Ancient Times, Ancient Ways
Ancient Times, Ancient Ways
Utani wandered through the streets of Deneer. Her people paused in their work as she passed. Even among her own Changelings, she was alone. She understood why they kept her at arm's length. She was their queen and an oddity. A tug on her skirt brought her attention to a little boy. His twin sister stood pensively at his side. From what she could tell, they were four years old, coming up on five. Their tattoos told her that information. The boy's face had a wolf on the left side and a black onyx in the middle of his forehead. His sister's tattoo was on her right forearm and was a unicorn. The unicorn's mane wrapped around her arm and met on her palm where a bloodstone pushed through the skin.
Utani couldn't see the bloodstone on the girl but she knew it was there. All females had the bloodstone in their palm with the tattoo on their right forearm. Utani was no exception. She knelt down to look the boy in the eyes.
"What is it?" Utani asked.
"Why did you choose the wolf?" he asked.
"I didn't choose it. I was born with it."
"The Fallen One felt it best that I have both."
"I will live on to guide and protect. I will provide stability for everyone."
"My sister doesn't think it's right. Neither do I."
"A lot of others feel the way you do but I cannot change what I am."
"Would you change?"
"I don't know. I've thought about it though."
He nodded and then ran off. His sister easily kept up. Utani wondered what animals the sibling would choose to round out their forms to three. Humanoid was the common form. Everyone had the humanoid form. The number two-spot was tied between the wolf for males and the unicorn for females. Her people chose their third form when they were five years old. She was the exception. Utani had been born with both the wolf and the unicorn. This combination made her immortal among a mortal race.
Her Changelings mated for life. The wolf only lived for two hundred years. Their mate died with them because of the bond between the pair was so strong it snapped. And when it snapped, it killed. Utani was different. Since the wolf was in her, her unicorn constantly regenerated. This difference also meant that she had no mate among her people. She stopped as a young couple approached her.
"My queen, do you know anything about the darkness approaching us?" the woman asked. Her mate stood protectively at her shoulder.
"No. I can feel the evil rolling off of it but I cannot communicate with it."
"What are you going to do? It's our job to protect the other races."
"And we will protect them. I have an idea but I don't want to use it unless we have too. Try not to worry. We will prevail."
"Yes, my queen."
The couple moved on, going back to the business of their lives. Utani moved forward, finally ending up on the edge of the village. Crops stood in the fields not yet ready to be harvested. They had a simple life here. Most of them stayed on their planet. A few pairs were among the other races. Some wouldn't allow them on their worlds unless it was absolutely necessary. Utani monitored every race, including her own, telepathically.
Just standing there with the fields stretched out in front of her, Utani let her mind travel through the universe. She found the darkness threatening them. As much as she wanted to run away, to hide from the evil sensed, she tried to find a weakness. After several hours of trying, she brought her mind back to her body, frustrated. She would try again later. At the moment she had state matter that required her attention. Turning around, Utani headed back to the castle.
She hadn't gotten far when she heard cries of terror coming from in front her. Utani picked up her pace, needing to find out what was wrong. She had only managed o get a few feet when her muscles froze. She could no longer move. Relaxing her muscles, she tried to move forward again. It didn't work. Utani called up her magick and used it on herself. Her magick didn't work any better in freeing her. Calling out telepathically, she asked if everyone was frozen. Overlapping voices answered her.
Easy, she projected. Once she had quiet, she asked, Layona, what is happening?
Our mates and sons are frozen. Where are you, my queen?
I am frozen. It must be affecting the wolves only but I don't know how.
What do we do? And who could have done this?
I don't know who could have done this. We need to ask the Fallen One for help.
How do we do that?
Go to the castle library. Pull the torch on the back wall. This will cause the bookshelf next to it to slide back revealing a staircase. At the bottom is a circular room with a tome in the middle. The tome will tell you what to do. Go now and hurry.
She focused on the thoughts of the females as they ran for the castle. Layona led the way. Since Utani was frozen and she singled out Layona, Layona had become the leader of the group. Utani felt their fear but could not find a way to ease it. The current problem wasn't the fault of any of the races. A few couldn't use magick and those who could weren't strong enough. And the other races didn't know what was happening. The few Changelings who were among them were still free. She hoped they remained free. The darkness was at the edge of the universe. Despite its strength, Utani doubted that it was responsible.
