© 2023 by Nol Galaxy.

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GOING HOME

Kana walked with Rolt through an ornate network of rocks twisting in impossible formations. The walls curved in fluid angles, monumental arches delicately balanced on willow structures, and the earth was a marble orange and white gem of fire beneath the desert sun. Kana breathed deeply, filling her lungs with crisp, slight sandy, but completely unpolluted air. The atmosphere radiated warmth, that seeped into her skin. She admired the dazzling beauty of her home-world, overjoyed by the living earth responding to every breath she took.

 

"This," she said to Rolt, "is the difference between Marak and other planets."

 

"what is?" he asked.

 

"Marak is alive," she said, her voice hitched with emotion. "The earth is alive, the air is alive, Marak breathes as I breathe. My life flows through her, and her power through me. Every single step solidifies my existence as one with her and all our kin." She crouched down and touched the ground, reaching with her powers to hear the beat of the planet's heart, a tear dropped on the red earth and a smile softened her face. She knew she was being overly emotional, but she had been away for too long. As she felt the familiar presence of her planet though, she noticed a slight aberration. There it is, she thought, as she began tracing the aberration to its source. Something was disturbing the energy of the planet, and even though they’d just returned home, she was honored that they had been given the task to help correct it.

 

"Those other planets," she continued standing up, "are dead masses of rock and mineral."

 

Rolt remained silent, but he agreed with her completely. It was only after spending time on other planets for the last 50 years that he realized the uniqueness of their home. He shuddered, thinking of the cold indifference of planets with no thoughts or care for the life inhabiting them; the static oppression of a world that could not be changed or communed with. Looking back on the first few months away from home was almost traumatizing. Even though he could still feel Marak regardless of the distance, the lack of sentience and a greater connection on other planets made him feel vulnerable. Like he was standing on an empty void where the only thing stopping him from being sucked in was a thin and feeble membrane of rock. If he had gone alone, he would have surly returned home immediately or gone mad. It was only his connection with Kana that kept him grounded, and even though it got easier after a couple years, he knew he would never feel at home on any planet other than Marak. He looked at Kana, as she marched forward, the confident smile permanently etched onto her face, the defiance in her eyes, her consistency always made him smile. He brushed back her bronze hair, and the slight touch, exposed their minds to each other. He felt her emotions and thoughts, the feel of every strand of hair, ever muscular twitch, every atom that composed their bodies, and deeper, he felt her Kyr-marks of creation, the source of their powers and connection to Marak.

 

"Let's finish this quickly so we can go home," Rolt said as they walked through another gravity defying archway, to the edge of a cliff split into two natural bridges, connecting two sides of a deep chasm.

 

Without a word exchanged, they simultaneously expanded the reach of their marks down both paths: Dark, intricate, and powerful tattoos containing the base particle of all of creation, swirled hypnotizingly on their skin before lifting up and surging forward to pass through molecules of air and rock down both paths. Rolt’s presence was heavy and dominating, the overwhelming pressure of a mountain compressed into the body of a man, contrasted with Kana's light, feather presence, that carried the destructive force of lightning.

 

Together, their marks reached into the ground, searching. Everything they touched sang to them, the earth told epics of ancestors' Footprints, rock and mountain wall sang hymns of eons passed and eons to come, and the plants created symphonies of growth and rebirth. Reaching deeper, their marks felt the silent lullaby of the core-keeper in eternal sleep by the heart of Marak herself. It was a song so sweet and calming that drew them into bliss, and the comfort of their mother's arms. The harmonizing orchestra of life, linking all Marakian souls was interrupted by a wrench, a twist, and the discordant note of a thing that did not belong. The Presence of the aberration Kana felt earlier grew restless and they followed it down the left path to find the source of the discord.

 

The leviathan, a beast of legend, a Graule so rare and powerful, that cultures considered its sighting as an omen of disasters and death, had appeared on Marak. So, mere minutes after Kana and Rolt returned to the planet, the World-bearer handed them the job of eliminating the loathsome creature.

 

The confrontation didn't last long. The Leviathan’s deadly tentacles with enough strength and reach to take out an air-shuttle, the shell covering its wrinkled grey hide that pulsed with putrid life, its horns changed with power, its poison breath, and terrifying speed, all proved wholly insufficient in the face of Rolt's abilities. The tentacles were locked down with kyr-marks that wrapped around the creature in an unbreakable embrace. Horns were shattered by Rolt's hammer formed from compressed kyr and air. Poison nullified as Rolt’s kyr altered its molecular structure. The Leviathan’s speed and power were overwhelmed by the cords of kyr turned to steel, and its mighty body was brought to the ground. The beast thrashed and roared to no avail, Rolt's bonds held it firmly in place. Malice and rage burned in the Leviathan’s eyes like the magma oceans of Darge, bright red, unquenchable and all-consuming. Even though Rolt knew his hold would not be broken, those eyes still turned his stomach and chilled his bones.

 

"What a terrifying creature," Rolt Whispered as the beast attempted to rise again, sending stray bolts of power flying.

 

"You say that, but I think most people would agree that you’re more terrifying," Kana said as she lifted herself into the air above the struggling Leviathan, with crimson wings constructed with Kyr-marks.

 

She stretched her hands towards the creature's head, the marks on her body dancing rapidly, rising and falling from her skin in a rhythm only she could understand, gradually turning red, then blue, before settling on a radiant white glow that cast stark black shadows in the cavern. The creature froze, red eyes dimming. Through his marks, Rolt felt it shudder. Kana looked down at the Leviathan, and with a gentle exhale released her powers. Rolt watched her, captivated by her as he always was when she used her powers. Kana smiled. Her power never surged, it simply fell like a light drizzle and gentle snow, starting at the base of her back and trickling up her spine into her fingers, then out into the world and onto the creature beneath her.

 

The only way to destroy graule, and prevent them from regenerating, was to shatter the Arim-gland, buried deep within their bodies under layers of bone, muscle, and in some cases like with Leviathans, encased in power shields the negated most physical and psychic attacks. But to kana, such obstacles were mundane.

 

Rolt watched Kana’s powers rain on the Leviathan. It no longer roared or thrashed. It whimpered as the bonds that held its body's atoms together and gave it material form were dissolved, not leaving any trace of the creature. The last white glow of Kana's power faded, and she landed next to Rolt turning her crimson wings back to marks.

 

She noticed Rolt’s slightly slouched posture, and his distant gaze.

 

"You feel sorry for it?" kana said glancing at Rolt.

 

"Cole said it had already attacked three tribes," he replied turning away from where the Leviathan’s body no longer lay.

 

"I know, but you still feel bad," she said capturing his large frame in her small arms.

 

He smiled. "Let's go home, it's been too long since we slept in our own bed."

 

She laughed, taking his hand, and together they spread crimson and black wings.