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|3rd of Lote, 56, midnight|
Sitting under the tree a leaf breaks free, she watches it float down to the surface of the river lightly, carried away by the water as it works its way sluggishly past her. It is then she realizes her earliest memories are of him. It has always been him. Leaning back on the tree, the image emerges from the misty past. How old was she, it must have been very young, she was in her mother's arms 'This is your brother', her mother points to a young boy. The mist clears further, it was what she saw surrounding him, what she felt even back then that preserves this thread of memory. The nimbus of light radiating from his head. She reached out to touch it, laughing. She could feel the warmth of it, of him, from where she sat on her mother's hip. As she got a bit older, she realized it was only she who saw it then. Now, visible to everyone as it illuminates his armor, it is still her own beacon.
When she was able to walk, she would toddle after him, following him to the village edges. He was older, able to go down by the river, up the hills, further into the jungle. It was when she could finally talk her world opened before her. Shaking her head, she laughs now remembering how the sound of her own voice fascinated her. Words still escape her lips of their own volition, much to her regret. He was the target of most of her questions and babble, which she is sure now went past his ears swiftly. It was the Olums who were always interested in what she chattered on about, probably she thinks, because it resembled their own chittering noise. She looks at them over her head now in the branches above. Only three left. He told her their name, he would name the world for her, those questions he would answer. He told her how the world came to be how Dyn of the Light and Garrack of the Dark struggled over who would rule our world, how they compromised and each had their own sphere. Dyn of the Light has ours, he created us. Dyn placed our mother and our fathers here in our jungle. She remembers him telling the story her rapt attention listening and believing every word he said because he was brilliant to her, as brilliant as the Sun in the sky, his light and warmth emanated from him like fire, it still does.
She remembers him always as a brave and stealth hunter. She travels back to a memory of herself, her mother and brother hunting mice around the village. Excited to use the new wooden cross bow she had just made. They raced around the village laughing and hunting mice then eating them raw. When her brother is happy, his laugh and smile light her world, when he is sad or angry that light rushes out leaving the world dark as Garrecks own. That day she remembers vividly as her brother praised her, not for her hunting skills, he would never do that. She is confident she is just as good a hunter as he, just as brave and skilled, she smiles to herself, he would not notice that. She saw he was wounded badly and gave him some of the water she had experimented with earlier. He took it from her skeptically she remembered wryly. His surprised face after drinking it was what spurs this memory, for he felt immediate relief of his wounds. He asked her questions about it, how did she know to prepare it? For once she was without words, which frustrated her, she can feel it even now. There was no explanation that made any sense. And sense is something her brother still values. Something she doesn't always display.
Her world revolves around feelings and emotions. In that she feels alienated from the rest of her family. Before any spoken word passes to another, it is thought out, developed. There are great pauses in their conversations. Words for her bubble up from her belly, she presses her lips together to prevent their escape, to no avail, they errupt, the damage done.
She stretches as she gets up from her reverie under the tree. There are more memories to journey to, but for now she must leave them. Walking back to the village, she smiles up at the Olums, as they scamper, following her through the jungle canopy above.
|5th of Lote, 56, midnight|
Mochiato drew all of us in the snow - or, that was what he said, anyways. The drawing didn't look very much like any of our family that still lived here, though I was not sure about Mother.
I couldn't remember much about her except that she had been very big, but I didn't think the drawing looked right. I'm sure I would have remembered if her face had been a squiggly circle, since none of us had faces like that.
I didn't recall when the last time I had seen Mother was, either, only that she had left us without saying anything and that we hadn't been able to find out why. As Mochiato and I spoke about her, I searched for some reason, any reason why she would have just left us, and the only one I could understand was that she didn't care about us any more. She must have just wanted us to be gone forever, like Zauthat's mother and father had wanted him gone, and so she had left without promising to come back, leaving us in the cold.
Thinking about that made me confused and angry in ways I had never felt before. There had been times in the past when I'd been upset and hurt, like when Ailana had refused to eat the berries I'd given her, but this time felt different than all the other times. It hurt more, inside me, and I understood without having to ask that what she'd done was wrong.
