"Again?" he asked. "I've been telling it to you all week. Which part do you want to hear?" Wur hoped that she would pick one of the shorter chapters of The Legend of the Sun to listen to. He was getting tired of telling it to her everyday.
"All of it!" Aleu chirped happily. "I want to hear it all the way from the beginning, when sunshine still existed!" Mentally, Wur cursed up a storm. Why did these kinds of things only happen to him? Sure, it was perpetually night since the sun exploded, but really, the whole legend?
"Alright," sighed Wur, "I'll start at the very beginning. But I'm telling you the shortened version."
"No fair!" cried Aleu.
"Do you want to hear the story or not?" growled Wur.
Aleu huffed. "Fine."
Once upon a long time ago, there was a great star in the sky known as the sun. Everyday was split into two parts, which were known as morning and night. In the morning, the sun shone brightly in a light blue sky. At night, the trillions of stars that were farther away than the sun ruled the skies along with the moon.
For thousands of years the cycle of day and night continued. Fantastic creatures roamed Gaia, from the dinosaurs of millions of years ago to the people that still inhabit the planet today. All depended on this constant changing of sunlight and no sunlight. Plants could only grow if they had light, which was provided in plentiful quantities by the sun. The creatures needed darkness to sleep and to hunt. Then, the first Vanishing happened.
It was during the time of the dinosaurs that the first Vanishing happened. A large meteor struck the earth, sending a huge cloud of dust into the sky and blocking the sun's rays. Plants died from the lack of light, and with them the herbivores that depended on plants to survive. Soon, the carnivores were also dying, their plant-eating prey slowing going extinct. Very few creatures managed to survive the Dust Cloud Vanishing.
Time continued on its course. Now humans were the masters of Gaia, but they were not taking very good care of her. Pollution filled the skies and sea. Animals suffered greatly. Some humans were good people and wanted to take care of their home. They tried to convince others to join in their cause, but no one would listen. So, they did what little they could do by themselves. Slowly, the number of people who realized that they had to help Gaia was growing. They tried to reverse the effects of yesterday, but it was too late. The land was far too damaged by then.
Then, as if by magic, a strange thing happened. The sun, the center of all life even in the age of technology, exploded. The second Vanishing was upon the land, this time not because it was time for it to change, but because of how badly it had been taken care of. This Sun Vanishing was said to be punishment for hurting Gaia.
All the humans thought they would die. The world grew dark and cold and plants began to die off. People also started dying. But then, the strangest thing happened. A plant was found growing. Everyone thought it was impossible that a plant should grow without the sun, but it was true. Soon, plants were growing everywhere! Scientists thought it was a phenomenon, but believers in Gaia knew what was really happening. The earth was beginning to repair itself.
Many hoped that the sun would soon return to the planet. It would have, had the humans not once again started to destroy their home. Wars were fought over which plants were the safest to eat and over where they should be grown. The plants that were being fought over slowly started dying once again.
Few people noticed this, but by the time they realized what was happening, they were once again too late to save themselves. Animals ended up taking over. Always having been in tune with nature, they knew how to live without hurting her. So they ruled, killing off the humans that were killing their shared home. But the humans rebelled, and that battle has never been won to this day.
The battle over who truly belongs to keep Gaia rages wildly on. Some people managed to make peace with the animals, and these humans were called Syns. They live on the Edge with the bandits, for they are outcasts within their own species. According to Syns, this battle will never end until there is nothing left in the world except for plants. So far, they are right.
Aleu leaned out the window of Wur and her's shared apartment. Tears stung her eyes as she remembered the last time that he had ever told her a story, nearly six years ago. After that, he had become both a Messenger and a Syn and insisted that he no longer had time to tell her a bedtime story. It was the truth, but it still hurt to think that her precious person, the person she thought of as her older brother, hadn't had a full conversation with her for six years.
She laughed bitterly, clutching a letter that was hardly legible and ripped nearly in half. Across the room, Rona, Wur's wolf-dog partner, cowered. Aleu was dangerous when she laughed like that. Aleu was very, very dangerous. Rona had barely escaped from the Middleground to deliver Wur's letter to Aleu, which might be the last thing she ever heard from him, and it must have been quite the letter for Aleu to switch over to her darker side. What could her partner have written? Whatever it was, it must have been important, for just as soon as Aleu had switched over to the person Rona called Kala, she was back to her usual quiet self.
"Come, Rona," Aleu said softly. "We have things to do." The fourteen-year-old disappeared into her room and came out a few minutes later dressed in her hunting clothes and carrying her traveling pack. She walked over to Rona, her footsteps making no sound on the wood floor, and kneeled down next to the animal. Aleu took a cloth and a bottle of ointment out of her pack. Rona prepared for the inevitable stinging that would come next.
