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Rated: 13+ · Other · Fantasy · #1862435
Fantasy, alternate reality, story, warriors, magic, monsters, subject matter.
Pâll rîn Emere I

Kami-nari Yari



         Part I



         The moon glinted brightly off the desert sands as a young boy with brilliant red and gold hair walked carefully atop the sand-strewn wall. His reed sandals made slight scraping sounds as he passed along the wide path that ran along the top of the wall. Every six feet or so, there was a narrow gap in the ten foot ledge that stood on either side of the pathway__ just barely wide enough for one person to peer through.

         The boy looked ahead, eyes focusing on the darkened form of another boy not ten feet in front of him. He sped up slightly, came up behind the other boy.

         "What are you looking at?" he asked, voice shattering the serene stillness with all the certainty of an explosion.

         The other boy hushed him, and pulled his sixteen-year-old cousin down beside him. He was taller than the first boy, and had brown hair the colour of teak wood. His eyes were narrow, and as brilliantly blue as the noon-day skies.

         "Look," he whispered, gesturing towards the small gap through which he had been looking a moment before.

         The red-haired boy squeezed in between his cousin, pressed his eyes against the gap. What he saw took his breath away. A column of people walked slowly up the causeway. They were dressed in long, flowing robes that seemed to radiate the moonlight as they walked. The red-haired boy gasped; his heart pounded in his chest. These were undoubtedly the most beautiful people he had ever seen in his entire life. Each and every one of them had skin as fair as porcelain, and their faces were like unto those the priests carved upon the images of the Gods.

         A haunting melody slowly made its way to the two boys’ ears. It was sung in a language that they did not recognize, yet the words rang sorrowfully in their hearts even as they sent an icy chill of exhilaration down their spines.

Enťė Örödrim ÿ Dunņêgar anglenna

Bronaduil esta Naer rîn Gûr

A! Elyssâr, caer dagra-dim

Feryth Angfang-iryn?

Amman?

Enťė nîf rîn Amrûn anglenna,

Esta rodyn brennia mithrim

A!  Thelyn agarwæn achas galadh-angfang

Î andaith ‘waewib ÿ Aglonn

Alag, emerthain aith

A! Elyssâr! Einior-Iarith!

Ngilith-angfang or thuiennin

‘waewib vìn amarthan ethraid…


         The melody continued on, enveloping the two boys’ consciousness within layer upon layer of emotion until their young minds were entirely enraptured…

"Who are they?" the red-haired boy whispered in his cousin’s ear, voice one of awe.

         The boy with the blue eyes looked at the younger boy as if he had just asked what colour the moons were.

         "Yami, don’t you know anything?" His cousin demanded, cocking his head to the side.

         "Seti, I don’t…” Yami said, attempting to defend his words.

         Seti cut him off, “They are the Folk of Annwyn. Haven’t you ever heard of them?” Seti demanded in a hushed whisper, as if merely talking about the people below them was dangerous.

         Yami stared at the procession of people. He studied their faces, looking for some trace of familiarity. There were none.

         Seti took his silence as a ‘no’.

“They’re not human. They keep to themselves, mostly, and are hardly ever seen in public. They live forever; I’ve heard that, even in battle, they are undefeatable. The Folk of Annwyn can do extraordinary things…some even say that they are the gods themselves, come down to earth in human form.”

         Yami raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. He thought that Seti was being ridiculous. No one can live forever, it was impossible. Besides, it was foolish to think that anyone could be a god.

         A dreamy sigh from his cousin touched Yami’s ears,

         "I wonder what it would be like never to die. Never to have to worry about your family or yourself; having all the time in the world to do whatever you wanted, that would be great. Ahh, immortality…." He mused, eyes becoming unfocused.

         Yami shrugged, turning his gaze back to the procession. "I don't know, I guess it'd be kind of lonely, living forever alone…unless you had someone to share it with."

         Seti turned and stared at Yami like he was something rather disgusting that he had just scraped off the bottom of his sandal.

