The Balloon Men



            The universe flared to life in one glorious burst, suns flared and the planets flew out in red hot globules. This was the time of creation; this was the time that the One Mother was born into the void. Her birth was glorious, yet pain filled, a sudden spring of consciousness into a star spread existence. She marveled at the glory spread before her, and yet, she grew lonely. Then the Void, the ancient one stepped forward from the darkness that had been his solitary home. Together they created the life that seeds the universe.

It as at this time that twin sons were born to the One Mother.  They were named Vren and Morvel.  These two brothers loved each other dearly, but their divine birth gave them great power and influence over the created races, and through time, they became known as the opposing forces of Good and Evil.   Through choice, they stayed together and continued to support each other even though their powers were constantly battling.  This mutual support was known as balance.  When the One Mother finally sought her peace, and their father returned to the darkness beyond the stars, the twins became the Ultimate Truth and were obligated to offer the dual choice to all the creations of The Mother.  And so they journeyed among the races, and lived among them, and touched the lives of all, as The Mother intended.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

             Vren stared across the wooden table at his brother Morvel.  His eyes took in the golden perfection of his twin.  He had all the grace and light that their mother had had. From his sun gold complexion to his muscular build, he was breathtakingly beautiful; the epitome of grace that the created races aspired to. He sighed and idly twirled a wineglass between his fingers.

            Morvel glanced up from his plate and looked at his brother as he twirled his glass. "What bothers you brother?"  asked Morvel "you haven't eaten."

            "I am simply tired Mor, so tired...of everything here…everything I feel, everything I can't change, only watch…"

            "If you are referring to the planet earth…I did not mean to make them hate you so..."

            "I know, but it is easy to be mistaken as a demon when you look like this" Vren gestured to his body and the motion of his arm took in everything from the silver, straight hair running down his back to the fine gray fur that covered his slender frame.  The pointed ears, teeth, tail, and eyes that matched the hair only served to reinforce the image.

            Morvel repressed a grin "feeling sorry for yourself?"

            "No, I'm just tired of the pain, you know I am bound to the emotions of the created races…they all feel so much pain…"

            All traces of the grin disappeared "Yes... you feel them all don't you?"

            "Yes, every life of every being on every world.  It hurts Morvel."

            "You know I would protect you if I could..."

            "You can't.  It's my pain.  I'm sorry, don't pay attention to me I'm just tired."

            "Yes, that and too much wine"

            Vren pushed his chair back from the table and walked towards the door "goodnight Morvel" he tossed over his shoulder.

            "Goodnight brother" Morvel whispered from his seat.

* * * * *

            Vren stalked off into the night, searching in vain for any trace of his father in the darkness between the stars.  "It's too much now, I could use your guidance father, your sheltering presence…" he whispered to himself "ripping my heart out would hurt mother could believe that I would be able to survive this… " He stopped, and stood very still, "my heart..." he repeated louder.  An idea began to simmer in his mind, a great undertaking to ease his pain. Purpose filled him and he ran the rest of the way home.

* * * * *

            Morvel watched his brother leave.  "I am not as sensitive as Vren, but anyone can tell that the pain was ripping my brother apart..."  And worse yet was the feeling of impotence, the inability to affect the pain that his beloved brother was submitted to. Helplessness was not a feeling he took lightly. Yet he couldn't do anything to help.  Or could he?  He recalled Earth, that shining globe of green and blue that sat like a rare pearl on the edges of existence. There his power had become a religion that influenced millions; spreading like wild fire among the minds and hearts of the weak willed created race. The religion created a great fervor that simmered in the breast of man for over millennia; the resulting "holy wars" had caused the ultimate demise of the planet, and reawakened the pain in his brother.  Worse, it had all been unintentional, he had not meant to appear as a savior, but his glowing, powerful presence had simply overwhelmed the masses... "Perhaps I could dampen my power? It is for Vren…" A simple plan began to swirl in his mind, floating up from the depths of his consciousness…

* * * * *

            Vren lay staring at the ceiling, thinking.  His heart..."there has to be a way to give it into safe keeping…" a way of disconnecting himself from the emotions that clawed up his spine and threatened the very sanity that he prided himself on...  But how could he remove it from his breast? And whom could he entrust it to?  The questions swam in his consciousness.  The first was simple.  He could craft a vessel for his heart and then fill it.  As for the second, it would come to him in time.  He was a patient man, it was a skill that one learned in the first million years of life…  He sat up and started to craft his vessel.

