A naked house, a naked moor,
A shivering pool before the door,
A garden bare of flowers and fruit
And poplars at the garden foot:
Such is the place I live in,
Bleak without and bare within.
Robert Louis Stevenson – The House Beautiful
There is always a reason for things. They may be in the worst reasons imaginable; the most selfish or most harmful. And then, even worst than those together, are the reasons created by pureness. They don't believe me that they are the worst, but, take a ride with me, and then you'll see.
In a dark and nightmarish shadow of this retched planet, Cenotos, a civilization known as the Ecrathresh dwell; I live among them, as one of them. We live in the horrendous shadow lands, a total dump that they left behind when they started to live in the light. When I said they I was referring to the Suendreckhar, also known as the beings of light. While we live here in the wretches of the trash heaps and rodent carcass infested lands, they live in the white marble citadels and bask in the sun everyday. My kind fight to live on a daily basis; as infants we are abandoned by our parents and from then we quarrel among ourselves. Sometimes we die in the process, maybe that's they're plan – to kill us off before we came kill them. But, there are reasons for the younglings to quarrel, and mainly it's because of starvation – there's never enough to feed us all.
I was one of the luck ones, if you call surviving lucky. Along with my one friend, the two of us managed to save ourselves from death until we reached a stage when they stopped the ravenous wars. There are only a couple of things you should know about my friend, but, I can't say both, not even to myself. My friend, Faye, she is me… in a way; we are exactly the same, yet, also completely opposite.
I can't really say much more about her than that, she's tough to describe.
Anyway, the fraction of us who survive past the first stages of life end up all over the place doing different tasks. I was one of those who turned into a hermit, wandering the dangerous outskirts of the main location – that's where all the infants are left. There's a reason, like always, that we do this. Elders stay in that area and its safer there than anywhere else in the shadows fore the demon beasts don't go there.
I remember, from when I youngling, that the elders always told us stories. To me, they seemed more like warnings; they were always about those of us who enter light and the shadow demons and the outskirts. The elders seemed to treat some of the younglings better than the rest of them, and for some obscure reason, I was favoured. They told us more stories, ones about how the people in the light lived, how they had hardships different from us but to the same magnitude. Also, there were legends about a Crosser – someone who was born over a thousand years ago and was able to cross between the regions with no affects. I wish.
I usually wander close to the border, the clearly defined line between us and the Suendreckhar by the sun's longest ray. I want to cross it, everyday, I always want to feel the sun and taste the air. But, I already know it is impossible so why would I fill my head with empty dreams? Because I'm an idiot, that's why I dream.
Faye used to dream with me about being on the other side of the line.
"Seren, how come you never cross over?" Faye asked me, sarcastically.
"Because the light will destroy me; Faye, you live in light and you want to come here. I don't understand you, even after all these years." After thirteen years, she still wants to come here and I still want to go there.
"Like I said before, when we first met, there are things that are good in every world and the same for the bad. I want to feel the cool darkness, the liveliness of dangerous excitement, and most of all the sense of freedom. You want the warm sun, the sense of protection, and calmness. Serenity. Those are the reasons we want to switch." She paused and looked down for a short moment. "The reason not to, is because we think we want to keep enjoying it afterwards instead of being destroyed by the various things on the other side."
I had to agree, if I liked the sun, I would want to stay there, but if I didn't, well, I'd want to crawl back here and live in shadow rather than die in desire. And so would Faye. "Damn it, OUCH!"
"Slipped past… damn sun burn," my hand scorches just as though touched by the hottest molten rocks for hours. There are worse pains than this sunburn, but, it still is extremely painful to endure.
"Lemme try something," she said. "Go to the edge, but don't cross, not yet."
"In position," I chimed.
With a countdown of three seconds, I crossed into Suendreckhar's land. For some strange reason, sun didn't hurt me like it had before. It was just warm now, not scorching. I'd crossed the line.
"A place, a space, a mind, a soul for a soul, a mind, a space, and a place," Faye laughs delicately. "You know, in all the time we've known each other, we've never met. Let's say… the inferno gate."
