Page 1

By Karl Mrazik

Alexander’s Siege of Tyre A Time of Expansion In the spring of 332 Before the Common Era, with the Hellenic League under his tenuous control and his most powerful enemy, Darius of Persia defeated at the battle of Issus, Alexander prepared to march his armies against Babylon itself. Only the fortified naval base on the island city of Tyre remained as a thorn in his side. Before he could move against Babylon, Tyre would have to be subdued.

PĂĄgina 5


By Karl Mrazik

The Old Sea

“I remember standing on top of a castle wall overlooking the eastern Mediterranean. The sun was bright. The sky was clear. The waves were gentle. I was with a little one named Moti. His face was sweaty, and he turned toward the breeze whenever it blew. His attention remained fixed toward the sea. Being connected to his mind, I could perceive his thoughts and sensations. I remember thinking how good it was to feel alive again. From behind, I could hear men’s shouts resonating from the courtyard below. They weren’t shouting about anything urgent.

They were yelling to their wives,

pointing things out to their friends or laughing at the antics of their children. These sounds were mixed with hooves clanking and the wheels of laden carts rolling on stone streets. It was all very mundane, but, to me, it was an amazing taste of life. Moti periodically glanced down toward the noises but stayed focused on the sea. He was waiting for something with a great deal of anticipation. Some soldiers walked past us. They were all taller than Moti. He stood just barely above their elbows. Moti was a small man who made his way in the world by dutifully performing menial tasks for soldiers. He’d help out in the kitchens, mend their garments and bring them whatever they needed. He worked hard, and his pleasures were simple. In exchange for the long, tedious hours, Moti secured for himself the scraps left by men of war, a bowl of gruel here, some fruit and cornbread there and, of course, wine; yes, the soldiers always had a lot of wine. The most important part of this arrangement for Moti was the protection it offered. As a small man, he was often a target of abuse, but by being in the company of soldiers that would protect their helper, he could live without fear. Personal safety was

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

Moti’s primary concern, so he drifted through life without direction or cause. He was a loner and a wanderer with neither responsibilities nor ambitions; and that made many things possible. The island of Tyre was an ideal place for such a man. It was a fortress separated from the mainland by a channel that was just wide enough to be an imposing barrier to any forces coming from the land. It was used as a base of operations for traders and raiders and folks like that. The defenses were built up over the years. All around, there were high walls right up against the shore. It was an island castle with towers and turrets and posts for archers at every step. The only entrance to the harbor was narrow and well protected by a formidable navy. Of late, however, a very large army was in the process of building a land bridge to connect the island bastion to the mainland. That army was ostensibly led by a conqueror called Alexander, but I knew there were more sinister forces governing these events. Some called them ghosts or devils or gods of war, but they were Oo Sa Pa, my sort of folks. This is what I came to see and why Moti’s life was about to take an unfortunate turn for the worse. For his part, Moti knew something fantastic was about to happen. He saw a squadron of triremes come racing from behind the castle. It wasn’t the triremes that excited him: small vessels with metal prows rowed by teams of men with bulging muscles. No, he had seen those before. Rather, it was what they towed: a massive pile of black ooze. It was a barge bigger than anything he had seen float before. It was loaded with logs and broken chairs and anything that would burn all soaked in naphtha, which was essentially just crude oil and sulphur mixed together. Above this slimy black mass two very large cauldrons filled to the brim wavered above the decks splattering more black ooze with every sway.

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

The plan was simple.

The defenders of Tyre were going to smash that

flammable mass into the invader’s land bridge, turn it into a fiery inferno and knock it into the sea. As far I could figure out, for at least the last several days, Tyre’s navy had been trying to stop the invaders from building their land bridge by firing arrows at them from the sea. That slowed them down a bit, but, to protect their workers, the invaders made curtains out of animal skins and went back about their business. They even put two towers at the end of their work area so their own archers could fire back at the fleet to keep them away. Now, the defenders of Tyre were about to slam a giant, naphtha covered barge into the invader’s land bridge. Moti watched the triremes as their oars rose out of the water and arced forward in almost perfect unison. Water rolled off their blades before they plunged back into the sea thrusting the vessels forward. Once they got close enough, the men on the triremes cut the ropes and broke away in both directions. As they broke off, two men on the back of the barge tossed some torches forward, lit the naphtha and jumped overboard. This is it, Moti thought. The moment was at hand. That barge hit with the kind of thud that resonates through your whole body. I can still feel it now. There was one loud BOOMPF, and the invaders leapt into action in a feverish attempt to squelch the fire. Seemingly in vain, men were running, shouting and burning as they attacked the fire with hides or water or sand or anything they could find. Their efforts were hampered by a squadron of archer laden triremes that fired hundreds of arrows into the chaos. Undeterred, Alexander’s soldiers fought the archers and the flames, but their heroic effort was ill-advised as the ropes holding up the naphtha cauldrons were burning through. Once the first cauldron dropped, the whole scene was immersed by a fiery blast. I still remember the screams, the screams of men whose flesh was on fire. Some

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

were trapped in towers. Some were jumping into the sea. Others were just writhing helplessly with their faces twisted in the most unnatural contortions of agony. I don’t know whether they were stuck or just disoriented by the pain, but, surrounded by flames, they tried to reach toward the sky as though they could raise themselves up by the force of will. It was a sad scene, and even the most trivial details are still etched in my memory. I remember the white foamy border between the blue of the sea, the tan hue of the fresh timber and the dark brown ropes that held the wood together. I remember the men wearing glistening armor, and the ones wearing open brown cloth shirts. Some were slapping at the fire with wet hides while others were running back and forth throwing buckets of sea water at the flames. Behind them, there was a skirmish as Tyre’s navy landed some troops closer to shore. I remember seeing men thrusting their swords into one another and falling to arrows. I don’t remember who was killing whom and still don’t care. The strange thing about it is, with all this going on, what I remember most was the smoke. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because of the smell: pungent, acrid and bittersweet, but that’s what I remember most: the huge clouds of billowing, black smoke slowly rising upward into the otherwise pristine sky; and above it all, a lone seagull was flying around in a circle angrily squawking at the unwelcome interruption to its daily routine. I’ll never forget that gull. It only seemed like a few moments before the ships were heading back to Tyre. Then the sights and sounds of the frenzied melee were replaced by the somber scene of twisted corpses, whose silent black silhouettes still glow eerily through the crackling flames, still crying out for revenge.”

