The exiled Amu Emilru picked himself off the ground and bit his lip to keep from crying out in pain. The Ebonite who’d kicked him to the ground stood over the old man to make sure his point was understood. Emilru could have done without the kick – the point was loud and clear.
“I was on my way,” said Emilru, “but thank you for the boost out the gate.”
“Don’t let us catch you slithering back into town again,” the man yelled. “The Council ordered you to be banished. You’re the first false prophet in centuries, you old fool. We’re never going to let you back inside!” The man slammed the dome’s gate shut.
Emilru didn’t look back as he leaned upon his staff. Taking a few steps into the dusty grassland of the planet-wide Pampas, he realized the threat was real. If he ever returned to Phethorei, his own townspeople would kill him. He had no idea where he was going to go. The other domes would shun him because the Council had so publicly declared him a false prophet. Emilru had gained a few followers in his cries against the Council, but his supporters had been threatened into submission.
“Yes, Emilru,” he said to himself, “you are an old fool.”
No one wanted to hear that the Kynajabi Eradication Effort was evil, and the majority of the people had sided with the Council. Most called Emilru a traitor. Now, he was cast into exile for proclaiming the truth.
It had all happened a few moon cycles ago when he’d been invited before the Council. They’d said they wanted Emilru’s guidance, since he was the supposed mouthpiece and incarnation of the Divine’s will. But, as soon as he’d been summoned, something hadn’t felt right to Emilru. He’d ventured to the meeting suspecting that the Council wanted of him something far more than guidance. Up until that time, he’d worked independent of the Council, guiding the people religiously and trying to straighten out their misconceptions about the power of the Amus. The Council had always maintained its distance from religious interference, but no longer. At the meeting, Emilru’s fears were confirmed as the Councilmen asked him to publicly support their campaign. They wanted him to assure the people that the Kynajabi Eradication Effort was the only way to ensure their people’s safety. Emilru had stood against the Kynajabi Eradication Effort all along, and every Ebonite knew it. Emilru – for his own, very complicated reasons – could not condone the slaughter of the native creatures. He’d upset many of his followers by holding to this position, but they’d mostly tolerated his heretical beliefs. However, now he’d had to stand up directly against the Council. The Council had been quite angry over his refusal, and Emilru’s uneasy feeling had intensified tenfold. So, he’d looked into the Head Councilman’s mind. It was there, in Riyegn’s thoughts, that Emilru had learned the true reason for the Council’s desire to annihilate the Kynajabis. It had nothing to do with the supposed danger from the native creatures.
Greed, thought Emilru now as he trudged into the grassland. The Council seeks global, unchallenged colonization, plain and simple. Ebonites and Kynajabis alike are dying because the Council can’t restrain its land lust. So wrong. So stupid.
Part of him wished he’d never discovered the Council’s secret. If he hadn’t discovered why they were trying to exterminate the native creatures, then he wouldn’t have had to speak out directly against them. He could have kept his god-prophet position. He might have eventually found a way to lead his people back to peaceful cohabitation with the creatures. But, after learning of the intensity of the Council’s motives, he’d had to speak out. They weren’t just naively slaughtering the creatures in an attempt to protect their own people. No, they were destroying the creatures out of greed. Emilru had had to stand against the Council. This had earned him swift banishment.
Emilru held his cloak to his chest as he walked through the knee-high grass. He knew from study of Ebon’s geography that it would be difficult to find shelter. Against his back, Season 1’s wind swept unimpeded across the vast Pampas. The predators that ranged the grassland would probably leave him alone, seeing as there was plenty of smaller prey. His only hope for survival was to hunt behind the predators, possibly living off of what they left behind. Emilru had no fear of the Kynajabis. As long as he left them alone, he would suffer no harm from their kind.
He walked on for some time before he needed rest. Lying on his back in a clump of weeds, he tried to gather the grass around him for shelter. He gazed up through the brown-green vegetation and saw that Ebon’s two moons had risen behind the cloud-covered sky. There was barely enough light for him to see his booted feet, but the black-eyed Ebonite sat up and strained to search the Pampas for any sign of danger. The wind blew the tall grasses in surges of different movement, however, so he wasn’t able to determine if any predators lurked nearby.
Lying back in his bed of weeds, Emilru noticed a queerer light than that from the pale moons. A reddish glow covered the weeds around his head, and he sat up and turned to discover the light’s origin.
The already edgy Ebonite jumped when he saw a swirl of fiery light hanging in the air. Stranger still, a man was coming out of the lights toward him. Emilru lay flat on his stomach in the weeds to hide, but he saw the grass brush aside and the man’s legs come to stand before him.
“Emilru, get up,” the man said in flawless, loud Ebonese. “I didn’t come all this way to look at your backside.”
The Ebonite pushed his chest off the ground. Squinting his black eyes against the red lights, he saw that this man before him was not an Ebonite. His eyes held white. His hair was lighter, finer. The man’s flowing coat whipped about in the wind, but he stood tall as if he didn’t feel the effects of the environment.
“Trok?” Emilru asked. “Trok, old friend, is that you?”
The man smiled.