The Beginning of the Sky Children
Written by Ourali
This work was last updated August 17, 2016
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Kirva regarded the impending twilight with annoyance, glaring up at the darkening sky. She hadn’t made good time today, and wouldn’t be making it to anywhere with reliable shelter before the planets would be rising above the horizon.
Still, she walked on, hugging her travel cloak closer to her chest when she felt a breeze tickle her face and cause goosebumps to appear on her exposed skin. Kirva prefered to stop for the night, but she knew that there were less dangers if she kept trudging on.
A fellow merchant walking in the opposite direction from hers had stopped her just that morning, warning her of the increased sightings of herds of Shades in the area. Kirva wasn’t afraid of much, but even the Shades unnerved her.
As she thought about what the merchant had said, she shivered at the thought of meeting another herd of Shades. Their eerie whispers had haunted her nightmares every time she had slept since a young child, and the dark-skinned woman had made sure to never hear them in real life again.
Shaking her head to snap out of her thoughts, Kirva concentrated on listening and looking around her, continually scouting for what would surely be her death if they came too close. As she glanced ahead, however, she spotted another travelling merchant and their caravan stopped on the side of the road, a fire roaring in front and shooting glowing ash into the empty sky above.
Sighing in relief, Kirva reached for her coinpurse as she approached the lone merchant. He didn’t seem to be much older than she; wrinkles caused by age were just beginning to line his face, so she guessed that he must be around 90 years old.
“Sabi!” she called out in greeting, the word sounding garbled after not having spoken for so long. The merchant’s head snapped up, his face smoothing into a carefully schooled expression.
“Greetings. It’s a bit late out to still be walking around on your own, isn’t it? Have you not heard of the Shades roaming around?” he answered, a strong accent shining through his perfectly spoken Priveri.
Kirva stopped in front of him, holding onto the strap of her bag as she adjusted it.
“I know of the Shades,” Kirva said, smoothing back the stray coarse curls framing her face. “But I seem to have miscalculated how much time it would take to get to Arlian from Goagish.”
“Well, that’s unfortunate.”
“Yes, it is. I was wondering if perhaps you could allow me to stay with you for the evening? I’m an Eneci and I’m willing take guard for the night, and I have money that I can give to you in exchange.”
He was already waving her over to his side before she had finished speaking, the man’s face brightening up into a wide smile.
“Don’t worry about money! Of course you can stay with me. I would feel terrible if I didn’t, what with just how dangerous it is out here tonight.”
She relaxed, her shoulders drooping as she made her way to sit beside him, dropping her heavy bag on the ground with a thud.
“Ouf, that sounds like quite the load.” She frowned at his words, the expression unfamiliar. “Oh, sorry! I mean that it sounds very heavy.”
Her eyes widened in understanding, the corners of her mouth pulling back to mirror his earlier smile.
“Yes, it is ‘quite the load’, I must admit. Even if we Eneci don’t really need sleep, we do get weary if we don’t at least rest a little.”
He nodded as if he already knew, but Kirva had a sneaking feeling that it wasn’t really the case. He took what seemed to be a rabbit’s cooked form off of the spit and took a leg, wincing only a little at the pain caused by the heat. The man offered the rabbit to her, and she graciously accepted a piece, her stomach growling for the first time that day.
“I’m Kirva.” she said after they had eaten for a bit in silence, her words ringing out in the emptiness of the surrounding plains.
The man smiled and nodded, replying, “And I’m Eli.”
“It is an honour, Eli. I have to ask, though: how much do I owe you for giving me shelter?”
He kept chewing, seemingly considering what she could offer him. Kirva stared at him intently, refusing to look away until she had her answer.
Finally, once he had swallowed his bite, Eli said, “I think all you owe me is a story.”
Blinking a few times as she processed the demand, Kirva frowned in confusion.
“But… Why? I’ve never met a merchant wh-”
“Who refused money?”
Eli smiled softly, his eyes warming as he looked away from her and out at the emerging colours of the nearby nebula in the sky.
“I am a simple man, Kirva. All I really want is to explore and live out the rest of my days learning the history of this beautiful world we live on.”
Kirva regarded him with respect, nodding in understanding.
“As we all should, really.”
“Aye. So, my dear, what is your favourite story?”
She pondered for a moment, finishing her piece of rabbit as she thought. She licked her fingers cleaned before she responded, “Have you ever heard of the story of the Sky Children?”
The man thought for a moment, his eyebrows furrowing. “No, I don’t believe I have.”
“Well, it is a long story, so I would suggest getting comfortable.”
Eli raised an eyebrow as he looked at her, before leaning back in his seat so that he was leaning against his caravan. Sighing as he fidgeted, he smoothed back his brown hair and placed his hands behind his head as a pillow.
“Tell me of the Sky Children, then.”