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“Um, I think we have an emergency.”
“Yea, Jared! I would call this an emergency!” I spat at him before we broke out
running from the creatures.
We were running but had to stop so we didn’t fly into the next century. When we stopped I hadn’t even broken a sweat, but Jared was gasping for air. His talent didn’t come with his immortality, he had to work to race with us. Since we could go the speed of light, it was hard for him to keep up. He could run that fast, but it took him a lot of work. “What. Was. That.” He said slowly in between breaths.
I cursed under my breath, they were right behind us. Those stupid creatures are always trying to blow the cover of immortals! I drew the sword from my pocket using a little bit of magic. The sword that had only been drawn to kill one other person… “Jared, they’re like leeches. Hard to get off.”
Then they came, as hideous as they were before. From their waist down, was the body of a horse. The top half of their body was man or woman. To me, in real life, it was hideous. They were like Centaurs in Greek mythology, except worse. It was like dreadlocks gone wrong on their heads, their hands clutched swords that couldn’t hurt me, and any words that came out of their mouths were almost always dumb and thoughtless. Their faces were distorted and resembled a pig. They were always chasing after immortals hoping that they will fall in love or something with them so their kids can be immortal, but we would rather kill ourselves than have to live with them. “Hello, Herod. What do you want?” I tried to sound bored but it came out kind of angrily.
“Oh, sweetie!” he said in a shocked voice with the melodramatic face to match it. “Don’t be that way!”
I groaned, and raised my sword. He backed off. I didn’t need the sword, but only my mothers, sisters, and Jared knew I had the unlimited power. “Back off, Herod. Leave us sisters alone!”
“Gosh! Don’t have to be violent about it, sissy! But if you want to play that way…” he clicked his tongue disapprovingly and got in ready position. The other two centaur-like things backed off and whispered to each other hurriedly. Then they dispersed into the trees behind us. I think we were somewhere in Maine, we had run from California.
I got my sword up barely over my head and narrowed my eyes. My other hand in front of me, I saw him charge at me. Oh, so unwise. I spun to the side gracefully and took a shot at his side. He must have seen this coming because he leaned forward and randomly stabbed at me vigorously. He missed completely and I easily pinned him to the ground. There’s no real challenge for me anymore. He struggled and he said, “You wouldn’t kill me. I know you wouldn’t.”
In reality, all the things did was try to ruin the immortals’ lives anyways. But he didn’t deserve to die. Maybe if I left a mark…”No, I won’t kill you. This isn’t your time. But stay aware, I can hurt you.” With that I swiped the side of his arm. He cried out in pain and stepped away. He had a six-inch cut right above his elbow, and his hand went directly to it. “All we wanted was help with-“
“Can you tell I’m not helping?”
He groaned and looked at me with hate buried in layers across his face centering on his eyes. He dashed into the woods and left me alone for now. I sighed and turned to where Jared stood, he was always eager to watch a fight and smiled. “Should’ve killed him, he was being a complete jerk!”
I laughed, “Jared, not everyone is immortal. Plus, that wouldn’t have been fair, now would it?”
He shrugged, “Eh, don’t care.”
I rolled my eyes and laughed at his sick humor. We ran back to California, where we were stationed for school, again. We were stuck at a flimsy high school education, and hated every moment of it. Oh well, nothing we could do to help it. At nights, we would run over to Idaho and meet up with my sisters and have mini sword fights to rejuvenate our selves. School was out for the summer, and we decided that we should switch schools. Well, Jared didn’t want to go to school. When we got back, and he had his breath back, he kept saying, “Why don’t you just not go to school?”
“Well…” it could work, but my sisters and me just never thought about that. We would probably talk to them about it tonight. We always talked about stuff like that. We would just have family meetings to see what we would do for the next summer or school year and listen to Jared’s ideas. Since he was the youngest, he had the best ideas. Jared and me went to the house where our sisters were and they were all eating dinner. They motioned for us to come and eat with their mouths full and we laughed at them. We sat down and had the dinner. It was Jumi’s stew, which was the best thing she could make. When it was time for the meeting, we all talked almost at once. Realizing we were talking at once, we stopped at the same time. Then broke out laughing. Jared said, “So I got an idea,” and he explained his little proposal.
“We could,” said Jumi. “People might get suspicious though.”
“They haven’t yet with this house,” Vala put in.
“Yea, but we can’t read minds. How are we supposed to know?” for some reason, I don’t think Mallee liked Jared since she thought he had replaced…you know.
