Karana

 

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Prologue: Mirror Pendant

Grahein City, Kragehn District, Maiyean Regio. 
Planet Sandur 
27th August 1587

 

From a plainly lit pastel toned room, a woman sipped her morning tea with such calmness. Her cup was flowery and her blouse was frilly, all in pretty peach including the tea itself. Beneath the lacy trims of her neckline and her long black locks, there was a silver-colored necklace with an exquisite rectangular pendant. It has a quite unusual adornment of a single rhombus-shaped mirror in the middle, instead of a gemstone or other more precious jewels.

 

The woman sat on a velvety white sofa, facing a flat-screen television with undivided attention from her green eyes. At heart, she was dead bored, as her left hand tried to reach the remote tucked somewhere on the sofa. Before her day could become even duller, and before the noisy news anchor says anything more with no importance to her.

“And viewers, we have already seen the flash news from earth,” said the news anchor behind the screen. She did not feel any urgency to know what happened to her planet's former colonizers despite the uncanny similarities of the two celestial bodies; all will be fine as long as they follow the blood pact. “For the next section, we already have headline news from within  Sandur.”

 

Finally. She decided it was the time for more sips of tea. She lifted the teapot on the glass table in front of her sofa, sitting as graceful as the cup. The sweet and mellow scents of nectar butter tea spread with every delicate movement of flowing steam.

“...An earthquake of six point five Richter scale shook the Aylar Sub-District, Tôryaemae District of Maiyean Regio this morning. The exact number of casualties and material loss has not yet known…”

That woman abruptly stopped her gulp; it was fortunate that she had not yet choked. This information was not the one she expects to kill such tedium. Her mind was troubled enough to let her tea stain the beloved white sofa. She was still staring at the monitor, with the same straight stare.


"Oh God, why now…?"

 

In shock, her hands grasped the mirror pendant hanging from her neck. Just like she were holding tight to a talisman; her savior. A faint green radiance could be seen from the cover of her clasping hand. Then it glowed brighter as if it was answering the troubled fingers that reached for help.

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Midnight Awakening

Grahein City, Kragehn District, Maiyean Regio. 
Planet Sandur 
8th April 1588

 

 

The earthquake again!

Kôra gasped, as he awoke sitting on his bed. Cold sweat ran down on his freckled cheeks to his body, wetting his gray nightshirt. The mauve eyes of him kept moving with caution, gleaming with a worry of moving shadows. His heartbeats rushed, the tension felt pounding and knocking his right chest. Again, it was in the narrow bedroom which was always beyond recognition every time he wakes up; strange and forced. He could barely look around thanks to the light reflected by the two full moons.

By the right on his reach, there was a mug of herbal tea placed on a table near his bed; it has been there since yesterday’s nightfall. The tea was already as cold as his empty stomach, but he drank it in an urge for comfort. The aroma smelled fake, and it was tasteless to the core; however, this was the one he had. That boy heaved a sigh and tidies his tousled black hair that covered part of his face, he tucked some stray hair strands behind his pierced left ear. After all of these, there was no way he can sleep again.

 

One step onto the cold ceramic floor, his feet trembled with a creeping fear that the earth would shake and trapped him again. He deemed that confined reality inside his mind, should not complete the cycle into the outside. Irrational; as the same dread that sparked nightmares, or made him take a small run across the room instead of walking to reach the switch. In the duskiness of no light, those eyes might still see. Kôra turned on the blinking lamp then looked at the wall clock; it was a quarter past midnight. With his bruised hand he picked up the fallen blanket and wraps it around him, muttering to himself how the night was inexplicably chilling.

 

The hectic vehicle noises are the only which accompanied Kôra, it was preferable than the deafening silence which unveils lurkers. In the dim of light, he scanned the room entirely with vigilance. There was a messy bed where he sat on, a table next to it, and his clumped study desk across the bed. The thing near the desk was an old wardrobe with a mirror on its door, placed beside some appliances which have not arranged yet. At its cracked walls only existed a tiny window where he sometimes found uninvited insects trying to pass by. The musty air with strong naphthalene stench can be excused; this place was a storage room.

On each corner of the room hung orderly pieces of spell papers, with alphabets and enchantments of which that teen familiar of. The characters were written with fluorescence ink on some rough paper from tree bark that he could read it easily even in the dark. It supposed to repel works of evil and a protection means, yet it seemed to not work.

Ticking sound of the clock told that it almost nearing one in the dawn, it felt much longer in lingering stagnation. From his bed, Kôra stared at the school timetable he wrote with colorful markers. His Latin writing felt awkward to himself, but it was clear enough that tomorrow is Monday.

That nightmare was something else as the boy was wary for even closing his eyes, just like designated thing only to frighten him alone. But for now he had to sleep; he was tired and his senses were unsettled. Every second was ominous. Something was like watching him and could come whenever he is asleep. It was the unknown yet persistent, the unwelcoming feeling that kept him out of sleep for days.