         "When did you become such a romantic? I'm embarrassed to be related to you!" Seti exclaimed, raising his voice just a little.                                                                                                                                                                                 

         "Sorry," Yami said, not really meaning it. Sometimes, Yami found it hard to relate to his cousin. They had such different outlooks on things that Yami wondered how they could have possibly been raised by the same family. He ignored this train of thought, looked back out of the crack.

The end of the procession was nearing. The group of them disappeared into the gates of the city, their never-ending song ever-decreasing in volume as they stepped into the sleeping city. A lone figure trailed behind the rest of them; it was the figure of a man, larger than any man Yami had ever before laid eyes on. He was wearing a black traveling-cloak of some sort and, unlike his companions, seemed to consume the light. The shadows trailed behind the man like faithful hounds …tendrils of darkness caressing the man’s feet and ankles like devoted lovers.

Yami felt a chill hand wrap around his heart as he watched this last person make his way across the causeway and into the outer wall of the city. The figure scared him; he could tell by his cousin’s stiffening posture that Seti felt that same fear in his heart.

         Suddenly, a hand gripped them both on the shoulders. The two boys yelped in horror. Their eyes widened, and a scream rose slowly in their throats. They turned and saw a tall boy with bright golden eyes behind them. The boy was grinning from ear to ear, and he almost instantly collapsed upon the ground in laughter. Yami recognized him immediately as Khayman, the Pharaoh’s eldest son and heir to the throne of Aenon. Yami’s elder brother.

         Seti's face was as red as a pomegranate; he glared at Khayman with dark fury burning in his eyes. Yami could hardly contain his laughter. He looked at Seti for an instant, and then burst out laughing along with his brother.

         Soon after, Seti could no longer resist the contagious laughter, and joined in the merriment.

         Several minutes later, Khayman stood up and brushed the sand of his garment.

"It's late, and A’dyth instructed me to make sure that you two got a good night's rest. Tomorrow you get a new warrior, one of the Annwyn; he says the hard training begins then. Now, get to bed." The deep tenor of the prince ordered__ the epitome of authority.

         Yami and Seti nodded, not daring to dispute an order given to them by one of the most ruthless commanders in the Aenoic army. Yami stood first, helped his cousin to his feet. Seti nodded his thanks, and then proceeded to brush himself off.

         Khayman tapped his foot impatiently.

         “Come on, you lot! I don’t have all night!” he exclaimed, sending them a glare that clearly expressed his desire to go to bed. After another minute of waiting, Khayman seized the two boys by the neck and gave them a helpful shove in the direction of the stairs that led off of the wall.

         “Get to bed on time, or I’ll flog you myself.” Khayman threatened, golden eyes narrowing dangerously.

         “We will…” the two boys chimed together, rolling their eyes a bit even though they knew that Khayman was perfectly serious.

         Khayman nodded at their response, set off at a jog along the top of the wall towards his quarters in the South Barracks.

         Yami and Seti tread along the wall in silent haste, not wanting to awake the soldiers sleeping below them. Soon, they were speeding down the narrow steps that ran along the side of the wall, and out into the large courtyard at the base of the wall. As soon as they hit the limestone-courtyard grounds, they broke into a run, kept going until they reached the safe confines of the outer city. The guard at the base of the steps sent them a venomous glare as they ran with their backs to him. They disappeared, and he returned his stony gaze to his duty.

The two boys walked slowly to the inner city. They passed by darkened shoppes and houses, imagining what they looked like in the daytime. Because of their social rank, Seti and Yami were rarely allowed outside the inner city. They spent their days either in the palace doing whatever it is teenage boys do in their spare time, or on the battle grounds training with the other boys to become the elite of the Aenoic army. They never had a chance to see the outer city in detail; the only glances they got of it were when they left the walls of T’kahl to take part in the war games that were conducted annually with the armies of neighboring nations.