* * * * *

            Morvel sat brooding at his dining table, a bottle of fine wine empty before him.  He knew that there was a way for him to separate a portion of his power from his body.  The problem was that power corrupts, if the caretaker was corrupted, not only would his brother feel it, but the mere mortal would use up the power entrusted unto him.  "What a charming conundrum" he grated.  What to do?  He sighed, the only way for it would be to find a caretaker and take all measures possible to shield him from the influences of the power in his care.  But first a vessel for his power...

* * * * *

            Dampness gathered on Vren's forehead and dripped into his eyes.  He didn't notice.  He was done, though it had cost him dearly. His hands trembled with exhaustion; his slender frame was wracked with violent shivers…. And yet his vessel was complete and swaying just in front of him, waiting to be filled.  Now came the hard part.  He placed his hands on either side of the vessel and willed a breaking, a snapping of the forces that bound his heart within him.  He winced slightly when he felt the snap, but then sighed as he felt calmness creep into his chest.  He felt the last vestiges of his pain slipping into the vessel, shielding him from the pain he had been born with.  He sighed and opened his eyes.  He was holding a balloon.  He released it and it floated above his bed.  Content, he closed his eyes and slept.

* * * * *

            Morvel meticulously blotted sweat from his forehead.  His vessel was before him, now all that was left was to siphon power into it.  He placed his hands on either side of his vessel and reached for the energy that was him.  He felt it like a dull heat encompassing his body and willed it into the void that he held.  He felt power begin to flow into the vessel and held his breathe until he could only discern a faint trace about himself.  He released his vessel and the transfer stopped.  He stared at his creation, his beautiful balloon, and then fell asleep, head leaning on his fist, at the dinner table at which he had labored all night.

* * * * *

            The twins slept and dreamed.  They dreamed of when they were but children and the story their mother told them as she died.

            "My beautiful boys.." she whispered "you will only have each other when I die"

            "That is enough for us" Vren whispered as he held her hand.

            "No" she spoke "what of love?"

            "We love each other mother" Morvel spoke

            "You are too young yet to know about what I am speaking of, but you will, and then you will remember..."

            "Remember what?" the boys piped

            "Quite and I'll tell you" Mother said, and began. "Soon after you were born, your father and I knew that you boys would need loves of your own.  So we toiled and crafted two Special Forces, seeds if you will.  They are the forces Light and Dark.  We cast them into the well of stars and knew that they would be born as mortal creations but would transcend their mortal forms to join you as equals.  So we saw to your future, and hoped to save you from loneliness, but that is the misty future my strong when we leave you..."

            The twins awoke as the dream ended.  They remembered.

            Across the gulf of dream space, two small girls also heard, but the memory would come when they were ready to accept their roles.  Untroubled, the two girls slept peacefully.

* * * * *

            Vren watched the sun rise, and sighed.  In his elation last night, he had felt no pain, but now that he was calm, he could feel it.  It was dim, but there.  "I must be rid of the balloon "he mused.  Taking a last glance at the sunrise, he called an illusion of humanity.  As it settled, he summoned a bunch of balloons in all the colors of the rainbow, and he nestled his balloon in the very center, the plastic heart of the vibrant bunch.  Holding the strings tightly in a now-human appearing fist, he walked towards the city park.