She was correct; we'd never actually met just through the mirrors. I'd found an old hand-mirror when I was three and she heard me through hers. She said they were looking glasses rather than plain mirrors. Every time we wanted to talk we'd see each others reflection like that of a mirror and could hear each other. And we never got caught talking to the other either. We looked similar enough that if someone was walking by we'd fake a reflection for the other. We'd meet finally, and we'd see each other for the first time.
I just reached the inferno gate, a portal directly on the line between the Suendreckhar and the Ecrathresh land, which belonged to neither side. Everyone said that the inferno gate was a waypoint from this planet connecting to the others in this universe. All the planets have one sole waypoint similar to this one, and that only true blood witches could use them and survive.
A ghostly white shadow slithered behind the ruins of blackened stone, which I instinctively knew was Faye by the face so similar to my own.
"Salutations, I am Seren Evelyn Rust Estella Nalor, child of shadow life and member of the Ecrathresh beings." My voice rang clear and soft in the still, hazy, dust filled air. Faye inclined her head, long blond hair feathering to the side for a moment before falling against her back.
"Merry meet, sister, I am Faye Amser Yngvild Echidna Saelyfe, daughter of light and member of the Suendreckhar beings." Her voice mimicked my own. "Twin sister of the Ecrathresh woman Seren," she added as her ending, smiling lazily.
We stepped to the edges of the line and hugged each other. We really were sisters, twins, family. Neither of us had family, light of day and dark of night.
Light of day, shadow of night,
Sun and stars, salt and sea,
You cannot deny me the right to be,
The other me.
We said it together, a spell similar to the ones used by the true blood witches, one that would only work with them saying it. But, that too was impossible. The true blood witches died a millennium ago along with the Crosser and the last hope for unity between the majorities. No one knows how they died, how all of them died at the same time, nonetheless, they did and it is the past that cannot be altered.
Though we weren't true blood witches, the ground shook violently and the line blurred completely. But, it only stayed that way for a moment before glowing clear and crisp as it had in the beginning.
After a long time, we switched back to our original side, mainly to remain inconspicuous and promised to switch tomorrow.
Only tomorrow never comes.
I wait at the line on the dark side for Faye, but, she never comes. And she isn't talking to me with the looking glass mirrors either. Maybe somebody discovered us as Crossers. I see nothing but white, angelic light in the distance and after sixty hours of waiting with no sign of her showing, I walk away, into the dark shadows, back to the main location. I wanted to tell the Elders about how to Cross the line.
"Elder, I have something I wish to tell you." I exclaimed to Elder Lathron. Her head rose from watching the children and rotated until her eyes met mine. "This is about Crossing."
She dismisses the younglings and calls the other Elders to meet, her face expressionless.
"Tell us everything you know about it." Lathron says in a low voice just loud enough for all of us to hear her clearly.
I told them everything, from the sun burn, to Faye, to the Cross. "A space for a space, a place for a place, a mind for a mind, and a soul for a soul," I conclude in haste.
"Well, you've figured it out Seren, I knew you would. But, there's a reason we never said anything. You see… the Suendreckhar and the Ecrathresh true blood witches created the bordering line together. Each witch poured his or her blood on the line and created a spell that would only allow a certain circumstance to Cross. A place for a place, a space for a space, so on and there forth was the circumstance to cross. They did that to create unity between us and them."
"But, the Suendreckhar hated the Ecrathresh as much as they did now. The mortal Suendreckhar massacred each of their true blood witches and all but one Ecrathresh true blood witch. That witch was said to have escaped past the line and no Suendreckhar could follow because of the chant placed upon it. They vowed to kill every witch eventually, to have them become extinct, but they'd only kill them after they lifted the spell of the line. They wanted to come here, they wanted to kill us. That is the reason why we tell the stories about the boundary line; so that the Suendreckhar can never find the way to come here and massacre us the same way."
"Seren, you're parents didn't leave you here for the same reasons as the others. Your parents were our friends and they said that if you solved the mystery of the line, to tell you about them." Lathron closed her eyes for a long moment and drew deep breaths.
