I linked to D'ni, not knowing what to expect there. When I made it there, my jaw dropped. I was standing in what looked to me to be an underground cavern. A large lake loomed ahead, glowing a bright orange that acted like sunlight in the dark. I could see hundreds of islands out on the orange lake; one island, reaching high up into the empty space above, was so large and looked so much like a giant tooth that it frightened me a little. On it I could see, from where I was, hundreds of buildings, lights, and presumably people.
I was on a stone dock of sorts. I turned around, and saw that I was standing in front of a city. Towering buildings of stone rise high up into the dark space of nothingness, just like that island. People were gathering around me now, with puzzled looks on their faces. They looked a lot like me, but more like my father and grandfather. They seemed frightened of me, as I was of them. They don't know who I am, I thought. I don't know who they are either.
A young girl about my age and height stepped closer to me, looking at me and studying me with her blue eyes. She said something strange outloud to the other people in the crowd, but I heard her loud and clear. Of course, I thought, she's speaking D'ni! My uncle taught it to me when I was learning the Art. But it sounded a bit different, like a different accent or something. She said something like "He seems D'ni. But his skin, and his hair, they are different. Maybe he is 'Ahrotahn'." Ahrotahn? What is that? The girl came closer, and spoke to me. "Hello, I am Ta'Kaira. Who are you?". "I am Devokan," I answered in D'ni. "I come from the surface. I came here through a Linking Book". When I said this, she gasped. I don't think she knew I would understand her, I said to myself."You speak our language?" she asked. "Yes, but you're accent is quite different than what I know. I can understand you still quite clearly". She looked dumbfounded. What was so strange about me being able to speak D'ni? Didn't they know that I was D'ni (sort of, I was only three quarters D'ni).
That Ta'Kaira girl. She kept looking at me with her eyes, penetrating inside of me. She was searching me inside and out with that stare, wanting to know all about me. And the others. They were keeping their distance, not moving, frightened of me.
I heard loud voices, and I could see men carrying weapons of some kind running towards me. Oh this just keeps getting better and better. I looked at Ta'Kaira, and I think I noticed her smile (though I don't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing) as I ran off in the opposite direction of the men. I ran down the streets of the city, and people would stare at me as I did. Some old woman even tried to hit me with a broom of sorts, saying "Get away from me, you Ahnotahn!". What was these peoples' problem?! Why did they hate me so much. They didn't even know me! I kept running until I was out of breath, and even then I kept going on against my body's will. I just had to get away from those men. I would occasionally hear them not far behind, yelling and shouting at people to get out of their way. I thought I could lose them around the next corner, but to my unexpected surprise, it was a dead end. I heard footsteps, and then Ta'Kaira emerged from around the corner. She ran to me, and said something to me. I would have liked to listen to what she said, but I couldn't hear her over the immense noise of those men turning around the corner and blocking our path of escape from us. Ta'Kaira reached for my arm and held on tight. Why was she like this now? I thought.
One man-a guard-walked forward, and pointed his weapon at me. I remembered that the Choorahl Linking Book was in my pouch. I slowly reached for it as the guard questioned me. I didn't really even listen to what he said. He looked angry for me not answering him, and was about to lunge at me and Ta'Kaira right then and there had I not found the Gateway image and placed my fingers on it. There was that sickening feeling of being drawn into the page, and a moment later I was standing in front of my Choorahl shelter with Ta'Kaira still clutching my arm.
She looked around, wondering where we were. "This is Choorahl" I said to her. "It is an Age I've written". She turned to look at me with her beautiful eyes and said what I think she meant to say back in D'ni. "I think I love you. I don't even know you, bu I feel something for you". I was taken aback by this. She loved me? Before I could say a word to her, she kissed me. I couldn't help myself; I closed my eyes and kissed her back. When she pulled away, I looked at her. Under the moonlight, she looked stunning. She had light hair, but not so much like mine as it was a light brown. She had beautiful blue eyes-eyes that could look into me and make me shiver. I think I love her.
We walked together that night along the shore of the island, holding hands. I felt so wonderful around her-so different, and I think she felt the same. Walking back to the shelter, we kissed again. It felt so good when we kissed. I opened the door, and we walked in. We went to bed, sleeping together side-by-side.
