Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta valley. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta valley. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 5 de mayo de 2016


   Yitris had always been a very special place to leave. The few people that lived there, never left but they lived in one of the best places in the world because it was located in a remote area where no one would go bother them, whether they wanted it or not. Its location in the middle of the desert, made it only possible for the best explorers to reach the city and know its citizens and also, their queen.

 Queen Alina was more than fifty years old and she had been working for her people for at least thirty years. She lived in the top house of the city but her home was not really different than other peoples home. It was only above all others house, all built on top of very high trees in the middle of the green valley, hidden in the desert. It was a very good place to hide but also a very good place to feel free from everything.

 There were less than a thousand people living in Yitris but hey all had access to good doctors, to the only school that was directly handled by the Queen and also to food, that never really lacked in any of the people’s tables. Everyone had to have, at least, some bread and fruit to eat. Only half of the population actually ate animal meat and they were very good at using every single part of the animal’s body in order not to kill something and then waste it all because they only wanted some of the meat.

 People were very trusting and, also, always seemed to be happy. No person of Yitris yelled, unless they were really angry and it was only for one second. The Queen, of course, set the example for the rest, always been gracious when she did her daily tour around her small kingdom. She went from her place, to the jungle floor. There, several people had settled, specially the ones that were hunters or farmers.

 There was a small piece of the terrain that had almost no trees and that had been specially done by the people with the permission of the Queen, because they didn’t have anywhere to grow things like corn and wheat and they also needed land to build mills and kitchens where they would make the bread and so on. So she authorized a rather small piece of land to be used for that purpose. It was so small; it was always the first place to be hit by sandstorms, when they occurred.

 The desert was mostly benevolent, protecting them from the outside. But it’s sand was sometimes the worst thing for them because it could almost destroy everything that they had build. But they endured because it was because of that sand, because of the endless desert, that they had always been protected from exterior influence. Only a handful of people had made it to Yitris and all of them had died there, whether from exhaustion or because they had chosen not to go back to their lands.

 That was until Jack Freeman, a English explorer, and two of his men wondered into the desert and stumbled upon Yitris after a particularly strong sandstorm. The locals were cleaning their homes when they saw the men approach. It was the first time for many to see a foreigner and that’s why so many did not seem to remember that they always had to notify this to the Queen. She only knew about these knew visitors when they decided to ask for a leader and the people, shy but interested, indicated her home.

 She didn’t like, at all, to have people enter her house without permission as they did. Alina knew nothing about manners in the exterior world, but she imagined England and all other lands must have been really awful places if all people did that to their neighbors. They communicated with hand gestures and body language because both of their languages were highly incompatible. Even so, the English sometimes yelled things in their language, as if the people of Yitris had to understand them.

 The Queen, trying to be as generous as she could, decided to invite them for dinner. She had all the best food prepared for them and every single person in the small country, which only consisted of a deep valley, was able to come and greet the strangers in person. Those men ate differently and seemed to have a second skin that made them smell funny. That’s what most of the people thought of them.

 The English, however, thought the people of Yitris were nice but also very strange. They thought it was very weird that a valley like that existed in the middle of the desert. They had been looking for another settlement, an oasis that they had to check thoroughly because it seemed to be located on top of an oil reserve. That’s the kind of explorers they were. Not adventurous men working in mankind’s behalf but just some guys working to get some money like many others.

 When, after the party, they decided to leave, the Queen denied this and insisted on them sleeping on a house that they would give them to be alone and to rest. No one would be there, just them. They took them by a series of stairs and bridges to a lower level where a big house, normally used for storage, had been cleaned and three beds made of thick leaves had been set as well as some more food and water on a table in the middle of the circular home.

 The locals left them alone and the foreigners decided to leave as soon as they could the next day. They agreed that the people of Yitris were very nice but they also thought that they had some work to do and that they couldn’t let down the company for which they worked. Oil was important.

