Left of Midnight Section 2: Micro-Chapters 2.3-2.4

Welcome back to Left of Midnight! So far, the story in Section Two has been just the posting of two micro-chapters at a time. They’re just so long that it was difficult to go any further. But, don’t assume every posting will only be the two micro-chapters. There will eventually be some shorter ones added as well.

Anyhow, we’re continuing on with the story and I hope you’re having fun with the novel so far. Without further ado, Left of Midnight:

2.3

HE WAS DROWNING. Avery tried to lurch forward coming awake nearly instantly as he was submerged into a deep and enclosed tank. Only, shackles held him fast. He couldn’t see. It was as if something were wrapped around his face. And then that something was removed and he felt himself being twisted into a diagonal position. Water still clung to his eyes as he blinked rapidly, the room he inhabited dark and lit only by a few torches on a wall directly across from him.

  “Welcome back to the world of consciousness,” a deep voice intoned. It was full of malice and a strange tinge of joy ontop of that. “I know it’s a rude way to make your acquaintance, but I felt it was warranted. Given you and your ally’s presence on our own backdoor.”

  Avery tried to speak but could only hack and cough as his chest heaved. His eyes started refocusing and he saw that he was in a small cell. There were no windows and every wall he saw was some sort of adobe or brown construction agent like cement, or its like. The two torches were on the wall directly in front of his view. One to each side of a single wooden door with no window in it either. The handle was just a narrow band of metal that looked like it could be depressed to open said door.

  He shifted his view to the creature walking around him where he was strapped to a bed that felt wooden and his shackles were solid iron affixing him to the flat surface by the wrists, his biceps, his stomach, and his shins. The reptilian man stopped just to his right and laid a hand gently on his forearm. In its left hand was a large dirty rag sopping wet and dripping onto the ground. He could hear the droplets clearly in the otherwise silent interior. The creature grinned. Somehow, he got the impression it was male. And the male was enjoying this aspect of whatever job he had in mind. He spoke then. A low, throbbing intonation. The sultry pied piper quality of his voice thrummed in his head both invitingly and menacingly.

  “Now, perhaps you would be so kind as to tell me, why are you two snooping around our homes? Hmmm?” His face drew closer and Avery wanted to wince away but found his head could only maneuver so far. “Were you sent her to spy, perhaps? Sent by your warlords to investigate rumors and phantoms?”

  Avery said nothing. Only groaned and clenched his eyes. The creature drew back and growled a low grumble of disappointment.

  “They always make it so difficult to communicate with.”

  The cloth slapped against Avery’s face once more as he found the bed he was on tilting backwards again. He gagged and coughed and then the water was back. Flowing over his face and his nostrils. He held his breath as long as possible but the water kept coming and he couldn’t resist the urge to cough any longer. Then he could feel the water bubbling up under his nose, stinging his sensitive hairs within. He tried to scream but his mouth inhaled part of the rag and he started gagging.

  Then the rag was gone again and he was tilting back the other way, his eyes blurry once more from the saturated and musky cloth. The creature stood before him yet again and tilted its head quizzically.

  “Why are you here, human?”

  “Fuck you!” Avery spat and the creature tilted him back this time forgoing the rag. It played with the handle of a spigot that Avery could see from his position upside down.

  “I grow weary of these games, soldier. Out there, you were enemies,” he growled, drawing his scaly face closer to Avery’s own. The teeth within that no longer smiling maw snarled in contempt. “You and he crashed here. Hunted one another. I thought that was it. But, oh no! You suddenly made nice! Learned to live in peace. Kumbaya, my Lord. Kumbaya. And this got me to thinking. Why are mortal enemies in a war being waged for dominance of an entire ocean region… making nice on my backdoor? Hmmm? Oh, you creatures like to get along to benefit one another. That is a given, of course. But here of all places? Unlikely. Who sent you, human? What do you hope to gain?”

  “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about! We crashed here! That’s it!”

