A/N: I had another prologue up that didn't seem to keep anyone's attention, so hopefully this one will do better.
I braced myself for the shockwave of a third explosion.
Are they insane? Do they wish to alert the entire city of humans?
I bolted through the air, low to the ground, holding the precious bundle close to my chest. They were less likely to catch up to me through the dense forest at the edge of the human suburban area.
With my supernaturally acute sense of smell, I faintly caught the scent of blood.
They are stupid enough to fall for the traps.
The primitive contraptions were a nice addition to the false smell and footprints, I had decided. Hopefully everything came together nicely to lead them in the completely opposite direction. And on the off-chance they were on the right track…
A faint white flash briefly illuminated the atmosphere behind me. I glanced down at my hands—my fingertips shone the color of the soundless explosion. Apparently, a few of them stumbled onto the path leading to me. I felt myself smiling.
I didn't know where they thought I was heading, but I somehow had to make sure that an orphanage would be the last place they suspected. However, they knew I had a child in my arms, so unless they were much less intelligent than I thought, this task would be extremely difficult. Hopefully the small one wouldn't do anything to give herself away. Unfortunately, sometimes the power gets out of hand until one is old enough to control it. I would have to suppress her power somehow when I got a chance to stop and concentrate.
Barely audible footsteps sounded next to me, keeping up with my impossibly fast pace. I glanced beside me; the being was hidden in the trees.
They couldn't have caught up so fast…!
The same sound appeared to the other side of me. How on earth did they get past that trap? I thought, frantically searching for a way to lose them. I banked sharply to the left, hoping to lead them a few hundred yards in that direction before continuing my path.
The turn almost ran me into a group of the scaly green creatures. I swung to the side, trying to dodge them, but they were all around. Without hesitating, I shot up through the trees, only to get thrown back down by the ones hiding in the branches.
Stupid racra-blocking technology, I thought as I caught myself just before hitting the ground. I glanced at the bundle in my arms. She was unharmed; I'd shielded her with myself. I'm gonna be harshly reminded of that later, I thought as I blocked out the searing pain of the wound on my back. What hit me? A ray gun? I instantly realized that each of the dozens of Todistu possessed one. Even so, did they not realize who they were dealing with?
They obviously haven't learned by now that a direct confrontation with a Milahm leaves the attacker strongly and brutally disadvantaged—no matter how numerous they are.
The forest suddenly became a few shades lighter through my eyes as they radiated bright white, the representation of my racra brought to life.
I stumbled into the cave, my current dwelling, soaked. Of course it was raining at a time like this. I channeled a ring of energy at the top of my head, and scraped it down my body. The water splashed to the floor, leaving me totally dry.
"Did you take care of her?"
I spun around, startled. A dripping wet centaur stood at the entrance to the cave. Sopping to the bone, he was still a sight to see; he was a beautiful black and white paint, his scalp covered with long white hair and black roots, a rare marking. I sighed.
"I killed them, Meloi. I killed all of them. Except for one."
Meloi stepped inside and shook himself off. "I know you don't like killing, but you probably should have finished the job. You better hope that remaining one didn't see where you took her." He paused. "Where did you take her?"
There was an orphanage about a hundred miles south of here, I thought to him. No need to say such confidential matters out loud in case that one Todistu I left alive somehow stumbled upon the cave. That would not be a desirable situation; another creature I would be forced to kill.
The centaur instantly caught on and nodded, letting the subject drop. "Your eyes are dull."
I squeezed my eyes shut and turned away. My light gray eyes got darker and lost energy whenever I was depressed or down, and he knew that that particular physical attribute embarrassed me. I don't know why I didn't like it; maybe I disfavored the vulnerability of having my emotions written on my face for everyone to read. I could use my supernatural ability to hide it, but I constantly forgot. Too late now.
"I had to suppress her," I suddenly began to explain. "Her power. Her racra. When I uncovered her face, she was glowing. She won't be able to live peacefully for very long if the humans discover what she is."
