An unedited excerpt from an upcoming work
Their Dangerous Descent towards Death
Coming by November 2020
Iago woke with a start. It was dark.
There was no gentle moonlike glow from the crystals. He looked straight up, surprised at first not to see stars filling the firmament. Then, he remembered where he was.
There was a loud series of clicks and grunts coming from the opposite side of his protecting wall, in the direction of the Lethe. Even as he cocked his ears to try and identify the sounds, they were answered by more clicks and grunts in a higher tone. Then in a third, lower tone.
It was a conversation, he realized, goosebumps rising on his arms.
He stayed as still as he could, not knowing how close he was to whatever was making the guttural sounds. For a frightening moment, he imagined that whatever was making the odd noises were on the other side of his little wall. He held his breath.
Iago had no misconceptions about languages. Even this series of sounds, basic as they appeared to be, likely allowed the sharing of deep thoughts. After all, basic computer coding was based on nothing but 1’s and 0’s yet was capable of putting humans into space. In short, he realized there was an intelligence behind the conversation.
But there was something about the dull chuckles that followed the other sounds that convinced him to stay hidden from his visitors. It was only when he heard the crackling of a fire that he finally worked up the courage to peek over the wall. A light ground mist was rising off the river, lending a ghostly sense to what Iago could see.
Troglodytes. Exactly like the frescoes had pictured them.
Six of them, sitting out on the end of the closest pier, sitting in a tight circle, eating. And apparently carrying on an animated conversation. Interspersed among the clicks and grunts was the occasional throaty chuckle, reminding Iago of nights spent around campfires, telling stories, and joking with friends. Their shaggy, white hair almost glowed in the firelight.