Rain of Terror

You fell again.

Falling for the inevitable

draw, of earthbound, a helpless feign

to be admirable.

 

Yet to me, you are just

pitiful. Full of fire and fury

and rage and miserable lust

to wash the world with your misery.

 

Each attempt fall with a hollow

thunk, drumming, while I continue

humming to my beat, to follow

no one but me, tell no one but this venue

 

of my avenue of woes to you

who stormed while I cried for youth.

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Supermarket Flounder

“You just had to sneak him here with us,” Judging from the depth of the frown upon her companion’s brows, Vega was not in as much trouble as she thought she was. “He would’ve been fine in the hotel.”

“Sorry,” She muttered regardless, twiddling with her thumbs while darting furtive glances about as though they don’t already stand out like sore thumbs. “Li gan wu qua deuh jileh…owl?” Nokshan may have its familiarities with the native tongue here, but the locals remained just as confused as her.

Canopus had his hands stuck deep into his pockets, deathly glares brushing aside any looks of interest thrown in their general direction, “Can’t you ‘summon’ that piece of shit?”

“It’s not my familiar.”

The older one gave an exasperated sigh, “I swear we spend more time looking for that feathered piece of shit than anything.”

“Don’t call it that.”

Seeing that his companion appeared visibly dismayed, he grunted, “Whatever.”

So they acquiesced to a silent fellowship, allowing the bustle of haggling, gossiping, and marketing permeate step’s distance between the two of them with Vega shuffling closely behind her tall companion’s long strides that didn’t pause even for sputtering motorcycle and sleek cars proceeding in the same selfish haste.

Vega eyed each mountain of fruits and vegetables still glowing with their recently severed energy from the earth kissed by common rain and dew, each stand of many hooks where hunks of parts of pigs suspended against gravity in an anatomy lesson that no one asked for, each large beds of ice where fluttering gills, clear, staring eyes and glistening scales determined the desirability of the day’s catch; no sign of her pet but a sudden realization of how out-of-place her companion was, even more so than her, as he stood a good head taller than the waddling local grandmas and middle-aged vendors, hair a chocolate’s shade lighter, and features and grey eyes sharper than any experienced blade filleting an aged fish.

“Ah,” Canopus paused, his sight landing on a stand in the far end of the crowded aisle. “That feathered piece of –”

“– Where?!” She stood on tip toes to see, but unfortunately she lacked the vertical advantage and was left with a sea of busy, moving heads of dark hair.

But they squeezed through, and besides a vendor animatedly discussing the merits of snappers while wagging said fish in her gloved hands, was their pet, eyeing the catch in the woman’s hand while perched upon an empty hook across the stand. As amber orbs trained upon delectable seafood, Vega contemplated possibilities though her companions decided for her.

“Do you think they would notice if I just…” Canopus turned a palm, and Vega barely heard the squawk of protest before a brown blur of movement and a flutter of feathers signaled her owl in her companion’s hand, amber eyes widened by the shock of the unexpected trajectory it was hurled through, flying through the air like a helpless iron scrap to magnet.

“There’s your bird, now let’s get the hell out of here,” He stuffed the animal into her hands, storming off for the exit while she chastised the thing, suddenly found herself standing alone in the sea of people before hollering and elbowing her way after her grouchy friend.

The Fiddler

When that child returned to this world, he felt it. Beyond the dull ache of his hand that refuse to leave him every stormy day for the past centuries he felt the groan of the earth. Unfortunate, the child’s stubbornness would ruin herself and perhaps the whole world along with her. No matter, his fingers itched for his violin, and he gave into his addiction, and before he was aware he was once again plucking at the instrument aimlessly, watching from a window as though something exciting was supposed to be witnessed.

Perhaps he should go face her directly, undo the spell and let universes crumble the way they were supposed to.

But, there’s only so much tragedy he could stay idle through, and throughout time he had learned he was useless, a speck against the behemoth weight of civilization’s determine cycles of stupidity. But perhaps it can change: this…girl…she was the first where his two centuries of solitude and scholarship proved to be useful.

So, he decided he shall not be idle, though his body begged to differ as the rain brought all sorts of memories of lashes and broken bones back, it’s where the shadows of his tormentor lived. But rains stop, leaves dry. He will find her after the clouds clear.

