Author: the-elemental-writer PM
After the loss of most of the ocean's microorganisms and the Earth's main forests, the oxygen levels are seriously depleted. Anika Cardin and her rebel group, the Renegades, fight the Authorities to help save the Earth. A sudden turn of events forces her to go into hiding and trust a stranger who saved her life. She soon learns there's more to the world than she ever imagined.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Fantasy - Chapters: 21 - Words: 79,308 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 05-15-13 - Published: 01-06-13 - id: 3089719
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"What do you mean, 'he has turned'? Turned into what?" I asked nobody in particular. Darren made his way over to the freezer and took out an icepack. He handed it to me and I was grateful that he seemed to have everything.
"Anika, you remember when I recited the letter from my brother?" Calelon asked me. I nodded, how could I forget the thing that might determine my future? "Well, he stated that he has any ally who told him about you…I had my suspicions but there's no mistaking that Noah is his ally." He said. I shook my head.
"No, there's no way. Noah is my best friend. He wouldn't do this…maybe he had a bad day!" I exclaimed.
"Don't let love blind you." Calelon said. "It is quite obvious what he has done." I shook my head again, Calelon continued. "From my understanding he had a marvelous night. Do you think he would just turn on you and snap like that? Something is taking over his mind. With the right 'help' and 'encouragement' he could become a deadly weapon." He finally finished. The three of us stood in silence for some time before I finally spoke up.
"So how do we stop him?" I asked. Calelon shook his head.
"We can't. If Daechir has decided to use him, it means he will bring him over to his side. Noah will cross the border between Light and Dark…he's gone, Anika." Calelon said sympathetically. I managed a nod and swallowed back my tears.
"Am I still going to my mother's?" I asked when I felt that my voice wouldn't quiver.
"Yes," Darren said before Calelon had a chance to speak. "I am not going to let you wait any longer just because of a setback. You have waited far too long to wait anymore." He said. I smiled.
"We have to look out for each other."
"Anika," Calelon said walking over to me. He took my free hand, the other holding the icepack to my face, in both of his. "I will protect you. At all times, from anything I can. I swear that to you." He said with a fierce look in his beautiful, blue eyes.
"Thank you." I said again. "When do we leave?" I asked.
"Well, I'm sure Noah is passing on information as we speak that you are leaving in the morning…so why wait?" Darren said. "Leave now. They won't be expecting it." He said simply. Calelon nodded his approval.
"I agree. After what has happened, it will be the last thing they expect." Calelon said. I nodded but remained silent. Something was still bugging me…something didn't fit together.
"Are you alright Anika?" Darren asked me. I shook my head.
"No. When did Noah get the time to speak with Daechir? It doesn't add up!" I said.
"Did either of you see him earlier today? If my memory serves me well, I believe he said he would be sleeping all day…so. Did either of you see him?" I shook my head as did Darren.
"The bastard…" Darren mumbled to himself.
"What?" I asked.
"I saw him…once before you came home. He seemed strange. Abnormal is a better word, actually."
"Get on with it."
"He was asking strange questions about you. And me. Questions that no one had ever asked me before. He had seen my family photos and asked things like, 'Where is your brother now?' and other strange questions." He looked up and saw the look I was giving him. "Okay, maybe they don't sound that farfetched, but he was seriously prying. And after he asked me these questions he left the house claiming he was going to go look for you…I take it he never found you?" He asked. I shook my head.
"No…no he didn't. And he didn't mention trying to find me either." I said, finally giving into defeat.
"You should probably get ready to leave." Darren said walking over to me. I nodded and tossed him the icepack before heading to my room. I closed the door behind me. I looked around and saw Noah's things and tried to hold back my emotions. I took in a deep, rattling breath and let it out, along with everything I had to bite back in the kitchen in front of Darren and Calelon. I slid down the door and onto the floor.
Don't let love blind you, Calelon had said to me. How is it everyone knows what I feel and what my emotions are before I have even grasped them? I did love Noah! I do. I will not give up as easily as they have. He can't be all bad. I won't believe he is. I took deep breaths and wiped my face. I made my way over to my bed, sat down, and took off my boots. I stood up and unbuttoned my jacket. I took it off along with the day's clothes. I put the clothes in a pile and went to the closet, hung up my jacket and put the boots in it. I also fetched the clothes I had been wearing the night the Authorities attacked.
