|Rules and Guidelines|
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|Kuile, 82 - Afternoon, hr 9|
The warm sun bakes the skin on her back, resting her chin on her sandy hands she watches her mother and Diran as they lie on the beach near her. Their voices as they talk soothes her, her eyelids feel heavy and she allows them to close. A ragged voice whispers, she can barely hear it "Rose, my flower!" . There are people screaming and moaning. A voice yells, she knows it but can't place it "AYLA, SHE'S DYING!" Her eyes open again, Diran is stepping on a scorpion, they are safe from its sting now. Pearl Beach, her beautiful warm sanctuary far from danger and discord. It seems to instill peace within all who visit, a special and sacred place. Leaning against her mother, she holds up the Pearl she found "Look Mamma!". Her mother's heartbeat lulls her farther away into a great peace. A whispered voice causes her to pry her heavy lids open again "Don't leave Ayla, come to my voice".
A girl is crying "Mamma you can't leave us! We still need you!" Someone should help that girl, she thinks to herself as she walks to the surf. Scuffing her feet through the warm sand then standing just where the water nibbles onto the beach, she watches her feet as the water covers them. A voice calls to her and she turns to the beach "Ayla, no matter what happens know that I love you! I always have" Who is that? Her mother and Diran continue to talk farther up the beach, her mother waves to her, smiling, she waves back. "I always will! Please don't leave me!" She wades farther into the water, the waves crash against her body. "Don't leave us, we love you, we need you!" The warm water is like silk against her skin. "So you can hug Rose, when we get her back!" As she goes under the water, she thinks, "my mother is Rose". She swims underwater towards the coral reef, she can see the shimmer of the light from the surface play on the rippled sandy bottom.
Looking back to the shore her mother and Diran are small specks. Surrounded by the great expanse of water, fear overcomes her, "I love you Ayla!". Something grabs at her hand and pulls, in terror she tries to get her hand back, but the grip on her hand is too strong and pulls her under. She's pulled farther and farther down, until she can hold her breath no longer, her mouth opens and the water comes rushing in. She chokes, screaming "MAMA!", she coughs and sputters "HELP ME!". "Mom's not here Ayla I am! I'm here Ayla I love you". The pain overwhelms her and she thrashes trying to escape the hand that grips so tightly "NO! LEAVE ME BE!". "No I won't let you go Ayla! I love you!" Who is that! The hand is relentless, it pulls her deeper and deeper. The girls voice again, chanting, "Dynn, bring her back to us, bring my Mamma back to us", would someone please help that girl!
Swimming within a sea of pain, she continues to gasp for air as the hand pulls her farther and farther down. She finally hits the sandy bottom with a thud, her eyes open wide, she is in the water no longer, she looks up into the jungle canopy, a coughing man is looming above her. Waving his hand in front of her eyes, his voice booms in her head painfully, "Ayla, Ayla! Can you hear me?" Then the girl "Mamma Mamma! What do you need? What can I do?" She looks at the girl and asks her hoarsly "Mamma? Is she here? I must tell her where I am, she'll worry."
|Rosa, 82 - Afternoon, hr 8|
Nayal made this house. Nayal smashed the stone, and Nayal built it with Nayal's hands.
Nayal is thinking about mating with Marmog soon.
|Rosa, 82 - Evening, hr 12|
You never know what Avien'zia will bring you. Sometimes, it is something horrible. Something you wish you never saw, wish you never had to experience. She let it happen, did nothing to stop it. When that happens, you question your faith, and wonder - is she real? Is she even listening to our prayers?
Then something amazing happens, something completely unexpected. Something wonderful and bright, shiny and new and you know for sure - Avien'zia loves you, and she wants you to be happy. Sometimes, things happen that are bad, but she doesn't want those bad things for you. She wants only the good.
So why do the bad things happen then? Why doesn't she stop them? Perhaps there is a reason you must go through what you do - perhaps it is a test? Or maybe in the end, something wonderful will come from the ruins?
