Anica twists and twirls the necklace that lies in her hands, an exquisite piece of opal hung from a sterling silver chain. It was what she had left of her father, the only and last thing he had given her besides her name and looks. Her mother called her the girl of purity because of her rare looks. On the world they lived on there were only people with dark features, hair, eyes, skin. She stuck out like a sore thumb in the crowd. People would always stare in amazement and wonder.
"Your children are so beautiful." They'd say and her mother would just nod and keep walking. She was just as used to it as Anica was. Her brother was slightly the same but nothing like her, she almost glowed. She had the lightest skin with the most blonde almost white hair and pure light green eyes. Only a little pink in her cheeks and lips stained her angelic skin. Her big eyes seemed to always be kind and in wonder, always searching for something better, something beautiful in this world. This world was a desert, no trees, no bushes, nothing beautiful and green. The houses were made of either metal or rock. She wishes to see the beautiful canopy trees made over the forest and to climb those trees and be high in the sky and to reach out as if she could touch the beautiful blue sky. Her father told her stories of the beautiful green worlds, of the bright lights in the sky, the large pouring waterfalls, the colorful blooming flowers, the tall magnificent trees.
That's why she always liked going to the market when it came on certain days. Mondays and Fridays it came to the city center and gathered in a wide circle for the citizens to walk around for hours and gaze at the marvelous foods. It was the closest thing she had to actually being on a green world. She was sick of all of the brown and dirt and sand where nothing could grow.
Xavier, Anica's brother, was thought to be more sensible with a smart smirk yet kind eyes. He was to take the role as emperor when he was of eighteen years of age. He was only 9. Anica is older by a year, but the elders see that women are to be at the side and not at the throne and promised her younger brother the crown. It didn't bother, she didn't want to be royalty, even though it ran in her blood. Her brother would be a better leader then her anyway, she had always said and believed it to be true. He had light skin like her, but his hair was a dirty shade of blonde and his eyes of a darker blue.
"Anica, I swear you are going to be a pilot because you are such a space cadet." Xavier teases as he steps up next to her by the window. "What are you thinking about?" His blue eyes study her curiously, a little worried she might not snap out of her dreaming.
"A better world." Anica mumbles and releases the necklace from her grip.
"As you always are." Xavier sighs, giving a little smile.
"Promise me that when you become Emperor, you will make this world green again?" His sister turns to face him, a sorrowful face on. Xavier nods, reassuring her. She turns back to the window to stare at the miles and miles of sandy land. All that moved was the wind.
"You will end up getting hurt one day because you care too much. About everything. Some things are meant to be the way they are, whether it's right or not. You can't help everything, Anya." Xavier turns away from the window and walks out of his sister's room.
"But I can try." Anica whispers to herself as she turns away as well. She had to get ready for the meeting with her future partner. Grabbing the dress her mother had set out for her, she thought about what he would be like. Surely, her mother wouldn't make her marry him when she was eighteen if she did not like him, right?
"Anya?" She hears a soft voice and turns to see her mother walk in. Her tanned skin was a little dirty from being outside in the so-called 'garden'. Her brown hair curled besides her kind round face. "I figured since you're going to be meeting your fiance in an hour, that you should know a little about him now." Her mother sits down on the bed and helps her daughter into the dress. "His name is Victor. His parents own the local medicine shop in city center. He's a...delightful boy." It took her a while to find a word to call him, hoping that she was right. "Are you excited?"
Anica turns back to her mother and smooths the wrinkles in her dress. Then her green eyes fix on the woman that gave her life.
"I don't understand why I am meeting him so early." She says, tilting her head slightly. "I won't marry him until I'm eighteen right?"
"Yes. But this way you will grow up together and build a strong bond so you will create a strong couple. It is the way of our world. It is..."
"Tradition. I know, I know." Anica twirls in her dress, content with the way it flares out into the air. Her mother lets out a silent sigh, unhappy that her child had to go through this at such a young age. She hoped for the best and that they would like each other and would be happy. Anica stops and smiles at her mother. "I'm ready to be pre-arranged for marriage." Her mother laughs and gives her daughter a hug.
"Let's go get Xavier then."
Anica sat with her hands in her lap, the proper way for a girl to sit, staring across at the boy. He had dark brown hair with light brown eyes, he looked like everyone else. He stared at her and leaned over to his mother.
"She looks weird." He whispered, yet Anica could hear him. His mother laughed, embarrassed.
"Excuse him, he doesn't know what a pure human being looks like." His mother had kind brown eyes that held the gaze of Anica's mother.
"It's fine. Most children think the same thing when they see Anica and Xavier." Their mother nods, forgivingly. Anica shifts her weight, uncomfortable and wanting to rip this stupid dress off of her and go to the market. It was Friday and she was stuck here with this boy who was calling her weird. "So your name is Victor?" Her mother says, interrupting the silence.
"Yes." Victor nods, his eyes still fixed on Anica.
"This is Anica." Her mother nudges her so she will stop staring out of the window. Anica snaps back into the situation and looks at the boy.
"Hello." She gives a faint smile. The boy gives a bright smile back, she could tell that he liked her already. "What do you like to do for fun?" Anica asks, being polite.
"I like to play soldiers with my friends around the city. You should play with us sometime." Victor puts up his hands and shapes them like a gun, making shooting sounds with his mouth. Anica makes a slightly disgusted face.
"Why would you want to be like them?" She says bluntly, Victor puts down his 'guns'. The two mothers laugh awkwardly, Anica's nudging her again. She didn't understand why he would want to play the role of them. They were evil, they never did anything good. They just did what the ruler told them to, raid houses, capture innocent people who were being framed, burning down houses and treating people like they were little pets that were to be abused. It wasn't right.
