Everywhere I looked they seemed to close in around me, trying to stop me, as I desperately ran for my life.
I run and run through the dark forest that although familiar and friendly at times was now devoid of any source of light and hid a great many dangers to those who didn’t know its secrets.
Well that and the fact that if you had the five Univerine Guardians protecting you, then you were basically guaranteed safe passage anywhere and everywhere.
Remembering their presence, I smile even though I’m still terrified. Feeling them all around me, keeping the darkness at bay as we race to our destination, brings a lot of ease and comfort to me.
After what must have been only an hour but felt like days to me we finally see light ahead and put on a burst of speed, running until we enter a large clearing, a hill covered in magnificent flowers as the main sight.
As we draw closer to the flowery hill, we slow our pace to a calm walk, admiring the wondrous blooms. And on closer inspection I see that there were only three kinds of flora in this mysterious place. I look around and sure enough, the whole clearing and especially the hill was covered in red roses, blue roses, and tiger lilies.
Bending down, I pick one blue rose and one red, putting them in my little messenger bag before making the climb up the hill and looking around for what—no, who had been chasing me to begin with. Seeing no one, I look behind me to see that my animal companions were there, waiting for me.
Shaking my head, I smile and lay down on the flowery carpet of the hill while those five animals assembled around me, watching the sky calmly and expectantly.
As I said before, there were five animals and yes, I did say they were the Univerine Guardians, creatures with unknown powers that protected a section of land as their territory. They’re also larger than their average cousins. Each have their own names though they are named after the domains they guard. One creature for each of the five lands of Univerine.
I look over at a small canine, a fox, though she’s bigger than her cousins. Her name is Duskaris and of course her territory is Duskaris. Another difference that sets her apart from regular foxes is her fur and eyes. Instead of the common colors of orange, gray, brown, black, or white Duskaris’ coat was a deep navy blue with silver fur along her underbelly, chest, and on the tip of her tail. And her eyes? They were a startling sight to behold. Instead of the typical color they were both different colors, Duskaris had heterochromia. Her right eye was a sparkling emerald green while her left was a deep indigo. Her eyes could easily make anyone do anything she wished them to, which was just as creepy as her psychic powers, especially that telepathy of hers. And as if she’d been reading my thoughts, Duskaris turns her vulpine head to look at me but I quickly focus my gaze elsewhere, onto the only avian of the group.
Too busy grooming himself, I watch the proud peregrine falcon. He calls himself Solaris and he, ironically, can control both Earth and Fire as well as the Sun. It’s a wonder he isn’t a pile of ashes by now.
I turn my attention to the almost hidden form of a serpent, her cobalt blue scales making her seem like a shadow herself. She’s quite large for a snake and just as unusual. Dawnyra is her name and her eyes are a bright teal. Her powers are all about Ice and Water, which is funny since she’s a snake and her territory is very far from the Lunali Sea.
Shifting my gaze, it alights on the biggest and most intimidating of the Univerine Guardians. All know her as Eclipsis, and her domain is in the center of all the others. Although she’s massive in size her nature is quite gentle and nurturing. Eclipsis’ scales are a dark, shining obsidian while the leathery parts of her wings and tail were a brilliant shade of teal. Her eyes contrasted with her metallic scales, being so starkly white they appeared to be part of the moon themselves. Eclipsis’ powers span over controlling Shadows and Light as well as Plants.
Finally, I settle my eyes upon the final member of our unorthodox group. He’s another canine but he’s also a wolf and his name is Lunaria. Lunaria is quite tall for a wolf but he’s also lithe and agile. His coat is a pale rose pink until near his paws which are a pale capri. From his back he has a pair of beautiful iridescent wings. His eyes, like Duskaris’, are heterochromia but the right eye is an enchanting maroon, his left is a shocking gold. What sets Lunaria apart from the other Guardians, besides his easy control over the Moon and Air, is the mask he always seems to wear. I’ve never seen him without it and apparently neither have any of the others. The mask covers majority of his head up until just before his ears and appears to be made of silk. Lunaria rarely speaks so it’s always shocking when he does but only at the bare minimum. He’s also not the friendliest or attached of the Guardians. None of us knows why but the others don’t push. Unlike me. Yet no matter how much I vie for Lunaria to tell me about him I’m always faced with the same result: a cold glare and silence, like now.
I’m about to ask Lunaria why he’s glaring at me when my eyes spot what I originally came out here for, what I always came out here for; The descent of a Univerine Star.
It is said a Univerine Star falls once every year and to see one is extremely good luck, especially if you wish upon it. If your wish is fervent enough the star will shine a bright purple that only you could see.
Every year I wished and every year I didn’t see that light. But I’m too stubborn, too desperate, to give up after a few failed attempts.
So, I find myself sitting up and looking up at the midnight blue sky, watching that star fall.
Taking a deep, fortifying breath, I close my eyes, silently whispering, “Dear Univerine Star, please grant me this wish. I ask but one thing and that is to make friends. I know I’ve asked this many times before but I can’t continue living with my cruel adoptive family, not without others to help me. I know I have your Guardians, but they have other duties to take care of, important tasks, that are far more significant than my wellbeing. So, I ask again, please grant me my wish. Please.”