“Come on, you know how good Rachna is at reading lies. Rachna, has anyone been lying to us about the hospitality? They all seem to really think we’re in our twenties,” Linya always seemed to see the bright side in things.
“Nope, no one.” I said then remembered, “Except that old guy across the street, the cranky one. He didn’t like us.” Everyone laughed, and we took a vote.
Jared won. Mallee rolled her eyes but Jumi, the only other one with her, didn’t seem to care. “You okay, Sis?” Jared said to Mallee.
Her dark blue eyes glared back at him and a devious smile crossed her face. She always had a trick up her sleeve. Her black hair tumbled down to her shoulders in perfect curls. She got up and went over to him, “I just hope your sword fighting has improved, bro.”
Jared laughed at the challenge, he knew he was bad at sword fighting since he was just learning. Jumi paired up with Vala, and I went with Linya, who was second eldest, and better than Jumi, Vala, and Mallee. I could beat her easily, but she didn’t mind. Sometimes I wish I had a real challenge. Even when Kinita was here I was always the best swordsman. We went to the largest room in the house and got ready. Everyone but Jared and Mallee sat down against the wall. They had their sword fight, but it was short and quick as Mallee pinned Jared down. Next were Vala and Jumi, which was actually pretty boring. They had never done any real fighting, so they were afraid to hurt each other. We were always asking them if they knew they were immortal ad that they couldn’t hurt each other. After a while Linya got bored and made them stop. She smiled and I got up and we pulled our sword over my heads. I held a simple sword that couldn’t kill immortals, like all other swords.
I never make the first move, I don’t like doing that. Linya took a quick stab at my stomach, knowing that even if it hit me I’d be fine. I threw my sword high in the air and in a flash had her sword in my hand and caught my sword. She sighed in defeat in the first seconds. I smiled and handed her the sword. “Try again?”
“Sure,” she said, “It doesn’t matter. You’re going to win again.”
“Sorry, can’t help it.”
“That’ okay,” she said pulling her sword up.
Right as she tried to get me again, an odd thing happened. Suddenly, I felt something shake the room, and a whole wall collapsed in on us. In shock, I fell to the ground. I quickly regained my sight and was cover in dust. I got up and squinted into the light, my face dropped like lead.
Right there in front of me, stood someone I could never forget. My sister who tried to kill me not even a year a ago. My friend, my sister, Kinta. “Hello, sister.”
She wasn’t smiling. She was the same as she as before, sort of. She seemed translucent, and see-through. She wasn’t really there, she must have been a ghost. When she stepped into the light, though, she was completely there. Before I could shoot the thousands of questions at her like arrows, she said, “I’m sorry sister, but like I said. You are of no use to me. You must go.”
“Kinita?” I shouted questioningly, but it faded as I saw the seriousness in her face.
Her teeth were locked together, but her jaw was not tight. She had lost about twenty pounds she didn’t have, and was boney. The first thing you see is her eyes. The fierce gray hits you harder than a ton of bricks. They’re sharp and dig into your skin like a pins. You can see the grave importance in them. They seemed too solemn to be my fun-loving sister, Kinita. The layers of importance and intense thought had scarred these all-telling eyes. They made me sick to the core of my existence.
“Kinita, no.” I said softly.
Her eyes stayed the same, the same seriousness they held. “Please, sister. Don’t make this hard. I want to get over this. You hadn’t even gotten over me, I can see how you cry at night.”
I took a step back away from her, my lips pursed in a tight white line. “Stop it Kinita, if you didn’t die, then-“
“Who said I wasn’t dead, Rachna?” her voice was mad, but her eyes were still the same. She was frightening me now. I’ve seen ghosts, but she was stuck in the middle. A ghost’s eyes never change like hers won’t.
“I am stuck, the Sprits of the Dead do not welcome me in the underworld. They don’t except me, they don’t think I have proven myself. So they have sent me with a quest.” She stopped, her voice told me silently that she didn’t want to go on.
Our mothers were the Spirits of Land or Earth, and their brothers were the Spirits of the Underworld. The three of them held a court for you when you died, and decided if you deserved punishment or relaxation for your works on Earth. If they couldn’t make a decision, they would send you back in ghost form to take care of business for them.
I pressed her, “A quest? Kinita, you’re not one to follow orders well, so spill.”
“It’s simple actually, sister. A soul for a soul, a blood relative.”
“Me?” I asked weakly.
