The Chronicles of Han
*** Two ***
Someone was asking me to wake up.
A familiar face was looking at me.
She had red hair and green eyes.
Her mouth did not move, yet I could hear her clearly.
A weight was pressing on my chest.
I could not breathe.
Panicked, I opened my eyes from this strange dream.
A shadow was blocking the entrance to my little cave.
This was not a dream.
Maybe if I kept still, they would not notice me.
Someone grabbed my foot.
I screamed at the person to let go, kicking out with my other foot, which was simply caught and used to drag me out of the hole.
Blinded by the sudden sunlight, I could only see shadows and light, but was determined not to be taken again.
Kicking and screaming, I yelled at them to leave me alone.
Two more shadows came forward.
My light body was quickly subdued by the man holding me. He simply restrained me by pinning my arms to my sides, lifting me off the ground. My legs could not reach him to inflict harm.
An authoritive voice gave me a command.
I stopped struggling, focusing on the older man.
He talked to me in a soothing way.
I felt I could trust this man.
He came forward. Taking hold of my chin, he inspected my face before asking me a question.
I did not understand his language, so kept quiet.
The man holding me relaxed his hold a bit, allowing me to stand. He kept his arms around me, ready to clamp down should I try to resist.
The older man took something from a backpack. Coming over, he held a water bag out to me.
My body was thirsty, but my suspicions returned, making me stiffen involuntarily.
The man holding me warned his friend.
The older man backed off a step, undid the stopper of the water bag and drank deeply. Rinsing his mouth, he spat the water out, assuring me that it was not poisoned. Replacing the stopper, he left the water on a rock, backing off a few paces.
The man holding me gently released me. Caged in a human triangle from which I could not hope to escape, I stood there watching them all. They seemed friendly enough, so I decided to play along, for now.
I had to hobble over to the water, one of my larger blisters having ruptured in all the fuss I had made.
Drinking sparingly, I gave my body a chance to get used to having water, avoiding further damage to my constitution. Every sip was kept in my mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.
From the tone of his voice, I assumed that the older man was giving encouraging comments. I knew I should know this language, but that section of my brain did not seem to be working right now.
Their dark-haired companion that occupied the point of my captive triangle that was placed highest on the slope, spoke in an urgent tone to the others. The older man indicated haste and I placed the closed water bag back on the rock.
I was still thirsty, but reckoned that my body had had enough for now.
My captives indicated that we had to go over the top of the hill. So up we went, the older man leading, with me sandwiched between him and the other two.
We quickly made the top and carefully slipped over, careful not to be siluetted against the sky. They moved with care and precision in order not to be detected, indicating to me that they could possibly be allies, or were at least wary for the same reason my sub-conscious had dictated my movements before being discovered.
We travelled through rocky outcroppings for the rest of the day, keeping to the wilder, brushier areas of the mountainsides. We almost did not rest, taking water every few hours, basically on the run.
My endurance was tested in this unfamiliar, and yet, familiar body.
Keeping my eyes riveted on the older man, I quickly learnt his way of movement, trying to copy him.
He moved as if he had no age, using swift, flowing, energy-saving movements.
He, too, had an unbleached shirt under his heavy coat. His pants were of very soft leather and he had beautiful knee-high boots. The whole picture was framed with a heavy greased cloak with a hood.
He was armed with a dagger in his belt, a sword in a scabbard at his side and he had a bow and quiver hanging over his shoulder.
My two captors behind me wore similar garb, but carried backpacks as well.
As the day ended, our leader picked a well protected spot in a small, flat valley between two mountain peaks. It was cold here, as we had climbed steadily all day long.
I sat down as soon as the other two indicated our resting place by taking their packs off.
The man that had subdued me gave me his coat, then dug in his bag and offered me some dried meat. My stomach churned and I declined.
He spoke to the older man, who came over to inspect me. By now I was so tired that I really could not care any longer.
The older man carefully undid my makeshift bandage, inspecting my head injury. I wanted to tell him that it was healing fine, but could not find the words for his language.
He washed the gash clean, spreading a stinking ointment over it and re-bandaged it with a fresh dressing he took out of one of the packs.