  “Oh, I believe there’s more to it than that, my clever little animal,” he spoke growing so close his face was a blur. “Something sent you here. I can smell it. Speaks to you, yes? Guides you, no? Perhaps we’ll just have to see how long you survive without the rag, hmmm?”

  The reptile man reached its hand up to the spigot handle and tightened its clawed grip. Avery had a moment to just watch that clawed hand. The claws weren’t what he was accustomed to. They were like large pointed tips of a finger. Hardened to the extent of a fingernail. Only these nails didn’t just protect the top of the finger but rather the whole tip. He tried not to panic but he saw the hand slowly pulling the handle down.

  “Wait, no, no! I, we, we didn’t—! I don’t know what you want!”

  “Prefect Nindemus!”

  The creature growled lowly and narrowed his eyes. Then stood fully erect as Avery’s bed started to tilt back up to the other angle. Only, as he rose, the water spigot vanished. And the room he was within grew wider and more… ovalish. Once more looking forward, he noted that he was no longer with a small enclosed cell likely underground, but rather in a wide round room with a flat metallic floor of an opal sheen with a rampway rising up to a wall brightly lit at the apex. A doorway was there and the door built into it slid shut. It… slid… open! What the… And to both sides of that doorway, were two consoles manned by two strange creatures. One, to the left of his perspective, was just like the reptile man. Yet looked younger and less certain. To the right and behind the console there, a young woman with curling horns on her head rising up out of feathery black hair. Both of those creatures were staring at a new arrival. A tall woman with her hands on her hips.

  She was a silhouette at first as Avery’s eyes tried to refocus on what he was seeing. The reptile man beside him walked forward three steps and widened his arms out as if in greeting.

  “Why, adjudicant, what brings you to my humble abode?”

  The woman walked down the rampway, her silky white robes washing out around her and flowing around a uniform consisting of skin tight pants and shirt. Both of which seemed white. But shifted colors to a light blue as she walked down the ramp. Her shoes were flat and thick soled making little sound as she marched towards the reptilian man of whom he thought she called, ‘Nindemus’.

  “What… the actual fuck?” Avery mumbled clenching his eyes several times. He could not be seeing any of this. He had the notion that he must still be dreaming. And rather violently at that.

  “Cut the crap, Nindemus. The council is really interested in knowing why you’ve not delivered our new guests to our custody. And now I see,” she spoke coming to a stop before the beast and looking up into his narrowed eyes. “Torture is strictly forbidden, prefect.”

  “You have it all wrong, adjudicant. I wasn’t torturing anyone. He only thought I was. Besides, I’d hardly call them ‘guests’. More like… trespassers. They were discovered at the base Odjemir. Sipping on fumes of delusion and paranoia.”

  Avery watched them intently, eyes wide and mouth fallen. The woman was clearer to see now. She was human. Or so it seemed. Her hair was a bluish white and wispy as it fell to her shoulders. As if it were made of feathers, minus the shafts. Her nose was narrow and came to a point. Yet the nostrils seemed to blend into the flesh of the cheeks meeting the nose. Her mouth was thin with just barely darker lips than the pale tint of her flesh. And her eyes were a crystal cerulean blue.

  His eyes followed her form from her slender neck down to a body that was slender yet curvy. The uniform she wore highlighted her form in ways he couldn’t pull his eyes from. And when she spoke, it was with a voice of gentle authority that brooked no argument.

  I think I’m in love…

  “That was never your call to make, prefect,” she said her hands clasping her rounded hips. “You have ten minutes to remove these men from their shackles and brought before the council before—”

  The reptilian man she called Nindemus growled, his clawed hands fists. “Before what, councilor? You don’t call the shots here. I run Shoenden. Not you. And not the council. You’ve entered my world. And you’d be well served to remember that.”

