I sat down on the edge of the cliff, sighing as the cold raindrops trickled across my face. The searching planes’ engines roared, breaking the silence of the night. I sighed and walked back inside the cave.
“Searching planes have departed. We’d better hide.” I whispered to the other Horsaks who were curling up near the fire. Frii put it out with some water, and there was a dead silence when a searching plane hovered near the cave. We hid behind the large boulders inside the cave and held our breaths as some soldiers went out to check for signs of life, aiming their blinding lights into the cave.
“Nothing!” One yelled, and gave a code to the pilot.
We quietly sighed of relief as the sound of the plane’s engine slowly faded.
“We will depart in the morning. For now, I’ll take first watch together with Fua.” Rha said, standing up. Fua joined him outside. I sighed, and lied down on the cave floor. I closed my eyes, but the sound of the rain outside failed to lull me to sleep. I got up and walked towards Rha and Fua.
“I can’t go to sleep. I’ll join you on first watch.” I said, sitting down next to them. I stared into the night sky. Rainclouds had covered Phorra and Hoav, and our only sources of light were the sparkling stars.
Maybe you’re thinking, why are you being hunted down?
We, the blue-eyed Horsaks, used to be the superior being in the planet. We discovered fire, and our civilization evolved within the blink of an eye.
We thought that we were powerful.
That we were God.
We conducted an experiment a few years ago to create artificial life. The experiment went horribly wrong, and out of it rose the Hierzaks, the red-eyed beings. They only had one thing in mind: to finish off every single Horsak and rule our planet, Grath. They killed our king and almost killed the pregnant queen to destroy the rulers’ bloodline, but she was rescued just in time. My parents died together in the mass murder of the Horsaks, and I was given to the survivors of the murder. We have been hiding in the shadows ever since, until God knows when. We only have one mission in our head;
An odd red light glowed from far away.
“What’s with that red light?” I asked.
“That’s strange,” Rha muttered, frowning.
Two searching planes hovered towards us, their engines roaring wilder than ever.
“They’re not supposed to be here,” Fua gasped. “We have to wake the others up.”
We ran inside, soaking wet. We took a bucket each and ran outside. After getting enough water, we ran back inside and splashed it onto everyone’s faces, who groaned and muttered.
“Hey! What gives-“ Frii stopped.
There was a dead silence when they heard the hovering planes approaching. There was a soft click, followed by a ball of fire exploding and a blinding light coming from the cliff.
Damn. They knew we were here.
“Run inside!” Rha yelled. We ran deeper into the cave, and darkness surrounded us. Loud explosions kept happening behind us, and I heard footsteps getting louder and louder.
We arrived at a dead end and turned around. Fua took a flashlight out of his pocket and turned it on.
Standing in front of us were the Hierzaks, aiming their guns at us, sneering viciously.
“Protect the queen,” Var said, glaring at them. We stood in front of the queen and closed our eyes.
“Die!” I heard someone yell.
No, it didn't come from one of the Hierzaks.
It was Rha's voice.
He was running towards them, his body glowing of blue fire. His eyes had turned completely blue, and his white hair turned dark blue. He screamed, and a blinding flash of light glowed in the darkness.
I felt my knees going numb.
Then there was darkness.
I woke up inside a dark, cold cave, shivering. I could hear the rain pouring outside, but I could hardly see anything in the darkness of the night. Hovering airplanes’ engines kept roaring in the dead of night.
“Hello?” I said nervously, searching in my pocket for flashlight.
“Sssh!” I felt a hand on my mouth. “The searching planes are still looking for us, idiot!”
My vision slowly returned, and I saw some Horsaks hiding behind rocks, dead silent. The queen was lying down, unconscious. The dude covering my mouth turned out to be Fua. He pressed his index finger against his lips, instructing me to stay silent. I nodded nervously, and he took his hands off of my mouth. He took a peek above the rock, and ducked to avoid the searching lights of the planes.
“Damn, they’re still here.” He whispered, frowning.
“What happened to Rha?” I whispered back.
“He’s dead. I’ll tell you what happened after these damn airplanes leave.” He muttered, sadness in his tone.
A few hours of horror passed by. One soldier was so close to finding us, but got distracted by noises from the bushes. I was shivering harder, and I felt my whole body going numb.
“Hey, need some help there?” Fua whispered.
