Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 117,233,045 Issue: 233 | 31st day of Running, Y8
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by alifa_earth


The angry violet sky displays its fury with arched eyebrows of lightning, long, cruel streaks of yellow-white. It roars with the booming voice of thunder, screaming away the peace that once hung limply in the air. I don't mind the scene of anarchy that is trying to scare a squeal out of me. I sit here, on a battered old stool, numb and oblivious to the tempest before me. This is the oldest room in King Skarl's castle, and the walls are carpeted with moss that has thrived in its damp grey stone prison. The violet stings, like cords whipping my arms, stirring my memories. One word reverberates in the space where I have stored lost, hidden thoughts.


      She is my sister, an Aisha with the fire dancing in her heart. And dance she did. She loved the chime of her tambourine, and always shook it around while her feet would tap away. There was no pet that wasn't completely mesmerized by the lively tempo, and the swirling mass of scarlet that was her skirt. She would pivot expertly on her toes, and sometimes even sway gently like grass. Yet the best scenes were the ones where she would perform large leaps, dramatic, strong, and pirouette endlessly, never becoming dizzy or easily tired. Her skirt frantically swept up the beat as she went along, her bewitching smile playing about her lips all the time, breaking all stringent rules.

      Another crash of thunder suddenly snaps me out of my reverie. I sigh, remembering the Darigan Aisha that is my sister. But I sort of betrayed her-I unmasked her. There is one thing I hate about the sky-it reflects your feelings so well when you don't want it to. Right now, I am feeling pretty lousy and guilty. In an instant, the storm clouds, looming ominously, forbidding, start to dispense rain, as if it is crying, seeping into the earth and seeking comfort in its gentle brown folds. I feel like crying too, but the only thing that escapes my eyes is a look of sorrow, and I slump down onto the gritty windowsill, letting out a dejected sigh. I take off my thick glasses, and everything becomes blurry and distorted. I know it's childish, but I pretend that everything is all right, that everything is the same as before, before I discovered that dreaded Line.


      I stumbled along; my stubby little feet unable to keep up with the arrogant stride that Auralyn was using. In contrast, her ginger tresses bounced gaily as her tambourine shook slightly, tinkling like little bells. "L-lyn," I gasped feebly, my voice coming about as a series of pants that were almost inaudible. However, the Darigan Aisha kept pattering along the uneven, hard floor, and I struggled to follow her. You see, being small allowed me to move swiftly, my movements nearly imperceptible. I had used this technique and found Auralyn fondling her tambourine earlier and murmuring, "Performance time, at last."

      My interest aroused, I had leaned on the door, causing it to creak. Big mistake. Auralyn caught the sound easily with her sharp ears and left the room in a huff, grabbing me by the collar of my shirt, threatening to dangle me from her iron grasp. She interrogated me; spitting out questions quickly, her voice a low hiss. "Spying on me, huh? Are you going to tell Mother about this?"

      "N-no, I was just curious," I managed to splutter.

      "You little pest! Just make sure you don't tell this to Mother, or else you'll be sorry!" Auralyn spat, her blood boiling. A purple-blue fireball shot up from her palm involuntarily, glowing wickedly.

      I managed to shake my head in submission. Auralyn had a fiery temper that could rival Lord Darigan's, and that was saying a lot. He ruled the Darigan Citadel, and I lived in his huge castle, because Morguss, my mother, was his advisor. But it never felt like home. It was not only because of the cold, uninviting atmosphere; there were also other reasons too. I couldn't feel any family ties, nor that invisible bond that keeps family members loving each other and caring for each other. The closest I had was Auralyn. Although she mostly kept to herself, thinking that I was too juvenile to be roped into her life, I somehow understood her, and penetrated her cold, hard shell, seeing the lonely soul that nestled inside. After all these years, I finally understood my sister-she conveyed her warmth, happiness and kindliness through her melodious music, dancing to her tambourine.

      That was happening now.