  She laughed (not hard, not harsh; gentle and placating in its exhalation), her head tilting back only slightly more as her eyes never wavered from his. “You do like to forget yourself, don’t you Nindemus? You serve at the behest of the council. Not in spite. This is Farediin, remember? Not Shoenden. Shoenden exists because the council allows it. The old world is no more, prefect.  You’d be well served to remember that. Should the council vote to revoke your privileges… well, I don’t need to remind you of that outcome, now do I?”

  Nindemus glared at her for several long seconds before spatting out, “Ten minutes, adjudicant. They will be personally escorted to the council chambers by myself. And then I will plead my case before the council as well. These forays into sovereign territory by outsiders cannot be washed over let alone accepted.”

  “The last I saw, they’re crash survivors. Nothing more.”

  Nindemus braced his hands on his narrow hips and leaned towards her, his growl permeating the entire room that was silent as the two above watched in a semi state of fear. “You invite discord, Er’ra Zel. Just as the council. You will only be their voice for so long. The times, they are a changing. And they are here not because they survived a crash but because they were called here. And you know it.”

  Er’ra Zel shook her head with a sad smile. “Please, don’t regale me anymore of your theories on Midnight or the horrors they’ll visit upon us all. Ancient stories we tell our children, Nindemus. I would’ve thought one such as yourself would be wiser than that. Falling for truths that do not exist.”

  Nindemus chuckled and stood back. “It’s impossible for me to prepare our… ‘guests’ to meet the council if you don’t leave. I do hope you haven’t already started the clock. Because you’ve already made me late. And, if you want me to miss you, love, I can’t do that either until you depart.”

  A scowl crept over Er’ra Zel’s face. “Never say such a thing to me again.”

  Nindemus laughed boisterously and thrust his head back to clench his eyes and let his amusement wash over the interior. Er’ra Zel glanced over to Avery and their eyes met briefly. Her scowl turned into a grimace and she blinked as she turned and walked back up towards the ramp and through the doorway above. Nindemus turned to Avery.

  “Well, we’ll have to do this again sometime, yes? For now, the powers that be are intrigued by your presence. Though, I can’t imagine why.”

  “If I had to hazard a guess,” Avery ventured, “it’s probably because I don’t look like I’m about to eat their face.”

  The smile on Nindemus drooped only briefly. “Get your quips in now, soldier boy. The times… they are a changing.”

  “So, I’ve heard.”

  Avery glanced to his right as Nindemus went about releasing his shackles and saw Shōtō not even twelve feet away staring into the darkness of the domed ceiling above. He hadn’t said a word the entire time never alerting Avery to his presence. This disturbed him.

  “Did you do to Shōtō what you did to me?’

  Nindemus glanced over to the Japanese pilot and then back to Avery. “No. He was never one to… interact with questioning. Merely withdrew into himself. Silent as the dead. Besides, it was you I wanted to make the acquaintance of… Avery Wilkes.”

  Avery turned towards him, eyes narrowed. “How do you know my name?”

  “We hardly have time for such matters, now do we? Can’t keep the council waiting. You heard what Adjudicant Er’ra Zel said. She’s stone cold and ruthless,” Nindemus paused to draw closer to his face. “And hard to court, if that’s what’s on your easily swayed mind, human.”

  “Don’t make assumptions about me, lizard.”

  Nindemus chuckled and grabbed his groin. Avery lurched back as best as he could but his left arm and waist was still imprisoned. “You creatures are always driven by your sexual urges. So clear when you’re… aroused. A shame I can’t get the same sort of attention.”

  Avery was stunned silent as Nindemus went back to work freeing him. Once more his gaze fell on Shōtō who had yet to say a word or even indicate he was aware of what was going on around him. And fear grew deeper in Avery’s gut.

2.4

IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE for him to think. Rather, he just didn’t want to think. Shōtō stood quietly staring at the doors to the lift as they rose upwards towards whatever destination the creature behind him and Avery had in mind. He’d heard them all talking, of course. Yet, he just didn’t want to believe it was real. Didn’t want to acknowledge that he’d failed in his task to keep Avery away from the volcano. No, he’d let his own feelings for the American get in the way. And now they were prisoners rising up into the holds of Farediin, the place they were never supposed to enter.

