Inspired By Evie's fic!
Main dialog from the canon characters are taken from Evie's story.
Something rippled in the air rippled, causing Zharo to drop one of the red stones he been working on and blink a couple of times.
He didn't have much time to wonder over what it had been, as shouting broke out all over the ship.
*REBELLION!* Oraynah sent from the upper floors, her tone a mixture of outrage and disbelief. *THE BLOODY BURROWERS ARE REBELLING!*
'They always do...' Zharo mumbled and shook his head in confusion over his own words, before he bolted out of the chamber.
'Get off me, you sneak!' Merheen yelled and grappled with the burrower that had ambushed him and gotten him to the ground and was now seemingly intent on throttling him.
'SLAVE DRIVERS AND TYRANTS, THE WHOLE LOT OF YOU!' The burrower howled at him, his massive fingers finally getting a grip on Merheen's throat.
Merheen didn't hear the footfalls of two metal clad feet over the burrower's yelling.
The next thing he knew, the burrower was kicked off him and into the nearby wall by an enraged Chenah who went after the burrower with her glaive raised.
The burrower barely had enough time to look up and figure out what had sent him flying before Chenah drove her glaive through hiss neck without a second thought.
'CHENAH!' Merheen shrieked in alarm as blood started to flow from the burrower's neck. 'YOU...Y-YOU KILLED HIM!'
'Brilliant observation, Merheen!' Chenah snarled, driving the glaive through the burrower's body.
‘W-was that really necessary!?’ Merheen stammered as he got up back up, eyes stuck on the crimson liquid flowed onto the floor.
‘NECESSARY!?’ Chenah roared and whirled around to face him. Fury shining in her eyes. ‘That miscreant wanted to strangled you!’
‘I’m aware!’ Merheen exclaimed, hands going to his bruised throat. ‘That’s doesn’t mean you should do that to him! It’s really very harsh!’
Chenah grumbled and pulled Merheen with her and rushed towards the one of the chambers where the guiders cocoon lay.
They entered the room just in time to see one Burrower rip up a cocoon that held one of the many Guiders.
The cocooned Starai almost instantly started thrashing and screaming in both fear and confusion. The Burrower readied their knife, this time to strike the panicking Starai in the heart.
‘KINDLY GET AWAY FROM THAT COCOON!’ Merheen howled and flung himself half across the thrashing cocoon and gave the Burrower a sharp push, sending him to the floor and away from the other cocoons.
Merheen protectively wrapped his arms about the cocoon while Chenah readied her glaive with a snarl.
The knife-wielding Burrower got to his feet fast sped towards the doorway.
It had just sat foot inside the hallway when it collided with another burrower. This one was fleeing Chenah's sister Sharni, screaming as it went.
The two Burrowers stumbled, snarled at each other for a few seconds and suddenly remembered they had been in the middle of fleeing two enraged and armed women and bolted down the the long hallway.
‘COME BACK HERE, YOU TRAITOR!’ Sharni roared as she ran past the doorway, her mace raised. ‘I WANT TO SEE IF I CAN KNOCK YOUR DAMN HEAD INTO YOUR STOMACH!’
‘They can’t really be traitors, Sharni.’ Calidus said as he tore after her. ‘They have no actual alliance to us.’
Chenah ran after the others, leaving Merheen with the torn cocoon.
Merheen sighed, rolled his eyes after the violent Starai and started to carefully unwrap the Starai within the cocoon.
Serrilur, a dark skinned High One with white-grey, shoulder long hair and mahogany coloured eyes, slowly emerged from the torn wrapstuff, babbling incoherently about broken circles.
The ship landed on the world of two moons, far more steadily than how it would have, in a much earlier time. The ship’s doors were forced open by the eager Burrowers. They rushed in to the world and quickly disappeared into the wilderness.
Zharo rushed down the halls, past confused and bruised Starai who were busy discussing and arguing over what had happened.
‘Honestly, I’m very upset you think I set the gardens on fire, Anitra!’ Yionyi exclaimed loudly, hand on his chest. ‘ Appalled even! I love every single little plant I’ve brought to life!’
Anitra gave him a completely baffled look.
‘What?’ Anitra asked, crossing her arms. ‘I said I couldn’t believe the Burrowers set the gardens on fire. Not that I didn’t.’
‘Oh.’ Yionyi murmured, indignation leaving him instantly. ‘I-I misheard you. Forgive me.’
Anitra‘s eyes narrowed slightly.
’Where...were you when the fire broke out?’ She asked, leaning closer.
Yionyi’s eye twitched.
’Nowhere near the gardens!’ He tossed his arms into the air, one of his destroyed sleeves flying about.
’What happened to your sleeve?’
‘A Burrower tired to bite me!’
‘Yionyi, those are burn marks...’
’Baseless accusations! All of them!’ Yionyi exclaimed in renewed outrage.
Zharo rushed past them and the Scroll Room, but slid to halt, whirled around and raced back towards the Scroll Room.
The room’s door was wide open. That hadn’t really struck him as weird or out of place, but the small, unconscious, dark skinned figure that lay on the floor set off alarm bells in his head.
The Nine rushed past him seconds later, heading for the main hall.
In the main hall, near the massive doors that lead outside, Maphara stood and watching over some of the eight creatures that had shown up just as the Burrowers started their rebellion and were scattered around the ship.
Most were unconscious, with the exception of a four legged, white-furred beast that was growling loudly at anybody that tried to get near it.
The beast did not hold Maphara’s interest for long.
Seven of the creatures were familiar. Six of them shared their shape and features, while that last was clearly a Burrower.