         Yami glanced up at the night sky, marveling at the sheer magnitude of it. There was only one moon out tonight: Nenith, the White Sister. She was the smaller of the three sisters, the other two being Kelkast the Red and Estus the Black. She was almost always accompanied by one of her two sisters, if not both, and her being suspended in the sky alone meant that the weather was going to start cooling drastically. Yami could already feel the effects of the season change through the slightly humid chill that settled upon his bare chest and arms as he walked through the streets.

         They were nearing the inner wall. The 100-foot-tall structure loomed above them like the foreboding confines of a prison. The inner wall was constructed entirely of white and black-speckled granite. It was beautiful, but at the same time, nigh-on impossible to breach. Being at least thirty feet thick and fortified with battlements from which archers could rain arrows down upon an attacker, it seemed the perfect defense. Nevertheless, the Pharaohs of Aenon had taken extreme precautions to protect their city. The foremost of which was the fact that the entire city was built upon the old city.

         Three centuries past, the old city had been razed nearly to the ground by invaders from the neighboring Cimurran Empire. Everything had been abandoned and left for the Cimurrans to do with it what they pleased. But soon afterwards, the usefulness of the massive River G’ilgol__ which ran through a section of T’kahl__ had been overridden by the construction of a large canal that cut through the lands closer to the Cimurran Empire. The River G’ilgol lost its usefulness, and the Cimurrans lost interest in the old city, left it to the mercy of the desert sands.

         Because of the unique geography of the area that the old city was built upon, it was not destroyed by time, but rather hidden by it. The original city had sat in the remnants of a volcanic crater, far below the normal ground level. Not a very wise spot to place a city, but that was just poor planning on the part of the architects. Anyroad, over a period of about thirty-seven years and several hundred sand-storms, the old city was buried. Its location was still known, however, by a select few military Commanders that had survived the Cimurran invasion. After years of scheming, they came back to the city.

         With a workforce of only five hundred men, the Commanders tunneled down to the old city, only to find that the edges of the volcanic crater had collapsed in on each other, creating a sort of dome above the old city. With this new information in hand, the Commanders tossed aside their original plan to regain the riches that had been hidden in the catacombs of the old city, and formulated a new and even grander plan.

They decided to build a city on top of the old one.

The Cimurrans had long since cleared off from the land surrounding the old city, so their works would be done in secret.

         It took one hundred and fifty years, five generations, and nearly all of the treasure that was hidden in the old city to complete their work, but they finished it. The new city was built upon the very top of the dome__ which was large enough and thick enough to support such a structure without collapsing__ and it was even better than the old city.

         The new city had two walls. The first was one hundred and fifty feet high and fifty feet thick. It spanned the entire circumference of the new city, a grand total of 39 leagues. Within the borders of the outer wall was where the shoppes and residential places of the common folk resided. Here was where they lived, worked, and played for nearly their entire lives, if they were lucky. There were miles and miles of fields centered on the River G’ilgol and it was there that the majority of common men worked and where the majority of the food supply of T’kahl was grown__ one tenth of that food supply was taken down to the old city and placed in storage for times of famine and emergency. The outer wall was publicly accessible only by a causeway that was five hundred feet long and extended to the top of the wall. On the other side, there was a steep staircase spanning only fifty feet from the outer wall into the outer city. At various intervals along the inside of the wall were narrow staircases that hugged the inner side of the wall and led to the ground. There were four of these staircases, each of them jealously guarded. This was normal enough, but the top fifty feet of the outer wall was hollow. Inside this hollow spot were three levels, each fourteen feet high. These were the barracks of the soldiers and of the Commanders that did not wish to live in the palace. Also in the hollow section was a good two thirds of the armoury. This entire charade was put in place in order to be prepared in the event of an attack. If the city came under siege, hundreds of fully armed warriors would swarm from the wall itself like a plague of wasps, ready and willing to kill any threat that was posed to their nest.