  The beast, Nindemus, stood behind them glaring down at him. He could feel the creature’s eyes on his back and he was unwilling to give him the satisfaction of looking up at him. Avery, of course, didn’t share the same sort of compunctions.

  “So, we going to learn more about this place from the council?”

  Shōtō kept quiet as Avery looked over his shoulder at Nindemus. Nindemus growled and affixed Avery with his own angry gaze. This was a temporary relief, Shōtō knew. And he felt better at least for a moment. Less afraid and worried about what fate had in store for them.

  “Strange that you feel the need to speak now. Before, I couldn’t get you to answer any questions. Now, you won’t shut the fuck up.”

  “Oh! What a sharp retort from the beast with no power.”

  Nindemus clenched his hand and grumbled. “Take what satisfaction you can in your insolence for now, Mr. Wilkes. It won’t last forever. To answer your question, sure. The council loves to speak on matters of their illustrious history. I’ve never met a more boastful group of creatures in my life.”

  “That’s good,” Avery said rubbing his wrists. “I love going new places, meeting new people. Do they have a guided tour of this… uhm… underground nation? Where are we exactly?”

  “Sorry, I’m not the tour master. You’ll have to ask someone who cares.”

  Avery chuckled and looked to Shōtō. “You doing alright, man? You haven’t said word one since we got on this carnival ride.”

  “Fine,” Shōtō shook his head. “But I told you, it was a bad idea coming to the volcano.”

  “No, I feel like this is exactly where we need to be. But, are you really alright?”

  Shōtō sighed. “Yes, Avery. I’m just fine. What more do you want me to say?”

  They continued on in silence. When the lift doors opened, Nindemus ushered them forward down a long hallway made of a material that looked like a cross between gold and copper. Avery whistled in appreciation. But Shōtō said nothing as they were marched down the hall. Before long, they were joined by two pairs of armored guards. All four of which had horns on their heads that spiraled around into themselves. Like the horns of a ram. The helmets they wore had grooves through which those horns could slide into. And those helmets were golden. As were their uniforms which looked like something similar to ancient Spartan mixed with the modern full body suit of warfare armor. Flaps of leather hung from the sides where the chest armor latched together.

  “It’s not gold, you know,” Nindemus said suddenly as they walked. “It’s a material known as cth’myte.”

  “Sill mite?” Avery asked glancing back at the man.

  “A crude pronunciation, but roughly correct. It’s a material Shoenden produces. Just goes to show how much the council truly needs us. And how foolish they are to bring you two idiots into the council chamber proper.”

  “Look, Nindemus, or whatever you call yourself,” Avery spat, “we didn’t ask to be here. We came to check out the volcano, that’s it.”

  “Oh, I’m sure. Keep telling yourself that. You might actually start to believe it. Eventually.”

  They continued on until the corridor gave way to a wide amphitheater. It was an oval shape with a dais of chairs before a long horseshoe shaped table at the far end where half a dozen people sat awaiting their arrival. Shōtō looked to the ceiling and saw that it was almost completely some sort of glass. It gave out onto a view of the sea. Deep underneath the surface, of course. Sunlight cast a bluish glow through those windows with their ornate designs forming a supporting base at random intervals. Sea life swam about without a care high above and through the waves of light buffeting the interior of the massive room.

  They came to a series of steps (five in all) leading down onto the main meeting room floor. Along the walls making up the left and right sections of the room, were benches in the Old Roman coliseum style replete with two dozen or more spectators who sat quietly watching them enter and step down towards the auditorium floor. Nindemus walked forward and brought them to a halt just past the steps to approach the council themselves.

  “I’ve brought the prisoners as requested, oh wise council.”

  One of the councilors, a woman with a toad like face and no hair raised her brown hand to silence him. “We will not refer to our honored guests as prisoners here, Prefect Nindemus.”