 When they attempted to leave the next day, a group of locals decided to take them, instead, to the mills and fields in the border between the valley and the desert. The men looked at the sand with insistence but the people did not realize that they wanted to leave. Even at the end of the tour, when the English did all signals for them to know they had to go back to the desert, the people appeared not to understand or at least it seemed like they had no answer for that.

 The English had arrived with an exhausted horse and some bags of objects and they went straight to the Queen’s home and demanded their things to be brought to them immediately. Again, she was very bothered by them entering like if it was their home but she decided not to say anything. Instead, she told her aides to bring the objects and, as they did, she told the English with mimic that their horse did not existed anymore.

 She imitated a four-legged animal and then passed a finger over her throat. They understood that immediately and one of the men launch itself at her in rage but two locals grabbed him and stopped his attack. He was yelling and crying and having all sorts of emotions that the people there did not really exhibit on a daily basis. Even for the men holding him, it was interesting to see how foreigners used their feelings.

 They released him and the Queen then spoke in broken English. They were very surprised. She explained that the horse had been killed because in their land, animals were not used for work. Besides, the creature they had brought in was exhausted and wouldn’t have survived another trip. That’s why they had decided to kill it and use its meat and insides in different things in order not to waste anything.

 The man crying didn’t really hear any of this but his leader did. He demanded her to explain what that meant and when they would be able to leave, as they had important matters to attend.

 Queen Alina simply said that the horse was in all that they had eaten fast and happily the day before They had eaten all of his meat and the organs had been stored for further usage in soups for the people of the valley.  They expect it to be very nutritious. As for the bones, they could use them to make weapons or instruments for working on the fields.

 The second question was easier to answer: they couldn’t leave because no one left the valley. They couldn’t afford anyone leaving and telling the world of their existence. So, smiling, she insisted on them going back to their assigned home and settling in. They would soon learn their ways and will be integrated in no time, been able to enjoy all that life had to offer in Yitris.

 The English men complied but not because they agreed but because they knew when to stop fighting. In their minds, Queen Alina was now an enemy and Yitris had to come out to the world and be destroyed. Only because of a horse and the secret of its existence.

lunes, 9 de febrero de 2015

The Age of the Lammergeyers

   Kotor was what we would call a bearded vulture or lammergeyer. What was special about Kotor was the fact that he had an owner, or at least, a human companion, that used him to his advantage. Did not bother the vulture at all as the human always gave him prizes consisting of dead animals, his preferred meal. The bad thing there was that he would rather hunt than eat an already dead prey, but anything was good as long as he was feeding.

 The human used Kotor to survey the mountains. There were a lot of snowy peaks and deep valleys. Also frozen lakes and cold rivers. Kotor surveyed it all and had been trained, for a long time, to look for humans. This proved hard at the beginning because lammergeyers did not really like humans. Granted, they left food everywhere they went, but many of them hunted or chased him for various reasons and that was not acceptable.

 Kotor, however, had been a very young chick when he saw the first human. He didn’t remember if he had been born in the mountains or elsewhere, but he didn’t feel that mattered. The feeling of wind between the feathers was better than any freshly smashed rabbit. It made him feel powerful over all other creatures in those mountains, the fact that he could see them from above. Of course, the land animals were not very thrilled about this and so they tried never to encounter any lammergeyers when hunting.

 This was silly as Kotor never hunted with another bird. To be honest, he didn’t really have any good relations with other animal, except the humans. He was sure that wasn’t a very good thing but the truth was all other birds were scared of him. They even treated him like a pet, saying he worked for the humans than only wanted to invade their mountains and drive them all out. It wasn’t unheard of that every so often, a man would be hit on the head by rocks or bones thrown by lammergeyers. Of course, human thought this was an innocent action but Kotor knew better.

 His job with the two-legged creatures consisted in helping other humans, locating them if they appeared to be in problems. An image of him was stuck on a post in the nearby human settlement. He understood quite soon that it was there to tell the humans to trust him if they ever saw him flying above them when walking the valleys. He knew that if they had blood on their faces or they seemed unusually loud, more than the humans normally were, he had to help them.

