“Upon each of your crowns will be placed this marking, a symbol of hope,” called the Hue Master dressed in his dusted whites, “a reminder of the rules we are all bound to-“
“More like enslaved to,” muttered Rannock in my ear. His disgust carefully hidden beneath a penitent brow.
“Quiet,” I murmured, “they’ll hear.”
We shifted there, upon the cracked cement, a group of hopefuls. Having passed the test of colours we were ready. Ready for the greatest sacrifice.
“To be a Hue Runner is to lay down your life,” the Hue Master continued to wheeze, spreading out hands over the gathered crowd.
With a flourish of robes and cracked hands he bid us turn round.
“Behold! Citizens of Raven’s Point! The rising force, the dawning light! Here, behold, the future Hue Runners!”
I run because of necessity. Gone are human days of leisure. Running to promote health gave way to racing for survival. Every step planted forward has pushed our humanity back, transforming us into something monstrous.
A decree of metal and blood brought balance to our small realm of chaos. Through the color of our life’s blood do we honor Them. For without their intercession our bones would adorn these forsaken lands.
At first light we run, those chosen by the Wielder foreordained to sustain the status quo.
With legs of fire we wear our packs of life giving hue.
As rock trips, and brush snags our path must never waiver, our feet never yield.
Upon this baked rock of death we must run, run to survive.
No one understood the desert, not like me. I could tell by the way each one ran. Their feet fought against the sand, loathing the dust beneath them. I ran with the ground, undulating with each stride. My body and soul turned warm as sand, becoming one.
It began with the end. Fire and rock evaporated water. The elements turn on one another. Trees and life withered to dust, and left behind was rot and us. Now we run on a rusted knife’s edge, bowing to our doom.
Slip of foot and tilt of rock,
Break of sweat and pound of blood.
Hear our voices raised in dread,
For the beast will soon be fed.
Wipe the canvas,
Color bold and do not faint,
The road will tumble on.
Wield the brush and twist the hand,
Till our freedom’s bought again.
Call the horn,
Set a pace.
The hue is running onward.