  “Oh? You’d prefer to acknowledge these invaders as ‘guests’? How unusual. Especially given ordinance twelve nineteen that specifically addresses spies and traitors.”

  “Those are ordinances applied during times of war. Which, as you may be aware, we are not,” a male councilor spoke. He had large black eyes and pale grey flesh. He folded his long four fingers together and braced himself on his elbows on the table top.

  “Perhaps we ourselves are not at war, yet, councilor. But they are. And they seek to drag their war here into our midst,” Nindemus scowled and motioned towards Shōtō and Avery. “Why, they were even beating the living tar out of one another when we took them into custody.”

  “That may be, prefect,” the lead councilor in blue robes spoke as he leaned forward. He had wizened features with sunken eyes of a deep azure. He was the same kind of creature as the guards and Erra Zel, Shōtō noted. Except his horns were a little larger and almost seemed fused into themselves as they rested against the grey black hair hanging thickly across the nape of his neck. “Even so, they were brought into Farediin proper and will be treated with the expected decorum that shall be expressed by our representatives. They’ve committed no crime against us.”

  “Sendima, you naïve minded fool…”

  “Mind your place, Nindemus,” Councilor Sendima narrowed his eyes. “The whole council is aware of your aggressive proclivities. If you look around, you’ll note you’re no longer engaged with the neightamors. Thanks to your efforts, they long ago sued for peace. And isn’t peace what you most desire?”

  Nindemus narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists, but was silent for a long moment before saying, “Of course, councilor. Forgive me. I’m just… anxious… about these intruders finding themselves among our peace-loving society.”

  Shōtō tilted his head slightly. The word peace came out in a forced drawling manner and he got the distinct sense that Nindemus really wasn’t interested in the concept at all. It almost seemed like he found just saying the word difficult.

  Sendima nodded as if satisfied and then affixed both he and Avery with his knowing gaze. “Welcome, strangers, to our city state of Farediin. You’ve , regrettably, seen a portion of our sister city of Shoenden reserved for those of a more distasteful alignment.”

  “What is that?” Avery asked.

  “It’s for those of a criminal persuasion, sir.”

  “So, it is a prison then.”

  Councilor Sendima nodded ever so slightly and waved one five fingered hand through the air. All in all, the people with the horns like rams, Shōtō thought, looked remarkably human. Perhaps a little more lithe and a little bit taller (though Avery was as tall as Er’ra Zel), but more humanlike than the others he’d seen walking around this subterranean world.

  I’m in a dream. This isn’t reality. Shōtō closed his eyes and sighed inwardly. Right. And just what is reality, then? The nonstop violence and endeavors of war? The horrorscape of constant aggression? Never being able to live your life as you see fit? Always the puppet of someone else, someone in authority who views themselves as more important than you? Is that reality? Or the dreams you have where even there you have no control? What is reality? Misery. That’s what it is.

  “It is indeed,” Sendima said, pulling Shōtō out of his self-imposed insight into his soul. He opened his eyes and looked to Sendima who offered up a sad smile of his own. “Even so, welcome to our nation. As I understand it, you are an American. Your friend here, Japanese. Is this a correct assessment?”

  “As far as I know, yup,” Avery grinned. “However, I’ve only known Shōtō for a short bit. You are from Japan, right? Not some sort of underground alien?”

  Shōtō glared at Avery who smiled at him. There were times (many, many times) that he just wanted to smack that smug smile off of his face. However, that was just a dishonorable thought. So, he nodded and offered up the slightest of grunts and then looked to the floor hoping nobody else would address him. Though, even this small reprieve was not to be.

  “Shōtō is it? Do you have another more acceptable manner in which to address you you’d prefer?”

  Shōtō cleared his throat and looked up to Councilor Sendima. “Shōtō will be fine. We are not in Japan now. The honorifics can reasonably be waved. Given the current conditions, that is.”

  “And how would you have me address you, sir?”