Dampening the cloth in a puddle of condensed water in the stone floor, Aleu washed out Rona's scratches and applied some of the ointment to them. It would sting at first but eventually faded to a dull tingling. Besides, it was better to sting and heal than to cut your leg off from an infection. Rona knew this, Rona understood this, but that does not mean that Rona enjoyed it. She preferred keeping any and all things sticky out of her thick fur and ointment was somewhere at the top of the list. The crusty feeling it left behind always drove her crazy since she wasn't allowed to lick it off. But, it was better than having blood in her coat, because that was definitely the worst thing anyone could be covered in.
Blood was sticky, blood was hot, and blood smelled like metal and tasted the same. Yes, ointment was much better to have stuck on you than blood, because at least ointment was good for you. Coming to this conclusion, Rona decided to watch Aleu for signs of what she might be thinking. For once, Aleu's face was not in its usual mask of emotionless. Rona could finally see that the girl did in fact act like a semi-normal person, her eyes alone giving away her doubts, confusion, pain, and regret. The biting of her lower lip meant hesitation, so she was clearly about to go do something that she wasn't quite sure was right. Also, if Aleu was putting ointment on Rona and wearing her hunting clothes, the lightest but most durable set she had, then that could only mean one thing. They were going to the Middleground for Wur!
Rona brushed her tail across the floor in excitement.
"Figured it out, have you?" asked Aleu, who now had a hint of a smile on her face. "I knew you were smart, but don't get too excited. We won't be leaving until moonset, which isn't for a while yet. I suggest you take a nap and regain some energy. That was an awfully long trek back you had."
The she-dog barked in agreement and put her head on her paws, preparing for a nice nap. Aleu stroked the fur between Rona's ears softly, then stood up and walked back over to the window. Looking out over the ruins of a once great civilization, she wondered if the stories were true about what the world used to be like. Were there really buildings that seemed to scrape the sky, and vast cities filled with everything you could imagine? Did the light cast by the sun really give things bright and beautiful colors? What was a bright color, anyway? Flashlights were bright and so were fires, so were those bright colors as well? It wouldn't really matter though, because those kinds of things were not useful to know.
What you needed to know to survive on the Edge, well, that was a puzzle all on its own. Your vision had to be sharp, since even the light of the full moon left many shadows behind. You had to be quiet and have awareness, because you would be hunted as you hunted for food. You had to be tough, since the bandits and wolves could put up quite a fight. You had to be clever, crafty, insane, or you would never survive on the Edge. You trusted no one but yourself, because bonds brought too many problems with them, especially in the matter of breaking them. But everyone breaks rules, and the Edge was called so for more reasons than the fact that it was the edge of society. Once you were in the Edge, you never stopped being on it until you escaped. Of all the unspoken rules, this one was actually true.
Aleu stood leaning out the window sill for hours, watching hunters get robbed of their catch and wolf packs renew their borders. As the moon sunk lower into the sky, more activity happened, the protective cover of darkness encouraging the castaways of society to crawl out of their dens. She watched failed hunters come back with heads held low and bandits trailing along behind unsuspecting civilians who got their fresh air during dark-sky, the time of day without the moons giving off their light. It was almost time to go.
Another minute passed, Aleu finally deciding that it was time to leave. She called out Rona's name silently and together the two of them swiftly picked their way down the stairs of the broken down castle tower that Wur called an apartment and they all called home. With sharp eyes that never missed a thing, Aleu checked to make sure that the cost was clear. As backup, Rona scented the air. When they agreed upon an all-clear, the two friends set out into the darkness, their footsteps silent and light upon the ground. It was as if they had never been there and by Edge terms, they hadn't.
Days passed by slowly as Rona and Aleu worked their way through the dangers of the Edge and snuck into the Middleground, where no Edge dwellers were ever supposed to go. Too bad Aleu believed that rules were meant to be broken. Otherwise, she wouldn't be sneaking into the Middleground dungeons in the first place. Her bond with Wur and Rona had gotten her into this mess and it was going to get her out of it if it killed her, which was actually quite a likely scenario. Still, now was not the time for questioning motives. It was time to secretly break into a prison, find the man she called brother, kick his butt for getting caught and not having a full conversation with her for six years, then escape without getting too ruffed up. The idea was simple and would probably end up backfiring, but Aleu could live wit that, because things never go exactly as you plan them. If they did, where would all the fun be?
Rona scented the air and growled softly. That meant that a patrol of guards was coming. She and Aleu curled up behind some boulders so that they would appear to be rocks to anyone that passed by. Even with their sharpened vision, the guard patrol fell for the ruse and was quickly knocked unconscious by Aleu. Their uniforms might be useful in infiltrating the prison. She stripped the one closest to her size of his clothing and put it on, taking the mask of another to hide her face. The clothing would hide her scent from any guard dogs, and her life of being an Edge child meant that she knew how to watch people for less than a minute and copy their mannerisms better than they could. She instructed Rona to roll around in the unconscious men for a bit to mask her scent and then gagged and bound them tightly. The longer it took for their disappearance to be noticed, the better. Rona and Aleu then returned to the path, appearing to be a prison guard and dog. It was extremely easy to sneak into the maximum security prison of the Middleground.