      She had reluctantly allowed me to trail her, to the marshy land beyond the menacing grasp of the purple castle, which was empty and devoid of anything of real substance. I was rather glad to step out into some cold air at last, although it was rather musty. Wisps of black floated by lazily in the purple sky, and there was barely any light. This was another thing I hated about the Citadel. Everything is so…dead. There is no better word to describe it. There are no songs, no dances, not even the gentlest of hums. The only prominent sound was the wind rushing past, tickling my fur and stubbornly pushing my ears to the front. It was a sick, ghostly, phantom wind, which howled raucously, mocking me constantly. It never caressed, sang, or even laughed.

      Auralyn pushed through thickets of bushes, taking care not to let her skirt be ripped away by the ill-boding thorns that protruded from everywhere. They were diseased bushes, ebony, with soggy, drooping leaves. Yet they showed bravado by putting out grasping thorns, like poisonous claws.

      We finally arrived at an expanse of land, barren, the brown soil bumpy and in some places, reduced to mud. But that didn't deter Auralyn. She started to beat her instrument lightly, and began to bend and move to the beat, her emerald eyes slowly glazing over and acquiring a mysterious sheen. She opened her lips, and a song issued out of her mouth:

     I sing in this desolate place

     Of dreams, a land renewed.

     Residents all have a lying face

     And I'm full of sorrow and rue.

     I try to create a sanctuary,

     A kind of retreat for myself.

     Whether you're a peasant or a legionary,

     Push the lies behind you and delve

     Into a world of music and song,

     Where harmony will reign.

     If you can, please stay long,

     Before the melody starts to wane.

      Her voice, like a rippling stream, surged on and on, and I was utterly captivated by it. Soon, a variety of pets had shown up, from the grumpiest of Skeiths to the most timid of Shoyrus. They just sat down, some closing their eyes, letting the music flow into their heads, cleansing and clearing it. Auralyn could weave such deadly magic-and it was just with her voice.


      "Auralyn! I'm outraged!" Morguss screeched in her rasping voice, clearly enraged.

      "Mother, there is no freedom! I can't do anything! I just want to enjoy myself!" an angry Auralyn retorted, her mouth curled into a rude snarl. I just crouched down, cautiously listening to the argument. Apparently, Morguss had cast one of her surveillance spells, being the suspicious witch that she was, and had seen her eldest daughter whirling around with a tambourine. I just hoped that Auralyn wouldn't accuse me of ratting on her.

      The more I watched the heated argument span, the more I hated Morguss. My mother, indeed! I knew it was wrong to speak ill of her, but she looked like a very ripe prune, with all those wrinkles blemishing her face. And that sickly grey skin, with mottled green in between, made me want to retch. At least Auralyn was Darigan. But I had sunny-yellow fur, and I felt like an irony in this lonely place, what with everyone being purple, cobalt, grey or even black. Why was I so different? I surely didn't feel like a citizen of Darigan Citadel at all. Something was amiss. I just didn't know what.



      If there is one thing that I cannot perfect, it is magic. I have a wand of Supernova, but it was made out of plastic, a cheap attempt to distract me when I was younger from its true power. I quivered in fright as I futilely tried to wipe off the brown sludge that had collected upon my skirt. To tell the truth, I can do basic magic spells, but potion-making never appealed to me. My blotched skirt was a result of a failed Morphing Potion. Morguss had screeched loudly and thrown me out of her spell room.

      I envied Auralyn. She had that way with magic, being able to manipulate it as if it were a mere toy. She could create roaring infernos, twisted stems with thorns; rising surges of water…there was no end to her bond. But her singing and dancing were the most beguiling things of all. Oh, they say that Darigan is soon going to be overthrown; Lord Kass, a crude Eyrie general, is going to take his place. What if he uses Auralyn for his plans, that usurper! He seems a threat to this doomed land. Once, very quietly, by accident, I saw him wailing in his room in the darker regions of the castle. He was moaning and shaking terribly, groaning in low tones, "Stop! I am worthy! I'll do whatever you want…"

      Stupefied, I froze and ducked near the walls. I heard a feminine voice coming out from nowhere, soft, dangerous, almost a serpentine hiss. "Oh, I'm sure you will, Kass. I'm sure you will." That incident has stuck in my memory since, even now, it comes back, chilling and haunting as I randomly choose a direction and begin to walk.