When she stepped down the road that night, she knew she was going toward a new life, a new home. She understood she was leaving her siblings, her family. She even felt a little guilty for not going to fight with some of the others. Yet, somehow, she knew she had to go, and she had to go right then. There was no waiting for Trenton or Noel, not anymore. No hoping Kaerun or Daryn or Liam or any of the others might come with her. No, something inside her whispered "Go Sylvan, go now." And so she went. Her journey began with a single step to the southeast, toward an orchard still hardly seen in the distance.
Why so instant, that whispered command? It wasn't her place to ask, she simply followed where Avien'zia willed.
|Lote, 82 - Sunrise, hr 4|
Kenna grew stronger daily. I began to feel that I was not cursed. We lived together, the three of us, in that small house for many happy years. Junta began to look a little older, and I imagine I did as well, but he started to get tired. I let him rest, there was so much to do that I could understand him wanting to get a little more sleep.
I taught Kenna to hunt. She did very well. We fashioned some crude armour for her to practice with, and Larkin helped her. Larkin was a strong Stoneshaper lad, so much like his father. I liked to sit back and watch silently as the two of them played together.
I too took some time to hone my skills. I tried to grapple with my new-found "gift". I noticed sometimes, after calling out to the stone for its aid my head would ache painfully. I rubbed at my temples to try and ease the piercing pain behind my eyes. The hair at my temples also started to turn white but I prayed more, I practiced more, and eventually I seemed to gain some control over it. The pain would only last for a short time anyway.
Kenna went back into the mines with Larkin but I decided to wait outside with Junta while he slept. He slept for a very long time now, without opening his eyes even once in the course of days or weeks. I prayed more to the mountain spirit, but I began to falter. What if he never awoke again? What if this happiness I had found was just another fleeting moment? If Junta never woke up, I wouldn't know what to do...
I went into the mines in search of Kenna. My mind was getting feverish. Too much time in the sun. I looked through all the tunnels. I couldn't find her. I asked my siblings but they didn't seem to know where she could have gone. I went through every tunnel, I went back and retraced my steps. I jumpted at every shadow. I couldn't find her.
I couldn't find Kenna and Junta would not stir. Everything that had made the past years bearable was gone. I ached. The pain returned. I prayed and prayed but nothing. I couldn't stay...I couldn't bare it.
I wrote a note and I scrambled down the mountain, half-mad and with no idea where I was going, what I thought I would find.
|Lote, 82 - Evening, hr 11|
The girl stopped when she came across the pool of water. It wasn't like the boggy swamp water she'd been trudging through. It was clear and full of brilliantly colored life- salty when she tasted it. Like the water at Pearl Beach. Not good for drinking but... A memory sparked. Maybe she could clean up. Get rid of some of the dirt and grime covering her. She peered into the pool again, scooping some of the water up and splashing it over her face. One would think that all the tears would've cleaned up the grit on her face, but they just made it more noticeable.
Just maybe, she could rest here for the night. She'd rested some along the way. Whenever she'd find a spot that felt safe enough. Even if she couldn't sleep, she'd at least sit and rest awhile. But never too long. Had to keep moving. But it felt safe enough here, maybe she could linger a little longer, just to clean up and rest.
She slowly pulled off the pieces of armor, laying them by the pool with the sword he gave her and her shield. The scale shirt. The badly fitting steel leggings. Her helm, the only piece she'd made from scratch. It'd been so long since she'd only been wearing her silk tunic and leather pants. She'd almost forgotten they were separate pieces.
She glanced around, even though she knew she was alone. Her gaze landed on the dark tower she could just barely still see in the distance for a long while before she peeled the torn and soiled silk shirt off, then pried off her leather boots and leggings. The breeze was soft and cool against her skin as she slipped into the even cooler water. At first she scrubbed, her body, her hair, her face, until she felt clean again, or clean enough, then she began to relax and float, deep in thought.
How many days had it been so far? Four? Five? Since she left that place.. She didn't feel like she was far enough away yet. She felt like the beast was always watching, even though she had so far not seen hide nor hair of him. If only she could keep going. Get back to him, get back to the rest of her family. Find out if everyone is okay or not.
