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Aden Caley

Email: Xolani Nia
©Copyright 2000 N.Vélez

Part One

Winter-Birth-0 years

It had rained for many days upon the land. The waters started to come, taking everything in their path. So the people climbed up into the mountains and hid in the caves.

Two days had passed since the clan hid in the mountains and it still continued to rain. The nights were cold and unforgiving, but it was on one of those nights that the twins were born. The mother was a fragile thing of eighteen years of age. She had never given birth before and most thought that she would most certainly die. All through the night the showers poured down. In the small cave that served as a medical ward, the trained healers were trying to keep the girl alive. The leading healer had just given up on her when a crash of lightning illuminated the room. In less than five minutes the first baby was born and laid to rest in her father's arms. Almost immediately the water's stopped.

A warm summer's breeze blew inside the room. In the midst of an unwelcomed winter a sunflower gave light to the room. The second twin was born and she was placed in her mother's arms. The fragile baby looked up and smiled. A warm feeling ran over the mother's body. Her eyes were wide as she realized what was to come and what she had not yet done. Then death struck and the young girl left her legacy and gifts to the first born she was never able to see or hold in her arms.

The first child was small and pudgy. She had a dull stare to her amber eyes and only smiled at her father. Her skin was the whitest of all her family and it was the roughest. And she was named Cassandra.

The second child was also small but she wasn't as pudgy. Her amber eyes were twinkling constantly and she smiled at everyone. Even so, she was a "daddy's girl" and would spend all of her time with him. She was of a nice tan color and had soft skin. Her name was Alana.

a a a a a a a a a a a a

Spring-5 years

Cassandra opened her eyes to find Ana's face starring at her. The little girl blinked twice at her and then proceeded to shake her until Cassandra was awake and running after her.

The village they lived in was a calm and save haven surrounded by highlands. Outside of the wooden valley was the sea. And evil. Or so claimed the elders of the clan. Cassandra knew it must be some sort of tactic intended to keep the teenagers from leaving and journeying into the city.

She stood outside Althea's hut, wondering about such things. Although right now, on Cassandra's mind, the biggest wonder was of why Althea lived in a hut and not in a stone house like the everyone else.

"Dear, are you going to stand outside the window? Or are you coming in?" Althea's voice came from inside.

Entering inside the darkened room, Cassandra looked around. It never failed to fascinate her, with it's wooden aroma and pictures on the wall. They were strange pictures of faraway lands and odd looking warrior women. Just as interesting were the scrolls she wasn't able to read. Cassandra could read, she just couldn't understand those freaking scrolls!

"What is it?" Althea interrupted her thoughts. But not completely . For now, Cassandra's attention was on the twenty year old girl standing in front of her. With her long mahogany colored hair and her interesting green eyes, Althea never failed to amaze her.

"I was just wondering, why exactly is it that we can't go pass the mountains. I mean, what is behind those mountains? The sea, I've been told. If the sea is behind those mountains, then it is the sea that is forbidden. So I came to ask, exactly why is the sea forbidden?"

"The elders think, and this is their opinion, not mine, that evil lies there. It's actually a story that happened some time ago. A group once went out past the mountains. They went in disobedience, they never came back. Since then there has been great opposition from the elders when it came to making trips past the valleys. Once in a while someone has to go and journey into the city but only the more faithful of elders actually make the trip."

And all the while Althea said this, she had a strange look in her eyes. Her face showed no feelings, but her eyes gave away everything.

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Spring-7 years

At the age of seven, the thing farthest in her mind from conscious thought, happened. Cassandra had been in the woods, playing with her sister when she heard a strange sound and went to investigate. When she came back, Alana was gone.

"Ana! Ana!" The young girl ran in circles, searching for her sister. She called and she called and she never got an answer. "Ana!!!"

Cassandra was frightened, trembling, panicky. She started running through the woods, in direction towards the village, as fast as her legs could carry her. Thinking: "I'll gather a search par-"

She stumbled upon something in the ground. Slowly, she turned around as a thought erupted into her mind. The unbelievable spoke to her for the first time, the unbelievable made itself true. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see what was there. But she had to. One would think that an experience like this would affect the young girl. But she was without emotions. As soon as Cassandra opened her eyes she saw her sister's face, disoriented, in a state of pain and shock not imaginable in a seven year old's face.

Cassandra walked back to the village and said nothing of her sister's murder. Instead, she walked past her father's concerned and loving expression and went straight to bed. Her only thought at the time was that she had lost her only playmate. Cassandra didn't know what she was going to do tomorrow but the idea of a solitary life without friends settled into the back of her mind.

Her sister's body was found. A man had been walking to his farm in the nearby woods when he heard screaming. The autopsy revealed that the girl had been attacked from behind. I seemed like an animal had jumped on her and dragged her down the road before something had scared it away.

For weeks, Cassandra did nothing but eat, sleep, and think. She was the only one in her village close to her age. Everyone else was to small or to old. So realizing that she had nothing to do, and she continued with her pattern of eat, and think.

Her sister's body was burned and the ashes were given to the father to do what he wished. During the whole ceremony Cassandra stared at the flames as they consumed Alana's fragile body. She wasn't sad really. She just felt guilty in a way. Mostly she just felt alone. Numbed, drained.

"I know how you feel." The thought was not her own yet it was clear in her mind as if it had been.

"Do you?" Cassandra unconsciously answered back.

"Yes. You have no life, life, life, life, life, life, life, life..." The words faded until they were gone.

"Hello?!" Cassandra cried. Her only response was the echo of her own thoughts.

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Winter-15 years

When exactly did my life start to fall had never been clear to me. I always thought it must have been somewhere near my sister's death. Except Alana's death never meant much to me. It wasn't that I didn't love her, I did. It was just that at the age of seven I didn't realize how much she actually meant to me.