“It’s so cold in here.” I said, rubbing my hands together.
“Here.” He wrapped his arms around me. I froze in shock. I felt my cheeks slowly flushing, and the warmth from his hands slowly crawling into me.
“Thanks bro, I really needed that.” I smiled at him.
“No problem. Happy to help.” He pulled away.
The sounds of the engines slowly faded in the darkness. He took another mini-peek, and stood up.
“They’re gone.” He said, staring into the night sky.
We lit a fire with some of the wood that we found near the cave. The red fire crackled as we sat down near it, warming our hands. I suddenly felt this weird grumble inside my stomach. I realized that I hadn’t eaten for days already.
“You hungry?” Fua asked, looking at me. “Come on, let’s go to the woods. Maybe we can find something for everyone.”
He stood up, and extended his hand towards me. I took it and stood up. We took a rifle each and went outside, our flashlights turned on.
The woods was dark, and I was pretty clumsy. Not a good combination. I tripped a few times on the way, and Fua called me an idiot.
“What happened to Rha?” I asked, cautiously taking one step at a time.
“See, we Horsaks have a special ability. Most people refuse to talk about it because of its horrifying effects. We carry it since our birth, and its type depends on whether Phorra, Hoav, or both appeared on your birth. It’s a defense mechanism to kill your enemies, but at the same time it kills yourself.” He explained.
"I'm sorry for asking so much about your best friend's death, Fua." I said.
"It's okay. He did what was right." He sighed.
I suddenly caught something in my flashlight.
A golden deer.
It stood gracefully on the edge of a shallow river, its golden fur glittering in the moonlight. We hid behind the bushes and aimed at its head.
Fua gave a sign with his fingers and we fired the bullets onto its head. It moaned and cried, and fell to the ground, dead.
We carried it on our backs to the cave. We chopped it up, roasted its meat, and had a feast.
Fua took a huge chunk of meat, and held it up high.
"This is for our friend, Rha who gave his life for us. May his soul live on peacefully." he threw it onto the fire, which roared and crackled. It slowly disintegrated into ashes.
I was enjoying some of the deer's chewy ribs, when the queen dropped her chunk of meat, her eyes widened.
“The baby..” She said, her lips shaking, “he’s coming.”
“Var, how’s the queen?” I asked, running towards her. She turned around, surprised.
“She’s doing well, the baby is on his way now.” She said, fixing her chignon. She stood back outside the purple curtain that covered the cave, taking some mini-peeks at times behind it.
I sat back down outside the cave, sighing. The queen was still screaming and shouting inside.
Standing there was Frii, her black hair neatly braided.
“Oh hey.” I smiled.
“It’s been two hours. Why hasn’t the baby come out yet?” she muttered, and sat down.
“Any signs of enemies?” I asked.
“Nope.” She sighed.
I sighed and looked at the sky. Phorra was shining brightly in the sky - well, technically no, because it reflects the light of our star - together with the shimmering stars.
A loud cry suddenly echoed from the cave.
The crown prince.
The head nurse stepped outside, her face sweaty and smiling, holding the baby. He was pale, and had bluish-gray hair and dark blue eyes. His body was wrapped in a purple cloth.
“His name is Vralyx.” She announced, wiping a sweat off her forehead. “Hail, the crown prince of Grath.”
We knelt on one knee as the little infant giggled and smiled innocently. If only he had known what dangers were ahead of him, I sighed.
“We have been ordered to move in two days, for the sake of our safety. We will move near the Crescent Hills, and if everything goes well we will arrive there the next day.” She said. “Come, all of you. You may enter the cave now.”
The queen was sitting down on the ground, all cleaned up. Her face was pale, but she managed to smile faintly. The head nurse bowed down and handed her the crown prince. She smiled, and excused the head nurse to leave.
We had a small feast to celebrate the baby’s birth. Some boys had caught a boar from the forest, which squealed all the way to the cave. The queen ceremonially chopped its head off with an axe, and we roasted it on a large wooden stick. After finishing every little bit of it, we threw its bones to the fire. Var and Krye took first guard, and we put out the fire, which left a sizzling sound behind.
I lied down on the ground, and fell asleep to the gentle breeze blowing outside.
“Fra, it’s breakfast time!” Frii cheerfully said, bringing two plates on her hand of what seemed like roasted boar meat, with a fork and a knife embed in it.