As the the Nine rushed down the stairs, Maphara moved towards the tallest of the unconscious, a pale, ash-blond haired woman dressed in the remains of a dark, feather-hemmed, blue one-piece suit. A smaller, silver haired man lay at her feet.
‘Why so immensely focused on this newcomer, Zharo?’ Yionyi quizzed, coming up next to the honey haired Starai and leaned slightly to get an glimpse at the person that now held all of Zharo’s attention.
‘There’s a bunch in the main hall. Including a savage beast. It seems to have bitten Adya?’ Yionyi went on airily and turned his head in the direction of the main hall, where there were once again commotion.
‘Because this one is in the Scroll Room.’ Zharo grumbled darkly.
‘Aaand...?’ Yionyi asked, looking from the unconscious person on the floor and back to Zharo.
‘Why is this one in the Scroll room when the rest in the main hall near it?’ Zharo asked, pointing downward.
‘Maybe he just got displaced from the others when they entered?’ Yionyi offered, arms raised in a shrug.
‘Which they did just as a rebellion kicks off? In the very second it started?’ Zharo hissed, incredulous.
‘Um...’ Yionyi mumbled, growing quiet and looked at unconscious man on the floor with puzzlement.
Zharo leaned to the side, past Yionyi and caught Anitra’s eye. ‘The door. Was it closed before the Burrower’s rebellion?’
‘It was.’ Anitra nodded. ‘I passed it just as the commotion began.’ The auburn haired Starai said, expression growing more and more alarmed. ‘What...what’s going on? Who are these people?’
‘Obviously they’re the ones Adya mentioned likely being here.’ Yionyi stated, arms behind his back. ‘Proof positive our kind have been here before.’
‘But...’ Anitra started, her eyes darting between the two other Starai. ‘If they knew we were coming, why not just contact us? Simply appearing like this...seems wrong? And why is there so few of them? Surely there would be more?’
‘We’ll get answers as soon as they start waking up.’ Zharo said and moved over to the unconscious newcomer.
As he did, Orolin began thrashing in his cocoon.
Timmain of the Nine held Adya’s arm as Aerth closed the wounds he had gotten from his encounter with the white furred beast that was now huddled in a corner.
Timmain’s boundless curiosity drove her from Adya and towards the animal.
She moved towards it slowly, something in her mind telling to not reach out to it.
She looked too deep into the beast’s being and gasped in shock as she saw its soul and recognized it as her own.
*This creature,* she sent to the others. *Is me!*
Confusion and shock broke out anew, nearly all eyes on Timmain and the beast.
Other High Ones drew close to Timmain and began bombarding her with questions she had no hope of answering.
While troubled at the news, Maphara’s focus stayed on the unconscious woman.
*This creature is me!* Timmain’s sending reached the Scroll room instantly.
‘How wonderful!’ Yionyi said a few seconds later in mock cheer, looking in the direction of the main hall. ‘Things are more confusing than ever!’
‘...there’s two?’ Zharo mumbled dumbfounded, eyes widening in shock before narrowing in suspicion.
’Why is one a beast?’ Anitra asked as she helped Orolin out of his cocoon.
The cocoon had somehow ripped. During the revolt or the landing, they couldn’t tell.
’Judging from Zharo’s expression, the better question is ‘why is a second one there in the first place’.’ Yionyi replied, moving from the door and over to Zharo and the newcomer.
A groaning, dark skinned Starai with golden brown eyes and pale, half braided hair emerged from the cocoon.
‘You’re not...hurt, are you Orolin?’ Anitra asked, brushing hair out of the scroll turner’s eyes.
Orolin shock his head weakly and mumbled about nearly suffocating in the wrap stuff while Anitra continued to unwrap him.
‘There’s two?!’ Zharo exclaimed suddenly, left eye twitching. He looked back and forth from the still unconscious man on the floor and in the direction of the main hall.
Maphara felt Zharo’s ire at the baffling and unprecedented situation. Her twin-flame was difficult to startle, but the newcomers’ sudden appearance had rattled him profusely.
*There’s two them.* Zharo railed to her. * Two Timmains! Why are there two Timmains!?*
Maphara sensed Zharo pulling on ancient memories, desperately, furiously trying to find something that could explain the situation.
At her feet, the pale woman stirred, her large, sad eyes blinking in the ship’s light.
As if unused to bright light. Maphara tilted her head slightly, eyebrows knitted slightly.
The woman sat up slowly and took in her surroundings with awe, before she noticed the smaller, silver haired man.
The pale woman struggled to hold back tears, biting her lip in effort.
*Are you all right?* Maphara sent, reaching out for the woman’s mind to help her with whatever might be bearing down on her mind.
The woman closed nearly all of her mind to her and shook her head, startled.
Maphara took a few steps towards the woman, reach down and gently placed a hand on the male’s silver hair. *He is so small.* She sent, both in wonder and some alarm. She gestured to the two smaller ones who lay some distance away. *They are even smaller.*
The memory of Iorah sprang to the forefront of her mind. Her and Zharo’s firstborn child.
Maphara reach for the pale woman and helped her stand, her violet-blue eyes meeting a pair that was dark blue.
*Yet, you match us in stature. Who are you?* Maphara sent, her hands on the woman’s shoulders.
The newcomer remained silent, seemingly intent on keeping her sadness to herself.
The two didn’t notice when silver haired male woke and began to move.
Zharo ignored the very bizarre argument about arson in the garden that erupted between Anitra, Yionyi and Orolin, just as the dark skinned newcomer started to wake up.
Zharo restrained himself from just clamping his hands around the newcomer’s upper arms as he helped him up from the floor.
Four other Starai had come into the Scroll room, all curious to gain answers from the newcomer.