Looking at my hand, he asked me a question.
I could not answer, but looked into his icy blue eyes, willing him to hear my answer from my mind.
He shook his head and continued to inspect my feet. They had been bleeding. He washed them and dressed them similar to my head injury.
When he had finished with me, he again asked me a question.
Again I kept my silence and he shrugged, walking over to the third man, quietly conversing with him.
My new friend tried again to coach me into eating, offering a biscuit as big as my hand. This I took and ate carefully, making sure I did not waste a crumb.
Between small bites, I watched the conversation progressing between the other two.
They kept on repeating one word.
It sounded familiar.
After finishing the biscuit, I curled up in the coat, ignoring everyone to get some rest.
"*If you want to learn the language, simply ask for a download.*"
The voice cut through my being, chilling my body, freezing my bones. It seemed so loud that I woke, shouting out with shock.
"Hush" a voice almost next to me in the darkness said.
I could barely make out two sleeping forms near us.
My captor whispered something.
I perceived it to be an order to go back to sleep, but I could not.
Clasping my knees together, I placed my chin on them, staring out into the darkness.
My captor did not interfere.
I could not deny the voice that had spoken through my being.
Ask for a download.
A download of what?
- Of language. -
Okay, so let me try.
*I want to download this language to understand what these people say* I thought to myself.
Disappointed, I lay back down and went to sleep.
Stirrings around camp woke me, but I did not indicate that I was awake.
Voices suddenly had meaningful sound. I was so excited to be able to understand these people that I could have jumped up and shouted with joy, but my body was too stiff and sore to allow it.
"I do not know how he used to be, but that boy had been through a lot. I really do not know if we can reclaim him."
It was the dark-haired captor speaking. He had a more negative outlook on life than the other two. With his dark hair and beard he looked as fierce as his black eyes.
"Connor said that with the extent of his head injury it is a miracle that he is actually alive, and even more so that he was able to avoid us quite successfully for two days. His teacher trained him well in the art of concealment."
This was my captor. The older man was called Connor, and they had been looking for me, but seemingly not to harm me.
Footsteps could be heard coming our way.
"Get the boy up" Connor told the others. "We will have to rename him if we are to conceal his identity. His injuries were severe enough to scar him permanently. That will hide him all the better."
"What about his hair. It will surely give him away" my captor said.
"Good suggestion, Drake. We will have to cut it short to treat his wound anyway. We can do it as soon as we can light a fire safely in order to burn his hair."
Connor addressed the other man. "Brutus, are you ready to travel?"
"Yes" came the reply.
Drake gently touched my shoulder and I could not help but stiffen at his touch.
"You have been listening to our conversation, have you not?" Drake asked me.
I did not answer him, concentrating on forcing my limbs to respond to my signals.
My body felt hot and inflamed. I opened up to Source Energy and flushed the cells to a more comfortable level.
Drake offered water and another biscuit. He had kind brown eyes and brownish, sandier coloured facial hairs.
Taking my time over breakfast, I studied my new companions, scanning the impression I had formed about each of them.
Connor was some sort of leader and medically inclined person. Drake was somehow involved with domestic services and Brutus was a hunter type.
They were not the easiest bunch of people to get along with. The trio in itself consisted of three very strong personalities, and now they had an unknown in their midst.
An unknown, because I did not know who I was anyway.
I took another bite from my biscuit, watching Brutus finish his food, dusting crumbs all over the place, leaving tracks for all to find.
He called me Krish. I did not know who this Krish was supposed to be, but it was NOT me.
I recall myself differently, as a grown man, with a family.
Lowering the biscuit, I frowned at this memory.
It felt so real, and yet so unreal.
Connor was watching me. I resumed eating, finishing without wasting a crumb before drinking some water.
As we set off, I stopped at the spot where Brutus had eaten and removed the largest of the crumbs, picking them out of the gravel.
All three men stared at me without comment.
"I told you not to mess around camp" Drake scolded Brutus as we moved away.
The day progressed the same as the previous with a furious pace to get to wherever we were going.
We rested for a little while at mid day, hiding under some dry trees on the side of yet another mountain. We looked set to be climbing this one before nightfall. It was to be the highest one thus far.