"Maybe her racra will be weaker since…" Meloi trailed off.
"Or maybe she won't have inherited the skills to control it. Maybe she would have been a hundred times as dangerous had I not suppressed it."
Meloi shrugged. "I guess we have no way of knowing. You've achieved something that's never happened before."
I sighed and sank to the floor against the cave wall, embarrassed for the second time. Last year, I would never have believed anything would happen between me and a human female. Did I not think…? Because of me, the life of a little girl could possibly be completely ruined. I held my head in my hands.
To my surprise, I heard the centaur chuckling. I looked up, brow furrowed, confused.
"Don't worry, you look human enough right now to get away with it. How long had it been?"
"Since I was born, actually. I never had. Don't put me on the level of the humans," I growled in response. "I was setting a new record of over three centuries."
"What about Aethera or any of the others like you? You could have—you still could—produce more of your own kind," Meloi pointed out. "Well, I guess you already have…but you could have had a pureblood Milahm instead of a half-blood."
"Don't say it like we're animals to be bred," I accused. "I just never had the desire to. I never…" I stopped, unable to figure out the right words, or unwilling to speak them.
"Fell in love?" Meloi helpfully finished. I glared at him, and he grinned.
"You did that on purpose."
I cringed as I accidentally let my block on the pain weaken. Had to remember to keep that defensive shield up. I set my palms on the ground and prepared to push myself upright.
"For the most powerful being on the face of this earth, you sure seem fragile in person," Meloi said.
I decided to ignore that comment. "I think I'll go see her," I said.
"The child? You just left her."
"No!" I paused. "Tyler."
He decided to change the subject, "you know, your child's birth was foretold in stories told by my kind."
"You know I don't believe in that stuff. Prophesies."
Meloi held his hands up defensively. "I'm just saying what the centaurs have said. In the stories, the child brings the five Milahms together."
I stared at the ground, eyes suddenly wide. "How did you know they were apart?" I nearly whispered.
He looked taken aback. "I didn't."
"I thought you weren't going to see her anymore," Meloi said, suddenly reverting back to our original topic.
I stared at my hands. "I promised I'd tell her what happened to the girl." I slowly stood up from the ground.
"You're not going to protect her, are you? By keeping away?"
I scowled at him. My eyes twinkled as they began to shine. He got the hint, and turned to leave.
"Good luck. I hope you make the right decision." With that, he was galloping into the night air.
I stared after him. Suthal, let me make all the right decisions, I prayed.
You will. Trust in me.
I smiled as I launched myself into the air, glowing a brilliant white.
I landed in a secluded area at the edge of Tyler's neighborhood. The houses were small and run-down, but Tyler was a college student who lived with two other girls, Riley and Charlotte. I'd never met them, only heard her talk about them—I had been determined to avoid humans that she knew. Occasionally, we ran into one of her acquaintances, but I asked her not to make a big deal about my presence. I wanted to lay as low as possible with the humans; as weak as most of them were, some of them were dangerous to me and to the other Milahms.
I began the three block walk to the house. I generally fly invisibly, and I figured it would look slightly suspicious to any watching eyes if I just popped up in Tyler's yard.
The night air was cool with a slight breeze intermittently ruffling my hair. It was the perfect weather. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the temperature as I walked up to Tyler's porch, forgetting the events that had brought me here. I was going to see her again. I opened my eyes and stared at her and her roommates' front door. I wondered if she told them about me.
Of course she did. Girls can't keep their mouths shut.
I then wondered how it would look to them, seeing a six-foot-one man at their door at eleven at night. I guess I was going to find out. I took a deep breath and knocked softly on the door.
A scream from inside startled me, and I jumped. I heard scuffling, then the door cracked open.
"Who is it?"
"I'm here for Tyler," I replied.
"Are you a rapist?"
I couldn't help but laugh. "No, I'm…" I paused. "Trem."
The door instantly swung open and the girl on the other side stared in wide-eyed amazement. She had short, red hair and green eyes, and she was nearly a foot shorter than I was. Riley.
