Prophecy of the Rea'dans
Bright colours flashed across her eyes as Aurora continued to fight the sleep that constantly pulled at her eyelids. But this could not go on forever. The sleep you soon win this battle and the nightmare would begin again.
But not so much as repeat' as continue.' It was an everlasting dream that had been with her for her entire life. The Vanishing People as they were now called, or, in their own language, the Rea'dans, were battling Tholzam the Dark King. The blue skinned Rea'dans, wearing their silver armour and carrying shining silver swords, were faced with the black armour of the Dark King's beasts, the Akubitsu. To lose this war would mean the Rea'dans would become extinct. Even if they won the battles, they had no idea how, or even if, they could destroy Tholzam.
Although the war was awful, always bloody and horrific, one thing had kept Aurora being able to withstand it - the Kur'hahsha, the Crystal of Reflection, the name given to it as it was able to reflect the feelings of its protectors. In the hands of the Rea'dans it had shown light on the world, brightening up the dream, giving off at least the slightest possibility of peace and hope.
But then one of the Rea'dans, believing he could save his people, handed over the Kur'hahsha in return for their lives. But the Dark King was obviously not known for his word, so once the Kur'hahsha was in his hands, it grew dim to reflect his black heart and he gained its power. Each day he became stronger. He then set about destroying what was left of the Rea'dans, now that no one could oppose him. And so Darkness ruled.
Over the years, Aurora had wanted to help, but she couldn't interact with the dream, only watch the death and destruction that the Dark King created. But she couldn't take it any more, especially after the Kur'hahsha faded in the hands of evil.
But Aurora's mind was giving up and said it would be all right to rest her eyes, just for a minute. Of course, she knew realistically that she would fall asleep, but she couldn't resist it any more. Lying down and closing her eyes, she wrapped herself up tightly in the duvet. Maybe tonight would be different.
It was, but not in the way she had hoped.
The land and sky were black, as it had been for the last seven or eight months. Small fires burned, showing where a battle had recently taken place. The wind lifted up the dust, swirling it around in the air, creating dark clouds across the landscape. A red glow lit up the horizon to the south where another city drowned in flames. There was movement to the east. Only glimpses of fire glinting off black armour gave away that it was a clan of Akubitsu searching for more Rea'dans to kill. But nothing was left alive here anymore, not even a blade of green pealing through the dark ash.
Then suddenly she was moving. The dream lifted her up, the ground shrinking below her and the fires turned to glowing dots and sped beneath her. A dark shape loomed in front of her. A huge rock face hung over the great burning plain. She was going towards it too fast. She couldn't avoid it. She was going to hit it
At first she thought she was going through the cliff but then realised she was in a cave. She spun down the black tunnel, turned left and right before she even knew there was a turn. She had no control over which way to go. The dream was totally controlling itself.
Then she was falling. She heard water trickling down with her. The air rushed passed her, pulling at her, getting stronger as she plunged down faster. Trying to slow her descent, she stuck out her hands and feet to grab the side but got nothing but raw, bloody fingers and torn, tattered shoes.
Then she realised it. She could touch. She could feel. She had some control over the dream. She could help save the Rea'dans.
But her stinging fingers brought more realisations. She could feel pain. She shouldn't feel pain in a dream. But if she could, that meant that she could be killed. No, that was stupid. It was just a dream, just a dream.
This great pit was getting wider. She could sense it. The space around her was opening out. She knew that as it got wider, the sooner she was going to hit the bottom. Another hard rock face was rushing towards her and this time there was no way to avoid it.
She closed her eyes and let out her fear in a high-pitched scream.
Her feet were touching the ground and the air standing still. Opening her eyes, she tried to take deep breaths while her legs gave way beneath her and she collapsed to the ground on her hands and knees, head bowed, heart racing. She tried to control the emotions that were gathering in her mind. Fear, confusion, relief, despair, all balled into one sensation that she just couldn't take in.
Then another emotion joined them: joy for being alive.