Stinking of Middleground guard was another thing added to Rona's list of things to hate. The strong scent had almost completely stopped her ability to pick out scents, which would make it all the more difficult to find Wur. Once she and Aleu were safely hidden behind a corner, Rona let her awareness flow out around her and tilted her head up to scent the air. She was intensely focused on feeling Wur's particular aura, since Aleu had not been around him enough to know what it felt like now, to notice the small differences in his personality that had appeared over the years. Being a Messenger was a dangerous job. Delivering letters and packages to any and all types of people in either places deemed an Edge or a Middleground was extremely dangerous, since bandits, animals, and the Middleground police were all out to get you. But it was also a fulfilling job, since you knew that you might've made someone happy on one of your rounds or would be able to boast about fighting off a Middleground patrol coupled with bandits and ferocious wolves single-handedly (or with your animal partner) at the next Messenger meeting.
Yes, all of this filled Wur's aura, and only Rona knew how to feel for it. Several minutes later, she found what she was looking for and started trotting in the direction of Wur, Aleu walking lazily behind so as not to arouse suspicion. As she passed a key holder, she swiftly plucked all three rings of keys from his pocket without stopping or making a sound. Pick pocketing was a skill known by all anywhere and everywhere. It was essential when searching for supplies was a constant struggle, so thievery became a common practice. Countless twists and turns later, Rona stopped in front of a cell. In it was Wur, who sat covered by shadows in a corner, his wary brown eyes the only sign of life from him. He blinked slowly just to prove that he was in fact alive and not just a corpse with open eyes.
Then, Aleu heard Rona growling and baring her teeth at the other shadowy corner of Wur's cell. A pair of gleaming red eyes gazed calmly at her while she began to shake. This simply could not be happening. The man who stepped out of the shadows was supposed to be dead! Aleu had killed him herself years ago, hadn't she?
"R-Rea?" she stuttered, shocked. "A-Aren't y-you s-s-supposed to be d-dead?"
"Your attempt to kill me was a failure, sister." Rea hissed the last part of the sentence like it was a curse. "After all, I was evil. You knew it but knew you couldn't tell, because then there would have been one less person in the world. So you tried to take me out yourself. With the small, unpracticed hands of a six-year-old, you tried to kill your real older brother. But you didn't know how to kill, didn't know anything at all about where to strike or how to do it. So of course, it ended in failure."
Aleu was shaking like a leaf by now, every memory she had carefully locked away coming back to the surface of her mind with renewed force. It hurt a lot, this remembering. It hurt just like it had eight years ago, when she had aimlessly walked through the streets of the Edge with her brother's blood clinging to her like a second skin, hoping to get eaten by wolves or cannibals. It never happened, so she picked an alley corner and sat in it until she would slowly starve to death. That didn't work either and it was by some hand of fate that Aleu was taken in by Wur, death wish and all, until he had managed to find out enough about her to try and put her back together. He was still working on it, no matter how much common sense told him she was a lost cause.
So it angered Wur to see his little sister shaking like a scared kitten from the words of the person she thought she had killed. If erasing evil from the world was enough to get her to try and kill herself twice and left her locked in her own protective shell for years after that, reuniting with the cause of her nightmares could not have been good for her at all. But the worst part was that he couldn't do anything about it. He was too weak to move from his position against the wall, let alone stand up. If he tried and failed to do that, it might be enough to cause one of two things: Aleu would lock herself up in her shell once more, antisocial and unreachable, but this could be fixed, or she could turn into Kala, Aleu's split personality. Kala was evil in its purest form. Kala was the shadow you thought you saw behind you, the bitter needle of the wind in your face, the dark turmoil of a twisted life. Kala was the calm and the storm, and the cold metal against Wur's neck suddenly drew him back to reality.
Rea was behind him, lifting him up by his throat and holding an exceptionally sharp blade against his jugular. He could feel the slight trickle of blood run down his torso and see the deadly change come over Aleu's eyes. She was turning into Kala and would loose it soon. Their normal color of a light red was getting darker, edging closer to crimson than they should.
"You're turning her into Kala," he whispered hoarsely. "She'll kill us all in that state. Do you think the scars over my eye came from nowhere?"
"I know what I'm doing," Rea answered smoothly. "She's still in control. Interesting name choice, by the way. 'Dark'. It fits. But unleashing her split personality was not my reason for luring her here. You see, she needs to know the truth."
"You wouldn't dare," ground out Wur.
"Oh, but I would."
"Let him go," Aleu/Kala growled.
"Okay," said Rea. He released his grip on Wur, which sent the younger man falling to the floor. He landed with a thud, the impact knocking him unconscious.
"Don't worry," continued Rea, "It's probably just a concussion. Here, unlock the cell and take him home. I won't stop you."
Eyeing her brother suspiciously, Aleu/Kala did as she was told and unlocked the cell to retrieve Wur from within. She picked him up and exited, never letting down her guard around Rea. He had something sinister in store for her, she could feel it. But he didn't reveal what he was hiding until she and Rona were almost out of earshot.
"I never killed anyone, sister. It was all you, in your Kala personality."
Should I continue? As of now, I'll leave it up as complete.