CHAPTER ONE

The End

 

 

In the Village of Sol.

The new sun rises and is greeted by the cheerful song of a po-hatol. It’s brightly colored plumage matching the multi-colored flowers that all but swallow the little hut it perched upon.

This hut was quaint. Oblong in shape and tawny in color, created specifically for the couple inside. Christened by their proving; a test to show the true nature of the relationship between them.

This was a trial of sorts.

Separating the couple from the opinions of others for a few turns. Forcing them to spend time alone with nothing but the single distraction they were permitted to bring once blessings were given from their parents or guardians. To prove that they could get along, to truly see the person they were attracted to for who they really were.

They had succeeded.

They made it through the trial without the usual arguments most incurred when placed away from the influences of so called friends or family. This also proved that they desired more from each other than simply carnal needs.

Declarations of lasting love for the new couple were hung about the spiraled eaves by the villagers as they awaited the couple’s emergence as the morn grew later. All were ready to celebrate the beginning of the couple’s new life together. Three turns of preparations, a boisterous celebration and then the joining of the two.

The oval door opens and the strange pair make their appearance. A Hikari-male and a Blooded, Exoan female. The trials they endured beyond this village was known by almost everyone that greeted them now. Despite their obvious differences, everyone hoped nothing but happiness for these two.

Bashfully they exit, knowing that the next few turns would make them the focus of everyone’s attention.

Kori appears first, his smile large as he coaxes his betroth by her hand to follow. Aloyce laughs loudly as she trails him, attempting to hide her face with her other hand. Her embarrassment rising as the gathered villagers cheer jubilantly while teasing them. The laughter is infectious.

It isn’t supposed to be this way.

The dark haired girl makes her way through the growing crowd from the rear. Her resentment hidden by her large smile as she walks toward the happy couple. The danger she poses not realized until too late. Jade moves with purpose and the deed is done with speed.

Kori had assumed it was a clumsy hug that jade was attempting as she practically knocks others out of the way to get to Aloyce. It was the way she stiffened that stills his heart.

“Blood!” Someone hisses and the cheers and laughter tapers off quickly to alarm. His eyes traces the gleaming edge of Jade’s blade as it stretches from Aloyce’s back. A flower of blood blooming, growing between Aloyce’s shoulder blades before his eyes. Kori makes a strangled sound before he hollers in disbelief.

Jade jerks her weapon free of the shocked Exoan. She watches in sick amusement as Aloyce looks at her with her wide, freakish, eyes. Aloyce stumbles back, her hands trying to keep her life within her as it spurts out with every failing heartbeat. Her simple ‘why’ barely audible before she crumbles to the ground in a heap at Jade’s feet.

Jade glowers down at Aloyce, “Because he should be mine!” she growls, ignoring the sudden clamor around her.

Something nearly spins Jade completely about after striking her right shoulder. With a pained yell, Jade stares at the blunted end of the four inch steel that protrudes from the hole that’s suddenly appeared. It shines brightly against her sun-tanned skin. Confused by its sudden appearance, she looks from her weeping wound to see Kori pointing his finished boltgun at her. Her mouth drops open in shock. She hadn’t expected this from him. She knew he would be heart broken, devastated at his desired mate’s demise. Jade had been prepared for his cries or screams, not this.

As long as she’s known him he had an aversion to violence. He could defend himself or others if necessary, but always deferred to attempts at a peaceful solution. She had been ready to watch him fall apart in tears not watch his eyes grow cold with vengeance.

The couple was allowed to bring one item to help distract them from succumbing to carnal pleasure or petty arguments before entering the hut seven turns earlier. This weapon was a traditional Earther boltgun that Kori and his baba had started when he showed interest in hunting. Jade had thought he had forgotten about it cycles ago with all that had happened, but he had apparently finished it.

