Ta’eh followed the warrior as they started walking away. He didn’t know where they were going despite having a strong feeling dragging him forward.
Usually this feeling drags a man to his home when he is lost. Or to his beloved when he is hurting. But in both cases the person knows where he is going and how he will go there.
But in that case, the lost soul didn’t know anything except for being fed up with everything.
The men rode for half a day, their horses carrying them through the steady road before they reach the path for travelers.
Ta’eh didn’t want to look back, the voices and the stench of his house could be fatal for him.
However, he wanted to stop and take a break but before he would ask the warrior to stop he looked back to see how far the house was.
“IMPOSSIBLE!” he shouted as he looked back to find that he didn’t get a foot away from the house. “How?! What?! Why?!” he asked in a troubled tone.
The warrior kept his focus forward “Don’t ask me, you are the one carrying it with you. You are still holding onto it, unable to let go of its pleasures and small comforts.
If you remain in this position, it will eat you up and the only way to move is to let go of that anchor.” The men couldn’t finish their conversation because of a strong blast blinding them.
Ta’eh covered his eyes for a few minutes before the warrior helped him to see again. “We are back again to where we started” he said as he looked at the troubled man.
Ta’eh tried to collect his thoughts as much as he could “But how? We have been riding for a while and the scenery around us changed as we dashed with our horses.
” The warrior looked at his companion with pity “Because you didn’t let go, you are still holding onto it. You are still calling for it.
And before you say what you are about to say, No I can’t make it go away…only you”
Silence fell on the two for a few moments before Ta’eh raised his head which was resting between his palms and asked “How? I want to, but how? Guide me!”.
The warrior was silent for a while before he stretched his arm to his friend.
“Come, let’s ride again” Ta’eh jumped onto his horse “Let’s leave this place!” he shouted before he dashed, the warrior smiled before he followed him.
“We are going to ride again, this time faster I hope, towards the town of ashes. It is between us and the temple. The temple is our first destination.”
This time the ride was short, they reached their first stop quickly. The town was only a few hours ride from the house; across a large hill.
When the two men reached the top, they could smell the foulest stenches. “Uhhh..what is this?” Ta’eh asked as he rode next to his friend.
The warrior needn’t reply, the answer will reveal itself soon. The image became clearer with every step their horses took. They were no longer running, they didn’t wish to approach that place.
The beautiful and free beasts who knew only pride and freedom despised the place infested by men. Yet, they carrier our heroes forward.
The city was definitely one of the gloomiest sights any human soul can handle. A mixture of tall buildings and small huts. Few market places can be seen from a far.
The smoke rising from almost everywhere has covered the bright walls of the buildings with a grey coat of ash.
Qaher, the warrior, let his friend skip ahead and watched his reactions to the surroundings. As Ta’eh entered, he saw three women sitting an open hut.
Pale skin, full figures, fair flowing hair and short sheer cotton dresses. They sat together watching those who enter the city, always seeking new customers.
The first one stood up and walked slowly towards the Ta’eh where she put her hand on his leg.
“You had a long journey, oh poor man, you look so tired…let me take care of you” she pressed her body against his leg and fixed her eyes onto his, completing her trap.
The second one hopped from her place and joined them “Oh don’t be silly” she said as she stood next to her “I can take of him too” she said as she hugged the first woman “We are good friends”.
The third one had a devious look on her face as she sat down fondling her hair and eating a red apple, watching their prey fall into their pit.
“I believe you mean his horse. And even if, I don’t believe that beast will allow your hands to touch it” Qaher said in a loud fearsome voice as he finally followed his swoon friend.
“Get away from him before this scene becomes the last thing you ever do in your pitiful lives” the three maidens looked at the armored warrior in anger.
He reached for the hilt of his blade but before he could draw it they hissed like vipers and disappeared into their hut.
Before they could be on their way again they saw a slim man running their way. The man shouted “Where did they go? What happened? I just sold my last to get the money they asked”.
He then broke down sobbing before he found the bitten apple laying on the ground next to the closed hut. Ta’eh was shocked as the man held the filthy apple close to his heart.