* * * * *

            Morvel yawned and stretched, working the kinks out of his back form sleeping in such an odd position. As he did so, his hand brushed the balloon he had crafted last evening.  He smiled despite himself; it was a wonderful piece of work.  Suddenly, he frowned; it did not appear to come easily to his face.  He could still feel the power, connected to him, surging between the balloon and himself.  He had to separate himself from the balloon if his plan was to succeed.  He dressed himself in a rich, red suit and then on a whim, threw a red and white striped apron around his waist.  Observing himself in the mirror, he grimaced.  "Oh well" he thought "it's not for long."  With a casual gesture of his hand, a flock of balloons appeared.  Setting his prominently at the top, he started off to the park.

* * * * *

            Vren sat near a popcorn vendor with his balloons; the rich buttery scent drifted on the wind and summoned many a patron to the area.  Children and adults stopped occasionally to purchase one or two of his beautiful balloons, yet none of them were right for his balloon.  He sighed, "it's going to be a long day" he thought as he watched a couple lead a little girl past.  The child had hair the color of a raven's wing, and her eyes were a shade of violet that almost matched her hair.  Her thin, elfin frame seemed doubly small next to the hulking presence of the red-haired father, and the solid build of the brunette mother.  His eyes followed the family out of sight.  "A long day indeed"

* * * * *

            Morvel stood smiling at the fountain of a laughing dolphin.  He was doing brisk business.  His bright balloons were going like the proverbial hot cakes.  He grinned as a small boy chose a bright blue one with green dinosaurs and gallantly retrieved it from the bunch held in his fist.  The boy's mother smiled indulgently then led her boy further into the park.  Again, Morvel frowned.  It seemed no one could see his beautiful balloon bobbing gently in the breeze.  He sighed, "Mortals, blind stupid mortals" he said under his breath. 

A businessman wearing an expensive suit was holding a little girl's hand and walking towards him.  The little blond haired, blue eyed girl was wearing a designer lace dress that she would undoubtedly outgrow in a week.  Morvel smiled and called "balloon mister?"  The man nodded and the little girl squealed.  She came rushing up to Morvel pointing "the red one!  The red and gold one    !" she cried, pointing.  Morvel followed her little finger and saw his balloon spinning excitedly.  "She sees it!" his mind exulted, and he reached for the balloon.  " You don't have to pay for it" Morvel assured the father.  "This is a beautiful balloon for a beautiful girl" he smiled and handed the balloon to the girl.  "Take good care of it and it will always stay with you" he said as the couple turned to leave.  The father shot an indulgent look over his shoulder as they walked away.

His eyes followed the singularly perfect child out of view, and whispered to himself "No, You won't pay for it old man and I will help make sure that she doesn't either" Morvel readjusted his grip on the now pointless balloons. "I'll make sure" he repeated, and turned towards his next customers.

* * * * *

            Vren smiled as he sold a woman a purple balloon that exactly matched the purple smiley face on her kid's shirt.  He was pocketing the money when he felt a tug on his pants.  Looking down, he saw the girl he had studied earlier.  Her dark eyes stared up at him solemnly. He kneeled so he could look her in the eyes.  "Where are your parents?" he asked her.  She whispered something unintelligible; it sounded something like "at the fountain, with the other balloon man". 

            He sat, perplexed "then why are you here?" he asked.  

            "He scared me. Besides, you were the man in my dream"

            "You dreamed of me? A balloon man? Why?"

            "'Cause I wanted a balloon silly"

            Vren grinned despite himself.  She was a quick child.  He lowered the balloons so she could inspect them. "Which one do you want?"

            The child pulled her lower lip between her teeth "I don't see it" she whispered.

            The child looked near tears.  Quickly, Vren started holding out each of the balloons.  "Is this it? No? How about this yellow one? Green? Blue?"

            At each question the girl shook her head "No, it was all these colors" she said, waving at the whole bunch.

            "All?" Vren echoed, his mind working furiously.  "I have one like that" he ventured "just one."

            "Is it already sold?" the girl asked softly.

