Through the valleys of mist and shadow,
To streams purest in sight.
From the dawning of the mountains,
To the dragon's midnight flight.
Two shall be chosen,
One of darkness, one of light.
Two shall be summoned,
With the end drawing near.
Two shall expose the secret
Of the shadow's greatest fear.
"And that, my children, is the prophecy of our world," the old woman said, tapping her aged finger to the moss covered markings etched on the stone wall. The small group of children stared transfixed at the prophecy which had been whispered to them since they rested sweetly in their craddles. A small girl with chestnut hair raised her hand shyly, "Elder Fala?" The distracted teacher glanced her way, "Yes, Winna, what is it?"
"What does it all mean?" Her blue eyes turned back to the words and then to the silver-haired woman expectantly. An inquisitive murmer passed through the group of students as if the question had never occured to them before as several pairs of eyes turned to the patient teacher who simply shrugged, "No one knows for sure. That is something that every single person living in Rinsha's walls must figure out for themselves. Why don't we take a moment to consider this? What do you all think it could mean?"
There was silence as the students each wondered what the ancient words foretold. Ared-haired boy shot up his hand confidently, "Obviously it is about a battle!" Elder Fala watched him carefully, "Oh, and why do you think that is, Seto?" Enjoying the undivided attention, Seto marched up to the sacred words and pointed accusingly, "One of darkness, one of light. There is going to be a fight between two warriors!"
The other young boys seemed to be very fond of this idea as they joined in on his hypothesis, "I'll bet they will be huge and strong!"
"With lots of muscles and swords!"
"Yeah! And I bet they will have tattoos and ride dragons! It says so, doesn't it? Dragon's midnight flight!"
The small group of boys started to mock fight each other, resembling a gladiator match as Elder Fala held up her wrinkled hands, "All right, all right, that's one theory. Any others?" In the crowd of six students, the two girls pondered quietly to themselves as Winna raised a tenative hand, "Yes Winna, what do you think it means? Do you think it is about a fight?" Elder Fala asked as she secretly pondered whether or not the rain would hold out long enough for them to make it home.
"I believe it is about love." The young girl said looking at the prophecy thoughtfully. This answer was not a favorable one as three of the boys froze mid-battle, "Love? That is so lame!"
"Yeah and gross too!" One of the boys named Skyner commented, sticking out his tongue at the now defensive girl. Winna's dark eyes turned to him as she returned the gesture while Elder Fala placed a pondering hand to her chin, "Why do you think it is about love, Winna?" Retracting her pink tongue, the small girl walked up and pointed to the last line of the verse, "Right here, it says that they will expose the shadow's fear. What does darkness fear?"
"Light?" Mie, the only other girl in the group, commented from the white bark tree where she had been watching shyly. Winna nodded to her and looked back to Elder Fala, "And light is love, right?" The elderly woman watched the young girl with inquisitive eyes, "Hm, now that is a thought isn't it?"
"Yeah, a dumb thought." Seto grumbled, not liking that his fierce battle had been interrupted by girlish fantisies. Winna's cheeks started to flush as she turned to the freckle-faced boy. Before her words came out to sting him, a different voice interjected, "It isn't dumb because Winna said it. It would only be dumb if you did, Seto." There was silence as surprised eyes flew to the dark-haired little boy who was trying to coax a very shy Mie from her hiding place. The small girl shook her head fiercely as the bewildered boys gathered that their leader had been insulted, "What do you know about anything, Kaden?"
"Yeah! Do you have a crush on Winna or something?"
The very notion was hilarious to the band of bullies as Winna's face became redder than it should have been allowed. Kaden was an odd one, or at least that's what the adults used to say. Winna had known him only through what her parents had whispered to each other when he passed by and that wasn't ever very positive. In all fairness to them, no one in the village really trusted Kaden. Since infancy he had a strangely acute sense of seeing what the rest of them couldn't and was articulate in ways that weren't accustomed for a seven-year-old.
"That's not why I said it. Whenever Winna answers, it is usually correct and thought out, where as you on the other hand tend to spew the first thing that comes to that violent brain of your's." The comment lingered for a moment and even though he wasn't sure exactly what it meant, the tone was definately an insult as Seto rushed up to the serene boy. Before they came to blows, Elder Fala shouted, "Enough!" and two long vines whipped out from the trees, securing them both tightly.
Four frightened students lept back from the once immobile plants as Elder Fala's normally kind eyes were icy with annoyance, "What is the one thing you must never do, children?" It took a moment before the wide-eyed students could answer, "Upset the balance." Her frosty eyes turned to the bound boys; one who was resisting fuitily and the other waiting patiently to be released, "And what does that mean, Seto? Kaden?"
"Upsetting the balance is fighting with one another." Kaden answered repeating what had been taught since before they could remember. Elder Fala nodded at him and then to Seto who had given up on the vine's immense strength, "Is that clear to you both?" He nodded blushing as she gently touched the binding plants, releasing them both, "Now, that is enough excitement for one day. It is time to head home, children."
At the reminder of the power the seemingly frail woman possesed, there was no hesitation to obey as they almost ran back to the safety of their parent's arms. Elder Fala stayed behind, covering up the prophecy carefully before placing a hand on Winna's head, "That was a very good theory, dear." The young girl smiled softly at her teacher's praise, "Do you think it is right?" The aging woman hummed thoughtfully, "It is something to consider and comforting to think about. Now, why don't we get a move on? It will rain soon."
"Can't you make it stop, Elder Fala?" Winna asked, taking her wrinkled hand which held so much power in it. The patient woman laughed heartily, "You cannot ask the rain the stop, child. It is beyond our control. There is only one person who can beseech the weather and it is certainly not me." Winna's dark eyes searched the woman's face, "But you can commune with nature. You can make the trees move and the rocks part, I've seen you do it."