      The carpeted hallways yawned on ominously, and shadows started to flicker. Nevertheless, steeling myself, I spied a door. There was a knocker with a gruesome face above it, and its mouth twisted into an ugly grin.

      "Welcome," it began. "What do you seek?"

      Darn it. I wanted something to do, something to read…there were hardly any books here. Wait! This could be the library! "Books," I tried.

      The face replied in a rather ambiguous riddle:

     "There is more behind that word, you know,

     Hurry up, don't be slow.

     One minute to unlock this door,

     If you're wrong this time, access? No more."

      What was in books? Knowledge! I brightened up, and as a precaution, I decided to be polite to this quizzing mess. "Door guard, sir, is the answer knowledge?" I finished my answer off with a sweet smile.

      The door guard peered at me closely. "Well, you've unlocked the door, but the library is reluctant to accept you. I'll give you another clue:

     "Knowledge is the answer, indeed.

     But to enter, please heed

     That the code word is not quite the same

     Similar to a word search game."

      What the heck was it trying to convey? The door guard smirked at me. I shook in anger at that supercilious smile. A word search game? The ones where the words went forwards, backwards and diagonally? If knowledge was the answer but similar to the format of a word search, what was it?

      Bing. Suddenly I knew! Forwards, backwards! Spell knowledge backwards! My mind whirred, and soon I had the answer ready. "Egdelwonk," I said confidently.

      The door guard grumbled, but it reluctantly allowed me in. "Thank you," I said as a sarcastic reply.

      The library was old, with thin, intricate Spyder webs that hung around the corners. It had accumulated quite a lot of dust too, specks of which were flying around in a twirling dance. I went to the librarian's counter and saw a thick librarian's log. Coughing a little, I opened to book to its most recent entry. Scanning the list, I saw an unfamiliar name: Jeran Borodere. Who was this Jeran? I thought I knew all the names of everyone important in this castle! He sure seemed important. The Boroderes, as I had read, were a noble family, and most of the men either became knights or generals in the army.

      Only then, in my quest for wisdom and knowledge, did I notice how large and extensive the library was. Shelves and shelves of glorious digests, delectably thick and tempting lined every wall, almost taking up all the space. I had no idea why anyone wanted the library to be secluded like this.

      Shrugging it off, I decided to search the "Family Trees" section. I reached up and found a thick black tome. Pulling it down, my eyes darted to "Borodere". Ignoring the start of the tree, Landon Borodere and Patricia Kawith, I looked down, until I faintly saw the outline of a blue Lupe, my quarry. Underneath was his name. Wait-there were two female Aishas next to his picture, presumably his sisters.

      Strange…they looked just like Auralyn and me! Underneath were their names. My heart skipped a beat, and my chest became taut as I took shallow breaths. Auralyn Borodere and Lisha Borodere! I was Jeran's sister! So was Auralyn! This couldn't be. Then why was Morguss my mother? My finger shot up, and I saw our parents, a White Lupe with dashing good looks and a general's helmet on his head and my mother, a Brown Aisha with a headband around her head, a dancer, just like Auralyn! There was no mistaking it.

      In my haste to double-check, I swiftly flipped to the Poracta family, my supposed surname. Morguss was there, and her late husband, Anko Poracta, a Darigan Aisha. Auralyn and he shared a faint resemblance, but then how could she be a Borodere? The picture earlier depicted a Brown Aisha, and strangely, I only noticed it now. I was thoroughly confused, and chewed my lip in thought. Morguss had no children, though.

      I was aware of how white and stark my face had become when I saw my reflection in the window. Teeth chattering, shocked by the sudden discovery of this Line, I picked up the book and rushed off to my bedroom at lightning speed, trying desperately to avoid guards. I decided that tonight, it was time to tell Auralyn the truth, to open her eyes, to let her see through the deceptive witch Morguss.


