There was complete silence after the council proposed their idea. The council members twitched uneasily in their chairs, waiting for the king to reply. The shadows in the long, arched hallways seemed to grow larger until everyone was covered in an eerie dark light. There was some coughing as the long moments stretched by with no one daring to utter a word.
No, I will not allow it, a voice growled menacingly, slapping his fins around his glass and taking a long, slow drink.
The head-of-council looked at everyone, not knowing what to say. Star, please, if you'll just listen to reason-
No, Star growled quietly. I will not hear anymore of this, Soul.
Soul bowed his head. As you wish.
Anyone else have objections? Star raised his voice again.
Another council member stood. I do, sir. Star, as you know, we are in a war that we are not winning. We need help. Help of powerful beings. Ones that will guarantee our winning! We need Squirrel's and Wind's help!
Fire, will you make me say it again? They are only younglings! I will not allow them to have been born just to fight this war that we should be able to win ourselves. I will not let my heirs die in vain! Star spat, pounding his fin on the table.
Fire hissed. Sir, you are too selfish! Do not keep your children to yourself when they can be helping us!
Star glared at the old council member. Ah, Fire, you leave me no choice. He clasped his fins together and whispered something into his servant's ear. The servant's eyes grew wide and her face pale as she nodded and headed up the stairs. Star sighed and twirled his fins on the table as the councils' eyes grew anxious with wonder of what was going to happen to Fire.
Fire, a growl sounded from above the steps as Star's servant ran down the stairs and back to Star's side. Get up here at once!
All eyes were on Fire as he headed up the steps, trembling the whole way. The room was unnaturally silent as every just but dared to take a breath. Then a piercing scream filled the room, echoing down the shadow-filled hallways. As the screams of terror and pain finally subsided, Star asked, So, anymore objections?
I. Decisions to make
Under the light of a full moon, she could see the battle going on under her cave. Crash! The warriors were falling like raindrops, none of them making a dent in the enemies' reinforcements. This is hopeless, Squirrel thought to herself. They need our help. Why won't they let me help them? She looked over to her sister and repeated the question aloud.
Wind hissed. They think they can do it themselves. They know we can defeat them, but oh no! They think they have to protect us. Bah! She continued pacing, still grumbling to herself.
Squirrel nodded and continued staring at the battle raging on. The moon was reflected in the lake, making the night look serene, but the rough ripples in the water betrayed the truth. She could see the lake filling with the green liquid of her people, and the occasional blue liquid of the enemy would be mixed together creating a yellow tint in the water. Squirrel sighed and sat down on the edge, her tail twitching nervously and her opal spot lighting up.
Squirrel! Wind whispered harshly. Stop! You'll give us away, and we'll never hear the end of it from Star!
She winced and stopped her body from trying to help her people. Why won't he just let us help? she whispered back. I can stop many of them with just a flick of my tail and I can hide our warriors with shadows.
Wind just sighed in reply and started grooming her fur, making it gleam with a beautiful sheen of violet and tan. Looking back at the battle, Squirrel saw another of her warriors being slain and thrown into the lake. She could hear the screams of agony coming from her men as clear as if they were right beside him. She watched, in pain, as the enemies drove her warriors farther back. We aren't going to win this battle, she said quietly. Shhkk. Squirrel froze as he heard scraping on the cave floor. Wind, she whispered. Someone's here.
Wind looked up, her tongue still hanging out from grooming. I wouldn't worry too much, Squirrel. It's probably Star. He's the only one that can get up here.
Squirrel grunted, knowing she was probably right. I'm still going to check it out. She got up, stretched, and bounded over to where he heard the sound. She sniffed, trying to recognize the scent. It is Star, Squirrel thought sadly. She looked up and saw the form of her father coming down the rocky ledge. Hello, Father.
Squirrelflight, her father greeted, bowing his head. Star looked over Squirrel's shoulder. Wind.
Wind stood up and glared. Star, she replied coldly.
Ah, Wind, don't talk to me like that. Greet me as your sister did.
