Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 100,597,592 Issue: 199 | 14th day of Swimming, Y7
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Paths Not Seen: Part Two


by fierwym

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Part Two:

The Hidden Trail

"I don't have wings," the older Krawk admitted. "Nor do I know any quick way to escape." Then it hit him. "I'll stay and help you fight. My brother here knows a secret path to the village. He can lead the one that you wish to protect to safety!"

     "What!?" Steven asked.

     "Steven, you must do this," the older said, holding on to both shoulders. Steven looked up, though he could not see his brother's eyes. "Whoever this person is, she is so important that these sailors have risked their lives to save her. You must do this! Only you know the way!"

     "I can't see!" the Krawk protested.

     "Where is she?" the older brother said to the sailor. Whoever it was, for Steven couldn't see him, turned away. Perhaps someone handed the person down. It was the baby. She whimpered a bit, scared and tired.

     "Give her to us. Steven will keep her safe. I'll help you fight."

     "You are kind," said the other. "Hurry now! They are here!"

     Jem grabbed Steven's arm and ran toward the secret trail's base. Steven couldn't believe what was happening. The next thing he knew, Jem had stopped. He felt a small bundle being placed into his hands, and he cradled the small baby close.

     "Keep the young Aisha safe, Steven," Jem pleaded. "Please."

     "I can't," Steven whispered, frightened. "I can't see."

     "You have to, Steven." Laughter rose from the beach, deadly, evil laughter from pirate throats. "I have to go help them. Warn the village!" He left.

     Never had Steven felt so alone. He was frightened and he could not see. He could almost feel the small Aisha's pleading eyes, wondering if he would save her or not. He could not see. He could not…

     But did that make a difference? Be it day or the darkest of nights, it really didn't matter to him. Most others couldn't navigate at night because they couldn't see. But did that make a difference to him? Blackest of nights was just the same as the brightest of days, in his eyes. The thing was, Steven could follow his trail be it day or night. It was a path that couldn't be seen, save by the one that was blind.

     He who acts unselfishly…

     Cradling the small Aisha closer to him, he hurried up the path. His feet knew this path. He didn't have to have sight to see this trail. It was mapped out in his mind. He wasn't blind in this way. He could see.

     He charged, following the twisting, narrow, dangerous path as it wove though the cliffside toward his village. Even running, it would take him half an hour to reach it. Did it matter? He was the only one that could save the small baby. He wondered briefly why the pirates wished to kill her. The thought quickly passed, for he was concentrating on that path. One wrong move…

     Slowly the sounds of laughter, yelling, and fighting were left behind. The pirates searched for the baby, he realized, and they didn't know that someone had already taken her. It gave him the briefest moment of exhilaration. He meant something to somebody!

     Half an hour later he came to his village, breathing heavily, not sure what to do next. Slowly he moved forward, trusting the map in his head to lead him to his home. Luckily, he reached it without mishap. Stepping inside, he carried the Aisha to his bed and let her fall asleep there. Then he headed next door and told his neighbor what had happened. He returned to his home and the Aisha when he was certain that the Wocky would go and rally the village to help his brother and the sailors.

     He wondered briefly if the pirates would come here when they realized that the baby was gone. The night wore on, and the blind Krawk did not sleep. He was listening for any sounds of pursuit. Then he heard it, the faint sounds of laughter and yelling. They were coming!

     He waited a while longer just to make sure. It was laughter. Yes. They were coming! Quickly he grabbed the small sleeping Aisha and raced out the door. Going down his trail was harder, but it would be his only escape. The pirates had come the long way, not knowing of the secret shortcut that he alone knew. He would go halfway down the trail and wait. How long he would have to wait, he did not know. His feet followed that hidden trail, the trail that he alone, that the blind one alone, could see. Fifteen minutes later he stopped and headed into a small alcove that he knew of, which, his brother had told him once, hid him from view if one were to look straight down the cliff. They would be safe there.

     Exhausted now from his long runs up and down the harsh cliff, and the feeling of loneliness and fear, Steven closed his with the young Aisha still cradled in his arms. Both quickly drifted off to sleep.

     He woke to the sound of his name being called from somewhere above him. What time was it? He could feel heat on his face. Heat? That would mean the sun was up, and already on its climb down the sky toward sunset. How long had he slept!?

     "Steven, where are you?" called his brother.

     "Steven!?" called the voice of that sailor they had talked to… last night?

     "Steven?"

