The Broken Thread
A worldpool story
Three figures hovered on the edge of the horizon, just above the tree line. The light of the rising sun turned them into little more then shadows obstructing its glory. They peered down at the bright and beautiful palace, only visible by its highest peaks and the glowing water that surrounded it. It had returned at last after centuries and they had come to it as soon as its long absent call had beckoned them.
A tall and slender elf with long pale blond hair held two other smaller, darker elves in either arm.
“Look!” Zhantee cried, pointing down at a small form flailing about in the water. His heart lept in his chest. “It’s Leetah!” It was Leetah, Leetah who he had waited for all these years, hoping he could help fill a part of the hole that was left in her heart, if she would let him, if he ever got the chance to. “She’s drowning Aroree! Drop me in the water!”
Aroree and Venka shifted their gaze from the palace to where Zhantee was pointing and saw three figures in the water. On Venka’s order Aroree swooped down towards the elves swirling about in the waves and immediately dropped them in order to catch Skywise who was struggling to stay afloat.
Venka disappeared under the waves as she hit them and then swam frantically towards Rayek who had almost reached the peaks of the palace.
As Zhantee managed to grab Leetah, amidst the turmoil of the waves, the fury of the very ocean seemed to unleash itself upon them and they were thrust into the air by a mighty surge of water. They came down violently onto the rocky shore and another surge of the ocean battered them.
Leetah was flung from Zhantee’s grasp and she lay still, half drowned and dying, only her healing powers left to save her life. She gasped softly and fresh air entered her lungs, but it was painful to breath. She opened her eyes ever so slightly, but she could see nothing but the dark sky above her and even that she did not see clearly.
Leetah tried to move and found she was unable to. She could feel her life’s blood flowing from her body and knew that she was dying. It did not matter that she could heal herself if she so wished, she no longer wanted to live. In a last great effort she sent to Ember and Suntop, her precious kitlings, words of encouragement and love, and then she closed her eyes.
Suddenly, it felt as though someone were bending over her and she opened up her eyes to behold someone she had thought she would never see again. “Tam,” she whispered her lifemate’s soul name and tears of joy filled her eyes.
*I am here Leetah.* He seemed to be sending from far away, but Leetah heard this more clearly then she had ever heard anything. *I am here.*
Leetah lay on the cold wet rocky ground, her body broken and bleeding. Near her and yet not near enough lay Zahntee. He reached towards her in vain. “Leetah!” he cried. “Leetah!”
She did not answer, for she was beyond the ability to answer. She could no longer speak and nor could she send. Her joyful, lifeless eyes looked out into nothingness for her soul had flown away to be with its other half.
Zahntee called out her name one last time and then spoke no more.
Rayek reached the palace tiers and clung to them as the water seethed around him. Venka reached his side only a few seconds later and waited for him to turn his head and look her in the eye. He was stunned by what he saw when he did, for there looking back at him were his own eyes reflected in another.
Venka’s eyes narrowed as she looked at last upon the face of her sire. In a moment of supreme anger she launched herself upon him and they plunged down into the waves.
Winnowill’s eyes gleamed as she beheld the wonders of the palace and felt its power course through her, but she scowled when she saw what lay within. She prepared to send a forceful surge of water throughout its halls when she saw the fighting forms of Rayek and Venka.
In an instant Winnowill changed the direction of her attack and sent the force of the water directly at them, which knocked them apart and into the outer wall of the palace. *How dare you try to control me!* She sent, her face twisting in a fury that matched Venka’s own.
*I still can!* Venka sent back as she turned her attention from Rayek to the black snake. *You had your part in shaping this! I know you did!*
Rayek starred in aw as he watched the two powerful women fight each other with the power of their minds. Each moment that passed he could see that Venka was loosing more and more stamina from lack of oxygen. He didn’t understand why this supposed child of his hated him as she did, but he wasn’t going to let her die.
Winnowill turned in a moment of desperation to Rayek, knowing that if Venka could hold out, but a moment longer she would be defeated by her. *Don’t let her take my freedom from me!*
Rayek glared at Winnowill and unleashed his powerful gaze. *I shall help her do so.*
Under their combined power Winnowill was subdued and floated down to the bottom of the ocean floor. Rayek turned his gaze to his daughter and saw that her strength was gone and quickly swimming over grabbed her nearly unconscious body and pulled it into the palace.
Rayek turned to look back out at the fallen Winnowill. He would have to leave her behind now, there was no time to change her from the water breathing shape she now possessed. He left his regret with her. He could afford no more delays.
He strode past Venka as she lay on the palace floor. He strode past Suntop and Ember who cried for their parents. He listened not to Ekuar’s futile pleas for this to stop. He reached for the scroll of colors with his power and watched it move, as it told him the whereabouts of the high ones. If he hurried, perhaps, he would still have time to return for Savah, Suntoucher, his parents and the other sun villagers.