He marveled at gathering Starai, seemingly beyond ecstatic. Pride clear on his face.
The man bolted out of the room without answering a single question leveled at him.
Zharo watched the figure disappear down the hallway, and cursed himself in not restraining him.
Surprisingly, Orolin answered one question.
‘His name is Rayek.’ He said shakily, locking eyes with Zharo. ‘ And he has committed a tremendous transgression. One that has no rival in our history.’
‘Come back here this instant!’ Zharo yelled, but Rayek was already out of sight.
‘Dearest, I mean you no harm. What is your name? I wish to know you?’ Maphara asked, carefully cupping the pale woman’s face with her hands.
‘I-I...I am Aroree.’ She finally replied and tried to turn her gaze away from her. ‘There is nothing worth knowing in me, High One.’
Maphara didn’t let her, keeping her head in place and locking eyes with the much younger Starai.
Maphara was a healer and knew a wounded mind when she saw one. Aroree’s eyes shone of a bone-deep sadness. Old grief, worry and fear.
Maphara could see it as she gentle pushed against Aroree’s mind, horror starting to show in her face.
A dark, cold place, underground, in a chamber filled with Preserver cocoons and grief.
Aroree tried her best to keep her out, but could not. The High One’s powers had already seeped into her mind and was doing its work.
All the cocoons were neglected, torn and tattered, those within more dust than anything else.
Screaming and crying echoed through the underground empire.
The Preserver’s web had failed and Wolfriders were gone.
Shenshen went mad from grief. Her life and anguish was ended by the dark skinned and yellow eyed Venka.
Burrowers, now named Trolls, fell to Venka’s fury.
Everything had gone wrong. Aroree, Venka, Zhantee and Timmain were the last ones. The last sentinels in place to stop an utterly insane plan.
Maphara pulled the now sobbing Aroree into a tight hug.
‘We failed!’ Aroree wept, breaking down and collapsed to the floor, taking Maphara with her. ‘We failed stop him! Venka failed! We’re in the Palace, but it’s all wrong!’
Chenah, Sharni, Calidus and several other Starai edged closer to Maphara and Aroree, drawn in by immense grief.
The name ‘Rayek’ found its way to Maphara just as its owner came into the main hall.
Almost instantly he clashed Skywise.
‘What are you doing here?’ Rayek asked in shock, staring at the Wolfrider with a mixture of confusion and utter disdain. ‘I did not call for those that carry your tainted blood! Where is Leetah?’
His eyes scanned the surrounding High Ones, sure to see her among them. But he found only a sobbing Aroree, cradled by a High One with dark skin and long silver hair.
The High One that was cradling Aroree was staring at him, eyes wide in what he believed to be surprise and not immense blame and outrage.
Behind her, three heavily armoured High Ones stood, weapons drawn, their gazes fixed on Aroree before landing on Rayek, their expressions mirroring the High One holding Aroree.
‘She will forgive me now that she sees what I have done.’ Rayek went on, tearing his eyes away from the four staring High Ones.
Skywise’s expression twisted into a snarl, tears falling. ‘She’s gone.’
‘What do you mean gone?’ Rayek demanded.
‘Gone!” Skywise bellowed with rage. ‘She’s dead Rayek!’
Rayek was taken a back response, but recovered quickly. ‘How do you know this? Where is your proof?’ He said, eyes growing narrow.
Skywise turned to Ember and Suntop, now awake and in tears.
‘Look at them. They know.’
Trinket stood near the twins and wailed loudly before Ember gather her and her brother in an embrace.
In an adjacent room, a furious Venka stormed into an long hallway that lead to the main hall.
Far behind her, Serrilur held a deeply sleeping spirit to her chest.
‘Can you restore the shell, Merheen?’ She asked quietly, looking from the spirit to Merheen, who was currently crouched by what had been the spirit’s body.
An aged, short and bony man with a deep wound to the heart lay on the floor, red liquid pooling underneath him.
Merheen shook his head, his hands shaking as much as his head. ‘Even if I could, I’m not sure I should, Serrilur.’ He said quietly, wrapping his arms around him self. ‘This man’s body is....damaged. Mangled.’
‘What do you mean?’ Serrilur asked, looking back to the formless spirit in her hands.
‘He’s suffered so much, Serrilur. Violence and abuse have been ceaseless companions since his youth and have followed him nearly all his life.’ Merheen said shakily, standing up and moving to stand beside the other Starai.
‘Somebody spent millennia destroying his body and mind. But he carried on.’ He said, trying to banish the memories of the countless horrors the man had gone through.
‘Here he will be safe.’ Serrilur whispered to the spirit, as Merheen’s hands joined hers around it. Both awe of a spirit that had survived such brutality.
Back in the main hall, somebody caught up with Rayek.
‘You. Rayek!’ A voice snarled at Rayek, making him turn around.
The High One that had helped him up from the Scroll room floor, a male with longish honey coloured hair and cold green eyes, stalked towards him.
He was followed by the male with shoulder length, wine-coloured hair, who had been arguing with Orolin over a fire.
The other High Ones that had gathered around him curiously, hurriedly scattered as the speaker approached.
‘Zharo?’ One of the other High Ones said quietly with a head tilt. ‘It doesn’t look he’s changed his shape at all?’
‘I think his ears are a bit longer?’ Another High One said, leaning closer to the other one.
‘Tell me.’ High One Zharo ordered, bearing down on Rayek. ‘Tell me what you’ve done to get here.’
‘H-High One?’ Rayek stammered, moving back a few steps.
‘I want Papa!’ Trinket shrieked loudly suddenly, some distance away, drawing on both Zharo and Rayek’s attention.
