EndingArrow: Part Eight
Living In Memories
There was barely a transition from reality to the world
of Tasson's memories. I realized after a moment that I no longer had a conscious
feeling of my physical presence. My body was just…gone. I knew that I existed,
but there was no proof. It was a similar feeling to that which I'd experienced
when claiming the Windscythe from a passage of the WindRoads about a year ago.
Suddenly, a land opened up before me, and I
observed it, yet was a part of it. It was an expanse of lush, green grass, and
small cottages and huts dotted it in the form of a village. I barely recognized
it, but knew that this must be Terzin and Aly's village, only centuries younger.
The sight I beheld started out as a bird's-eye view, but as several seconds
passed, it changed so that I was at ground level.
A Fire Cybunny who I knew to be Tasson strode
through the sunlight along the dusty paths of the village. His flaming pelt
and the warmth of the summer day strongly contrasted with the harsh winter of
reality I had become used to. He approached a house that did not seem to be
in any way different from the others, and opened the door, comfortable enough
to know that he was not required to knock. He glanced around an empty front
room, at first looking slightly confused. "Frey?" he called, "Where are you?
You wanted to show me something, right?"
Frey KeenBlade strode forward from a back room,
now framed in a doorway, a smile on her face. "Finally, you're here," she said.
"Come, Tasson, for I've formulated an enchantment more daring than any other
mage's petty tricks. I thought I'd tell you first."
Tasson cocked one eyebrow in an expression that
was part curiosity and part concern, but followed his friend into the back room,
which appeared to be something of a magical study. A wind chime adorned with
crystals of many colours dangled before an open window, the warm zephyrs causing
the delicate fragments to clash with one another in a charming, whimsical melody.
Despite their pleasant appearance, I was reminded of the Firejewel and, had
I had a body, I would have shuddered at the thought. Maps of the surrounding
regions were hung on the walls as well as old parchment scrolls, pressed under
smooth glass in handmade frames. Thick books, many with runaway pages, littered
the wooden desk and counters in the room.
Frey picked up one of the hefty tomes, but this
one did not appear to be in rough condition. As she opened it, I could tell
by the handwritten words and painstakingly inked images that she had written
this one herself. She opened the book to one particular page, which had been
marked with a soft leather bookmark, decorated with glass beads and stone fragments.
She then handed the book to the Cybunny standing beside her.
Tasson gazed at the page, which depicted a diagram
of a Zafara, purely white like Frey, without a trace of any other colour save
for a delicate pink nose. The creature was curled into a ball, its tail touching
the back of its head, its fins protruding from the graceful curve of its spine.
This position suggested that this being was not yet born, that it had yet to
exist. Inside this figure was another image, a star with six points, and each
one stretching out from the centre like a spear. Each of these points was a
different colour and the inks that portrayed them suggested that they were truly
jewelled shards arranged in the starburst shape: ruby, emerald, sapphire, crystal,
gold, and obsidian. Surrounding the Zafara were six symbols, which corresponded
with the six sections of the inner star. I could tell that they represented
the six elements of Neopia: A black moon for Darkness, a yellow sun for Light,
a red flame for Fire, a silver cloud for Air, a green leaf for Earth, and finally
a blue wave for Water.
"The six elements within one being?" inquired
Tasson, looking up. "The Storm…within you?"
Frey smiled, proud of what she'd done. "Exactly.
Tasson, as a friend I'd like to comment on the way you use the Storm; the fact
is…you don't. The Storm was a gift to you, Tasson. It's rare magic, and yet
you don't seem to value it. Instead, you waste it."
"You're jealous," stated Tasson, a wary look
forming on his face.
Frey didn't seem at all offended. "You know
as well as I that the Storm is a power that is reborn once a millennium. I would
use that power to my advantage if I were you. That is why I've woven this spell,
linking me to the next future Storm-bearer. Into the future I've gifted that
individual with the ability to raise the dead, for of course I won't be alive
then. Once I return, I can take their power and complete the enchantment by
replacing their existence with mine."
Tasson's eyes hardened in disbelief. I could
sense what thoughts were whirling through his brain at that moment. He was completely
shocked at his friend's despicable reasoning. How could she even think
of doing something like this; targeting a pet who wouldn't exist until centuries
into the future, stealing their gift, destroying their life?
I now saw the roots of my predestined future.
This was when it had all begun.
Tasson threw the book down, letting it hit the
wooden floor with a muted clunk and a slight cracking that leaked out from the
binding. "You called me here for this?" he spat, "To proclaim to me your own
twisted fantasies? You envy me so much that you would murder a person of the
future to claim my power?" He fixed her with an astonished glare as her stood
there, and Frey's previous expression of pride morphed into one of contempt.