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

“Loh Nes!” snapped the raggedy man after a long silence. “Loh Nes!” he repeated when there was no reply. “Hmm, who, how… what have I done?” Loh Nes rambled incoherently as though shaking himself out of a trance. “Was that it?” asked the raggedy fellow. “Did you leave Tyre after that?” “No, I was there for the duration.” “The duration?” “Yes, the Oo Sa Pa were coming. Their wrath would be harsh. Tyre would pay a heavy price. I remember seeing them that very night. The smell was still lingering in the air…”

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

The Silent Partners

“Moti was sitting on the ramparts watching the sun set. He relaxed, sat back and felt the cool of the stone penetrate his shirt. Behind him, the fire still burned. He took a deep breath and noticed the strange smell in the air. It was a combination of burning oil and embers of wood with a hint of burning human flesh. It was the kind of smell that stays with you forever. Moti wondered why people did such things to one another and how things could turn out so wrong between them. Then he was distracted by the sounds of life. From the taverns and halls below, we could hear the drunken shouts of soldiers celebrating their victory. At times, the shouts came from the streets as the drunken men were meandering from place to place. Moti became excited when he saw a woman come out onto the ramparts. It was someone he knew. She was holding a basket covered with white linen.

Once she felt she wasn’t being watched, she quickly

scampered over to Moti and put the basket between them. ‘I knew I’d find you here,’ she said as she cheerfully threw her arms around him and kissed him on the lips. ‘Hi Effie,’ said Moti with genuine enthusiasm. Effie was a fair woman with a kind and gentle nature. She made her way in the world much the way Moti did. She stayed close to the soldiers and helped in the kitchens and such; but her services were often of a more carnal nature. Her appearance was unspectacular. She was pretty enough to excite in the soldiers a passing desire but plain enough where they wouldn’t want her for very long. Her features were ordinary, but, in Moti’s eyes, they were exquisitely ordinary and combined as a whole to create a soft loveliness that fit her gentle nature. ‘Look what I got for us,’ she said bubbling with excitement as she pulled the

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

white cloth from the basket. ‘I got us some bread, some fruit, some wine and two of the goblets they’re using at the king’s table,’ she exclaimed, holding them up as though they were trophies. ‘We might not be able to sit at the king’s table, but tonight we get to drink out of the same cups.’ As she spoke, she nodded with defiance and self affirmation. She carefully poured the wine and gave the first bejeweled cup to Moti. Once she filled the second cup, she looked to Moti with eager anticipation. ‘It’s a fine cup,’ he said. As he went to take a sip, I made him gulp the whole cup down. She took her first sip with her eyes closed as though she wanted to imagine herself at the king’s table, a respected member of the city. ‘Did they tell you what happened today?’ asked Moti as he held out his glass to be refilled. ‘Not really. I mean, I know the soldiers won a prize, and that they would festival. So, I planned this as soon as I heard,’ she added with a sinister grin. As she spoke, the door on one of the parapets burst open and a large group of men, eight by my count, boisterously strutted onto the ramparts. The group was on a walkway at a right angle to Moti and heading to take a look at the still burning bridge. They were loud, drunk and jovial. Moti couldn’t make out their faces on the torch-lit ramparts. ‘It’s the king,’ gasped Effie as one of the king’s guards broke from the others and took a few steps toward her in as straight a line as his drunkenness would allow. ‘Effie,’ he asserted as he stood waiting for her to come to him. Effie pretended not to hear in the hopes that he might become distracted and go away. ‘Effie, bring us more wine.’ She quickly rose to her duty and scampered toward the guard. ‘I’ll be right back,’ she informed him with a gentle smile before darting for the parapet stairs. In a few moments, she returned and filled their glasses. They held out their glasses but, otherwise, took no notice of her at all. That is, except for the last guard. His eyes stay

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

fixed on her as she poured his wine. He took a deliberate sip then tossed the cup over the wall. ‘I’ll need another goblet,’ he said as he took hold of her arm. ‘I’ll come with you,’ he added as he walked her out of sight. Moti watched the guard walk away with Effie for reasons of which there could be no doubt. For a moment, I was worried that he might overreact to such an event; but Moti wasn’t the sort to let such things disturb him. He saw it as unfortunate that she was called away but didn’t regard it as catastrophic. His thoughts were on hiding the basket and the goblets from the king’s entourage. He poured the wine from both goblets into his own plain cup and gulped down what couldn’t fit. Then, he covered the goblets in the basket and pushed it between the castle wall and the left side of his body. Cautiously, he turned his attention to the king’s entourage. At first, he wanted to see if they were paying any attention to him. They were not. So, as loners tend to do, he began to observe them. From where he sat, he could hear their words, their boasts and their laughs. They had just achieved a decisive victory, or so they thought. As he examined them closely he noticed that he began to feel strange.

I elevated his

consciousness just a touch. He felt a surge through his senses and a heightening of his awareness. Then his vision became blurred and the king’s entourage increased by one: a dark, shadowy figure larger than the rest. Moti blinked and it was gone. He shook his head, rubbed his eyes and peered back at the king’s entourage very closely. There were eight, then there were nine. He didn’t know what was happening but focused his attention on the ninth figure. He was larger than the rest and strangely immersed in darkness. He was a dark and shadowy creature, a form without substance. He was an Oo Sa Pa. I knew him. His name was Vikaas, a defender. He broke off from the king’s men and looked out over the smoldering carnage.

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

Moti noticed his eyes, yellow, luminous and fluctuating in their intensity as he changed his focus. He turned to Moti and his eyes glowed a little more intensely; but he regarded the presence as incidental and looked away. That’s when Moti noticed that only he could see this shadow, although he still didn’t know why. Intrigued, he watched the creature intently. It stood there silently on the edge of the ramparts looking out over the sea, looking and waiting. That was it, Moti thought. He’s waiting for something. Moti was curious about what such a creature would be waiting for. A group of four others suddenly appeared as if from nowhere. They were different shapes and sizes. The smallest one hopped on the ledge like a wingless gargoyle with sharp teeth and glowing red eyes. He seemed to be a cross between a monkey, a reptile and a crab. His name was Selan, and he specialized in economics, particularly wartime economics. Amongst the Oo Sa Pa, he was widely regarded as the best there was at his craft. His presence indicated there was some recent concern about finances. There was another smallish fellow that I couldn’t make out. He kept changing his shape like a formless cloud. Whoever he was, he was very dangerous. Ability to mask one’s identity is a skill reserved for the most seasoned of the Oo Sa Pa. The larger one on the right I knew well. His most prominent feature was what appeared to be small protective horns covering his entire body. He had glowing blue eyes that had the color and depth of a clear summer sky. His name was Lin THU, and he was an old friend. Although I’m not sure friend is the right word. He was a long time ally of mine in my younger days. We fought side by side through many conflicts, and I taught him many things. He could do it all: economy, industry, politics, culture; but his specialty was waging war. In his heart of hearts, he was a warrior and could be considered among the best there ever was. He would be the leader anywhere else, but