"Your mother, Amser, was the only descendant of the last Ecrathresh true blood witch. Seven generations away from the last true blood witch. Your father, Fel, was a rebel Suendreckhar, one who wanted to live in the dark shadows."
"She gave birth to identical triplet infant girls, dividing the three so that they would hopefully never meet. One went to a trustworthy Suendreckhar family, another to the main area of the Ecrathresh shadow lands, and the third would live on another planet with her parents. They travelled there using the inferno gate, to a planet called Zelleok." She spoke softly as she pointed to a green planet with blue specks everywhere. "It is a young planet, fresh and untamed where only few beings live."
"I… I have to go… I… I … I…" I couldn't stop trembling as I stood, but Lathron gripped my arm and shook her head.
"If you want to make sure that this girl, Faye, is your sister," she twists my arm to reveal a white mark on the inside of my right wrist. It took the shape of a crescent moon. "If she is one of your sisters, she'll have a mark exactly like this one on her right wrist. Remember that, it's a white crescent moon on her right wrist. It is important; those Suendreckhar will try anything to get the last witches. But they… they cannot clone your sister exactly. The mark is pure untainted magic that must be there from the start."
I nodded rapidly, unable to speak. She released my wrist and I ran, tears streaming recklessly with no sign of ever stopping. My heart pounds louder than my cries in my ears; my whole body filling entirely with the newly acquired knowledge.
"Hey, Seren, are you all right?" It was Faye's voice coming from the Suendreckhar's side of the line.
I nod to reply to her question. Then I ask her to show me the inside of her right wrist. Puzzled by my seemingly odd request, she complies by flipping her arm out, fingers landing an inch before the bordering line stood.
I stumble closer; close enough that I see her mark. I breathe a sigh of relief and hug her. She really was my sister, flesh and blood, solid and visible, my sister. I swallow before I ask her.
"Why didn't you show? I waited for a couple days for you, yet, you never came."
"I was grounded. Turns out that they found out I intentionally failed a test at school, just to prove that I hated doing them. And, they found out about me and Feiri, stupid rat-finking classmates. I swear if I EVER get my hands on them, they are going to rue the day they wronged me."
I laugh sporadically at her not-so-implied death threat. It was always funny to watch one of us make death threats, we just weren't the type to actually carry them out, no matter how furious we seem to be.
"What are you doing?" Faye gasped fore I'd walked to the steps of the inferno gate and started climbing it slowly. The red marble steps were unnaturally steep and difficult to climb.
"Me? I'm going to Zelleok."
"What? You're an idiot. We're not witches. You'll die."
"No, I won't die, not if our mother, father, and sister number two all survived. So, are you coming?" I can't believe how nonchalant I made that sound. My first non-melodramatic phrase in a long time, I smile a bit, giddy.
"Another question then, what and where is Zelleok?"
"Zelleok is a place, and it's in space. Why would I be on this accursed thing if it were anywhere else? I'm going there to see Mother and the rest of our family. You are welcome to join, but you could stay here. I imagine that if you do and they find out about us as witches, well, this would be a final good-bye."
And that's when I feel it. There is a strange stickiness in air and it clings to my pale white flesh. My head begins to spin and I begin nodding off, my body acting as a corpse, slumps to the ground on the fire-y red marble steps where I stood. Faye fell too, on white sands at the foot of the steps. Then, my vision blurs so everything is a dim shadow before I am utterly blinded. The sense of touch and feeling is the last to go. If I could see, I would have told you exactly what was happening, but, as far as I am aware of, beings are lifting my corpse-like body and Faye is being lifted, too. And then, the last thing was that retched, terrible sound of voices traversing through ventilators, disgusting, noise, and vibrate-y.
I stand alone in the deepest crater of my mind. It is here that I realize what is happening. And, I remember a voice.
I hear no evil. I see no evil. I speak no evil. I think no evil. I am no evil.
I have a secret…
And I cannot really say.
Just that with knowledge, a curse follows.
Count me to be included in that category.
I am cursed and there is a reason.
There is always a reason…