            "No, here it is" Vren reached up and gently pulled his balloon from the heart of the bunch.  In his hands it was dull silver.  Carefully he handed it to the girl, and it came to life in her hands.  Colors swam across the silver surface blending and shifting as it moved.

            The child sighed happily "this is it!" then her eyes clouded over, "I have no money" she whispered.  She regretfully started to hand it back to Vren.

            "No, you keep it.  It was meant for your hands."  And even as he said it, Vren wondered at the truth that rang in his words.  "For you..."

            The child gratefully grasped the string and suddenly swept forward to kiss his cheek.  Vren was so startled that his illusion faltered for a moment, showing his fur-clad form to the child.  She smiled angelically and leaned forward to whisper in his ear "You were beautiful in my dream too!" she said, and then ran to find her parents.

            Vren stared stupidly after the girl.  Had his heart still been within him, he would have blushed.

* * * * *

            Vren sat across from his brother once more.  A wine glass sat untouched by his hand.  He sighed and leaned forward, towards the hand carved chess set in the middle of the table.  He fingered a silver pawn thoughtfully, and moved it forwards.  Morvel shook his head and captured a silver knight with his golden bishop.

            "You must concentrate Vren" he chastised "You must consolidate your power and then strike! You shouldn't waste your powerful pieces at weak positions!"

            "I do not believe that, Morvel.  It is in the weak that strength builds into a raging revolution."

            "Such thinking makes you weak, Vren, and you will continue to be weak until you seize power in both hands!  Weakness only breeds more weakness!  The weak are meant to be ruled, not honored."

            "The weak have power Mor, you just can't see it" Vren moved another pawn.

            "Why is this idea stuck in your head? The mindless droves only respect power!  Concern for the weak makes you weak! I'll demonstrate!" Morvel pulled a rook across the board and smiled in triumph "check!"

            "Is that what you think?" Vren moved the first pawn forward, blocking the rook.

            "That too much concern for the weak weakens you? Yes." Morvel withdrew the rook.

            "You are wrong Mor" Vren moved a third pawn "Ignore the weak, and they will remove your strength. Checkmate."

            Vren stood to leave while Morvel stared agape at the precise placement of pawns on the chess board.

            "I am sorry Vren. I am just testy, I'm not use to having so little power about sets me on edge. It makes me afraid of weaknesses within myself.  Forgive me?"

            "You don't need my forgiveness Morvel" Vren said and left.

            Morvel stared at the closed door, caught flat footed for the second time that night.

* * * * *

            Vren's body slept in his room, and as he slept, his spirit felt a tugging.  Intrigued, he followed the tugging to its source, his balloon.  It had the power to draw him into the very dreams of the child guardian.  He looked around the sere dreamscape, the child was huddled upon herself and all around her flames and demons raged.  He could hear her whimpering.  Even without his heart, it stirred him.  He stalked around the girl, creating a barrier, and turned to face the nightmares as they swarmed forward with teeth and claws...Even in spirit form their malice tore him as easily as their claws, yet he did not falter. She guarded hid heart, and therefore he would guard her.

* * * * *

            Morvel shifted uncomfortably in his bed, a line to his power was pulling on his consciousness.  Finally he gave in, and followed the pull.  He ended up in the little keeper's dreamscape.  He was standing in a field of golden grass. He could see the girl running on the horizon, filled with the simple joys of youth.  Indulgently, he started to craft wild flowers and butterflies to populate the barren meadow and keep the girl company.  He could feel the girl's pleasure, and he smiled.

* * * * * 

            The years passed.  Two children grew into teens and their ever present companions, balloons, stayed with them. The balloons were often seen following the girls, like obedient pets, where so ever they roamed. The blond was adept at her studies, and felt that the balloon was her luck charm. She excelled in all her subjects and was always the head of her class.  She took good care of the balloon, as the balloon man had bid her, so long ago.

