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The Hunt of Anim

The Hunt of Anim

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Published by S. Lei Pyke
thelembi is a kid living in the rough streets of the Undercity, the ancient underground ghetto of Arynstar. He has never seen the surface, but his actions will change the course of the ancient city of Man. First, however, he must learn about his past, and take on the burden of his ancestry.
thelembi is a kid living in the rough streets of the Undercity, the ancient underground ghetto of Arynstar. He has never seen the surface, but his actions will change the course of the ancient city of Man. First, however, he must learn about his past, and take on the burden of his ancestry.

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Published by: S. Lei Pyke on Apr 18, 2009
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The Hunt of AnimBy S. Lei Pyke
Chapter 1:
The Year of the King, 1972Thelembi crouched behind the waste barrels of the slaughterhouse, panting. Infront of him, hounds bayed in their frustration; their noses alternatively on the ground andin the air. They wouldn’t find him; he had learned the trick of confusing them.Thelembi was coated in offal from the barrels he crouched behind, covered inrotting hide that had been set out for the waste carter. The carter would not come untilthe hunt was gone, so Thelembi felt relatively safe.He held open a tiny tin of Dust; a powerful, illegal drug. It was made from thespores of a naturally occurring fungus that was unique to the Undercity. He always hadsome for exactly this occasion.He could barely breathe for the stink, but the alternative was sure death. One of the dogs sniffed at his pile and he closed his eyes, praying that he would not bediscovered. It stuffed its nose into the can and then sneezed, blowing the Dusteverywhere. Thelembi held his breath, but too late. He had to stop himself fromswearing as the tingle of dust stung his nostrils. His eyes watered as he stifled his ownurge to sneeze. Soon, his nostrils burned with the Dust. Other dogs came to sniff the pile. When they began to chew on the hide, Thelembi despaired for his life.To his relief, the master gave a shrill whistle, commanding the dogs to get out of the scraps. With a snort, the first dog hiked his leg and pissed on Thelembi’s pile. Themaster on his masyth gave the signal to search the next street. It groaned and unfurled itswings a bit. The draconic beast was easily fifteen feet long from end to end, though itwas only about three feet across at its widest spot. Its rider sat in the saddle with his bowat the ready, his legs occupying the place where the creature’s arms and front shoulder  blades had once been.The master’s hounds grouped around the legs of the masyth, yipping withexcitement. The master lifted his horn to his lips, sounded three notes in rapidsuccession, and waited. Form three or four directions, Thelembi could not quite tell,similar blasts echoed. With a sharp curse, the master jerked his masyth around and
 jabbed it into motion. The hounds trotted after, their tongues lolling, their tails erect.Thelembi smiled. Soon, the dogs would be seizing or insane.Still, Thelembi waited. Two hundred feet overhead, the ceiling of B district waslost in a haze of light. It was saffron colored, but Thelembi did not know the difference.He had never seen light of any other color. Newcomers to Undercity claimed that thehunters never came after “night” on the surface, but night was only a legend to Thelembi.The Undercity never got dark.The distant baying of the dogs told him that the hounds had found alternative preyto chase. With a sigh, he climbed out of his gristly hiding place. He stripped down onthe spot, scraping the gore and offal off of his pale flesh to the best of his ability. Theclothes would be no good now, but he could find more soon enough. Reaching back intohis hiding place, he withdrew a pouch. Opening it, he counted twenty gold crowns—afortune beyond his wildest dreams. This was worth hiding in gore.He had stolen it from a slaver who had come to the outer districts to captureyoung children for the slave markets. The man had drunk himself comatose on a distilledspirit of wheat and dust called Larq. Thelembi had been watching the market assemble,marking his order of theft from the roof of an inn when the roof had collapsed under hisweight. When the slaver did not stir, Thelembi had relieved him of his purse. With luck,the innkeeper would believe that the man ruined the crumbling inn’s roof. He hadescaped without notice. The buildings were derelict enough that they collapsed all thetime.All of this was common. Illegal fortunes were made and lost in B at the whim of the gods. Now that the unfortunate slaver’s gold was his, he would be changing thesecoins out for less conspicuous ones. Gold coins were sought after, but not truly wanted.To keep them meant death more often than good fortune, but to reap their reward theywere best when exchanged.This left him in a very uncomfortable situation. In only an hour, he would beraving in the effects of Dust. The Hunt was baying and sounding deeper into the district.They would not give up on him so easily, but he had escaped them for now. He knew thathe was still in danger.
Quietly, he raced off away from the dogs. He was the fastest runner in B district,though he never revealed it to anyone. He saved his speed only for times like this, whenthe Hunt would not leave the district.The Hunt was a vicious blood sport popular with the nobles of Arynstar. Theywould select one citizen of the Undercity to hunt like a beast of prey and pursue that person until it was cornered. Then they would watch and compose poems as theunfortunate was ripped apart by the dogs. It was a foul tribute to the goddess Anim, theKing’s deity of stealth and cunning.It seemed that the hunt was always after him. He had escaped twenty of them inhis lifetime, including this one, which made him a legend among the urchins of Undercitywho regarded him as an immortal hero. Rumors he had overheard said that the hunt, too,regarded him as a master prize. His fame among the urchins and crime bosses kept himsafe from the locals but none would aid him either, especially at a time like this.He stopped to urinate, but he couldn’t squeeze out a dribble. Fear still had astranglehold on his loins. Still, he laughed at his attempt. He scratched his filthy, prominent ribs and tried to think of an escape. He tugged on his long, platinum braid infrustration.He had to get clean somehow or even the hunter would smell him, and he had toget off the streets before the hallucinations started. He was already feeling numbness inhis face as the drug was starting to turn off his pain receptors. He was too far from hishome to reach it in time, and it was not the safest place to go when he knew he would beraving and insensible.Carefully, he climbed up the crumbling wall of the nearest building and racedacross the closely spaced, flat rooftops, praying that each one would hold his weight.There was only one place in B district that he could go for refuge. It was a place wherethe hunt did not dare to go. It was the temple of Meranna.The temple of Meranna was unlike any building in B District. It seemed to bemade of living stone. It towered above all the other buildings, but showed no signs of  breakage. Its entire outer surface, from the floor to the lofty ceiling of the Undercity, wasintricately carved with arcane writing and images of creatures that he had never seen before. Coming close to the temple, he could smell clean water in the air. He had been

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