"I thought you would be awed at what I told
you, Tasson," she retorted. "But it seems I was wrong. My closest friend can't
even take a sliver of joy from my success." With a wave of her hand, a draft
of preternatural wind carried the fallen tome up and back into her grasp.
Tasson turned partway around, but looked back
at her one last time, his eyes searching her for some kind of truth or purpose,
which he could not find. "I pray to Fyora that you know what you're doing,"
he muttered, and then turned on his heel and stormed out of the house.
Frey remained standing there for a moment, her
snow-white figure illuminated by the sunlight that streamed through the room's
window. After a moment, she too turned away and back to her work.
The memory faded momentarily. "Is that how it
happened?" I asked Tasson. "Is that how you turned against each other?"
He gave me the answer I'd predicted. No.
There was more, which you will see. She thought that my power was something
to be used, although I preferred to handle the Storm in a subtle, careful way.
She wanted to prove to me that the Storm was meant for greatness, and she was
far more ambitious than I...
And her ambitions began to break our bond, which
was once that of a strong friendship. Because of the Storm, she ended up hurting
both of us.
The scene changed. Everything became more peaceful,
and the summer sun seemed to take on a more obvious presence and meaning. It
filtered through the foliage of the forest canopy and into the clearing where
a Fire Cybunny and a white Zafara stood, an arrow set to each of their drawn
Tasson loosed his first, and the shaft thudded
into the bullseye mark of the target they'd set up. Frey followed suit, hers
landing about half of a centimetre to the right of the inner circle.
Taking a step back, Frey lowered her bow and
examined her shot. "I'll match your skills one day," she said to her friend
with a playful smile.
"Well it's not as though you don't have any
skills of your own," remarked Tasson, "I couldn't lift that war sword of yours
without breaking my spine - it's massive!" With that, he made his way over to
a nearby tree and sat down, laying his own bow on the grass. The shade shielded
the Cybunny from the burning sun, the clusters of leaves dappling his pelt with
Frey wasn't ready to relax yet. Taking on an
archer's stance once again, she pulled an arrow from the quiver that was slung
across her back and set it to the bowstring. Stretching the weapon to its limit,
she sighted the target and loosed the shaft, which pierced through the air and
hit the mark: dead centre. After a moment she turned her head and cocked one
eyebrow in an expression that said, "See? I told you that I'd beat you someday."
Tasson glanced up at the distant target and
nodded in casual approval. "Not bad," he remarked.
Frey strolled over to the tree and joined her
friend, and the two of them silently rejoiced in the friendship and relaxation
they had found in the golden summer afternoon.
I almost couldn't believe my eyes. The sight
of Frey KeenBlade acting like a friend to another creature was beyond me. It
seemed as though this Zafara and Cybunny were completely different individuals
from the two who had learned to hate one another and who's link had been severed
by the Storm and a single regretful arrow. It calmed me to see them like this;
it filled me with peace. But it also saddened me, for I knew what was to befall
them in their future, for it was a part of my past.
"It used to be so different between you two,"
It was, wasn't it? Tasson's voice sounded
hollow and nostalgic, and I got the feeling that he had just let out a sigh.
Well, I have more to show you, which I'll explain.
Years passed, Tasson told me, and
we began to grow slowly apart. I spent more time alone than with her, and she
kept to her mage spells and desires. But one day, I began to realize just how
greatly her thirst for power was taking her over. She was resorting to violence
in order to feel superior.
Frey met another Zafara in her travels who was
the duke of a distant city. His name was Gerdon and it soon became evident that
she had feelings for him. She hired a young Techo girl named Skirnir to send
messages to him since they lived in separate regions. He rejected one of her
invitations once, gave her the impression that he wished to discontinue their
correspondence, and the results were chaotic…
I felt hesitant to witness the coming memory,
but knew that I must. Frey's despicable transformation had only just begun.
I saw Tasson again, sitting at a table in his
home. It appeared to be fairly early in the morning and his breakfast - a simple
slice of crusty bread topped with a wedge of cheese lay untouched on a wooden
plate in front of him, a glass of water standing next to it like a vigilant
sentry. He was starting off into space, and it was obvious to me that the thoughts
preoccupying his mind were those of his former friend, who was slowly withering
into an acquaintance.
Suddenly there was a pounding on the door of
his cottage, seizing the archer out of his reverie. He leapt up from his chair
and darted towards the door, flinging it open to reveal an anxious-looking yellow
"Tasson!" he exclaimed, "Frey's about to kill
Skirnir - the others told me to find you!"
The Cybunny's eyes widened in shock. "What?"