"Tyler?" She called inside the house without taking her piercing eyes off of me.
"Yeah? Who is it?" Tyler replied. My face brightened at the sound of her voice, and I must have been grinning like an idiot. Riley's mouth twitched as she stepped aside, inviting me in. I accepted gratefully, walking through the door.
"It's…" Riley began to reply as the beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed, five-foot-five girl emerged into view. Tyler. Her face contorted a bit like Riley's when she saw me. I continued grinning.
"Hey," was all I could say.
The next thing I knew, Tyler had thrown herself into my arms, and Riley and Charlotte were standing at the far doorway on the left with similar expressions of shock.
We stood, arms around each other, for long moments that I didn't want to end. I felt her body tremble with sobs, and I tightened my hold around her in a futile attempt to stop it.
"Um…Riley and I are going for a walk," the girl said with hair so light blonde it was almost white. The two pushed past us to the door, and disappeared.
"How is she?" Tyler asked, her voice cracking.
I took her chin in my thumb and forefinger, and kissed her softly. "She's fine," I whispered. "I gave a nice family the desire to adopt her, so she'll end up in good hands."
"I wish we didn't have to do that."
I let my arms droop helplessly around her. I put my hands on her shoulders and held her at arms length, staring at the floor beside her, unable to look her in the eye. "I know. I'm sorry. This shouldn't have happened. We shouldn't have…" She interrupted me by placing her forefinger to my lips, silencing me. I finally met her gaze.
"I don't regret anything," she whispered.
If she saw my eyes radiating with light, she didn't mention it. I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry. I dissolved the tears before they visibly moistened my eyes. I was the strong one of this relationship. I was the strong one of Earth.
Without uttering a word, I took her hand and led her out the front door into the yard where the amazingly cool breeze and soothing night air would help calm us both down for what I had to say.
Meloi's presence slowly entered my awareness as he approached. His footsteps were barely audible even with my acute hearing. Once he caught up to me, he opened his mouth to speak, and then glanced at my eyes. They were the color of an approaching severe storm that threatened hail and tornadoes. A dark, dull gray storm.
We trudged in silence, in the mud, the rain finally beginning to subside.
Eventually, he decided to try again. "Why don't you assume your true form and come with us? With the herd? Just forget what you are for a few days."
Meloi could see in my eyes the events that haunted me—that I told Tyler I didn't know when I would see her again. That's what he saw. I slowly brought my gaze up to meet his, not even caring about my eye color anymore. "Okay," I said, my voice barely above a whisper.
I watched over Esylia every day, protecting her. Her new family was amazingly loving and accepting, even when the cap I'd put on Esylia's racra began to fade. They sheltered her even more from the world, of which I was eternally grateful.
I was guarding Esylia's house when she was home alone the night her parents died.
I knew I couldn't have done anything at all—I was too busy protecting her. But I couldn't help believing that, somehow, I could've saved them. Now Esylia had to be transferred to another orphanage and, unless I wanted to reveal myself to the humans, there was nothing I could do about it.
I couldn't bear to watch her reaction to the news. I remained close by and wished I could get her out of going to the orphanage; the protection of her parents helped immensely to hide her power. I hadn't paid much attention to her growth rate then. She was six when she arrived at the orphanage, and she looked like a four year old. I learned later that mentally, she was ten. Great; another reason to arouse suspicion.
Just as I thought—immediately after Esylia arrived at the orphanage, people became watchful. Apparently the centaurs weren't the only ones with the prophetic story. Why hadn't I heard it?
She was still there two years later, and by that time my visits had become sporadic throughout each day. One afternoon, I was gone for one hour, and suddenly she was unconscious on a table in a room. They were going to transfer her to a science lab.
Suthal, help me figure out what to do.
Trust in me. I have the situation under control.
And from that point on, this is her story.
A/N: I tried hard to make this reader-snaring!! Did it work?? Please review!!