Kôra tried to look away and close his eyes. His peripheral sight glimpsed his own reflection on a mirror; it startled his inner and outer self. He flinched afterward to try to then look elsewhere; before he saw pieces of newspapers scattered below.

That was it. Kôra realized that the newspaper which ought to cover the mirror had fallen off and torn clean. He took the newspaper piece and examines it; those were not even ripped in a slight, and the tapes were still adhesive enough. With little thoughts, the young man brought scissors and an adhesive tape after looking for some minutes at his desk. He stuck back the newspaper with extra tapes while avoids looking directly at the mirror as possible. Quick as the byproduct of running fright; the work result was choppy although everything was covered.

 

Why it keeps of falling off?

 

Time was nearing two and would be a waste if he keeps questioning things and do nothing. The boy lets the room lit as darkness would distort his perception farther. After making sure that everything was securely closed, he snuggled in his bed. With a faint voice, he uttered his bedtime prayer, along with hope and sincere wish.

 

“I wish an end. . . I miss my home.”

 

Prayers are seemed to be just an embodiment of wishes, in spite of how much that kid thought he should have faith in. He shut his eye in an effort to fall asleep, following his struggle to find a proper position. He was fortunate to be comfortable enough that things were unheard; the rustling noise. The paper fell down, revealing the mirror once more.

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Lizard soup

“What the hell wrong with you, Kôra?” that man asked with a firm tone. The boy's breath stopped, turning his head slowly with reluctance. It was the piercing and slightly nasal voice, a very familiar one.

 

“It... is... nothing, Uncle,” Kôra startled, the particular question hit him colder than the morning air. It was the expected of the unwanted. His voice was mute and shaky, his eyes were not even looking at the amber-haired man who seated across from him. An icy feeling emanated from his chest, with unease he slowly pulled the sleeves of his school uniform. It was better concealed that his uncle would not notice.

 

They were supposed to be having a peaceful breakfast, or at least something more calming to the mind. The place where they at functioned as both kitchen and dining room; it felt more cramped than usual. With this space near the stove, it should be warmer. The boy found it preferable to sit on a carpet while eating as he always did rather than facing this old dinner table on a plastic chair as the common manner of urban people. The only nice thing about this was the potted yarun placed on the table that salmon colored flower is abundant in Kôra’s mountainous hometown. The umbel inflorescence was similar to an encircled lace, borrowing its literal resemblance of the name in that kid’s native tongue.

 

“Then quick eat your god damn food, don’t be late!” the man blustered, without even bothered to looked another way than his smartphone, “I won’t take you to school if you miss the bus.”

 

“Yes... Yes, Uncle Haren,” Kôra stirred his monitor lizard soup with a spoon, one of the best known and the best-tasting food of the Toryaemaen people. His eyes were fixed to how thick and red it was; the good quality of the ingredients and precision of cooking technique, which also killed his interest. He could not comprehend how did he realize how it looked like blood just now. It was puzzling; the soup with strong herbal aroma supposed to be his favorite, especially when he knew he made it himself.

 

He stole a look at his uncle, the tall gaunt man in white shirt he got from supermarket chain promo. His overall appearance was unkempt; his hair was disheveled, his shirt was tousled, and his deep eye bags were dark lacking in sleep. The man looked nothing like his nephew; he has mauve eyes just like the kid and his father, though in this uncle case it looked somberly shadowed. A patch of slightly darker beard sat on his chin; ike Kôra he has pierced left ear, but with a different set of earrings.

 Haren’s skin looked notably ashen. His skin was a little too light for the skin tone of his people which tend to have a yellow undertone, but not as dark as Kôra’s. That man already yawned multiple time and yet still stared at his bright phone screen with lethargy, made Kôra wonder what he did late at night.

 

"Hey, stop looking at me—" Haren turned his head with annoyance, only to notice something with. “Wait, what’s with your hand?”

 

By that question, the kid was seemed to be a little or more appalled. Oh, no!

 

“Uh... It... I... I fell down the school" Kôra answered while avoiding as much eye contact as possible, his voice was trembling more."... I fell down the stairs at school."

 

"What happened? Did someone push you?"

 

"No...!" Kôra then realized he raised his voice due to nervousness. “Sorry, I was fell, all by myself."

 

“You fainted at school several times and now this? As now the medical bill raises, I hope funeral cost doesn’t” Kôra chose to not care about the context of whatever his uncle was talking. His uncle walked away and later come back with a pot of traditional ointment in his hand. "Continue eating."

 

Kôra couldn't help but look at how his uncle applied the balm, although his right hand able to continue to spoon the soup as his uncle told. The warmth of essential oils contained absorbed to his skin, releasing the smell he likes. Haren unrolled Kôra's sleeves more with caution. The bruises were growing more in numbers, along with newly healed scratches. Some of them even looked deep, like scars of laceration.

Surprise and disbelieve came to the faces of those two, both of their mauve eyes met. Haren dug down at Kôra eyes, speaking unspoken question. Kôra could not face his Uncle, or even thinking about a decent answer.

