Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Narrative #2: Yyaltra Eternal Chapters 3&4

Chapter 3
            As the moonlight spilt through a crack I had been carefully excavating in my ceiling for years, I held my hand over my chest and felt the thundering of my heart. My breathing had slowed down after I frantically ran upstairs. I could hear my father’s concerned voice from downstairs, and the man in black’s calm voice attempting to reassure him. I felt my heart rate slow down slightly and I took a deep breath to steady myself. I looked down at my hands, feeling as though the news of my heritage should have left a noticeable physical change in me, but the lines in my hands still looked like waves and my fingers, though shaking, were still attached to my body.
            I remembered that I left my father and the man in black kneeling by the table when I ran upstairs, and I felt miserable. As bizarre and unsettling as this news was, they had to deliver it to me, and had been prepared for it for longer than I could imagine. I took another steadying breath and opened my door.
            “Ale—Yyaltra, goddess of all that—”
            “No!” I shouted, storming down the stairs. “I am Alese before I am some goddess, please don’t alienate me, father!”
            His eyes appeared red rimmed as he stayed kneeling before me, and the man in black stood at a distance. He didn’t make a sound. For once, I was grateful for his silence.
            “Alese, please understand that I never wanted to hurt you with the news. I just—”
            “Father, I understand, but I really would have preferred this news maybe while growing up, rather than when I’m an adult, handling myself, and have all of my perceptions of the world thrown askew,” I said.
            He hung his head, appearing much older than when I had seen him just minutes earlier.
            The man in black took a step forward. “Regardless of your discomfort, it was for your safety that he kept your identity hidden. A child couldn’t be expected to learn of the arcane and handle it with maturity and grace. We decided to tell you now because it must be done.”
            “Why now?” I asked.
            “You fell from a cliff earlier, right? Have you wondered since then why you weren’t harmed in that process? Or why you may have had a headache after?” At my shock, he continued. “Yyaltra is the goddess of the elements. She has domain over Earth, the protector, Fire, the warrior, Water, the healer, and Wind, the guide. When you plummeted to the Earth, your powers burst out of you and the Earth embraced you, protecting you from damage and saving your life.”
            I wanted to deny it, my disbelief in anything not tangible warring strongly against my utmost belief in my father and what my heart was telling me, but when I looked down at my hands again, I noticed a faint green glow that resonated with my heartbeat, and knew it to be true.
            “What am I supposed to do now?” I asked, ashamed of the trembling in my voice that I couldn’t prevent.
            The man in black walked up to me and held my hands tenderly for a moment. “I will train you beginning in a few days. I realize how… sudden this has been. It won’t do you any good to be anxious before departing on our journey.”
            “What journey? You haven’t explained anything to me. Why do we have to leave? This is my home, and I can’t leave my father here unprotected.”
            He sighed and turned in the direction of my father. “Corwin, you really should have told her SOMETHIING, even just the bare minimum.”
            My father stood from his kneel and chuckled. “You’ve met her now, do you really think her curiosity could be sated with a half explained story?” he said dryly.
            The man in black was silent, and I couldn’t be sure, but I thought maybe he would have smiled at that. “Fair enough. Alese,” he said, redirecting his attention to me, “your father and I aren’t who you think we are.”
            “Because until now, I thought you were the average farmer, yes,” I said, mimicking his tone from earlier.
            Silence again. I sure hoped he wasn’t staring at me in disdain. “Your father was actually my mentor when I was young. I am the one who is to take on his duty.”
            “Are you hoping to take over the clinic? Because I was pretty sure that was my job.” I just couldn’t seem to let this go.
            He sighed. “He has explained to you that he is the high priest of the Temple of Yyaltra, but he has also personally trained every descendent of Yyaltra that has lived throughout the past five hundred years not including those I have trained over the past two hundred.”
            My mouth fell open and I swiveled around to face my father. “Five… Five hundred years old? You’re kidding me.” My father shrugged his shoulders, looking the most uncomfortable I had seen him since I was around eight years old and had caught him eating in our kitchen once very late at night. He went through an entire jar of cookies I had made that should have lasted a month, but lasted about ten minutes. I fought off a smile. Now really wasn’t the time.
            “Was my mother also extremely old?”
            “No, she was a normal human. We first met when she was a little older than you are now. You look so much like her, Alese. I wish she could have seen you as you are now, an adult woman about to take her first steps towards destiny.”
            “Did she know? That I’m a… goddess?”
            He shook his head. “I was only going to tell her when I was absolutely positive, and by that point, her sickness had already taken her.”