And what about those people she left behind? The girl, Kimlan, and the boy, Celandel.. the scaly little children. The spawn of Garrak. They frightened her. Kimlan was so much better than she ever could be. The children weren't hers, they were her sister's, and she cared for them. Kept them alive and comforted them. Her own Garrak spawn had died.
The girl knew that if the same happened to her... There was just no way. She wouldn't take care of his spawn. She would have been a horrible mother and left them to die. She wasn't ready for normal children of her own, let alone some spawn. At least normal children she'd be able to care for. But not that beast's spawn.
She shivered, though it was far from cold. Seemingly jolted out of her thoughts, she got out of the pool with a sigh, going to work on cleaning her tunic and pants. Hopefully she wouldn't have any night terrors to keep her from sleeping tonight.
|Urnu, 82 - Midday, hr 7|
He didn't even look back, just kept on walking. Shaking her head, she turns back to Ahmose, Clay, Sylas and Trenton.
Smiling in a friendly manner, she turns to Ahmose. "Hi again. I didn't realize you'd be here." She looks at him with a curious expression, unsure as to why he would be here.
Ahmose chuckles a bit. "Hello again. I thought this place would be empty!"
Ah, so he was here by mistake perhaps? With a shrug, she busied herself with the children, with gathering food from the plentiful bounty of the orchard, and watching for Kieran's return.
|Naur, 82 - Sunrise, hr 4|
Now the ocean closes in on four sides. I can't go east or southeast. I suppose I'll go south and see if I can go either direction from there. I wonder how Granpapa's map works for this. It's really not a good one. Maybe I should've stayed behind and hoped someone would save me.
But no.. I couldn't risk him making me pregnant with a spell.
At least I found a jaguar and bat to kill here. The first animals I've seen in awhile. I wonder what it means...
Now I can make another piece of parchment and some more food. Raw meat, but still food. I ate the entrails, too. I must not waste what I can get. I'm not sure how Papa ever ate them just because he could. It's disgusting. I can barely stomach it, and I'm hungry. I know I have some baked fish still, but I'd rather just be sure to have food to last. Maybe when I'm further along, I'll stop and make a fire to cook some food on. A fire would be nice, but if he's looking very hard, he might find it.
The girl watched the waves crashing onto the shore for quite some time after she was done writing and before making the decision to continue onward. Some murmured prayers escaped her lips as she gathered her things and prepared to start moving again.
|Naur, 82 - Sunrise, hr 5|
My vision is clouded... where am I? Distant... voices sometimes... sometimes its clear. Sometimes its black and dark and I am lost. Mom your here for me, I love you Mom... Rose... Theres another Rose too... I failed that one... I failed both Roses I think... I lost... I am a child now, playing with my brother Elieth and sister Ayla... Oh now there's another sister she's stuck in the river I want to help... she keeps drifting away... no now I am in the river drifting away... no my thoughts are the river wait whats a river? I don't know any more....
Pain... death... oh...
Love... friendship... ohh
The blood... what is blood. it is bad I know that... its taking my strength...
Dahlia Where is my Dahlia? Father when are you coming home?
Diran you are like my other father to me...why are you letting the light take you?
My vision goes clear for a minute, I see Rose, Mom, Looking over me I smile weakly,' I must of hurt myself playing mom!' I'l be fine in no time! "Yes you will, my son" she says. But it is all for naut as I am gone again, this time in a cave, no not a cave, a mine, ohh... Whats a mine? I don't know any more....
Oh the pain... I'm dying... please don't leave me...
Oh my love.... your my only friend in this place, please lead me out... help me...
For a minute I am sitting in front of my house... oh Dahlia... you've been here always where are you now.... Please help me Dahlia... I'm yours for all time.... time ... time... what is time? It passes so fast here... the blackness it comes back, pain overtakes me.. my hand... yes my hand... wait whats a hand? I don't even know any more....
I scream once more... I scream for my Dahlia I scream for my mother I scream for father.... I don't scream for my Children, not for Sorcha or Anrod, they can't see me like this....
Acacia what are you doing here? I know I got mad at you sometimes but your my sister and I love you, you didn't have to die... you didn't.... We needed your help... Dyn needed your help...