 The raven haired girl remained quite, and wise beyond her years, but her parents felt a sense of relief.  They tolerated the strange balloon, despite it's eldritch nature, because it kept nightmares that had constantly plagued their daughter at bay,  She only dreamed of good, if somewhat strange things now.  Yes, they could tolerate the balloon if it let their precious daughter sleep.

* * * * *

            Eyan sat up in her dream.  She could sense the red flames trying to reach her, but the furred man stood between her and the flames.  As always, she called to him, but unlike in other dreams, he heard her call, and turned.  He was the balloon man.  She did another new thing…she stood and walked towards him.  "Hello" she called.  The balloon man stood uncertainly and made as if to leave. "Don't leave" Eyan cried "for years you have guarded my sleep and yet, I don't even know your name.  Please what is it? And why do you guard me?"

            They man froze and studied the child more closely "You have grown child"

            "Eyan, my name is Eyan"

            The man smiled "Eyan, you have grown much since last we met."

            "Why don't you answer me?"

            "I apologize.  My name is Vren, and I guard you because you have my heart"

            "Your heart?" Eyan almost laughed out loud.  Some hint of a smile must have shown because Vren grinned in return.

            "My heart." He affirmed. "How old are you now?"

            "I'm fourteen"

            "And yet you will understand me if I explain?"

            "I'll try"


            Vren and Eyan talked until dawn awoke her. He told her many things, many of which simply confirmed her own beliefs in the universe.  From that day on, Vren always had time to talk to her when she dreamed, and the flames moved farther and farther away…until they became but a faint red line on the horizon, and then faded away all together, to be replaced by a beautiful aurora.

* * * * *

            Trellin dreamed.  She was standing on a cliff and the balloon man was standing behind her.  She turned.  She caught her breathe, he was beautiful to behold.  He smiled and reached for her hand.  She let him lift it to his lips.  "You are a wonderful caretaker my dear" he said.

            Her head felt muzzy, but she managed to speak "caretaker?"

            "Yes, you guard my power even as I guard you."


            The man smiled "Yes child"

            Anger began to overcome the fuzziness that clouded her mind.  No one called her child anymore!  She yanked her hand from his and stared at him.

            "Oh my! Have I angered you pet? I meant no offense, I apologize"

            The apology mollified her.  "What is your name?" she ventured.

            "I am Morvel" the man said, and bowed "and you are?"


            "A beautiful name.  Now perhaps you would like an explanation?"

            "Yes, I believe that is in order."

            "I'll begin at the beginning then, shall I?"

            Morvel and Trellin spoke long into the night and learned many things about each other.  Trellin never did dream much, but when she did, she knew Morvel would be there.

* * * * *

            Eyan sat patiently on a stone, Vren sat across from her with a text book.  She groaned.  She should have known that Vren wouldn't let her skip out on studying.  She was twenty eight, and she felt that she deserved to sleep.  Vren felt otherwise.

            "Please no anatomy, no medicine, not now" Eyan pleaded.

            Vren closed the book with a snap and smiled.  "Sure.  I'll pick an entirely different subject, okay?"

            Warily, knowing that smile, Eyan agreed.

            "Why don't you date? Anyone? Your young, you should enjoy yourself! It isn't healthy for you to lock up every emotion inside…even if you are studying to be a doctor, there is still room a nice, physical relationship…"

            Blushing, Eyan turned her head to the side and stammered "I don't have time for that nonsense! You know that better than anyone! I…I…"

            "I've gotten that answer since you turned sixteen! That was twelve years ago!  Do you just not intend to ever enjoy yourself?"


            Vren nodded knowingly "Anatomy?"

            Eyan hung her head, defeated "Yes"

* * * * *

            Trellin sat reading under a cherry tree.  She smiled, it was her favorite dreamscape.  Morvel knew that.  Craning her neck she looked for the man she knew must appear.  Sighing, she gave up and returned her attention to her book on criminal law.  A ripe, red cherry dropped onto the page with a wet smack.  Looking up, she saw Morvel sitting at ease among the branches.  She repressed a grin and frowned at him.