Meanwhile, he tried to remember a melody, a lullaby she used to like. But that slipped through the tips of his fingers. So he strung up new harmonies, hoping she would appreciate that as well.

Breakfast at Saphira’s

“Do you remember?” Her voice was softer than the rays entangled in silken curtains, a hazy gentleness beddings for a simple breakfast of eggs and vegetables. “The moment you crossed over to this world?”

Vega watched egg yolks run through her fork, wondered what father would think now that she had long betrayed the vegetarian diet he had upheld, “Not in detail, honestly, no.” She met the knowing smile of her benefactor, smiled back. “All I know is mostly from you and Gabriel’s accounts.”

“It just amuses me,” Saph set down her mug of steaming coffee, chased her own yolk with a disinterested fork. “Your first words when you saw me.”

“Oh please.”

“‘I am famished, do you have food?’, really? Not even a ‘I missed you,’ or a ‘Oh my, you are the best?’”

“I was hungry!!!”

Saph gave a hearty laugh, “You were also standing in a crater in the middle of Nevada like a lame Marvel hero–”

“–I mean, don’t tell me you did it any more subtly–”

“–surrounded by government officials, and there was a literal tornado–”

“–that was Canopus.”

As though telepathic of the mention of his twin’s name, Gabriel stuck his head out from the kitchen and wondered if anyone wanted more eggs, and they politely declined, sending the man back to clatter with more plates, presumably to conjure something sweet.

Vega took this time to sip contemplatively on her cocoa, licking away the chocolatey mustache before asserting her words, “Where is he anyway?”

“No one knows, probably traveling somewhere to wreak more havoc.”

“That sounds about right.”

A warm interval of silence was shared between the two, only interrupted when Gabriel came by to present his latest sugary experiment in the form of a petite strawberry tart; his lover hummed in delight as it was set down before her.

“Regardless, I am thankful,” Vega declared after a bite of her dessert.

“Aww…no need, little sister,” Saphira leaned into Gabriel’s light peck on her cheek as he set out for work while she picked up her coffee again and raised it. “Cheers to your voracious appetite.”

“Cheers to your…perpetual sass.”

They laughed until Gabriel ran back into the room, a look of barely contained panic, “Vega, where did your owl go?!”

So breakfast ended a little earlier than expected.

Epilogue

His mind was slowly numbing from the rhythmic sounds of snapping stems. He was clipping the tea bushes as he always does in the afternoons, finding the yellowing leaves spotted with illness and snipped away when the little child barged in unannounced.  She was a bewildering existence with her wide, shining eyes, beholding him with a ready warmth he thought the world was devoid of after he lost his daughter.

“Excuse me, Sir,” She announced herself. “Do you happen to know where the Goddess’s Springs are?”

It seemed innocent, a lost traveler seeking directions. But, although he didn’t trust his eyes enough to judge one by their appearance, this girl cannot be older than five, if not younger, and it alarmed and disturbed him that her parents would let her wander on her own.

“The springs are in that direction, little girl, now where are your parents?” He cannot help but be nosy, every irresponsible parent a reflection of his guilt; he set his shears aside, attempting to read the child with her clean traveling robe and her strangely delicate features.

“My ma and pa always know where I am,” She was almost proud not answering his question as she pulled out from her little knapsack a curved dagger bearing an embalm he recognized from the haze of his memories as the crest of Etzion royalty, pointing at the hilt where a gem rested; his throat went dry. “And so does my sister! She –”

“– Ah, there you are,” He nearly leapt when another voice joined them; warm, feminine, authoritative as the young woman clad in a similar, humble traveling cloak entered his circle of the vision. She darted a glance at him, and for a second, he thought he saw a flash of recognition, but when he chased after it he was lost in the depth of her eyes, “You scared us! Thank the Creator you ran into a nice grandpa.”

“– But…”

“Thank you for finding her, good sir, she tends to wander off on her own,” The formal apology and the knowing smile that became the woman somehow reminded him of calm mirrors gathered in ancient roots, and as the little girl bid him good day and farewell it was a featherly blessing that lifted a weight upon his heart, then he remembered his shears and went back clipping away at the tea bushes.

Where had he seen that girl before?

Once again the air was filled with nothing but the sound of stems clipped, only so they can grow back stronger.

LXXVI.

She never knew her promise was one-sided.