Why hadn't she died? Why had she stopped falling? Why was she now safely on the ground and not in a crumpled pile of broken bones? It's a dream, she reminded herself. Dreams never make sense.
She raised her head and looked around her. She decided that she must still be inside the cliff. Before her was a narrow passage. A yellow flickering light, bouncing off the sharp, wet rocks, shone round the corner as the tunnel curved out of sight. Other than that it was pitch black.
Struggling to her feet, she stumbled towards the light, tripping over rocks and holes hidden by the darkness.
Turning the corner, she looked into a vast cavern filled by a far-stretching lake. The water looked mixed with black paint, but the surface was flecked with yellow spots of light. Far across the lake, she could just make out more points of light on a sloping side of the cavern, and could swear she could see activity around the pillars of rock that jutted towards the roof of this grand cave. She looked up to see where the light was coming from and saw millions of insects that glowed brightly in the darkness, a universe of stars darting between the stalactites and through holes leading around a network to other caves created as the rivers flowed through them. These rivers poured over the lips of the holes and fell in small and glittering waterfalls that seemed to almost glow in the insects' light. The soft and steady waterfalls, as they touched the lake, gave off a constant mist around their feet.
She saw a rowing boat coming towards her. It carried three people. Although, now she thought about it, they weren't exactly people. They were three of the Rea'dans that she had seen in her dream. Their blue skin shone in the light of the insects as they fought against the current that tried to pull them below one of the many waterfalls.
As the water got too shallow for the boat to come nearer, they jumped out and pulled it on to the lake-side to keep it safe from the ever pulling flow of water. They then walked towards Aurora, their arms held in full view of her to see they had no weapons and meant no harm. But they did not have to worry about Aurora running away. She was too afraid to move a single muscle.
This was the first time she had seen a Rea'dan close up and never before had she realised how different they were from Humans. Not only did they have blue skin but also their chins extended into a sort of small tentacle and their eyes were much larger and filled entirely by the pupil. Their ears were merely small holes in the sides of their heads and their legs bent backwards like the hind legs of a dog. Each of them had the same black hair that was either shaved from the sides of their heads or it never grew there and was pulled back into a ponytail that reached their necks.
Welcome, Aurora, to our home, one of them said, waving his hand, taking in the entire cavern. I am Kabeki. This is Surash, and he pointed to the Rea'dan on his right, and then as he pointed to the one on his left, he said, and this is Dashid.
how how do you know my name, stuttered Aurora as she tried to get over the shock of seeing such bizarre creatures, and was just trying to keep from fainting, never mind hold a conversation with them.
Don't worry, everything will be explained to you at the Great House, continued Kabeki. If you will just come with me. He took her arm and led her to the boat. She was too perplexed to argue and followed.
Kabeki sat her down on a seat at the rear end of the boat, while the three of them pushed it off from the shore and jumped in, grabbing the oars and straightening the boat up before it was dragged into one of the waterfalls.
Aurora sat awed by what she was seeing. Never had she seen such beauty. The insects' light played with the lake's colours. In whatever direction she looked it was different. Ahead of her it seemed to be a dark crimson. To her left and right it was a light blue and behind her was a very pale turquoise. The different colours mixed into each other giving the impression of sitting on a giant painter's pallet, but when she looked below her, she always seemed to be travelling across a pot of black ink.
The waterfalls she travelled by were even more beautiful as she got closer. They sparkled and twinkled, the drops of water becoming this cavern's, this galaxy's, falling stars to mix with the sea of colour. As they passed, she felt the gentle touch of spray against her face, making her feel refreshed and ready for anything this dream would throw at her.
Where she had seen movement before, she saw was a city filled with the Rea'dans. They were collecting on the shore. As she neared, she heard the clamour of their excited voices rising and echoing off the rock walls around her.
She looked beyond them into their city. There were tents along the flat land around the lake. Beyond that she could see that there were no buildings but the smaller adjoining caves had obviously been made into homes. They had carved very simplistic steps leading up to the higher caves in the cavern's walls and to walkways on ledges where more of their people stood. Every few metres she saw a burning torch, the lights she had seen from across the lake. But she could see none of the beautiful carvings and paintings that she associated with these people. This must be a very recently developed city.