The palace slowly began to move under Rayak’s power but then landed heavily to the ocean floor as the searing presence of another mind entered Rayak’s head. He leaned forward clutching his brow and then turned to face his offspring.
“What do you think you are doing!” he shouted at her in rage.
*What I was raised to do. The only purpose I have left.* She stood leaning against the wall breathing deeply. She seemed calmer then she had before her amber gaze filled with the power of her purpose. *To stop you.*
The two of them locked eyes and a battle for domination began. Venka was many years Rayak’s senior now, she had years of experience dealing with minds like Winnowill, stretching the limits of her power. Rayek, however, had spent many years basking in the power of the palace, his dedication when it came to mastering himself was unmatched. While the palace enhanced the abilities of both combatants, in the end, it was Rayek whose was stronger, for Venka had been weakened from her battle with Winnowill and her time beneath the waves.
Ekuar who had stood to the side watching with growing apprehension rushed over and caught Venka as she stumbled and then helped lower her to the floor. “Black hair!” he cried in frustration.
Rayek didn’t even glance behind him, there was no more time. He gazed into the turning scroll of colors and once again began to lift the palace from the water. The palace rose from the water and into the sky, the elves of the sun village who had waited so patiently for its return would never see it, there was no time to return for them. There was an instant of time, however, when Rayek reached outward in an attempt to lift all pure blooded elves into the palace that were near enough and draw them to him. He left only Winnowill where she lay. Rayek was determined that in the end he would have Leetah by his side.
The light of another crystal palace crossed the sky, to dazzle the eyes of those below, like a shooting star. It paused in its great arc and then began to move again, heading towards another unintended destination. Just as it began to fade away, Rayek’s palace joined with it and he held the merged palace steady.
Inside the palace erupted in sudden chaos, small creatures rushed about causing havoc, but Rayek kept his hold and lowered the it down onto the world of two moons. Once this was done he pulled back his hold and collapsed wearily to the floor.
Despite Rayek’s exhaustion he had managed to set the palace set down gently, much farther from the planets inhabitants and their dwellings then the high ones had originally intended. The high ones had little time to worry about what was outside the palace; they were much more concerned with what was happening within.
The burrowers had attacked them, something that the high ones had not foreseen. The little creatures scurried about and then ran out into a world where they would thrive. The high ones would have followed them out into the harsh world, but they paused to behold a number of small beings that resembled their own new shape. Beings that offered proof that others of their kind must have visited this planet before them.
There were seven creatures in total who matched the high ones shape and aura, a smaller creature that resembled the burrowers and a savage white furred beast. One group of high ones approached this last creature and it drew back into a corner as if startled and frightened, emotions that the high ones did not yet share.
The white wolf growled a frustrated warning and Adya who had approached first did not draw back his hand in time to avoid being bitten. He cried out pain and clutched at the broken skin. Aerth and Timmain reached for the bleeding hand at the same moment, but it was Aerth who gripped it first. *Here, let me restore it.* They watched as the wounds closed, but the blood remained, staining the skin.
Timmain turned back to the wolf and approached slowly, her curiosity was too much and she could not stay away, but her caution warned her not to reach out. She looked deep into the she wolves fathomless blue eyes and gasped when she recognized her own soul.
*This creature,* she sent, *is me!*
A collective cry of shock was voiced, for there is only truth in sending.
Aroree stirred and lifted her head up from the palace floor. She squinted at the brightness that surrounded her. She was not used to the light, having lived the past many years in shadow.
Slowly she sat up and gazed around her in awe, for here was a grandeur and beauty that Blue Mountain had not even come close to. She felt so overwhelmed, for here she was within the palace of the high ones at last. This is what they had waited for all those long years, but this was wrong. Venka had failed and the beautiful high ones surrounding them were proof. Aroree shuddered imagining just how angry Venka must be.
Aroree moved to stand, but stopped as her foot brush someone else lying upon the floor. She glanced down at her feet and her heart stopped in her chest. There he was, just as she had remembered. Her little stargazer. Skywise.
She felt tears come to her eyes unbidden and she bit her lip in an effort to keep them back. Images flashed in her mind, reminding her of what happened when she cried.
*Are you all right?*
Aroree was taken aback by the strength of the sending, the words nearly becoming lost within the open feelings behind them. She prepared her mind as she would to take her masters dark sending and looked up into the eyes of the high one who stood over her. Aroree shook her head, refusing to open her mind any more then she needed to.
