Oh how she hated rules. Everything must be proper and perfect, that was why she was escaping. Aino Gozeimez, Life of Goodness, slept soundly beside her as she slipped her slender body out from under the covers. They wouldn't see her again. Everyone had behothed her sense her naming by the Great One. Kodraino Kodomo, Child of Darkness. Anyone with that ominous of a name was shunned, sent to live in one of the Life-Sentence Towers, there were three, Kodoma, Jisei, and Ai. She lived in Kodoma, darkness, the ones with out hope. The Gozeimez were the guards, who lived their entire lives with the outcasts. Hers was Aino, but that didn't matter, Aino would be her master no more!
She had made up her mind; she would no longer be an outcast. She would run, hard, away from this terrible place. She silently opened the door just slit and slid out. She knew the guard on duty tonight, easily defeated. Her powers first began making themselves known two or three years ago, she was just a child then, and they had confused her, but sense then she had harnessed them, learned how to use them to her advantage. She crept down the granite-floored halls of the tower and opened the second set of doors. Ranio, the guard, was asleep, so she took extra caution when opening the outer doors.
Once outside, she cursed herself for not putting on shoes, but it was too late to go back now. She ran through the field with amazing speed, the dew soaked grass freezing her feet. She ran at least a half a mile into the forest before she stopped to catch her breath. She sat down on a rock and peeled off her drenched socks, cursing herself again for not wearing shoes.
Oh no, hoof beats, they had followed her, she had to hide, but where??? She searched around, nothing, running really wasn't an option, this wasn't they kind of place where one went running around in pitch darkness, too many cliffs to fall off of, but she had to, there was no other choice. She tried to use her excellent sight to help her, but it was of no use. Finally, after half and hour of cautious running, she saw an opening in the ledge beside her. A cave! She ducked inside, not pausing to check for spirits, as she had been taught. She saw a boulder and hid herself behind it. After what seemed like hours of listening, she willed herself into a restless sleep...
She awakened to the sensation of a solar eclipse. She slowly sat up and looked around. Then she felt it, there was evil here. She cautiously stood up, arming herself, ready to attack. Then she heard growling. She looked towards the entrance to the cave. She saw a huge, brown, hairy bear standing in the doorway, blocking all light and exits from the cave. She felt a black fire swirling around her. She stepped into it, chanting in a foreign language. The bear fell to the ground, it's soul gone. Kodriano smiled. She had done well. She got up and walked over to the bear, amazed at its size, it was the largest animal she had ever worked on. The dark goddesses would be happy with her.
She looked at where she had been running; it was about five feet wide, wider then she had thought the night before. The entire ledge was made of obsidian. It was shining black in the morning sunlight. She looked for a way down. Looking over the ledge, she saw a green valley with a crystal stream running through it, but no way down to it. She walked further down the cliff, past her cave. She gasped in surprise, a huge staircase, made out of chipped bits of obsidian, went down to the field, and there was a dark black Pegasus standing at the bottom. She carefully walked down to the Pegasus, trying to feel its soul. It was of no use; a supernatural orchid flame guarded the soul.
She reached the bottom of the stairs and tried to touch the Pegasus. He shook his jet black head and pranced away. She turned her back, pretending not to care, and saw, for the first time in her life, true, untamed, beauty. She walked out into the field, marveling at it. Then the Pegasus started chewing on her ankle length orchid hair and when she turned around, he scooped her up onto his back and kicked up into the air. Kodraino looked around as they flew off into the crystal blue morning sky.
Kodraino marveled at the strength and power of the Pegasus as it soared up above the mountains and into the clouds. She looked around in wonder, but then a dark mass caught her eye.
"What's that ahead?" She asked the unicorn.
"It's my homeland. It's usually a happy, cheerful place, but it has been taken over by dark forces. They kill more and more of us every day."
"Oh, that's terrible." Silenced by the story, she sat and waited for them to reach the dreaded place.
The Pegasus landed softly on what seemed like a very large cloud. He led the girl up to a small trapdoor in the floor and lightly pushed her down. Instead of the long drop she had expected, Kodraino found herself in a well-lit den looking room with all sorts of mythical animals gathered around a small table.
