The task of all N'Geenr is to exceed to limits imposed on them by nature. That is the essence of what it is to be an N'Geenr. When an N'Geenr puts their mind to the task and feels that dedication deep within their Skel, not even Pae can stop them. An N'Geenr's true power comes from their Skel, Pae only helps them on their journey.
--The Manual of Jol
Karin shivered uncontrollably. Dew glistened on the short grasses of the plains, sending tiny rainbows dancing between the blades. She had stopped to set up camp for the night, only to realise that she hadn't any camping equipment. Jol had been carrying it and all she had with her was some spare clothes from Jol, some food supplies and a little water. And Jol's book.
She had fallen asleep from sheer exhaustion, luckily having managed to cover herself up with some of her clothes. The sun was just coming up now and on the horizon she could still see the smoke from the village. She hugged Jol's book and watched the sun come up. The burning ball of orange slowly rose, silhouetting the skylines that past it front of it, their jagged edges shiny like little teeth, making it look like the sun was slowly being eaten by a huge mouth in the sky.
“I wish you were here.” She whispered.
She had to go on and find the Axis. She had seriously considered going back, maybe they would understand. What if she couldn't do it, and they were all going to die anyway, at least she could be with Jol sooner when they killed her too. She had thought about her father, and what he might be saying right now. Maybe he had been put to death by the Elders too. She tried to shrug off all the doubts, but they kept coming. Trying to keep herself busy, she brushed off her clothing and packed everything up again.
I'm not going to give up! Jol is relying on me. She said to herself. Where to go from here... I know, Jol's book! He said it would help me. Karin opened the book and began reading. On the opening page there was a dedication.
“I dedicate this Manual to my love, Karin, so that our children's children's children will remember who inspired me to find the truth.”
Karin burst into tears and dropped the book as she hugged herself tight. If only she could hold in all the pain, but she couldn't! Why? Why did this have to happen? The book had fallen face down, and she bent down to pick it up. On the page, was underlined a single sentence.
An N'Geenr's true power comes from their Skel, Pae only helps them on their journey.
That's it! Jol sent me a sign, but what does it mean? Pae will help me on my journey...
Karin reached back and untied her hair pendant, letting her long brown hair rush down her back. It had been given to her by Jol, he had said it was an amulet of Pae. Pae sometimes left them gifts in the earth when they were digging, and sometimes he left these amulets. They were very rare and special and Karin had been ecstatic when Jol had given her one. He had tied into her hair, as was the customary thing to do when proposing, and they had laughed about it because they were only 14 skylines old. Two skylines had passed since then and she had never taken it off until now.
It was very beautiful. A small metal circle with little patterns inside it. There was strange symbols carved all around it and on the back, but the most curious thing was the little arrow in the middle. It always seemed to be spinning under some unknown power, but now it had stopped. Confused, she shook it and waved it around, and suddenly it dawned on her. Wherever she moved it, it always pointed in the same direction. She tried spinning around and around and no matter what it always pointed the same way. She laughed with joy and shouted out to the sky.
“Thank you Pae! Oh thank you!”
Pae had decided to help her, maybe even all the way back when Jol had given her the pendant. Maybe it was some kind of plan all along. Regardless, now she had the power to try and grant Jol's last wish, but before she left to follow Pae's arrow, she wanted to do something.
Taking a knife from her tool-belt, she found the place where her hair was still bent from being tied with the pendant and began cutting. When she was finished, she wrapped up the hair and buried it, marking it with some large stones nearby.
“Goodbye Jol.” She said to the grave “I hope you can sleep easier now.”
She wiped a tear from her eye, bowed to the grave and then held Pae's arrow before her and followed.
* * * * *
Karin had been walking for hours. There was nothing out here, nothing at all. The ground had begun to become hard and rocky now and the sun had reached its peak. The Axis Moon was still there, as large and round as it had been the first time she saw it but it had moved. It seemed to be moving along the first skyline, the one that seemed the closest. Sometimes, on a clear day, it was almost as if you could touch it and you could see its large orderly teeth glistening in the sun. If it carries on following the skyline, it will eventually pass in front of the sun, Karin thought.
Karin walked on a bit more before she noticed something in the distance. Up ahead, the world seemed to descend into darkness for about a mile then become light again on the other side. She looked at Pae's arrow for a moment to confirm she was going in the right direction, and headed off towards it.
When she got there, it looked worse than before. The whole area was under what Karin guessed must be the skylines shadow! The whole area was deadly quiet. Previously on her travels she had heard the buzzing of insects and smaller animals chattering away, but this place was utterly devoid of any signs of life. Cautiously, she put her hand into the darkness and was met with icy cold. It must be due to the lack of sunlight.
Peering into the darkness, Karin could barely make out a thing. Again she looked at Pae's arrow, it still pointed across the expanse to the light on the other side. She took out some clothes and put them on for warmth and with a deep breath stepped into the darkness.
It was like being plunged into a ice-cold bath. The cold chilled her to the bone and within minutes she was shivering uncontrollably. Still the trekked onwards, following where Pae's arrow led her. The air was so cold that her breath formed little clouds of steam and she found it harder and harder to take each breath. This must be the unmoving skyline, she thought, this place must have never felt the warmth of the sun. Before even minutes had past, her legs were beginning to feel stiff, movement was becoming more difficult, her thoughts sluggish. She was more than a quarter of the way in now and she was feeling numb all over. She barely noticed she had stumbled as she lost consciousness and everything, even the light on the other side, dissolved into blackness.