The high one turned and took a few steps towards Aroree’s feet and reaching down placed a gentle hand upon Skywise’s head. *He is so small.* Then she pointed towards Suntop and Ember, *They are even smaller.* Then she put out her hand to Aroree and helped pull the former glider to her feet and they met each other, eye to eye. *Yet, you match us in stature. Who are you?*
Aroree did not answer.
At their feet Skywise began to move, but neither noticed.
The stargazer slowly began to sit up as Aroree had done and was filled with wonder, not by the palace itself, but by those who filled its once empty halls, but he didn’t let himself get distracted. Within moments he was on his feet and he began to stumbled forward in a search for Leetah and her cubs. When he spotted the two small elves huddled against each other Skywise instantly knew what had happened and his heart broke.
Rayek awoke slowly, his head pounding from the effort he had exerted. He looked around himself in amazement. What had been an almost empty palace moments ago was now bustling with the activity of his ancestors.
Rayek was filled to the brink with pride at his accomplishment. Surely now that Leetah had seen this she would forgive him for what had been done, surely now she would understand why it was unthinkable for him to have not done so. Rayek gently pulled out of the grip of the high one who had been watching over his fallen form and rushed about the palace looking for Leetah. The high ones tried to grab his attention in order to ask questions of there supposed savior, but Rayek was on a mission, he would have his prize. As he continued to look, Rayek became more and more bewildered by her supposed absence.
Eventually he laid eyes on Skywise.
“What are you doing here?” He asked in shock. “I did not call for those that carry your tainted blood! Where is Leetah? She will forgive me now that she sees what I have done.”
The stargazer looked at Rayek, fresh tears glistening on his cheeks. His face twisted in a snarl as he starred Rayek down. “She’s gone.”
“What do you mean gone?”
“Gone!” Skywise bellowed with rage. “She’s dead Rayek!”
Rayek was taken aback; his body felt the words as though they were a physical blow. Breathing deeply he narrowed his eyes and asked, “How do you know this? Where is your proof?”
Skywise turned away from the dark skinned elf and looked at Suntop and Ember who clung to each other in sorrow. “Look at them. They know.”
Trinket who was standing near the two elf children howled unseemly and Ember drew away from her twin, wiped her face with her arm and grabbed the little troll to quiet her. Suntop grabbed his sister and buried his head in her hair. They paid only a little attention to the high ones whose sending they could not follow.
Adya reached out for Timmain and pulled her back before she could touch the vicious creature that seemingly held her soul within its body. *You must not touch it Timmain, we don’t know what would happen to you if you did. If that creature is you, it could change you.*
Timmain looked at him in shock and Adya knew that for the moment she would leave the creature alone. He let go of her arm, leaving the red mark of his blood behind.
Venka felt like a child again, held tight in her mother’s arms, she could almost hear the crooning voice that sang of great battles. In an instant the memory faded, her mother had left long ago, and Venka wrenched herself from the arms of who ever was holding her. She turned swiftly and saw that it had been Ekuar.
“You,” she said, “the one Rayek always called friend. I recognize you from Kahvi’s stories.”
Ekuar seemed awestruck, “You are his daughter.”
Skywise walked away from Rayek, whose attention was suddenly desired by the same high one who had wished for it earlier, and approached Cutters cubs. He looked down at them and drank up all the things about them that reminded him of their parents, who he would never see again.
“Cubs,” he whispered as he knelt down beside them and placed an arm around each.
With Embers focus on her lessened, Trinket slipped out of the elf childs grasp and looked around again at all the strangers she did not know. Finally with a resolve she shrieked out, “I want Papa!” With one last look at Ember, Suntop and Skywise she howled out, “I’m going to find him!”
She howled and ran towards the palace door. Ember pulled away from Skywise in an instant. She couldn’t just let trinket go, she’d get lost. She ran quickly after the troll and both exited the palace. Ember managed to catch Trinket, but before they could make their way back inside they both vanished.
Suntop sat and simply starred for a moment and then came his heart wrenching cry. “Ember!”
Skywise stood for a moment in shock and then he ran towards the doorway. “What happened to her? Where is she?” he cried, running after Ember with Suntop at his heals. The high one Haken barred their way. *Do not follow or you may vanish as they have.*
“Ember!” Suntop cried again and went to move past them, but the silver haired stargazer grabbed onto the cub and held tight to him as though his life depended on it.
*Move back. Now!* Haken sent forcefully and Skywise stumbled back, pulling Suntop with him.
After they had stumbled to the ground Suntop turned to Skywise and buried his head in his leathers. “It’s my fault Skywise.” The boy sobbed, “Why did I have to hear the cry.”
“No.” Skywise whispered softly. He looked at Rayek, “It’s his.”