When Darren, Noah and I had discussed my leaving, we all thought it made sense if I showed up with none of the belongings I have in my new home. As far as my mother knows I could've been kidnapped and kept in the same clothes for months. I would bring Menedhil with me, leaving it was not an option. It would be easy enough to hide the sword under the porch. And my bow and quiver…this night made me realize I always need to be armed, no matter what. And although I didn't want to leave him, I couldn't bring Bandit. The thought of leaving him saddened me even more.
I put on the clothes and looked at myself in the mirror. I slowly undid my long braid. I looked like the girl I had once been, all those months ago. When Noah and I had secretly loved each other, not daring to let the other one know…boy, how things change.
I looked at the side of my face where his fist had made contact. The swelling had gone down a little but it was red and very sore. I sighed at the sight of it. I went back to my bed and put on my old shoes. None of these clothes felt right on me anymore. I just didn't feel like myself with them on. I looked under the bed and retrieved Menedhil and my bow and quiver; exactly where I had left them when I returned from visiting with Erthor. It was hard to believe it's hardly been twenty-four hours since the battle. I put them on my bed then reached under my pillow and grabbed my twin stiletto daggers. No matter what, I would always have these on me. I looked at the hilts; they were both bound in leather, one had a ruby encrusted hilt, the dagger named Cerenil, the other sapphire named Calaerel. In my eyes they symbolized fire and ice; complete opposites. But you can't have one without the other…just like light and dark. I smiled at this. I know Noah isn't lost to me.
I put the daggers on my belt and closed my old jacket over them, completely hidden. I strapped the quiver of arrows across my back, then my bow as well. I attached Menedhil to my belt and looked at myself once more in the mirror. I walked to the door and said a silent goodbye to the room. I had a feeling I wouldn't be seeing it in a while.
"I'm going to miss you, Darren. And your amazing cooking and the cabin…and the freedom." I said as we remained in a tight, fatherly hug.
"Please, you sound like you're never coming back!" He said. We broke apart and I gave him a shy smile.
"I really am going to miss you, though." I said.
"I will be expecting your return!" He said with a pat on my uninjured cheek.
"When will Calelon be back?" I asked again.
"In under ten minutes for sure. The Firi are the fastest creatures on this earth, from what he's told me. He just wanted to say goodbye to his sister." He sighed. "The bond they have is incredible. Think of how strong it must've been when it was all three of them with no rivalry…"
"I can't imagine." I said. Darren and I both shifted our gaze to the front door as it opened and Calelon came through. I looked him up and down and realized something. "Darren, if he's coming with me, how will he pass off as a human when he's wearing clothing like that?" I asked pointing to his fine, elven-like garments. Darren nodded.
"You're right. I'll go see what Noah has." He said as he made his way to my room.
"What is wrong with how I dress?" Calelon asked me.
"Oh, nothing. It's just that humans don't dress like that," I said with a smile on my face. It felt nice to smile.
"How about this?" He said. The strange, sparkling light he used to make his armour shifted and melded before shaping into dark wash jeans and a soft, light blue t-shirt. I marveled at how ordinary he looked.
"That's incredible!" I stated.
"Thank you. I got the idea from what I have seen Noah wear." He said running a hand through his long hair.
"Oh that's another thing."
"What?" He asked. I motioned for him to sit in one of the chairs around the table. He did and I finger-combed his hair. I started at the top of his head, took a strand of his soft hair and parted it into three. I began to French braid his hair, making sure to not leave any strands behind. I finished by tying off the end.
"There you go," I said smiling at my work. He reached up and felt the braid.
"Thank you," he said as he bowed his head. I smiled as Darren came into the room with a backpack.
"Where'd those clothes come from?" Darren asked surprised.
"He made them from his…" What is it called?
"Energy," Calelon finished. Darren nodded his approval.
