The City of Pillars

The City of Pillars by Joshua P. Simon

Book: The City of Pillars by Joshua P. Simon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joshua P. Simon
Tags: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic
building but found no sign of Shadya. Shouting her name warranted no response.
    By the time they returned to the wagon, Athar was yanking on his reins, shaking the post Andrasta had tied him to. A growl that reminded Rondel of a bear came out of the camel’s shaking jowls while it flung its head to the right.
    Andrasta began to scold Athar in hushed tones. “Stupid beast, I ought to—”
    “Wait,” said Rondel studying the camel. Athar continued to jerk his head to the right. “I think something’s going on here that we’re missing.”
    Rondel led the others in the direction the camel had gestured which took them to the other side of the road. He found a set of small footsteps next to blackened dirt. The discolored earth continued to a narrow patch of land between buildings.
    “Shadya!” No answer.
    What in the world would she be doing over here?
    He took a step in the direction of the footsteps when a hand grabbed his arm. “I would not go farther. It’s pointless. Look at the ash on the ground and the scorch marks on the side of the building there,” said Fikri.
    “What are you talking about?”
    “Past these homes there is a small grove of olive trees which leads to the river—”
    “And?”
    “On the other side of the river, three acacia trees stand in small arc. Between the trees is a cave in the ground. It’s the lair of a djinn.”
    “A what?” asked Andrasta, forgetting to mask her voice.
    “A djinn,” said Fikri, not seeming to notice Andrasta’s error. “You foreigners call them jinnies.”
    Rondel sniggered. “Are you trying to tell me there really are magical creatures that inhabit lamps and grant wishes?”
    Fikri’s eyes narrowed into slits. “Do not mock us with bedtime stories, twisting something dangerous into something wistful. A djinn is evil. Especially this one. We call it a majun because it’s not only evil, but mad. It has great powers, much more than a normal djinn.”
    Andrasta pushed past them, sword in hand. “Let’s get the woman and leave this place.”
    It was obvious her patience had worn through. Rondel’s wasn’t faring better. He twisted his arm free, drew his sword, and followed.
    Fikri shouted something from behind, but Rondel ignored it.
    Exiting the space between the two buildings, they came into a small clearing of browned, shin-length grass. The olive grove Fikri mentioned stood on the other side of the clearing. Andrasta entered without pause.
    “He’s not following us,” said Rondel. “I guess he believes this djinn is as bad as he said.”
    “Or he’s letting us fall into a trap.”
    “Always so positive.”
    “Rondel!” a shout came.
    “Shadya!”
    “This way,” hissed Andrasta, running through the olive trees and into another clearing.
    Rondel surged past his partner, running with reckless abandon through knee-high grass. Shadya shouted his name twice more. The grass thinned as he reached the river bank. He came to a halt, mouth falling open.
    On the other side of the Undis River, rested a twisting mass of black and gray smoke interlaced with small bursts of bright orange fire. Shadya seemingly floated above the smoke, her black abayah flapping in the still air as she thrashed. Her clothes did not burn.
    The djinn stopped. The smoke shifted. Rondel realized it had swung toward him. The black smoke coalesced into a human like head at the top of the creature. Where its mouth would be, a yellow crescent formed. The fiery smile widened until Rondel stared at a wide gaping maw. A burst of flame raced toward him.
    Something slammed into his back.
    He hit the ground with a thump. Air left his lungs and heat washed over his back.
    “You idiot. Pay attention,” Andrasta said in his ears.
    His chest itched. He blinked. “Shadya.”
    He climbed to his feet and looked at the opposite river bank as the djinn disappeared behind a small formation of sandstone.
    “Rondel!” echoed faintly back to him. He had to save Shadya.
    He started toward the

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