‘I’m going to find him! ‘The small troll child howled, after giving Ember, Suntop and Skywise one last look and ran for the still open Palace doors.
Ember pulled away from Skywise and raced after the smaller girl, catching her just outside the Palace.
Reality rippled and the two children disappeared, engulfed in a wave of time.
Zharo felt it and recognized it as the thing he had felt just before the Burrowers started their rebellion.
’Time.’ He hissed in Rayek’s direction, eyes wide with outrage and understanding. ‘You tampered with time. That’s how you got here.’
’EMBER!’ The girl’s brother screamed, following Skywise as he ran towards the doorway.
‘What happened to her? Where is she?’ Skywise cried, almost reaching the doorway, but Haken moved to stand in the way.
*Do not follow or you may vanish as they have.* He warned.
The High One’s warning were ignored by Suntop who called for his sister once again and tried to run past Skywise, who grabbed the heartbroken child and held on to him like life depended on it.
*Move back. Now!* Haken ordered, the force of his sending making Skywise stumble and fall to the floor, taking Suntop with him.
Zharo stood frozen, eyes on the man that had so greatly tampered with time, it was rewriting itself as it got the chance.
The newcomers were paradox children. The bloodlines they hailed from had been destroyed and they would disappear as soon as time caught up with them.
Zharo’s gaze didn’t stay on Rayek for long, as something dragged his sense to some place behind him.
The personified fury of thousands who were worse than dead was impossible to ignore.
Venka was a vortex of dark fury, eyes fixed Rayek and saw nothing else.
‘It’s about bonds, my little Zha. Bonds of blood, bonds of will. Will made blood. Will made truth and finally reality.’ Lokya’s words from his youth echoed in the back of his mind.
An utterly insane idea formed in Zharo’s mind.
‘It’s my fault Skywise.” Suntop sobbed against Skywise. “Why did I have to hear the cry.’
‘No. It’s his.’ Skywise said eyes locking on Rayek.
‘This is all your fault!’ Venka roared as she approached Rayek, making several heads turn.
Before she reached her father, Zharo reached out and took hold of Venka’s wrist.
Reality and space seemed to ripple and wobble between the High One and Kahvi’s child.
Time froze for a split second and Rayek could have sworn Venka’s yellow eyes turned the same shade of green Zharo’s was.
Several of the High Ones drew back at the display and whispered among themselves.
‘What? What just happened?’
‘What did he just do? You saw that, didn’t you?!’
‘It’s Zharo, who knows?’
Time lurched forwards and Venka tore her wrist free from Zharo’s grasp, continuing towards Rayek, teeth barred and ready for a fight, as if she hadn’t noticed anything.
Venka walked slowly, circling him.
‘You’re right, it is!’ Rayek declared, shaking himself out of his momentary confusion. ‘I have saved the High Ones! I have insured that they will never suffer, that they will never cry out!’
‘You have only insured the pain of those you knew! My pain!’ Venka snarled drawing a bloodied blade and readying it.
‘Are you happy with this? Knowing that of all you cared for, only the high ones survive?’
Rayek didn’t answer, his eyes stuck on the bloody blade. ‘What have you done?’ He asked, taking a deep breath to steady himself.
Venka’s angry gaze gained a semblance of pity. ‘Your friend, the one who called you son, I ended his pain. Just as I will end yours.’
‘Ekuar!’ Rayek called, eyes growing wide. Agony grew in him and he pushed it outwards and sent Venka flying back, making the surrounding High Ones yell out in shock or fright while others, such as Yionyi and Sharni, cooed with interest.
Rayek tried to take off towards the room where he had left the old rockshaper, but Venka forcing her way into his mind stopped him in his tracks.
‘What do you want from me?’ Rayek asked, teeth bared.
‘I want you to realize just how much you have made us all suffer. How you made Kahvi suffer and my tribe.’ Venka said, gathering herself up from the floor.
‘Then I will end you and all our suffering once and for all. Tell me; don’t you want to know what happened to those you left behind?’
‘I care not for what happened to Cutter and his animal tribe.’ Rayek sneered.
Venka’s already harsh expression hardened further. ‘Then I will play with you no more. You will die!’ Venka snarled, leaping towards Rayek, becoming more and more enveloped in blood-lust by the second.
Rayek froze, his expression falling into shock, his hands coming up to protect himself from a strike that never reached him.
Instead, Venka’s sword dug into the Timmain-wolf, as she jumped in between her and Rayek.
Venka pulled her blade from wolf’s side, expression dark. ‘I always told you to stay out of my way Timmain. You never listen. ‘ She murmured in annoyance.
Aerth rushed over to heal the Timmain-wolf, but was pushed back as her form changed.
A much older, experience-rich Timmain emerged and pushed herself up to lock eyes with Venka.
*I only wanted for you to have peace child.* She sent.
*Peace is something that I will only have in my dreams or in my death.* Venka replied.
She let out a deep and heavy sigh. ‘ One of us or both of us will die today.‘ She said, looking back to Rayek.
‘I promised my mother that I would make you pay for everything.’ Venka snarled and lunged towards Rayek again, sword raised.
The time-wave that would have engulfed Venka was repelled with a harsh, echoing sound that made Zharo flinch.
Venka’s sword tore through Rayek’s throat, severing muscle and vertebra and nearly decapitated him when Venka pulled her blade sharply to side.
The hall exploded in shocked shouts and cries.
Rayek sputtered, eyes filled with shock and dropped to the floor, limbs twitching violently.
A deep silence feel over the hall, only sound heard was Venka’s harsh breathing and Rayek’s death rattled.
In a moment that seemed to stretch on for forever, no one moved and simply stared as Rayek died.