"Well, here are some extras," he said as he tossed the bag to Calelon. "There should be enough for a couple of weeks if you can find a washer. Lucky for you two, Calelon looks so young! If worse comes to worse tell your mother that both of you were held captive and escaped together. If she's still suspicious tell her you two are dating." He said. He must have seen pain flicker across my eyes before I nodded because he added, "I know it's hard for you Anika. But we need to keep you safe and get rid of the Authorities."
"I know, I'm fine," I said. I walked over to the front door with Calelon. He opened it for me and I turned around before stepping out into the chilly night. "Thank you. Really," I said with a smile before leaving.
"Of course, Anika," he whispered.
"How long does it take to travel to your home?" Calelon asked me.
"Well at this pace…I honestly have no idea. When Noah and I were first brought here, we were both unconscious. And I haven't been brave enough to venture beyond the borders of Falkron in case Authorities were patrolling." I said.
"Who exactly are these Authority people you speak of?" Calelon asked.
"They are a group of people who wanted 'change' and did everything in their ability to ensure that the change would come. They claimed to be saviours…but they're not. When they came into power, using higher-ups, like presidents and prime ministers, they collapsed the delicate state that the world was in. They created wars between countries…polluted lakes and the oceans…cut down thousands of trees…just to sell their 'oxygen depleted' story," I said bitterly.
"And to think we have been oblivious to the troubles this whole time…" Calelon mumbled to himself.
"Well why does that matter?" I asked.
"If we had of known we could have easily fought against them and helped the humans." He said with a sad look in his eyes.
"Oh…but anyways…" I continued. "The first of the wars, the People's War, began in 2046. Obviously this was before my time but my grandmother told me it was for the population to basically pick who their allegiance would be to. But she also told me it was an excuse for mass killings of the population. So stupid…they created wars over the dumbest things just so they could destroy the earth and down the population while everyone else was occupied fighting with each other. It ended later that year though…the Authorities had done everything they needed to so that the world could be destroyed. The second war, which was called the Continent War, broke out in 2047. My grandmother didn't tell me much other than that the seven continents were broken up and given names as big land masses, instead of individual names. She taught me the proper names for them, however. Before I came to Falkron there was talk that there would be the Blood War; mass killings of rebellion groups and innocent people. The Authorities are twisted, evil bastards. None of them deserve to live after what they have done to this world and countless families…my family. I'm sorry. I feel like I am boring you." I said.
"No, you're not at all. I find the history of humans quite fascinating." He said.
"Are we heading the right way?" I asked. He nodded. "How do you know?" I said jokingly. He shrugged.
"Instinct," He said simply. I looked around the forest. I would miss the fresh air here. I shuddered to think how hard it would be getting used to the city air again. I thought of my mother and her depression and how it must have been nearly impossible for her to survive five months on her own. A shiver ran down my spine. Calelon took notice and wrapped his arm around me. I looked up at his face.
"Thank you," I whispered as I turned my head back to where we were walking. "What time do you suppose it is?"
"I do not know. Time is of very little importance to us. We never understood why humans obsess over it." He said before pointing up to the sky. "If you ever really need to know, just watch the sky." He said. I smiled.
After walking for two hours going southeast through the cold, dark woods the trees began to thin. I looked ahead and saw a descending slope and my heart sank as I saw the old water house far off in the distance. Memories washed over me of the night my life turned upside down. I stopped walking and sat down. I removed my bow and quiver from my back and unattached the sheath carrying Menedhil from my belt. I decided to leave my daggers.
"Is everything alright, Anika?" Calelon asked me with concern.
"No. No it's not. I don't think I'm ready for this. I don't know if I want to know what happened after I disappeared that night. They probably all think I'm dead…and Noah too," I said.
"We've been walking for hours, let's rest until morning. Also, I think it would be less suspicious for us to get to your home in the morning compared to showing up in the dead of night," Calelon suggested. I nodded and simply curled up into a ball. I felt a blanket fall over my body and then Calelon tucked me in before lying next to me. Tingles went through my body as he placed his arm around my waist. "We need extra warmth." He said simply.
After what felt like hours I noticed Calelon had fallen into a small slumber. I couldn't sleep though. There were so many thoughts running through my head about the previous day and what might be waiting for me tomorrow….Did I want to find out?