Despite his shaking hands, Kori removes the sample clip to reload. The new clip loads smoothly into the soft dense-wood catch. The larger, barbed bolts ready as they clicked loudly into place. Jade to realize then that Kori wasn’t going to change his choice from Aloyce to her simply because she was evil enough to attack when no one was expecting it.

There is a frightening look in her former lover’s eyes when he meets her questioning gaze. Her breath hard to catch as she watches him raise his weapon at her.

“Kori…?” She begins. Stumbling as she attempts to backs off. Her blade falling to the ground as she lifts her hands to placate him. “Kori, don’t-.”

“BECAUSE SHE IS MINE!” he screams, blasting away his uncertainty of his next move.

The loud clicking of the exhausted clip is Kori’s only signal to stop. He drops the weapon and rushes to where Aloyce lays, ignoring Jade’s fading whimpers as she disappears into the forest beyond the hut. He didn’t care what happened to her as all of his attention was on Aloyce. He cradles her carefully as she coughs and chokes up blood. He presses his hand against the sluggish wound, unable to think of anything else to do.

Aloyce’s ochre colored eyes stare off into the distance almost as if she is seeing something he couldn’t. Her mouth moves but no sound leaves her lips.

“Al…,” Kori touches her face in alarm as Aloyce’s earth-brown skin grays before his eyes. The strange tattoo on her face fading with the growing warmth of her blood as it seeps through his shirt. She smiles weakly revealing the fangs he had just gotten used to. Her eyes are bright when they finally lock with his. A frothy line of blood escapes the side of her mouth when she tries to speak.  He shakes his head at her before shushing her. Looking about frantically, seeing the shocked faces of the villagers, but none of them moving to help. A bad sign. They always help.

“It’ll be ok… Al…,” Kori wipes her mouth before shifting her to a new position and freezes when her head flops forward. “A-Al?”

Her breathing has stopped. Her eyes still bright but her smile fades.

“Al?” he nuzzles her cheek, “Aloyce… Please…no… no …d-don’t leave me…,” he whimpers.

It isn’t supposed to be this way!

They had been through so much already! This was to be their chance to make a new life together! Kori’s wailing soon echoes throughout the village; he is not supposed to live this alone!

Ryin watches his son at a distance. He was too late. One of the villagers had come gotten him when Jade was seen entering the village heading straight for the new hut. He had known she was going to do something vengeful, but not on this scale. He should have been prepared, he should have gone to talk her down. But he didn’t. Instead he let her stew in her own anger, allowed her broken heart to fester. He had allowed this to happen, allowed Kori’s new found happiness to be spoiled by letting someone he cared strongly for end the one his heart longed for. There was no return from this, for any of them.

Kori closes Aloyce’s blank eyes; unable to take her empty stare anymore. What had been the point? To have confessed all he did last night? He should have gone with his heart instead of trying to adhere to this time’s customs. He should have kissed her as she had wanted him to. Held her in his arms before she had left their bed this morning … told her he loved her a dozen times more.

“DAMMIT!” Kori hugs Aloyce’s body tightly to his chest, his cream shirt now red with her blood. “Why! Why did I listen to you! Why!” his angry eyes find his father quickly, “She didn’t even know… She didn’t …”

Some of the older villagers make the attempt to gently take Aloyce from him and violently Kori rebukes them. Kicking at them as he stands.

“Get away from us!” He holds Aloyce tightly against him backing away.

Ryin puts his hand out to calm his son, “Kori… they just want to do the last rites for her… its tradit-.”

“Screw tradition!” Kori hisses, “I …” he shakes his head as last night replays in his mind. Her smiles and laughter, the pouting she did when he refused to hold or kiss her. So many things he should have said to her. So many things he should have done. They had come into this together. Like him, she was a stranger to this time, to this world and instead of being true to what he wanted, he had decided to adhere to its ways. He turns away from his father and starts for the edge of town.

“Kori,” His father calls after him.

“Just give us … give me … some time … please,” Kori heads toward the cliffs. His father stands there in silence, watching after him warily.