         Through a series of subterranean canals, the River G’ilgol was diverted from its original course and sent underground in the direction of T’kahl. It emerged along the edge of the Southern Wall, flowed up through the city to the inner wall, where it went underground again, emerged near the Arena, and then disappeared once again into the canals where it eventually went back to its original path. How exactly the river was made to flow uphill was a great mystery to everyone. Not even the architects who came from great cities such as Cimurra and Caer Mathys could decipher the complex and ingenious methods used to create such an unnatural process.

         The inner wall was only one hundred feet high, and thirty feet thick. It was publicly accessible only through a stone gate that took a large amount of pulling and heaving to open. There was another way, however. Nestled up against the base of the wall, on the south end of the city, there was a little Tea Shoppe. The shoppe owner was a retired member of the military, and the very back of the building encompassed a small cellar that tunneled under the wall and into the inner city. Knowledge of this entrance was only known to those with proper authority__ a mere fifty or so people. And, as an extra precaution, any person wishing to enter this way who did not have the proper authority was arrested and interrogated for the identity of the person who had revealed the cellar’s existence. After this had been found out, the person who had tried to enter was imprisoned, and the traitor who had shared this knowledge was executed. Such was the importance of secrecy in the city of T’kahl.

         The inner city housed three major buildings only: the palace__ where the royal family and high-ranking officials lived and where Guests of State would stay, the Temple__ where the priests and priestesses preformed their various duties to their various deities, and the Arena__ where young boys and men lived and trained to become members of one of the finest military forces in all the known world. The space that the inner city occupied was small, only about a quarter of the entire city. The defenses for the inner city were simple: it was raised at least one hundred feet above the outer wall. This being said, the entire outer city sat on a hill which led to the inner wall. Each roof was higher than the one before it ((depending on which angle you look at it from)) thereby making it possible to defend from the rooftops, if necessary. It was quite an ingenious design, and to make a good thing better, the foundations of T’kahl were riddled with tunnels. And each and every one of the tunnels led down to the old city. In times of war, these tunnels made it possible for the innocent to flee to the safety of the old city, where they could, if necessary, escape into the desert or to the River G’ilgol through one of the many natural tunnels that wormed their ways throughout the volcano that the entire affair sat upon.

         The city of T’kahl truly had a noble inheritance, and Yami was glad to be apart of it. The young boy looked proudly at the inner wall, glad that he had been brought into this world where he had, and not somewhere else.

         Yami and Seti reached the Tea Shoppe. They crept quietly up to the little building, hoping that they would not wake the Old Man. The door creaked slightly as Seti pushed it open; both boys flinched, but continued on without a break in their pace. They knew enough to realize that a strange squeaking sound in the middle of the night that suddenly stops was almost certainly an intruder. They swung the old door wide and let it swing shut on its own, letting it mimic the sounds of the wind blowing it open and closed again. Quiet as ever, the two boys crept to the back of the store. They stepped silently into the kitchen, rounded the corner that led to the cellar. The two boys stopped dead. Slumbering in a chair right next to the cellar door was the Old Man. He was snoring, obviously asleep. His long, white beard lay atop his chest like a large, fuzzy caterpillar, and his blue/white-striped robe hung loose around his old bones. The Old Man had his walking-stick gripped loosely in his hands. The brass butt of it was touching the floor next to the cellar door.

         Seti took a hesitant step forward and paused. The Old Man did not stir. With a little more speed, Seti took three more steps forward and knelt to lift the cellar door open. He pulled, but it did not move.

The cellar door was heavy, and was weighted down with lead tumblers to keep anyone from going in with any sort of speed. The two boys did not know this, however, for they had never strayed outside the inner wall after dark, and therefore had never used the Tea Shoppe entrance before.

         Seti looked back at Yami, motioned with his head for Yami to help him lift the door.

         Yami nodded, and crept forward silently. He kept his gaze on Seti, and a slight flicker in the corner of his vision made his eyes widen.