Venka gasped for breath and dropped her sword, tears flowing down her checks. A small whine that started in her throat soon turned into a scream of agony that echoed in the halls.
She collapsed to the floor, screaming,crying and cursing until her words became incoherent.
Yionyi move from behind Zharo and carefully made his way to Venka and lightly kicked the sword out of her reach.
‘...Don’t think that will be needed more today.’ He murmured quietly, and sat down beside the inconsolable woman.
Timmain got up slowly, holding a hand to her wounded side and picked up the knife that had delivered it. ‘Soon, this will disappear.’ She said.
‘Let me go Adya,’ The younger Timmain eyes fixed on her older self. ‘I know what I must do.’
Adya released her without any disagreement and let her go to met with her other self.
*My Flame.* Maphara called to Zharo, making him turn to look at her.
She was still sitting on the floor, arms tightly wrapped around Aroree, violet-blue eyes determined. She knew what he knew.
Zharo nodded, and moved over to them and crouched down beside them as the younger and older versions of Timmain became one.
*These would have been our children.* Timmain sent to all of them and retold a long and horrific story. *In another time, a different turn of the scroll, we crashed upon this world.* She looked back to Adya, her gaze so intense he had to look away.
*There was death!* Timmain went on,looking to Rayek’s body. *Now, this future will never be.*
“I’m glad it will never be.” Aroree said, struggling to keep calm. ‘There was too much suffering. Flee from this world High Ones, flee! I watched two tribes die on this world, among so many other things. It is enough to drive one mad!’
Aroree couldn’t help but flinch slightly as she felt the other High One’s hands on the side of her head.
Maphara’s hands joined her mate’s and reality rippled and wobbled around Aroree.
Two pairs of eyes, one cold green, the other vibrant violent-blue were the last she saw before falling into a deep, dreamless sleep. A gentle humming following her.
Skywise tried to comfort Suntop, and looked from the now sleeping Aroree to Timmain, who’s gaze seemed to locked on the High Ones holding Aroree.
‘Tell me Timmain, what happened to the wolfriders?’ He asked, desperate to know. ’I know that Cutter would be long dead, but what happened to those that came after?’
*There were no more after.* Timmain sent, her grief tremendous. *The wolfriders bore no more children. They were content to wait within the preserver cocoons for your return, but they discovered that the cocoons themselves were not made to last forever. They died while they slept.*
‘There were only four of them left.’ Maphara said quietly, caressing Aroree’s cheek gently. ‘Shenshen, Zhantee, Venka and Aroree. Shenshen couldn’t bare it all. Venka ended her agony.’
Silence fell over the hall once again, the only thing heard was Venka’s sobbing.
‘Suntop!’ Skywise yelled as he was suddenly holding onto nothing. ‘ Where is he, what happened?’
Timmain approached him and placed her hand on his head. ‘Time is rewriting itself and those present who are from before will all cease to be my child. And eventually even I will forget you.’ She said, a tear slipping from her eye and falling down into Skywise’s hair.
It and Skywise disappeared a second later.
The Palace altered itself, its doors becoming solid walls. The entire structure became unseen, invisible to the eyes of the humans of the two mooned world.
Haken stared as Skywise vanished, his mind racing to take in all the information.
Rayek, the one that looked oddly like him, disappeared from the floor, his blood vanishing like it had never been there to begin with.
Zharo’s sending tore Haken out of his thoughts and he turned his head to find the elder Starai.
Zharo had moved from Maphara’s side and was now sitting by Yionyi who was now holding on to the sobbing Venka.
Zharo motioned for him to come over, while also calling for Gibra.
Both Gibra and Haken hurried over, their movement going unnoticed by the rest who were still staring at Timmain and coming to grips with would have happened due to the Burrower’s rebellion.
*What do you want us to do?* Gibra sent, sitting down beside the trio along side Haken.
*Place your hands on her.* Zharo sent, suddenly flinch violently, teeth bared in pain. *Hurry.*
Haken did so without hesitation, Gibra following a second later, placing their hands on Venka’s shoulders.
Zharo’s hands clamped down on both their wrists the second they did.
Both felt something ripple through them and Venka, who stilled almost instantly and fell asleep just like Aroree had.
Zharo flinched again and sank in on himself, seemingly exhausted.
Yionyi reached over, put an arm around the elder Starai and drew him into a hug.
Haken shook his head to clear it. So much had happened in such a short time.
*Zharo?* Haken sent, reaching out and steadying the elder further. * Will our memories of this fade?* Remembering Timmain’s words to the new lost Skywise.
Zharo groaned and let his head rest against Yionyi’s shoulder. *No. Time can’t touch us or our memories of this.*
*But... Timmain said...?* Gibra started carefully, holding Venka’s hand and wiping the smaller woman’s tears away. *Timmain said she would forget.*
*Timmain is ‘more’ now than she was one hour ago.* Zharo replied, holding a hand to the side of his head.
*Merging with her other self, saved her from vanishing, physically. If she believes her memories of the other reality will fade, they likely will.* Zharo added, tired eyes looking over to Timmain ,who was once again being bombarded with questions by the other Starai.
*Can you do something about that?* Gibra asked, following Zharo’s gaze.
Timmain’s gaze found Zharo’s for a split second and Zharo was quite sure he her eyes flickered with something akin to resentment.
*I think she’s too cross with me to let me meddle with anything of hers.* Zharo replied as Haken helped him up from the floor.
Venka and Aroree were carefully carried to upper floor and given a place to rest.
- A day later, on the continent that would have been known as Iceholt. -
Within the Palace, most Starai were busy discussing or analyzing the previous day’s events.
When Zharo reached the bottom of the stairs, he was hit by wave of fresh air.