Then she remembered. These people used to live out in the open fields in grand cities full of towering white castles and beautiful gardens. But she had seen what had happened to those cities. She had watched as the Akubitsu had raided their magnificent cities, burned them down and murdered all the Rea'dans that they had found there, while she had been unable to help. Now they were forced to live in caves to be safe from the Dark King's wrath. If they were to stray to the surface then it was almost certain that they would be killed.
But she saw that they had smiles on their faces. What could these people possibly be happy about in this life they were forced to live? What could possibly rid these peoples of their fear of the Dark King and the Akubitsu?
She glanced at the other Rea'dans in the boat with a questioning look. Seeming to understand, the nearest Rea'dan, Surash, tried to explain. They are just a little excited. That was an understatement. She heard the whoops and cries of delight and could have sworn they were calling her name. You see, they believe that you can save us.
She stared at him, her brows furrowed, her mind reeling around this new piece of information. How could she do anything that would help? So she had had imageries of herself going into battle, fighting along side the Rea'dans, killing Tholzam herself when faced with him alone. But they were just fantasies. There was no way she could actually do it if it came to that. She could do nothing to help. What did the Rea'dans see in her that she herself could not see?
Seeing the totally confused and anxious face, Surash opened his mouth to explain but was interrupted by Kabeki. Not yet, Surash. The King should be the one to explain. And turning to Aurora, he said, Have patience. All will be explained soon enough.
They reached the shallows and the Rea'dans jumped out. They pulled the boat in and did not seem hindered by the fact that Aurora was still sitting in it. Leaning forward, Surash offered his hand. She took it, glad of someone to steady her as she walked. Dashid walked in front of them, trying to clear a path through the excited Rea'dans. Kabeki walked behind. Aurora looked about nervously. They were speaking in their own strange language. She couldn't understand it but she could catch that among the unknown words was definitely her own name. She turned to look at the face of Surash who smiled comfortingly.
Once through the crowd, they entered another cave. It was nothing compared to the giant cavern with the glowing insects and beautifully coloured lake, but on its own it was magnificent. Large ornate tapestries hung from the walls. Old and worn statues of the Rea'dans' idols stood to attention on either side of the room. She recognised these from the castles. The Rea'dans must have rescued them, carried them down here, despite their weight. The thick red carpet that seemed to try to swallow her feet led up the middle of the room. In the centre was a large rectangular table, covered by complex and elaborate carvings and surrounded by many high-backed chairs. At the far end was an even larger chair, although it looked more appropriately like a thrown. In it sat a great Rea'dan. He wore flowing white robes and on his head was a silver crown. This was obviously their King.
But his face was scarred and he was blind in one eye. As he looked up, she recognised him. She had seen his great army, their faces proud and gallant. There he had stood at the front line, nobler than any of his men, sitting upright in the saddle, staring into the evil faces of his and all the Rea'dans' enemies. He had ordered the strike.
And they had lost. The Akubitsu had ridden over them on their abominable steeds, killing almost all of the army. Those that had survived were just lucky, and there were very few. Only the King and about thirty others had survived from the army that had once been over five hundred in magnificent cavalry. It was just after this absolute defeat that the Rea'dans had handed over the Kur'hahsha. It had been their last available hope and it had failed.
He stood up, taking a gnarled cane that had been leaning against his chair, and limped towards her. The huge wooden doors slammed shut behind her, cutting off the shouts from outside, making her jump in her already petrified state. Noticing this the King said in a calming voice, Do not worry child. You have nothing to fear from us.
What do you want from me? Wha What can I do to help you? She asked, still afraid, and nothing these people could say could stop that.
Come with me, he said and gestured towards a small door at the far end of the room. Walking by his side, she followed him through it, down narrow, winding stairs and along a passageway, poorly lit by the occasional candle, to another doorway. Kabeki, Surash and Dashid followed behind them.
