The ground was hard, cracked and a deep red where three shadows appeared from the night. Harkoff, Shrendig and Foolio had spent a week in trucks and trains, changing transport in between Communes and Malasrionese jurisdictions, border guards and farmers looking on at the faceless, dirty foreigners. Something bit at them when their goggled-black eyes flashed their way. They looked at themselves when they considered those walking mirrors, like little sparkles of glass shards they appeared and then dissolved in the wavy heat or the darkness. They say Proskut conjures mirages in the desert.
The ruins were at their feet. The sun rained daggers, they made haste to find the entrance.
The outside led to the inside. All along the walls little shadows cast shapes and trenches from the chiselling in the soft stone’s surface. Panels of the language appeared warped and obscene, to be viewed when the sun was held differently. The three moved invisibly, goggles on. The ruins were deep. They led to three altars, each of them sunlit by long channels cut into the walls and ceiling, different parts of the rooms shadow-strung and brilliantly illuminated.
The second altar was the superior of the three, two sets of footprints had disturbed the dust to its berth, the white-hot sun seemed to pierce the swirling symbol cut into the far wall to the left of the entrance with a knife of bright floating silt.
“Is it right?”
“Yeah, we’re done here.”
The outside lead to four mangey shadows standing in the indirect shade behind a crumbling column. Rifles slung lazily around three, the fourth sitting down smoking, wearing a strange hat.
“Hello Mister Greenshirts,” Shrendig usherred Harkoff and Foolio back into the darkness of the ruins.
The rifles dangled on shoulders, another cloud of smoke.
“Um, yeah - transport.”
“I was under the impression I was going for a little walk westward-way.”
“Change of plans.”
“I wasn’t aware the plans change, Mister Greenshirt.”
Shrendig never missed the quick glance the strange-hat man gave one of his friends with a rifle.
Shrendig paced back into the ruins, rubbing the blood off her hands with the sand and dust from off the stone floor.
All four men donned in green canvas had been strangled or stabbed in some form. Blood was beginning to dry on the cream-coloured sand.
“Don’t take the rifles.”
Harkoff looked up from kneeling over the blood-covered fire-arm below a man with an opened throat.