——-

His stride is slow and the trek is long, but before Kori realizes it, he is at the cliff’s crest. Silently he nears a set of stones that had formed a natural bench for the perfect panoramic view. The Tauplu trees here were in full bloom, their gossamer petals drifting through the air on soft, fragrant breezes. Their soothing perfume weaving their influence of peace. It is the perfect spot for a romantic meeting … or whatever.

She would have loved it, smiling in that way that made his heart skip a beat. He was going to bring her here when … when they were…

Kori finally sits upon the natural bench, his body registering the ache of his long walk with Aloyce’s body. His arms have gone numb, his back aches and his lungs demand time to catch his elusive breath. He frees one arm from beneath her and stretches it carefully before he re-situates Aloyce in order to stretch the other. In doing so her face turns toward him. He whimpers and caresses it, smiling softly as she looks to only be sleeping. He takes a hitching breath and then another before softly speaking.

“I’m sorry, Al. I’m so sorry for dragging you into this. It’s all my fault that this … You didn’t even…” Another hitching sigh and his eyes become blurry. Kori wipes his face. “But,” He smiles at her, “I’m not sorry for running into you that day … for meeting you … for falling in love with you without even knowing it.” He caresses her face again hoping that something will ‘magically’ happen and suddenly remembers the amulet.

He reaches down into his shirt and pulls up the amulet that started it all. As he frees it, the once fused pieces fall apart with a soft clink. He laughs bitterly as the troublesome artifact dangles before him in two pieces. “I think it’s trying to say something.” He says to no one in particular.

Carefully Kori removes the half of the amulet that had belonged to her; the yang. He puts it around her neck and makes sure it’s centered before he touches her face again.

“They weren’t meant to be separated…” he fondles the yin piece about his neck.”The amulet was supposed to be one piece, but last minute the creator decided to make it into a courting gift for his daughter.”

Kori takes a deep breath as the story of the amulet comes to mind. “She was said to be very beautiful,” He fingers one of Aloyce’s braids. Recalling her hair’s original dark brown color. Now it was streaked with amber and sun-bleached tips. The coloration had enhanced her ocher eyes after their reunion cycles ago. Making her more beautiful. The tears begin to slide down his face when he continues, “He took the ‘male’ half and told his daughter that he had imbued it with only the purest wish for her to find a good husband. The father then took the ‘female’ and tossed it into the nearest river. A year later a fisherman arrived to their village, claiming to have been drawn by the stories of a great white salmon or something like that,” Kori laughs, “He had the amulet tucked away in his belongings. The two met and fell deeply in love and then it was revealed that they shared the same amulet. They were married the next year,” he pauses sadly, “…she was killed by a band of bandits while he was away and he being so in love with her …” Kori looks out at the view beyond the cliff before continuing, “… he took his own life soon after her death,” He whispers quietly.

Ryin watches as his son rocks with Aloyce in his arms in silence. His hiding place not far from Kori. The soft grass muffling his movements. Ryin is tense and ready to run to prevent his son from making a grave choice. The edge of the cliff is no more than ten or so feet from where Kori is sitting. Yes, he was sorry that this had happened. But Ryin had just been reunited with his time-lost son and he didn’t want to lose him again.  Ryin looked at Aloyce’s relaxed face. Her markings fading and her Caget features now more human. The way things worked in this time, Aloyce could always come back … somehow …in his experience stranger things have happened.

“You didn’t know that…I’m sure you felt …or dreamed up something that probably came close though. You were a bit of a romantic.” Kori smiles as he continues, “I remember the look on your face when we first met. I remember the look on your face when we were running from my uncle…you…” He sighs. “That was almost two years ago … or is it hundreds … I never did find out exactly how far into the future this thing sent us.”

Kori pulls the neck of his shirt down to look at the mark above his sternum. It was an almost perfect replicated brand of his amulet. He remembered that night clearly. The night he first joined their amulets together and it brought them here.