She handed me the plate on her right hand.
“Eat it while it’s hot.” She smiled.
“Thanks.” I smiled back, and started slicing it. I put a mouthful of the lean meat into my mouth.
We started chatting about life and friends, and everything in between. We talked about how awful life was, and how unfair it was. Somehow, we got into the topic about boys.
“Hey Fra.” She said, elbowing me. She put her empty plate on the ground, and looked at me.
“What?” I said, chewing another mouthful of the meat. She looked into my eyes, and smiled.
“Do you think Fua’s cute?” She elbowed me again.
I looked at her, my eyes widened. I swallowed the meat. “I’m sorry, what?”
Frii giggled. “Oh Fra, don’t you think I know that you like him?”
I blushed. “I don’t!” I lied, looking away.
“Face it Fra, you like him!” she smiled.
“Fine! Maybe I do.. Just a little.” I muttered.
“If you guys were together, then you guys would be Frua.” She giggled. Oh Frii.
“Shut up!” I frowned.
She started singing with her high-pitched voice. “Fra and Fua-“ I covered her mouth with my hand.
“Shush!” I ordered her.
I turned around. Standing there was Fua, his wavy dark brown hair neatly combed.
“Oh hi Fua.” I blushed. Frii started to giggle.
“I need to talk to you.” He said with a serious tone. Frii smiled. “I’d better go. See ya!” She smiled, and ran away.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, shifting uncomfortably.
“Just thought you might want to know more about the defense thing.” He said. I nodded, and stood up. I followed after him as he walked into the forest.
“How does it work?” I asked him. He looked at me with his cold eyes, and sighed.
“It can only work when you’re furious, my father told me. He also said that it can only work if you concentrate.” He said. “It’s just like fire. You just put some fuel in it, and boom. It explodes.”
There was a weak squeak from behind us. I turned around to find a baby vien, probably no more that 3 days old lying helplessly on the ground, trying to flap its brown wings.
“Fua, look!” I walked towards it, and picked the poor creature up.
“It probably has a broken wing.” Fua said, taking a close look at it. “Come on, let’s bring it back to the cave. Maybe we’ll be able to find a bandage and a piece of wood.” I took a look at him. His electric blue eyes were filled with concern, and his slightly tanned skin matched his dark brown hair perfectly.
“Come on.” Fua said, walking away. I nodded, and we hurried back towards the cave. Outside, Frii and some others were sitting down, looking bored.
“Hey guys!” I yelled. They all turned around, and Frii ran towards me.
“Aww.. Poor creature..” She gently lifted the vien and put it in her palm. “I’ll go and look for a piece of wood. You go look for a bandage.”
I walked into the cave and came across a bag filled with first aid kit sitting down near the cave mouth. I opened it and found a roll of bandage. I found a pair of scissors inside, and snipped it where I thought it was enough. I walked outside, the bandage wrapped around my hand.
Frii had found a small rectangular piece of wood nearby, so we carried the tiny creature into the cave. We placed it on top of a large round rock, and put the block of wood under its right wing. Frii skillfully wrapped the bandage around its wing, and it was done in no time. We put the animal inside a small cage delicately crafted out of wood, which probably belonged to a nobleman in the past. We decided to take a walk around the forest to find some fruits for our evening snack.
“So.. How was it with Fua?” She giggled.
“Shut up, Frii.” I blushed.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the forest, picking some redrews and loians from the bushes. I looked back into our basket, which was filled by the large, juicy fruits.
“Let’s go back. I think we’ve had enough fruits. Besides, I’m dying to eat these redrews.” She said, looking at the red, plump fruits. I laughed.
“Yeah, me too. Let’s go, sis.” I smiled, and took her hand. We walked towards the cave, where everyone else were waiting.
"Take one each." Frii said. She took the juiciest redrew, and passed it on to me. I picked a redrew, too and passed it on. I took a bite at the sweet, plump red fruit, that melted like butter inside my mouth.
"It's getting dark." Fua said. He walked into the cave and took some wood. He walked outside, and laid them down on the ground. He took a match and lit the wood, which bursted into flames in a matter of seconds. We sat down near the fire, watching as our star slowly set. The golden ball of fire slowly sank into the ground, leaving nothing but darkness.