"So you found her?" A tall, wise looking Phoenix addressed the Pegasus.
"Yes." He solemnly replied.
"Why am I here?" Kodraino stepped forward, looking the Phoenix in the eye.
"We need your help." The Phoenix shuddered, the direct look bothering him.
"Well, as I'm sure you've heard, our country is under attack by a dark power."
"Yes, I've heard."
"Well, we need your powers to help us fight them."
"WHAT, you just brought me here to use me!?"
"Well, not exactly, you could go back this second if it suited you. We are simply asking for your help."
"Can I think about it?"
"Yes, we will give you a room here for the night and you can tell us your decision in the morning," The graceful bird gestured towards a small, half horse, half human girl. "AlyySaa will show you a room." The young centaur looked at Kodraino with interest for a second before turning to lead her down one of the paths that branched out from the main room.
"Are you going to help us?" AlyySaa asked in a girlish voice.
"I don't know. Can I ask you a question?"
"Yes, I can tell you almost anything you want."
"Why is this all underground?"
"So they won't catch us," The short centaur sighed and paused, then went on. "That's why you need to help us. We're really hopeless unless you help us. BryaN doesn't want to admit it, but we really need help. It hurts his pride."
"Here's your room." AlyySaa opened a finely crafted door that lead into a small room with a loft, a small desk, a dresser with a mirror, a small chair, and a second, door leading to the shower shared with the next room. All the furniture was made of a deep wood that Kodraino had never seen before. They were also carved with intricate designs of dragons, unicorns at streams, and humans dancing. After AlyySaa left, Kodraino sat down and sighed. Oh, goddess, how am I going to get out of this? She thought, fingering her long, orchid hair. She got up and started walking around the room
She felt dirty, it had been three days since her last shower and she realized that she stank of the bear. She knocked on the door to the shower and went in. She took off her clothes and stepped into the shower. She pulled the sheet around to cover her and turned on the water. A wave of warm water washed over her and she sighed contentedly. She had never been allowed to use warm water at the tower and the mandatory daily showers were only allowed five minutes. She leaned her head back and let the water flow onto her head and down her hair.
After about a half hour in the shower, Kodraino finally got out and shivered. She quickly grabbed a towel off the pole sticking out of the wall and wrapped it around herself. Holding the towel together, she grabbed her clothes, opened the door to her room, and ran in. She quickly slipped into her calf-length orange skirt and black top. Just then there was a knock on the door. Once again angry that she had forgotten shoes, she skittered across the floor and opened the door. An elf was standing there with a large platter of food.
"Here Miss, you must eat well." The little woman squeaked. Kodraino lifted the tray from the elf's hands and took it over to her desk. The elf gently closed the door and ran back to the kitchen for her next job as Kodraino started eating. The meal consisted of some sort of a thin soup with a few little chunks of vegetables and two even smaller pieces of beef. A roll made of a tough, grainy bread and a tall glass full of watery goat's milk. Before she was even half way though the meal, she felt tired and deiced to go to bed, although she knew it was no later then six o'clock. She climbed up into the bed and settled down into the mattress. Pulling up the covers over her head, she fell into a calm, deep sleep.
Kodraino woke up and looked around, confused. Then she remembered, she was in the Pegasus homeland. She climbed down the ladder to the floor and was trying to figure out the time when there was a forceful knock at the door. She walked over and opened it.
"What do you want," She stared at the winged woman floating in front of her door.
"Your presence is requested in the dining hall Ma'am." Kodraino followed the fairy down three more corridors into a large, square room with more than 20 small, circular tables scattered around the room. Around the perimeter there were long tables with gnomes dishing out ladles of soup. Seated around the smaller tables were an assortment of fairies, gnomes, centaurs, unicorns, elves, goat men, dragons, and a number of creatures she'd never seen before. She spotted the Phoenix and Pegasus at a far table to the left of her.
"They want to know your decision," The fairy gestured towards the Phoenix and Pegasus. Kodraino swiftly trotted over to them.
"So, would you tell us what you've decided?" The Phoenix meant it as an order, not a request.