He knocked on her chamber’s door three nights after her coronation. She was confused, then fearful when she find his facade plagued by indecisions and turbulent sorrows. He stepped into the faint radius of her reading light, she closed the door behind them as he paced to the ink black windows. She read the words on his lips before he let them fall and clatter against the floors.

“They need me,” He said quietly, avoided her shimmering gaze that may very well crumble the powder of resolve he collected. “There’s no one to lead them,” He stared into the white marble beneath his feet.

She didn’t say a word but watched her room with newfound alienation: this same room where they met.

It was so different then, they were so full of vengeance and anger, her more so then him even though he was the rebel’s assassin, while she the misguided girl who stabbed one that later saved her from herself so many times without a second thought. They fought their demons, and they won. She thought the scratches and scars would be all, yet she was not done being hurt, it seemed.

She forget that he was speaking, and seeing that he seemed more perturbed than before slowly guessed at what else he was hiding, so she merely closed the few steps between them, embraced him tightly, “That’s not it, isn’t it?” She mumbled into his tunic, hoping she was wrong.

She wasn’t. When she looked up, she wondered how he mustered a smile, and of course how could she forget that he was one who smile through pain, “Now that we have a clearer understandings of the darkness of this world is, the Elders is currently in favor of sealing off our realm…indefinitely.”

She felt his touch on her cheeks before she realized tears had escaped her eyes, and she merely rested a hand on that touch to preserve it, lean into it, squeezed the floodgates of her eyes shut, nodded, “I understand.”

She asked for three more days, and when he acquiesced she immediately regretted it.

The first day, they did fairly well in hiding the fact that they were counting every second. After she spent the first half of the day passing out verdicts that she tried to remember could be life-changing for her citizens, they merely strolled in the palace backwoods. They might have wandered off to a ravine she didn’t know existed, showed her how to talk to woodland and water sprites without offending them before he kissed her on the brows as though to smooth out the deep frowns.

The second day, Horatio noticed the clouds in her eyes and inquired with perfect politeness. And for the first time in her life, he nearly shoved her off the throne and shooed her away from responsibilities. “There are no pressing matters that I can’t deal with,” He assured her as she knew that there weren’t. “It’s unlike I didn’t handle most of it during your father’s time, anyway. Go, find your dumb crow.” Horatio was concerned that no one corrected him on the nickname that stuck, not even the brown fluffball owl.

So they went to town, him in his silly disguise that somehow still did its job in fooling the townspeople, or perhaps they did not care. Or she didn’t care; it was just a surreal torture, the calming notion of her hand linked in his, a simple courtship she knew she would never have. They weren’t hunted by evil spirits summoned by deranged priests or angry rebels or tortured sprites or ghosts of their pasts, but just the notion of time and the helplessness of love. As she wiped away a smudge of honey from the corner of his lips, she only wanted to bawl like a child, but instead she smiled, forcibly smiled against the gravity that seemed to grow stronger with each inch of the sun sinking into earth. They stayed up late naming stars and their origins, competed in whose story is sillier as though to make up for a lifetime of sappiness.

The last day, she woke up exhausted in absolute darkness.

How could she pretend she would be fine? How could he? He who despised his power for the very notion of love, she who sought power to preserve it. So, she was not fine with it, and as they flew to a remote mountain range beyond the clouds to watch the sunrise she felt stupid clenching and unclenching the basket of fruits, breads and cheese she haphazardly stuffed until the handle crackled in her fist. They sat down under the outreaching arms of an ancient tree and its flowering branches, the infinite sounds of nature so crisp against the waking air. They let that meandering murmur dominate their conversation before she nudged herself into his arms, sighed as the first ray of sunshine fell.

“I will miss you,” If she wasn’t listening to his every heartbeat, she might have mistaken his whisper to be the wind. “I love you,” His breath was warm against the shell of her ear, and she realized that she will never be warm again.

She trembled, “I wish I am selfish enough to tell you to stay.” More rays of sunlight crept past the horizons, and they caught dew and tears and refracted all the same.

“I know you are not, but you have every right to.”

She shriveled into herself, not having control over her wayward tongue, “Stay, then,” She begged. “Please, stay.” She saw that he was moved, that his hand left her frame briefly to wipe at his eyes and that a word that would have granted her so much happiness quivered on his lips but he bit them back.

“I will return,” She closed her eyes and tasted his promise. “No matter what it takes, I will return.”

And she believed. She was ready to believe until the end.