Hello, Father, Wind hissed out.
Star smiled tightly. Yes, I know you two do not like what I must do to protect you, but it is the only way. Anyway, that is not what I am here for. He waved his fin, motioning for them to sit. I am here to tell you what-
Squirrel heard Wind hiss again. Reading his mind. Again. She's going to get in so much trouble. She knows how much Star hates us using our powers on him.
Star glared at Wind with a frown. I see that you already know what I have to say. I will still say it aloud for Squirrel to hear: I am here to tell you what you two probably already know. We are not winning this battle.
Of course we're not! We would be if you let us help them! Wind spat at her father.
Please, stop interrupting, Wind. Star glared at her again, with a new frown. We are losing, and we are running low on warriors. I need you two to make a speech to the creatures of this land and encourage them to join us in the war.
What! Wind exclaimed, leaping up. I will never do such a thing! Not unless you let us help them!
Squirrel nodded in agreement. Although she normally agreed with everything Star said to avoid trouble, she had to agree with Wind on this. I will never, either.
Star sighed so low, that Squirrel was sure she was the only one that heard it. I knew I would have trouble getting you two to agree with this.
Of course you would, Squirrel growled, as a horn sounded from below.
Ah, I am needed, Star said. Please, consider speaking to them. I will come in two days time to hear your decisions. With that stated, Star stood and made his way out of the cave.
II. The Decision
Once Star was gone, Wind hissed, Like we'll ever agree to that!
Never, Squirrel growled in agreement. What will he do to us when he comes back and we tell him our decision?
Probably the same old, same old, she replied, wincing.
Squirrel winced with her. Star had a terrible way of treating them when he didn't get what he wanted, even though he said it was for their own good. I can't stand this anymore, Wind. She scowled. I can't watch our warriors die fighting to protect us when we could end this war!
Wind murmured in agreement, walking over to the ledge of the cave. I wish we never were Star's heirs. I wish we were normal.
You know we both do, Squirrel replied, resting her muzzle on her sister. It was true – neither of them wanted to be Star's heirs to the throne. He was too mean, too much to deal with sometimes. Star has had many terrible mood swings whenever they disagreed, which, speaking of that, will come again in two days time. They always prayed that their mother, Moon, would come back to help them. Star was never the father he was today. It was only after their mother died when he turned into the raging beast he is. Too much grief to handle is what Squirrel thought changed him. Grief can change a man.
Wind sighed with such agony that Squirrel knew she was listening in on her thoughts. Sorry, she whispered, knowing how much memories of their mother hurt her. Squirrel looked out to the lake and wished there was a way, somehow, that they could just run away.
That's it! Wind suddenly shrieked. Squirrel whipped her head back to her at the force of her voice and she continued, We need to run away! Run away from Star's reign until he passes. Until we can come back and take the throne and bring peace back to our land.
We can't do that, Squirrel said, her voice barely a whisper and her head staring at her paws. Our people, we can't just abandon them. We can't leave them to suffer Star's wrath.
You have to trust me. This will be much better than to suffer the beatings from Star. He can't live forever and our people will forgive us when we come back. They'll understand.
Squirrel just shook her head. Are you crazy? she asked her with her mind. Do you think I could live with myself knowing that we ran, fled, instead of helping when we knew we could? You know how it rips me apart inside when I see people I cannot help because of Star. You know how much this would hurt me. Squirrel's eyes began to tear up and she looked away from her sister, feeling embarrassed.
Squirrel, please, Wind begged.You know this would be the right thing to do. Please, do it for me. Do it for ourselves. I'm not sure if you can take another one of Star's 'righteous beatings', but I cannot. If I am- she blinked away tears and whispered, If I am beat again, I will not make it, Squirrel, I will not. I can feel my powers draining from me every time he beats us. Can you not?
Squirrel's eyes were brimming with tears now, and she waited a few moments to respond. I can never feel my powers, Wind. I never could. I can't control them. I cannot channel them. I can do nothing with them unless my body wants to. So I may not make it another beating, either, but I can't be a coward. I just couldn't survive. My body would tear itself apart.
