Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Of the Golden Earth and the Silver Skies


CHAPTER 5 – The Ominous Dream 

Dark. Why is everything dark? I can see even in the darkest night, so why can I see only darkness now? Where am I? Flapping wings. I can hear the sound of flapping wings. It’s approaching me but I still can’t see it.

“Hello.” A voice. But it sounds so faint, so far. I glanced behind.  I see none, only the darkness.

“Who’s there?” Laughter echoes. 

“I said, hello. Never mind. Sigh, come tell me your name, demi-mortal.” That voice again! It sounded so close. I kept quiet as I saw no one.

   Flames suddenly burst out from above. I evaded them, and then looked up. I saw a man glowing with amber light; his face was with the marks of the Arabian Bird. His head was with the horns of a ram, tufts of feathers were in place of his ears, and there were wings on his back. Dragon- like wings, but with white feathers instead of skin.

  The man hovered down, and I could see a woman, radiating with bluish purple light. Her silver white hair swayed with the ever moving wind that surrounds her. On her shoulder was a cape of blackish grey feathers. The marks of the Sylph adorned her forehead. Her peculiar ears almost escaped my notice.  It was almost cat- like, but…a little different.

“Answer the little lady, boy.”

“I…I am Pawaka.” Hesitantly I answered.

“Well met, Pawaka,” said the woman. “I am Zephyr, messenger of the Sylph.”

“And I am Wyvern, messenger of the Arabian Bird. The Sibyl sent us to convey you a word of precaution. She sent her regards, too.”

Slowly, I nod in acknowledgement.

  “Know that the path that lies ahead is twisted with thorns and leads you to perdition. Being away does not much harm than staying put. Choose well, Pawaka, and your deeds will be rewarded, else your past wrongdoings will conquer you. Remember those words, young one. She meant well for you.” The messenger of Sylph patted my head.

“Take care, boy. Don’t kill yourself protecting other people!” Fire flashed from the ground.

“Wyvern! Don’t frighten him!”

The knight woke up with a jolt. The messengers. He remembered the dream he had. 

  Demi- mortals were cherished by the gods, even when they are scorned by men. Their origins were unknown, but there are only few of them. The demi-mortals cannot breed with each other, but they have a very long life span compared to humans, since at a stage of life, the process of aging for them stops. The process stops when they get their first message from the messengers. None knows how it works, yet. But it just does. It differs for each demi- mortal, and at the age of 24, the aging process for Pawaka stops now. It will cycle back after a period of time, that is, when they receive the second message. The messages aren’t exclusively for demi- mortals, but only a handful of humans ever experienced it. And unlike demi- mortals, it won’t be long for humans until their second message is conveyed. The messages served not only as warnings, it serves too, as a way to ensure the demi-mortals live a long, even if it is not joyful, life.

“Pawaka, you awake?” The door creaked open. The horse- maiden walked in.

“Oh, it’s only you.”

“Ah, hey! What do you mean by that?! You were expecting someone else, did you, now?”

“Apologies, Mega. It’s just that I…had a dream. No, no a message,” he corrected himself.

The horse maiden’s eyes brightened. “Oh, I had mine when I was 22! How was it like, Pawaka?”
He looked at her, slowly he said, “It was…dark. Black was all that I can see, well, at first. The messengers of the Arabian Bird and the Sylph gave me a…precaution. A warning.”

Long pause. “Eh…oh, come on, it can’t be that bad,” she giggled. “Come, get yourself a hot bath – and be quick about it, Samudera’s already waiting downstairs!”

  His eyes trailed the horse maiden’s footsteps until she disappeared outside the door. Samudera…Memories of last night came to his mind. The elven maiden must be heart-broken, he sighed. I need to let her go of me…as I am in need to let her go. Else my mission in Bentala Kencana will be in vain. Sigh. Let’s just…get ready, he coaxed himself. And so, the knight took a quick bath, dressed himself and quietly descended the stairs.  

“Samudera,” called Mega. The elven maiden smiled in acknowledgement. “Did you cry last night?”

“Uh, why do you ask?”

“Your eyes are red and watery…and you look tired and sad…and…”

“No. Mega, I just didn’t sleep well last night. A bit too excited for my own good, you see?” She flashed a smile.

Mega smiled back. She knew how Samudera loves her brother, and how long they had been separated. It is only natural for her to be euphoric on meeting each other again.

  The knight enters the kitchen with the feeling of heavy weight on his chest. He avoided meeting up the eyes of Samudera, while she on the other hand tried so hard to make eye contact with him. Mega thought that the knight was just feeling edgy for the fact that he will have to leave soon. She tried to brighten up the situation.

“Want to go out after this? We’ll go to the forest by the brook for a picnic!”

“Oh, yes, Mega, we’ll do that. How about you, Pawaka? Do you wish to join us?” asked the elven maiden.   

He looked at her, then at Mega, and then he nodded.