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

here he was part of an elite team led by the dark master himself. The fourth one stood in the center. He was very tall with a broad torso. His head was protected by ram-like horns. On his body, thick, bony armor and pointed protrusions were everywhere. Physically, he was built for combat, and his eyes blazed like fire. He was Balram Disset, the cultured one, the empire builder. He could be quiet and sophisticated, charming and seductive. He was often pleasant to be around and had a good sense of humor; but he had a distinct blackness about him and a nasty temper. When roused to anger, he seethed fury and unleashed terror upon his opponents. Many respected him. All feared him. He stepped forward and eyed Vikaas. ‘Are you the one who attacked my forces with fire?’ he asked softly. Though he spoke gently, there was no hiding his imposing demeanor. He conveyed supreme confidence and oozed power. Vikaas was too terrified to speak but nodded sheepishly. ‘Do you know him?’ Balram Disset asked his shrouded companion. The shadowy cloud drifted toward Vikaas and momentarily took shape. A patchy black and gray head with hollow black eyes extended outward like it was protruding from a turtle’s shell. He eyed Vikaas carefully and eerily gasped through his hollow black mouth before drifting backward toward Balram Disset.

‘Vikaas,’ he

whispered slowly as though it was a strain. Then, he returned to his shapeless form. ‘Lin THU, assess Vikaas,’ Balram Disset declared softly. ‘Vikaas, Vikaas, yes, I remember him: the defender. He’s pretty good at tactical defense but has limited range. This kind of thing is perfect for him: a little fortress. It’ll take us some more resources, but we’ll still be able to overwhelm him and crush Tyre as we planned. It might be fun to just fight it out with him.’ ‘Selan, how are my resources?’

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

‘You’re stabilized, my lord,’ replied Selan.

‘We should be able to pillage

whatever we need to make up for the extra expenditure. Nevertheless, Tyre must be destroyed no matter how much it costs. You’ve already prophesied it.’ ‘Agreed,’ muttered Balram Disset before turning his attention toward Vikaas. ‘What are your intentions here?’ ‘I came to this world to hone my skills in defense, shoring up some castles and that sort of thing. Then I heard that you would be here yourself, and I became enthralled. Your deeds have become legendary. So, when I learned of the prophesy that you would come to Tyre, I immediately helped out with the defenses. I thought if I could make a good stand of it, I could prove myself to be of use to you.’ ‘So you used fire because you knew I had a special love for it,’ Balram Disset replied cheerfully.

When he was being friendly there was a quality about him,

something magnetic. ‘You see,’ he said to his allies. ‘This is the kind of consideration you should be looking for from everyone that wants to join our ranks. I like you Vikaas, defender of Tyre. I want you to give your defensive effort everything you’ve got. We’ll be coming at you with overwhelming force, so I’ll count on you to make it interesting. If you can do that, I’ll let you join our team and become one of us.’ ‘Nothing has ever delighted me more, my lord,’ he said in the most obsequious way possible. ‘I believe I have some other information that you might appreciate,’ he added. He leaned forward, and they began whispering to one another. All I could make out were indiscernible syllables. By now, Moti was becoming excited. He realized he was in the presence of something unusual and very disturbing. As he watched them with wonderment and awe, they abruptly stopped their whispering and turned toward him. The five of them just stood there staring with their eyes glowing intensely. Moti began to tremble and gulped some wine. To tell you the truth,

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

even I found it a little disconcerting the way they just stood there staring. It made you wonder what they were thinking at that moment. The formless cloud slowly drifted toward us. Moti’s heart started racing. ‘He’s only a shadow. He cannot hurt you,’ I whispered into Moti’s mind as the cloud drew closer. That head protruded out and extended behind Moti’s. I looked at the long neck with the patchy black and gray skin. The skin had a strange texture and reeked of death like it had been decaying for years. The creature sniffed behind Moti’s neck. Moti quickly turned, and the two were face to face. I looked at the black and gray decaying flesh, the black, hollowed sockets from which the eyes had long since rotted away and hollow black mouth in which there was no tongue. It exhaled a slow gasp, and one could almost smell the slow death that this creature radiated. Moti was frozen in terror. ‘You only need to say something,’ I whispered to him emphatically. ‘You only need to say Nokura. Say it!’ ‘Nokura!’ Moti gasped aloud, and the gray face darted backward in the surprise at being known. He was Nokura, a bringer of plagues. He drifted back toward the others. They whispered to one another and stared again. Then, little Selan hissed at us scornfully, and they all faded away. Moti shook himself as though he had just awoken from a bad dream. He looked in every direction and saw nothing. Except for the shadows cast by the flickering torchlight, the ramparts were empty. The king and his men were gone and so was Effie. He rubbed his eyes and dismissed it all as a dream. ‘Finish the wine,’ I whispered. ‘Yes, I’ll go downstairs and finish the wine,’ he thought to himself as he packed up his things and scampered down the wooden stairway. Now it was Moti’s turn to make me feel uncomfortable as he walked me through

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

the streets of Tyre. I tell you these things because you might be able to understand what it’s like to glide through the world without any real control of where you’re going. It was late, and, in the darkness, images came upon us one by one. On the left, a group of men were lurking in the shadows. On the right, a man lifted his robe and defecated in the street. We came to a tall thin man wearing a filthy white garment. He eyed us as he rubbed his genitals. We avoided him and almost bumped into a fat man with a ruddy face. He took a gulp from a jug and laughed drunkenly. His teeth were brown and not all there. He had a hairy chest and a sweaty pink belly. He farted as we walked past him. On the left, a man was fucking a woman. On the right, a man was fucking a man. We went straight and kept our eyes on the ground not to step in anything. Such was night in the old city of Tyre, on this night anyway, in this part of town. Moti darted left between two buildings. He quickly turned right, left, right again, and I was lost. He stopped between a pile of sacks and a flimsy stick fence. There was a blanket there. He sat down and threw it over his head. He gulped down the rest of the wine straight from the jug and lay down to sleep, to sleep and to dream and back to my turn. In his dream, Moti stood on a platform that floated over the center on the city. Shadows swirled above with tails fading off like comets. They were groaning and wailing and chanting and laughing in deep, imposing laughs. Other shadows crawled on the walls. Others walked through the streets sniffing and inspecting. ‘They’re everywhere,’ Moti observed. ‘When they mass like this, things tend to get very bloody,’ I replied. In the dream world, there was no need explain myself or my presence. Here, Moti knew me and trusted me. I appeared to him as a dark shadow wearing a long, hooded cloak that scraped the floor when I walked. The garment was old, faded and tattered, which is the

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

way I feel most of the time. When my skin appeared through the hood, it was gray and cracked. My eyes were blue and white like looking into the sky. When I spoke to him, I always tried to maintain a calm and soothing tone. ‘Can they hurt me?’ he asked. ‘Yes, well, they can influence people to hurt you, so, yes they can.’ ‘Then it sounds like it’s time to go!’ ‘Now that sounds like a smart plan. When the time is right, I’ll take you out of here myself.’ ‘Why isn’t now a good time?’ ‘Because we have company,’ I replied as nodded toward a raven that landed on the platform. ‘A bird?’ ‘No, not the bird, the fellow behind the bird,’ I answered as Balram Disset stood across from us staring and softly growling. He walked right up to me, and all Moti saw was me as a little cloaked shadow standing in front of the impressive, towering specimen of Balram Disset who said only: ‘Intentions!?’ ‘Undecided,’ I replied succinctly. Between one another, our kind always had a way with brevity. ‘Undecided?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Why?’ ‘You are Balram Disset.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘There are those of us wondering whether or not it’s time to end your reign.’

