Reniko had watched as the stallion trotted up the valley wall where his family waited amongst the trees. She had finished cleaning Imako. She had decided as soon as she saw the stallion bathing his head in the water that she would follow suit and after packing away her oiled cloth and rag she made her way to the waterfall that cascaded down the cliff on the opposite side of the valley. After traveling for so many days without even the hint of enough warmth or water to cleanse herself she was grateful to have acquired both at the same time. She hesitated as she passed the body of the Rük the unicorn stallion had killed. With a somewhat more shaky resolve she continued to the waterfall, resisting the urge to flee from the dreadful valley where she had again killed on this less than peaceful planet.
With the icy water washing over her skin in torrents she tried to let it wash away the painful thoughts she was having as well. It, however, had the opposite effect and instead made her dwell more deeply on the fact that she had yet again killed a living, thinking being.
What else could have I done? If I had not intervened that murderous creature would have slaughtered that stallion, that beautiful unicorn. I guess it’s not that I killed; it’s what I did it for. I guess that was what Dertrik was trying to tell me all along. Good or evil is in my hands and sometimes doing the right thing means destroying something no matter how much you don’t want to. With these mixed thoughts flying through her head she stepped out from under the water and wandered back into the warmth of the afternoon. The one thing she was sure of was that she had done the right thing, that if something had to be killed in order for something else to survive than she had made the right choice, even if she felt the choice was not hers to make.
It was only after she had finished getting dressed, as she was tying back her damp hair that she noticed the unicorn stallion sitting under the shade of a tree staring in her direction. She paused, unnerved by the fact that even though his family waited for him somewhere else he had returned here, waiting for her with reasons that were unknown to her.
There was no choice, she finally thought as she stood there returning the stallions gaze. Hefting the heavy pack she made her way back to where he was seated and when she was ten feet away she stopped, hoping that somehow she could make him return to his family.
“You owe me nothing. Please return to your family, they need you more than I need you staring at me all day. Besides, you’re making me nervous,” Reniko called over the rush of the creek.
I owe you my life. She heard the thought resonating in her head. It unnerved her more than the unwavering stare that the stallion gave her.
“It’s impossible!” she whispered still staring at the stallion. The stallion just turned his head aside and gazed into the surrounding forest. Think what you like, the fact remains.
“I thought I was just imagining things before. How? It’s scientifically impossible!” Reniko said still denying the voice in her head.
The fact remains.
“Fact transmutes possibility,” Reniko whispered to herself. Dertrik had told her that after he had executed a move Reniko had, at the time, thought was impossible for a human being to do. It proved ever true.
“Accept what, that a unicorn is talking to me? I guess even though I feel it’s impossible it’s still going to happen, which kind of forces me to accept it, does it not?” The stallion just jumped to his feet and walked to Reniko’s side. “Won’t your family miss you?” she asked with an understanding that slightly startled the stallion. “I didn’t do any of this for you, so you shouldn’t feel obligated to me.”
Why did you do it?
“I had an old friend that told me long ago that every time you wield a weapon it becomes an extension of yourself and you must make a choice, good or evil. I choose to do good and I uphold it the best I can.”
I shall do this for the same reason.
Reniko glanced over at the stallion, mystified. “Nothing I say will change your mind, will it?”
Why should it? My mind is mine to make up.
You may call me Penumbra.