Yeti Hunt, part 7
I’ve never been one to hide my feelings. I make myself as comfortable as my wounds will allow, and proceed with unveiled sarcasm. “So, you’re my brother?”
His voice is surprisingly calm for a man slowly dying of exsanguination. “My name is Paresh, and yours is Aabishkar. I am your elder twin, born in the dunghill slum some call Rochan. Our parents names are…”
“That’s enough. I believe you. This seems to be the end of our days, so I have nothing to lose by playing along. Continue.”
Though I can’t see him through the darkness, I hear a smile in his voice, as if he is content to die sharing his tale.
“As you know, our parents circumstances worsened when we were barely infants. Hoping to preserve their line through the elder son, they kept me with them, and gave you to the priests, where you’d at least be safe. Shortly afterwards, father fell ill, and mother grew sick with worry. In the space of a week, I was left alone in the world, and the streets raised me. When the war came, the road had taken me near the border. I was snapped up in it, but on the Gangan side.”
I nearly jump out of my skin. My hatred of our nation’s enemy burns in my veins, threatening to cause me further injury. “You joined the Gangii? Why would you choose those half-naked, horse-loving barbarians over your own people?”
The nonchalant voice deepens, taking a defensive tone. “Our mother was Gangan, you know that. She could hide her blonde hair, but not her carefree spirit. When we were alone, she taught me of the gods of her people, gods of pleasure and peace. She spoke of her childhood habitation, of the wide rolling grass-covered hills, where roam the horses you mock, creatures of unsurpassed grace and power.”
I scoff. Not only a thief, but a traitor, and now pinning it on our mother. If my legs functioned normally, I’d kick his teeth in, but in my current state I’m obliged to bear his praise of the rabble he carouses with.
“These people and their ways have drawn me since our youth. Though the Gangii are simple and unorganized, they value new knowledge above all else. They will do anything to uncover another’s secrets, and to hide their own. That’s how I stayed alive in their tribes. Some trust me to keep secrets, others pay me to share those secrets.
But such guise cannot be maintained forever. While the war raged on, people were willing to ignore the lies I told. But after peace was negotiated, the tales I had spun began to unravel, the yarns I had woven entrapped me, and I was imprisoned as a traitor.
One day, a Gangan ambassador approached me with a proposal. I was to retrieve an amulet from The Kedar’s land, and deliver it to the Gangii by full moon. If I fulfill this task, my crimes shall be forgiven, and I shall be welcomed back as a citizen of the Gangan tribes.”
As his monologue progresses, his voice grows fuller and stronger, resounding through the narrow confines of the pit, and threatening to fill my heart with feelings of amity toward these leader-less mobsters.
He pauses, draws a deep breath, and releases a long, sad sigh. His strength seems to diminish as his tale ends.
“That was two years ago. My time is long gone, but I have pursued this aim still, knowing that therein lies my only hope for redemption, to be accepted again to the land my heart has ever loved.
One matter I have not yet discovered: what purpose does this amulet serve?”
His tale raises as many questions as it answers, and I tell him as much.
“Seeing as you’ve spilled your guts, I may as well humor you. Although, I have several questions I expect you to answer when I finish.
To answer your question: The amulet is part of a complex ritual to be performed at the new moon by the high priests of every order in The Kedar’s realm, to summon the Winter Gods to lead a second invasion of the Gangan tribes.
And now, its my turn to talk your ears off.
When I joined the monastery, I spent my time learning the ways of Himavat, and have always served him and The Kedar. I was taught by an old monk, and we became great friends.
He showed me an amulet, which he said possessed vast powers if used in a certain way.
When the war was in full swing, recruiters came to the monastery. I wanted in on the action, so I joined the band, in spite of the old monk’s protests. I remember, as we left, I looked back one last time, and saw him lying on the ground, with two of the priests gathered around him.
At the time I thought nothing of it, but over the following years, looking back I’m certain I saw one of them pull a sheet over the monk’s face. I was convinced he was dead, and in the back of my mind, I felt the weight of the responsibility of his death.
Like you, I had a penchant for subterfuge, but I was never good with people, so my predisposition manifested in theft and stealth. I got pretty good at them, if I do say so myself, and they came in handy during and after the war.
A couple years ago I got a letter from the old monk. I had to read it several times before I could accept that my childhood tutor was alive.
The High Priest of Himavat had visited the monastery in search of the amulet. When the monk found out that the amulet would be used to launch another war, he gave it to the Yeti. Somehow he had gotten the Yeti to trust him enough to let him get close, enough for him to find out that it hoards trinkets, and guards its treasure closely.
In his letter, he begged me to retrieve the amulet from the Yeti, and keep it away from the other priests and the forces of The Kedar.
I was torn.
I had lived for the god Himavat, and for my country. But I did not want to spite my old friend’s efforts. I finally decided to steal the amulet, and then decide what to do with it.
So I allowed myself to be caught thieving, managed to escape punishment due to my religious affiliations, and was sent back to the monastery. On the way, I extracted information about the Yeti, tracked it to its nest, and took the amulet.
For a year, I caused just enough strife in the monastery to keep the priests distant, so I could think and plan. Eventually, I opted to wait. If The Kedar really wanted war, he would try to find the amulet again, and I would do my duty by my country. If not, my late friend’s last wish would be fulfilled. Of course, the Yeti had to come back and mess stuff up. When he took…”
I can hear him roll his eyes at me. “She. The Yeti is a she.”
“Whatever. When she took the amulet from my room, I was back to where I started. It took me another year to track her down, which led me right here, and you know how well that’s working out.
Someday, generations from now, a warlord will discover our skeletons, and discard the amulet as the piece of trash that it is, with no regard to its power, or our story.
Now, how ‘bout those questions?”
To be continued…