The Tear of the Goddess
It was a while later that Ashlar stumbled out of his tent, clutching at his sides.
“The crystal!” he thought desperately, his bandaged hands clenched into fists, “they took the Tear of the Goddess!”
The air was heavy with sand. Ashlar gingerly patted his cheeks with the back of his hand. His gold mask and gauntlets had been removed, only to be replaced by linen headdress and clean, flagrant bandages. Whoever had brought him here had had the decency of preserving his identity.
But where was here exactly? And what was that infernal noise?
Ashlar removed the sand from his eyes yet immediately regretted it. Whatever he was looking at made no sense at all.
On an open stretch of desert, hundreds of slaves were lounging about in the shadow of a rectangular superstructure with sloping walls and a flat roof. Above the site, thousands of mud-bricks were levitating, cutting through the sandy air like wingless peregrine falcons as they added layer upon layer to the construction below.
Ashlar rubbed his eyes again. But for the lone nomad overseeing the scene, the mastaba might have been building itself.
A giant slab baked out of compressed mud swished through the torrid air and nearly missed Ashlar by the breadth of a hair. In the very nick of time, he stepped to the left, allowing for the levitating block to fly past his elbow as it got caught by a little boy in a loincloth.
‘Em hotep!’ greeted the child, tossing the massive mud block over his shoulder as if it was nothing. The block flew over a hundred feet, before it was caught by the grey-bearded man atop the mastaba, who effortlessly fit it within the structure.
Behind his bandaged face, Ashlar pulled up his eyebrows. For two thousand eras, he had walked the world. From the lush woodlands of Garlaan to the treacherous dark sands of Inkshia, there was no place in Ærria he had not been. But perfect rectangular buildings? Clean-cut trapezoidal tombs?
Anyone who had ever visited an Alarian Urb would have told you to stick them where the sun doesn’t shine, because they ain’t gonna put up with such nonsense and make no mistake! The Alariankind did not care for architecture. If the wind were to blow indoors, they would put on a fur coat and get a hot drink, for who were they to mess with the way of things? For all they knew, it was all for a higher purpose. The Weavers might have willed it this way, as they Wove their subtle Threads of influence into the very fabric of reality.
The Alarians knew they were the mere playthings of the Guild of Weavers; they understood only too well their place in the cosmos.
To be continued...