Wind just continued to stare at Squirrel and she spoke with her mind. I can help you with your powers. I know someone that helped me and he will help you, too. Just come with me and we won't just run away. No, we will fight Star from the inside. We will rip him apart by not being here. We will runaway and still fight if that will make you happy.
Squirrel gasped. You-you spoke into my mind! How did you do that? I could never hear you before, even when you tried your hardest!
Wind smiled. I have learned both you and I have more powers than you know yourself, Squirrel. Come with me and you will learn them. Come with me and we will still fight, but be free of Star's beatings.
Squirrel grinned, all traces of sadness gone. Well, why didn't you say that before? Of course I'll go now! We shall fight!
Wind smiled a tight smile. Thank you, Squirrel. Now, before we go, we must talk to the one that helped me with my powers.
What? There are others like us? I thought we were the only two! Squirrel exclaimed.
You shall soon find out, Wind replied, and Squirrel could get her to say nothing more.
III. The Charm
Squirrel woke to a sound of water dripping from the stalagmites above her. Blinking slowly, she looked at the roof of the cavern and yawned. How did water get up there? she wondered, rising up and stretching. I don't think I'll ever fully understand nature, no matter what. Squirrel swept her gaze across her dark home, only her keen eyesight allowing her to see. Today was the day Wind's plan took action.
Wind? Are you here? Squirrel asked quietly, before licking her tail. She growled as she saw her opal spot on it and licked her fur the wrong way, hoping to hide it. Squirrel hated the spot as much as she hated fights. She licked it the last time before giving up on trying to make it disappear.
Squirrel, stop that. Squirrel jumped as Wind's voice cut through the cave, leaving metallic echoes all around her. You'll understand why you have that once we get this started. Don't hide it – embrace it.
Squirrel stared at Wind, wondering what else Wind had kept from her all these years. She didn't understand why she didn't help him with her powers when she knew someone that helped her control all of hers. I guess it's because I never asked, Squirrel thought. She thought I had my powers under my control, like everyone else. Even so, she held a small grudge toward her.
Wind laughed. Yes that is partly why I never told you. I have other reasons, though I will not mention them. She walked over to Squirrel and rubbed her violet nose on her ears before walking to the edge of the cave.
Squirrel sighed, knowing she'll never fully understand Wind even though she was her sister. They spent days together alone, and yet, Squirrel really knew nothing about her. She's too mysterious, she realized, trying to hide that thought from Wind.
You'll figure out how to quiet your thoughts from mind-readers soon, Wind said. Even hide them from me.
Squirrel nodded, still not fully understanding. Well, I hope I can. I'm tired of you listening in on my thoughts, she said bluntly. When Wind did not reply, Squirrel went back to the far end of the cave. There were tons of rocks of all different sizes, sheens, and colors. They glistened under the faint light of the morning sun, looking like diamonds and rubies even though they were just plain old cavern rocks.
Squirrel walked closer to them, sniffing at them every few rocks or so. They're so beautiful, she thought. How can I leave them? Squirrel put her paw on one and felt the coldness. She shivered, feeling cold all of the sudden. She turned to walk back towards Wind when her tail hit a blue rock and lit up like the sun. Ah! she gasped, turning back to the rock. That hurt! Wind!
Wind was there in heartbeats. What-what did you do? Squirrelflight! she accused, looking extremely nervous around her now glowing tail.
I did nothing! That rock burned me! Squirrel growled, looking at her tail. It doesn't hurt anymore, though.
She walked back over to the shimmering, blue rock. Squirrelflight… it whispered.
Squirrel gasped. It talks, Wind, it talks!
Wind nodded and replied quietly, I heard.
She looks totally spooked, Squirrel thought, stifling a laugh. She didn't feel scared; she felt that she needed that rock like she needed air. She felt it pull towards her just the same. Squirrel reached her paw out and touched the rock. Ah! she yowled again, falling to the ground and writhing in pain. She saw flashes of images, images she had never seen before. Images she didn't even know existed. She felt the rock's pain with her own body.