"Anika, you must get up. My brother may be on the hunt for you already." Calelon said as he shook me awake. The sun was up and I looked towards the water house and took deep, steadying breaths.
"This is really it," I said. "What if my mother doesn't allow you to come with me?" I asked suddenly afraid.
"Then I can easily be there without being seen." He said matter-of-factly. I stood up and gathered my hair into a ponytail, straightened my clothes, equipped my weapons and suddenly wished I had a toothbrush. Calelon and I walked down the hill and eventually came to the water house. I stopped right near the front entrance.
"What is it?" Calelon asked.
"Although I'm here to see if my mother is alright, I'm also here to see what became of my old group: the Renegades. This is the last place I saw them…" I said. The door was planked shut. Calelon nodded and without hesitating pulled off the planks, opened the door and entered the building. I stood there contemplating whether or not I should follow him when he came back out and gently closed the door.
"Do not go in there," he said as he took my arm and began to drag me down the road.
"Why? What…Calelon let me go!" I said as panic settled in the pit of my stomach. I squirmed out of his grasp and pushed passed him back towards the building. He grabbed my arm and swung me into his chest where he held me in a tight embrace.
"In time, but not now; I do not believe you're ready," he said. There's only one thing that that could mean. "Now, come along. Let us go find your mother." He said gently, comforting me. I let him walk me down the street before I flashed back towards the house taking him by surprise. I pulled out my twin daggers as I got a rush of adrenaline. I ran towards the building gradually picking up speed and suddenly the door was in my way. I raised my foot and kicked it open. Thank goodness for all those months of training…I stepped inside the building as Calelon shouted something.
The odor of rotting flesh stung my eyes and brought bile to my throat. I vomited on the floor and slowly looked up. It was horrific. I saw the bloodstained floors first, and then the bodies…five-month old, rotting bodies scattered all throughout the room. Do I know these people? Are they the Renegades? Did the Authorities really just leave them here to rot forever? I fell to my knees and began to cry, not the quiet ones I had become accustomed to in Falkron so no one would hear me. These were sobs that shook my entire body. I gulped for air and I began to shake from grief and anger. This was all too much! Why would they leave them here!? Could any of these people be John or my grandmother? I took in a deep breath and screamed. I screamed until my throat became raw. No matter who these people are, Authority or Renegade, everyone deserves a proper burial! I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder and I lashed out, armed with my daggers, and sliced Calelon's arm. My eyes widened.
"I'm so sorry," I said as tears sprang into my eyes again. He looked at the cut, decided it was okay and hugged me. I cried into his chest. "I need to know who these people are, Calelon! What if they're my friends, or family or allies?" I said in a thick, quivering voice.
"You have been through a lot in your life, Anika." He said. I don't remember leaving; just the air didn't smell as foul. I don't remember walking down the street. I don't remember sitting down. But here I was.
"Anika, where is your old home?" Calelon asked me. I pointed behind me. "Very informative," he said jokingly. I shrugged him off as I stood up and took deep breaths as I walked down the street. "How far is it?" Calelon asked.
"Not far at all," I said as I turned left. We walked in silence for ten minutes, going down different streets, hoping there wouldn't be any early morning people walking or doing errands. Luckily, we ran into no one. Finally, the two of us reached the driveway to my one story home. It looked the exact same. I looked at Calelon.
"This is it," I said as I nudged my head towards my house. Calelon looked at me sadly and embraced me. "I'm scared," I whispered. He titled my head up so I was looking at him and looked into my eyes.
"You do not need to be," he said. "You are strong and determined." He smiled. He brushed his thumb along my cheek. "It bruised," he sighed. "Come on," he said as he took my hand and walked me to the house. Since we still had our weapons which needed to be hidden, we crept around the house in case she was awake. I hid my bow and quiver against the fence behind a bush and Menedhil in the corner of the porch behind a lustrous plant. I didn't see where Calelon put his sword and wondered if he had any concealed weapons. Probably.
With our hands clasped tightly in each other's, we walked up to the front door and I knocked. It was a few seconds before I heard a shuffle from within. My heart caught in my throat as my mother opened the door.
"Mom," I croaked, trying not cry.
"Anika," she said as she stepped out of the house and embraced me, the both of us letting our tears fall.