Gradients of Life
By Draeme Saekyr
Meridian Crane and Sylvan Addison were stepsisters caught in a horrific situation. However, they survived only to be torn asunder when an unexpected explosion occurred in what should’ve been a safe zone. Soon, Meridian Sylvan, Deborah, and Maribeth face unforeseen perils in unexplored lands. They also receive other lousy news from relatives who remained on various central grounds. Their personal families were under attack and abruptly went MIA. No one knew where the children disappeared either.
Now Sylvan needed to muster her courage and utilize her skills to find where the missing children wound up. She also had to figure out where a new person in her life, Eloise Glass, would also fit in the long run. Something about Eloise was familiar, but Sylvan didn’t have time to understand the connection. What with a manuscript and several deviant villains targeting her life? Sylvan was desperately trying to survive and be able to love out loud confidently with whomever she wound up with as a lifetime partner.
This had turned into a day from hell. In fact, the entire past four months of nonstop drama and near-death traumas began taking a severe toll on Sylvan’s increasingly ragged patience. Since it wasn’t something that she was well known for, she was surprised she hadn’t exploded. Though soon, she wasn’t going to tolerate any more ineptitude when it came to fools that thought she was just another brick of muck that required destruction. Oh sure, she and the rest of her siblings could survive. However, Sylvan wanted to do more than merely survive. She actually wanted to maintain something of a normal lifestyle. However, that fallacy was trashed when her sister Leticia died horribly and tragically. In that sense, Sylvan hated her sister. If none of them had known about their futures, maybe none of this would carry out so horrifically.
“Bah, who am I kidding?” Sylvan muttered in disgust as she finally registered her latest landing area.
“Who might be around to help? Sylvan really wasn’t expecting assistance. This was becoming a total drag, and she didn’t care to remain a helpless heroine in any case. Hmm, she glanced around impatiently and shrugged with resignation. “Nope, just as I suspected, no dragons in sight this time.” Sylvan sighed. “Just where the hell did I wind up this time?” That did baffle her somewhat.
Though she struggled to remember what happened that she’d gone flying an extremely long distance without a safe landing area. Sylvan coughed and spat some blood. There was no recall of prior events, which shook her somewhat. Whatever happened must’ve been a real doozy of a situation.
“Guess it must’ve been another ambush.” However, Sylvan guessed she’d harnessed her element to keep herself alive this time. “Much good that did me this time. Now I have to find the others again.” She fumed in aggravation because she was tired of the constant irritation of having no secure future.
Each time an attack occurred. The remainder of siblings sticking together decreased. Sylvan grimaced because now she realized such a thing meant the attacks would continue increasing. At least until all of them died or found someone of equal status that would keep them balanced.
Sylvan sighed as something occurred to her just then. “Hah, and we were supposed to stay in one general area? I don’t think so. It just means we’re a bigger target to concentrate on.” That had been the worst idea that the idiot, Deveril, could’ve come up with.
“What a bunch of bullshit.” Sylvan fumed. On the other hand, at least she knew her blood siblings were still alive. At least they had been the last time she checked. “Though with how things are going, that might not last much longer either.”
A sigh escaped her. “Guess I should focus on figuring out where I wound up this time.” The fact that she was alive was a mystery to Sylvan. “I could’ve sworn the others were well on their way to finding their partners.” She made a sour face. “Partner, hah, yeah, right.” She shook her head in disbelief. “This sounds like something a disgruntled deity cursed the entire family with just for kicks and giggles.”
She folded her arms as she debated what to do next. From what Sylvan could determine, there was no choice but to go through death to reincarnate and find that happy ending.
“What happy ending? More like just finding the destined one in the original form. How unoriginal can a scenario get?” Sylvan scoffed in disgust. “This is totally ridiculous.” She didn’t know how the others were faring, but this totally stunk as far as she was concerned. A wave of pain knocked Sylvan off her temporary perch, and she passed out.
The higher altitudes of the skies with drafts constantly cooling the air gave Eloise Glass much pleasure as she soared through the clouds. Drifting lazily along the various currents, Eloise watched for any unusual disturbances. She glanced at her companion, who accompanied her in glum silence. “So, what happened, Meridian, that turned you into a literal ghost?”
Meridian glanced at her in annoying contemplation. “Another ambush. I was with Sylvan Addison, whom I must ensure survives.” His slight shrug and grouchy growl made Eloise sigh. “So, from what I’m hearing, she is the one you were involved with, yes?”
Meridian snorted. “Not likely. I liked guys. She likes both. I prefer one. She doesn’t really distinguish between the two.” He shrugged. “We were good friends but nothing more. There was someone else I loved, but that betrayal murdered both me and Sylvan from a misunderstanding. That kind of thing put me off the true love and happily-ever-after bullshit.”
Not to mention that he’d been female at the time of the explosion. Ironically, he was one of the stepsisters that Sylvan doted on. “She’s going to miss you, you know that, right?”
Eloise envied that connection.
Meridian shook his head. “Not really. We only hung out together because of our similar abilities. Even then, we didn’t have the same opinions on anything and fought more often than we agreed.” His distancing from Sylvan’s problem annoyed Eloise.
“You are a total hypocrite in that case.” Eloise scolded him. “So why are you here with me?”
Meridian snorted. “So, I can help you track down that idiot, Sylvan?” He shook his head. “Hell, I’d be on my reincarnation loop if it weren’t for the fact that I’m stuck searching for that irresponsible female.” His rising aggression and anger toward Sylvan didn’t bode well for this particular mission.
Eloise sighed. “I’m sorry I brought you with me in that case.” She didn’t need further agro from him on anything else.
“Pah, what does it matter now?” Meridian grunted. “Hold up, how’d she lands on the cloud shrine?” His mild shock turned into horror. “That will get her into deep shit if she isn’t removed soon.”
Well, that was unpleasant. Eloise surveyed where a female landed. She had critical injuries but was still attempting to move. “Are all Addison’s, male and female, stubborn like her?” If that was the case, there would be hell to pay later.
Meridian grimaced. “The females more so than the males. That’s only because they were raised to be useless decorations on a man’s arm. Obviously, that isn’t how they turned out.” Despite his disdain for the family, there was grudging admiration at their stubbornness in refusing to bow under pressure to the status quo of their life’s societal status.
Eloise grunted in acute disbelief at his attitude. “Why are humans so caught up in minuscule gradients of life?” She shook her head in aggravation. “No wonder they’re always getting caught up in turf wars. All these useless and stupid disputes are only momentarily recorded facets of history that may or may not be recalled.”
Meridian shrugged. “Yes, well, that’s how stupid humans can be.” His disgust came through loud and clear. “Not that I was much better when I was a human myself. Yeah, I was a hypocrite back then and now.” He sighed wearily. “Unfortunately, that was the only way to survive in that particular society. While I’m not unhappy to be out of it, I, unfortunately, left much behind that I’d go back and change if I could.” He realized what he had said. “Ah fuck me, that wasn’t supposed to happen yet, dammit to hell and back,” Meridian swore furiously as he vanished.