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

He laughed as though it was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. It wasn’t a belly laugh. It was more of a soft chuckle that comes from surprise. ‘They are, of course, welcome to try,’ he answered. ‘But I trust you’ll give me time to formulate a more considered reply.’ I nodded gently, and he faded away.”

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

Digging for Sand

“Moti woke up the next morning, urinated and made his way back to the ramparts. The sky was just beginning to lighten, but he seemed to be in a hurry for some reason. I remember the gray streets and the smell of baking bread. We passed a man unloading sacks from a wooden cart and an old woman spilling out a pail. I suppose there were roosters crowing and birds chirping, but I don’t remember any of that. What I do remember is the moment Moti made it to the top of the ramparts. The sun was just then breaking the horizon, and he looked east. He looked east toward the rising sun and toward Alexander’s camp where the Oo Sa Pa were also massed. There were thousands of them meandering throughout the camp doing different tasks to please their master, their maestro. They were organized into an army of their own. ‘Hey Moti,’ shouted a voice from the distance. ‘Come over here. I need you.’ Moti walked over to a man wearing armor with markings. He was an archer with a quiver draped over his right shoulder and a bow draped over his left . His name was Brankus. He was some sort of officer. He immediately started giving Moti information: ‘The captain of the front wall wants to be prepared for the worst. He wants metals to melt down, wood for the fires and sand. Don’t ask me why, but he wants sand. They’re digging it out from behind the docks. Go over there and tell Limodius you’ll dig or carry, whichever you want.’ ‘Do you think we’re in trouble?’ Moti asked. ‘Nah,’ Brankus replied dismissively. ‘I’m not so sure about this Alexander fellow. People make a lot of fuss about him, but, if you ask me, he won’t last very long. I mean, if you want to conquer an island, you really ought to bring a fleet, at least some kind of fleet. People have tried to conquer Tyre before, but they always had a fleet. So

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

far, he hasn’t shown any ships at all. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but that land bridge won’t make it here without a fleet.’ As he spoke, Moti looked northward at the specks on the edge of the horizon that seemed to be moving toward them. ‘What is that?’ ‘What is what?’ ‘That,’ he said as he pointed. Brankus turned around and peered at the dots on the horizon. When he turned back he had a more somber countenance and said soberly: ‘We’re gonna need that sand.’ At that very moment, horns sounded, and the soldiers were called to alarm. Those dots on the horizon were Alexander’s ships, and Tyre’s fate just became more dire. Brankus walked in earnest toward his post on the south wall seeming to realize more clearly with each step how badly things had just turned against him. Moti was walking down the ramparts while most people were running up. They were quite anxious. He was very much at peace. He was thinking about things like sounds of steps on wood, how much harder it was to go upstairs than down, and the way the stairs gently swayed with all the traffic. He got down to ground level and made his way toward the docks. The streets were now bustling as a sense of urgency pervaded the city. It was a bright morning, and people were running around this way and that way. Most wore sleeveless garments and were carrying things. They were flocking toward the temple or otherwise going about the business of preparing for an invasion. It was a very typical and timeless activity. No matter what war or when, people being invaded would gather their loved ones, valuables and supplies close to them. They’d hunker down in the best place they could and be prepared to move quickly. It was all very standard behavior. Moti was different. He didn’t have any loved ones or valuables to speak of, and

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

he didn’t care about the future. Everyone else was anxious. He was at ease. He would have stood out as remarkable had he not blended into the background so well. He was just calmly making his way to the sand pits, the sand pits behind the docks. That was all he was thinking about as he was being pushed and shoved by the anxious crowd that didn’t even know he was there. What could be better than that? He made it to his destination and was blissfully filling pails and wooden boxes with sand. ‘Hey, you’re the best filler here!’ a tall sweaty man with a bare chest and a scruffy beard boisterously declared with a smile on his face and a laugh in his voice. ‘Your pails are never filled all the way.’ ‘I know how hard it is to carry them. These things get heavy after a while. That’s why I’d rather dig than carry.’ ‘Ah, but when you dig, you gotta work the whole time. The pails are only heavy on the way there. You can catch your breath on the way back.’ ‘True, but, as the day goes on, you carriers get slower and slower, and us diggers have to dig less and less.’ ‘Ah, you have done this before,’ the sweaty man replied. ‘Enough times to be able to tell you that there’s no hurry. The sand’ll be here when you get back.’ The sweaty man laughed and said: ‘See you on the next trip.’ The moment he left, some Oo Sa Pa appeared, about a half dozen I’d guess. They weren’t serious type fellows that would be close to Balram Disset, but they were still dangerous. They were swirling around and hissing and laughing. I told Moti to just pretend that they weren’t there. Their words were all mixed together, and it was hard to tell who was saying what. They were saying things like: ‘There he is. He hides amongst the toilers. Who is he? Do you know him? He won’t tell us who he is. No, he

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

won’t nor why he’s here. We should just kill him. Yes, yes, we should just kill him now! Heh heh heh! No! We can’t! We must leave him for Balram Disset. OH NO! What? She’s here! What? Who’s here? The rogue is here! She’s here RIGHT NOW!’ One of them proclaimed. They all shrieked and darted like they were on fire. Moti looked up and a lone shadow stood across the sandpit. She had a black armored exoskeleton of some kind and what looked like a shiny black headdress made up of smooth horns that went straight back. She had blazing blue eyes, sharp teeth, a fiery red tongue and a tail that was wagging wildly. I couldn’t help but wonder why those fellows were terrified. The Oo Sa Pa only fear one another when they have a very good reason. I was in the process of elevating Moti’s consciousness to get a clearer perception and gain more control of him. She came close to me and growled softly. I kept telling Moti to ignore her, but his blood felt like ice. ‘You don’t have to pretend to ignore me,’ she uttered with a softness that was inconsistent with the fear she just elicited. ‘I’m not hear to hurt you, and I’m not with Balram Disset.’ ‘Then why are you here?’ I was able to ask through Moti. ‘Curiosity,’ she replied playfully. ‘It’s not often that anyone causes such a stir amongst the ranks of Balram Disset. Some of them even say your from the Traxis. Are you?’ ‘The Traxis, what’s that?’ I replied evasively as I focused my attention on filling a pail with sand in an effort to hide my thoughts. She gasped, pointed at the pail and hopped away. ‘I know who you are!’ she said with startled voice. ‘I’ll even show you one of the things that you like to do,’ she pronounced with childish enthusiasm. The she put her mouth beside my ear and gasped: ‘Loh Nes.’

