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Chapter 3

The following day, she woke up to the sound of her mother yelling harshly outside her door. Dragging her self out of bed, she threw on her work clothes and sped past her parents, silently bearing a new flood of insults. She slid down the tunnel of the hollow, and made her way towards the rye grasslands.

The other earthseeders barely spared her a glance as she approached, sludging through wet soil, preparing the earth for a new season. She chuckled, a bitterness on her tongue. Her mother had once said Kun was the fattest pixie in the Arden. A strange paradox, she thought, to be so large and still feel so invisible. It was damp and gloomy beneath the grass, and as she planted the seeds, she soon became as black as the mud around her.

Towards noon, she collapsed in a heap beneath a sunflower stem, exhausted from her morning’s work. Beams of sunlight creeped through the leaves, and she saw sunlighter pixies flying above, landing on the purple petals of an Aster nearby. Eve was among them, expertly playing with light, spreading even rays across the field. Kun waved at her sister, but Eve pretended not to notice. Feeling foolish, she lowered her hand, but one of the sunlighters glanced back at her, frowning.

“In ghoul’s name, I’ve never seen an uglier creature.” he remarked. “That’s not a pixie, is it?”

Kun’s face burned with humiliation.

“That’s my little sister, Alex.” Eve scolded him. “She’s an earthseeder.”

“Little?” Alex smirked, eyes travelling up and down her body. “Well, the resemblance in uncanny. Why don’t you ask her to fly up and introduce herself?”

Eve bit her lip, embarrassed. “She can’t fly.”

“That’s a shame.”

Eve looked back at her then, a silent apology in her eyes, before she and her fellow sunlighters took off into the sky. Tears brimming in her eyes, Kun turned back to her work. As evening came, she watched the sky turn a bright orange, scattered with flecks of yellowish gold and flashes of warm red.

Kun had once held a fascination for painting. She would blend the colours in her room, and her walls had transformed from a dull grey to a striking kaleidoscope. The morrow sage had once told her she had a brilliant artistic mind, a talent rare amongst pixies. Like a fool, Kun had once expressed her dream to her family. She wanted to be flowerpainter when she grew up. Her father had scoffed, saying the job was only meant for aristocratic fairies, and they would never allow a pixie to join their ranks, least of all one that couldn’t fly. Her mother had emptied her buckets of paint into the dirty puddles behind the marshes, and Kun had never dipped her fingers in colour again.

Not until she had been gifted a sea crystal for luck. Smiling at the thought, she hurried back home. Perhaps she’d paint again tonight.

As she entered her room, she found her mother waiting for her. Taken aback, she scanned the room and found Eve. Her sister stood in the corner, her shoulders hunched, a look of deep remorse on her angelic face.

“Cain?” her mother asked, failing to hide her disgust.

Kun’s face whipped up at his name, eyes widening in fear. “It’s not what you think, Mother. I can explain!” She then felt the sharp sting of a slap, and a wave of dizziness washed over her. She held onto the edge of the door for balance.

“This is what I have raised.” her mother raged. “I must have sinned a lot in my past life to be cursed with you. I work every night in the rain, gathering water for the summer, and you spend your days lazing about, daydreaming about a human.”

Kun felt a tightening in her head, like a rubber band about to snap. She feared if she didn’t speak up, she would lose her mind.

“He feels more real to me than you ever did.”

Something dangerous glinted in her mother’s eye. A stab of fear went through Kun then, and she watched in horror as her mother pulled out the Iris and smashed it against the wall. The crystal pieces shattered like glass, the broken remnants scattered across the floor.

Kun choked out a sob. She turned towards her sister, an agonizing pain rising inside her at her betrayal. “How could you?”

Eve met her eyes then. “I did it for your own good.” she replied quietly, and then followed their mother out of the room. Kun knelt on the floor, gathering the broken crystal pieces. She cut her fingers against the sharp edges, and blood dripped from her hands. But she felt nothing.

The next thing she knew, she woke to the sound of a bird crowing at dawn.

It was a Phoenix.

Heart racing, she made her way up the Tree of Cerise. She lay in wait, yearning to see a familiar face. Not long after, she heard a whistle, and she smiled as the flowers glowed crimson in the sun. Cain appeared through the trees, a summer enchantment come to life. Kun stood up in glee, joy rising within her, but then her smile died on her lips.

He was not alone.

A girl walked with him. A human girl with long dark hair, porcelain skin and midnight eyes. She made a joke, and Cain laughed, his face lighting up like a hundred suns. Together they strolled past the Tree of Cerise, and not once did his green eyes turn back to see Kun. Like mist, they disappeared into the forest, and the little pixie was left behind, a forgotten little Amara that had faded at the edge of a human memory.

The wind was silent. Kun touched her cheek, and her hand came away wet. The pain was like a thousand knives that dug into her heart, twisting their way in. She stood at the edge of the branch, a piece of the Iris in her hand, light glinting through the crystal. The numbness spread like poison throughout her body. Her walls crumbled, and she caved in to her insanity.

Perhaps, in another life, they would see the colours beneath her skin, she thought, as she flew for the first and last time, and the world turned black.

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