I pulled my sister through the misty woods, my bare feet padding silently across the rock hard ground. We had to get to the dock before the Elders woke, before the pale moon set. The illegal ships came at night. Earthlings. Smugglers, who traded Earth goods for our rocks before going back home. Stupid Earth people. Why did they want rock anyway? Didn't they have some on their home planet?

I pushed onward, the young girl in tow behind me running to keep up with my long stride. Her little knife smacked quietly against her leg, making me frown. Females didn't carry knives in the days of peace, even the ones of courting age, as I was now. Even young males of our village didn't carry weapons until he had completed his journey to the Great Lake and brought back water in a bucket made from mud and grass; a true sign the boy was now a man. Naysa was only 6 years of age, just a babe to the Earth people. To our small village, however, she was a warrior. A warrior thrown too soon into battle in my opinion.

"Sanja! Hana!" she called to me softly, pulling her hand from mine. I slid to a stop a few steps in front of her. Hana was one of the Elders, the only female as a matter of fact. And she was by far the most powerful. Her siren's call had ended the lives of every one of the brave male warriors in my village, including my father and brother. I turned to look at the child beside me, pulling my bow in the process. Naysa's knife was already out.

"Aki?" Where?, I hissed softly, looking around. The Black Temple was still a ways in the distance; Hana shouldn't have been out here in the forest. Naysa didn't answer, just prepared herself to fight, pointing her knife in the direction Hana would come. I pulled an arrow from my quiver and waited. Soon after, the demoness herself appeared, her robe made of black silk that the Earth traders brought, her hair and eyes just as black. Her skin, however was strikingly pale, pale as the moon. A true sign of a royal woman; the female didn't come out in the sun. Her onyx eyes glittered with malice, betraying the regal look of an Elder.

"Nat-ti armun, Sanja?" Going somewhere, Sanja?, her voice flowed like music, almost hypnotic, and demanding truth. Althought it was considered traiterous to lie to an elder, telling her the truth would be foolish. Trading with the Earth people was illegal for the commoners, for this reason. Naysa and I were each carrying enough rock to barter our way off the planet and onto Earth, thanks to Tsuki, my mother. I squared my shoulders and stared Hana in the eye, like my father taught me. Do not show fear to your enemies.

"Na." No, I answered, shaking my head for emphasis. I pulled the arrow back, prepared to strike. "Lituken sa."

Demanding an Elder step aside was much worse than lying to one, but it didn't matter. Getting Naysa to safety was all that mattered. Tsuki made it clear that the Elders would destroy our planet the way they did my village, and in a moment of motherly love, gave us the last of her rock, the last of the currency the Earthly smugglers would take, and gave us a chance to live. I would not let Hana take that chance from me. The female raised her perfect eyebrows; my fingers flexed on the arrow. Behind me, Naysa growled, coiled and ready to spring like a true huntress.

"Utem hi." Hana whispered gently. Drop it, drop it, the witch's voice sang in my ears, pressing against my self control like a heavy weight. I was taught well by Tsuki; I was prepared for her mind tricks. Naysa, however, was not. After struggling with herself for several moments, the young warrior dropped her weapon, falling to her knees with her hands over her ears, desperate to get Hana's voice out of her head. Hana moved lightning fast, swooping in on my sister like a hawk, lifting her off the ground by her arms. The Elder bared her teeth, prepared to sink them into Naysa's flesh. I didn't stop to be disgusted; I fired my first shot. The arrow flew through Hana's forehead, eliciting a scream from her pretty throat. She dropped Naysa, who seemed to be coming back to herself, flinging herself around in a desperate attempt to dislodge the arrow. She screamed again; I fired another arrow. This one went through her leg, not enough to do any fatal damage, but enough to hurt. Naysa was on her feet now, dagger in hand. She leapt upwards, facing Hana, her small legs wrapping around the demoness' waist.

"Arut, itsa-Hana!" Die, devil Hana!, my sister screamed, slashing the Elders neck with her knife. Once, twice, three times. Then with a sickening thud!, Hana's head hit the ground. Naysa leapt off her body as it collapsed to the ground, blood pouring from the once beautiful form. Naysa growled once at the dead angel from Hell on the ground, before looking back at me. Her face was spattered with Hana's blood, and her hands were stained with it, but I still took her small hand in mine.