 He would normally take something from them and then fly back to the settlement and alert the human called Karma, who would call others, in order to look for the human in distress. They would follow Kotor through the mountains to help. Then Kotor would get his food and could depart in order to fly, hunt, sleep or simply wander around. He thought the humans must have trained others to do the same because it would have been really stupid to make him do all the work by himself.

 What Kotor did not understand was what made the humans penetrate the mountains. Knowing the terrain like few others, the bird knew humans were not properly equipped to live there. Of course, they never stayed, and that was even more incomprehensible. It was like they wanted to suffer on purpose; they wanted to be deprived of food and sometimes companionship, on purpose. It made no sense.

 Kotor envied that from the humans. They were never truly alone and he didn’t understand the one that tried hard to be it. He was alone every single day and it got to be boring. Of course, having someone besides him to compete him was not a very good idea but sometimes he thought it would have been preferable than flying alone so often, not enjoying the rats or rabbits he ate with another vulture.

 One day though, he got to know another lammergeyer. It was a female and, after a few days of courting, he was able to mate with her. They had several eggs and that made Kotor very proud. Due to this happening, he wasn’t as present as before in the human settlement. When he returned after many days of absence, the human he had known wasn’t there anymore. As a matter of fact, no humans were there.

 After checking his young in a tall peak, he decided to fly farther this time in order to know what had happened. He asked other birds that roamed the mountains if they had noticed the disappearance of the humans but most had not noticed it and thought it was better that way because maybe it meant that had left their mountains for good. But Kotor wasn’t pleased with that. He needed to know.

 He flew over the settlement and then followed the course of a river that grew wider and wilder as the terrain began to flatten. He saw many other human towns and cities from above but no trace of the two-legged creatures. Kotor had always thought they were so many, like rats, coming out of every single place. But now they had vanished or maybe they had fled. But why and where?

 Back in the mountains, he informed of his survey to other lammergeyers and convinced them to tell other creatures about it. Of course, they wouldn’t speak with the lesser animals but they agreed to inform the eagles and hawks, as well as some of the land creatures such as wolves and foxes. Many of them had also noticed the disappearance of the humans, specially those that lived from eating the garbage the explorers always left in the valley.

 They all agreed that it was better if no creature left the mountains, at least for now. The humans were not perceptive animals but maybe they had noticed something was wrong and fled because of it. Although not many believed so, it was possible that those creatures knew things they didn’t know. So they decided to do just that, live their lives like they had always done.

 Kotor was surprisingly pleased with this new life. It was a bit weird not to work for the humans but living for hunting and feeding his young, wasn’t bad at all. Yet, he still flew over the human settlement. He didn’t really know why. He didn’t really miss any of them but he had become so attached to them, it was hard not to think about them. Besides, many animals, especially those that used to be hunted, started coming down the mountains to the settlement. Kotor had not realized there was still food there.

 As the lesser animals had not attended the meeting on the mountains, they didn’t know the humans had disappeared or that it was better not to wander too far from their natural environment. They just wanted to eat the free food and in a matter of days, all the food had been eaten. The rats and similar creatures did most of the job and even some foxes and birds had arrived too.

 Kotor, however, never ate anything from that place. He flew over it every so often, but just to check on the place. Many animals had also moved closer to the biggest lake among the mountains. They did not like it before because every human that came into the mountains arrived to that point and camped there for many days. Noisy creatures they were. But now only the wind and the water made sounds and it was perfect.

 Then, one particularly clear day, Kotor noticed something in the horizon. It looked as if the sun had come out again. It was an orange and red glow but it seemed to be increasing in size and the air suddenly felt a bit hotter that it usually was. Kotor landed on a tree and looked at the colour show, that disappeared some time after. Many other animals saw it, and they too went on with their lives, not even thinking what that glow might have been.