         Seti saw the reaction an instant before his head split in an explosion of pain. He yelped, and fell forward onto the ground, clutching the back of his head with both hands. Tears stung in his eyes as he gritted his teeth to keep from crying out once again.

         The Old Man chuckled.

         “You boys have got a bit of explaining to do.” He said. The Old Man’s voice was strong and deep despite his frail appearance. He stood, stretched his arms over-head with a mighty yawn. When he was done, he set his walking-stick back on the ground and leaned on it. His dark eyes scanned the two boys with mild curiosity flickering in them.

         Yami, seeing that the situation was lost, immediately dropped onto his hands and knees, placed his palms on the floor, and bent low in the deepest bow he could manage.

         “Forgive us, Rīdā! We meant no intrusion. We were merely trying to get back inside the inner city.” He said, voice pleading for understanding.

         Seti grumbled a muted agreement from his position on the floor. His head ached terribly, and he wasn’t really in the mood for bowing, so he stayed where he was.

         The Old Man raised an eyebrow, “Get back inside the inner city? Now, what were you doing outside the inner city in the first place, I wonder?” The Old Man said, scratching the top of his head in mock contemplation.

         Yami’s face flushed red. “Sir, we wished to witness the arrival of the Folk of Annwyn, but we misjudged our timing, and failed to return before the gates were closed.” Yami explained. That wasn’t entirely true. In fact, Seti had been the one to sneak out after dark to see the arrival of the Annwyn; Yami had merely followed because he couldn’t sleep and had nothing better with which to occupy his time.

         The Old Man seemed to know this, and gave Yami a suspicious glare.

         Yami shrank underneath the scrutinizing gaze of the Old Man, praying to any gods that would listen that he would believe his words.

No such luck.

The Old Man raised an eyebrow, and spoke in an off-hand sort of manner.

“Came to see the arrival of the Annwyn, eh? Didn’t make it back in time for the gates’ closing…well, according to the knowledge that I am privy to, the Folk of Annwyn did not begin arriving until the gates had already been closed for a very long time. Now, what you say seems logical, but then again, what I say seems logical as well. You’re not calling me a liar, are you?” The Old Man’s basso was low and threatening...

Yami’s face blanched,

“No, Rīdā! I am not, I merely wished to…”

Yami was cut off by the boisterous laugh of the Old Man.

“Ah, you thought to worm your way out of a flogging by making excuses!” The Old Man continued laughing.

Yami looked up helplessly at the old Captain. He could think of nothing more to say that might possibly save them from a flogging, so he plopped his head on the cold, hard ground, and awaited their punishment. His only pity was for Seti, who had already relieved a fairly good crack on the head.

“Get up, both of you.” The Old Man ordered.

Yami hastily complied, and soon was standing at attention like the proudest soldier as he awaited the piercing scorch of the fire.

Seti was slower to comply; he stood with a grunt and groan, walked stiffly back to Yami’s side. He didn’t bother to stand at attention like his younger cousin; the pounding ache that rattled his skull was too great for that.

The Old Man looked them over, forcing the tension of the situation to rise in Yami’s throat. They stood like that for a good many minutes, staring at each other in the moonlit darkness of the night.

Finally, the Old Man began to speak.

“How did you two get past me in the first place?” he wondered, scratching the chin under his beard with a curious glint in his dark eyes.

This question threw Yami off-guard, and he cocked his head to the side, forsaking his prim and proper stance.

“What? Oh, we went over the wall. There’s a creeping-tree that grows close to the top of the wall on the Northern Face, and we were able to hook a line on it, and then climb up from there. Once we were at the top, it was easy to scale down using the same hook and line. After I hit the bottom, I hid the line in a wicker basket outside some shoppe and went to the outer wall from there.” Yami explained before he knew what he was doing.

Seti ground his teeth in frustration. Sometimes, he felt the overwhelming urge to throttle his cousin…telling the Old Man how they had gotten out of the inner city after dark after they had just said they’d gone out before the gates were closed was perhaps the dumbest thing Yami could have done.

