Princess of Amathar – Chapter 15 Excerpt

The sky train sped above the seemingly endless city. Several times it stopped at stations, but we remained aboard. I continued to watch in fascination, the buildings passing by. Abruptly the color, style, and size of the structures changed. We were now crossing a region of huge, dark buildings, many of which were larger than the giant warehouses and sports stadiums that I had seen before. These were far less ornate and far more utilitarian than the other buildings as well.

“This is one of the industrial regions. It is a circle one hundred kentads (about fifty miles) in diameter containing nothing but factories and warehouses. This is where the majority of our manufactured goods come from— this or one of the nine other regions just like it.”

I acknowledged Vena Remontar’s commentary, and then turned away from the window. Several food servers in the traditional white bodysuits were delivering tall glasses of ice water and trays of small appetizer cakes. The young knight, and I as her companion, were served first.

“There certainly seems to be a great deal of respect and privilege associated with being a knight,” I observed.

“That is very true,” Vena Remontar replied, with a slight smile, “but it is more than that in my case. The Remontar family name is well known, as are all who carry that name. In addition, my cousins are the heirs of the Sun Overlord. Norar Remontar and his sister are beloved of the entire city.”

We busied ourselves eating the delicious cakes, which were filled with ground meat and a variety of vegetables. In certain parts of the land of my birth, they might have been called pasties, though they were seasoned unlike anything found on Earth. The water was delicious. It seemed that water was the beverage of choice among the Amatharians, and they went to great lengths to see that any water found within the city was not only crystal clear and healthful, but tasty as well. With the exception of mirrah, and a few other fermented drinks, water was all that was available to drink in most city places.

We had just finished eating when the sky train made one more stop in the industrial center. After it began on its way again, we crossed out of the region of factories and complexes and began crossing a vast open cultivated land. I watched out the window as we continued on, and the buildings of the city grew distant behind us. Roaming the ground like huge grazing animals, were monstrous machines, planting, thinning, and harvesting a tremendous variety of vegetables and fruits.

“Have we left the city?” I asked.

“This is one of the five cultivation areas within the city,” explained the knight. “Each is a circle two hundred fifty kentads (about two hundred miles) in diameter. Four are in operation growing our food, while a fifth lies fallow.”

As we cruised along, our conversation did not lag. I had a thousand, no ten thousand questions for this lovely young woman from a very alien culture. She explained much about the hopes and aspirations of the Amatharian people, the day-to-day functioning of the clans and family businesses, and the many obligations and requirements. Even though I know that I learned much during the course of that lengthy ride, it is hard to remember the exact order of the conversation now.

We passed the far edge of the cultivation area and once again entered into the urban mass. This portion of the city was obviously of far greater age than the majority of the buildings I had seen until now, though these old edifices maintained the same style and ornamentation as the newer ones. I had come to think of Amathar as one would think of a city one Earth, a great urban realm, but this city was on an entirely different scale. Within the walls of the Amatharians’ home were not only vast areas of cultivated fields, but mountains, lakes, and rivers as well. This older portion of the city, though still urban, was built upon a low mountain range.

The train stopped at a station upon a platform high in the air, and this time we stood up and stepped off the sky train. Vena Remontar led me down a great escalator so steep that it seemed I was walking straight down. Once at the bottom I looked around at a plaza some two miles across. Great statues of stone, some as high as forty feet were interspersed with surging fountains, tall green hedgerows, and monstrous tile pictures. Two sides of the plaza were lined with large buildings resembling hotels. The third side faced a large park or wilderness area. Facing the fourth side was a fantastic stepped pyramid, more than a mile wide and more than two thousand feet high.

“That is the Temple of Amath,” my blue-skinned companion said. “At the other end is the Garden of Souls.”

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Princess of Amathar – Chapter 11 Excerpt

Malagor, Norar Remontar, and I stepped out of the elevator and into a room lit just like the one from which we had left.   This room had no geometric video controller in it however, and it was triangular in shape, with the elevator opening in the middle of one of three equal sides, and an open doorway on the wall to our left.

“This is peculiar,” said Norar Remontar.

I nodded my head at the understatement.

“I would be willing to bet that this elevator, these rooms, the lighting, and the controls for the video images, are all artifacts of the Elder Gods, or whomever it was that created Ecos.”

“I am inclined to agree,” said Norar Remontar.

We looked around this new room for several moments, but found nothing of interest. Finally Malagor voiced the opinion that we really had no other alternative but to head down the hallway and see where it led us. I was toying with the idea of suggesting that we try our luck one more time in the mysterious elevator, but I decided that Malagor was probably right. It was time to continue on our way. That is just what we did.

The dark hallway beckoned us like a gaping maw, but I tried not to think of it that way. It really doesn’t take too long to adjust to continual daylight. I think it would be much harder to adjust to continual darkness. Norar Remontar turned on his small flashlight; I unsheathed my sword, and the three of us with a quiet look between us, started down the long hallway. This time it continued straight for what must have been five miles before opening into any type of room what so ever. At last it did though, and as soon as we stepped into the room, I knew we were in for trouble.

A sudden wave of stench assaulted my nostrils. It was the smell of several dozen bodies that had not seen a bath in a long time, mixed with the smell of bodily waste accumulated over a period of several generations. I wasn’t the only one to smell it. Malagor immediately began coughing and gagging, to the extent that I feared he would pass out. A look of disgust crossed Norar Remontar’s face, but otherwise he remained characteristically stoic.

Malagor had just regained his composure, when a horde of creatures burst screaming toward us from the dark. There were a score or more of the short, bipedal, four armed rat-like creatures, and they attacked using stone axes and razor sharp teeth. Screaming like banshees, the Kartags literally fell upon us.

I skewered the first creature to reach me on the end of my sword, turned, and threw my shoulder into the next one, sending it flying backwards into its fellows. At that moment the entire room was lit up by the incredible brightness of the Amatharian sword unsheathed. It sizzled and sparked as Norar Remontar used it to cut through the bodies of three of the Kartags. At almost the same moment, Malagor let loose with a burst of light rifle fire which cut a nice round smoking hole in the chest of another rat. This display of destruction was all that was necessary to convince most of the beasts to retreat. I quickly lopped off the head of one who apparently was having difficulty making that decision.

The screaming inhabitants of the tunnels ran away into the darkness and it became once again like a tomb. The light from Norar Remontar’s sword dimmed until it gave no light at all. I sheathed my own weapon, and followed the pale circle of artificial light as the Amatharian continued on his, and our, way. I felt Malagor take up a position behind me.

The stench was just as bad now that the Kartags had gone, as it had been when they had been present, and we soon found out why. Continuing on through the room, the size of which, like the previous giant room, was indeterminable, we stumbled upon the camp of the filthy creatures. It consisted of nothing but a pile of filthy furs, most with pieces of reeking meat hanging upon them. Scattered between the filthy animal skins were chips of stone, obviously flaked from hand made tools, and here and there, piles of feces. I had been willing to give the Kartags the benefit of the doubt up until that point, thinking perhaps they were only attacking us because we were invading their territory—that perhaps they were simply misunderstood. I could not imagine any intelligent creature though, fouling its own campsite, when there were uncounted stretches of tunnels from which to choose a suitable spot for a commode.

The room turned out to be relatively small, at least in Orlonian terms. When we had gone about a hundred feet past the Kartags’ home, and about two hundred feet beyond the scene of the short battle with them, we found another passageway continuing on into the darkness. Being more interested than ever to get out of the infernal underground, we trudged on.