Finishing my wish, I slowly open my eyes, hopefully watching the star’s descent. I watch so long that I sigh in defeat and about to turn away to go back to that horrid place that was home when I catch a glimpse of purple.
I turn back and sure enough, the descending star is flashing purple. I feel a moment of pure joy erupt inside before I feel a tingle along my shoulder blades.
Looking over my shoulder I see two beautiful, pure white wings materialize. I’m in such awe that it takes me a moment to realize all my companions except Solaris have disappeared.
Turning, I face him. “Solaris, where ar—,” I begin to ask but I sway and fall on the flowerbed of the hill, my eyelids heavy and my body weak with fatigue.
Solaris flaps and hops over to me, head cocked. My vision begins to fade, and I can feel myself slipping into unconsciousness.
The last thing I see is Duskaris and the others disappearing into the forest, Lunaria carrying an unconscious boy my age, and the last thing I hear is Solaris saying, “Soon, Evanescent, soon. Your wish among other wonderful things will come in good time, when it is right. So, for now rest.”
And then, I black out.
The bark of a nearby tree explodes off its owner as the rock violently bounces off. Sol is furious, readying another rock to throw in frustration.
He couldn’t believe that he’d lost her, again. His father had tasked him with chasing after his meaningless adopted sister and bringing, more like dragging, her back to home to be punished for running away, again.
And now, once again, his father would be furious and disappointed in him. Like always. It seemed no matter what Sol did he could never please his father.
His hand stops, suspended in air, clutching a rock and Sol begins to grin. He grins because of how he plans to finally make his father respect him, be proud of him, love him.
He begins to chuckle as he imagines it. Sol finding Evanescent, sneaking up on her, snuffing the life out of her body and the light from her annoyingly pretty, dark green eyes. Of him gaining control of her animal companions, the Univerine Guardians, and showing his father just how worthy he was.
His confidence renewed and his frustration quelled, Sol continued his hunt for burden of an adopted sibling.
Sol makes it halfway through the forest when a ray of moonlight through the dense canopy catches his eye.
Looking up, at first all he sees is just the full, pale moon. And then, a star descending, a Univerine Star.
Falling to his knees, Sol looks up and makes a wish, but nothing happens. Then he says it again, louder now, “Univerine Star, I don’t ask for much but to either make my father proud or be rid of that wretch of a sister. Do grant me this wish is all I ask.”
Sol waited. And waited. And waited. Yet nothing.
Infuriated, Sol angrily got to his feet, about to stomp his way home when a quiet but menacing whisper of a voice drifted to him from the very shadows themselves, “We can grant what you wish and more, just listen to us and we shall help you. We can help you in ways that old, dusty space rock never can. Listen to us and you’ll receive every reward that you deserve…”
Intrigued but wary, Sol tentatively but eagerly listened to the shadows whisper dark promises, a smile growing larger and larger on his face until it was too painful to continue. But Sol couldn’t help it, not when one day soon he would reap everything he had earned and more, especially now that the shadows were helping him and would continue to do so until his destiny called.
One day soon.
That’s all he felt as he ran, his whole body drenched with sweat and muscles weak with exhaustion. He stumbled over an unseen rock, falling on his hands and knees, his breathing labored.
He was shaking violently and only wanted to lay down and rest, close his eyes and wake up from this nightmare. He nearly succumbs to the embrace of sleep until a familiar warmth pulsed from his finger and against his chest, the ring and the pendant.
Drowsily shaking his head, stark white hair damp from sweat, he lifted it and shakily got to his feet. He took a deep breath, starting to run again, choosing to enter the infamous Moon Forest when he feels a jolt of pain in his right shoulder, nearly falling.
Somehow, he both managed to stay on his feet and keep running. He looked over his shoulder and the sight he sees sent a wave of dread through him. There was an arrow lodged deep in his right shoulder, near half of it disappearing into him.
He began to hyperventilate, his vision swimming with black and white stars. Yet he continued to run until finally he saw an opening up ahead of him, revealing a small, quiet village in the grasps of sleep.
Unsure if the villagers would help him or not, he decides to just pass through the village, silently but clumsily until he entered the forest again.
It was an hour later when he realized that could no longer hear the sounds of pursuit and collapsed to the ground in a mix of relief and exhaustion. He didn’t know how long he remained like that just that he knows something was about to happen when his ears, flicking forward, towards the sound of quiet murmuring.
Lifting his head from staring at the ground, he looked up and what he saw had his heart stopping and then beating again but faster this time, as if it still hadn’t calmed after his lucky escape. Before him was a hill covered in blue roses, tiger lilies, and red roses in a clearing in the middle of Moon Forest. But that wasn’t what drew his eyes and stopped his heart, it was what—no, who was on the hill that captured his attention.
