Zanzibar – Part 29
Notice: Zanzibar will be on hold for a bit. Keith, my co-writer, and his family are currently on holiday. When he returns, the story will resume once again.
Zanzibar – Part 29
by Lori Carlson
Early the next morning, the First Ones called their trusted council into the Common room. Lena, Tang, Bukara, Victor, Hemi, and Comet sat at the right and four elders sat to the left at the large table in the center of the room. Ethan, Nellie and Ms. Simone took their seats at the honored positions in the center.
Ethan gaveled the meeting. “Friends, thank you for joining us this morning. As you know, the three of us,” he said, pointing to Nellie and Ms. Simone, “have made the decision to shift our duties among these six members.” He pointed to those on the right. “However, we also see the need to bring more of the elders into these changes.” He looked over to those on the left. “We need your help as much as we need these young people’s help.”
“There is secret that we have kept from all of you. A secret that has allowed the three of us to travel between our dwelling to two other dwellings. You’ve only know about one of those dwellings – the Village, but there is also another dwelling called the Settlement. We’ve kept this secret to ensure the safety of everyone here, but it is now time to share all of this with all of you,” Nellie declared.
Shocked sighs filled the room.
Ms Simone waved her hand to silence them. “Please, you must understand. We felt this was necessary. We only wanted to protect everyone here. We’ve only gone to the Settlement a few times. The place appears to be abandoned, yet it is filled with a lot of provisions. Because of these huge stashes, we feel that something strange is going on there. Something we do not fully understand. That’s why we rarely go there. However, this twin full moon, we have no choice but to go there again.”
“Why now?” Lena asked.
“Comet has informed us that the Villagers are planning a trap for us. If one of us was captured, we do not know the consequences the Curator would enact upon that individual. Banishment again? Death? We just don’t know and we cannot risk that,” Ethan explained.
“If you’ve already decided what to do, why do you need our help?” Hannah, one of the elders, asked.
“Maybe we should just show you,” Ethan decided as he stood up. “Follow me.”
Ethan lead everyone to the First Ones’ meeting room. Inside, he walked to the back of the small room and pressed against the wall. A large boulder rolled to one side. Ethan stepped aside and allowed Ms. Simone and Nellie to enter first, followed by the ten others. He walked in behind them and pressed against the wall again. The boulder closed. The long passageway was lit with oil lamps placed along impressions in the stone. They walked for well over a kilometer deep within the belly of the cavern until they finally came to a small chamber with a single round table. On the top of it were strange carvings.
“Gather around,” Ms. Simone said as she waved her arm around the table. Everyone did as she instructed. “It took us over a year to figure out what these carvings meant and how to us them.”
Tang leaned over the table and traced one of the carvings with his finger. “How do they work?” he asked.
Nellie pointed to the dimly lit ceiling of the room. “When the twin moons begin to rise in their fullness, beams of light fall upon this table. We have no idea how the light gets through the smoke, but it does. Here,” she said, pointing to one small impression, “is where the smaller of the twin moons’ light falls. When it does,” she turned and pointed to a spot on the wall behind her, “a passageway opens.”
“Yes, and that passageway only remains open for one hour because after that hour,” Ms. Simone stated as she directed everyone’s attention back to the table, “it closes and the light from the larger moon opens a passageway over there,” she said, pointing to a spot on the opposite side of the room. “That passageway will remain open for three hours before it closes.”
“Where do the passages lead?” Tang asked.
“The small moon passageway leads to the Village. The large moon passageway leads to the Settlement,” Ethan informed him.
“I still don’t understand why you need our help,” Hannah said.
“As you know, Ethan will be leading Tang and Lena into the Settlement passage. However, since the passageway to the Village will be open for an hour, we need protectors here in case anyone discovers the open passage on the other side and tries to come through. Ms. Simone and I are far too weak to be any defense now,” Nellie said. “But there is more. In order for them to enter any passage, they must be in a meditative state prior to entering and they will be in a trance as they do enter. So you see, they will be completely incapable of defending themselves.”
“How do you even know any of that will happen – that someone might try to come through?” Hemi, who had been itching to speak but had remained silent until now, asked.
Ms. Simone looked over to Astair, one of the other four elders and nodded her head.
Astair cleared his throat. “Many many twin moons ago, I wandered into this chamber through the small moon’s passageway. I watched my passage close and the other one open. The First Ones walked through it and I tried to follow behind them. I got zapped by some energy field and they found me unconscious on the floor when they returned. I had a lot of explaining to do when I came to.”
“Altair was just a curious young lad, but had it been one of the Village’s leaders, there is no telling what could have happened to all of us,” Ethan explained.
“That’s why we so seldom go into the Settlement. At least two of us have to go through and one must remain behind to watch over them, but we are all so weak. Do you understand our dilemma now?” Miss Simone asked as she looked over to Hannah.
“I do. Please forgive my ignorance,” Hannah said as she bowed her head in reverence.
Ms. Simone patted Hannah on the back. “No worries, my dear friend,” she said in a low voice. Then she turned to Hemi. “Dear lad, these are your first four trainees. I need them to be combat ready before the twin moons. Are you up to the task?”
“Very well. Let’s make our way back to the Common room. Oh, and one more thing,” she said in a more stoic voice, “No one else is to know of this place. We don’t want anyone wandering in here and disrupting the table. Without it, we will all die. Is that clear?”
Everyone nodded in unison as they followed Ethan out of the small chamber and down the long passageway.
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
If you missed a chapter, click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16,Part 17, Part 18,Part 19,Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28
or Jump ahead to Part 30