sheep between the walls of this rickety ruin and tried to make there his sleeping place. Teki scarcely had sat down against that one bundle of hay that was flung about and of which his sheep already began to nibble, when a young woman passed along.
She greeted politely and asked where he came from. He told her he didn’t know much about geography and names of regions, but that his land was the most beautiful country in the world. He depicted her a sky that was as blue as azure where he was sleeping under and described her the purest clouds which were traveling over his head, still more white than the wool of his sheep. It wasn’t so warm there, he had to admit, but the air was as clear as the purest crystal.
The woman told him her name was Kon and the more he explained about the region he lived in the more eager the woman listened to him. She became madly in love with him and he with her. When he kissed her they knew they were made for each other. He told her he had nothing to offer her except for his sheep, but it didn’t matter to her if she could go with him to the place he lived. It had to be heaven on earth the way he had described it.
Then he took her with him and when she saw the towering columns she didn’t understand at first the usefulness of these monstrosities. He took her in his arms and told her not to fear and climbed the column up with her. Her amazement was so huge when she saw once they had arrived in the clouds that he changed in the God of Stones that he really was. She saw his heaven palace that lighted up in the colors of the sun and understood he was anything but a shepherd. Everything he had said was true. From this day on Kon and Teki became a couple and the region where they had met would from now one be called Konteki.
Both Adriana and Kemir thought about this story they had heard on several occasions. The lowland, however, was defaced by this stone column, but the clouds and the sky were more beautiful that they had ever seen. Was it because they had traveled through the wood for days of were these structures out of stone reaching so high you hardly could see the top the reason, the fact was that the air was clearer and one of the purest they had ever experienced.
‘I’m curious what we would we see if we climb these columns, Kemir?’ Adriana described almost literally the thoughts that were going around in his head. ‘Would there really be a palace in the clouds? Would Kon and Teki still live there?’
Kemir laughed about the questions Adriana was asking. ‘Come on, Adriana, it’s a beautiful fairy-tale and I admit I used to like it. But, after all, it’s no more than that. Those black columns of stone, however, are very strange in this landscape. It’s like they don’t belong here. It’s rather that they originate from the earth than they are things from the sky.’
‘Can you still see the track, Kemir?’ Adriana had been diverted by the thought of that story and in the sight of the Pillars of Teki but now she was thinking again about the objective of their voyage. The thought about here abducted brother Jani made her instantly forget about the beautiful legend.
Yes, no problem, they went this way, you can’t miss it. It has to be an enormous big group of Dulkas. I don’t understand how they can travel unseen in this way through our regions. There has to be strong magic involved.’
Just at the moment that Kemir pushed himself a bit straighter in the saddle of his horse White Cloud, he heard some noise behind him. It came from behind the timberline of the Forest of Bandar. Both looked at each other and hold their reins a bit closer. The noise sounded very troublesome and after a few minutes, they saw a dust cloud coming from between the trees.
Their blood ran cold when the animals stood still and the dust came down. Wolves, or not? They looked like these predators, but were at least twice as big and some of these creatures suddenly stood on their hind legs while they were looking around. Kemir counted ten of them. As they pointed their muzzle into the air to smell their prey, they looked more human than on a wolf. The biggest specimen, a chestnut colored wolf, at least, a head taller than his kindred, lifted his head and opened his mouth and howled. A dreadful sinister sound that got them the goosebumps when it reached their ears.
It had to be the signal because the ten of them approached them in a rapid attack. Three of them separated from the group and began to make an outflanking movement to the left. And so it happened to the right of them. The rest ran straight ahead. The saliva splattered out of their torn open frightful mouths and their razor-sharp fangs promised nothing good.
‘Run, Adriana!’ Kemir gave a good example and stirred up White Cloud followed by Adriana on Bruno urging him to run as fast as possible.
The predators, however, were a lot faster than the horses of Kemir and Adriana and wouldn’t take long before they had gained on them. Death was on their heels. Kemir looked around while he pushed White Cloud to the limit. He didn’t see a solution until his eyes fell on the first Pillar of Teki.