But it was clear that he didn't expect a reply from the other. Snatching up
his bow and quiver of arrows, which had been leaning against the wall, he swiftly
followed the Gelert out the door and towards the turmoil of which he'd been
It seemed that they reached Frey's house, located
near the village's outskirts, almost instantaneously, so desperate was their
pace. Tasson glanced around for a second, searching, but he was soon aware of
the nearby crowd, which had gathered a number of metres away from Frey's home.
The unnaturally white Zafara's dark eyes were
filled with the gleam of bloodlust, Sirocco in her grasp, its curved blade momentarily
resting across her shoulders. A scrawny, Spotted Techo cringed on the dusty
ground below her, sobbing.
"You dare return to me with such news?" Frey
seethed. Her anger seemed to physically boil over and, like scalding water,
cause Skirnir to curl into a tighter ball as if stung by blistering pain. "Your
skills as a messenger must be truly abysmal and your brain truly stunted if
you believed that coming here would earn you forgiveness. Gerdon was important
to me, you wretch, and because of you, that what I once valued is gone! You
don't deserve to live!"
With that, the immense war sword was hurled
downwards in a vicious arc, bringing a message of death upon its blade.
Tasson's voice thundered through the air as
he bounded forward in a blur of ebony and orange. He seized Frey's sword arm
and one of her shoulders from behind, striving to prevent her lethal actions.
The Zafara was jolted backwards, landing on the hard earth as her sword went
spinning out of her grip. The motion was unreal; Frey had been sent spinning
out of control by an output of Tasson's strength, which couldn't possibly have
done such a thing. The air around Frey's body where Tasson had grabbed her shimmered
with a blue-grey light, and she raised her head, astonished.
"Why did you come?" Frey demanded in a harsh
whisper. "How dare you meddle in my affairs, and with the Storm, no less!"
"Just because Gerdon rejected you is no reason
to take one Techo maid's life!" Tasson spat. "Leave her alone and get over it!"
Frey's glare intensified. "My business is my
own, Tasson," she seethed, getting back on her feet and snatching Sirocco from
the ground. She stalked over to the cowering Skirnir and hefted the blade, ready
to cleave the pitiful creature in two, but the Cybunny wasn't ready to back
"You're not going to kill her," he gritted out.
Frey slowly turned around, partly disbelieving
Tasson's stubbornness, and partly amused at it. But the air between the two
began to hum and shift, and it was at the realization of this occurrence that
Tasson had a completely focused air, and didn't
lose eye contact with the Zafara standing nearby for a split second. The sky
darkened at an abnormal speed, the sun sinking lower in the atmosphere, the
gathering crowd dispersing, and Skirnir racing away across the meadows until
she had escaped her village and her brutal mistress.
As quickly as it had begun, the surrounding
world slowed down again. The sky was streaked with the hues of dusk as though
orange and pink ribbons stretched across the clouds.
"You see it fit to spite me with the Storm's
time magic?" Frey briskly demanded, a little ruffled.
"I can't let you make scenes like that. The
Storm was the only way to stop you."
Frey's countenance unexpectedly broke into a
smile. She sniggered under her breath, and then proceeded to speak. "I never
thought I'd see the day when you would view me as a threat. You, Tasson, blessed
with the great Storm, feel threatened by a mundane mage."
"You're not mundane and you know it. Your ambitions
have got the better of you, Frey, and because of them, you're a threat to both
yourself and me."
The white Zafara sneered. "I won't have this,"
she hissed. "If I have to deal with you strutting around me day and night, telling
me that what I love is dangerous, then I believe that our camaraderie is ended."
Tasson didn't budge; merely returned her remark
with a level stare. "If you believe camaraderie to be harming others and yourself
while I stand by and do absolutely nothing about it, then you are completely
Frey remained silent and for a moment glanced
down at the enormous sword clutched in her paw. I knew that she could have beheaded
her former companion in a second had she wanted to, but she thought better of
this notion. Hefting the weapon onto her shoulder, she gazed westward and turned
her back on her best friend for the last time.
That was when we stopped being friends and
became enemies, Tasson told me. After her departure, I heard nothing
about her for months, but I received an anonymous message one day, inviting
me into the old clearing where we practiced our archery together. When I arrived,
I found Gerdon and Skirnir. She'd found and killed both of them. I then began
to hear rumours that she'd found followers and was hunting down anyone she considered
an enemy, using her formidable magic and war sword. I soon realized that they
weren't rumours, and anticipated that she would come for me.
"But she didn't stop, did she?" I asked, already
knowing the answer. "You have more to show me."
Yes, he affirmed. Much more.
I tried to calm myself and prepared myself for
the next onslaught of memories, knowing that they promised to be more unsettling
than these first few. I had forgotten about the cold coffin and the underground
tomb now. I inhaled deeply, and was lost to ancient nostalgia.
To be continued...