Chapter One: "The Climb"
What thought to be a beginning became the initiation for an ending.
Time diminished as the gold and orange orbs steadily passed one another in a cloudless sky. The beams rested hot against my deep skin, and the grain shredded against my fast-paced legs. My eyes twitched for concentration. Even such extremities that my fragile body grew unaccustomed to couldn't force a return to my Kanna.
Workers sweated in preparation for the Suns Festival. My sister spoke about it at several points in our recent history, but at only five years old, she still claimed the experience memorable. The event could have only heightened my anxiety, therefore, my intentions of attending the underrated celebration shrunk to a minimal. As a result, slaving away in such conditions made little sense to me.
My arms knotted beneath my nearly flat chest as I hurried past the peering eyes. Most of them paused in question--puzzled looks upon their red faces, but others, though very few, ignored my presence.
In the center of the fields, the village but a blur at my back, stood a colossal tree. It rose far higher than any other, it's heavy branches above it's trunk blanketing the ground flat. It's dark emerald leaves wrapped around it's limbs more dense than wet hay, complicating my journey within it's gloomy atmosphere.
My climb began, a difficult one that proved my infinite desire to discover, from a single rough limb to the next. It's bark scrapped against my frail palms as my back twisted in the three dimensional labyrinth. Reaching the crest of the tree quickly became a challenge, but once there would I be able to fulfill my goal.
My body struggled for balance as I straddled a high limb. My arms cut through the leaves, and my eyes squinted upon the bright image of the world I stood above. The hills bumped on until they shrunk at the horizon, the forest line heavily over-lapping. The trees and random wild bushes spotted against the glint like the speckled patterns of a wild leopard. The tops of the trees stretched and streamed like a tattered rock covered in moss. But beneath me lied nothing but dots of human life.
The leaves clashed together, and the silent ambience took my mind in peace.
My shoulder rose in a pending stretch, and my jaw unfolded, only for another tense moment to come.
Violent chills corroded my skin to an irregular smoothness.
"Ayva?" the resonance of his voice more fascinating than I remembered. "Are you here?" Even his heavy boots crunching against the earth could not drown the embarrassment within his speech.
My thin arms tightened around my knees in a fetal position. His footsteps continued out of rhythm with the thud in my chest. If it screamed that hollow scream any louder my presence would have been given away.
A tickling to the back of my hand alarmed me. An insect might have caught me off guard; but as the wind began to stir, the strings of twinkling lights beamed through the ruffled environment. With but a few glances did I notice a strange bead of water. The droplet clung to my skin like glue, and within the further moments, it grew larger.
My arm swung in a blur like a crooked propeller on a windmill. Though the attempt for freedom from the insignificant water droplet became a success, my secrecy failed with one fatal mistake.
My shoe--nothing more than a ragged slipper--found it's leave once it's strap snagged a stray sapling protruding from the branch.
The air struck my tiny toes.
My slanted neck grew hot.
And behind my gasp, my breath lifelessly throbbed.
The thuds muffled the silence with only three strikes. Following it's out-of-tempo tumble, I whispered a silent prayer between my trembling lips: "Please God, don't let him see--"
His heavy boots cut me off. The crunches came and went in the same subtle pattern, but the wall of branches separating me from him blinded me from predicting any further actions.
"I have finally found you!" A shrill voice broke the tension within the mute moment. The liquids within my gut churned.
Ray's hesitance to respond let me to many assumptions, but again, I could only determine actions through speech.
"What is that in your hand?" her voice became shrill.
My brow rose with such a possibility: did he pick up my shoe?
The shuffling in the leaves came. "You care to have a look?"
"NO!" she responded quickly and rudely. "I'd never touch a commoners shoe. It's disrespectful that you would even ask me such a thing."
I winced at a small clash among the brush. Ray either threw the shoe to the ground, or Dyllynn slapped it from his grasp.
The tone in his voice became strict: "Dyllynn, I told you not to bother me while I'm at work. You know I'll get in penalized for it."
With clenched eyes, the conversation continued rather painfully. "Hmm, well, you certainly don't appear to be working. You should have left work hours ago. And as a matter of fact, has it ever been an issue in the past when I've come to see you?!"
"I've been penalized a weeks worth of coins--"
She shushed him. "Aye, but that was because your sister wouldn't leave you alone. You know she is basically banned from every Kanna in the village as it is."
Suddenly did I find this conversation morbidly entertaining. A dash of sickening manipulation became my single and utmost reason for nosing.