  Avery looked to Sendima himself and nodded. “Avery will be fine enough. Can you tell me what’s going on here? We’ve been on this island for months and, I tell ya, I’ve never seen hide nor hair of any of you people. Well, I use hair lightly in this case…”

  Shōtō grimaced as he saw Avery staring at the toad like woman who was hairless in all accounts save one. She had a light mustache and white hairs bristly her cheeks and chin. She looked to be frowning. Though, it was difficult to say for sure given her facial features. Still, Shōtō could only cringe to himself considering how uncouth Avery too often was.

  Sendima for his part gave a chuckle. “I would imagine discovering us is quite the shock. The truth is, however, we were perfectly content to allow the two of you to continue on oblivious to our existence. We don’t make a habit of inserting ourselves into the matters of international affairs currently playing out between nations even as we speak. That you crashed here was unfortunate. Even so, you two were managing just fine without our assistance. Prefect Nindemus, though, made the determination that you were a threat to our hidden presence when you found your way into the volcano. Personally, I don’t imagine you would have found your way into our walls. Though, I am intrigued by how you two suddenly began fighting so violently. Could you… enlighten us as to this peculiar happenstance?”

  “It was nothing,” Shōtō said.

  “Nothing?” Avery looked at him and then back to Councilor Sendima. “It was like we weren’t ourselves anymore. There was this urge… a dark hate that suddenly came over us. I haven’t wanted to kill Shōtō in months. But once entering that cave… well, it was an overriding need. And then there were those shadow monsters that started chasing us.”

  Sendima’s face grew more serious. “Shadow monsters?”

  “Yeah, they had blue glowing eyes and were so black that their forms stood out even in the pitch black of the lightless night. I’ve been dreaming about them, periodically. But I never expected to run across the damned things.”

  Murmurs ran around the six councilors and Shōtō clearly heard a few saying ‘Midnight’. Sendima held up a hand.

  “Let’s not jump to conclusions,” he fixed Avery and Shōtō with his firm gaze. “These were dreams you had?”

  “More like nightmares,” Shōtō remarked with a scoff and then immediately felt his face flush and cast his own gaze to the floor.

  “Councilors, I’m sure our guests didn’t come here just to share tall tales and ancient myths from around the world,” Er’ra Zel stepped forward and waved her hands before her chest gently. “Besides, that particular section of Mount Odjemir is still rife with toxins and earthen emanations. Our home may be extinct for all intents and purposes, but the various lava tubes still let out into less… inhabitable regions deeper down.”

  Er’ra Zel folded her hands before her and Sendima nodded as he waved a hand in the air then refolded his own hands before him. “You are most correct, adjudicant. Besides, we didn’t call our visitors here to ruminate over ancient superstitions but rather to suss out the meaning of their presence. An experiment in curiosity is all that I’m seeing. Which is fortunate for all of us. I’m sure even the prefect would concur with this assessment.”

  Nindemus scoffed. “Since when do you bother with my thoughts on matters of governance? You want these parasites running around Farediin, by all means, take them off my hands. I have better things to attend to.”

  Nindemus turned on his heels and swiftly marched out of the audience chamber. There was complete silence as he made his way back up the stairs and through the doorway. A few spectators watched him in a manner that Shōtō could only assume was awe until he was out of sight. Er’ra Zel shook her head with a sigh and Sendima only smiled pleasantly.

  “Forgive him. He never learned the proper etiquette of diplomacy. Did you have any questions for us before we have Adjudicant Er’ra Zel guide you to your temporary housing facilities?”

  Avery twisted his head back from where he’d been watching the fleeing form of Nindemus and quirked a brow. “Yeah, what the hell is Midnight? I keep hearing people murmur it and I would like to know exactly what it is? Is it what you call those shadow monsters?”

  Several of the councilors looked uncomfortable as they cleared their throats and looked away. Sendima only nodded and placed his palms flat on the tabletop before him.

