Echoes From Dust
by L. S. Popovich
In the Cauterhaugh, lifeforms and even the landscape are composed of synthesized metals, and beasts called cynths ravage the dwindling human settlements. Riku is a Mag, an inorganic human born in this harsh and unforgiving land.
Riku has grown up hearing stories about Mitchlum, a metropolis of habitable trees and the bastion of the Priesthood, which channels divine powers in defense against the encroaching cynths. Riku is chosen to undergo the sacred trials, assume a priest’s mantle and protect her homeland. Everyone has high expectations for her, but her destiny is hers to decide.
|Table of Contents||Glossary|
Chapter 1: Riku
Outside a small tin hut next to a shimmering river, Riku accidentally stomped through a warble’s nest in her hurry. Whirring loudly, a tangled knot of silver-white warble-bees shimmied through the needle-grass and plopped onto the slowly crawling quicksilver stream. Gingerly avoiding a brass flower, she marched into the shady side-yard.
A slender priest named Nadyr was hovering over the meditation stone with exquisite poise. His telescopic legs were compressed against his long, rectangular torso.
Riku cleared her throat, and Nadyr peered out of the corner of his crystalline eyes. “What is it, Riku?”
“I wanna go to the mountaintop and watch the fireworks,” she said, interlocking her silver alloy fingers behind her. “Wanna go too?”
Nadyr’s stance wavered. Sighing, he extended creaking legs and returned to the smooth ground, which emitted a harsh clink when his magnetic sandals clicked into place.
“No, dear. Have you forgotten? Today’s the arrival.”
“Can’t we go to both?” she pleaded, grinning with sparkling porcelain teeth and blinking charming sapphire eyes.
“The arrival is important. When the High Priestess’ daughter comes, she may choose a child from our village to take to Mitchlum. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the fireworks from the steps of the cloister. Aren’t you eager to get your tattoos and have your name entered in the Book of Eternity?”
“I don’t want to be chosen. I’m only thirteen, and I bet the smoky sky in Mitchlum smells horrible. And... I’d probably be the only inorganic girl.”
Riku, Nadyr, and everyone else in Kaminovo Village lived close enough to the wall of Mitchlum to see occasional organics passing through. But Mitchlum itself — the organic city of eternal night — was well-nigh unimaginable to her.
Nadyr’s face squeaked suddenly as his jaw plates tightened. “If you’re chosen you will go to Mitchlum. Sacrificing your body to become a vessel for the gods is the greatest honor you can hope for. I might’ve starved to death if I hadn’t received my rites.”
Riku tucked her fists into her dress pockets and swayed from side to side, so that the sun glinted off her tarnished hair. “I’m going to miss you, Nadyr,” she muttered, “if I get chosen.”
Nadyr smiled and said, “When the god of silence came to me, all my pain and fears were washed away. I promise you, my dear granddaughter, when it’s over, you won’t miss me. We will be one in spirit. Now, go put on your finest ribbon.”
Copyright © 2019 by L. S. Popovich