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The Wholeness of the Skies
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
? Mahatma Gandhi
A stormy grey cloaked blur dashed past the local market stalls, indiscriminately disturbing a few flaps on fruit and jewelry carts. In his rushed escapade, the blur kicked up rocks and small clouds of dirt. Vendors lifted their heads from their goods and stopped counting change, but after catching a glimpse of his feet, shook their heads. Bare, calloused, and scarred. A street rat, common in these areas. Rhododendron held in his bony, clammy hands a shard of the sun. He tightened his grip on it like a paladin in earnest and brave prayer to his deity before bracing himself for battle. He felt the object pierce his palms, drawing precious crimson blood. A droplet of red flew from his palms and onto the ground, leaving a minute circle on the crude dirt and gravel road.
He sneaked a glance back and his eyes widened in greater fear. Despite the chilly weather, beads of sweat gathered on his forehead, travelling in an agonizingly slow pace down lean, soot-smeared face. It was so tempting to wipe the sweat from his face, but he continued, one filthy foot in front of the other, in harmony, the blur ran.
Still, they pursued him; the men of the princess were relentless, just as she was. Especially against him, for he was her younger brother. She would not stop at nothing to accomplish her agenda: completing the sky and the scorched surface of the sun. Doing so would allow her to blacken the earth and herself, ending all the evil in the world, or so she thought.
* * *
“How else would you do it, Rune?” she tearfully asked, head in her hands. Her hair had been a mess that day and her voice hoarse from yelling at the sky, angry and distressed. He was holding her hand, hoping against hope she wasn’t serious.
“I wouldn’t. It’s not for us to decide when our time is completed. Isn’t it much nobler to endure?” He turned his body more towards his sister, emphasizing his question with a comforting squeeze of her hand. “Isn’t it?” He pleaded. End this madness. This is not you. He thought desperately.
Her thin shoulders shook with a new oncoming of tears. She bit her lip in frustration; silently admitting in her head the possibility her brother could be right. “I don’t know.” She choked, slipping her hand away and grabbing a nearby towel to dry her face. “Who defines what is noble? It’s noble to rid of evil. It’s noble to treat our citizens fairly. It’s noble to defend our city with the best armies. It’s noble to do this and that.”
He opened his mouth to say something, but closed it, taking a deep breath, chest rising. A thoughtful expression set in his face. Silence hovered between them, unmoving and heavy. Her brother swallowed a thick lump of nervousness and uncertainty. “Like you, I do not know. I just…” he stopped and rose from her side and paced across her room.
She looked up and parted her hair which became a veil from having her head bent crying. “Just what? Don’t think all world destruction is right?” She scoffed, all signs of tears gone. Just her swollen eyes, still filled with doubt, was a testament to her sadness and inner struggle.
“It’s not. There are people, children, that have done no harm to anyone.” He gestured with his hands and a hurtful look came across his face. “They do not know what lying, stealing, cheating, murder, fornication is. They… they deserve a chance to live, do they not? You… you at one point, you did not know! But no one was out to get back at you! You’re adored by the people! Sister, please understand… not everyone is evil. Not everyone is going to murder. Not everyone is going to hate.”
“It will come to that.” She stubbornly said, shoving aside all possibilities of her brother being correct. “Brother.” His sister, too, rose from her spot and coolly left the room.
* * *
For now, Rhododendron was the only person holding his world back from annihilation. He was tiring quickly, he needed to find safety soon. He tried to keep a regular breathing pattern, but as the distance increased, it became more difficult for him to keep ahead. Thoughts flashed across the halls of his mind. Would he live? Would this world continue to be? Would his sister really continue to pursue him until he is dead and the skies whole again?
He loved her dearly, but why this? She would not save him? She would not spare the king and queen? Was there a way to change his sister?
“It’s not fair, for I will go as well. If I must go, so will they. Will they not suffer shall their dear princess die? Who will rule then? You?” She had said disdainfully, with her back to him, but he could perceive hesitancy within her voice because when she said ‘die’, her voice cracked ever so slightly. He could sense the regret in what she had committed to do.
That day, she was no longer the same. She became colder and more detached, more prideful and disparaging. He overheard a conversation between her and another man, whom he did not recognize. They were planning to scorch their world. So soon? Alarmed, he silently turned away towards his room. With lightning speed, he stuffed his travelling bags carelessly, softly walked towards the exit of his home in the deep of night, turning the polished knob and stepping out with barely a sound. A quiet click, he closed the door. Returning was never going to be possible.
* * *
He let out a long bottled in, frustrated cry and burst forward with a newfound speed and motivation. Home. He was going to end this madness and save his sister. He was going to go home. There is a way out of this. The sun shard burned his palm, but he gritted his teeth and summoned all his will to fight back his tears. After all, tears would blur his vision and ruin his escape.