I didn't want to think about Mother any more.
|3rd of Urnu, 56, midday|
I yawned. It was pretty hot at the time and there wasn't much fun to do. I eyed the young little boy. The dumb, little boy. He-who-does-not-move. I sighed and pulled out my carving knife and smiling - I'd always loved the feeling - I raised it into the sunlight. Slowly I walked towards the lifeless body of my son and kneeled down. So many thoughts crossed my mind...so many possibilities. With care I slowly went through each of them. Was I going to tear its limbs off? One by one? Oh, yes! Or...I could cut its heart out and eat it, mmm! Perhaps I could skin it alive? Or, or, or...Stab. Blood rushed out of the little boy's stomach and splattered over my hand. Smiling calmly I pulled back, repeated and slit the boy's throat. The job was done. It was way too hot to have fun today.
|3rd of Urnu, 56, midday|
Another one is lost. When will it end.
|3rd of Urnu, 56, midday|
Another one was lost.
|1st of Naur, 56, midnight|
The last bowl was filled with berries, so we decided we should make another for the Alolew to be contained in. Neither one of us had made one before, or had been shown how to, but that was not a problem; we both seemed to have a talent for figuring out how things worked on our own. We gathered a smallish piece of wood and each sat down at opposite sides of it. The hard part, my sister expressed, was probably getting it to be all nice and round. I fetched the berrybowl and put it down nearby us, thinking it would make it easier for us to have something to compare our work to, and soon we both started working on our own side of our future bowl.
The wood felt good on my hands as I cut through it. I had not found much use for my knife before, so although I had made it a long time ago, it still felt new to me, and actually using it was a little exciting.
After what seemed much too soon, we had nearly finished carving. Soon we would have something to put the Alolew in! The only thing I had left to do on my side of the bowl was to smoothen that one little edge. It needed to be perfect; I needed to impress her. I eagerly put the knife to the wood and pulled back hard. It was not a second later when I first found out what real pain was.
|6th of Naur, 56, before dawn|
I looked down at my finger. The small cut had long since healed, but its mark had remained. I remembered how that unfamiliar red liquid had come out. It wasn't a lot; not as much as I was seeing now. If such a small amount as had come out of me before had already hurt that much...
"Oh,.. so that's what hunting is." I had said whilst staring blankly at the little creature's corpse.
I had been startled when his arrow had suddenly pierced its tiny body, and horrified when I saw that same painful, red liquid that was flowing freely even now. Doubts and fearful memories began to race through my mind. I wondered whether the animal had been afraid. I wondered why we would hunt animals at all when it hurt them. Had they not always been nice to us, and listened to us? We don't even need meat; we clearly have more berries than we would ever need, and they even taste better!
Java had walked over to the corpse and picked it up. He must have started explaining how we would have gone about using it, making meat out of it, but I didn't care. I didn't want to hear of it.
I don't want to be the best hunter ever anymore!
|1st of Elen, 56, midnight|
I watched as my father hammered in the last nail. The pounding of the hammer barely audible above the crashing water hitting the clear blue lake a few yards below. It was the largest thing I had ever seen made of wood.
|3rd of Gurtha, 56, midnight|
After at least an hour of the usual pain, both of them were there. Two little humps of life. I was overcome with joy after this achievement, and was assured this would end the pain I had felt inside ever since he was born. But it didn't...it didn't at all. It became worse, one became cursed just like all of us, the other's mind fell away, sleeping ever since. But little did I know about that what was to come at the moment, and so I was happy. At least for now I was and could be.
|8th of Lasse, 56, midnight|
For a time there was only darkness. I took my first great breath and began to scream, and from somewhere within that darkness a voice answered me. The voice soothed me, and hands held me. After a time I learned to open my eyes and saw that the darkness was pierced by a warm orange glow and after that I began to discern shapes. There were many voices in this great place, and their constant murmurings gave me peace.
The arms that held me then fed me, and I was full. I felt content and I did not cry any more. My mother gave me my name, and my father taught me that lesson I would later come to live by:
The Spirit of the Mountain blesses those who work hard.
|10th of Lasse, 56, midnight|
The days had been long and difficult as Alden worked tirelessly on the small wood house that would soon be completed. He survived mainly from the native fruit that grew locally and, at times, he would take to capturing and cooking small animals for meat.
