As I sat down to play Kingdom Hearts for the first time tonight I realized, much to my dismay, that I had the second game, not the first. I had cleared an evening for this, and was left with nothing to do. I figured this was the work of the Fanfiction gods, so I finally finished chapter four. Terribly sorry for the delay. Big thanks to everyone who has reviewed thus far. You lot are all my favorites.
Seth stumbled backward, biting back a yelp of surprise. The set of bright eyes belonged to a young, male Anamorph. His fuzzy ears sat atop his head like a cat's, his eyes were slanted, a long striped tail flicked nervously behind his back.
"Did I scare you?" His small, boyish voice whispered timidly. "I've gone and frightened you. I knew I should have waited until you were up, but I didn't know if you would listen to me. I had to slip past the guard. It was harder than I thought it would be. But I thought I had to try, because you needed me-"
"Please, could you be quiet for a second?" Seth asked with forced calmness. The boy spoke extremely quickly, with a strong current of excitement that comes with doing something you know will get you in trouble if you're caught. The Anamorph clamped his mouth shut and watched Seth expectantly. "Now, who are you? You say I need you? Why do you think that? And why would you be willing to help me? Answer each question one at a time. Speak precisely but don't talk so fast.
The boy nodded once and commenced answering Seth's questions at a carefully paced rate. "My name is Lohit. When Soarow and my – my lord caretaker," he stammered, catching his tail in his hands and wringing the end. Seth instinctively found this reflex highly suspicious.
"When they brought you in, I followed by he told me I had to go back. So I climbed around the tree, and I hid myself among the branched outside your window. I listened to what you told him. I believe you, you know. I've been feeling it too, that we're forgetting things. It's scary. I don't like thinking about it, but I do. A lot. And I have been thinking about what you said to him too and..." Lohit trailed off. He distractedly played with the frayed him of his knee length white skirt.
"I'm not important, nobody really pays attention to me. My life isn't special, but I don't want to forget it." Lohit spoke the last with a quiet fierceness that took Seth aback. "And I can help you. No one else knows I'm here."
Seth considered the boy in silence for a moment. Then he spoke leaning in toward him, "How can you help me?"
Lohit's bright eyes gleamed in the blackness of the room. "There is a man that the elders speak of when they think I am not listening. I do not know his name. I don't know that they do either. They say the people of Silvermoor have started visiting him, for he has answers to questions nobody else knows. The path to Zorthanc you talked about, I bet he knows where it is and how to get there."
"And you can find this man?"
Lohit hesitated. "I know how to find him." Seth was skeptical Lohit's confidence.
There were many holes in Lohit's story. Too many holes. But Seth needed a way into Zorthanc and Lohit was the only lead he had so far.
"All right," Seth said. "You can come with me."
"Really?" His astonishment was apparent. Lohit clearly had not believed his attempt to sway Seth would work. "You won't regret it, I promise. I'll be really helpful with sneaking out. I've already started thinking about how to do this. There are guard only here and at the doors. If we wait a few hours I could-"
"Be quiet," Seth commanded.
Lohit quickly closed his mouth in bemusement.
Seth looked out the window at the inky night. He inhaled slowly, deeply, and cleared his mind, firmly pushing aside all distractions.
Deftly he reached out to the side, and tightened his fist around the darkest part of his field of vision. Then, with his fist still clenched tightly, his hand fell to his side.
"We leave now."
"What? We don't have a plan." Lohit spluttered. "And what did you do? Just now, I mean."
Seth turned to Lohit and held up his clenched fist. He moved his arm quickly in front of himself. He vanished. Lohit gasped.
"What is that?"
"A patch of night," Seth said seriously, without further explanation. "Come here. I'll put my hands on your shoulders after I drape the patch over us. You'll guide us out of here."
Lohit eyed Seth, but he bit back any questions he might have had. When he had done as Seth requested, Seth draped the patch of night over them like a thin blanket. The patch did not obscure their vision. Looking through it was like looking through a tinted glass. Lohit reached out to tentatively lift the bit touching his face away. Seth heard him gasp as Lohit processed seeing himself touch the fabric (if that's what you could call it), the fabric moving, but feeling nothing on his skin.
"Lohit," Seth spoke softly. "We're on a schedule here."
"Right. Sorry. It's just - right. Okay. Don't forget to be as quiet as you can. The graulks are practically deaf, but there are others here whose hearing is astoundingly good. The hallways are really narrow. Try not to stumble."
Lohit looked through the beaded doorway. He whispered back to Seth that the graulk on guard was drowsing a few feet away. Lohit silently pushed aside the beads. He could tell when they stepped out that Lohit was holding his breath for the clatter of beads as Seth passed through too. He nearly turned around when no such sound came, but Seth quickly whispered, "Don't. Don't look back. Keep going."
If you looked back bad things happened. Seth had learned this. Whatever good turn the S.C.O.N.E.S had done for you was negated.
Dim green light shone through the shells of what appeared to be giant seeds, the size of ostrich eggs. The walls curved into circular hallways. The wood beneath them was soft and absorbed most of the sound of their feet. Leaves like the ones in Seth's room sprouted from the walls in the hallways. Lohit was right that the hallways were narrow. There was just enough room for two to walk abreast.
Lohit moved with surprising deftness. They were practically running, but Lohit never faltered. They passed several beaded doorway, some of which Seth caught glimpses through to the rooms beyond. He saw people (Anamorphs) sleeping, or their shadows moving on the floor. He tensed but did not hesitate. Their path curved at angle that oddly brought images of water slides to Seth's mind. At their pace it took them only a few minutes to reach the exit.