 They had no idea that the age of man had finished. The planet had no ruler anymore.

miércoles, 22 de octubre de 2014

The Crossing

My family was very tired, they couldn't walk any more. We all helped putting up a bit tent beneath a rocky formation, in order to spend the night there. We had walked over twenty kilometres today and that was a lot for some of us.

Grandma was the most tired. Mom had to massage her legs for her to be able to sleep. Dad and I agreed to carry grandma on our backs if it was necessary.

Dad, mom, my sister, her husband and I decided to check the map on our mobile device, as grandma and my niece slept in a corner of the tent. According to the map, we were only a few kilometers from the border that passed over the highest peak. If we passed it, we would be safe, at least for a couple more months.

The war had suddenly erupted and, even if we recognized it or not, it was our fault. Many of us helped that mad man with our votes and now he was the only ruler. Many had been killed and he had decided to cleanse the nation of people he deemed "dangerous".

And that's what we, apparently, were. We didn't even now why but we realized it when the police raided our home and wanted to arrest us. They actually took grandpa and, in part, that was the real pain grandma was suffering. They were my father's parents. My mother's parents had been killed in the first wave of the war, as they lived in another city.

We escaped thanks to my sister's husband, a former member of the military, and now we were all on the run, trying to get to the border over the mountains. We couldn't afford any other way of escape as boats and planes had been forbidden, except for those used by the armed forces.

I turned off my phone fast. We had four phones but used only one at a time in order to preserve the batteries. The communications were cut off but somehow some of the apps still work, such as the map.

We slept on the ground, covering ourselves with a few blankets my sister's husband had stolen from the barracks. They were really warm and cozy blankets and we were all grateful for them. Still, I couldn't get any sleep, thinking of the next day. Without a doubt, it would be a very important day: we would cross the most dangerous part of the mountain and then get to a country that no one knew if it would be welcoming.

I woke everyone up at the first light of the following day. Grandma complained and my little niece was happy as some snow had fallen overnight.

We tore down our tent, we put it on the biggest backpack and started walking. Snow made our ascent mucho more slow than I had imagined. We had to pull out the blankets and cover ourselves with them as our clothes were not made for cold weather.

We didn't stop for lunch: we ate in motion, being very careful with the food as it wasn't necessary to lure animals or anyone to our position.

Sunset arrived and I checked my phone: if we walked fifteen more minutes, we would pass the border. I told everyone and insisted on walking in the dark if it was necessary: we were too close to stop now.

What I didn't expect was for the wind to be so strong and chilly, freezing our faces and bodies to the bone. Grandma fainted and we had to stop. After putting up the tent and putting the elderly woman inside, I checked my phone again. With the last remaining battery power, I could see the border was only 700 hundred meters away. The phone died. When I told the news to the others they seemed relieved and we agreed to wake up early to walk to the border and then down the mountain.

There was apparently a town nearby and that was their goal. We knew many people had fled to the neighboring nation and that it might be problem to get in as such, but that was a problem for tomorrow. Now we felt a bit more at ease and and I even slept a couple of hours before been awoken by a rumble, a horrible sound in the distance.

All the family woke up and, although we did not day, we were scared. We packed up again and started walking. The wind had calmed down and the sky seemed cloudless.

After some minutes, we finally arrived at the top, to the border. My mom gave me her phone so I could locate the town. As it was very early still and the sky wasn't properly lit, we may have seen the town from there.

A horrible sound again. But now it was a rumble but something like an engine... an airplane. We all stared at the sky and saw the shadow of a large aircraft. The first light of the day let us see what was happening: in the valley below was the town we were looking for. And the airplane was heading there but not with refugees or food. They were bombing.

We hadn't seen lights because it had been cut off. From our vantage point, we could see at least five more planes descending into the valley and drop dozens maybe hundreds of bombs. The city was on fire.

From our tiny spot in the mountain we were witnesses of an invasion, the first of many. Our future was now even bleaker.