The Forbidden City

By Alexander Grant

Fantasy, Action & adventure

Paperback, eBook

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382
1 mins

 

'We will drink together and then we will walk outside. We will be holding hands, and I must ask you not to let go of me, no matter what you see. Now drink up,' she urged, lifting the goblet to her lips. Leandros could not avoid noticing that the irises of her eyes were narrowed, making her resemble a wild animal facing an unknown threat.
The drink had a scented flavour and left a bitter aftertaste in the mouth. When they had all drained their goblets Naya stood up and extended her hand to Leandros. He took it and followed her to the door.
As they went out Naya stood in front of him, blocking his view. 'Remember, don't let go.' she said, moving aside.
General Leandros, commander of armies and fearless soldier, beheld a chilling sight. On, the previously empty island stood the most magnificent city he had ever laid eyes upon. A city of large buildings, in the middle of which rose four high towers of every imaginable design. All the buildings seemed to be covered by white marble, black granite or pink quartz. It was a thing of incredible beauty and magnificence. At the same time it seemed to radiate a sense of unsuppressed rage.
As if in a dream, Leandros heard the voice of Naya explaining that this was an Imperial city and that it was normal to be filled with dark feelings. It had this effect, she explained, on anyone who beheld it. The Salt Guardians were there, she said, to 'guard the bridges from the dark'. Although they could not tell how the bridges should be guarded, for centuries the Indrans had been stationing their best soldiers next to the bridges, as instructed by their legacy. They called this place 'the Forbidden City'.
Leandros tried to talk, to ask a question, but he was unable to. He felt Naya's fingers on his lips and heard her instructing him not to try to talk. 'You will only exhaust yourself trying so we had better return.' He was almost dragged by Naya and Malek back to the cottage.
Naya offered him water and asked him to sit and rest, while she prepared a meal of dried fruits and nuts. They ate in silence and Leandros felt his strength gradually returning.
'Now we may talk,' Naya announced. 'I am certain you have many questions and no idea where to start?' Next to her, Malek gave a feeble smile, as if he were also shaken by the experience.
'I felt as if the city wanted to drink my soul,' said Leandros. 'How come I could not see it before?'
'I am afraid the explanation will confuse you even more. You see, this city exists in a timeframe only seconds different from our own. To see it, it is necessary to speed up your perception. For that, you need the drink I gave you, which does exactly that. The presence of a shaman is necessary, to “anchor” you in this timeframe. Without me, you could get lost in time. I know all this makes little sense but that is the best way I can describe it. I warned you it's confusing.'



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