            "I'm studying! Exams are tomorrow"

            "I'm distracting! Relax tonight!"




            "Yes infinity"

            This was a common game between them, since way back when she was a little girl.  Giving in, Trellin smiled and closed the book.

* * * * *

            Eyan sat in a meadow, "How long since I saw the flames?" she thought.  She was reviewing the accomplishments of her life.  She had graduated head of her class, and then she had worked her way up to become the premiere children's doctor in the city.  She smiled; she felt like she could finally relax, she was helping others.  She was happy.  She gazed contentedly at the scenery spread before her.

            Unnoticed, Vren watched her smile.  She rarely smiled except in her dreams, it was a rare, unguarded moment.  "She feels safe here" he thought "she trusts me".  He smiled, and then, knowing that she would like to speak with him, he stepped towards her.

            "Hello Vren"

            "Good evening, Eyan.  How did the surgery go today?"

            Pleased he asked, she said "fine.  Little Jahm will walk again, but you knew that didn't you?"


            "I felt you there, holding his hand while I worked.  You kept him calm."


            "Thank you"

            "What can I say? You both needed me."


            "Tomorrow, I'm going to take him for his first walk.  I'll take him to the popcorn vendor in the park."

            "He will like that"


            "And you?" Eyan asked "It's your victory too."

            Smiling, Vren said "I will bring the balloons."

* * * * *

            Trellin climbed the cherry tree to sit with Morvel.  She was elated.  In the past few years she had not only graduated head of her criminal law class, but had assumed control of the family law firm.  Today, she had won her greatest battle to date.

            Morvel grinned and made room for Trellin on the branch.  He could tell that she was fit to burst with the news she brought.  He draped an arm around her shoulders to help hold her steady on the branch.  Holding her to his side, he simply said "What's up?"

            Laughing, Trellin began her story.  "You remember when I told you about the gang master Hugo?  Well, I was able to get his wife and child into protective custody! Their testimony today sent Hugo to jail for good!  No worming out this time! No paying off the officials, the public want his blood and that is harder to duck than simpler charges. "

            Morvel laughed and hugged her closer.  "You did well.  How about a picnic in the park? I'll bring the food and wine, you just bring your cute self!"

            "Really? That sounds wonderful!"

            "Meet me by the fountain?"

            "Of course!"

* * * * * 

            Eyan stopped by Jahm's bed in the children's ward.  "Ready to go?"

            "Yeah" Jahm yelled and craned his neck.

            "Whatever are you looking for Jahm?"

            "Your balloon!"

            "I have it in my office, we'll get it on the way.  Okay?"

            "Sure! Did I ever tell you ho cool that balloon is?"

            "Only evertime I've seen you…" she answered with a grin.

            Eyan took a deep breathe as she and the boy reached the park outside the hospital.  Jahm was walking fine, if a bit shakily.  A trip to get popcorn and a balloon would probably do him in, but he was happy, that's what mattered.  They walked down the path, a boy and a woman followed by a balloon.

* * * * * 

            Trellin listened to her father rant at her "You're receiving death threats by the dozen and you're going on a picnic?  How could you?  Hugo is powerful, and YOU put him away!"

            She crumpled a plain sheet of paper in her hands. "I've received death threats before father, and they all came to naught, besides Hugo doesn't scare me.  I've pulled his fangs." 

            Trellin's father gaped at her  "Hugo doesn't scare you?  Haven't you learned a thing from me child?  HUGO   DOES   NOT   BLUFF!"  the last was shouted at the top of his lungs.

            "Would you have me live in fear my whole life father?  That would accomplish his purpose, it would ruin my life.  I won't give him that satisfaction" She gestured at the grim office building complex then placed her hands on her hips..  "I'm leaving now, and I will be fine."