The waves crash serenly over pearl beach, in the distance a light beckons them...
"Fenrod, the beach is so beautiful"
"Yeah it is Ayla..."
"Do you think that light is the same light that took Mom and dad?"
"Yeah I think so..."
"Should we go?"
"I don't know if I'm ready yet..."
"Do we just wait here?"
"I suppose so..."
Pain...Death... darkness oh...
Love... Friendship...family... ohhhh....
Its all clear now... the fighting.. we were fighting a god... you can't find gods... Garrak! Yes Garrak, they took Rose my sisters daughter...
My eyes open, the pain is still there but I know I can fight that... I know I can fight Garrak now... I must fight Garrak.... I must save my family.
|Elen, 82 - Afternoon, hr 8|
And all I could remember was falling...
Nothing else kept me more busy these last few days as what had truly happened. Did I die? Or was that day only the moment I truly started living my life? I guess that's something I am not supposed to know yet, but we'll see about that. For I am capable of longer thoughts than this, and I'll continue to look for my true reason of being. My questions of why and how remained unanswered at this early point in life, maybe I should give it a rest. I walked, slowly and hesitating a fair bit, closer to the clearing I saw up ahead, through the bitter cold of the forest.
With grace and care I bent over to pick up a sharp claw of an animal surely. It excites me just to think about what creature could possibly have fingers this sharp, while meanwhile I use it to carve letters into blocks of clay hardened by the cold. Stories and events I tell, like how only one night ago I saw the silhouette of a person, but the voices of many. There were other people, and, without thinking really, I got away fast from there. Luckily they're friendly people I've discovered now. They keep giving me things, and seem rather good at all sorts of things. I think they want me to join them...
|Gurtha, 82 - Sunrise, hr 5|
Seven days since I've left. Eight days since Garrak took me from Nolja. Two days and I'll be twenty. Twenty...
What am I even doing? What made me think I could.. find my way..
Granpapa's map is no good yet...
Will I even see him again? Will I see any of them again? Will it even matter...
I could find my way back to Garrak's swamp, but... it would end up horrible. I'd rather die out here attempting to find my way back to him than go back there to have... that foul beast's spawn. Even if it means being alone..
I can't sit here and think things like this. I have to remain strong. I have to hold onto my faith. Dyn will help me get back. Somehow...
Just remember the night in the mines. Remember..
Keep holding on..
|Gurtha, 82 - Midday, hr 6|
The very first smells I remember are Jibberwuck blood and calcium cream.
The musk of the Jibberwuck's fur was one I was destined to become familiar with. Father and Grandmother struck them down, over and over, yet still they hunted us, some primordial instinct marking us as prey; perhaps we taste delicious. Perhaps some ancestor I never knew slighted them and they have forever sought revenge.
The drinking horn I carved as soon as I could fathom the project was far from the quality of my father's, but I prized it nonetheless. The crude cuts, a crack near the lip, the split down the bottom as if some massive broadsword had glanced off the horn as it dove towards the Jibberwuck's skull--all of these I can feel in my fingertips as if I still held it in my hands.
But horn or musk--neither compare to the blood and cream smell of my family recuperating after a battle from the beasts. I remember that as a young boy I used to dream that after dying, being buried in the mines like my sister Kadia, I would know nothing but the smell of blood and calcium.
|Gurtha, 82 - Midday, hr 7|
When she sent them on their way to the old Anu camp, she somehow knew she needed to wait for Kieran's return. The boys would be fine. After all, they were all older than she had been on her first journey away from home, and they would be together after all. Waving until they were out of sight, she turns back to Ahmose with a smile.
"Ahmose? May I ask you a personal question?"
He nods without looking up from his foraging.
"Why..." She reaches out, almost but not quite touching his beard, "Why do you do that?"
He watches her hand curiously, then looks up at her, smiling. "Oh, well...my home always had a large number of scorpions, and from even befoer the time that I could walk I was always chasing after them, trying to hunt them." He chuckles lightly. "Of course, as many children tend to do, I became reckless when I became accustomed to hunting them, and I was badly poisoned. I recovered, but I had much respect for them after, and I do this to always remind myself that hard-learned lesson."