The Old Man pondered Yami’s words, and then grinned at the two boys.

Yami glanced at Seti with a question in his eyes. Seti glanced back, and gave a slight shrug, effectively communicating what he could not say: “I dunno; he’s gone ‘round the bend.”

“Well, my duty requires me to turn you in to A’dyth for punishment.” He said grin fading and metamorphosing into a grave stare.

Yami and Seti gulped, afraid of what was to come, and yet accepting it completely.

“However,”

Yami and Seti perked up at this, a sudden wave of hope rising in their hearts.

“Since you two managed to get out of the wall without me or any of the other guards noticing, and since the Princeling had the guts to protect his cousin at the sake of his own neck, I’ll let you both go.”

The relief that Yami and Seti felt was visible in their relaxing postures.

“Now,” The Old Man said, standing up straight. “I suppose I’ve got to get this hatch open.” And with that, he reached up with the gnarled end of his staff and seized something that was above them in the darkness.

Yami and Seti watched curiously as the Old Man pulled down a large metal hook that was connected to a chain. He bent down with a grunt; put the hook around the large metal ring in the hatch that Seti had taken hold of in order to lift the cellar door. From there, the Old Man made his way to the back of the room. He set down his staff, and took hold of a large crank that was set into the wall. He began to work the mechanism, face contorted with effort.

Slowly, the pulley-system lifted the cellar door open.

After about five minutes of labourious working, the cellar door was open enough for the boys climb through. It was then that Seti spied the lead weights that hung suspended from the metal-reinforced door. His heart sank, and he sent an irritated glare in the Old Man’s direction.

The Old Man motioned with his head for them to go, not trusting himself to speak. His face was glistening with sweat, and the tendons in his neck were taut and bulging with effort.

Yami nudged Seti in the back, telling him to go forward. Seti sighed, dropped into the cellar. Yami followed after.

The young Prince’s feet hit the cold-stone floor, and he looked up just long enough to see the gap of moonlight disappear with an echoing thud.

“Come on,” said Seti sourly, “Let’s get home before he changes his mind.”

Yami nodded, and the two felt their way down the abysmal hallway that led to the inner city.

It was Seti who found the stairs. With much cursing and grumbling, Seti ascended the stone steps, careful to lift the foot that he had smacked against the bottom step high above them.

Yami shook his head in pity; tonight just wasn’t a good one for Seti. With a resigned sigh, Yami took the lead. He found the doorway in a similar manner to the way Seti had found he stairs, except that he had kept one hand straight out in front of him to avoid any unnecessary pain.

He knocked thrice on the door, and waited.

Two knocks came in reply.

Yami responded by knocking five times, waiting three counts, then twice more.

The door was opened.

Yami and Seti emerged into the dimly-lit courtyard with squinting eyes. The braziers around the yard were lit more brightly than usual.

Yami glanced at the guard who had let them in. His name was A’eidan; Yami recognized him as one of those under Khayman’s command. The two said nothing to each other.

Yami and Seti passed on in silence, and soon they had left the sight of A’eidan. They passed through the Arena without speaking. The two boys were tired, and the night was wearing on. Soon, Nenith would reach the pinnacle of her sojourn, thus marking the darkest hour of the night.

Suddenly, an icy chill ran down Yami's spine like a snake whose only intent was to seize upon Yami’s heart and stop the beating thereof. He stopped walking, and looked around him, searching for the cause of that chill. Seti didn't seem to notice and just kept walking mechanically to the palace. Yami watched him go for an instant, and then his entire body froze.

Something had moved in the shadows beyond the brazier. Yami stared at that spot, his cerulean eyes wide with fear.

There came a scraping sound from those shadows, and the sight of what was making them made Yami’s heart stop its rhythmic pounding, only to have it begin again ever faster and harder.