She nodded slowly. I see her point. She would gladly murder Jared in cold blood, but he wasn’t a relative. Plus, what have the other sisters done to her? “No! Kinita, please! Don’t do this! Rachna doesn’t deserve to die like this! She is almost as good as you were to us! She’s helped us and given us hope when you passed. Please!” Linya pleaded. “Take one of us, not Rachna!”
“I can’t, Lin. Please, you don’t know how long I have thought about this. I cannot back down. Rachna,” she turned to me with sadness melded into her voice. “I will not go down with out a fight. My magic will not work on you, since I am part ghost now, but my sword works. Your magic does not work on me, but your sword does. It will be a fair fight. A real fight this time, sister. Isn’t that what you always wanted?” She seemed sad in her voice, but her never-changing eyes told no story.
“Sister, you know this is not what I would ever want.” Only a feeble voice escaped my swollen-from-tears throat.
Carefully, I undid my armor of protection from my slashed face and she cut the string that held her hair together in her ponytail.
I swallowed my sobs and lifted my sword. I didn’t wobble my arm at all, and that took strength. This all seemed to be coming too fast. No real “Hey sis! Welcome back to earth!” more like “Hey, I’m back. I have to kill you now. Bye,” kind of things. She seemed broken almost. Of course, Kinita made the first move, and grunted as she thrust her sword at my side. I parried her sword and stepped on it as it hit the ground with a cling, I looked into her eyes and glared, this wasn’t my sister. This really was just her ghost.
She slid it out from under me and got her sword ready to strike. I was too quick, she had to parry most of my attacks until she got in the right stance for her own attacks. She twisted quickly and almost cut me in half. I jumped up, and accidentally leaned back. My head barely missed the blade as I was totally upside down in mid-air. I fell back and stumbled backwards as I got to my feet. It was just enough time for her to take a stab at my neck.
As she stabbed at the veins pulsing below my chin, I stumbled back until I hit the wall. When I hit the wall, she pinned me to the wall. I had no sword since she had taken a stab at my arm and made a nice gash on my thumb. She had the blade against my throat, but didn’t kill me. Why wait? What ever happened to lets get this over with? “Go ahead Kinita,” I said through my teeth, “Kill me. Soul for a soul. What’ve you got to lose?”
For the first time since I saw her back from the dead, I saw emotion in her eyes. She winced at me. Her eyes turned…normal. The ugly gray that had taken over dispersed and it turned to the friendly gray I knew in my sister. My real sister, the one who always did everything for the sisters of the Spirits. Not the plastic sister with the eyes that screamed death! at you every second as she attacked you. She was back for that second when she said, tears dropping. “I-I’m sorry.”
She loosened her grip and I slipped under her, the unfamiliar gray returned. She was faster than me, and pounced. Except she didn’t touch me. Someone got in the way. “No! Linya!” I screamed.
Kinita would have stopped. She would have pulled away and tried not to take her life. But Linya really, truly, thought that she was doing the right thing. There was no way to stop Kinita now, she was in mid-air and going too fast. Not even a trained and disciplined sword fighter could do something like that. When Linya had gotten hit, right in her stomach, she turned to dust. Just like Kinita had. My bottom lip quivered as Kinita realized what she had done, and Kinita was the first to break out crying. I had tears melting down my face, but got the courage to say, “Kinita? Kinita! Listen to me! What will happen to her? Eh? Answer me!”
“S-S-She will be with me. I-I-In the u-underworld. That’s why I h-h-had picked you. Y-Y-You always w-wanted to make s-s-sure of your fate in the underworld.” She went on sobbing and I joined.
Soon, when everyone else realized what had happened, they broke out crying too. Everything was probably going to fast for them. Even Jared was sobbing now. It was a time, and maybe the only time, I truly hated Kinita. When she pulled some of her pieces together, she said, “Rachna, I-“
“Kinita, don’t!” I screamed at her. “That was your sister! Your sister! It’s not the same if you had killed me, Kinita! I deserved it, if I had died! Linya, she didn’t! Please Kinita, go help her. Promise me, you’ll help her. Like you helped the sisters before. Before you changed!”
I kept sobbing, and she tried to dry her tears and said, “I’m sorry. I’ll go. Goodbye sister.”
“Goodbye, sister. Take care of her.”
“I will, I will.”
With that she left and I hoped, secretly, that she never came back for such self-centered things again. Just so she wouldn’t stay a ghost, so she could go to the underworld and stay. I couldn’t believe her. If she didn’t keep Linya safe, I would never let her sleep in peace. I couldn’t completely pick myself up after that, I left some pieces behind that might have been important. Vitally important to me, but I didn’t have time to pick them up. I tried to gather what was left of my family to move, so that we could try and cope, but we ended up staying there for a while before I got the others to move.