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

I quickly turned to face her. She thrust forward as though trying to enter Moti’s mind. He collapsed and could remember nothing of the exchange. He felt disoriented and gasped: ‘Zata Lana!’ He looked around. Workers and guards were looking at him. ‘Back to work!’ one of them yelled and raised a whip. ‘No!’ another shouted and grabbed his arm. ‘He’s with the archers!’ The first fellow put down his whip and grumbled. The second handed Moti some coins and apologized. The archers seem to have had a reputation for retaliating for insults with stray arrows. The sweaty fellow he met earlier came up and asked him if he was all right. ‘How did you get back here so soon?’ Moti asked. ‘So soon? It’s been hours! Our day’s over.’ ‘I must have hit my head.’ ‘You sure you did, look,’ he replied as he tapped Moti’s head and showed him the blood on his finger. ‘By the way, I’m Toop,’ he said as he held out his hand. ‘Hi, Toop, I’m Moti,’ he replied as they shook hands. ‘How bad is the cut?’ ‘Oh, it’s just a little scrape. I think that if you had a few drinks, you’d feel better in no time.’ ‘I like the way you think Toop,’ he replied and the two new friends walked away.”

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

A Starry Night

“Moti and Toop walked through the dusty streets of Tyre. They paid attention to no one, and no one paid attention to them. They wouldn’t have been noticed at all had Moti not been bleeding a little. The two fellows just walked quietly, passing many people along the way. They passed old women sitting outside simple homes watching the people walk on the dusty road. They came to a man that almost walked right into them. He was upset and didn’t seem to notice them at all. He wore unkempt, tattered hides as clothing and smelled very badly. He looked like someone from the outer frontier that got stuck here by the siege. Moti and Toop ignored him. They came to the corner tavern. Moti walked them around some empty barrels lined up in the front and around to the back. In the distance, they could hear a man shouting: ‘Our god has abandoned us. He’s gone over to the invader.’ Then they could hear the sounds of running feet and a yelling crowd chasing the man down. In a few seconds, the commotion slowly faded toward the center of town. He stopped to urinate between a row of barrels and a dried up fence. Toop was peeing beside him. Moti noticed that the ground was vibrating. Alexander’s Navy wasted no time in setting up artillery barges to bombard the besieged city. The sounds were coming from every direction as the invaders were searching for the weakest point in the walls. ‘The whole island’s shaking,’ Moti told Toop. ‘It’s been going on all afternoon.’ ‘Has it?’ Moti queried with bewilderment. He sighed and looked up at the wisps of orange clouds. ‘It’s a nice sunset today,’ he said casually. ‘It must be a brilliant sunset if we can see the colors from here,’ he added when Toop didn’t reply. ‘I think you really need a drink.’

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

‘Yeah, then let’s go,’ Moti concluded and they walked in through the back door. Inside, I was immediately overwhelmed by an oppressive wall of stench. It was an overpowering mixture of rotten wine, urine and the decaying flesh of something. I don’t know everything that made up that smell, but it was enough to make me want to leave. ‘You get used to it in a couple of minutes,’ Moti thought as he was perceiving my thoughts. Toop quickly handed him a mug of wine. They sat down and drank and laughed the way people do. Across the way, there was a woman sitting on a stool. Her garments were faded and worn, and she seemed to be too. Her eyes could still manage a smile, but their fire had dimmed. Her face was dirty and her skin sagged a little. She was nimbly slicing vegetables and tossing them into a cauldron that was between her legs. Someone snapped a comment at her. She flipped a raw vegetable right to him with a quick flick of the knife. The fellow ate it and kept quiet. ‘Oh great, they have food here,’ I remember sarcastically commenting. ‘It’ll fill you up,’ Moti thought back sharply. His understanding of the situation in general and with me specifically was increasing by the hour. He realized that I was inside his mind, and that he could communicate with me just by thinking. He put his wine down on the table and could see the liquid rippling in his mug. The vibrations from the artillery pounding could be felt in here too. Effie came in with some other women, and they came up to their table. They drank and danced and laughed until they were drunk and carefree. Somehow, though I don’t remember how, Moti and Effie wound up outside. They were walking and talking and holding each other. Periodically, they’d look up at the stars as they walked along. In those passing glances, an eternity passed through my thoughts. Seeing those stars reminded me how long it’s been and how much things had changed.

Página 5

I tried to


By Karl Mrazik

remember the time when the universe was smaller and simpler, and I was younger and happier; but it suddenly got cooler, and darkness covered the stars. There was a flash of lightning, and the rumbling of thunder could be heard in the distance. A storm was coming. They took shelter beneath an awning that covered some firewood and various scraps. It was sort of an outdoor shed with a floor made of packed dirt or clay and raised a little. There was firewood and barrels and chipped pottery and things like that. Moti looked around and noticed that the ground wasn’t vibrating. The storm had apparently driven the bombarding ships to safe harbor. There would be a respite for a while, but they would soon return. In a short while, the sky broke open with a flash of lightning, a roar of thunder and pounding rain. It was one of those storms that comes on you in hurry and drenches everything in a matter of seconds. The two of them didn’t speak but began to kiss one another as though they were on cue from the rain. Between them there was a sense of comfort that comes from familiarity, and the longer they spent together, the more they seemed to care for one another. It was good for both of them. Hidden away in a pile of junk in an ill-fated city they embraced one another, made love and gave no thought to the tumultuous world outside. They faded off to sleep together. When Moti next became aware, it was in a dream. He was again making love to Effie, but, when he was completely absorbed in the moment of climax, he looked down and saw Zata Lana’s face beneath him. At this close proximity, her features looked all the more unnatural to him. He was frightened and backed away. She stood over him with her tail flailing around wildly. He screamed and leapt up. She was gone, and he saw Effie sleeping beside him. He grew confused and looked around. It was the same junk pile he remembered, but the

