Eighth Circle (Chapter 5, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 5

The afternoon sun shone through the workshop door. Bryn looked up from his lathe. The dolphins were making a lot of noise. It was early for them to come back from fishing and go into the sanctuary pool. Most fishing villages had them. The dolphins were as much a part of their lives as the dogs that protected them from wolves and the cats that caught rats and mice.

They all benefitted. The dolphins helped the villagers with fishing and the sanctuary pool protected them from the perils of the open sea. They always spent the night there. Orcas patrolled the sea lanes after dark and it wasn't safe when they were about.

It hadn't always been like that. People spoke of a time before the guardians. That was before The Fall. In those far-off days, people could roam the land as they pleased. They could go anywhere they wanted. Now, you had to get permission to go outside your designated area.

Stretches of forbidden territory separated the settled areas. The trolls patrolled them on land and the orcas at sea. The orcas were a sort of sea troll and just as terrifying as the land variety.

Like everything connected with the guardians, the orcas had a blue tinge. You didn't see it at first because it only affected the black parts of their bodies. But, when the light was right, like when you shone a flashlight on them, the blue was obvious. If you were at sea and came across an orca that didn't have that sort of colouring then you knew it was a wild orca that had not yet been captured by the guardians and doctored by them.

Bryn removed his protective goggles and reached for a micrometer screw-gauge. He needed to check the valve he was making. It was for a marine engine built to ancient specifications. It was rough, tough and powered by old-fashioned liquid hydrocarbons like his ancestors used hundreds of years ago. It worked by taking in water at one end and hurling it out at the other.

The guardians allowed them to access primitive technologies. It gave them a feeling of superiority when they toured the villages on sight-seeing trips. They would stare down from their high-tech vehicles and make patronising remarks, saying how lucky the common people were to live under their protection.

They were anything but lucky. The guardians treated the ordinary people as slaves and even hunted them for sport. At least, that is what some people said. Girls vanished and were never seen again. Others returned with strange tales about being kidnapped and taken away in spaceships for wild parties on other planets. They were so mixed up and crazy that you never knew what to believe.

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