Outside the doorway stood two guards with spears held in front of the door in a cross pattern. As the King walked up to them, the spears were drawn aside and the door pushed open. They bowed as the King passed them and returned to their post.
Inside the doors was another great hall. On the far wall was a great rock slab covered with writing. One half was obviously in the Rea'dans' language and the other was in her own. Scattered around this great block were smaller slates of rock, similarly split into the two different languages. She read the first few lines on the huge slab.
Only one can destroy the Dark King. Only one can destroy the Akubitsu. That one will be named Aurora and will be the only one who can save the Rea'dans.
Aurora just stared at it. There was her name engraved in hard rock proclaiming that she could save the Rea'dans. Again, she asked herself what she could do to help. This was a dream, but a dream where she could get hurt and possibly killed. As she remembered this, she looked at her fingers, as if to prove this point. She saw the red, rough skin on each of her fingers, cuts filled with her own dark red blood. She just wanted to wake up, be rid of this dream forever, so she could forget everything that had happened, so she could live a normal life like everyone else.
But she knew she couldn't just turn away from these people when they needed her, even if it was only a dream. It had become another life to her. It was too real to throw away.
The King turned to her, saw the awed look on her face. He said, There are even more rooms like this. Each slab tells of a different part of the final destiny that we are all heading towards. We used them to learn your language. We have barely begun to put them in order. He waved his arm to take in the entire room. These are all the pieces that we have found which include you.
Too amazed to be afraid anymore, Aurora asked, Where did you find them? She totally forgot about what she had to fear.
When we were making caves where we could be safe, we found this cavern and these caves. And they were all left down here. We have been trying to find out about the people who wrote them, but we have found nothing that indicates the actual writers. We've been trying to sort them out but there are still some missing. Although that is not the priority, he said trying to get the conversation back to larger matters.
Aurora saw where he was going and the old fear returned. but I don't see what I can do. I'm not the right type of person to to fight.
You do not need to fight. Once the Kur'hahsha is in your hands, you can use its power and we shall survive. It is destined that you are the one to return the Kur'hahsha to us so that no evil can return. It must be you as no Rea'dan has the power of will to control it. We have tried before to send a group of our own people when we thought perhaps we had misread the prophecy, but they never returned. It must be you, he repeated. We will give you food and other supplies, and you can leave in the morning as the sun rises. Then he realised what he had said and remembering the dark land above them, adding, even if you can't actually see it through the dark mists.
Too utterly bewildered and exhausted to argue, Aurora was led away by Surash to one of the higher caves for her sleep. He opened the door to the room that was to be hers. It wasn't very fancy for a cave but the decor and furniture produced an atmosphere that made you forget about the stone walls. It looked much more comfortable than most of the tents and small caves she had seen on her way to the Great House.
If you need anything, Surash said as he turned to go out, just call.
Aurora collapsed on the bed. She could finally relax, finally try and forget everything that was going on around her. She was just happy to get some sleep. That was odd. She wanted to sleep in her dream. She ignored it and put her head down onto the soft thick pillow, bringing the thick, silky blanket around her shoulders and closed her eyes.
Opening her eyes, she saw that the dim light hadn't changed. At first she thought she hadn't actually gone to sleep at all, or at least not for long. Then she remembered that she was in a cave. The light would never change.
She looked around, taking what was in this room for the first time. A small wooden table and chair were sitting against the wall across from the bed. A mirror stood on top and she saw a brush and some clean clothes had been laid out for her. A sofa sat at the end of the bed nearer the door. It was covered in large, soft, velvety cushions. Above her head was a window. Standing up, she looked out, watched the people going about their lives, travelling in and out of the smaller caves. She heard the chattering of friends on the street below her and somewhere someone was playing a musical instrument and singing. It was very calming music, almost making her want to lie down and go back to sleep again. The words were obviously in their own language, but it was obvious it was about peace.
She changed into her new clothes. The outfit was just like those worn by all the Rea'dans she had seen in the street. Quite tight, brown, and very plain, but she was glad she could blend in easier. But there was no way she could blend in totally. The colour of her skin and the shape of her body were dead give-aways.
