2: Smoke

     Unwarranted, a loud explosion ripped through the stillness and illuminated the sky.  Anonda had never seen anything like it.  She had rarely ventured past the monastery wall in her five years residing within them.  Curiosity piqued, she ran toward the direction of the light.  Quickly the distance between the girl and the wall came to a close. Centering herself for balance, strengthening the muscles of her thighs and willing herself to defy gravity Anonda ran up the high Alt`er wall.  In the darkness an onlooker may have mistaken the action for flight.

     Perched atop the wall, she strained to see the remnants of the explosive event.  Her violet eyes focused to see the hazy outlines of smoke darker than night.  Small crowds huddled in the streets and the windows of the few dwellings in the middle city lit up.  Obscured by the smoke, Anonda could see the silhouette of a factory tower. Right in the center of the city the building was a symbol of industry and technical advancement.  Now it billowed with smoke like a dark beacon for all the evils it represented.

     She strained her ears so she might hear a clue as to what event had taken place here.  All they retrieved were aggressive murmurs.  Pupils dilated, the forms of middle class citizens trundling back into their slant roofed homes became visible.  Lantern toting guards dispersed through the scene.  More of the authority figures in one place than the girl had ever seen.

      From the elevated height of the Alt`er wall an undeterred breeze swept up the teal rimmed skirt tied around her waist.  Like the snuffing out of a light, which could be seen happening in numerous windows among the city below, Anonda all of a sudden remembered where she was supposed to be. 

     Every night after martial training she dreaded returning to the convent.  Normally she’d drag her feet travelling across the courtyard before entering her room to pray before sleep.  Earlier Nin Lorrey had promised to observe her night’s prayer.  If she was late Rahn only knew the upbraiding she would receive.

     Incongruous to her usual pace Anonda spared no amount of haste in running to her destination.  To her surprise the domicile quarter of the Ninitah’s edifice was quiet and empty.  No stray rays of candle light found their ways under closed wooden doors.  No annoying Nin was standing expectantly outside her bedroom door.

The End

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