The solitary life was a good one, albeit lonely at times. He sometimes wished for someone to join him. He sometimes felt he could love again, after all these years. Elva was now a distant memory, but he would rather live a hundred more years alone than take way the emotions of his first years in this large world.
Finally, Alden looked up and beheld that his work had been completed. His inn had been constructed from his very own sweat and tears. The front entrance bordered along a row of large apple trees that would surely invite the wandering traveller, weary or not. He slept well that night, better than he had in a long time. He dreamt of the day a stranger would walk up to his door, asking for a cold draught and a soft bed.
|11th of Lasse, 56, midnight|
Some of us have been hearing voices: specifically, Broden, Hinrod, and Lilly. The voice called Lilly "Mother," and told Hinrod, "I wanted to have children with you." From these things, I believe that the voice is Rosa. Does the fact that we're hearing her voice in her head mean she is dead? I thought some of us heard Mother's voice when she died. Maybe Rosa is dead, too. However, I have never heard any voices in my head... And no one seems to believe it's Rosa.
|3rd of Vasa, 56, before dawn|
It wasn't until my sister had already left that I realized when she was gone. Turning to my brother, I asked him where she'd gone, and he pointed in the direction of the leftest mountain. Mother had gone that way too, when she had abandoned us. Looking in the direction of those distant peaks, I was sure then that I knew the reason she'd left: to look for Mother.
If she'd told me what she was planning, I could have informed her that there was no point to looking for Mother, who had abandoned us so long ago that I couldn't even remember her face - and I didn't want to. She'd made her choice to leave us, and I no more wanted her back than she must have wanted to be here.
Later, as I considered the events of the evening, I thought that it was just like Mother to keep on causing trouble even after she left. It wasn't enough for her that she'd just left us on our own without ever telling us why, but now she had to try and break us apart. I had thought I'd hated her before, but that was nothing compared to what I felt now. Viciously, I thought to myself that I wouldn't mind if she fell asleep and starved like Berry or was eaten by the teethy thing, and the thought was so wrong that I was instantly horrified at my own traitorous mind.
Except I wasn't. Maybe, a voice whispered inside my head, things would be normal if she died. Maybe when she was dead, she would stop causing trouble at last and just go away. Besides, I thought defiantly, why couldn't I think that I wanted her dead when she had left us all to freeze to death? She deserved it. Silently, bitterly, I promised myself that I would protect the little ones, because she hadn't.
She may have been weak, but I was strong.
|6th of Vasa, 56, midnight|
The small boy sits down, leaning against the wall of the wooden shack, sword resting next to him. His eyes flit around the large cavern picking out the familiar shapes of the frog men and snake things. Normally, they would scare the wits out of him without his father around. But right now, he almost found them comforting as he drifted off to sleep...
|9th of Vasa, 56, before dawn|
Mommy was covered in dripping red and moving strangely. She gave one of the big ones a pink rope but he felt crazy and started throwing it everywhere. He was scary so I went and hid behind a tree in the tree place. I hope he doesn't throw me everywhere.
|9th of Vasa, 56, before dawn|
After many failed attempts, I finally killed one of the Jibberwuck today. So this is what real power is: the power to kill what you wish. Yes... I will not rest until I have slain the other.
|4th of Ringwe, 56, midnight|
The dead boy scared me. I found him in the wooden building where we kept some of our things, and I went outside and told everyone. At first I wasn't scared at all - well, maybe just a little. It was just that I didn't want to touch him, in case he made me die too.
Afterwards, Mochiato and I cried a lot. We talked about how everyone else was going to die too, and I tried to promise him that I wouldn't go to other places and die like everyone else was doing, but I ended up saying the opposite thing instead. He became angry and told me that he hated me, but when I realized what was going on, I explained it to him. Sort of. Mostly I just cried, but he understood anyways and wasn't angry at me any more.
He made me berries to make me feel better. I didn't want to eat because our brother was just buried and I could still feel his death, but I didn't want to tell Mochiato that. It felt wrong to say something like that when Mochiato was trying to make me happy again, so I told him that I wasn't hungry. I felt a bit bad for doing that, because he was being nice to me and I was telling him the wrong truth. But...I guess it's all right because it's still the truth and it didn't make him unhappy?