"That is because I am a Whisperer of the ground, my dear. I speak to the plants and the dirt, but you can never control them, only ask polietly." This answer made the small girl's head ache as she wondered who would be more powerful than Elder Fala? Then, just as promised, the rain began to seep from the clouds and water the land. The squeals and screams from the other students echoed through the air as they quickly retreated to their warm houses. Winna squeezed Fala's hand once more before she turned to the oak doorway of her loving home.
"Welcome home, baby girl." The blissfully warm voice greeted as the damp girl removed her coat, "Hi mommy." The flickering fire light illuminated her mother's face as soft, chocolate eyes which constantly seemed to smile, met the always pondering blue eyes of her daughter. Lena wrapped an arm around the shivering girl and rubbed her fiercely, "You must be freezing. Go sit by the fire and I'll make you some tea, sound good?" Winna smiled and jumped into the wooden chair her father carved years ago. The fur lining embraced the young girl as she snuggled happily into the scent of musk and burning wood. This was a place she was always welcomed, always comforted and above all, always loved.
For Kaden, however, this blissful paradise was not so easy to achieve. As the unrelenting rain continued its thoughtless drenching of the land, the dark-haired boy made his way through the streets of Rinsha, shivering with each step. He glanced up as the doors opened to embrace his classmates warmly and shut quickly at his approach, forever shielding the boy from their candle light affection. In his dreams he had imagined a loving pair of arms who would worry and care for him and chase away the nightmares he so often experienced. In his dream world, a kind, soft-spoken mother would welcome him home with hugs and sweet words. But all dreams must end and his always did whenever he entered the house which almost seemed to grow intertwined with the massive Hersh tree.
"I'm home, Jessah." He announced removing his self-made jacket and placing it on the beech coat hanger. A woman with hair the color of onyx waited on the fur-covered couch, stroking a small reptile absently, "Did you cause trouble today?" She asked as the baby dragon with red eyes and scales the color of dull jade curled under her fair chin. "No," Kaden replied standing awkardly. The woman's sharp fingernails froze on the snoring pet, "Are you lying to me?"
The question caught Kaden off guard as he watched her carefully. The icy woman rose, placing the sleeping dragon on the couch before her golden eyes sized up the boy. Kaden looked her up and down, taking in the frigid beauty of her face as she walked over and stood only inches from him,"You are really going to lie to your own mother?" The shaking boy's heart began to beat fiercely against his chest. For Jessah to refer to herself as his mother meant that her anger was at it's peek. He was caught in something and the horrible feeling of the unknown pulsated through his body, "I......I was almost in a fight today......"
The coldly beautiful woman's mouth curved into a small smile,"I know, the balance was upset today. It was only for a moment, but I could feel the unease in the air and of course, my babies reported the events directly to me." Kaden swallowed miserably as Jessah placed a gentle hand through his hair, "You look so much like your father when you lie to me." Her golden eyes matched his as she yanked on the long, dark hair of her one and only child and threw him to the ground, slamming his face fiercely onto the stone floor.
"I'm sorry mother!" Kaden gasped from the stone floor as the already enraged woman turned, "Did you just call me 'mother'?" The blunder of his words stung in his mouth as Kaden whispered, "Jessah, I meant Jessah." In a smooth, almost serpentine movement, the cruel woman bent down to capture her son's chin in her hand, "It was only because of the elders that I did not drown you the day you were born. Never remind me of that mistake again."
In a harsh motion, she released his chin and walked back to her faithful pet as Kaden willed himself not to cry. It was one thing to be punished by Jessah, but to cry in front of her would make things much, much worse. As the young boy wiped away the few drops of blood forming on his lip, an evil hissing from the corner reminded him just who her "babies" where.Amongst a few others in Rinsha, Jessah was a Whisperer of nature and a very powerful one. Her affinity was over reptiles, snakes in particular. This also meant that she could communicate with dragons, the most revered of creatures in their world.The only time Kaden had ever seen the venomous woman truly smile was when she spoke to the equally cold-blooded creatures.
Making the extreme effort not to sniffle, Kaden picked himself up before the striped serpant snapped out at his heel. It would take years for him to develop his affinity and even longer toreach his mother's level. Maybe then, she would finally see him as more then a constant reminder of the man who had left her years ago. Kaden had never known his father. The one time he had seen any resemblence of the man was the first and only time he had seen his mother cry. Jessah kept her feelings locked away under the mask of ice she had carved out when the man who had been her one and only love died before he was born. Instantly, Jessah cleared out all reminders of the man she loved except for one captured moment she misplaced and came upon one night.
Kaden remembered how the blue orb of light glowed softly against the early morning darkness as he snuck quietly to his mother's side. Inside the orb resided the image of a man who was tall and strong, with hair the color of midnight and eyes of shining blue. Grasped tightly in his arms was a woman who Kaden wouldn't have recognized for the bright smile of sheer happiness on her snowy face. "Mommy, you look beautiful...." the younger, more foolish Kaden commented as the tear stained face of Jessah glared coldly at him. It was that day that she had commanded he call her by her name, but it would be much later that he found out that the man in the moment capture was in fact his father, Kidic.
The look on her face that night was the sole reason Kaden was able to forgive his mother for her lack of affection. With every slap and curse, he knew that underneath, she was alone and found no other way of expressing her sorrow thenon the face that so resembled her husband. Turning back to the door, Kaden glanced at the frozen woman and sighed, "I'm sorry Jessah. I promise I'll do better." As the tortured boy turned back out into the unfeeling rain, he didn't miss the equally emotionless voice reply, "I won't hold my breath."