“This is all your fault!” Venka cried mightily as she glared at Rayek, echoing Skywise’s accusation. She approached him, her teeth barred, ready to fight. She walked slowly, circling
Rayek met her step for step, careful to maintain his ground. “You’re right, it is! 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 drew her blade and held it ready. “Are you happy with this? Knowing that of all you cared for only the high ones survive?”
Rayek looked at Venka’s sword and saw that it was bloodied. He took a deep breath, “What have you done?”
Venka looked upon Rayek with a semblance of pity in her eyes, “Your friend, the one who called you son, I ended his pain. Just as I will end yours.”
Rayek’s eyes widened, “Ekuar!” He called. He felt a deep pain welling in chest and he pushed it outward with all of his might sending Venka flying. He quickly began to run to where he had left the older elf but was forced to stop when the force of Venka’s mind entered his again. He looked up at her. “What do you want from me?”
“I want you to realize just how much you have made us all suffer. How you made Kahvi suffer and my tribe. 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.”
A glint of anger passed through Venka’s eyes and her already hard expression hardened further. “Then I will play with you no more. You will die!” Venka leaped into the air, bloodlust filling her every sense as she came closer and closer to her prey.
Rayek stood as though frozen his expression one of shock his hands slowly rising upward to protect him. Then a streak of white leapt up between them and Venka’s knife found an altogether different victim.
Timmain, the wolf, fell to the ground with a yelp and cried in her wolf voice.
Venka pulled her blade from the wolf’s side, “I always told you to stay out of my way Timmain. You never listen.”
Aerth couldn’t help himself and rushed to the wolf’s side in order to heal her, but he pulled back when her form began to change. All present watched as wolf became elf and soon an older, wiser, more experienced Timmain took shape and pushed herself up to look into Venka’s eyes.
*I only wanted for you to have peace child.*
*Peace is something that I will only have in my dreams or in my death.*
Venka let out a deep and heavy sigh, “One of us or both of us will die today,” she said to Rayek. “I promised my mother that I would make you pay for everything.”
Venka took one step forward and then her sword fell to the ground with a clatter as she vanished.
Timmain slowly stood, using one hand to hold her bleeding side. She picked up the dagger that had done the deed and held it in her hand. “Soon, even this will vanish.”
“Let me go Adya,” young Timmain spoke aloud, “I know what I must do.”
Adya released Timmain as soon as the words met his ears. The sound of her voice was so foreign; it almost seemed to force him to do as she asked.
Timmain seemed to glide toward the center of the room, her long dress hiding her feet along with the rest of her body, a great contrast to her own self who stood before them naked.
The naked Timmain stood as still as stone as her younger self approached. They gazed into each others eyes, there was no sending between them and yet they each knew what the other was thinking.
Slowly, young Timmain lifted her hand and stared at it, wondering how she would be changed. She reached out before her and their fingers met.
There was an instant of complete and utter stillness, and then a soft glow began to emanate from where their hands met. This light grew in brilliance and spread to cover both of their bodies. Then, when it was over, one Timmain stood before them all.
*These would have been our children. * The words came crashing into the minds of each and every high one, conveying a long and horrifying history. *In another time, a different turn of the scroll, we crashed upon this world.* She turned and looked at Adya, he gaze so intense it forced him to look away, *There was death!* Then she turned again and looked at Rayek, *Now, this future will never be.*
“I’m glad it will never be.” Aroree said, her voice struggling for a calm she did not have, “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!”
Skywise, who rocked Suntop in his lap, looked from Aroree to Timmain. “Tell me Timmain, what happened to the wolfriders? I know that Cutter would be long dead, but what happened to those that came after?”
*There were no more after.* Timmain replied sadly, *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.*
Aroree began to shake silently, tears at last wetting her cheeks. “There were only four of us left, Shenshen, Zhantee, Venka and me. Shenshen couldn’t take it, she lost her mind. After Shenshen asked Venka to kill her to she did.”
All was silent, only the low hum of the palace and the sound of breathing could be heard.
“Suntop!” Skywise cried, his hands were clutching at the empty air before him, where the cub had been. “Where is he, what happened?”
Timmain approached and placed her hand on Skywise’s head, “Time is rewriting itself and those present who are from before will all cease to be my child.” A tear fell from Timmain’s cheek into Skywise’s hair and then vanished with him.
Timmain approached Rayek now. “You have saved your high ones, but at such a great price. You will soon cease to be and eventually even I will forget you.”
Rayek looked up at the high ones that surrounded him and what was left of the fading elves from the world of two moons. He had done it, he had saved the high ones, “but,” he said in a low whisper, “this wasn’t how it was supposed to be.”
Rayek and the rest faded away. The palace of the high ones reshaped itself, the towers and spires faded, the doors and windows vanished. A simple, but beautiful sphere sailed away through the sky, the world of two moons nothing more then a memory that never was.