Even though I'm still scared and dirty, I'm happy because I have a nice brother who makes me berries and promises not to leave and die.
I'm still not going near that wooden building, though.
|8th of Losse, 57, midnight|
Daddy came down in the mine to talk to me today.
He told me that he had been hearing voices in his head, too. At first I was excited - maybe the Gods had spoken to him, too, and now he believed me when I said they were buried under the mountain! But then he went on to tell me that it wasn't the Gods that had spoken, that it was his mother.
I smiled and nodded at him. I didn't want to make him feel crazy, after all... But really, GRANDMA is talking in his head?
I love my daddy, but I think the fumes from the forge are starting to get to his head.
|4th of Kuile, 57, evening|
I understood the cavern was my home. There were many young ones here, I had many brothers and sisters and I learned the names of my mother and father, my Mou-mou and Di-di. I tried very hard to say these words. I listened closely to the way they spoke, mesmerized by the whirlwind of activity going on around me.
Sometimes large creatures make their way into the cave. They are very strange looking, and have long legs. They spin webs around the cave and try to catch small animals. Mou-mou and Di-di seem worried they could also catch small babies.
Di-di attacks the creatures with his long sword. I am awestruck by his movements, the way he slashes at the spider until it doesn’t move anymore. It can’t hurt us, because Di-di has slain it. I feel safe and not scared. He can protect us with his sword.
|7th of Vasa, 57, midday|
A lone woman walked swiftly through the forest underbrush, following the tracks of a large bipedal beast. The Sun radiated its harsh rays through the forest canopy, but she was used to them. She came upon the edge of a large clearing, and paused. There. Her prey was on the other side, dragging a still-living deer by its hind legs. As the woman watched, it sunk its huge fangs into the deer's midsection. The deer struggled briefly, then was still. The creature sniffed the air, stopped, then turned its cruel red eyes towards her and threw the dead deer to the ground as if to say: "you're next, Lilly." A branch snapped some thirty meters to her right. "Please be Damien," she thought.
The hulking brute approached at a casual gait, and the woman nearly retched from the creature's putrid oder. Recovering quickly and trembling slightly, she hefted her claymore before her as she had so many times before. "This is it. For too long have you haunted us. Now it is time for you to die, Jibberwuck." So saying, she charged towards the monster, and they were on each other in an instant. Sword met claws. Claws met sword. She cut its left forearm, but the creature continued its assault unfazed. She was already tiring, but the creature seemed to be meerly toying with her. Another parry of a powerful blow, and she was off balance. Seeing its chance, the beast swiped its massive claws across her stomach. Her armor absorbed most of the blow, but one of the claws went through, and she was bleeding. Another blow knocked her into a tree, and she blacked out as the creature closed in for the kill.
She awoke to hear its screams of rage and pain. She looked up, and saw its truncated tail lying on the ground in a pool of blood. The beast was fighting its new attacker, a muscular man. The woman struggled to her feet as man and beast fought. He stabbed his sword into its chest with a yell. The sword stuck, and he was defenseless. The monster bellowed in pain, and swatted him away. He lay still where he landed. With a yell of "Damien!" The woman ran towards the monster and sliced at its back. It turned towards her, clawing her below the left arm. More bleeding, and her armor was in bad shape, but the creature's bleeding was worse. The creature would bleed out eventually, but not fast enough. She parried another blow, and managed to cut deeply into its right arm. It screamed in pain, and the limb hung uselessly by its side.
The fight continued. She was exhausted and in pain, but was winning. The monster was now fighting as a last, desperate act. Claws were blocked with sword again and again. The beast's strength was rapidly dwindling. She chopped at its right side, and it clawed again at her stomach for her troubles. The claws failed to penetrate the armor, but it was enough to stun the woman. The creature, apparently badly weakened from blood loss, failed to follow through with the advantage before she regained her composure. "That was your last chance." Again and again she struck, until at last it fell. The woman cut off its gruesome head. Grabbing it, she hobbled over to where the man lay. A quick assessment. He was awake and breathing; he would live. She smiled grimly as she held up the head. "It's over."
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