I watched as my parents were dragged outside by the Hierzaks from the tiny hole in the wall. Tears went down my face, but I closed my mouth to avoid being discovered. They searched around the house, but failed to find anything. I watched as they slammed my house door shut, and left nothing but darkness behind.
I slowly got out of the secret passage, which looked like a part of the wall. I knelt down on the floor, and started weeping.
I had to stop the Hierzaks.
I just had to.
I opened the door, and ran outside barefooted. I kept running in the road, which led me towards an enormous pit. The Hierzaks were pushing the crowd into the mass murder pit, and dragged the ones who tried to escape into the torture section. They were going to have a horrifying death, their skin sliced and their limbs chopped off. The rest of them was to be thrown into an oven, which will burn them to death.
I spotted my parents, standing helplessly in the middle of the crowd. They were holding hands, their eyes closed. I ran behind the bushes to avoid being found.
I shouted, trying to distract the Hierzaks’ attention.
I felt a hand covering my mouth. I screamed and yelled, but the hand pressed against my lips even harder. Another hand dragged me towards a cave nearby.
It finally released me.
“Who the hell are you?” I glared at the owner of the pair of hands. He was a tall, slightly tanned-skinned boy with dark brown hair and cold blue eyes. He was probably a couple of years older than me.
“Ssh!” he covered my mouth again as a Hierzak passed nearby.
“Begin the murder!” A loud voice announced.
“No!” I ran towards the cave mouth, which was covered in a large boulder. I looked in the gap between the cave wall and the boulder, as the Hierzaks fired their guns into the crowd. Blood splattered everywhere, and one hit my mother. I saw my father, mourning my mother’s dead body. He got shot in the heart, and laid down, still holding my mother’s hand.
Tears poured down my face. I felt my body falling to the ground.
Then there was darkness.
I woke up with a start.
I started crying.
It was a memory from my childhood that I had wanted to bury deep inside, and now the nightmare came and just ripped my old scar again.
It just popped out of nowhere, and brought back all those pain.
I could finally compose myself together, and walked outside for breakfast.
“What’s wrong with you?” Fua asked me, eating his deer.
“Nothing.” I forced a smile, and continued eating.
I put the empty plate in the pile, and walked towards the cave to check on the vien. It was squeaking and tried to fly, but failed.
“Just a few more days, little girl.” I smiled and threw a piece of leaf inside the cage. It squeaked and ate the piece of leaf with its razor sharp teeth.
I walked outside to hunt a leara for lunch, the queen’s favorite. On the way I grabbed some herbs and put them into my basket.
Then I saw it. A leara.
The golden boar-like creature landed on the ground and folded its wings. I ran behind a large tree, and aimed at its head. I fired the bullet, which went straight through its head. It let out a loud moan and fell down on the ground, dead. I satisfiedly smiled and dragged the creature back into the cave. Frii excitedly welcomed me, and babbled about all these ways to cook the leara, which I completely ignored.
“Hello, kids.” We turned around to find the queen smiling at us, her son in her arms.
“Your majesty.” I said, bowing down.
“No need for all the formalities.” She laughed. “I heard you caught a leara, Fra.”
“Yes, my queen.” I politely replied.
“Oh how I love them. I want to pick up some fruits to accompany that beautiful meat. Would you like to join me?” She gently asked. Her voice, though gentle, sounded commanding.
"But my queen, I thought the head nurse had said that you should rest." I politely said.
"I'll rest later." She laughed, rebellious as always.
Frii and I exchanged nervous looks.
“Now, can you please carry Vralyx?” She said to Frii.
“Yes, my queen.” Frii said, and the queen handed her the baby. His face suddenly turned red, and he started crying.
“Ssshh..” Frii said, her face frightened.
“Oh come here Vralyx.” The queen gently took the baby into her arms. “Sorry, he probably isn’t very used to your presence.”
“It’s okay.” Frii nervously smiled.
The queen finally finished picking her fruits, and she was welcomed with the head nurse' speech. We quietly giggled as the queen huffed, ignoring the head nurse completely.
Then came dinner, my favorite part of the day. We laughed and talked around the tiny fire, eating our delicious roasted leara with some fruits and nuts. My eyes started to get heavy, so I went back to the cave early. I shut my eyelids, and slept peacefully in the darkness of the night.