            My shoulders began to shake as I began thinking about all of the implications of my father’s age. “Am I… your only child?”
            He looked at me sharply. “I am not some foolish man that gallivants around and makes children at every city along the way. I refused to marry or have children until I met your mother, and only because of her persistent nagging did I eventually give in.”
            “Why didn’t you want to marry her?”
            He walked over to the table. “We should sit down before we keep going. This conversation might drag on for a while.”
            I sat down in the chair next to him, followed by the man in black, who decided to sit across from us.
            My father took my hand and asked “What do you want to know?”

The sun blazed above us as we made our way through the canyon, the rocky faces surrounding us sharp and oppressive. I felt a humming in the earth beneath me and I couldn’t explain it if I tried. I looked over to the man in black, still unsure as to our purpose for being there. He had mentioned training, but what that entailed, I didn’t know.
After speaking for several more hours the night before, I realized a couple of things. My father and mother both loved each other and me very much, and her death had been harder on him than I could ever know. My father was the man in black’s mentor, and I was now to be trained by the trainee. How that would go, only time would tell. What I hadn’t learned was what the man in black’s name was. Not only did it not come up in the conversation, but whenever I went to approach him about it, I could almost feel him pulling away from the topic as though it were taboo.
He stopped walking so abruptly that I crashed into his back and fell down on the ground behind me, landing on my bottom hard enough to knock the air from me for a brief moment. He turned around to look at me, and this time the disdain in the air was palpable. I stood up quickly and brushed off the dust in the process. He turned around and stared in silence. After several minutes of this, the silence was overbearing and I had to break it.
“So, what are we do—”
He put his hand over my mouth, effectively shushing me. “Your inability to retain silence is going to be your downfall.”
“Am I just supposed to be quiet for some set amount of time I’m not even aware of?”
He turned towards me. “In order to harness your powers even a bit, I need you to discipline yourself thoroughly. Believe me when I say it is never too important to prepare yourself for all that is to come.”
I felt the weight behind his words and wondered what had happened in his past that caused him to drown in the depths of reality and its darkness.
“Fine, but what am I supposed to be doing?”
“You are here to meditate, and I am here to guide. I can’t do anything for you, but I can walk you through it as needed.”
I thought about this for a moment before nodding. “Where should I do this?”
He cocked his head to the side. “There is a waterfall further North. Here, we’re surrounded by rocks. To the East, there is a volcano, and to the West, there is a peak with a strong breeze that wafts through the trees from morning until dusk. If we walk for a few more minutes to the West, we will be in a perfect area for you to be surrounded by all that you will eventually have domain over.”
I nodded and followed him in silence.

Chapter 4

I saw a large rock along a small riverbed that was flat on the top but rounded at the sides and it seemed like the perfect place if any to start my meditation. I looked over to the man in black.
“Will this work?”
He nodded. “Excellent choice.”
I started my ascent up the rock, slipping a few times, before finding a perch upon the top. I looked to him again.
“Now, what should I do?”
“It’s simple. Close your eyes and listen to the world around you. Think of nothing but the feeling of the breeze on your skin, the sound of the water trickling around you. The heat of the sun above you. Be aware of the sturdiness and strength of the rock beneath you, holding you up and supporting you.”
As he said this, my eyes closed on their own accord, and I listened closely to the sounds and sensations I was beginning to embrace. The rock beneath me was heavy and firm. It could have been there for days or weeks, but most likely for years, maybe even centuries. It maintained its place through perseverance and steadfastness, unwavering and unbudging. It was cold to the touch, but had come from the earth, and the earth was warm and inviting, gathering you into an embrace every time you touch it.
The wind picked up suddenly, but I didn’t just feel it, I WAS the wind, and I was moving, swirling the dirt around me along the ground, rustling the leaves around me, making the hood of my coat fall from my head, and my hair was suddenly loose around me. It blew around my face, wisps of the wind, fire and air entwined and overlapping. The stream nearby bubbled, gently crashing against the rocks. I could almost FEEL the large Grom fish and its children near the base of the brook, swimming furiously against the tide that pulled them South towards the ocean. The gentle waves that manifested themselves over the taller rocks that jutted from the body of water, and I could feel them resisting the pull of the water, rooted into the earth and yet tugged by the water so effortlessly. I could feel the wind on the water, moving it to the left or right, changing the flow ever so slightly.