     The young Krawk came out of the alcove, then paused, not sure which way would lead to safety. Where were the pirates? At the beach or at his home? Then he realized belatedly that they wouldn't be calling him if the pirates were still there. They were safe!

     "I'm here!" he cried back to the voices, and they immediately fell silent. Promptly he began to head back toward the beach. He could hear them say, "There he is! He's going to the ship!" They left, continuing their way back.

     Now that he was not running, it took him much longer to make his way back down the trail. He could feel the sunlight on his scales. It was warm and soft, just like the day before all this had happened. By the time he reached the beach, there was only an hour or so left of day.

     "There he is!" cried a sailor. Someone ran up to him and took the baby from his arms.

     "My baby," the other whispered, and he realized that she was a lady. "Thank you so…" He looked up, and she suddenly saw his eyes. "Oh, my," she whispered. "How did you…"

     Footsteps ran up as several people came. "Steven!" came the familiar sound of Jem's voice. "Steven!" A hand came to rest on his shoulder, and the blind eyes looked to where he knew his brother was. "Great job. You did it! We've won!"

     "Great job!" said others, then suddenly they all fell silent. Steven could feel them staring at him.

     "Look at his eyes," whispered one, but he could still hear it.

     "I didn't know," said the sailor they had talked to the previous night.

     "Does it matter?" said yet another. "He saved the child!"

     "How did you navigate that trail, Steven?" asked one.

     "I knew it already," he said in his soft voice. "I didn't need to see it to follow it."

     "Truly you did not," replied one in awe. "You took a path no one could see but you."

     "Thank you for what you've done for us."

     Suddenly Steven found himself shaking hands with all those there. Then he felt the familiar bundle of the tiny Aisha, and he cradled her for a moment.

     "What is her name?" he asked.

     "Anabel," said the lady, obviously the little one's mother. "Thank you for saving her."

     "My pleasure," he said, giving her back.

     The sailors stayed for only a while before heading back into the sea, proclaiming that the pirates still waited for them and they had to use this opportunity to flee. Soon they left, calling out their farewells to the two Krawk brothers. Steven only waved. He was finally something.

     His brother turned and hugged him tightly. "I'm so proud of you," he said. "You overcame your fear."

     "I didn't have to see to be able to save her," the young Krawk whispered.

     Will with the truest sight see…

     "She's coming," Steven said quietly, suddenly, looking with his sightless eyes to the sea. The sun was nearly set.

     "Who?"

     "The voice that spoke to me."

     There was a pause. "I see her," said Jem suddenly, falling back. Steven stayed where he was, waiting for her to come. He was not afraid of her.

     He heard the soft sound of feet touching the ground. Obviously she had wings and had flown to him.

     "Greetings, Steven," she said in her beautiful, melodious voice. "My name is Sveta, and I am a Light Faerie."

     "You spoke to me," he said.

     "Yes," she replied. "You have proven yourself to be true. You have proven yourself to be brave. You have proven yourself a hero. I honor you."

     A few tears appeared in his eyes.

     "You wander still beside this sea, and wonder still what you can be. He who acts unselfishly will with the truest sight see. You've wandered here long enough. Look into your heart and you will discover what you can be. I have a gift for you now. You have acted unselfishly this past night. You saved a tiny princess at the risk of your own life. You saw what no others saw. You found the path. You saw your duty and did it. Therefore I give you a gift."

     She left the sand, rising up into the air. "I give you sight."

     Steven felt magic stir in his blood, spreading out through him quickly. He blinked. Everything was so bright suddenly! Red and purple smeared across his vision, and he blinked several more times. Tears fell down his face, and he dropped to his knees. So that was what the sunset looked like. Tears tumbled down.

     He watched the faerie leave, and whispered "Thank you," to her. He was not sure if she had heard or not, though he felt that she had.

     He could see!

     The colors of the sunset were so beautiful! Had he ever seen such a beautiful thing!? The sun flared over the horizon and disappeared from view. Oh, what a glorious sight! How he had forgotten! That beautiful feeling passed through him like it had in his childhood. It was that feeling the sunset had always given him, the feeling that he had nearly forgotten. It was the feeling that he had triumphed another day, though this time it felt somewhat deeper. For not only had he triumphed over the day like he had in his childhood. He had triumphed over the unconquerable.

     He could see.

     Never before had anyone alive seen a sunset more beautiful than the one seen through the yellow Krawk's eyes.

The End

 
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