"Little boys and guns." Victor's mother chuckles and pats her son on the head. Xavier looked over at his sister, she looked uncomfortable and a little annoyed. He knew how much she the soldiers or guards. He hoped that she wouldn't say anything more about them. "What do you like to do, Anica?" Victor's mother speaks softly while Victor fumbles with his fingers.
"I like to go to the market." Anica says simply, her pure green eyes watching Victor carefully.
"That's interesting. Victor likes to go as well." His mother sets her hand on Anica's knee for a split second, chuckling to herself again.
"Maybe they'll see each other there someday." Anica's mother makes a hopeful look.
"Yes, I'm sure they will. She's there whenever she can be." Xaiver speaks up, making the conversation light as everyone laughs a little. Anica can't help but feel the protuding eyes of the boy again. "Mother, can we go, I'm going to be late to Zack's party."
"Oh yes, good thing you reminded me Xavier." Their mother gets up and nods towards Victor and his mother. "Thank you for meeting with us, it was enjoyable."
"Thank you for coming. I hope we will see each other soon." Victor's mom smiles warmly and looks at Anica.
"Goodbye, Victor." Anica says as she looks at him. His light brown eyes study her one last time, then he smiles and nods.
"Hope to see you soon. Even if you don't like Soldiers, you can still come and play with us sometime." Victor says and Anica gives another smile, but this one is a little sour as she raises her eyebrows slightly.
It was Monday and Anica was walking around aimlessly at the Market, surrounded by beauty. Xavier was at her side in the large crowd, walking around the circle with her.
"What are we looking for?" He says, sighing. "We've passed this booth three times already, I want to go home." Xavier notes the only vendor that sells rocks at his booth.
"Then go home." Anica shrugs her shoulders, her light blonde hair blowing a little in the wind, her green eyes big with excitement still.
"I can't go home without you. Mom made me promise." Xavier says, shuffling his feet, kicking sand and rocks up. His sister looks at the vendors as she passes. There's always something you miss when you go by, so the next time you pass you always see something new. Her eyes spot a rare, wild flower with red and pink stripes running the length of the petals. It was large and the leaves had red ink running through it's veins. She was about to run across the crowd to the other side of the market to see in more closely when she heard the clanking of metal. The crowd began to make a clear path and Anica grabbed her brother and pulled him back with her out of the way. She held onto him protectively as she awaited the metal suits to come and go.
There they were with their smug, cold faces. Their hearts were just as cold as the metal they wore. There were five of them, marching in unison. Anica noticed a small brown bag in the front soldiers hand. As they passed, a putrid smell reached her nose. What was in that bag? It smelt of spoiled food, but why would soldiers be carrying it? A small boy ran out into the clear pathway made for the soldiers and froze as the shadows of them was casted over him. His mouth opened slightly in fear. The soldiers stopped, staring down the little boy.
"Do you wish to die, little one?" The soldier spoke, his tone warning, yet calm. The boy shook his head, yet too scared to move his legs. Anica watched, waiting and wishing for the boy to move. She saw the soldier raise his hand. "Then MOVE!" Before the solder swung, Anica covered her little brothers eyes and turned away from the scene. She could hear the thud and screams of the boy and the people around. Anica grit her teeth and began to walk away, clutching her brother besides her. She hated the soldiers.
"Can we go home now?" Xavier said after they were back into the moving crowd of the Market.
"No." Anica said, searching the vendor's booths for chicory root. "Mother wanted us to get a few things for her while we were here." She heard Xavier
sigh and she let go of him. "Then we will go back."
"I see it." Xavier points to a booth at the inner part of the market. The Market had two sides, one was the outer edge and one was on the inner part of city center. Both sides faced each other in a never-ending circle. The market surrounded a metal vault that had been for a year now. She still had not known what was inside of it. Xavier led her to the booth and picked up a small chicory root.
"Too small." Anica said, grabbing a larger one and handing it to the vendor to pay. After he had given her the change and the chicory root in a bag, she began to walk again. Between each booth was a gap where you could see the vault and Anica glanced over for a second. Then she stopped and turned to watch the soldiers walk up to the vault.
"What are they doing?" Xavier asks and Anica hushed him. Her pure green eyes were filled with curiosity as she watched the front guard place a key into a slot and twisted his wrist. the solid metal door began to slide slowly, opening bit by bit. Xavier got on the tip of his toes to see over the guards.
"What do you think is in there?" He asked but he sister didn't reply, she was too concentrated to even hear him. Slowly, an arm was revealed, it's wrist had a metal clasp around it that was hooked to a chain from one of the metal walls. The skin was tanned and dirty from not being washed in a long time. Then a tan leg was exposed, another cuff was around it's ankle. Anica now looked at the guards, they were chuckling and talking with smug smiles on their faces. Scoffing at whatever the metal vault held.
Glancing back inside the vault, Anica took in a breath. It was just a small boy probably around her age. His hair was pitch black and he had burn scars on the right side of his body starting at his waist and wrapping up his shoulder. She studied the ripples in his stomach and biceps, he was strong. Why would they have this boy locked up in a metal vault? One of the guards held out his hand, summoning for the brown bag. Then once the bag was in his hand, he threw it at the boy's legs. It fell uselessly to the ground.
"They say he killed everyone in his town, including his family, then burnt it down." Anica heard a voice besides her and it wasn't her brothers. Her head turned towards her left and saw Victor standing there. Xavier leans to see as well.
"That's why he's locked up?" Xavier asks, curious. Victor nods, his light brown eyes sort of sparkling with excitement.
"You don't know that for sure." Anica shakes her head, not believing.
"If he's locked up in a metal vault, he must have done something pretty bad." Victor raises an eyebrow. Anica turns back to the vault, it was closing once again and the guards had already left.