  “The descriptions you two have shared… are reminiscent of an old legend. Nothing more,” he chuckled. “Children’s tales. As I’m sure Er’ra Zel would tell you. Midnight is supposed to be the conquering demons of hate that lay societies to waste. Demonic beasts controlled by a being of immense power who is intent on conquering the universe. I believe you have a similar tale in the human storytelling communities, yes? The legend of Lucifer. Or Satan. Sometimes known as Beelzebub. Other times, just the devil. The steward of Hell itself. Likely interpreted off the ancient Grecian deities of the underworld. Hades. For us, the locals refer to him as ‘Biel Zhe Bor’. Lord of the Void.”

  “Awfully firm response to a religious boogieman, wouldn’t you say?” Avery frowned watching each of the councilors closely. Shōtō just wished he’d shut up so that they could go get some rest. He was tired of it all already and feeling fitful. If he didn’t get to situate himself soon, he was afraid he might blow up on someone just trying to be pleasant. “Though, I guess it would make sense. You people live underground, after all.”

  “That’s most likely it,” Sendima said and leaned back. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with us, Avery and Shōtō. We are pleased to note you are survivors of the great war playing out beyond our holds. I regret that we will not be able to immediately return you to your people, you understand. There is much planning that must be done first before we can even attempt such an endeavor.”

  “You want to send us back?” Shōtō said and felt his jaw tense. “Not afraid we’ll spill the beans on your existence?”

  Sendima offered up another light chuckle. “I’m certain you wouldn’t get as much acknowledgement on that front as you might suggest. The truth is, we’re phantoms to this world. I believe your people even have legends of oni and yurei, do you not? To even discuss the idea of having been within an underworld… well, I would posit that you would receive more of a conciliatory nod and the expression that you’ve been through a great trauma. The chances of anyone from your nations seeking us out is slim at the most optimistic of opinions. Now, if you will. Adjudicant Er’ra Zel will show you to your new domiciles until we can assist you in returning to your homes.”

  The councilors rose each in turn and walked behind the horseshoe shaped table and towards a hallway leading down a series of steps and through a corridor sunken almost completely from view from where Shōtō stood frowning. Avery turned to Er’ra Zel and Shōtō could almost hear the grin forming on his face.

  “So, what do you have planned for us, uhm, Err Da… Zell?”

  She smiled and offered a slight dip of her upper torso. “Very close, Avery. There’s a slight lilt of the tongue involved. Era. And halfway through, ‘dra’. And Zel is perfectly correct. Er dra Zel.”

  “Well, that’s a tongue twister. Think it might take me some time to get it down.”

  “And there’s nothing wrong with that, Avery. Now, shall we? I’ve been authorized to set you up with one of our downtown apartments with an overlook of the main squares. I do hope you’re not put off by heights and easily susceptible to vertigo.”

  “Uh, pilots, remember?” Avery’s smile broadened. “Pretty sure that’s our thing.”

  “Well, I’m pleased to hear it!” Er’ra Zel returned his grin and then took the lead. “If you two will follow me.”

  Avery looked to Shōtō who was doing his best to ignore the two grinning morons. He could feel his pulse throbbing and his patience diminishing. The guards stood aside as they started walking and Avery gave a slight elbow into Shōtō’s right bicep. He looked up at him and wanted to snarl. But, held his tongue as Avery pumped his eyebrows several times with his thumb darting quickly back and forth towards the adjudicant’s backside. Shōtō just shook his head and sighed, his eyes pulling up into his eyelids.

Another week down, and another week to go! We’re moving forward with the narrative and I trust you’re liking what you’re reading. Come back next week for the next offering of this new novel! Until then, have a great week!

~Timothy S Purvis

While you’re here, why not swing on by my author’s page and check out some of my other publications. Just click on my name and the link will take you straight there–> Timothy S Purvis

Also, here’s a link to one of my novels I’ve published in recent years. Feel free to give it a looksie!

Star Cloud the Original Scripts also comes as a Kindle offering: Star Cloud The Original Scripts Digital

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