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Just to give you all a bit of warning, this is my version of a prologue in that it is both a prologue and an epilogue and also neither of those things. Hopefully, this will all make sense to you as you get deeper into the story and the world I'm writing about.
Thanks for taking the time to read my work and I hope you enjoy it.
So, without further delay, let's begin with...
What Has Already Been... And What Is Yet To Come...
“That was the last mistake Abraxas Gollana made,” he said. “He knew that they believed our gold was special and thought he could bargain his way to freedom by offering them every bit of it he had. They accepted his offer and he gave away all of his own gold. Then he gave away whatever the rest of us had. Then he let them have whatever we could find on Palmet too… They took it all and wanted more… So we found what we could by digging into the surface of the moon and he let them have that too... It still wasn’t enough. They craved more even when they knew there was none left to find… That was when they decided he was hiding it and after that, they didn’t find it hard to believe he was planning to rebel against them… When that happened, it was only a matter of time before they killed him."
For a few moments, quiet dominated the room. Then his brother took up the story:
"When we first met those strange men at our camp on Palmet, we were a force of seven thousand. We were happy. We’d just won the war. Or that’s what we thought… There were only a couple of hundred of them and they came to the Emperor as friends. They were pretty amazing to look at. Light and dark faces with the men bearded and the women every bit as tall and strong... And they had these ships they flew around in that made them look even bigger because they seemed to be fused to their bodies… But we weren’t afraid of them. Why would we be? We were victorious warriors and there were so many of us and so few of them. Then when their guides translated what they said they were so respectful to the Emperor that he told us not to fear them. He trusted them and we trusted him..."
He swallowed hard and tried to continue. His older brother stopped him with the soft touch of a hand upon his shoulder.
"There’s a town on Palmet called Sax. We were meant to be celebrating the end of the war… In the middle of the town square we were singing and dancing because we were all free. We were going home to our families and everything would be fine... Maybe that’s why we didn’t see the signal from the oldest of the four brothers until it was too late to stop them. Then the shooting started… Their weapons were too powerful… We tried to fight back but we were outgunned. Our numbers counted for nothing… In less than an hour it was all over. By then, there were barely three hundred of us left, the Emperor had been captured… And we hadn't killed a single one of them.”
The water still flowed down the steps and over the soft, brown material of his shoes. He listened to the gentle trickle and decided to carry on moving against it. This was not without some struggle. He was weighed down, the pull from the centre of the planet feeling almost alien to him.
He watched his feet splash with each step until his head touched the leaves and branches of the trees. Reaching up blindly, he pushed against the greenery and it opened to him
His head followed his arms beyond the canopy and into the light. He kept going until he reached a last step up onto a flat stone platform. It was square and only just big enough for him to stand on. After clambering on, the Emperor stood still for a moment as he allowed himself to take in the view that was revealed to him.
‘Big Brother’, the nearest of the suns, was dipping down low towards the horizon. The light from it was still strong enough to illuminate the Emperor’s face as he stared at the clear blue of the rest of the sky. He recognised a hint of the darkness to come at the edges of the panorama. The purple bruising adding extra depth to the world above by hinting at the entire universe that lay beyond.
He touched the little pyramid on the chain around his neck and noticed that it seemed to weigh heavier on him than usual. This though, did nothing to diminish his joy at what he had barely realised he missed.
He took a deep breath of the clear air and found it quite different to the scents and smells of the forest enclosure. The breeze touched his face and this too was different to what he had grown used to. It felt to him like freedom, something new that offered nearly endless possibilities. He wanted to share the feeling. He wanted everyone to be there with him and yet he knew there was only room for one person at the top of the pyramid. That was his privilege and it would also be his burden. His outtake of breath appeared as a sigh when he turned his head from right to left to follow the curve of the horizon.
As he did this he moved his eyes further down towards the trees and then to the only clearing visible on the surface of the planet. A pool of pristine water, flanked by rocks and flat stone, lay at the foot of a waterfall. The water cascading down in a seemingly endless flow that, when combined with the remaining sunlight, created a rainbow leading from the rocks to the trees.
With the dimming of the daylight from the setting of both suns, the vibrancy of the colours of the rainbow arch that bridged the water at the foot of the waterfall were dulled almost to the point of disappearing. Even so, the Emperor continued to stare at the spot where it had begun, beneath the flow.
In the growing darkness that obscured the waterfall from him he came to understand something of his place in the world and in the universe. He stood, far above the surface of the planet, as the point of a pyramid and also as a beam of light within the infinite dark vagueness of space and time. He listened to his own breathing in the quiet of his detachment; alone with only the stars for company but at such a distance from him that he had little choice other than to turn his back on them…