Squirrel! Wind cried, leaping for her.
Squirrel shivered and twitched as the pain finally subsided. Wind, she murmured, slowly standing on her shaking legs. That's no ordinary rock. I felt its pain. How can I feel a rock's pain! They don't even have thoughts!
As soon as she said that she fell to the ground again, experiencing more pain.
Squirrel, stop insulting the rock! Wind breathed.
What? she asked hoarsely, standing up again, but not being able to leave the rock's side.
The rock- you're insulting it, Wind said, tearing her gaze from the rock and staring at Squirrel.
I'm insulting the rock! Squirrel exclaimed, staring at the rock. How is that even possible? She thought back to her thoughts she had earlier today. I'll never fully understand nature.
The rock is not a rock; it's a Charm, Wind said, still sounding confused herself. A Charm is a rock that helps the Ones channel their powers. I thought they were extinct, she whispered.
The Ones? Charms? Squirrel repeated her words, confused about everything now. They were supposed to escape today!
Wind nodded slowly. We are the Ones. The only Ones left since we are the only ones with power left. Charms are rocks that help us channel our powers, but no one has seen them in millennia. They only reveal their presence to the Ones ópalo, our 'opal spots' as you call them. She stared at the rock with a new found intensity. Soul said that they were extinct and I've checked every rock in here, but none responded to me, Wind barley whispered.
Squirrel made a silent gasp as she mentioned Soul, Star's head-of-council. Was he the one that helped Wind? As much as that troubled her, the Charms were more interesting. So what you're saying is I just stumbled upon an ancient artifact for the Ones? And for some reason it responded to me and not you?
Wind swung her head up when Squirrel mentioned the Charm not responding to her. So you have super hearing. Huh, we know one of your powers now, she murmured, trying to keep her fur flat. Yes, that is what I'm saying.
Squirrel looked at the beautiful, blue rock that she once thought was just a rock. It's bound to me?
Yes, and it should be able to communicate telepathically with you. Ask it anymore questions you have, she said hastily before stalking away.
Wait! What about your plan? We were supposed to leave today!
Wind stopped and turned around. That will still take place, but tonight, Squirrel. Be ready by then and have your choice what you will do with your Charm. Her usual metallic voice was now curt with barely a ting to it. She turned back and continued walking briskly to her part of the cave.
She must be really upset that the Charm responded to me, she thought. Squirrel turned back to the Charm and stared at it, not knowing how to communicate telepathically with it.
Squirrelflight, it mumbled in her head. Squirrelflight, we are one. Take me with you and to Soul. He will know what to do.
Squirrel gasped, and nodded at the Charm, feeling silly about nodding at a rock. Yes, of course, Squirrel said, wondering if her telepathic message will go through.
Talking to me is not as hard as you think it is, the Charm murmured. Just think it toward me and I'll hear it.
Yes, Squirrel thought, taking the Charm's advice. Do you have a… name?
Squirrel thought she heard a laugh coming from the Charm. No, I do not. You are to give me one, Squirrelflight.
I do! Squirrel exclaimed in her mind. I have to give you your name?
Of course, Squirrelflight. You are a part of me now. I do not have a name until the One gives me one. You shall choose and I will not object.
Well, Squirrel said, thinking of names and making some up. She reached back into her consciousness and a single word popped into her mind. A word she never even knew she knew. Azul.
Wise choice, Master, Azul said. We are now officially one.
Squirrel grinned. She may not entirely understand what is going on or how she thought of that name, but she felt different somehow. It was like a part of her spirit just mended back together. She felt… complete.
Species: One (Royal Kougra)
Powers: to transform her features; can go long periods without oxygen; can read minds; powerful strength; can jump extensive lengths; can heal wounds
Species: One (Robot Jetsam)
Powers: Can jump extensive heights/lengths; powerful strength; to heal; can transport his power into other objects; long life[img coming soon]
Species: Charm (Rock)
Powers: Help the Ones channel their powers; can live forever unless killed by a One