A demon emerged from the shadows. It looked to be a large wolfe, but no fool would mistake it as such. The fur upon its back was spiked and layered, like the scales of a lizard. It was entirely crystalline, and the light from the brazier reflected off of its back like a ball of flame. Beneath the reflecting light, Yami could see tendrils of darkness swirling and massing inside the beast. Its eyes glowed red__ and they were fixed upon the young prince with voracious ferocity.

A terrific snarl ripped from the demon’s gaping maw, and black liquid dripped from the razor-like fangs that lined its mouth. That liquid hit the stone earth with a rush of steam and a screaming hiss. The demon took measured steps toward Yami, who remained rooted to the spot.

Yami was screaming inside of himself to move, do something…something other than stand there to be made a quick meal of.

The demon came ever closer, so close that Yami could smell the rank of its steamy breath.

It smelled of blood.

That did it. Yami took a step backwards. His limbs were released from their paralysis, and yet, no matter how hard Yami tried, he could not take his eyes off of the demon long enough to turn and flee. Yami kept backing up, the demon following, until he reached the edge of the stone path. His legs touched upon the scalding surface of one of the iron braziers that burned on the edge of the path.

He stumbled and fell backwards, scattering the burning coals over the sands in which he sat. The demon moved forward eagerly, eyes burning brighter than ever.

Yami scrambled backwards, desperately trying to get away from the demon. For the first time in his life, Yami felt the icy hand of pure and carnal terror grip his heart…and he could not escape.

The demon bore down on the young prince with a fury, and came to stand above him. Yami stared in horror at the demon, that black liquid dripping down and hitting the sand on wither side of Yami’s head and neck. All of a sudden, Yami was dreadfully aware of his own mortality. He feared somewhere in his heart of hearts that he would soon meet face to face the family that had been stolen from him just after he was born.

The demon bent down, brushed its crystalline snout against the side of Yami’s face. Yami cringed, closed his eyes. He awaited his fate.

Then, suddenly, out of the shadows, a light more brilliant than that of the desert sun consumed the shadows that lay around the pathway. A piercing howl shattered the silence of the night; that howl was accompanied by a sound like unto the tinkling music of breaking crystal. Yami opened his eyes, and found that the demon had disappeared. He sat up quickly, eyes searching for the saviour of his life. He soon found it.

Standing on the pathway, backlit by the glowing light of one of the braziers, a woman stood. She was taller than Yami__ which was no great accomplishment__ and she wore a garment of brilliant white tied at the waist with a sash of dazzling gold. The woman’s head was shrouded by a head-wrapping similar to the ones worn by the desert traders that wandered in the blazing sun and blowing sands day and night. She was staring at Yami, and the pure green colour of them shocked the young prince. They were hardly human. Like a cat's they were, and those green eyes glowed slightly in the moonlight and the flickering glow from the braziers. Her posture was tall and proud, like that of the most regal empress.

"This is not the time for foolish young princes such as yourself to be wandering around in the dark alone. Now, return to your bed, for the next time, I shall not be here to save you."  Her voice was marvelous, and immediately quelled the fear that had been so prominent in Yami’s heart a moment before. She stood there a moment, as if she were committing Yami’s face to memory…and then she turned, strode off lithely toward the west wing of the palace.

Yami stared after her for a long moment, then remembered the cold, ruby-like eyes of the demon, and sprang up to his feet. Yami ran faster than he had ever run before. In less time than it had ever taken him, Yami entered the palace.

The young prince sped through the hallways, dashing any consideration to those people who slept. Yami slipped upon the polished floor as he rounded the corner to his quarters. He scrambled up and scampered through his open door. Only then did he stop to breathe. His chest rose and fell in gasping, haggard, gusts of air. Yami closed his door softly, crossed the room, and slid gratefully down onto his thick, reed mat and laid his head against the cool blanket he kept as a pillow. He drifted off to sleep almost immediately, and images of a green-eyes panther plagued his dreams....

© Copyright 2012 Kami-nari Yari (kaminariyari at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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