XV – Lone Hooded Figure
(1,691 – Words)
The trumpets were blown in succession as the train started to slowly pick up speed as it passed through the wall, gathering speed until it had picked its stride as the shadows of the carriages passed over Koatsu from until the last carriage passed out of the tunnel and all he could hear was the sound of the train growing fainter the tracks still rattling.
That’s when the soldiers started calling out to one another and he held the chain to his red jewelled pendant as he observed what happened next.
He could make them out, running across the wall as the soldiers standing on the platform above him were calling out to them and it was a constant back and forth. The soldiers stood over the hole in the tunnel started to free the rope from the stone cleats which had been hastily fashioned above the tunnel. He moved his mouth, counting the seconds it took for them to unravel the rope free when the soldiers yelled something to those on the platform and that’s when he heard them shout in unison.
They both fell at once, at either side of the wall and the tunnel, a thick metal sheet feel down onto the tracks, when two sheets at its sides swung out the main sheet and they fell down before rising and clicking into place, leaving only the track exposed, where only a mouse could squeeze through into the tunnel.
They tightened up the remaining ropes to keep the sheets in place but at that point, Koatsu had already thrown his hood over him and was on his way back to the crypt when he spotted two soldiers up ahead and he slipped into a back alley way. A couple days back he had had to escape some soldiers who had wanted to ask him some questions for loitering in this area and they must have spotted him observing the scene for they had chased him for quite a while and it had some time before he had had the courage to exit the hay pile of that barn.
It had been a further two weeks since he and Skora had first started devising the plan to leave the eighth ring and enter the ninth though as each day passed, the likelihood of ever leaving this place seemed unlikelier.
The trains had no routine, that he had figured out within a few days, they had come and gone all at different times of the day, sometimes late at night, sometimes during noon and sometimes early in the morning.
And now in a show of power and control to the people, he had no doubt in believing, the soldiers and guards patrolling the streets and wall had risen due also to reports coming from the east that Decabia was about to invade the Tueley region. Some people claimed they had already done so, with only a few cities such as Lemekia and Jibrii hanging on but if the whole region did eventually fall, that left only the large expanse of Celia between them and the Decabians.
He swiftly climbed over a fence, walking through someone’s back garden, the numerous crows perched on the tree branches peering with large yellow eyes and they squawked in chorus as he passed under them and he threw himself over the opposite fence and they took off in flight.
This had complicated one part of the plan, for now the tunnel was under surveillance day and night and besides the rising platforms, he had examined the wall countless times, going as close as he dared under the tracks but found no way to climb up it.
“5 minutes 5 seconds. 2,30 to rise,1,05 the train 2,30 to drop” he reminded himself as he passed by the pub he had come here the most often during his time here, birds flying ahead when one of their missiles bombarding on his shoulder, streaming down his stained cloak but he was too lost in thought to get mad.
The tension in the air and the fear of the people could be felt daily and despite Aludin’s reports that such rumours were unfounded and the eastern region was merely experiencing troubles with bandits and thieves, it had nothing to do with their most ‘respected and trusted’ ally.
Whatever the case, he had heard whispers in pubs of people suspecting their neighbours of being a Decabian spy and he had seen their sign being painted on doors of buildings, which had only raised fears and suspicions that such rumours had truth to them. He had actually seen the people behind it, running away back to their parents homes, giggling and laughing at their prank and he wondered whether those trolls knew what they were doing.
The whole Decabian situation had had one positive aspect. It had given Urok a new enemy to keep the people occupied and the ‘great threat of the two Magi’ had seemingly slipped away from the public’s knowledge. Yet that didn’t mean he could act any careless, he had heard about Hichami even before meeting the man in person and he knew, he would not accept Koatsu and Skora to slip out of the city.
The night had turned cold and he looked up to the sky only to see it completely dark, devoid of stars or the moon. A breeze which daintily shook the leaves seemed to be the only sound as he walked down the sloping hill. There wasn’t another living soul about him and he yawned loudly, stretching his arms behind his back, clicking his fingers. He must have been out longer than he had thought, he hoped Skora wasn’t worrying about him.
That’s why he had to find a way out of this ring, not for him, for Skora. He had seen Skora dejected by the day and the fact that he had been cooped up for a month inside a crypt of all places, with no one else to talk to or anything to do…
‘No Skora’ he vowed to himself ‘I’d die if it meant for you to get out of these Godsforsaken walls. All of this, it’s been on me, it’s my fault you’re in this situation. I’ll make up for it, I swear it.’
There it was, the Temple just ahead and he kicked a stone which went bouncing and rolling before splashing into a puddle. He pulled his coat up close to him and neared the steps of the temple, his hands deep in his pockets as the cold bit into his skin.
He looked about him, looking up towards the windows, especially the one of the straw thatched building. An elderly woman had spotted him hopping down towards the crypts a week before and he had had to delay going inside the crypts by a good hour until he was certain she hadn’t alerted anyone and still a week later, he worried that that old woman had talked, though it also seemed unlikely at this point.
He hadn’t spotted anyone and he heard fluttering above his head when he spotted it. A figure had just glanced out from behind one of the houses up the hill but he had hadn’t been quick enough and he had spotted him. He quickly descended down the steps and took a right, walking alongside the gates of the temple, not daring to look back.
These streets were notoriously dangerous at night. It seemed everywhere in the world, in the cover of darkness, the worst sort of creatures crawled out and tried to prey on the weak. He though, wasn’t one of those weaklings. More than that, he had nothing of worth on him, besides his red jewelled pendant but then a more worrying thought than any thief crossed his mind.
‘Have they found out about the crypt?’ he thought to himself as he kept walking as casually as he could until he reached the end of the gate. He slowly took another right and started to head down a back alley of a row of houses and sure enough, he glanced back to see the figure was following him, keeping his distance by the gates but he was definitely following him.
He kept walking down the alley when he quickly glanced back and ran up the wall of one of the buildings, digging his finger into the cracks and gaps in between the rocks and bricks before he grabbed the bars of a balcony and pulled himself over, landing softly and pushing himself into the darkness. He looked down as he breathed heavily, waiting for his mysterious pursuer.
It seemed just like one person following him so, could it be one soldier trying to flush him out? Or maybe it was Hichami’s special force, out to get him. Or maybe someone had recognised him from the posters and was trying to gather intelligence on him.
These were just a few of the many thoughts flooding his mind as he waited, and waited, and waited, when finally, he spotted the figure down below. Peeking out behind the corner and not seeing anyone down the alley, the figure started jogging down the street.
‘Closer’ he thought to himself as he saw the fully cloaked and hooded figure, which was way too big for the person draw closer underneath the balcony and Koatsu started to slither out the darkness, placing a foot on the rail of the balcony.
‘Now’ he told himself and he pulled himself over the rail, swinging down and the figure stopped in their tracks , looking up to see the incoming collision but it was too late to react. Koatsu fell onto the figure, crushing him down to the ground and he had him pinned.
“Who are you?” said Koatsu to the the still figure underneath him and he dragged the large hood of the man’s head, an face looked up at him and he smiled.
“Koshin” said Koatsu in amazement.
“Koatsu” said Koshin in a whisper “We don’t have much time, you must follow me.”