| The mean wind whistled around Seteki. He stood defiant on the hill where his brother had been murdered and his hope destroyed. Was he to live in the misery and hatred that seemed to linger just beneath his surface? When Tom had died his life had been taken with it, everything he had ever lived for... Gone in a single black swoop.
"Hey kid." Hysithe's calm pantha voice came from behind him. She had saved him once before. Now he wished she had not. "He's gone Seteki. But you will see him again don't you... The Phoenix promised -."
"The Phoenix promised I'd see my brother again, when the time was in it's twilight. When we are dead Hysithe!" Seteki's voice was bitter. Seteki turned to face her. His young face told her everything. "You don' believe it do you?"
"I believe in the word of the Phoenix. It had brought us through a war and into a new age. We have so much more now. Why -"
" Everything I believed in is dead. Why should I believe a bird - because it's made of fire? I think you need to realise Hysithe. You may have more but me, I have nothing left to live for... The word of a bird? No way." Seteki turned back to face Niak, the city of slaves. Tom had said, once so long ago that that city held the future. The future? It held the past now, it's black steaming bellows, pumping smog into a cloud strewn sky.
"Look at me Seteki." Hysithe transformed from panthar to girl in an instant. This was no time for him to feel afraid.
Slowly the eleven year old looked at her.
"Do you remember that black hair spirit we saw? At Tom's funeral." She said. He nodded as she continued, "Well you only see them when a powerful spirit has accidently broken the barrier of time and entered a different dimension."
"So. What about it?"
"They only can come when another strong magical person or creature has died. The spirit of that person is then made apart of the visiting soul. Tom will come back."
"You're lying. You know you are... Ther are no garentees, that thing could hvae been anything! Your just trying to trick me into beliving my brother will come home. Well where is home to him? You tell me that. Is it with the slavemasters of Niak, or maybe in the dark realms of the Fire Rush? Or maybe, maybe is it no where? In that bleak cold thing called death." Seteki angrily lept down onto a lower ledge. His thin frame vanishing through t he boulders and sand.
Hysithe did not follow. She could tell he wanted to be alone. Without her or any of the other. She frowned thoughtfully before making her way back to where the faint fires of her companions glimmered.
Kirsty was waiting for her return. When she saw Hysithe's sad look she knew it had been another walk in the dark.
"Still miserable then?" She asked quietly.
"Yeah. He really has lost apart of him. Losing your last reletive, especially someone like Tom, it's a punishment that he doesn't deserve... It's harsh you know?"
"No worse than seeing your mum beaten to death by a Niak gaurd."
"He's seen each one of his family die!" Hysithe knew Kirsty still felt bad about not trying to help her mother but there was no need to make the atmosphere anymore miserable. The deaths of loved ones pressed on Pheado much more two weeks after the end of the Battle of Atawai then it had been before. However Seteki had not been able to enjoy that either, not the ending of a war, not the first signs of spring. Nothing had breached the impregnable barriar of Seteki's sorrow.
Peter sat listening to his sister and Hysithe talking, "You realise Seteki probably feels quilty for opening the moonstone as that was all that was preventing Tom from dying and now he's beating himself up over it." he gazed up at them knowledgebly, "Look at us Ki, I mean when was the last time you thought about mum and didn't feel guilty? He actively let the soul return to Tom, and that killed him.
"Peter... You're... right..." Kirsty's eyes widened in horror. She sank down and allowed her brother to enfold her in his arms. How did they not see it before? it had been a choice that had to be made, by an eleven year old... And that had broken his heart...
Seteki sat under the ridge. Tears streaked his face. All he felt was failure. Thanks to his own stupidness he had killed his brother. The first drops of rain since the storm in the battle fell. A storm was brewing over Pheado. It already had clouded Seteki's young, sad heart.
© Copyright 2002 Matt Everbusy - away in france (UN: dragoon362 at Writing.Com).
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