I felt the wind tickle my ear and a voice that was carried by its fingers. I opened my eyes and I was looking at myself, but not myself. Her hair was different from mine, worn loose and oozing femininity, and she wasn’t dressed in men’s clothing. But her eyes were th same deep brown as mine. She had the same dimple in her left cheek that I had been teased for as a child. The biggest, and really only, difference between us was her eyes. Hers looked older than mine, wiser, as though she had seen things I couldn’t imagine. And infinitely kind. Her smile grew as I stared at her and she opened her mouth to speak. But instead of words, pictures filled my mind.
I saw flashes of thunder in the sky, darkened by smoke and ash. I saw the girl, the other me, standing in a colorful swirl on the edge of a cliff. She no longer smiled, but looked fierce and determined. From the dark mists that had now dominated the sky, I saw large, red eyes glaring balefully at her, and I heard a deep and evil laugh thunder around her, fading into the growing storm. She stared at those eyes and whispered something to herself before she became completely encompassed in lights, lights of all colors, ranging from red to blue to yellow to green, which all merged together into a bright white. She shouted something and suddenly leapt into the air, soaring towards the evil and wild looking red eyes, which seemed to laugh at her. It thought her attempts were futile.
She let out a scream as her body seemed to become a vessel for the light, and it shot from every fiber of her being into the entity before her. It let out an ear-piercing shriek and seemed to dissipate, the eyes fading away from the darkened sky. The other me lowered herself to the ground, panting with exertion. When she reached the dirt beneath her, she all but collapsed.
I was no longer seeing pictures, I was there. I SAW her, and I felt the strong winds, hot with the fires that burned around us. I ran to her, not knowing if she could see me or if I was really there, but desperate to help in some way. But when I reached down to touch her, my hands slid right through her. She must have felt my presence somehow, because her eyes opened, and I could swear she looked right at me for a moment. She smiled gently, and I couldn’t help but feel she was telling me it would all be okay.
I heard a shout from the West and saw a tall man with long black hair in some light armor running towards the other me an myself. He went right up to her, paying me no heed, and fell to her side, grasping her hands. He panted, but said no words. She gave him a faint but reassuring smile, and I could see him visibly relax. The man was actually fairly handsome when I got a good look at him, but this wasn’t the time or place. He pulled the other me into an embrace and I could feel their love for each other in the wind and through the earth. These two were deeply connected.
Then thunder struck, and a claw descended from the clouds and swiped at the face of the handsome man with enough force to send him flying several yards. His body lay still. The girl wailed, trying to stand up, but the claw reached down again and pinned her to the ground. The handsome man attempted to stand, to rush to her side, but another claw knocked him back over. He lay on his side, facing her, as that same claw made its way over to her. Blood poured from multiple deep gashes on his face, and he seemed to weep silently, lamenting his fate and hers.
I heard the evil laughter again, and looked to the sky to see the red eyes glaring at the girl suddenly swivel towards me.
“Ah, you will not be the last, you were merely one in a chain of many,” it said in a voice that could have been made by the earth and the fires within. It grated against my ears, and I could feel blood pool within mine and spill out, pouring over my clothing.
The entity turned towards the other me and leaned close to her. I could see it in its entirety now. Badly burnt by the glorious light she had scalded him with, he stood several feet taller than the average man, a blackened, deformed creature from a nightmare, with hairs covering its body and eyes that glowed red. It wasn’t scrawny, but had long limbs that seemed to be made of the shadows themselves if they were forged into flesh. His limbs were distorted, bending this way and that. His hands, however, were the most terrifying aspect of his monstrous figure. Large, club-like paws with claws at least a foot long each, they could easily engulf smaller animals and crush humans in their grasp.
I looked to the girl, petrified by the evil that had captured her and held her subjective to its whims, and was taken aback by the utter strength I saw behind her eyes. She was looking into the eyes of a monster and still didn’t tremble in fear. She started whispering again, and the creature slammed one of its over enlarged fists into her abdomen, efficiently shutting her up. She coughed blood as a result of this hit, but kept whispering. She started to take on a faint glow once more, and the creature released her as its flesh boiled with her touch. It let out a shriek, and then shoved its claws into her chest at the same moment the other me shouted and her body burst into white flames. She was determined to take it down with her.
The creature shrieked with an unearthly force and pulled her heart from her chest. With the last of her life, the girl whispered something once more, and then the white flames were extinguished.
The red eyes turned towards the handsome man lying in his own blood a short distance away, and I saw evil’s intent. He, too, would be killed. Deciding I had seen enough without doing anything, I shouted at the man.
“Please, stand up! Please hear me and stand up! You will die if you do not leave this place!”
He turned towards me. “Chaira…”
I shook my head. “I am not her, I am not… anything while I am here.”
