Warrior Prophets Chapter 23
The flower must be somewhere here, Akavish thought, as he scanned the tall grass with his torch ablaze. His eyes had developed the ability to see well in the dark. Nonetheless, he appreciated the warmth of the torch. The two perpetual guards waited for Akavish outside the grassy area. Ever since Akavish had “discovered” the poisoner ofAshkelon, guards followed him wherever he went.
The papyrus he received had described the Azalea flower as highly toxic. A white flower with pink spots that blooms in the spring. It could grow beneath trees. Akavish cut at the tall grass with his sword as he meandered through the swampy valley half-a-day’s ride fromAshkelon.
He reached a sandy clearing and proceeded. As he walked over the soft sand, his left foot would not come back up, and he found himself quickly sinking. Quicksand! Akavish thought. He grabbed quickly at an overhanging branch and pulled himself up.
Perfect, Akavish thought. Why bring death to him? Bring him to death.
Akavish hacked away at the overhanging branches around the clearing, making sure there were none within reach of the sandy bog. He then placed several branches across the bog, testing what amount would carry his weight, but not more. Satisfied, Akavish rode his horse back toAshkelon, happier than he had been in a long time.
“It is a shame. Krafus would have loved to accompany us,” King Larus said hesitantly, his enormous belly shaking lightly.
“It cannot be helped. We should not wait.” Akavish answered. “Are you afraid?”
“I do not fear a nighttime excursion. But Krafus is wise in these matters and he is a resourceful man to have around.”
“By the time he returns from his mission, the tunnel may be lost.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Certainly. It is a passage that only opens with the full moon, as we will have tonight. Beyond the entrance I glimpsed great treasure. Bring some trusted guards with you, if you want.”
Akavish removed his shiny metallic arm from his shoulder. In its place he attached an older, duller version. It was slightly rusted, though the claw was still sharp.
Akavish came to the palace early in the evening and saddled his horse. He took his father with him and two escorts and rode to the place he had spoken of.
After the third hour of riding, Akavish lowered his eyes, and perceived the place nearby.
“Stay here with the horses,” Akavish said to the escorts. “We shall conduct our business and I shall return.”
Larus took the burning torch and Akavish led the way with the sword to cut through the tall grass.
And the two of them went together.
Then Larus spoke to Akavish, his son, and said, “Son.”
“Here I am, my father.”
“I have fire on this torch, but where is this entrance you are looking for?”
“The gods will provide the answer, my father.” And the two of them continued together.
They arrived at the place which Akavish had prepared. Akavish made a big show of cutting at the tall grass. He walked gingerly over the camouflaged branches of wood hidden in the sand, and muttered a silent prayer to the dark gods.
Larus followed Akavish, but the wood underneath did not bear his weight. A muffled snap was the first sign that the trap had been sprung. By the time Akavish had turned around, Larus was already up to his knees in the sand, moving his legs ferociously.
Larus called out from the sand, “Akavish! Akavish!”
“Here I am.”
“Stretch out your hand to me, my son.”
“You are too far away, and there is nothing here I can use to reach you. Let me run to the horses and bring them here.”
Akavish ran around the bog, through the tall grass growing on the solid ground.
He reached the two guards, standing by the horses.
“Help! Help!”Akavish yelled, waving his sword frantically at the horses.
The horses, frightened by the terrifying movement, bolted away.
The reins of one horse were caught in a nearby thicket.
“What is the matter?” one of the guards asked.
“The King is caught in a bog! Only the horses can help! Steady the horse, while I free it.”
Akavish sliced his sword down on the reins of the horse, just an inch away from its nostrils. The horse reared on its back legs, front hooves clawing at the humid night air. The horse galloped off before the soldiers could catch it.
“Never mind the horses, let’s return to the King!”
The guards followed Akavish back to the bog. Larus was neck-deep with a frantic look in his eyes. His face and arms were covered by the sticky sand. His left arm still held the burning torch aloft.
“Son. Help me!”
“I shall enter the sand. Guards! We shall form a chain. You, hold on to the tree.” Akavish pointed at the shorter of the two. “Then you,” Akavish commanded the taller one, “clasp his arm tightly and you will clasp mine.”
They formed a human chain. The three men and the one metallic arm reaching into the quicksand. Larus grasped the metallic claw. The sharp pincers cut into the flesh of Larus’ hand, but the big man held on firmly.
“Thank you, son. I thought I would die. For a moment I thought it might have all been a devious plot you hatched. Forgive me for doubting you.”
“I forgive you, father,” Akavish whispered as he grinned broadly. “I forgive you for your stupidity in trusting me. I forgive you for the years of harassment. I forgive you for your lack of attention. I forgive you for all your sins.”
“What are you talking about, Akavish. Just pull me out of here. Your claws are slicing through my hands!”
“I forgive you, father, because I am finally, once and for all, getting rid of the source of all my problems. Goodbye. May your afterlife be as unpleasant as your death.”
Akavish twisted his metallic arm quickly and the device came off his shoulder. The sudden release of tension pulled Akavish back to ground with the two guards.
“My arm!” Akavish cried for the guards’ benefit. “It came loose!”
Larus’ head dipped beneath the surface of the sand, as well as the torch and Akavish’s metallic arm.
With one final effort, Larus raised his head above the sand and splurted out, “Son!”
Larus descended into the quicksand, never to be seen alive again.
“Father!” Akavish cried. “Father.” Akavish fell to his knees beside the quicksand and cried in the moonlight.
After a few moments, one of the guards put his arm on Akavish’s healthy shoulder.
“You did everything you could, Akavish. It was a terrible accident. But he is gone. We must return toAshkelonand inform the people. Their king is dead, but thankfully we have a new king.”
The guards could not see Akavish’s smile.
“Long live the King,” Akavish whispered to the sand.
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Notes: The format is a ‘negative’ take on the story of Abraham’s binding of Isaac. To compare, see Genesis Chapter 22.