Connor came to stand in front of me.
I had to look up at him.
"We will be crossing the pass around midnight. I know you are tired and hurting all over. We have to finish this stretch to get away from the Cudrl. They will not follow to the Southern Lands. If you cannot go on with your own strength we will carry you."
*No-one carries a High Lord* I thought at him before getting up and starting out on the path we were following.
They quickly resumed their positions and I vowed to keep up unless my body gave out.
Which it did, shortly after we crossed the pass.
It was the highest mountain I had ever had to negotiate on my own. The air was thin and the men were suffering severely.
My own young lungs were coping better with the thin air, but my body was totally depleted by the injuries and stress it had been placed under.
Going down the other side, my nose started to bleed.
It was dark, and at first I thought it was only the cold air making my nose run.
Wiping at the wetness, I covered most of my face before realizing it was blood. Removing one of the rags around my wrists, I blocked my nose, holding the plug there with one hand.
In the dark the others would not realize anything wrong unless we stopped.
I had general discomfort all over my body, making it hard to pinpoint any particular problem area in any case.
We were strung out a bit, with Connor still in the lead as we neared the line of trees which indicated the start of a new forest. The grasses grew thicker here than up on the slope. Peering more intently to make better use of the limited ambient light I missed a step, falling flat on my face.
It felt like hours before gentle hands rolled me over. I could see the moons shining brightly in the sky above us. They were both perfect sickles.
"Krish? What is wrong, boy?" Drake wanted to know.
He wiped my face, taking his hand away in shock, staring at the blood in the moonlight.
"Connor!" he shouted.
I was feeling warm and comfortable and extremely sleepy, so allowed myself to drift away on this luxurious feeling . . .
*Wake up Han, you must decide where you want to be.*
It was a familiar voice in my head. A voice I knew and trusted, yet did not want to be involved with any longer.
The heavy weight pressed down on my chest.
It threatened to crush my torso.
No matter how hard I inhaled, I could not move my chest.
Panicked, I came out of sleep, lifting my body up in one smooth motion, shouting for them to stop torturing me.
Firm hands pushed me back onto a pillow.
Someone called for Connor.
I took small shallow breaths, feeling weak with pain invading my whole body.
A sweet-smelling person offered me some herbal tea.
I managed to open my eyes a crack and took a peek while sipping some of it.
It was a middle aged woman of working class, probably a border farmer's wife.
Connor entered the room.
"Some of your ribs are broken" he explained. "I had restrained your chest to avoid further injury. We will release the pressure in a few days."
He felt my head. The bandage had been removed, as well as my long, golden hair. It was now cropped close to the skull.
"What is your name? We cannot keep on calling you boy" the lady asked.
Before Connor could answer for me, my mouth opened and out popped "Han."
Now that surely surprised both Connor and myself.
'Han? What a strange name?' the woman thought, but out loud she said "Welcome, Han. I hope you will heal up quickly."
She left me alone with Connor.
I could not face his intense icy blue eyes, instead, I closely inspected his greying beard.
"Han." Connor mulled the word over. "Not a name I have ever heard in this region. Where did you come up with it?"
At first I did not want to answer, but I had to admit that I would have to start communicating with someone sooner than later.
"From a dream" I replied.
I hated my voice. It was the voice of a boy. I was a man, or at least I always used to be.
"From a dream? What do you dream about? You talk in strange languages. Languages that are not known to any of us, and I know most of the people's languages on Leilaka."
I turned away from him. How could I let this man know that I had absolutely no recollection of who I really am, and where the heck was Leilaka?
He took my gesture as avoidance to answer.
"The tea Mrs Langly gave you acts as a painkiller and sleeping drug. I will leave you now to rest. When you feel better we can talk again. I can sense there is much that is troubling you."
He left the room, closing the door behind him.
I wondered why they did not leave someone with me, to look after me.
He was right. There was so much troubling me that I did not even have a question to start with.
I knew I did not know who I was, or who this Han is, although . . . I was much more comfortable with the name than being called 'Krish'.
Copyright © H Gibson Chronicles of Han Storm. All rights reserved. 2009-2016
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