Soft light cascaded slowly from the sun above. The sound of running water fills the calm afternoon. Pawaka lies on the soft grassy grounds, closing his eyes and basking in the warm sunlight. He lets out a sigh and wonders if he is doing the right thing. He is leaving the Silver Skies, with uncertain hope of returning, and so he wanted Samudera to hate him and to forget him altogether, for he does not want her to wait and to be crestfallen if he can never be home again. The knight too wishes for his mind to not be distracted with thoughts of Samudera. He wishes to be fighting fit for this mission.

The knight opened his eyes. Clouds rolled in the calm, azure sky, forming ever changing shapes of all kinds. 

My life is such, he thought. Ever changing, sometimes calm but always in turbulence. Do I care much to change it? He put his palm forward and looked at it as sunshine penetrated the gaps between his fingers.

“Pawaka! Come and eat!”

   He looked at the elven maiden. Mega was someplace else nearby, catching butterflies. “I’ll be there in a moment.” The knight rolled over and got up. Slowly he sauntered by.

   As usual, food was laden. The knight however was not feeling hungry, even after the long journey to arrive there. But he saw something that changed his mind. An apple pie. The aroma of freshly baked apple wafted in the air. His eyes were automatically transfixed to it.

“Mother used to make these,” he said as he sat down.

  “Yes. I knew it’s your favourite. That’s why I baked it. It’s been such a long time since I’ve baked one, so I must apologise if it tastes bad.” She gave a slice to the knight. He accepts it and muttered a thank you.   

Slowly he took a bite.

“It still tastes the same.”

The elven maiden nodded with relief. “So nothing’s changed about it. Just like us.”

The knight gave a heavy sigh. Samudera’s pushing it. Well, she deserves to know. But...but. He sighed again. 

Then again, it may be for the best.

“Everything’s going to change, Samudera. We won’t be the same.”

Samudera looked at the knight. What exactly does he mean?

   “I’m going away, Samudera.” He puts his plate down. “We might not see each other again. That’s why we can’t be the same. I can’t go on like this. And I don’t want you to suffer silently as you wait for me to come back.”

“No, Pawaka.” He looked at her.

“No.” She said again. “I do not ‘suffer’ when I wait for you. And I know I am going to lose you someday. But not in this way. Not from you.”

“Samudera...It’s not that…”

   The words were muffled when the elven maiden’s lips sealed his. He feels her passion burning through his veins. Her soft lips were as sweet as honey. The knight was at the verge of indulging it as she presses on. However, his hands involuntarily pushed her back and he pinned her on the ground.

“Samudera...” he gasped. “This…are you even listening to me?”

“I am. I know you love me, Pawaka! I know that you wish to protect me. But this is not the way. I do not want to hate you, I can never hate you. And I can never forget you either.”

“Samudera…this is the most logical thing to do. You’ll find someone else better…than me.”

“You and your logics! Is it so hard for you to understand that my love is only for you, and never for another?! NEVER!” Tears began to flow slowly down her cheeks.

He had never seen her so riled up. She usually would be very delicate, very…soft.  She just cried when he first brought this subject, but now… what happened to her?

The knight releases her and ponders on his next move. Why is it so hard to convince her?

The elven maiden is taking her own stand in this matter.  And she knows her will is powerful enough to shift his. She had done it once, thus she is able to do the same once more. Pawaka will change his mind and she will make sure he does.  She just need to do something to convince him. To push him gently to the right way. Her way.

  “Pawaka! Samudera! Look what I found!”  An excited Mega came to their way, a butterfly fluttered helplessly in her palm, its wings in tatters.

  “You did that to this butterfly?” asked Pawaka. A sense of grief fills his heart to the brim. The butterfly can never be airborne again, never to feel the winds of Sylph under its wings. It might as well just curl up and…die.

   Mega shook her head. “Of course not! I found her on the ground. I put her on a flower, but she fell. So, I thought it’ll be better if I bring her to you. Maybe you can help her to fly again!”

“Yes, maybe Pawaka can do that. You can use your bard magic to draw back the butterfly’s wings, right?”

   He shook his head slowly. “I can. But I will not do so. My magic will not last long. When the ink dries, the magic is gone. The butterfly will suffer again from a second fall. I’m sorry, Mega. There is nothing that I can do for her.”

 “How can you say so?! You didn’t even try, Pawaka! Who knows if your magic stays with her, that she can fly even if your ink dries out?!”

 “That would defy logic…” he paused. “But I will try, for your sake and for this butterfly’s, I will try.” He changed his sword into a brush. Hesitantly he lifts it and draws wings on the butterfly. Somehow the ink that flows out looks different, Pawaka thought. It shone brilliantly under the sunlight as the butterfly fluttered by with wings black of ink.

  He waits, expecting the butterfly to fall at any moment, for the ink to dry out and turn into dust. But it flew on and on, without any signs of halting. The horse maiden was cheering on, and clapping her hands with delight. 
She said, “ I told you so!” and went after the butterfly.

 A smile etched across the elven maiden’s face. “It seems that your logic has been defied, Pawaka.”

“It seems so, but I do not mind. It is for the better,” the knight answered. His eyes were still trailing the fluttering insect. How did this happen?  He wonders on.

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