‘To the Pillar, Adriana, we have to leave our horses there and climb on it otherwise we’ll be dead in no time.’ Adriana knew Kemir wasn’t overreacting, she just looked swiftly behind over her shoulder and imagined she could feel the warm breath of the chasing animals in her neck. They weren’t so close yet, but she could already distinguish the bloodthirstiness in their eyes. It was all that was necessary to make her bend her as close as possible to the back of Bruno and push him still in a final sprint.
At the foot of the Pillar of Teki, they jumped quickly from their horses, gave them a punch on their behind and driven by fear the horses run further away while they started climbing.
After a few minutes having climbed a dozen meters, Kemir looked behind him. He obviously thought the wolves had abandoned their pursuit, but his amazement was big when he saw the first animal standing upright and beginning the climb. The rest followed him immediately. These were certainly not ordinary wolves. When he looked a bit better, he saw there was a red glow in their eyes and he knew these were creatures of the Dark Side. This magic that shined in their eyes was not of this world.
He saw Adriana climbing very well, she was in no way inferior to a man and despite they found themselves in a precarious situation, he couldn’t but admire her. He looked very close where he put his hands and feet and tried to use as well as possible every crevice and every protrusion that could serve him to end up higher as fast as possible.
Still, his muscles wearied of. The higher they got, the closer the wolves were snapping at their heels. Adriana held up well beside him, but it would take long before the wolves would be able to bite in their calves.
Just when he thought everything was lost, that they would serve as a meal for these magic predators from the Dark Side, salvation came from the sky. A little boulder as big as his own head fell from above, missed him and ended up on the shoulder of one of these creatures. With a horrifying howl, the beast released his grip and thundered down in the deep. Still more stones came down. Kemir and Adriana first thought it was a kind of little avalanche of stones that tumbled down and that they were just lucky not to be hit by them. But the stones didn’t fall at random but struck their pursuers purposely. One of them got a direct hit right upon his head and while the brains spattered out of his skull, the monster fell into the abyss. His kindred hesitated and stayed behind when they noticed the rocks were meant for them.
‘Keep on climbing, Adriana, I think we’re saved. They stay behind thanks to these falling rocks.’
The chestnut colored wolf, the biggest specimen of the flock of the beasts of prey didn’t bow down. After all, he was the agilest and fastest of his breed. When he alone continued the pursuit it started to rain stones out of the heaven again. Kemir looked upwards, but he couldn’t look through the cloud cover who or how these projectiles were thrown.
It was as if the animal had a premonition about the rain of stones. He skillfully dodged one after another boulder that came down. The wolf jumped lithely as a mountain goat to the left and then to the right to proceed some paces forward. In this way, he started to gain on the both of them. Kemir and Adriana climb so fast. Nonetheless the stones weren’t meant for them, they had to watch out to avoid sticking their head or shoulders too far out. The danger wasn’t imaginary that in this manner they still would be hit by one of these boulders.
Then suddenly it stopped raining stones. The wolf saw his opportunity and hurried fast forward. Still a dozen meters and he would shred them apart, tear them up to pieces with giant sharp teeth.
Kemir and Adriana looked startled upwards. What happened that just now it stopped raining stones? The cloud above them slowly changed color and became grayer and grayer until it was almost black. ‘Push yourself against the wall, quickly!’ Kemir had shouted it and Adriana in less than no time pushed herself against the pillar so that the air was pressed out of her lungs.
The dark cloud split open by a gigantic rock that came down with a staggering speed. Adriana felt the air displacement when this rock mass zoomed straight past them. The chestnut wolf that was a lot taller than them had pushed himself also against the stone column. His sturdy shoulders protrude too much and the falling rock grazed him lightly. However, this was enough to break his grip and with a frightening howl he dropped along with it in the dept.
‘Saved!’ Adriana panted. Kemir, however, looked up. While the rock had come down, the cloud had expanded a bit and now it came near the place where they hung on the wall. Two burly hands emerged from the clouds and pulled Kemir and Adriana effortless inside the cloud-cover.
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere