Chapter 20: Gold, Part II

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Comments: 1


Lance shook his head. "No," he replied. "I'm good."

"Let's keep going then," Zidane said, turning around and holding his mother's hand again.

The memory picked up right where it left off, Zidane's mother continuing her step and Zidane falling into place right after. Lance trailed behind, hands in the pocket of his hoodie as he looked around at the forest area. Wondering where exactly this was in relation to the surface.

"We're near India right now," Zidane said.

Lance's brow furrowed. "Could you please stop talking like that?"

Zidane laughed, throwing his head back.

"Sorry," he said after a moment or two. "Just trust that it'll come in handy, okay?"

Still super weird...

They continued on, turning right and heading down a new path. If it wasn't for the trees, Lance would've thought this to be a normal forest. No animals were around, however, and this was something he wondered about until Zidane's voice came into his head.

"Don't wanna scare you off," he said. "Trying to avoid a culture shock."

What the hell's wrong with the animals? Lance asked.

Zidane laughed. "Nothing; they're just a bit different. You'll see in a bit, but mainly when we head to Razel, the Razalek territory."

Oh. Lance breathed out a bit. Okay. He was quiet for a moment before asking, They have the same animals?

Zidane nodded. "Yeah. Part of the peace treaty after the war."

Lance subtly nodded back, looking over to the nearby trees as they passed them. They glowed slightly, the illumination reminding him of fireflies.

His gaze drifted over to Kyrene, noticing how different her clothing was compared to Zidane. She wore an outfit that reminded him of barbarian armor minus the fur—a tight tunic and pants with a slanted satchel at her hip—the coloring a medium gold that matched her eyes. But upon seeing how she had a long tail, and Zidane's was nowhere to be seen, Lance stopped making comparisons.

"What..." The question of where his tail was never escaped his mind. He saw Zidane look over his shoulder, his eyes a little darker.

"I've always tried to hide it," he began, and Lance saw movement from his lower back. A thin stump of a dark brown tail poked out of a hole in his robe, waving for a moment. "But here, if you wanna see another deformity."

"Another?" Lance asked, shifting his gaze to Zidane's face.

The crossbreed just turned back, hiding a small smile from Lance's view. He continued walking, hand in hand with his mother, with Lance trailing behind.

"My energy capacity is about a third of the standard Razalek size." He nodded, head motioning to one side, adding, "The length of my tail is another one."

Lance looked over at Kyrene's tail, seeing how it wasn't long enough to curve and avoid hitting the ground like Zidane's usually was.

"Your tail's longer?" he asked.

Zidane nodded, and Lance noticed how black his eyes got. The crossbreed blinked, reverting the color back to a medium blue.

"Yeah," he replied, looking ahead of himself. "Something of a tradeoff."

Lance didn't know what that meant. He didn't ask, either; there was an energy pushing him away. Like how curtains hide the stage from its audience, that force prevented him from finding out any more. He'd have to wait until the curtains parted on their own.

"There's markings on her tail," Lance found himself saying, noticing the leopard-like spots; one at the bottom near the tip and another at the top near the base.

"There's markings on my arms," Zidane replied. "That's why my tail's blank."

"And that's considered a deformity?"

The crossbreed nodded. "Yeah. Height's another one."

Lance didn't miss the present tense; he continued walking, averaging that the Zidane he was used to seeing was tall for a human, but not unnecessarily so. He nearly asked what the average Razalek height was, but memories shot into him. Hospital room, skin flaking off of a doctor and body lengthening to at least eight feet... Lance blocked it all out, focusing on the dirt road ahead of them.

Zidane and his mother slowed to stop, their hands holding onto one another a bit tighter. The woman looked down.

"We're going to cross now," she said quietly, eyes brightening. "Okay?"

With darkening eyes, Zidane nodded.

His mother looked out to the road again, a deep breath moving through her. She stepped out, her hand leading Zidane as he followed with quick, tip-toed steps to make up for her straightened posture. Lance walked behind them, looking down the road as they started across.

