Who Knows Where (Survivor’s Dream)

Zulf. Very soon the Kid’s going to have to face that man again. For the last time.

They met on the worst day of Zulf’s life. There in the Hanging Gardens he aimed to throw it all away. It wasn’t the first time Zulf had nothing to lose. He was born to a simple Ura couple who didn’t last long before plague took them. He grew up hungry in the tunnels of the Tazal Terminals. So he took to stealing from a Caelondian missionary living there. He once got sloppy with his thieving hands. The missionary caught him, but didn’t rat him out. Instead, he offered to take him in. That missionary raised Zulf like a gentleman. Like he was his own son. Taught him theology, history, and mercy. When the missionary passed away, Zulf promised to continue his work, to bring about a lasting peace between the Ura and Caelondia.
Zulf started teaching the missionary’s wisdom to any Ura who would listen, and listen they did. He advocated tolerance, and argued that the Ura should atone for the war. He believed the City had much to teach his people. However, Zulf felt he could only do so much in the Tazal Terminals. He needed Caelondia to know the Ura had changed. He decided to do what the missionary did many years before. He left the City of his youth to brave a savage land. The journey was hard. But he knew how to fend for himself. And then at last, Zulf saw the Rippling Walls on the horizon. He endeared himself to City folks straightaway. And in turn he fell in love with the City and its people. One, in particular.
This young lady was fascinated by the Ura, but she never met anyone like Zulf. She told him she knew all the City’s best-kept secrets. The Hanging Gardens was their favorite spot. It was there that Zulf clasped her hands and proposed in proper Caelondian style. He celebrated with his friends long into the night. Joy and revelry like you’ve never seen. Too bad he couldn’t remember it all. He woke up alone underground inside the Ura-Caelondian War Memorial, built like an Ura den. But something was wrong. He emerged from that hole in the ground…into a waking nightmare. Everything that wasn’t gone was twisted upside down. The world was frozen. Air thick with ash. What few faces he saw in the street stared back at him with gray and vacant eyes. He found his wife-to-be asleep inside her home. But when he reached out to her…she joined with all the ashes in the sky.
And so, Zulf returned to where he proposed in the Hanging Gardens, and there he stood. As if the Gods would answer him.

Tomorrow.  It’ll all be over, tomorrow


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