The wind danced on the tip of Sedom’s 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 cloud pine tree and looking out over the world.
“I could see everything from there,” 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 take hold of the grass.
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?" Sedom’s 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 stupid…"
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 Sedom’s 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.
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