 

“What are these?”

 

"...I do not knowing... Do not know... Do know nothing..." he mumbled.

 

“Say, do you have a problem? ” Haren tried to relax his tone. “ Did someone bully you?”

 

Kôra did not remember what caused those, or for what cause he deserved those. It was the same eerie strangeness, the unnerving feeling in remembrance of last night and dreams he had. Flashes of his memory traced back to what the nightmare was. It was the fragment of shaken, fallen, and torn existence; that very disaster which collapsed him. The heavy rock chunks crushed him and the sharp glass shards cut him, at that point, he wondered if that all was about death.

 

It was terrible, it was dead. The boy could feel the warmth of his own blood flowing, while the outside air was freezing cold. Meanwhile, Haren; his hand started to sweat in a hazing field of sight. Drained to a strain all again, all of him was absorbed by Kôra's worry.

The faded shine of lamp, shallow breathes.

That kid's eyes with such fear of death, suck out the living.

 

"STOP DOING THAT!"

 

Haren pushed himself away from Kôra, with a force that made his own chair fall. The man stood up, and tried to collect himself; he caught up some breath then grabbed a glass of water. His vision was much blurry, and now the light was too much. Perhaps because of it Kôra looked like he was casting two shadows, in this room with one lamp only.

"Have your parents taught you how to control that damned defect?!"

"I... I.. am... I am trying, Uncle."

 

"Give me a break! Bless Polat who dealt with you!" out of fury Haren shouted, the mention of his father's name just struck Kôra even harder. “What do you want from me?”

 

"I... I am sorry... Uncle... I did not meaned to doing that," Kôra panicked; cold sweat started pouring and his breath was a mess. "I am not... I am apologizing really sorry... Really sorry."

 

Haren faced Kôra with disbelieve, "It's been six months, every fucking day like this!" He smashed the ointment pot, "Are you doing this on purpose?"

 

Kôra shook his head, still not daring to look at his uncle.

 

The man tried to soften himself up, pitying the boy in front of him, "I'm not your parents, so do me a favor and learn to control yourself." He dragged himself to left the room, at times he lost his balance and almost fell. "Also stop ripping the spell papers; I hate to ask those greedy priests for more.”

 

"Is Uncle okay?" asked Kôra.

 

Haren looked at Kôra with mouth closed, yet his eyes showed a tint of worry. "Calm yourself." He backed Kôra, and wiping his bloodstained hand to his shirt, "Don't let it influence you." He slammed the door as he reached his room, the kid noticed the stain on the door handle.

 

Kôra watched his uncle in worry, but anything he perceived as helping will only cause trouble. He faced back his meal to finish it as his uncle would not be able to take him to school. He remarked the change of the potted yarun plant; the flowers turned brown and were wilting. The boy looked at his own hand, the stare of great contempt and disgust. He might deserve those cuts and bruises.

That kid bit the meat soup; it felt raw and tender. The taste of sour and salt leaked with the smell of iron, it felt so thick and pungent. Tiny bodies felt crawling inside his mouth, pushing him farther and farther to his limit. The boy wiped tears he shed by nausea and covered his mouth on the verge of throwing up. He closed his eyes not wanting to see his food; he had to put up just a little more. That kid convinced himself reality was not as it seen; he cooked monitor lizard, not rotting dead inchoate human.

Perhaps lack of sleep lately has distorted his wakefulness, he thought too many of the unthinkable. It was zero possibility of eating without thinking of any vomit-inducing things, something was definitely wrong which he didn’t know why. Five minutes passed as the meal finished. He wiped the soup that seeped from the gap of his lips, thick red just like a drop of fresh blood.

 Kôra stood in front of the closed door of his uncle’s room, considering if he could knock it and properly tell that he is going.

 

"Just go!" Haren shouted from the inside. "Close the front door tightly!"

 

"Yes, Uncle Haren," Kôra faintly answered, "I am going." He remembered the times he was with his parents; they always bless him whenever he would be going away. A small portion of his thoughts suggested that this may be the reason for his awful luck lately. "Please pray for me."

 

The school bus was already there, honking to warn him the time was running. Last minute before going and Kôra opened a small covered wall mirror, to check if there was any food stain left at his face. It was customary of his people to close the mirror when unused; besides the philosophy of humility, looking at it too long believed to mediate evil spirits to come. The wooden cover creaked even when opened with caution, the wood was a bit old with colorful stickers from temple plastered all over it.

 

A smile of his reflection greeted him, their eyes meet.

 

That kid did not smile.

 

Consternated, Kôra slammed the mirror cover before his reflection could do or say anything more, and rushed himself outside. He palpitated and felt cold all over again. The boy’s mind tried to throw away whatever his brain was processing; he needs to focus at school. He had enough this morning, yet these things escalated like never before. It felt so unreal.

Under the bright light of this sun, the two shadows faded and merged into one.

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