A Strange Shade of Lavender

Just a couple chapters now, not sure where it's gonna go. XD

I looked around anxiously in the softly fading moonlight. Where were the Night Creatures, the Sky Foxes, the Monoloes, and the Moon Lyres? Their absence had been making me uneasy, as when you come across a scene completely absent of human life and breath, so was their presence so normal to me. I kept moving cautiously, bow and arrow in hand, through the forest, watching the gently-swaying shadow of the canopy that hung above me.

          Walking in the peaceful moonlight, I came across an eerily dilapidated house frame. It hadn’t been there a few nights ago, I could have sworn. I wouldn’t have missed it. My curiosity was perilously spiked and I decided right then and there that I would explore it sometime with a Night Creature. But now was not the time, them being absent. Too dangerous.

Somewhere to the west, an owl hooted subtly. Suddenly cold, I pulled my disgracefully thin jacket tighter around me, wishing I had brought something thicker to put over my night tunic and leggings. I tucked my bow and arrow into the first tree on the left from the hash mark in the ground, the place I usually placed them when I came here, always at night of course. I couldn’t expect to see the Night Creatures in the day, could I? And besides, I wasn’t really supposed to be there anyway. I tapped my foot, looking around nervously, wondering where they could possibly have gone. Had I missed something? I crinkled my nose: I hated it when I missed something. It bothered me.

And suddenly, a clink of a rock. The rustle of a few leaves in the background. Normally, these wouldn’t have concerned me, but as edgy as I already was, I nearly jumped out of my skin, hair standing on end.  How had I allowed myself to be defenseless, how could I have been so stupid to leave my bow yards away in that blasted tree? Dread twisted my stomach as I turned my head around slowly, expecting to see some horrible creature, but instead, I saw something vastly familiar. A small, furry animal with large eyes and a long, bushy tail, almost like a dog or a fox, starred back from the bush directly in front of me. Suddenly, my face broke into the biggest grin, one of those ear-to-ear grins. It was a Night Creature! They were back!

          Relief flooded through me as my mouth formed the words of greeting and summoning. “JDInsbagq, JiljaU!” (“Come here, Sky Fox!”) I said. I stood up and bowed as The Sky Fox nuzzled my leg like a cat, furry and bug-eyed. I examined it closely, noticing the strangely-shaped mark on her forehead: some sort of star shape. This particular observance sparked a memory, and I suddenly remembered: this was Daishi, the first Night Creature I had ever seen, the one that I had named.  I sat down hard again on the ground next to her and scratched her head absently, mind on other things. It really was too bad no one else in the Village knew about these creatures. Daishi scurried playfully up my arm. I felt the cool, soft pitter-patter that was her feet running up to and landing on my shoulder. Sure, I thought, I can stay for a while.

          “Want to go the river? Are you thirsty?” I asked her, swiveling my head to my shoulder. “Ah… the river is gorgeous in the moonlight…” The soft gurgling characterized my closeness to the small brook. We walked for a few yards in a general direction until I was certain the brook was in front of me. I knelt, Daishi sliding off into the water. She splashed playfully around, even soaking parts of my tunic and drenching my leggings. I ruffled her fur and then cupped water up to my face and washed it. I stood up to wipe it with my tunic, but somehow lost my footing, being as clumsy as I was, twisting in the air, and bumped roughly into a thin tree trunk with my arm. I slammed on the ground, weakly clutching my arm, and, as my luck would have it, something fell on my head. I looked to see where it had landed and saw a strangely shaped piece of fruit, something like a pear or an apple. Or both. I realized how hungry I was when my stomach protested at its latest temptation and it was so loud Daishi looked at me strangely and cocked her head. The pear/apple-like fruit was fully inside my stomach before I could apologize to Daishi on behalf of my stomach for scaring her. I smiled and decided to sit for a while here. Daishi seemed to want to do the same thing and shook off and scurried back up to my shoulder.

          I looked up at the moon. There wasn’t much to contemplate there, so I turned my attention to Daishi, who was grooming herself like a cat up on my shoulder. Her fur appeared to be a strange shade of lavender at night. I was disappointed that I would never really know what color it was.

          I jumped up, making sure that I had recovered my bow and arrow from the tree, I turned towards the Village of the Light, probably not so light in the growing darkness and fading moonlight. Perhaps sensing my intent to leave, Daishi jumped nimbly onto the ground and disappeared before I had the chance to say goodbye. The floodlights were the first sign that I was close to our village. Blinding lights guarded the citizens at night; that was the only reason I was allowed to go outside the house at all. Every “young lady” was expected to be afraid of the dark and the outside. In fact, everyone was expected to be afraid of the world.

          I stopped and turned back to the forest, thinking that I would just stay there until morning to worry my foster mother, but changed my mind when my mouth formed an “O” and I yawned. Lazy and nearly falling asleep, I turned back toward the village and walked.

          Another rustle. My face softened: it must be another Night Creature come to say goodbye. I looked down at my feet, expecting to still see dirt, but instead my eyes met the sight of the ground just outside the Village of the Light, a crumbly sort of sod that blanketed the ground. Night Creatures never left the forest. I pivoted around fiercely, but somehow forgot to move my feet.  I heard a pop and a shocking pain drove me to the soft, artificial ground. I’d hurt my ankle. How silly of me, I thought. “How silly of me” was right. Waves of knife-sharp pain raged up my leg as I desperately tried to hold in a banshee scream. I felt my eyes cross and uncross, cross and uncross. Why was I always so clumsy?

          But looking up at the now starry, moonless sky, I saw the outline of a familiar face move into my frame of vision, and something else as well: a bow, pointed right at my head.

           I laughed bitterly. “What, are you going to kill me now? You always were a coward. Couldn’t stand to fight an able-bodied girl, could you?...

          “… Hikaru.”

          The figure spat on the ground, painfully close to my hair that trailed behind my head. “Don’t call me that, Raia. It sounds like an insult.”

          “It is.         

          In one fluid motion, Hikaru dropped his bow to the ground, slid a knife from the inside of his boot, grabbed my hair to pull to his level, and held his knife against my throat, pushing to the point of choking me. He leaned down close to my ear to whisper something, but his mouth was close enough to my nose for me to sense a hint of stale alcohol on his breath. It made his threat even more intimating. His voice sounded through clenched teeth. “You think this is a game? We’ll see whether or not you think so dead.” Sliding the knife across my neck and throwing me down as he got up, Hikaru twisted the bowstring around his shoulder, shrugged his quiver into place, turned, and left.

          I almost laughed, but the pain caught it in my throat. “You think that will kill me?!” I rasped after him.

          “Nope.” He chuckled as he called back. “I wouldn’t want to let that knife have all the fun, now would I?"

The End

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