She nods thoughtfully as she listens to his story. "That makes sense, though perhaps it reminds the rest of us as well?" Her smile is quick and friendly. "You must think we look silly, with so little hair...and you haev so much. I'd imagine you've not much need of a blanket when sleeping under the stars out here."
They speak of things common to their cultures, and things different. The tone changes though, when they speak about the past. It was odd, then, how the demon of his past and the demon so recently haunting her own should make them friends instead of just friendly. Shared tears, a shared understanding. Sometimes, things are gone through and dealt with and suddenly, life is different.
And suddenly, life was different now too.
|Lasse, 82 - Evening, hr 10|
Ocean to the southwest now. Will it ever end? Should I have gone northeast to begin with rather than straight east? Am I going the wrong way? I don't know.
Questions, questions. Nothing but questions in the girl's mind. Another creature hunted down. More raw meat to fill in for baked fish. And bananas. Some bananas now. More jungle and swamp to wade through.
|Ringwe, 82 - Sunrise, hr 5|
I wonder if this other family, with shared history, will now be compatible with us. I am nervous and excited about meeting them all at the end of this long journey. I hope we dont lose the ways of Forest, we learnt growing up. I also feel lonely, despite my brother with me. I long for female company, and perhaps even children. Maybe I can teach them how to speak to the world, if I ever find a mate. So much living with our enviroment makes me wary of those who wish to master it.
|Ringwe, 82 - Evening, hr 11|
I cannot go west any longer because the ocean stops me there as well. I am now convinced I should've tried going northeast to get around the ocean. I will have to try to circle back around, and hope I do not get lost that way.
Still having nightmares if I try to sleep. But I have to sleep a little. Sometimes I have the good dream. I have to keep in mind the good dream. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it was even real. But I know it was. And I have to find that again. Dyn won't fail me. He can't fail me. He can't fail everyone...
I wonder what they're all doing now. If they're all safe... If they're hurt. If any are dead. I can't remember whose voices I still heard. Mama was being crushed. Elieth.. he was yelling. And Niran? I can't remember. I don't remember hearing Fenrod either. I hope he's alive. Papa was trying to give himself up so it'd let me go and leave. But I can't stand to think that he would give himself up for any reason. He musn't. Garrak can't win.
He must be alive. He's the last person I actually saw. And he looked...
Why... why... why...
But I can't question why or I might lose my faith. And I need it more than ever right now.
No matter what's happened back home.
|Khelek, 83 - Sunrise, hr 4|
Had she been asked directly when leaving Magrathea, she would have said “of course I love him!” and she would have been affronted were anyone to say otherwise. That did not mean she wouldn’t let him have what he wanted. In fact, if he had liked their sister, she would have had no problem with it at all.
So of course it was with surprise that she looked into Ahmose’s eyes and knew “I love you” was inadequate. How could such a thing happen? She never intended to fall in love! A friend perhaps, someone who could possibly be a role model for the boys. Yet here she finds herself, in love once again.
“Avien’zia, give me the strength to understand your will. Why did you bring us both to this place? Why has my heart opened like this? I never wanted to hurt Kieran, yet by loving Ahmose I’m bound to hurt both of them! Please, tell me what to do.”
Excerpt from “My Dream”
I fell asleep last night, but I have never dreamt before so I feel it is important I write this down. I am just waking up now, and…well, I have to write down what happened before I lose it completely, though I don’t think I will tell anyone for a while.
I fell asleep last night with no answers, until my dream came. I’ve never dreamt before, not like Tom, Sirius, Mama, Layla. I didn’t know what to expect. The land was beautiful, green and full of these large trees like the orchards near home. I was sitting on a piece of granite taking in the beauty surrounding me when suddenly a woman was before me, her smile breathtaking, her voice melodic and sure.
“Welcome my child. Do not be afraid – you know who I am.”
And I did. I knew right away who she was, an instinctual understanding.
“Tom is my chosen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hear your prayers too. I don’t usually answer them this directly, but I always hear them.” Her smile is kind, and I blush, knowing she heard my desperate pleas as a child, wanting things I was later glad weren’t given.