            Trellin stalked out of the new office building and towards the park.  Walking along, she caught a slight hint of movement behind her.  She stopped, and something bumped into her shoulder.  Startled, she whirled half way around and came face-to-face with her balloon.  Laughing at her own silliness, she failed to see the man that was following her.  Grabbing the string, she smiled.  It was a smile secure in power, and it took her follower aback, but only for a moment.

            Trellin was walking with a slight bounce in her step as she sashayed down the path.  Coming towards her she saw a woman carrying a small boy who was looking over the woman's shoulder at a balloon.  For some reason, Trellin stopped to look at this woman, she had a sense of presence and understated power that would have been terrifying if it wasn't so gentle.  Trellin simply stood in the middle of the path and stared.

* * * * *

            Eyan sighed, Jahm wasn't as strong as she had thought.  She had picked him up after a few minutes.  Walking strongly, they continued down the path instead of returning to the hospital, she wouldn't deprive Jahm of this treat.  They continued until a tall, blond woman blocked their path.  Eyan felt waves of strength and battle readiness flowing from the woman.  Protectively, Eyan shifted so that her right hip and side were facing the woman while Jahm sat serenely on her left hip.  She studied the woman, and was aware of the other's scrutiny.  Then she noticed the red and gold balloon twirling idly in the breeze, behind the woman.  It practically burned with power, like the flames from her nightmares.  Then for some reason, she looked beyond the woman and saw a man...with a gun.  Eyan took a deep breathe and started to warn the woman… The man pulled the trigger. 

* * * * *

            Trellin saw the dark woman start at something behind her.  She half turned, and felt a bullet enter her chest.  Turning back, she saw the woman desperately hurl the boy from her as the bullet that blossomed from her chest took the strange woman in the ribs.  Trellin's last coherent thought was "at least I won't go alone."  Unnoticed, her red and gold balloon deflated and drifted down to lay on her chest, as if it would heal the mortal wound there.

* * * * *

            Eyan knew she was standing too close to avoid the bullet as it exited the blonde's chest.  Desperately she hurled Jahm to the ground.  Then she felt pain blossom in her side and move to cover her whole chest.  Wonderingly, she listened to her breathe bubble, and felt herself drift into shock.  She knew that she needed medical attention, it had pierced at least one of her lungs, but, strangely, this didn't bother her.  She simply gazed upward, feeling death come. She stared at the sky until her balloon blocked the view.  It floated gracefully down to a level with her head, and then, with a sigh, deflated.  Eyan held back tears as she blacked out.

* * * * *

            Morvel was sitting at the fountain, waiting for his Trellin.  His beautiful girl… Suddenly, he felt a great rush of power slam into him.  Reeling, he tried to discern which direction the attack had come from.  He turned slowly in a circle, looking.  Oddly, the attack had a familiar flavor...slowly standing from his crouched position, he felt a desperate urgency hit him, and he started running down one of the myriad park paths. "Why? Why has my own power…?"

* * * * *

            Vren stood with a balloon, waiting for Eyan and Jahm.  Suddenly, pain hit him from all sides. He screamed and fell to the ground, writhing in agony. Then he felt a cool hand brush his hair.  It reminded him of the way Eyan had stroked the sweat from little Jahm's forehead after the surgery.  Looking up, he expected to see her crouched in front of him, instead he saw nothing, but the pain receded.  Then he knew.  "Eyan!" he screamed as he tore down the park path.

* * * * *

            Morvel reached the body of Trellin as life slipped from her.   Rage marred the perfection of his face and he looked around for a target on which to vent his rage.  He saw the man.  With a gesture, they stood toe to toe.  Flames sprouted from Morvel's hands and lit his face with a demonic light "Little man, this girl was favored by me"he said as he started to reach towards the trembling mortal.  The man, hearing this, quailed and felt his mind begin to run in tight, frantic circles.  Morvel reached towards his target, slowly, savoring the man's fear and panic. Then he found his revenge blocked by a slim, dark woman with hair like pitch.  Snarling, he attempted to reach around the woman, and then he tried to hit the woman.  Neither was effective.  She coolly grasped his flaming arm and forced him to his knees…the darkness of the void echoing in her eyes. 