Turning her attention back to her unicorns, she noted that they had lit the candles. Layona stood in front of the tome. Her voice shook as she started chanting. Each verse was sung three times. The others joined in, linking their minds to Layona's mind. She could feel the magick they were raising in the chamber. It swirled around them and settled in a ball over the tome as they chanting stopped.
Utani hoped they wouldn't have to wait long for the Fallen One to come to their aide. That of course depended on if he got their cry for help. She was afraid. Afraid of the darkness that was moving towards them, afraid the Fallen One wouldn't come, and afraid that she would fail in her mission. Her mission was to protect life, and ensure the races didn't do irrevocable harm to each other. The free females continued to work. They used their magick to keep their mates and sons alive. Utani kept herself alive as the sun rose and fell over the course of two weeks.
The ball of magick exploded and a tall man emerged. He scared her but mentally she asked, Fallen One?
Yes, I am here. Why aren't you here?
There's a problem. I'm sending Layona to you. I'll have her explain.
She relayed the order to Layona and tried to wait patiently. She was irritated by her lack of freedom. It took thirty minutes for the Fallen One to reach her. Her muscles relaxed and she could move again as he stopped in front of her. Her people were crowded around them. The younger children clung to their parents.
You should have called for me sooner, he mentally projected, even though they were face to face.
Since he wanted to use telepathy, so did she. I thought I could find a way to deal with the darkness on our own.
You are not strong enough to take on my brother.
Warmth infused her and she grew dizzy. When the dizziness passed, she asked, What happened?
I have strengthened you and your unicorn magick. I have strengthened those Changelings who are off world right now. Now you can free yourselves if the need arises again. But do not delude yourselves, you are still not strong enough to take out my brother.
So you will deal with him.
Yes, I go now. He disappeared from sight. She found him telepathically.
He was out in space, headed for his brother. She felt her people joining their minds to hers, so they could see what was going on. The Fallen One's brother coalesced into a large humanoid form. She was almost expecting him to have horns and a tail but he didn't. The Fallen One took a direct bolt of magick directly to the chest. He was thrown back a ways. The Fallen One got back to his feet though he seemed a bit dazed. His brother threw more bolts at him and the Fallen One dodged time after time.
Roughly ten minutes in to the fight, the Fallen One was hit hard by his brother. The Fallen One barely moved. She felt her people's fear. With their minds linked to hers, she calmed them.
"Follow me. I have a plan." Utani teleported them to the Fallen One.
She switched to telepathy. Wolves, attack. Unicorns, protect and heal your mates.
Since her wolves didn't have their swords, they shifted into wolf form. Utani could feel their rage as they attacked with their teeth and claws. She knew their mates had automatically poisoned their claws. With her people doing their jobs, she knelt next to the Fallen One.
Utani placed her right hand on his chest and let her magick flow through her bloodstone. She directed the flow to heal and rejuvenate the Fallen Once. It was long minutes before the Fallen One pushed her away.
You stupid idiot. How can I protect you if you don’t stay on your planet? He yelled this at her.
She cowered, Fallen One…
Fall back now.
Are done. Fall back now.
Very much afraid of her creator, she ordered her people to fall back. They were weakened so instant teleportation wasn't an option. They did move quickly through space, making their way towards home. Utani stumbled in shock as the Fallen One launched himself at his brother and was absorbed by him. Trying to figure out what to do, she didn't sense the magickal shockwave rolling towards her. Getting hit by it, Utani was thrown forward, past her planet. As she regained her bearings, she searched for the Fallen One and his brother. She didn't find them. As she set down in the middle of Deneer, she heard bellows echoing in her head. She knew her Changelings heard the sound as well.
We are here, a voice said in her mind.
Who are we?
W are the Dragons. We are here to help you and protect you.
What happened to the Fallen One?
He sacrificed himself to kill his brother and create us.
I don't even know your name. How will I know you are you when I meet you?
All in good time. Just know: we are here.