She sat on the bed for a while, thinking about all that had happened. What was she going to do? There was nothing she could do, other than what these people expected of her. She was trapped in the dream anyway. She might as well try to help. It was what she had once wished for.
She reached over, took the black brush and started to brush her long, silky hair.
There was a knock at the door. Come in, she said nervously.
Surash entered and smiled as he saw her in the new clothes. Are the clothes comfortable? They are the right size, aren't they?
They're perfect, and she smiled back.
Are you ready? The sun will be rising in an hour or so, even although you can't tell from down here, he said, looking despondently out the window. And you can hardly tell from the surface either.
She looked at his face, feeling only sorrow and pity for him being trapped down here. She stood up, and Surash escorted her back to the Great Hall. The King was sitting back where Aurora had seen him first, at the head of the large carved table. On the other seats were more Rea'dans, all dressed in similar robes to the King's but in grey. Aurora recognised Kabeki and Dashid sitting among them. On the table were six empty rucksacks surrounded by packages of food wrapped in brown paper, bottles of water and six rolled-up sleeping bags.
The meeting seemed deadly serious. Surash told her to wait where she was and walked over to the King.
She couldn't hear everything that was said, but she managed to hear enough to gather what they were talking about. Apparently they had organised five other Rea'dans to accompany her, but they had found another part of the prophecy that spoke of how she must leave the caves unaccompanied. It did continue to say she would not come back alone, but they didn't know if that meant she would find allies or would be chased by the enemy. The King couldn't decide whether he should continue what he had planned or obey the written prophecy. It had been right about everything before, but it was extremely dangerous to send out the girl by herself.
Surash beckoned her to the table. She stood, listened intently as the King told her about the new part of the prophecy. He paused then said, I have made up my mind. Everyone leaned closer to hear what their wise leader had decided. You will have to go alone.
Her heart skipped a beat. She had been scared enough as it was when she had been going in a large group with people who could protect her, but if she were unaided, what would she do if she met an army of Akubitsu? What would she even do if she met just one? Surely die. She wouldn't stand even the slightest chance.
Seeing the colour drain out of her face, as well as hearing some murmurs from the group, when the words came out his mouth, he quickly explained his reasoning. You see, if you were to fail then the prophecies that were predicted would all be false. As none of them have ever been false, you must be going to succeed no matter what you do as the prophecies have foretold. They say that you are to leave on your own. If you were to leave with others then either the prophecies would turn false as you would then no longer be following them, or your companions would die before you were able to leave, making the prophecy come true as it would have anyway.
Aurora tried to follow this and failed miserably. From the looks on some of the others' faces around the table, she saw that they had not totally understood him either. But the King didn't seem to notice this.
Wait a minute! Dashid leapt from his seat. This was the first time Aurora had heard him speak. There was a quality about his voice that gave the impression that it wasn't used much, end even then only in dire need. It was so clear and sharp, yet gentle at the same time. You can't send the girl out there without guardians.
Good, someone to argue for me, thought Aurora. She knew that she couldn't argue with a king herself.
Dashid continued, It is too dangerous. What if she is caught, trapped, or worse? What will we do then? He turned to look at the King, mutters from some of the others backing him up.
The King didn't answer. Instead, Kabeki leapt to his feet from his seat next to the King. You obviously weren't paying attention. Don't you understand? The prophecies tell–
Dashid interrupted him. How do we know that the prophecies tell the truth? How do we know that it is not some elaborate scheme set by Tholzam to destroy us once and for all? How do we know that we can rely on these
Kabeki tried to argue his case. They have been right so far–
So far'! mocked Dashid. Why can't the prophecies be one possibility of a timeline? The choices we make decide the direction we shall travel in time. So far' we have chosen the correct paths but this decision could be the difference between life and death. If we decide wrongly then we are doomed. He sat down, believing his point to be made.
That was even more confusing than what the King said, thought Aurora. Looking about her, she saw many looks of bewilderment and resignation as they gave up trying to follow the argument and just waited to see the final outcome. Only the King and Kabeki seemed to understand what Dashid had just said.