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

place had an unnatural glow, a sort of faded blue light. The pouring rain sealed off the small cube from the rest of the world. He saw me crouching next to the wall of rain looking toward him. ‘Did you see that monster with the tail and the teeth?’ ‘That was no monster,’ I retorted. ‘That was Zata Lana. There’s no need for you to worry about her. She’s with me.’ ‘What about them?’ he said pointing beyond the wall of rain. There were some fellows outside, a pack of them. I suppose that, to Moti, they looked like light-gray eels; although they did have something like human faces. I don’t know whether or not he was afraid of them at first, but their moaning of soft, somber tones was reassuring enough. ‘Are they with you too?’ ‘No, I’m afraid they’re not,’ I replied while looking them over. They were gentle looking creatures swimming around outside our closed off cube moaning to one another as they always do. ‘They’re attracted by your friend Effie.’ ‘Why are they attracted by Effie.?’ ‘I don’t know for sure. They always seem to gravitate toward playful, gentle folks when they are at peace. I guess they like that vibe. The important thing about them right now is that the Oo Sa Pa have no interest in them. We can hide here and be safe through the night. Our situation has changed. Most of my fellows feel that we did what we came here to do. We came here to get Balram Disset worried and, thereby, slow him down. A rumor of Traxis, that was not initiated by us, accomplishes both tasks quite well. It was a good break. Now, Balram Disset must make inquiries about Traxis. It is imperative. So, what was done here today will ripple throughout the hidden realms of the Oo Sa Pa until it reaches them no matter where they hide. Most of my fellows consider this incursion a great success and have returned home to make further preparations.’

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

‘What about you?’ ‘I think we should wait and see how seriously this rumor of Traxis is taken.’ ‘What is Traxis?’ ‘Is just a reference to a time long ago. You don’t need to worry about such things. Right now, we need to worry about getting you out of here with minimal damage.’ ‘How?’ ‘We’ll be safe hiding here throughout the night. By tomorrow, things will get so confused that we can blend into the mayhem. It’s when the battle is over that you’ll face the most danger. Balram Disset will come for you whether I’m still with you or not. It is his way.’ ‘You mean like before?’ ‘Before?’ ‘Yes, I have this overwhelming feeling that you and I have done this exact same thing once before.’ ‘How did it go?’ ‘I only remember that it went horribly wrong.’ ‘Well, as far as I can tell, horribly wrong seems about right, but I want you to trust me no matter what happens. You need to rest now. In the morning, the Oo Sa Pa will descend on this place. Bad things will happen here.’”

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

The Coming of Day

“When Moti walked out onto the ramparts, he saw Brankus talking to the men under his command.

The first sounds he could make out was hearing Brankus

conclude: ‘And the victors get all the best women.’ His men laughed with what seemed to be an unnatural calm. These were seasoned soldiers who believed they had already been through it all. They didn’t seem to have any sense that something different was coming at them this time. ‘Moti!’ Brankus shouted as his men left to take their positions. ‘Put as many arrows as you can in the peg stations and keep the quivers full. We’ll need them,’ he added as he pointed to the invading armada just emerging out of the morning fog. The trumpets sounded, but, there was no bustle of activity as Tyre’s defenses were well prepared. The south wall was crammed with archers. In places, archers were three deep on each side of the slits in the wall. In most of the places, they put up planks over their heads to protect from arrows coming from above. Brankus had fifty men under his command. They occupied the southeast corner of the ramparts, and there were about twenty other units of the same size on the south wall alone. Outside the walls, animal skins were lashed together and hung to absorb the incoming artillery, and engineers waited with damage control teams to repair any breaches. Towers were raised at intervals along the ramparts that housed the fire archers. I couldn’t tell how many men were in each, probably about twelve or sixteen, but I don’t know for sure. On the east wall, where the land bridge had now nearly reached the city, several hundred armored soldiers stood in wait. There were four towers, which housed archers and cauldrons to rain nasty business down on the invaders. Moreover, in the city below,

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

there were thousands of reserves prepared to deliver a quick counter-thrust to any intrusion. On the whole, Vikaas had done well.

The attacking armada came from the east, through the fog. The first boats to approach were packed with archers. They grouped into formations and encircled the city. Some of the formations would dart in and back out again in unison like they were conducting drills. Everything they did was deliberate, and they didn’t seem to be in any hurry. I suppose they were waiting for their artillery barges to get loaded and underway. Those would take more time. Nevertheless, as the morning wore on, their circling formations drew closer and closer. The defenders held their fire and waited. All at once they came. Massive volleys of arrows came in from all directions, and the walls started to shake from renewed artillery bombardments. The defenders responded with very aggressive volleys of their own as all archers were now firing at will. The archers in the towers launched their flaming arrows into the ships below in an effort to cause them to break formation and retreat. There was a loud grind and crack from a catapult firing, but Moti couldn’t see where the shots landed. He kept low and ran from archer to archer to refill their quivers. The walls began to shake violently as they were being pounded by the concentrated artillery fire. He peeked his head out and looked over the wall to his right where the invaders were massing their artillery. He watched a volley of flaming arrows strike the barges but this had little effect. Men protected under shields were quickly dousing the flames with buckets of sand, and the walls continued to shake. Moti went to the peg station, which was nothing more than a parallel row of four high sticks to keep the arrows from rolling, and took as many arrows as he could carry under his left arm. He had difficulty keeping his balance as the walls continued to endure the concentrated attack.

PĂĄgina 5


By Karl Mrazik

There was a violent tremor. Moti fell and arrows scattered about. Then, the trembling stopped. Moti stood. As he was collecting the arrows, he noticed that a large section on the other side of the south wall had collapsed. The invaders quickly pushed some sort of tower on a floating barge next to the broken wall, and shock troops thrust onto the ramparts. The archers closest to them dropped their bows, raised their swords and shields and engaged. On the ground where the wall collapsed, a large group of soldiers charged into the breach with swords and shields. Behind them came the phalanx, which were soldiers standing in rows holding out long spears. They charged into the defenders on the left flank of the first wave. Because the spears could kill far ahead, this method of attack was very difficult to deal with and those who stood to fight bravely were skewered through the belly while those that tried to run were skewered through the back. ‘Turn toward the breach and stay in formation,’ ordered Brankus to the elite archers under his command. ‘Target the phalanx and fire on my command.’ With a calm reserved for the most experienced soldiers, Brankus’ men remained poised and worked as a unit firing on his rapidly delivered commands. This attack, combined with attacks from other archer groups, was very effective and the invading phalanx began to fall back clogging opening and preventing reinforcement. This placed the initial wave in the unenviable position of being exposed to the defending soldiers on the ground and the archers from above. They did their best to fight their way back toward the opening as the defending soldiers became more fierce with the exuberance of impending victory. They converged on the breakthrough from all directions routing the invaders. On the east wall, the invaders had dropped bridges from their towers onto the