"I will, help you I mean," Kodraino was looking into the Phoenix's eyes again.
"Please, don't do that." The Phoenix got up and led Kodraino to the end of the line waiting to get their meals. The line went faster than Kodraino thought it would and she was soon seated at a table across from a rather large gold and red scaled dragon.
"Hello," Kodraino tried to make conversation.
"So you're the one everyone's relying on. A human!" The dragon exclaimed, blowing a small burst of flame on her bread.
"Ah, a lowly human." A second, silver scaled, dragon mocked the first.
"Human lover," the first dragon muttered as she got up to move to another table.
"I'm sorry about my sister," the silver dragon apologized, "Esmerelda's not really friendly to people."
"I noticed." Kodraino tried to spread the hard butter on the grainy roll.
"Here, this might help," the dragon blew a flicker of flame on the butter, softening it.
"My name's Danias. What's yours?"
"Thanks." Finished with her breakfast, Kodraino got up and walked away to put her dishes in the kitchen. One of the elves smiled at her as she walked by. Kodraino grunted, she didn't like all the attention.
"Hey, you!" A tall griffin shouted at her. Kodraino turned around to look at him and snorted.
"What do you want?"
"Come here baby!" He flirted.
"I've had better offers from a cow!" She screamed back as she turned and ran blindly through the halls, looking for her room. It was no use, every door and every hall looked the same. She was so confused. Having run for an hour, she slumped against the wall, exhausted. Before she could stop herself, she had fainted.
"Hey, you wake up." A soft, sweet voice was the first thing Kodraino heard when she came too.
"Wha..." She shook her head to clear the grogginess and sat up, "Who are you?" She looked up at the cute, fair skinned boy who stood over her.
"I'm Anio Jinsei." He replied, his dark eyes smiling.
"Life of Indigo?" Kodraino looked slightly confused.
"No, Life of Love, why can't anyone get that right!" His purple bangs flopped in his face.
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. Can you be a gentleman and help me up?" The taller boy reached down and pulled Kodraino up onto her feet. "Thank you," She grunted as she brushed herself off. She looked over the boy; he had three tattoos and bright eyes that seemed to twinkle, even when he was angry. The light blue shirt he wore brought out his wonderful figure. It had strips of cloth holding on the bottoms of each sleeve right below the shoulders, showing two of his heart tattoos. His pants were strips of linen that seemed to be simply wrapped around his legs, but left some parts uncovered. He wore soft, calfskin boots that went up to his ankles and buttoned down the sides.
"What were you looking for?" The incredibly cute boy asked.
"My room. I don't know where it is, if you could lead me to the meeting chamber, I could find my way back."
"Okay, come this way." Taking her hand, Anio led her to the round room that she had first come into.
Kodraino looked around and sighed, "I think it's this way," she turned down one of the corridors to her left and then down two other corridors, "Here, I guess." She opened the door, relived to find it was hers.
"Mine's right next to yours." He motioned over to the next door.
"Hmm," Kodraino went into her room and closed the door, wondering what she'd gotten herself in to.
Later that day there was a knock at her door. When she opened it, she was surprised to see Anio standing there.
"Oh, hello." Anio stepped into the room and sat down on the floor.
"Did you want something?" Kodraino couldn't help but stare at him; he was perfect.
"I just wanted to know, where you Manufactured or are you real?"
"Wha... I always thought I was real. I really don't know. They always told us we were real, just shunned by society."
"Well, there is one way to find out."
"What is it?"
"Well, it's sort of... Well, you. You have to walk through fire. If you're unharmed when you walk out, you're Manufactured."
"YOU'VE GOT TO BE JOKING!!"
"No, I'm completely serious. I went through it. It's not that hard."
"Unless you aren't Manufactured, then you die!"
"You don't die, there might be some pain, but you would never die. And, if you're Manufactured or Immortal, you'll feel sort of a pleasant tingling sensation. If not, you jump out with minor burns on your legs. So do you want to try it?"
"Good then. I'll come get you tomorrow morning for breakfast." Kodraino sighed, once again; she had been too agreeable and gotten her self in too deep. ‘Will you ever learn?' She scolded herself.
