The Aeolian Master - Book One - Revival HTML version

seven men and one woman as they traversed the hard, cold floor. The uneasy echoes from their footfalls
rebounded from the walls and reverberated into the distance until the sound was gone and replaced by the next
set of echoes. The echoing was like a voice enticing them further into the bowels of the building.
Sam, smoking a cigar and leading the pack, kept slowing his pace so he wouldn't get too far ahead. Thinking
about the night he was captured, he started cursing the unknown rat, one of Hurd's spies, who had informed on
their rendezvous. He was wishing he could find out who he was, then get his hands on him and rip off his head.
He'd like to stuff it down Hurd's throat.
The three men just behind Sam were spread out and obviously in no hurry as they walked along, almost
skulking, like their shadows sliding across the floor. A somber mood prevailed and the atmosphere was uneasy
as they moved toward an unseen, but known destination. Fatal danger awaited.
Immediately behind the three men was Dahms, a woman with short blond hair that fell to an inch above her
shoulders, a tall athletic body, and a seemly face, although without expression. She walked with purpose, and
unlike the others she walked easily and with confidence. She had no fear, and no gloominess about her. She
was wearing leather shorts and a leather top with boots on her feet. Because of her attitude, an objective
observer could have predicted she was getting ready to go on a nice, peaceful hike in the mountains, except, of
course, for the sword she was wearing on her left hip and the dagger she had strapped to her right calf.
Behind her ambled three more men, scattered in various positions and walking with an attitude of
resignation. No one cared to be friendly, and talking was virtually absent, except for the occasional chatter
from the three men in the front, and Gaal, who was walking behind Dahms, next to Perry Higley.
Suddenly, Harold, the man just behind Sam, took the cigar (a last request granted by Hurd) out of his mouth,
ground it into the palm of his hand, and threw it on the floor.
Hal looked at him with a wry face. "By all the heavens, what the hell did ya do that for? It musta hurt like a
Harold looked at his palm. There was a large red circle with blisters starting to form around the edge and
black ash molded into the center. "I wanted to make sure I was awake. And what differences does it make?
We're all gonna be dead by sundown."
Harold had been a rebel. In fact the entire group now traversing the hallway, including the woman, had been
rebels. There were no criminals in their midst. The city council rarely sent criminals to the Run, instead they
sent them to the city prison. As for the rebels, they never went to the prison, instead they always got a choice of
the Run or the pits—death either way; except the Run was faster.
Harold had believed in the cause of the rebels and believed that their plan to fight for a better place to live
was not only just, but righteous. Hurd, the leader of the city council, had virtually eliminated the middle class,
with the exception of the police. And the only reason the police still had a good life was that the council needed
to keep them happy in order to keep the majority of the population under control. The social structure now
included only a few of the extremely wealthy—the city council and a few others, with the police in between,
and on the other side were the masses of the lower income and the very poor. Most of the people were living on
semi-starvation wages with no chance of ever digging themselves out of debt and certainly no hope of ever
having even a modest life. The essentials of living were hard to come by. What was considered to be good
food was seldom seen. And the only reason cheap clothing of adequate design was more accessible was
because of the clothing factory within the city walls.
Harold, a middle aged man, had known of the rebel underground for several years, but had delayed in joining
them, not only because of the danger, but also because of what he believed was rationality. Hope kept him
thinking that Hurd and the council would come to their senses, would become humanitarian and would start
helping the people. But it never happened, and finally he realized it wasn't going to happen. Hurd got greedier,
and the more he got the more he wanted. Harold laughed out loud. So loud that the sound echoed down the
hall. And although the others looked at him, they didn't ask him why. He was thinking about the irony of it all.
Two weeks after he joined the underground he, the two men on either side of him, and the woman behind him
were caught in a raid in one of the underground arsenals. His life was over and there was nothing he could do
about it. And the bottom line was, he didn't care, it wasn't his life he was worried about.
Jos moved closer and put his hand on Harold's shoulder as they continued to walk along the hallway. He
was breathing heavily, but not from the long walk. The air of frustration crept over all of them. "I'm sorry I got
you into this," he said, and then he added, "but at least we'll go out fighting."
"Don't take on any guilt because of me," growled Harold. "I'm man enough to make my own decisions in
life. And as far as the fighting goes, it'll be a futile fight with death in the end for all of us." He paused briefly.