The road's noise level, created by everyone walking along, grew quiet. It was slight at first; Lance could see those closest stop talking, stop walking as they stared. And like the worst silences do, it spread, sweeping over the crowd and turning their eyes onto the two only moving things. The intensity of the stares had combined into one, burning into them. Lance forced himself to keep walking, head down and eyes squinted as he silently apologized to all those ants he set on fire with a magnifying glass when he was a kid. Because that's exactly what it felt like now.

And I'm not even the center of attention, he realized. Cautiously, his head rose, seeing now that Zidane's mother had stopped in the middle of the road. Lance halted as well, noticing how Zidane's head was bowed, body statue-still as his mother stared out into the crowd. If the stares before were like fire, then hers was the heat of the sun.

A yell ripped from her throat, a feral sound that rang through the air. Far away in some distance trees, the odd caws of birds answered as they fled. And then that sound faded as well, leaving the marketplace eerily quiet.

Lance finally breathed, a grin on his face. He watched her lean back, pulling away from the hunched position the yell's intensity had brought on. Her head was held high as she began moving again, gently tugging on Zidane to follow her. The crossbreed did, steps skittering briefly, as if he had forgotten how to walk. But the brightness of his eyes told Lance that he was simply too stunned to remember.

They continued onto the road's opposite side, a few Spiros inching their feet back to make room. Lance followed, keeping a few seconds behind as they walked along the side of the road. Soon, the murmured voices had become the same buzz of noise as before, and aside from a few heavy glares at Zidane, the villagers continued about their business. With his stare downwards, Lance focused, trying to listen in on a conversation or get a clip of what anyone was talking about, but the noise was just that of voices. He knew that many were talking; he couldn't understand what they were saying.

Ahead of him, he heard Zidane give a light laugh. The crossbreed looked back, eyes sad but mouth smiling. "I try and make it as detailed as possible, but I can't really make up crowd conversations on the spot."

Lance picked up his pace, striding forward with his hands finding his pockets. "You mean you've been making this up as you go?"

Zidane nodded, shrugging lightly as he thought. "Well, not exactly. For most of it, it's basically the same thing as if I were thinking about a memory. Playing it back in my head. Except I'm really trying to remember every little thing. For the details I can't remember, I make up. Fill in the blanks."

A quiet word sound of realization left Lance's mouth. They stayed quiet for another moment; Lance's curiosity directing him towards Zidane, noticing how his head was held a little higher than before. Part of him wanted to ask, wanted to know if what had happened on the road was a daily occurrence, but he realized he already knew the answer. It had to be, when you were considered to be something... so different.

"She'd never responded like that before," Zidane said suddenly, quietly. "She always told me that it wasn't worth it, the energy used to fight back could be used to love those who cared. I guess that energy just became too much for her." The sleeve-covered hand still holding hers tightened, filling the silence with something he couldn't seem to express.

Lance looked up, staring at the face of the woman he spoke of. With enough time to look, he saw the resemblance Zidane shared with her. Not only physically, but there was a kindness in her eyes, one seized from strength. The realization of this only made Lance want to know more, want to figure out why he had left this town, how he'd ended up in the human territory, above ground. But he shut the thoughts out; the answers would come in time.


A/N: Quick question! Zidane mentioned having multiple deformities--can you guess them all? 

Submitted: November 16, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


Add Your Comments:


Al Ashcott

To answer your question: spots on the tail, the length of the tail, and the height of the creature. Do I have them all? :D

I forgot to mention this in the previous chapter (virtually 'turning' the pages too quickly while reading), but I wanted to highlight this sentence: "The color changed at his touch, lilac bleeding into vibrant orange. Lance moved his thumb, sweeping it across the rough texture into that same orange shade." Beautiful! :)


Fri, October 29th, 2021 9:06am


Thank you for all the comments so far! And yep, you have all the deformities... so far ;)

Fri, October 29th, 2021 12:14pm

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