Kabeki stayed standing, continuing to attempt to get his point across. We can only choose which path' we are going to follow using evidence as to what will happen. Our people tried without once and we ended up here, in this situation. These prophecies are just what we need to help us out.
The King raised his hand, indicating for Kabeki to sit down and stood himself. They waited patiently for him to speak. He took a deep breath and said, I agree with Kabeki and I stay with what I said before. Aurora shall go alone.
Dashid shook his head in disbelief then gave Aurora a sympathetic smile that said, I tried.
The King signalled for Surash to pass Aurora a rucksack with some of the food, water and one of the sleeping bags. If you need anything else just ask for it. The King added. I wish you the best and hope your journey is as pleasant as it can be. Seeing the fear in Aurora's face that recently was her permanent expression, he continued, You will succeed. The prophecies have told of your return.
Yes, but do they say that I'm alive? Aurora thought unhappily. She watched the King limp out, leaning on his cane, followed by all but two of the Rea'dans, Surash and Dashid.
Do you think you will need anything else? Dashid offered. Just remember you need to carry it.
She thought carefully. She did want to take a lot of spare clothes, a pillow, toiletries, her brush and a small mirror. She even wished she could carry a shower or a bath. But she knew none of those things were necessary, she could live without them. Thinking realistically she thought about what she might need. A weapon would be nice. Do you have anything I could protect myself with, if I need to?
Dashid nodded and jogged out of the room. He came back carrying a sword in a scabbard. He handed to her. The scabbard was leather, with white metal designs of dragons breathing flame imprinted on to it. Its hilt was made of a strange orange-gold metal. Pulling the sword out, she looked into her own reflection. The blade was in perfect condition, no nicks or dents. It was too good for her to use. She wanted to hand it back, but realised this was the only type of weapon they had. Here there were no guns or other more powerful weapons. She would just have to learn to use it, although she hoped she didn't have to. She tied it to her belt.
Are you ready? Surash asked.
As much as I'll ever be, was all Aurora could reply with.
Oh, one last thing, he quickly ran out of the room, coming back with a coil of rope, a large stick, the top wrapped in a strange gauzy material, a bag of more of the gauzy cloth and a small box. I suggest you take these. You might need them if you have to travel down more caves. Certainly the torch will be useful.
Aurora took them. Looking in the bag, she asked, What's the cloth for?
So that the branch doesn't just smoulder to nothing, Surash replied. The cloth burns brightly but slowly. Don't forget to replace it when it flames away to nothing.
Opening the box, she saw a strange shaped knife and a block of what could only be described as wooden stone. It had the grain, but was smooth and wasn't the right weight for either. Scraping the knife against the block, she got a spark. There are no batteries here, she reminded herself. She closed the box and put everything in the rucksack. Surash took her arm as he had the day before and they walked out of the Great House. Again Dashid walked in front as the crowds had gathered again. They went in and out of the streets. This city was bigger than it had looked. After ten minutes of walking, they reached a small hole in the cavern wall. The gathering Rea'dans had wandered off by now and were mostly back in the centre of the city.
Surash pointed into the hole. That will lead you to the surface. Then turn to where the sky will be glowing as the sun rises behind the darkness and continue in that direction. You will eventually see a large tower. But to get there you will have to go through a very complicated maze. I wish I could help you after that, but no one knows what it is like beyond the maze. No one has made it through. The fearful expression was back on Aurora's face. But you'll succeed, Surash quickly added, trying to make her feel better. Well, good bye. Good luck.
was all that Aurora could think of as a reply. Opening the rucksack, she took out the box and torch. Lighting it, she slipped one leg over the hole, felt the ground on the other side and went down into the blackness. She took what she hoped was not her last look at friendly faces and started her walk down the tunnel.
I am looking for ways to improve this so suggestions are welcomed. In other words: Review this please and give me your ideas. Please no one line reviews and preferably no flames. I'm looking for constructive critisism. Please?!