365 Writing · Stories

East of Elysium

[Traveling again today so it’s another retouch of an older work that I’d like to consider coming back to sometime after I finish Jin’s story…]

Solitary, isolated, alone were all words that came to mind when describing the Ilton tower. The one mark of civilization for leagues it stood in the middle of the largest desert known, the Silt Sea.

The man sat alone at the table. He had picked the table with the best view of the observation deck and bar. Taking a long drag on his cigarette, he waited patiently. He was used to arriving at meetings like this early.

Ilton Tower was the farthest waypoint in the South Eastern Silt Sea, and as such, it was commonly crowded with merchant crews on their last stop across the route. This morning, however, the observation deck at the top of the tower was nearly empty. The bartender was reading a book he had likely picked up in trade from one of the many merchants who passed through. One of which, a captain of a skiff and his first officer, had been chatting at the bar for the past few hours, most likely planning for the most extended crossing of the waste the man figured.

He also figured the exact moment his client was due to arrive and wasn’t surprised at all when a robed figure walked into the room nearly on the dot.

His client seemed nervous. Nervous could be good, it could also be very bad.

The client wove his way around the empty tables to the man. The man merely gestured to the open chair and proffered a cigarette, which the client refused.

Not surprising, this man was dressed as a priest. Outward appearances could be deceiving, however, that much the man was an expert.

“I didn’t expect you to already be here.”

“You’ll find I’m punctual. In everything.”

“Good.” The client took out a white pocket-handkerchief. Black with the while holy symbol of the One God embroidered on it, matching his robes. He nervously whipped the sweat away. “It’s damned hot here.”

“This is one of the hottest places on the planet. The only reason we aren’t both dead from the heat is the coal-powered ice coolers.”

The client looked at him as if he had never heard of such devices, which might be true since it was adapted Elder relics. Ilton Tower brought in enough money to afford all the Elder relics they wanted. With the Le’Arch family controlling the outposts such as the Tower, trade routes, and tariffs across the Silt Sea to Xian it was no surprise they were the wealthiest family in the Kingdom.

“Regardless, let’s not be long. This place is loathe to me.”

“Each to his own.” The man put out his cigarette but out in the ashtray.

The client took a small package out from within his robes and slid it across the table to the man. “Here is all you need to know. It should be done on the night of the Founding festival.”

Picking the package up, the man looked over the immaculate wrapping. “Statement?”

The client nodded, glancing over his shoulder at the bar. The three others in the room had long ago ignored the man and his visitor. One of the perks of having established your presence hours before.

Turning back the client looked like he was about to excrete his stomach’s contents as he whispered the contractual seal. “One more for the unraveling.”

Now, sure the man was, in fact, a priest the man responded in a quiet, relaxed tone, forbidden words gliding off his tongue. “Unraveling for the source of nothingness.”

The priest looked nervous and was sweating twice as much since he first sat down. He whipped his brow again. “The payment will be sent as you requested.” He muttered, standing up and leaving the man alone.

Staring out across the endless silt wastes the man lit another cigarette and smiled to himself.