“Now hush Sylvan,” she says as though I had spoken aloud. “I know your heart and mind, and I have plans for you. I have opened you to something new for a special purpose. Your children are to play an important part of the future my dear, and they need to understand the ways of more than just our kind.”
“You mean…Ahmose and the Anu?”
“Not just them, but their strength must become the strength of your daughters Sylvan. They have an important task and must be protected. Remember, I love all my children, and I will love all of yours who open themselves to me. Go and be happy with Kieran and with Ahmose, with my blessing. Teach your children to follow me and when the time comes I will protect them.”
I cannot speak, but I long to ask. My daughters? I only have one, Noel. What can she mean?
Again she smiles, knowing my thoughts. That beautiful face softens as she speaks. “I will bless with you daughters my dear and sons with strength and courage. Protect them well…”
I woke suddenly and reached for a parchment to write this down. I’m not sure what she meant, but I know now that she brought Ahmose and me together for a purpose. I love him so very deeply, even though our time together has been short. I just hope Kieran understands that loving Ahmose doesn’t mean I love him less. I will write more if I can figure out what Avien’zia meant when she spoke of my daughters task. When Tom comes back home, he promised to visit us. He will know what to make of it. Until then, I can’t stop myself from looking down at the belly now empty before me. She promised me sons and daughters of strength and courage…I can’t wait to meet them!
|Khelek, 83 - Evening, hr 12|
He swung his arms, and had he been old enough to register the thought, he would have been surprised to be able to. It had been so tight and warm in the last place, and he could only move bits. But now he could move all the way, his swings unimpaired. And nothing swinging, nudging, prodding at him either! Freedom! Success!
But the warmth left with the tight, and he wiggled on the ground, not pleased to be missing it. And something didn't feel right. He opened his mouth, and pulled in a breath of air, a new feeling, an almost unwelcome surprise! The exhale would have been a cry, except he heard a voice, deep, and it stole his attention a moment. There was a new clarity to it. And then another, a bit higher than the last. What? What? What?! "Notice me!" Something in him must have said, and it elicited a new round of swinging. He could feel others near him, four close, three away.
And then suddenly there were more. He could feel more, out of nowhere. Four. And the high voice again. He swung some more. Notice me! Notice me! And then it did. He was moving, and the voice was growing louder, clearer. Warmth again, not all around, but there. He couldn't make out the words, or if he could, he couldn't understand them. But the voice satisfied him, pushed something warm into his mouth, and then it felt okay. Warm, soothing, okay.
He was down again, more noises, more feelings, but it was too much. He drifted to sleep.
|Losse, 83 - Before dawn, hr 3|
Cold...cold and dark...strange sounds. What is this?
Comfort...warmth. Better...safe here...others here. Many...
|Losse, 83 - Sunrise, hr 5|
Over a year since I was taken. I wonder what has happened in that time. The road seems so long. It's longer now that I'm sure I went the wrong way. I think I can see the tower in the distance again, to the north almost directly. It makes me nervous, but comforts me in letting me which way to go, I suppose. I shall go back towards it in hopes of finding my way northeast maybe... to home.
|Kuile, 83 - Before dawn, hr 3|
Open up eyes! He opened them, and he moved about. And then the best voice, the one that was most familiar. Notice me! The voice lifts him, and smiles down at him, and he smiles back. Surely, he didn't realise the importance of the smile, but the voice did it - he could see through blurry eyes - so he did it too as he reached for it. The voice pressed it's face to his! The voice was happy, happy, happy, and then sad. And other voices, shrill and whiney. But he didn't care, and he grunted away, pleased at the attention.
She played and talked and he was happy. Even when the sudden chorus of sounds came from below him, though it did scare him.
On the ground, feeling seven others. Some felt more familiar. What's this? A sound to his side. He turns and makes out the blurry form of another. He stares. Something smaller waves near his face. What? He grunts, Notice me! Notice me! Another sound, one he'd grow to love, a giggle. Determined, he reaches for the smaller thing, bumping into it. But his eyes grow heavy, and his motions slow. Sleep.
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