Tilting his head, he made his way to garden complex of the ship.
The roof and wall of the area had been pulled back and lowered, allowing air and sunlight inside.
A tired looking Orolin stood by the complex’s doors.
‘I didn’t know we were taking samplings with us.’ Zharo said as he came up to the scroll turner’s side.
Orolin chuckled mirthlessly. ‘We have to. The fire took out more than half of our garden.’ He said as Kaslen moved a batch of pumpkins inside the complex.
‘We have food in storage, don’t we?’ Zharo asked, raising an eyebrow.
‘Of course. But the treeshapers are very intent on taking some plants with us before we leave.’ Orolin explained. ‘Which will be soon. In a couple of hours, most likely.’ He added, catching Zharo’s expression.
Zharo nodded and turned his head to look into the garden complex. The parts that had been destroyed had ready been moved away. The old Homeworld earth being replaced by earth from the two mooned world. Chenah, Sharni and Calidus stood guard outside, ready to defend the treeshapers.
‘Well, Yionyi?’ Orolin asked, crossing his arms, narrowing his eyes at the sunlight that was currently shining into the garden area as the plantshapers brought in new plants and fruit-trees to replace those who had been lost to the fire. ‘How do you like this world’s plants?’
Yionyi appeared behind a large bush Almeck was planting in new soil, a couple of indigo coloured berries in his hand.
‘The dominant species here might be altogether horrible and violent, the world itself is trying to strip us of our powers, but the plants are absolutely wonderful.’ Yionyi cooed and tossed one of the berries into his mouth.
‘That’s not fair.’ One of the other plantshapers, Anitra, said as she finished her work on a field that was already producing a bright red and sweet earth berry.
‘It’s not?’ Yionyi mumbled and tossed another berry into his mouth.
‘No! You can’t judge them like that! It’s wrong.’ Anitra replied, dusting off her hands.
‘Sorry.’ Yionyi started, tilting his to the side, bronze eyes gleaming. ‘Did you miss the part where they brutally butchered us all? Yourself most like included?’
‘That was their early ancestors.’ Anitra hissed, her dark grey eyes narrowing dangerously. ‘Our crashing must have scared them badly. You can’t judge them for what their ancestors did in another reality.’
‘I can and I will.’ Yionyi said and bit down on another berry.
‘Also, if I get very scared by something...’ He said and pointed at himself. ‘...- I would run away from it. Not towards it, screaming like a damn Chullsur and try to kill as many things as possible like it was a competition to be won.’
‘Chullsur?’ Anitra repeated, eyebrows furrowing. ‘What precisely is a Chullsur?’
‘A race of two legged, four-armed, fur-less bears with a brain the size of a pebble that ended up eradicated themselves because they started thinking every interaction with each other were inherently hostile.’ Zharo reeled off next to Orolin.
Anitra’s expression darkened as she glared at Yionyi who just nodded at at Zharo.
‘Our crash here and our descendants interactions likely had severely negative effects on the early humans! And it went on for generations!’ She argued crossing her arms.
‘Erh.’ Yionyi shrugged. ‘Or they’re just inherently hostile and aggressive. A species that should be left alone, forever, for one’s own sake.’
Orolin shook his head as Anitra and Yionyi fell into an argument.
‘Leivail tells me he will taking over as our Scroll turner.’ Zharo said after moment, his head tilting to the side. ‘Are you well, Orolin?’
Orolin nodded, but stopped himself and started to shake his head, his mouth twisting.
‘You knew who Rayek was and what he done.’ Zharo continued a while later, as they moved down the hall, Anitra and Yionyi’s words fading out until they were no more. ‘You saw his Scroll before the merger?’
‘Yes.’ Orolin said, wringing his hands. ‘All of it.’
-Outside the Palace, back in the garden complex.-
’What precisely do we do if we’re attacked by any hostile humans that might live here?’ Calidus asked, scanning the wooded area.
’Well, you charge it with your shield and slam them right into a tree and I bash their heads in!’ Sharni said with malicious cheer, walking back and forth. ‘Chenah can skewer them and wave them around like a banner!’
Chenah rolled her eyes and grabbed her sister by the shoulder and forced her to sit down.
‘Zharo.’ There was much restrained anger in the speaker’s voice.
Zharo closed his eyes for a few seconds as he felt Timmain’s eyes drill into the back of his head. He anger sounded dry, every word crackling as they entered his mind.
Zharo turned and met her gaze.
‘You’ve managed to anchor Aroree and Venka to our reality.’ She said, her tone strained.
‘A gift from those who raised me, Timmain.’ Zharo said steadily.
‘One you used sparingly.’ Timmain stated, her voice cold and her yellow eyes piercing. ‘You did nothing to save my remaining children.’
‘Like you did?’ Zharo questioned, leaning slightly closer to Timmain, unfazed by the anger that flared in her eyes.
‘What.’ Timmain snapped, her fingers digging into the palms of her hands.
‘You did nothing to stop this disaster.’ Orolin said as he leaned to the side, past Zharo, and caught Timmain’s eyes.
Timmain took a few steps back, surprised by the fury that came of Orolin in waves.
‘I don’t kno-’ Timmain started, but Orolin interrupted her.
‘Yes! Yes you do!’ Orolin snarled and slammed his hand into the chamber’s wall.
The colours shifted, danced and then began turning into shapes.
Rayek, Cutter,his family and the Timmain-wolf took shape, standing in the Scroll room.
‘Then let the High One chose between the beast life she lives now...’ Rayek said, kneeling as the Timmain-wolf come towards him. ‘And a timely rescue which would prevent any need for such a shape change’
Timmain’s eyes widened, going from the images on the wall and back to Orolin. Fear took anger’s place in her wide eyes.
