Robert Louis Smith, author of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans, has numerous degrees, including psychology (B.A.), applied microbiology (B.S.), anaerobic microbiology (M.Sc.), and a Medical Doctorate (M.D.). He serves as an interventional cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Institute. He is married and the father of two young children. He began writing Antiquitas Lost in 2003 while studying at Tulane University in New Orleans. For more information please visit http://www.antiquitaslost.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.
By Robert Louis Smith M.D., MSc
A strong headwind was against him, but Ecsar flapped his great wings and lifted higher into the sky. Today I will find him. Today I will kill the boy. Despite the cold pellets of rain that stung his leathern skin, the suns were out, casting an orange glow over the hilly terrain. He watched his broad shadow crawl over the rocky slopes beneath him as he soared higher, scouring the Carafayan countryside. When he first saw the glimmer in the distance, he thought his eyes might be playing a trick on him. Or perhaps the flash was the suns light reflecting off of a metal blade, or even off the lost Mirror of Sorrows. Perhaps I have found the child at last, here amid the rocks and roots. Smirking, Ecsar squinted and folded his wings behind him, diving toward the glimmer like a hawk stooping on a hare. First I will cut off his hands, just like the others. But as he drew nearer, he saw that it wasn’t a blade or mirror at all.
The alien object was large and cylindrical, like a giant ale cask, though it was shiny bright like a coin. Ecsar had never seen its like. Its surface was studded with rows of smooth, round, protuberant scales, and two short poles extended from one side like outstretched arms. Even as he watched, the top of the strange thing spun toward him, aiming a third flashing appendage directly at him. Ecsar tilted his wings and pulled up. Whatever it was, this was not the boy. And something about it caused his stomach to tighten. Drawing the axe from his waist, he began to make circles around it, staying high enough to be well out of its reach. As he considered his next move, the thing spoke.
“Puny Darfoyle!” it said. “Throw down your axe and sheath your talons. Your primitive species is no match for a Dalek!”
Ecsar sneered. Its voice was queer, and somehow metallic. The shiny beast doesn’t know who he trifles with. Holding his axe outstretched, Ecsar straightened his body and spread his wings. We shall see who is no match for whom. With a graceful tuck, he tilted his muscular wings and dived toward the metal cask with his axe extended. His black shadow blanketed the hillside before him.
“Exterminate!” yelled the cask. A bolt of white light erupted from the appendage on its head and hurtled into the sky. Ecsar rolled into a graceful pirouette, but not fast enough. The bolt of light glanced off his cheek, leaving the scent of seared flesh in his nostrils. He bellowed in rage and pain. Before he had his bearings, another bolt of light smashed into his breast plate, stealing his breath.
Shaken, Ecsar retreated, bulleting high into the sky. Bolts of white light chased him, singeing both of his wings. He spun again and flapped with all his strength, climbing, climbing, until he was in the clouds. It was only then that the quarrels of light stopped chasing him. Far beneath him, the shiny cask hadn’t moved, though its head was still spinning slowly, as if searching for him. What ill sorcery is this? he wondered. What strange form of creature? And from what daughterland? Quickly, he composed himself. I must make a quick end of it. The visitor is dangerous. Ecsar tightened his pauldrons and breastplate and reached for the shield at his back. With his axe in his right hand and his shield in his left, he nosed downward and spread his wings again. When he was out of the clouds, he tucked them behind him, gathering as much speed as possible.
Beneath him, the shiny cask started firing as he plummeted. “Exterminate!” it yelled. Bolt after bolt of white light came at him, but this time the arrows of light met only the face of his shield.
“Your heartbeat has quickened, puny Darfoyle! You cower in fear of the Dalek!”
Smiling, Ecsar dived, waiting until the last moment to spread his wings. With his full weight, he slammed his shield into the cask, toppling it, before flapping his wings and taking back to the sky. When he reached the cover of the clouds, he turned and looked down. There, lying between two large boulders, the crippled cask lay motionless. The flashing light was extinguished, and its side bore a large dent where it had taken the hit from his shield. On the boulder adjacent to the dented hulk, Ecsar saw a strange sight. A globular, shiny green thing, with the many tentacles of a sea creature, slithered gracelessly away from the cask. In what manner has this metal abomination birthed this strange infant? With great caution, he began to make his way downward, holding his shield before him as he circled the battle site. He warily descended until he was just above the creeping, slug-like mass, and still the dented cask did not flash or speak. Slowly, he reached out with both talons, plucking the squishy green thing from the rocks. When he had it in his grasp, he gave a squeeze with his mighty talons, and the glistening thing deflated like a pierced bladder, spilling a thick green slime over the rain slicked boulders. Exterminate, he thought, grinning as he dropped the limp mass to the ground. I’m not so puny after all, am I? With a last look over his shoulder, he flapped his wings and took to the skies again. Now, I must find the boy.