|Let me introduce to you an unique character. Her name is Sedom. She's ten-years-old with tumbling white locks, a horrible temper and hates wearing dresses. She's also the last Narkoy. Her people are dead, killed by plague and war. It's Sedom's responsibility to keep her people's ancient city from the hands of their enemy. The city is ten miles underground in the middle of a tropical jungle and Sedom can't remember how to reach it. Not only does she have to worry about her enemy, she also has to contend with the animals that inhabit the jungle while searching for the city, no small feat for a girl.
The wind danced on the tip of Sedomís tongue. The sparkling taste of crisp morning dew enchanted her taste buds with the flavor of autumn. She moistened her full lips, letting the wind blow gently over them to dry. Something about the taste of autumn made her anxious. Maybe because she knew that winter was right around the corner. Soon her days of mindless summer daydreams would be held hostage by hours of studying and chores.
Clouds drifted over the surrounding forest in unaffected serenity. Squinting, she could see the outline of a spindly locklehol pine form out of one of the tall clouds. She imagined climbing to the top of the cloud pine tree and looking out over the world.
ďI could see everything from there,Ē she whispered, pointing to the sky and tracing the outline of the cloud with her forefinger. Thick brown grass crackled under her back. She rested her neck against a large rock, letting her long white hair drape over it and spill onto the ground. Her fanned ears stabbed the sky as she listened to the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind.
The distant cloud continued to warp into a different configuration. This time, the cloud formed a great, glistening starship. Sedom's golden eyes focused on the cloud, squinting to make sure she saw the shape correctly. The harsh sun played tricks on her eyes, making it hard to see the cloud clearly.
A thought, irritating like an itch gnawed at her brain. A different cloud formed, only this cloud shimmered as the sunlight bounced off its exterior. She rubbed her right eye, thinking a particle of dust or pollen was irritating it. She felt nothing. The ground quaked, making Sedom clutch the grass around her.
A bullet-shaped ship appeared above Sedom, vaporizing the clouds surrounding it. Two wing flaps lowered, revealing a five-lined symbol. Sedom recognized the symbol of the Ja religion, worshiped by the Mandicien people of a planet called Juvin-que.
"The Desvins? Was that today?" Sedomís eyes grew. She jumped to her feet. "It is today."
She jumped off the grass and raced to the landing platform. The platform was on the other side of the city. There were no tall buildings for ships to navigate around the east ridge, and the sound of landing ships echoed over, not through the city. If there was an emergency, a ship could manage to land in the surrounding forest and not harm the inhabitants of the city.
The long, blue skirt she wore tangled between her legs as she ran. Sedom stumbled and fell against her hands, scraping her palms on the rocky terrain.
"Stupid skirt. I hate skirts!" she cursed to herself, climbing back to her feet. "Why does Mom insist on making me wear these stupidÖ"
Her words stopped on the edge of her tongue as her eyes drifted to an object only steps away. A metallic bubble rose to her eye level, vibrating and changing color from yellow to green to red. Within its domed glass exterior, Sedom saw her reflection and giggled. The sudden sound of her giggle made the orb back away.
"Wait, come back," Sedom called out enthusiastically. Her grandmother often sent orbs to guard her. Yet this was the first time she saw one change color. Had her grandmother sent this orb to find her?
Wind rushed around her, filling her skirt with air. The Rook ship loomed overhead, close enough to see the people within, but Sedomís gaze fixated on the floating orb. The orb swayed from side to side, vibrating with a spectrum of rainbow colors, then sped away into the forest.
"Hum. I wonder what that was about?" she stammered, bewildered.
After a long, uneasy moment, she continued to the city. She paused, looking back once more to see if the orb had returned.
A colorful variety of people stretched the main roadway of Talisan city. Sedom wove between a two Zalmins selling gripe on a stick then continued passed a pink-skinned Crehail woman selling locally grown vegetables. She turned away only for a second when she saw a vibrant green toltor bird sitting on the shoulder of a dark-skinned Dormin man. The Dormin was scandalously dressed in skins, a taboo amongst her people.
As she watched the bird, she ran nose-first into the stomach of a hulking Choli male three times her width. Four more of the same stood around him as they strolled down the road. He reached down, picked Sedom up by her underarms, then set her aside.
"Careful now, young one," he said, patting her head.
"Thanks!Ē She hurried down the middle of the street. This time she made sure to avoid the ox carts, hover-vehicles and hulking Choli men. Her soft-soled shoes pounded against the brick walkways as she wove around the vendors.
Sedom paused to look for who called her. A young Narkoy woman waved to Sedom from across the street. She carried a bag full of vegetables over her right shoulder while holding her left hand over her prominent, child-filled stomach.
"Hi, Gaias." Sedom waved.
Gaias called through cupped hands to make her voice louder. "Your mother is looking for you. Theyíre already at the landing platform."
"I know. I saw the ship. Thanks!" Sedomís voice was lost under the sound of hooves and cart wheels. She continued cursing herself. Iím in trouble when grandmother gets a'hold of me. I canít believe I forgot it was today. Of course it was today. That's why mother made me wear this. She grabbed her skirt, tugging it off the ground as she ran. "Stupid skirt!"
Sedom paused to catch her breath at the opening of a nine-story, arched stone gateway. The majestic sounds of an ancient society rung from the three-tiered bells hanging from the top of the archway. The sound of people cheering echoed off the gateway and the bells.
Her eyes shifted to the rolling hills leading to the landing platform. Beyond the hills, she could see the ship taxiing to a staging area. The growing audience all waited for the passengers of the ship to appear. Dread felt like a fist-sized stone in her stomach. Not only were they waiting for their guests, they were waiting for her response to their guests.
"I'm going to look stupid. Why do I have to do this anyway?" she muttered. Her hands clasped around the gateway to steady her wobbly legs. "Why can't I say hello like a regular person instead of all this?" she grumbled to herself, breathing heavily. She looked into a puddle and saw her panicked expression. "Okay." She lifted her fingers to the puddle. "Hello, Rokaa, I'm Sedom, your future wife. Nice to meet you."
A breeze blew over the puddle, making her reflection waver. "Figures, like my stomach." She inhaled deeply, then breathed out. "Come on, it will be over quickly...I'll like him. Grandmother wouldn't let me marry someone I wouldn't like." Sedom took a deep breath, then ran into the crowd. "I am going to get it this time."
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