I was now about to enter my fifteenth year. The only person who seemed to care about me, my father, was planning a huge party. He wanted to have everyone he knew bring their children. In reality I knew that his only hope was that I would make a friend. Didn't he know that my only true friend was Ana? I wanted no friends. To make a friend was to open up and trust. I trusted no one but my father. I loved no one but him. Not even Althea, who was close to me, could get me to smile or hug her. I appreciated her company, but I never said I loved her.

I couldn't stop my father in his plans. He was still young and liked to have fun. So even though I dreaded the day, it came, and I had to live it. It was cold, being as how I was born during winter time. But in that whole party, I think, no one was as cold as me. I shut myself away. When everyone wanted to congratulate me and wish me luck I would have to fake the biggest of smiles. I hated it! I despised it! I wanted the day to end so I could just go to my room and sleep.

"Why are you so cold?" The thought came from the outside.

"I am not cold!"

"Yes, you are. I've never seen anything like it."

"Why would you care?" I replied. "Besides, I know they don't. They never have, never will. You know why they came. For the food and drink. And all the supposed people my age my dad wants me to meet, are talking to each other. None of them bother looking, just looking my way. Why should I care?"

"There must be people who care about you," the voice said. "Friends, family-"

"I have no friends! I have no family!" I screamed the words inside my mind. I have no friends, I have no family, no friends, no family...

The other voice was gone, but with it, the thought of a name. "Aisling." the wind seemed to whisper in my ear. "Aisling," it repeated over and over until I fell asleep.

Around that time my father remarried. I hated her. I hated her from the first day I saw her. And now she had come, to steal the only source of comfort I had. I wanted to run away so badly. But something was holding me back, I was just fifteen, I had no where to go. I was in a way trapped. Nothing can be worse than being trapped in a prison you can't escape from, especially when it's your own. I was being held captive by my roots that wouldn't let me go. But I was being called by my anger and hate to leave. Of course, they say that blood is thicker than water, so I stayed.

I was in the village library wasting my time when I came upon a book of names and their meanings. Immediately the thought came: "Wondering what you sister's name meant, aren't you?"

"Of course I am," I replied.

"How about the Hag that stole your father?"

I was already searching the book until I found it. Alana. It means... fair, beautiful. Obviously. And the hag. Talia: morning dew. Just like her, so delicate and perfect. I wonder what mine is..." I stood there with my mouth open in shock when I found it. Cassandra: she who is ignored.

I knew I had known it since the day I was born. I was cursed. Now it all made sense. I was cursed.

"You weren't cursed, you weren't cursed, you weren't cursed," a gentle whisper.

"YES I WAS!!" my mind screamed back. "Yes I was!" I had to leave the room before my emotions took over my body and threw it into a fit of rage. I ran outside to the nearby woods. To the place of my sister's murder and there I threw myself on the ground to sleep.

When I woke up, I went straight to see Althea. I had calmed down a bit but my eyes still burned with anger.

"Why didn't you tell me?!" I cried as I entered the room. A surprised Althea looked up from her work.

"Why didn't you tell me I was cursed? I mean, to be cursed since the day you were born and not know it. How could that possible be compassionate? How could you do that to me? Left wondering all these years why no one loved me, why no one cared for me. Why?"

Althea looked me in the eye. "You weren't cursed. Not by your mother at least. Yes, society may have cursed you, but that is because they did not know you. Your mother died before she ever got to hold you, but she knew you better than anyone else. She had picked names for her children before hand but no one knew where they were. When I found them, you were already two years of age and responding to your given name. Aden Caley- Fiery one who is a brave warrior. You see, it is because you are not like the rest of us. You have a gift. If only I knew what it was. There's something about you that your mother gave to you. Only you are stronger than she was..." Althea stayed with a thoughtful look, as if remembering something.

I just stood there, with nothing left to say. That didn't really help me much. I was just now certain that I would leave as soon as my father married the fucking bitch which I hated.

a a a a a a a a a a a a a

Summer-17 years

"Ana! Ana!" The thought ran again and again through my mind, I found myself in a dark room, starring at the moon.

"Who's there?" I asked.

"Come with me..."

I got up and followed.

I was in the woods. Before me a little girl ran screaming for her sister.

"Ana!" She screamed over and over again. There was a panic expression in her face, but there were no tears.

I turned around to see an identical being walking around as if confused.

"Alana," I whispered softly to myself. "Ana, I'm here!" I called to her, extending my hand. A sudden thought burst into my mind. "It's here," was the whisper. "It's coming for you!" was the warning. Leaving my sister alone I turned sideways to avoid it. Then I heard the scream.

I woke up sweating.

"I killed-," I began to say.

"You killed you sister. You killed your sister. You actually killed your sister." The soft whisper said to me.

"I did n-," I began to argue with myself.

"Yes I did." I started to laugh. "I killed my sister. It was coming for me and I moved. I caused my sister's death. It's my fault." I began to laugh hysterically.

And my laughter woke the hag. Talia came into my room and just gave me a blank stare. I knew her thoughts and I let her know.

"She's gone insane you think. Finally, something! The evidence you needed to get rid of me." I was still lying on my bed and I gave her a strange, wicked smile. Talia's eyes were opened wide as she called my father.

"I know," I continued, still laughing. "You don't even realize it. But if you silence your thoughts you'll know. I know, what's in your heart."

My dad came running into my room. "What is it?"

I sat up in bed and continued laughing. Tears were starting to run down my face. "I killed Alana," I told him. "I killed her. No strange animal, it was me. Because of me. It was my fault, so you see daddy, I KILLED YOUR PRECIOUS ANGEL!" I had stopped laughing, but there was an expression of pure joy on my face. After ten years, I finally knew the truth.