The next day, I showed her more of the island. She had never seen it during the day. There were so many things that were different about it. The birds were singing; the flowers were blowing in the wind; the air was much warmer but refreshing all at once; the stream shone under the glow of the sun, reflecting on its surface. I put my hands in the water, cupping them, and brought some water up to her lips. She took a sip, and smiled. She took another, and I did as well. Then, we walked to my 'orchard', were I pulled down a fruit for her from the tree. She liked the fruit, because she asked me for more. We walked up hill to the lake and I showed her the waterfall cascading down the cliff. "Can I take a bath here?" she asked. "Yes," I said. "I take them here, I see nothing wrong with you taking one either". She ran to the edge of the lake, and took off her clothes. I was shocked that she didn't care that I was standing there. "Do you want to come in too?" she asked. I thought about it. Why not? I joined her in the lake, taking in the sight of her and the freshness of the water. She came closer to me. I didn't know what to do. I backed off at first, but when she came closer again, I stayed where I was. She kissed me, and I kissed her back. It felt so strange kissing her in the lake, especially with us being, well, bare.
We got out, feeling clean and refreshed. Using my heavier cloak as a towel, we dried ourselves. Walking back to the shelter, we talked. About what had happened in D'ni, and why the men were after us. "As far as I know," Ta'Kaira said, "They were after you because they thought you were a threat. They were after me, because I stopped them and tried to get in their way". I looked at her after she said that. She blushed. "You tried to stop them, for me?". "Yes". "If I had known you would do that; if I had known it would cause your banishment, I would have given myself up". She turned to me, looking calm, and said "I would have done it anyway". I love her so much, I thought. She loves me too; so much that she would do anything to keep me safe.
Another night went by. Another night we held each other close. The morning came, and we layed there unmoving. After a while, I got up, and she reached up to kiss me. She got up too, and both of us got dressed. We went outside, and began working. I fished and chopped wood; she foraged for berries and picked fruits. When I came back with a half a dozen fish, we both skinned and cut them, and layed them out by the fire which I started. I went with her to fetch some water. When we got back, the fish was ready. We had supper, and afterwords I told her about where I come from. "It's a large village" I said, "It is built into the sides of a cliff. The people there are a lot like me, but a few are different. They have darker skin, and have darker hair. My mother is half D'ni and half Anasazi". "So you are only a quarter D'ni? Or are you half?". "I am three quarters D'ni. My father is full blooded D'ni, my mother is only half". Ta'Kaira took all the information in; a calm look on her face. "I knew something was different about you. When I looked at you, back in D'ni, you looked to me like D'ni, but something else was there too". "Are you okay with me only being three quarters D'ni?". "Yes," she said, "Why would I care whether or not you are full D'ni or not. I love you". "I love you too, Ta'Kaira".
The sun set, and evening grew on, and Ta'Kaira and I went to bed. Tomorrow, I thought, I would take her to the village to meet my family.
In the morning, we got up and dressed ourselves. After our morning kiss, I told her that I would bring her to visit my family. She seemed thrilled. We got together my Linking Books that I planned on bringing home, picked up the Linking Book that took me back to my village, and we linked through as before, her arm clutching my own.
The sun was just rising over the desert as we appeared in front of the waterfall. I took her by the ahnd, and together we walked to my house. Ta'Kaira was amazed by all of this. She never knew for sure what my home would look like. "It is all so beautiful" she told me. "I've never seen anything like it in all of my life". I knocked on the wooden door of my house once again, and my father answered the door. "Devokan? You're back my son!" He came out and hugged me firmly."We've been so worried, your mother and I. Where have you been for so long?" He noticed Ta'Kaira beside me. "Who is this, my son?". "Father, this is Ta'Kaira. She is my-" but before I could finish, Ta'Kaira siad "I am his love. I come from D'ni". My father looked as dumbfounded as I did. "Please, come in" my father said. "Devokan, may I speak with you a moment." It wasn't a question, it was a command.
We walked inside, and Ta'Kaira sat down on a chair in the family room. My father walked into his room, and I followed him. My mother was there, still asleep."Devokan" he said, "I know you are growing older, but do you know about love? Are you ready for such a responsibility?". "Yes, I am, father. I love her, and she loves me. She tried to save me back in D'ni, and then I saved her by linking her to Choorahl. This was three days ago-in Choorahl time. I may have been there for weeks with her in our time". "Devokan, do you really-". "Yes! I love her. I love her more than life. She loves me as well. Please, can't you understand that?". My father's head dropped. He looked sad. He didn't speak for quite some time. Then he spoke to me. "I can see that you would do anything for her. You would even argue with your father" he said, "I want you to be happy, but I do not want you to be rash. Love is very strange. It can be good, or it can be bad. I hope you know what you are getting into". "But you and mother love one another. It's the same thing. I love Ta'Kaira". My father looked sad, but slowly he smiled."Go to her, then. I'm proud of you son, don't ever forget that". I hugged him, and then went to sit with Ta'Kaira. Mother woke up a while ago while my father and I were talking, and she and Ta'Kaira were getting along just fine. I kissed my mother on the cheek, and kissed Ta'Kaira on the lips as we usually did.
Hope: Part II
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