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

ramparts and there was a fierce battle raging for control of this section. Moti really couldn’t see very much from where he stood, but he could hear. He could hear the violent clanging of swords and screams of pain and shouts of triumph. He saw the cauldrons of molten metal and searing sand pouring down over the walls from above and heard the screams from burning men resonating from below. The archers all around were unrelenting as they fired their volleys into the living and the dying alike. Through the gathering smoke Moti saw the Oo Sa Pa watching from the roofs of the towers on both sides, from the walls, from the ships, from the ground, from the air. There were a great many of them. They were everywhere. Some were intensely giving advice to the soldiers. Others were just pointing and laughing with deep and mocking laughs that reverberated through Moti’s body. They were so enthralled just to be watching people slaughter one another that they didn’t even care who was winning. Nevertheless, the attackers were in disarray, and the battle was winding down. This round would go to Vikaas, the defender. He was sure to impress Balram Disset and yet another monster would be added to his ever swelling ranks. How wonderful! Though their day was victorious, there was no jubilation for the defenders of Tyre. The attackers had invested far too much to give up now, and no one held any delusions about their impending return. That night was restless. Everyone who was on the ramparts stayed there. The only sounds that could be heard came from the engineers who worked feverishly to repair their shattered wall. That night, no one slept well.

The invaders came at first light. The alarms sounded. The defending soldiers took their positions. Their fatigue was evident. Balram Disset’s forces were surely aware of the human strain. This time, the naval archers immediately engaged in a prolonged exchange of fire with the defenders. They continually circled the fortress

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

wearing on the defender’s nerves and supplies. Casualties and fatigue continued to mount, and the repaired wall proved to be no match for the concentrated artillery barrage. It fell within minutes with a soft thud, like it dropped into mud. When that wall dropped, the defender’s morale dropped with it, and the air of confidence from the day before was gone. The first troops to come through the breach defended themselves with their shields and held their position until more reinforcements arrived. They were more powerful and meticulous than the day before, and the volleys from the archers did not have the same effect. Slowly the attackers massed their forces as the concentrated arrow fire from the ships below hampered the effectiveness of the defending archers. Just as Moti placed the arrows in a quiver, the soldier he was feeding took an arrow through the neck and silently fell to the ground. He quickened his pace but saw a siege tower from the sea place a bridge onto the ramparts where soldiers came pouring through. With the defending archers distracted, repeated volleys of arrows now came at them from the ground below as invading troops fanned out into the city. They were being overrun. As Moti made his way toward Brankus, he heard screams coming from the central city and saw smoke rising from its buildings that were now ablaze. Brankus put his bow over his shoulder and picked up his shield. ‘They’ve broken through the harbor!’ he shouted as he drew his sword. ‘Come on!’ he ordered and the men ran down the wooden stairway onto the streets below. They stayed together as they ran over one of the hastily constructed barricades of scrap wood and old carts. They dropped their shields, drew their bows and took position on the pile of debris. ‘Shoot anything that tries to come through,’ he ordered as they waited with bows drawn.

They were

committed to fighting through to the end. Suddenly, a volley of arrows came at them

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

from their right. Some fell to the arrows, others quickly turned to return fire as they fell backward. In the chaos some reloaded their bows while others drew their swords to engage. Without hesitation, Moti bolted like an animal instinctively fleeing from a blaze. He stayed close to the walls and stopped to look around each corner. He felt he still had a chance. All he needed to do was find a place to hide. He stopped and looked around the next corner. He saw Enius the baker fleeing in his direction with his wife and family. Under their arms they had whatever possessions they could carry. They turned a corner out of his sight and came running back empty-handed. They ran in Moti’s direction as fast as they could. They were terrified. A dozen archers turned the corner in hot pursuit and shot the family down. Other soldiers were systematically setting the buildings ablaze. When terrified citizens would try to flee the fires, the archers shot them through. They were laughing as though it was a game. A chill rushed through Moti’s body as he realized the invaders were killing everyone. He tried to flee. He came to another corner. He didn’t stop to look. He turned and ran onto the main courtyard. He looked around in every direction except where he was running. When he turned to look where he was going, he stopped in his tracks. A unit of phalanx was heading straight for him. Their rows of spears protruded menacingly. There were many bodies impaled on them. Some of those were still alive! They shrieked with bone-chilling screams. Their heads and bodies shook back and forth violently as they desperately tried to wrestle themselves free. In panicked terror, Moti threw himself to the ground, covered himself as best he could and was trampled by the merciless horde.

Moti regained consciousness with his face pressed hard into the ground and

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

numbness pervading his body. The pain in his head reminded him what happened before he lost consciousness. He looked at his right hand which was caked with dirt and dried blood and pressed into the ground. He slowly lifted it up and moved his fingers with great pain. He was in a daze and felt as though the world was spinning. He closed his eyes hard and tried to bring himself around. He heard a sharp scream, soldiers shouting and the crackling of fires. He lifted his head very slowly and realized he could only see through one of his eyes. It was dark, but the fires immersed everything in an amber glow. Screaming came from all around, and Moti’s vision gained more focus. The first thing he saw was a dismembered hand lying just in front of him. To the right, he made out a leg cut off at the thigh with its open end pointing toward him. To the left, there was a severed head with one eye dangling free. He looked around and noticed that blood was splattered everywhere and soaked into the earth. He rolled onto his back and felt a sharp pain like he had torn a scab off his belly. There were throbbing jolts of pain radiating through his ribs, his hips, his legs. He looked up at the sky. It was the dark purple of twilight, but he didn’t know if it was morning or night. He sat up and put his hands on his bent knees. He felt very dizzy and knew that he wouldn’t try to stand, at least not for a while. With his mind drifting, I increased the intensity of my connection to take over control for the coming encounter. ‘Ah, you did survive,’ said the familiar voice of Balram Disset. His tone was friendly, almost reassuring. ‘Is that spirit still with you?’ I tried to respond, but Moti’s mouth was filled with blood and dirt and loose teeth. He sucked it all up and prepared to spit everything right into Balram Disset’s face. ‘No don’t!’ I whispered to Moti. ‘Don’t spit directly at him. Spit across where he stands like you’re firing a shot across his bow.’

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

‘Why?’ ‘It sends a better message. It shows that he hasn’t impressed you,’ I said and Moti spit. Balram Disset looked down at the blood and teeth and murmured something I couldn’t hear. ‘I am here,’ I proclaimed softly now in control of Moti. ‘I was hoping you’d have the chance to see the fruits of my labor.’ ‘Oh yes,’ I sighed before spitting straight down. ‘Body parts strewn about, blood saturating the ground and the walls, and fires to illuminate things--but not too much. It all has a very macabre feel to it. If that’s what you were going for, then you’ve done fairly well.’ ‘How do you like the odor?’ ‘Can’t smell anything,’ I replied as I pointed to Moti’s battered nose. ‘Pity,’ Balram Disset observed. ‘What about the sounds? What do you hear?’ ‘Oh, I see what you’re going for. There are a lot of screams, but you want me to distinguish between them.’ ‘Precisely, but only if you don’t mind humoring me.’ ‘Please, I don’t mind at all. Just give me a moment. Okay, we of course have the screams of people being tortured for pure sadistic pleasure.