‘Timmain,’ Rayek started again. ‘You cried out with the others. This banishment...this-this grounding cannot be what you wanted! It can unhappen! And yet your children, the wolfriders can still be with you. Is that not best?’
Tears fell from the Timmain-wolf’s eyes and she kissed both Rayek and Cutter’s cheeks and left the room, head low.
‘She won't take sides.’ Cutter said, eyes narrowed at Rayek. ‘For good or ill, what happened to the High Ones happened. I say it was for the good.’
The scene froze, much like Timmain herself did.
‘You did nothing.’ Orolin hissed, angrily jabbing the wall with a finger. ‘They argued and fought about what to do and when they turned to you, you refused to act.’
‘They...they...’ Timmain stammered, moving back further, eyes fixed on the wall and it’s images. ‘They were making me chose between my friends and my children!’ Timmain cried.
*AND THE CHOICE SHOULD HAVE BEEN OBVIOUS!* Orolin roared into Timmain’s mind, making her flinch and sink back further. *Our spirits were in the Palace, Timmain! You had both!*
Orolin moved past Zharo to get to Timmain, but the elder Starai, grabbed the Scroll turner by the arm, holding him back.
‘You could have stopped all of this from happening!’ Orolin raged. ’All you had to do was shape-shift and tell that zealot ‘no’!’ But. You. Didn’t!’
‘That wouldn’t have stopped him!’ Timmain argued, shaking her head, eyes locking with Orolin’s.
‘Send that.’ Orolin growled, teeth bared. ’Send it, I dare you!’
*That wou-..he wouldn-...* Timmain tried, the words weak and breaking apart as they were made.
‘One word from you would have stopped him.’ Orolin hissed, pointing at Timmain accusingly. ‘And you didn’t utter it. You have no right to resent Zharo for saving two, when you doomed everybody, living or spirit to a fate worse than death.’
Orolin heaved for breath, limbs shaking and angry tears flowed down his cheeks.
Timmain fled the room.
‘-Which never happened in the first place!’ Anitra argued as she pushed Yionyi out the door and down the hall way.
‘Never happened!?’ Yionyi exclaimed, trying to look back at her over his shoulder, while holding on to a rather big basket of fruit and vegetables Kaslen and Almeck had handed him.
‘We’re here, having this argument, because it did happen! We were butchered by screaming brutes, our descendants struggled against this world and its children for ten millennia, until some lunatic got the bright idea to stop us from crashing and as a result, wiped out everything our descendants ever accomplished, which has resulted in us arguing about it!’ Yionyi explained as Anitra gave him a vicious push through a doorway and turned the entrance into a solid wall, leaving a fuming Yionyi alone with his basket of fruit and vegetables.
‘I can recreate that door, you know!’ Yionyi called, his words bouncing off the hallway’s walls. ‘Only my unwillingness to spend more time with you is stopping me from doing so, Anitra!’ Yionyi said kicking the wall in annoyance.
Before he could reach for the wall, Orolin’s angry voice reached his ears.
‘- Oh yes, of course! Change into a wolf and run! That’s what you always do!’
Yionyi quickly changed his mind about arguing with Anitra and hurried down the rest of the hallway.
He arrive just in time to see the tail of a wolf leave the chamber and Orolin collapse on a bench, sobbing and tearing at his hair, Zharo beside him with an arm around him.
Zharo looked up at Yionyi with a puzzled expression when he noticed him.
‘Sharing and caring?’ Yionyi said quietly, and held up the basket.
‘Skywise!’ Aroree cried, bolting up from the soft bed, a blanket wrapped around her body. She blinked at the light of her bedroom.
A faint echo of an memory faded from her mind, never to reappear.
‘Dearheart, are you well?’ A gentle voice asked from the room’s doorway.
Maphara stood outside her room, looking worried.
Aroree blinked at the darker skinned Starai, her mind grasping at a memory that was like sand, slipping through her fingers and falling into an dark void.
An anxiousness left Aroree’s body and mind a few seconds later, and left her blinking in confusion.
‘Aroree?’ Maphara called, stepping into her room. ‘Are you well?’
‘I...Yes. I... I feel fine.’ Aroree murmured after a long moment, expression clearing of a thoughtful frown. ‘Why...wouldn’t I?’
‘Good to hear, dear.’ Maphara said and stepped over to her, smiling gently. ‘We were worried the fall had hurt you more than we thought.’
‘Fall?’ Aroree repeated, trying to unwrap herself from the blanket. ‘What fall? What happened?’
‘The Burrowers decided they’d like to stay on this two mooned world.’ Maphara said with a smile. ‘They did so by making us crash here. You were badly hurt during the rebellion.’
‘Crash? We...fell here?’ Are we stuck here?’ Aroree asked, removing the last part of the blanket from her form.
Maphara wave a hand at her. ‘Good stars, no. We’ll be ready to go soon.’ She said with a chuckle and handed Aroree some clothe she had been holding. ‘Some new clothes, to replace the old that was torn in the fall.’
The cloth turned out to be a one-piece suit. Soft, dark blue and hemmed with long, beautiful feathers, complete with a long trail of feathers.
‘Join us in the common room, when you’re ready?’ Maphara asked, heading for the doorway. ‘Yionyi has brought us a basket with fruit and vegetables. They’re quite delicious.’
A few minutes later, Aroree found the common room Maphara mentioned and was warmly greeted by Orolin who looked very exhausted, an overly cheery Yionyi who was munching on berries and Zharo and Maphara who simply smiled fondly at her.
Aroree lingered near the room’s door, gathering her thoughts.