The mourning for our sister that didn’t have to die seemed to never end.
The next week was full of tears, and prayers for Linya. We visited our mothers, and they mourned with us. They didn’t cry; spirits never cry. But they were sad, and too sad. No spirit should ever be too sad, it just goes completely against the grains. Jared, Vala, Jumi, Mallee, and me are the only ones left. The only ones. That sounds too official. I want us to be a family again. Including Kinita and Linya. It’s not fair! Why can’t we all just live in harmony with out finding ways to take each other away? I mean, we’re immortals! That should count for something!
We went to the house in California in silence, and when we got there we all still weren’t over her. I was still coping with Kinita, and now Linya? WE all came with something that reminded us of her, and the thing in my hand seemed to weigh me down. It was like I was carrying my rock hard heart.
Jared stepped up first. He seemed speechless at first and I saw he was crying already, “Linya, you were a great person. You were always there for us. You didn’t have to do that. Really, we don’t deserve someone as good as you.”
He leaned over and placed down a handful of flowers he got on the hill she always used to read by. Jumi stepped up with a handful of tears on her face, “God Lin, what am I supposed to say? You were the best, always there and you never gave up. You were so great, why’d you have to do that?”
She lay down a pile of her favorite books that Linya had read over and over countless times. Jumi seemed too sad to even move after that. Than it was Vala, she was so small and fragile, with the same black lace dress she had with Kinita. She looked like a toothpick. “Hey, Lin. I got the same mindless question as everyone, why? You really shouldn’t have done that. You shouldn’t have left us like that, please, take care of yourself down there.”
She put down her tear-covered journal, which we found under her pillow.
Next, Mallee. She was the second eldest now. Tears were over-flowing in her eyes and pushing at the red-swollen edges to them through. She stepped up, “Um, Linya. I know you did what you thought was best, what you thought would help us, but at this time it seems to have pulled us apart with the tears. Thank you for all you’ve done. You were more than we deserved.”
She threw in her apples, from the same tree on the hill with the flowers that Jared had gotten. The whole ceremony seemed to go too fast. Now, it was my turn. My sisters were crying, Jared stood there looking at the ground. They acted as if they had died. We had been close, and she always wanted to put herself out there and do something amazing. She was just to shy to do anything. Knowing Linya, she wouldn’t want to see my sisters mourn like this. I stepped up and said, “Linya, you fell fighting. Just like how you wanted to in your journal. You did what you thought was right, you gave all you had for us. I wanted to get Kinita, I would have. There could have been less of this,” I waved my arm around the room, but my voice was calm. “You followed your heart, and you finally did something you could have been proud of, because I know at night there’s a time where you sit there wondering what you should have done. Well, you did a great thing Linya. Thank you, sister.”
I put down her jewelry box, the one she never left behind in a house. It was simple, but she had painted it herself when she was only a century and Jumi had just been born.. It seemed to glow with her aura, and I thought this was a good place for it. When the ceremony ended with me placing the box down, everyone broke out crying. I didn’t cry at first, not a tear, but I stormed out and Jared followed me. I went out the porch and stopped at the weak wooden barriers. In anger, I kicked the wooden railing. It splintered and fell the two stories down. Now I felt tears swell in my eyes. I wiped them away quickly and felt my heart beat too fast. “No, don’t leave me, too.” I told it. I knew it was going to fly away from me.
“Who?” Jared asked from behind me. I had forgotten already he had followed me.
“No one,” I spat out.
Then the tears came I fell to the ground put my head in my knees like I did for almost three months after Kinita died. No one knew except for me that I did that. Jared came and sat next to me. He had been crying the ceremony, so I’m sure that he didn’t have to cry. He did. I flat out hugged him and he felt warm against my cold body. I crushed my face into his shoulder and he didn’t mind that his shirt was getting all wet. Sobbing, we sat and let each other cry. He was crying over the sisters he barely knew, and I was crying for one of my closest friends. Soon I got hold of myself and said, “S-S-She didn’t have t-t-to go. I s-should have been g-g-gone.”
He started to protest but I just let go of him and got up. It took a lot of coaxing to get my sisters out of that death house. The trinkets that we left sat next to the flowers, and they seemed to fit together perfectly, too perfectly. Like good and bad, fire and ice, sun and moon. They were two opposites that couldn’t live without each other. I scowled at the flowers, “Take of her, sister. Take care.”
I didn’t even bother putting back on my mask to hide my tear-striken face.