      The pale moonlight cast feeble streaks of white upon the stone floor, white as Therip Borodere's fur. I couldn't stop thinking about my father. I wondered if he were still alive. And my mother too…she would be delighted at seeing Auralyn. Tears started spilling like fresh pearls onto the silken sheets. Separated…for so long. Too long. I would reunite the Boroderes again.

      Stepping out quietly, I balanced the book carefully in my scrawny paws, and stealthily tiptoed over to Auralyn's bedroom a few doors away.

      I knocked on the door softly. No answer. I knocked again. This time, I could hear my sister mumbling something incoherent. I took a risk. "Auralyn!" I said urgently, and then quickly spun around to check for guards. Thankfully, none came, and the lock clicked open. Auralyn groggily rubbed her eyes. "What do y-?" she managed to sputter before I pushed her in.

      After locking the door, I said, "Sit down, Lyn. I have to tell you something." She sat down, and then asked, "What?" in a hushed whisper.

      "Lyn, you are related to Jeran Borodere! He's our brother!" I cried, but then clamped a paw over my mouth.

      The sentence had done its job. Auralyn's emerald orbs grew increasingly wide. Then her eyebrows arched at a dangerous angle. "Who told you that?" she hissed.

      "It's in here." I offered her the book. She scrutinized it with a long, hard stare, and finally crossed her arms in frustration. "I refuse to admit it, Lisha," she began defiantly, "Morguss is our mother, and…and..." Her voice faltered a little, unable to recall a father.

      "Anko Poracta," I said darkly. "He's in here too." Auralyn looked stunned. She said softly, "Really?"

      I nodded. "I'm leaving this place. So should you, Auralyn. I'm running away to Meridell. That's where our true home is. We'll rot here. Lord Kass will use us. He's evil. I'm positive, having seen him talk to spirits." Three years my senior, I doubted that my sister would believe me.

      She didn't. Launching into a stream of sentences, she made everything painfully clear. "Lisha, you're stupid. How can you trust anything this book says? And Lord Kass…well, it's too early to know."

      "But you don't like this place too much either, do you? You always put such sadness into your songs," I tried to convince her, my eyes pleading.

      "I know, but I think I'm changing my mind. This place has so much…power! The possibilities of success are plentiful, once we harness it. It pulses here, can't you feel it? Most of the power will go to us; and you, one day you might even be in the Advisory Council!" her eyes were alight with a mad craze, and she spoke clearly, making dramatic hand gestures.

      "I hate this place," I said bitterly. "Everything is dead, and the lands are desolate. The peasants are starving! The rich and royal are corrupted! Corrupted by power and wealth! And you…you're one of them! That's why you're Darigan! The power made you like this!" I pointed an accusing finger, and my face was dark and angry against the moonlit walls.

      Blocking out Auralyn's goodbye, I stormed out of the door, fled to my room, grabbed some clothes and supplies stashed in my drawer, and in my fury and desperation to escape from this cursed Citadel, actually produced a strong rope which I used to climb down.

      And I ran as fast as I could, trying to shed away the skin and memories of my former land with each step. I went into state of breakneck speed, so strong was my desire to see my real family. The stars blinked in the ebony sky above, urging me to go on, to go back to my homeland. But amidst all this, I suddenly stopped, and pulled out a little charm from my pocket. It was a series of beautiful knots that Auralyn had woven, and I pushed my face close to it, trying to inhale her scent, the scent of singing, the scent of dancing. But they never came. My sister had changed, and so had my once quiet admiration for her.


      The storm has partly subsided, long dripping tendrils of rain now drizzling from the flags above. Oh, Auralyn. Why did you betray your home? Your land? Enchanted by the sense of power that ensued from the corruption of the Darigan Citadel. I don't care if you look a bit like Anko; I know that you are a Brown Aisha inside, and that you are guilty of not admitting it. I know that you are silently regretting your choice. But what I know clearest of all is that we are forever sisters, even though we're far apart.

The End

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