The figure was a girl his age with long, curly auburn hair and dark green eyes. Upon first glance she seemed to be another peasant girl but on closer observation her clothes and company said different. Her dress, although simple and long, had intricate designs woven in lavender thread through the white fabric. And even though it was night he only knew of her appearance because of his more than average vision.
Now her companions… They were another story altogether.
At first, all he could make out were silhouettes. Then, as if someone had enhanced his already superior vision, those vague forms became excruciatingly and scarily distinct.
Surrounding the girl were five massive beasts; A black dragon, an azure bird of prey, a midnight blue serpent, a navy blue and silver fox, and a light pink and light capri wolf with iridescent wings.
The last one, the unusual wolf, was the one that intrigued him. He was in such awe that he nearly missed the sight of the falling star.
He didn’t know much about Univerine; It’s lands, rules, myths, and customs, not much time to do those when running for his life daily, but he knew about the Univerine Star and what it could do for the lucky few it deemed worthy. He hoped he was worthy.
And so, he looked up at the deep blue night and the falling star, his blue-gray eyes filled with desperate hope, his voice holding a note of despair and longing as he began his wish, “Univerine Star? I’m not sure if you can hear me or if I am even worthy of being granted my wish but please. Please help me figure out who I am, why people hurt me. Help and save me. I don’t trust anyone in this world anymore, but I trust you. So please. Find me worthy and help me understand why I am here and who I am.” His last words came out in a desperate, pleading whisper as he intensely watched the Univerine Star continue to descend, searching for any telltale sign of purple.
He watched for so long that he nearly forgot about his injury until a gentle breeze blew by, agitating the arrow which sent pain lancing through him, causing him to inhale sharply. The pain is so agonizing that tears began to well in his eyes.
And yet his gaze remained fixated on the star, one moment just a pale object falling and the next, a purple flash from it.
It took him a moment to comprehend three things. One, his wish was granted, making him both relieved and overjoyed. Two, he could no longer see the girl anywhere though he was downhill which helped not at all. And lastly, the girl’s creature pals were surrounding him, well except the bird, he didn’t know where it was, but he wasn’t curious enough to wonder when all he felt was sheer terror.
They stood before him, watching him with calculating, intelligent eyes. He sat there frozen for so long that he nearly jumps out of his skin when he hears a voice, a low and masculine one, coming from behind him.
“Who are you and why are you here, pup?”
At first, he blinked at the speaker and then did a double take, realizing the wolf was speaking to him. “I-I’m W-Wolf. S-Some hunters w-were ch-chasing me.” And although Wolf trusted no one he couldn’t help but feel a kinship to the massive lupine. Even though he was glaring at Wolf and seemed to be the most hostile of the other creatures, which was both hysterically funny and puzzling with a dragon, who was calm and making soothing noises in his direction, among them.
Wolf noticed the lupine was wearing a mask but got the sense that it was better not to ask about it.
The large canine continued to watch him, taking in Wolf’s attire, his features, and finally, the arrow. The wolf shook his head, gruffly beginning to say, “We will take you back to our Domain so you can heal but once you are yo—,” but he was interrupted by the smaller canine, the fox, who interjected, “Lunaria, look at him! He’s just a boy, a young one, just like Evanescent. He obviously needs help, yes, but take a closer look. His ring and his pendant. Lunaria, he’s one of yours, in two ways. You can’t abandon one of your Nightlings, much less one that is of your bloodline. Lunaria, he has to stay with us and learn what he can before time runs out.” The fox, Wolf believed was female due to her higher pitched voice, looked up at the bigger canine with defiant but pleading heterochromia eyes.
It seemed an eternity before the wolf, Lunaria, nodded his head at the fox before turning towards Wolf.
“You will come with us and we will heal you. But,” Lunaria paused, looking over Wolf once more, “When the time is right the price you pay for our aid shall be known later. For now, you will be taken to our Domain, healed, and taught all you need to know about your future.” With that ominous message, Lunaria crouched, looking expectantly at Wolf while the others watch with shock and disbelief written on their faces, except the fox, who was watching calmly.
Wolf didn’t know why they were all stunned by Lunaria’s action, but he didn’t question it either, only getting numbly to his feet and falling limply across Lunaria’s back.
The lupine, undeterred by the extra weight, gracefully stood and began to trot into the forest, heading to the mysterious Domain.
After a few minutes of curiosity eating at him, Wolf finally couldn’t stand it and asked, “So who that girl you were with?”
He didn’t really expect an answer so it startled him when a voice, the fox, spoke up, “Her name is Evanescent Weaver and very soon, you shall get to meet her, in good time. Her story, just like your own, is an interesting one…” And so, the fox, whose name was Duskaris he learned, proceeded to tell Wolf all about Evanescent’s life until he was claimed by the clutches of unconsciousness. But not before he concluded one thing.
Wolf had heard of love but hadn’t known what it felt like, but if it was anything like the warm, fluttery feeling he got every time he heard Evanescent’s name, then he was already in deep.
If that was what love felt like, then Wolf was falling hard for the mysterious, yet enchanting girl named Evanescent Weaver…