That’s always a

standard. I can also make out people screaming from having their limbs hacked off; and others whose limbs are being torn off.’ ‘Yes, yes, that’s a nice distinction. I’m actually glad you could make that out. At least now I know that it’s not one of Avat Ra’s fellows meddling in my business. No, you’re one of us. Do go on.’ ‘You’re right. I’m hardly one of Avat Ra’s fellows. No not at all. I can distinguish between the screams. I can make out the screams of women being raped, no

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

wait, they’re being violently gang raped; and it’s not just women. There are women and men being violently gang raped.’ ‘Indeed, but you know how it is. When you have a large crowd, you can’t always restrain the different tastes. Please continue.’ ‘Okay… Ah! There’s one from someone that knows they just sustained a fatal wound. And, um… Ah! There’s a scream from someone that just watched a loved one die a brutal death.’ ‘Excellent!’ Balram Disset proclaimed. ‘I like to see that one of those is thrown in as often as possible. They look and sound so sad, and I think: there’s no need for you to worry. You’ll be joining them in just a few moments. Ha! I love that gag! Sometimes though, if they’re completely broken, I just let them live so they’ll suffer all the longer. The way they cry is a sound that I never tire of hearing. How about you?’ ‘I can live without it.’ ‘Then, for you, I might just kill them all today.’ ‘No courtesies have been requested.’ ‘Oh, I know that, and, believe me, I was only kidding around with you. Today is our day, and we will break what will be broken and destroy the rest. I am, however, a little disappointed that you missed one sound in particular.’ ‘The groaning wails?’ ‘Yes, the groaning.’ ‘I know that sound. It’s…um. It’s…um.’ ‘Look!’ he impatiently asserted as he waved his hand toward the distance.’ ‘Wait, I can’t see that far,’ I replied as I wiped the tears out of Moti’s one good eye. ‘Are those crosses? You’re crucifying them. Aren’t you?’ ‘Yes,’ Balram Disset replied with a playful giggle. ‘I ordered exactly three

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

thousand crosses to be made, but I think they’re short by about sixty. What do you think?’ ‘Well, I can’t tell how many there are from here, but they do seem to have lined them up very neatly.’ ‘Hey, you’re right! I was so annoyed about them being short that I didn’t even notice the impeccable neatness. Pointing that out really warms my heart.’ ‘So, no nails today?’ ‘Oh no, not today. Don’t take me the wrong way, I like to use nails sometimes, but I feel that’s mainly for showmanship. Most of the time, I prefer to tie them up by their arms and let them suffocate. It’s easier for the minions to execute, and I find it to be a more excruciating death that way. What do you think?’ ‘I think you should be more concerned with attracting any unwanted attention.’ ‘Which brings us to the point of our encounter. As much as I would revel in the challenge, I don’t see any reason why we can’t be friends. We’re setting out to conquer all the land, so our numbers will definitely grow quite a bit. Once that happens this world is ours, then…you know.” ‘You’re going to destroy it. Go ahead. I don’t see anyone stopping you, at least not yet.’ ‘Oh I intend to but not right away. We’re going to have loads of fun for as long as we can. Big and bold, there’s something for everyone. There’s plenty for you too. I could always use a steady hand, especially on the military end. Do you want to come with us? We’re sure to have a ball.’ ‘I’m sure we’d have a lot of laughs, but why don’t we do it like this: You let me and my friend here just walk away. Then, we can have this discussion next time.’ ‘You know I can’t do that. It would only encourage more wise asses. I hope you

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

understand that it’s nothing personal, but you’ll have to experience a very painful death for your incursion.’ ‘Come on now,’ I lightly protested. ‘We’re not children. We both know that one more nasty death won’t amount to much for either of us.’ ‘Eh, you’re right. It won’t amount to much, but you’ll have to add this one more to the pile all the same. It is our way,’ he proclaimed as a group of soldiers and some minor Oo Sa Pa made their way toward Moti. ‘You don’t look like you’d last long enough to be properly crucified. I think a nice impaling would be more to the point,’ he declared. His Oo Sa Pa underlings laughed. ‘You will see me again, Balram Disset.’ ‘Good. Tell all your friends to come around anytime. They can expect more of the same.’ As he spoke, the soldiers came forward to grab hold of Moti, but a spear came flying in from far away. It went right through Moti’s heart. All the Oo Sa Pa quickly turned to see where it came from. Then, they all fled except Balram Disset who stood firm staring and growling at Zata Lana in the distance. Me, I had to direct my attention toward Moti. ‘Okay, we’re getting out of here right now,’ I told him. ‘Turn quickly and jump through that tiny hole in the ground.’ ‘It’s too small,’ Moti gasped.’ ‘Do it NOW!’ I shouted, and he did it.

There was a moment of blackness. Then, we were in a dark tunnel looking up at the hole. ‘How did we get through such a small hole?’ he asked. ‘It’s a trick,’ I told him. ‘Like the spear. You don’t see a spear in you. Do you?’ ‘No,’ he answered in wonderment.

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

‘Moti!’ shouted Effie from a short distance away. She was standing with a few gray shadows. Moti ran up to her, and they held one another. ‘There you are. It’s time for you to go away with Effie. Don’t worry, these fellows will take you someplace nice,’ I said pointing to others of my kind. ‘But, I want to stay with you,’ Moti protested. ‘No, you can’t. I am afraid that’s just the way it is. Go with Effie and these fellows. They’ll take you somewhere where you’ll be happy. We’ll see each other again before too long,’ I concluded, and we parted ways.”

“Of Course, Alexander went on to conquer many lands and made quite a name for himself.” “But, you didn’t actually see Alexander. Did you?” “No, but it’s just as well. To me, it was just another place, just another time. He was just another misguided warlord. He has been wrongly envied by many.” “What do you mean?” “It’s not relevant. I should not have said it. Our arrangement is that I tell you five stories. Is it not?” “It is.” “Good. After the five, I will answer whatever questions you desire. Now, Let me place myself in the next time: I remember seeing wolves running through the woods. There was a pack of them, a great many. They ran to the top of a hill and stopped. Then, they carefully scanned the horizon and nodded to each other like they had reached an agreement. That’s it! I remember now. I remember that the sun was very bright and I had to squint to see…”

Página 5


By Karl Mrazik

Pรกgina 5

"Violent Contents" Novel  

"Alexander’s Siege of Tyre" Chapter

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you