‘Any idea of when we’re ready to leave?’ Zharo asked, picking up a small, bright red earth berry and taking bite.
‘Mm, Almeck wants more of those bushes these berries come from.’ Yionyi said holding up the indigo berries he had been munching on. ‘The garden should be closed in about...two hours. And we’ll be off. Never to return. Hopefully.’
‘Most are eager to leave.’ Maphara said, snatching one of the red berries from Zharo. ‘Some are curious, but too...anxious.’
‘They can always visit in spirit.’ Zharo added, picking up a bunch of red berries, having seemingly decided they were now his.
‘Where are we?’ Aroree wondered out loud as the older Starai’s conversation went on. She raised her hand and touched a wall that separated them from the outside.
The wall became transparent, showing her a sea of tree tops. Far, far of in the distance, stood a mountain, almost blue in hue.
Aroree recoiled slightly. ‘That...that’s....’ She stammered, not understanding why the sight of it filled her with a sense of dread.
‘A blue mountain?’ Yionyi asked, craning his neck to see. ‘Must be quite big, if it’s still visible from this distance.’
‘Pff.’ Orolin huffed, attempting to peel a large fruit with a pink shell shaped like scales. ’ Mount Xianuin on Homeworld was bigger.’
‘Did you know it used to be bigger?’ Yionyi asked. ‘Got knocked down to a tenth of it’s original size.’
‘Really? What happened to it? Earthquake?’ Orolin asked, raising an eyebrow.
‘Oh no no no.’ Yionyi laughed and pointed to Zharo. ‘He did.’
‘What?’ Orolin exclaimed, giving Zharo a bewildered look. Zharo looked equally bewildered.
‘I did no such thing.’ Zharo said with a frown, before looking to Maphara who was smiling widely. ‘Did...did I? I don’t remember knocking down a mountain.’
‘Baldem mushrooms, dear.’ Maphara chuckled, placing a hand on Zharo’s upper arm.
‘Oh.’ Zharo murmured, ducking his head slightly.
‘It was very impressive.’ Maphara whispered in his ear.
Her elders’ conversation drifted into the background while Aroree kept her eyes on the far off mountain, the odd sense of dread fading slowly.
Venka dreamt of a great evil with two heads. Two snaring, long necked lizards, with sharp teeth that snapped her. Intent on destroying her as they had done everything else they had ever touched.
Venka dreamt of the lizard monster’s defeat. One head fell into a dark chasm, never to be seen again.
The other fell to her blade and joined the other.
Venka dreamt of dark waves tearing away at the last bit of ground on which she stood. It crumbled away, letting her fall into a dark chasm.
A hand caught her by her wrist. A man with cold, green eyes gazed down at her and pulling her up, away from the darkness.
Venka dreamt of a gentle, sleeping spirit that knew, and forgave.
Venka dreamt of a woman with dark brown hair and gleaming green eyes who smiled at her with pride.
Venka woke quietly, staring at the ever dancing colours of her room’s ceiling.
A smile, small and fragile found it’s way to her lips.
Timmain fought with herself and her guilt, eyes locked on the beautiful forest just outside.
The memories held such comfort. A closed mind, spared from immense pain and grief.
They were overwhelming, like a sea of memories, they threatened to engulf her.
It was not a fight she wanted to win.
All collecting was done and the garden complex closed.
In the Scroll room Leivail let the Preservers wrap him in their web and sat down in the Scroll turner’s seat.
The Scrolls rose from their holders and began to spin.
On the ground floor, sendings broke out, calling for Timmain.
They received no reply.
‘Timmain has abandoned us.’ Zharo said impassively and ate another red berry.
‘Again.’ Yionyi said, nipping at an apple.
‘They’re sending for her.’ Maphara said, playing with Zharo’s hair. ‘They want to send out an party to look for her.’
‘They won’t find her.’ Orolin grumbled, drinking from goblet. ‘She doesn’t want to be found. She’s chosen this world over us. We should just...leave her.’
‘So ready to simply abandon one of our one, Orolin.’ Yionyi sang, his head resting in his hands.
‘She allowed Rayek to alter history! Erase it!’ Orolin hissed, tightening his grip around the goblet.
‘Thousand are worse than dead. Their trials, their suffering were for nothing, their victories and accomplishments have been rendered null and void! And she let it happen!’ Orolin went on angrily and sank his teeth into the fruit with the now peeled pink fruit.
Aroree joined them at the table, sending them a gentle smile and set down between Maphara and Zharo.
Orolin’s anger faded quickly as the conversation turned towards more pleasant topics.
- On the ground floor of the ship -
‘We can’t just abandon her!’ Sefra cried, holding Timmain’s dress in her arms. ‘The memories she got from her other self will fade! When she’s out of their hold, she won’t remember why she’s here! She’ll be alone on a hostile world!’
‘No one wants to go out and find her, and our sendings do not reach her.’ Gibra said as she started closing the hole Timmain had slipped out off.
‘Whatever you decision you’re going to reach, reach it fast.’ Kalil said, looking up at the upper floors with a troubled expression.
‘The others won’t stand for any delay.’Aerth said, hearing the sendings coming from all over the Palace. They were angry, anxious and restless.
‘We should leave a beacon here for her.’ Deir said, looking over to Adya.
‘It will find her, eventually. And she can call out to us and we will return for her.’
Adya nodded and pulled at the living stone the ship was made of.
A small ball formed between his hands and he sent it off through the hole Gibra was sealing.
The ball slipped outside and disappeared into the wilds, much like the Burrowers and Timmain before it.
The Palace-ship changed again, the towers and windows disappearing, returned to its round shell shape.
It tore free of the two mooned world’s hold, and slipped into the darkness.