He then proceeded to smell, lick and kiss it; It was a pathetic scene. He then looked back at the men “This is my apple now, I will take it home, I could use some new inspiration.
It still has their scent unlike the piece clothes I stole last week”. Ta’eh was even more shocked to see the man dash with his slim legs towards a remote hut.
“You don’t need me to tell you what he is going to do, right?” Qaher asked as a look of disgust was drown on his face. Ta’eh didn’t even speak, he just whistled to his horse to start walking.
As the men rode slowly through the main road cutting the town in half, they were able to see more huts with more sets of women.
But this time, they hissed as soon as they saw Qaher, they knew him and knew what he could do.
The journey continued to take the two men to another shock. They rode across bigger constructions made of bricks, wood and straw. “These are the local taverns” Qaher said.
They all had the same structure and sets of smells. Laughter of men and women chased the unending smoke rising from the chimneys.
Again Qaher slowed down to let his companion take a close look at the first one they rode by. “It seems like a lovely place” the naïve man said as he opened the door.
The first smell that caught his heart was a heavy roasted cow in the middle of the tavern. But his small moment of joy was quickly interrupted when he noticed the people sitting around the place.
They were very busy with the food and drink in front of them that they failed to notice a number of things.
“How long have they been here?” Ta’eh asked as Qaher stood behind him “Every one of them is almost as heavy as that cow in the middle”.
He then walked inside and every time he walked past a customer they hid their plate away and gave him a growl accompanied with a heated look.
The two men had almost left before they were interrupted by a huge slam to the floor.
The looked behind them to find one of the large man who was sitting down eating a new platter had fallen to the ground.
The barmaid then shouted “Another one!” she paused a little before everyone in the place burst into laughter.
Two large and dark men appeared from behind the furnace and held his arms before they dragged him out past everyone who kept laughing at the dead body. Ta’eh simply ran out.
“Let’s leave this place, I can’t believe how awful it is and the people here are….” Before Ta’eh could continue a large man stopped him before he got on his horse and reached to his throat.
“What?! What were you about to say? Say it to my face?!” the large man shouted at Ta’eh before Qaher wrapped his arm around his neck and squeezed it firmly.
“You will pay! You wil…” the man couldn’t continue as Qaher choked him. A group of men dashed at the scene and proceeded to attack Qaher. Each one of them was almost half his size.
In a matter of seconds he bested each and every one of them with a few blows. He walked back to his frightened friend “Calm down, it is okay now…” he helped him to his horse.
“Let’s go before they get back on their feet, their anger which blinded them before will be much worse and I have no time for them”
Finally there was a short distance between them and the exit. But before they could reach it they saw a group of skinny men and women sitting down beneath a large fruit tree.
Ta’eh looked puzzled as he saw that strange display. That unusual group were only a few feet below plenty of food yet they didn’t reach for it.
“Why don’t they help each other up? They can give each other a boost or grab a chair. It is right there!!” he said as he kept staring at them.
“Why don’t they think of a solution to their problem?” he asked his friend before they rode away.
Their last stop was by a small stream before the town’s gates. “Thirsty, I am thirsty” a woman said as she laid two feet away from the stream.
“There is a stream of fresh water right next to you!” Ta’eh said before the woman replied “But it is too far, I don’t want to go all the way over there”.
A long paused ruled over the conversation before Ta’eh face palmed himself “I can’t believe this town…this woman will die of thirst and she is too lazy to move! Let’s leave please!
” Ta’eh said before he dashed out of the gate.
“I saw great paintings hanged of the hierarch on the inside walls of the taverns on the tall buildings.
Shouldn’t he be taking care of the place? He looks awfully familiar though…” he looked like the slim man they met earlier but Ta’eh couldn’t connect the two together.
The man in the paintings was bit taller, wider in build, had a fierce face and a frightening figure. “He is ploughing an apple in a crumbled hut as we speak”.
Qaher didn’t need to say anything more and followed his shocked friend who was a few steps ahead of him.