* * * * *

            Eyan awoke, it was the only way to describe it.  She felt as if she had shed her skin like a little garden lizard.  She looked down...and saw her crumbled, mortal shell, bleeding into the dirt.  Strangely, the view of her own body did not disturb her. Eyan gloried in the feel of calm strength that flowed through her limbs, and then she was distracted.  A flaming man, as hot as her far-away nightmares, was attempting to harm the poor man that had freed her from her withered and dead shell.  She stepped into the flaming man's path and grasped his arm.  She felt the strength and calm that would become her trade mark, flow down her arms, leaving her untouched by the flames.  She bent his arm back, and the nightmare was forced to his knees.  Calmly, she turned her head slightly to view her one-time assassin "Run now child, do not fear, you are safe from us" she said.  Gratefully and reverently, the man tossed his gun into the bushes and fled.

* * * * *

            Vren reached the clearing moments behind his brother.  He felt no anger, only a deep sadness, he knew that Eyan was dead, it was the only explanation for the pain.  He saw Morvel move to wreak vengeance on the poor mortal who had shot both Eyan and another strange woman.  He moved to stop him, but another was faster.  He watched in fascination as a woman who was Eyan, only stronger, calmer, overpowered his brother.  A slim blonde "obviously the strange girl" he thought, stood angrily at his shoulder. Turning, Vren saw this stranger standing by a small tree.

             "She had no right to stop him" she growled.

            Seeing the Eyan-yet-not-Eyan had his brother in hand, Vren turned his full attention to the stranger "It was the only right thing to do child" he said.

            Anger flashed in the woman's eyes and heat began to tickle along his fur.  Amazingly, Vren heard his brother laugh behind him, pinned as he was to the ground "No one calls Trellin a child, brother mine"

* * * * *

            Hearing the man she was holding call Vren brother, Eyan released her hold.  The man rose, sparing her only a single, respectful glance, and walked towards Vren.  Eyan shrugged, she had other things to worry about.  She turned and walked to where Jahm had fallen.

* * * * *

            Morvel brushed past Vren as he rushed to Trellin's arms.  Vren watched bemused as the couple cuddled.  Impatiently, he turned away, looking towards Eyan, towards the power she had become..

* * * * *

            "Are you alright beloved?" Trellin asked Morvel as she breathed through the thick curls of his blonde hair.

            "Yes" he responded, equally entangled in her golden locks.

            "Is this what it is to be dead?  I feel so strong, bright."

            "Your not dead, changed I think, but not dead."

            "Morvel, I don't feel as if I am Trellin anymore..."

            Shocked, he held her at arms' length "Your not?" he asked incredulously.

            " I am brightness…I am equal…I am light." 

* * * * *

            Vren listened to the murmurs from the tree with half an ear as he walked to where Eyan was.  What his brother was saying to the strange woman did not matter to him, the only thing filling his mind now was Eyan, and the change that had come over her.  She was sitting by the limp form of a boy and speaking gently, and his throat caught at how her hair fell like a dark curtain, shielding the boy's face from view. Hope and despair warred within him as he viewed her, and his foot carelessly snapped a twig as he approached.  Eyan must have heard it because she stood lithely and walked towards Vren.  His long-still heart fluttered like a trapped bird as she walked towards him, and he stopped, unable to move.  Eyan finally met him in the middle of the path.  Her first words were "Jahm will not remember this.  He is asleep, and unhurt.  None will hurt him here."

            Swallowing his fear and paralysis and hoping that this wonderful creature could still stand his presence, Vren spoke " And, keeper of my heart, what do I call you now?"

            Smiling, Eyan glanced back at where her body lay.  "To you, I will always be Eyan, but most will come to know me as Darkness."

            Sighing, Vren reached for her hand and together, they walked towards his, and now her, home.  Behind them, they felt Morvel and Light, like bright flames, do the same.