"Narle." Good, I told her proudly before we took off again into the darkness. We had to move quickly; the Black Temple was getting closer and closer, the moon sinking lower and lower. We stopped running when we came upon the Temple, keeping as close as we could to the wall and moving slow. The Temple was shaped like the pyramids of Earth, but made from the black rock of our planet. Legends say the Elders called the rock to form the shape of the Temple with the powers of their minds, forcing it into the impenetrable fortress it was. Legend also said that once the Elders died, if there was no one to replace them, the Temple would crumble, and the time of peace would return to our planet. I held onto the hope that the outsiders from our once peaceful village would take out the Elders. Tsuki told me not to be foolish.

Naysa stopped suddenly right before we reached the edge of the Temple wall, her eyes fixed on a strange symbol on one of the bricks. I stopped beside her, scanning the strange writing beneath the symbol hastily. We needed to go; the moon would set soon. Hana's death would be discovered and we'd all be destroyed. But Naysa wouldn't move. She stared, mesmerized at the strange picture. The words were foreign to me, but the picture was that of Herla, the fire bird. She was the goddess of protection and power in our village; her sign was supposed to bring blessing and safety. Naysa reached up, touching the words under Herla's picture. Suddenly, the brick that depicted our goddess fell out of the temple wall fell, landing by Naysa's feet. She looked up at me, scared and confused. I nodded at the stone.

"Icht hi." Take it, I mouthed, holding out my hand for hers once more. Naysa took a deep breath and picked up the jagged stone, placing it in the pocket of the black robes our mother had made for us before we left. Tsuki had snuck out a week before and traded with the Earthlings for a material known as 'cotton'. It was easier to move in than the animal skins usually worn by our people.

We ran again, the flying Earth ships still docked at the port. They looked similar to our boats that we used to travel upriver, only they were made of a strong silver metal that I had never seen before. The sails were thicker than ours, and made of many different colors, probably representing each Earth village. I had been practicing the Earth language English, thanks to a woman named Nensi, but was not sure which ship would understand me. I approached the first one I saw; it had a blood red sail with a yellow moon and stars on it.

"English?" I asked, wincing at how strange the language sounded on my tongue. The man shook his head and pointed three ships down, to a ship with red, white, and blue on it's sails. I nodded in thanks and ran, picking my sister up in the process. She hated to be carried, but it was faster that way, and we were almost out of time; the pale moon was half gone. We approached the ship as it was preparing to leave, the trader already loading his goods back on board. I caught his attention.

"Trade?" I asked. He shook his head.

"Sorry, honey, I'm going back home." I didn't understand half of what he said, but the shake of his head I knew perfectly well. I held out my bag of rock.

"Please. Trade. Please." I implored him, looking frantically at the moon. We had 5 minutes left before the Elder's woke and the moon was set. The man crossed his arms.

"What is it that you seek?" he asked.

"Passage." I answered, shoving the bag at him once more. He took it and counted out the rock. I held my breath, looking once more to the sky. 3 minutes.

"For you and the little one?" he asked, nodding to Naysa in my arms. Naysa didn't speak English, but lifted her chin when she was acknowledged. She was scared. She held out her bag to him, the rock in hers twice what was in mine. Tsuki did that on purpose. If they wouldn't take me, they would take Naysa. The man's eyes widened.

"You gave me too much for passage on my ship." he said, trying to hand some of the rock back to me. I shook my head. There wasn't time to barter. He could have the extra; I didn't care.

"Keep. Passage?" I asked once more, fearfully. We had 60 seconds. He nodded.

"Passage granted."

"Thank you." I said, extrememly grateful. I ran onto the ship, finding a place behind a stairwell to hide, clutching Naysa close to me. The trader followed shortly after, barking orders to his crew that I didn't understand. Naysa looked at me, worried. I pet her hair, crouching further into the darkness. The engine on the ship had started, and we were in the air within miliseconds. I felt myself relax as the moon disappeared over the horizon. We had made it.

Below us, the Elders had awoken...

NOTE: THIS IS JUST A SHORT STORY! Lol. I can't handle another novel right now. ;)

SF