The next morning, the door burst open just as she was pulling on her shirt. She screamed and quickly turned around, not wanting Jinsei to see her barely existent chest. Jinsei closed the door and waited outside for Kodraino to open it. When she did, she was red-faced.
"I'm sorry." Jinsei stepped into the door way, "I didn't know you were changing."
"It's all right, at the Tower, we all had to sit in a room together naked while our clothes were being washed, boys and girls all together. If you ever had any modesty, it was destroyed there."
"Why did you scream then?"
"Well, you're different. You're not like one of them. You're more human."
"Oh no dear, I'm not human."
"Let's go to breakfast."
"Yes, we should, I want to tell Bryan about the test." The two humans walked down the corridors to the dining hall. By the time they had gotten there, a small herd of young Pegasus, centaurs, and dragons had accumulated behind them, amazed at the two strange creatures. BryaN was sitting at the edges of the room, at a table with the black Pegasus, AlyySaa, a turquoise fairy, and an elf. There were two seats open, which Kodraino and Jinsei took willingly.
"BryaN, I would like to talk to you about something." Jinsei was sitting across from the great fire bird.
"I was wondering if we could have Kodraino take a test, similar to the one I took when I first came. We were talking about it last night and she would like to try it out."
"Well, I suppose, it's not very hard to prepare. When?"
"When can you have it ready?"
"Let me talk to the dragons and elves and I'll see what I can do."
"Thank you, we will go get our breakfast now." Jinsei nodded to BryaN and led Kodraino to the end of the food line. They got their food quickly, oat bran and a grainy piece of toast, and headed back to the table.
"Who are these people BryaN?" Jinsei asked, motioning to the other creatures around the table.
"This is ImeaOn," BryaN pointed at the Pegasus and then motioned towards the fairy, "Gaea, and Erose." BryaN pointed to the elf; "They are all very high in my command." Each one of the creatures nodded to Jinsei and Kodraino as BryaN said their names. BryaN stopped one of the sea nymphs passing by and asked her something in a hushed tone.
"Hwhy o' course ser, aeny thang fer miester Bryain!" She called as she rushed off on her quest.
"Now, you," BryaN addressed Kodraino and Jinsei, "are to meet me in my room. I'll send and elf or fairy down to get you." They both nodded in understanding and excused themselves from the table. After putting their dishes away, they started to walk out.
"It's you again, baby," The griffin shouted at Kodraino, "You don't need to be afraid of me. That was a pretty good show you put on yesterday!" Just then, Dainias, the green and gold scaled dragon walked up to the griffin.
"Honestly Hiigo," Dainias raised his eyebrows at the griffin, "must you pick on the girl too, don't you have enough playthings?"
"I was just trying to warn her about her little boyfriend there," Hiigo gestured towards Jinsei, "wouldn't want him to explode anything and kill her." Kodraino looked surprised, angry, scared, and confused all at the same time.
Jinsei sighed when he saw the look on Kodraino's face. He stuttered, trying to explain, "W-well you see, uh, I'm a sorcerer and, well, and I was sort of, uh, I was trying a spell in my room, and, ummm, a fairy walked in, and, well, the thing exploded, and erm..." Jinsei paused to see how this was all going over with Kodraino, her face was white and pale, he continued, "well, she sort of, was killed by the spell," Jinsei rushed to explain, " But it was a very complicated spell and I had a sign on my door to be left alone and-"
Kodraino cut him off " It wasn't your fault then." She murmured.
"Well, I guess not." Jinsei looked down, studying his boots.
"Well, let's go, I guess." Kodraino took Jinsei's hand and led him out of the room, aware of the stares that followed the pair all the way down the hall. They went into Jinsei's room and Jinsei sat down on a chair. Kodraino sat down beside him, on the floor, and leaned her head against his knee.
"I'm scared." She murmured to Jinsei.
"I know, but you shouldn't be, it's really not that bad."
"But still, what if I'm not..."
"Well, I don't know, you won't die though, I promise."
Kodraino sighed and closed her eyes, she felt safe in his presence.
© 2001 Copyright held by the author.