He looked to me again. “Chaira…”
“No!” I shouted. “If you die her, her death will have been in vain! Live for her!”
His eyes opened at that, and I could see him trying to stand up. I turned towards the evil entity just in time to dodge a swipe from his claws. I looked at him with hatred fueling my body. He was an amalgam of everything negative the world possessed, and he sought to eradicate all other life on the world, that was apparent. I had to do something. I ran at him and focused all of my energy on a strike from the sword I carried, and noticed it taking on a faint white glow as I neared the entity. Just as I went to swipe, I fell off the rock I had been sitting on, and was startled from my reverie by a thud.
I looked over to the man in black, who stared at me in silence. I looked down at myself and noticed I was covered in blood, which had flowed from my ears, and that my sword still glowed white. I stood up slowly, unsure of how my meditation had ultimately affected me. After all, it seems I had gone through time, or experienced something I shouldn’t have.
The man in black suddenly started walking away. “Come, we need to hurry back. I sense that something is wrong.”
I trotted after him. “Is my father in danger?”
            He didn’t pause his stride, but said “When you were embracing your environment, several hours passed. I watched blood pour from your body, followed by an intense white burst of energy I’ve only seen once before.” He looked over his shoulder at me briefly. “I’m sure that it was seen for miles around us. We need to get back before it’s too late. We’ll discuss what you saw and experienced after that.”
I nodded, though he couldn’t see it, and followed after him quickly, reaching my home in just under an hour.
I noticed the torches that lined our doorway weren’t lit, though the sun had already gone down by the time we got there, and worried, I pushed my way past the man in black to enter my home.
“Father? Where are you? Why aren’t the torches lit?”
I heard a scuffling sound from the top of the stairs and started walking towards them.
The scuffing grew closer. “Alese, don’t come up here.”
“What’s wrong? Did something happen?” I grew worried, had he fallen in some way? He was getting up in his years, being five hundred and all.
I saw him round the corner to the top of the stairs and he looked down at me. “Alese, please, you need to—”
He was cut off as a sword of immense length was plunged through his back until it exited the chest. I could hear him choking, and I gasped and began to run towards the stairs. The scarlet off his blood rapidly spread across his shirt, and a man behind him kicked him, causing my father, sword still in his chest, to roll down the stairs and collapse in front of me.
I cradled my father against me. “Father, no!” I whispered, the agony in my voice being something I couldn’t suppress. I felt tears run down my face, and they landed on his, which only grew more pale for every moment that passed. “Please tell me how I can save you!”
He coughed, and blood splattered my already stained shirt. “My daughter, there is no saving me. A wound of this—” he choked and coughed again. “A wound of this size cannot be healed with simple remedies.”
“But I’m supposed to be a goddess, right? Can’t I just heal you?”
He coughed. “You haven’t mastered any of your abilities yet. How do you suppose that will work?”
I started sobbing. “Please don’t die. Please don’t leave me alone.”
He smiled gently at me through the pain he must have felt. “You are never alone, dear Alese. The world is your friend. The wind carries your messages, the earth shares its warmth, the fire fights for you, and the water soothes you. And Takuma will be here for you. Without me, he is all that is left.”
“Takuma? That’s—”
“Me,” said the man in black, stepping closer. He removed his mask for the first time since I met him, and I immediately recognized him as the handsome man I had seen in my vision earlier, the one who had ran to the side of the other me, Chaira. His face was now covered in large scars, caused by the entity I had seen in my vision. His eyes, however, remained the bright blue I had seen, and shed tears that didn’t end. He stepped closer to my father, when an arrow was shot from the top of the stairs, lodging in his shoulder. He stumbled and fell back against the door frame, using it to support himself.
“Damn, it was poisoned!” he exclaimed roughly. His skin was starting to grow pale.
I looked to my father, and with the last of his energy, he pulled me closer and whispered “I love you, now go and be strong. I raised you to be tough. Now be it.”
His eyes lost their light, and he sank to the floor. I screamed, and red energy poured from me in flames, engulfing the staircase in front of me, climbing them and embracing the three men standing there, smirking at me until that point. I felt their life’s energy within my grasp, and I could feel my flames eating at them.
But Takuma grabbed my arm, shouting “We have to leave! Now!”
We roughly made it out of the house, which now burnt from the inside.
“But my father!” I shouted. “We can’t leave him there!”
“If we go back, we both die. Is that what you want? To die? Is that what he wanted?”
I sobbed uncontrollably, but kept marching, supporting a weakened Takuma with my right shoulder. We hobbled back towards the forest, the house burning behind us bright against the pale light of the moonlit night.

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