Seth was relieved at the sight of the yawning doorway with no beads past which he could see the expanse of the nigh sky. Despite Lohit's warning they had encountered no other persons or creatures. Lohit had slowed considerably, his head darting back and forth. His ears stood alert atop his head.
Had he heard something?
Suddenly, from down the opposite end of the hallway, a tall figure materialized. Seth squinted past Lohit to get a better look at him. He was a muscly, hulking Anamorph, not much older than Seth. His hair was short cropped and pale white. His skin glistened black under the long white fur of his arms, legs, and chest. His eyes were beady and black, his ears small and circular, his nose the black leather of a bear. His human hands had black nails that were long and sharpened to a point. He wore a lead gray skirt. Though he was enormous, he walked with the grace of pride and dignity.
Lohit froze at the sight of him, as did Seth. The polar bear Anamorph moved slowly, his great head stooped downward in deep thought. Seth held his breath as he passed them, catching a whiff of his scent, an altogether fishy and sweaty smell. Or perhaps it was just fishy and it was Lohit's sweat that Seth was smelling. He could see that Lohit had begun to perspire.
The Anamorph man paused halfway past them. Seth cursed Lohit's nervousness as the giant sniffed the air around him.
They would be caught. They would be caught and Seth would have to fight the bear/man. He might even have to kill him. And what happened when more of them came? Seth couldn't fight a host of Anamorphs by himself. Lohit would not fight. What would become of him for aiding a prisoner?
Suddenly a clattering noise came from far off behind them. The Anamorph's head whipped around. His black eyes narrowed and he moved swiftly down the hallway in search of the commotion.
Lohit watched him go before he began inching back toward the door. He stopped again just before he stepped out into the night.
"Do you trust me?" His whisper was so faint it barely reached Seth's ears.
Seth paused, wondering what Lohit was about to do. Something foolish undoubtedly. But they were running out of time. Seth didn't have a choice. He squeezed Lohit's shoulders in response.
Lohit maneuvered out from underneath the patch.
Seth mirrored Lohit's step out onto a wide wooden platform. He stole a quick, curious glance behind him to see the curved walls of the treehouse extending off in either direction. The foliage was too dense above and on either side of the platform to see much more of the unusual home. Two seed lights bigger than those that lined the hallways were positioned on either side of the exit/entryway.
A sole sentry stood on the platform. Tan and brown feathers covered its arms the wings attached to them. The Anamorph was bald with a sharp brown beak for a nose. The bands of its irises were abnormally thick and a stark yellow. They made up a large portion of its face. Seth could tell from the outlines of its slim figure underneath a set of silky brown robes that it was a female.
Just next to her stood what Seth guessed was some kind of wooden elevator.
Sattie the owl Anamorph cocked her head in a grinning Lohit's direction. She smiled. "Lohit! What are you doing out and about at this hour?" Sattie, Seth would guess, was somewhere between his and Lohit's ages, and from the way that Lohit blushed when she said his name, Seth discerned that Lohit held her in a high regard.
"I'm going down for a walk. I had a fight with my father, and I need to clear my head."
Sattie shook her head. "Lohit, you know I cannot let you leave the premises. Your father-"
"Please," Lohit interrupted. "Please, Sattie? I would be really grateful. And I promise, tomorrow I will go hunting with you."
Sattie cocked a thin eyebrow. "You hate hunting."
"But you don't," Lohit blushed, looking intently down at his feet.
Sattie clacked her beak. She looked Lohit up and down. Lohit did not see her fighting to suppress an eager smile.
"Oh, all right! But if you get us both into trouble, Lohit, it's you I will be hunting. Be back before sunrise."
Lohit laughed nervously. "You don't have to be so imperious, Sattie."
Sattie ruffled her feathers. "Someone has to tell you what to do, Lohit. Given the opportunity, you succeed in choosing the worst possible decision every time."
Lohit quickly jumped into the elevator box. Seth followed suit. "Which is why I should go now, before you change your mind."
Lohit looked nervous. He had no way of knowing if Seth had made it onto the elevator with him. "Bye, Sattie."
Sattie cocked her head at Lohit. Seth noticed too that Lohit's tone carried an undercurrent of remorse. Before she could reply, Lohit undid the release, which launched them both on a prompt descent toward earth.
"Seth?" Lohit asked. Seth waved his hand from under the patch, but quickly drew it back under lest Sattie was still able to see them.
Lohit sighed in relief. Then he frowned. "I've never lied to somebody before. I like Sattie. I like her a lot. I hate that it had to be her. But I couldn't help it, could I? I'm doing this for her too. She'll be in so much trouble tomorrow. She'll never forgive me."
"She'll forgive you." Seth said. They rode on in silence for several minutes.
Abruptly, they came to a stop. Lohit and Seth exited. The summer air was warm and filled with the distant hum of insects. Seth knew instinctively that the moon should have been out. It must have been hidden behind the clouds. "Can you find your way in the dark?" he asked Lohit.
Lohit jumped to hear him invisible at his side. "Yes. You won't need your - cloak, or patch, or whatever it is anymore. Here." Seth discarded the cloak. Lohit couldn't see, but he wouldn't have been surprised to find that it just vanished, returned to the night.
"Watch this." A light burst forth from Lohit's hands. From somewhere on his person Lohit had procured two small seeds, a mini-version of those Seth had seen in Jarrah's home. "The more pressure you apply the brighter it glows." He pressed it lightly and it shone out like a flashlight. Then he squeezed hard. Light filled the area, bright as car headlights.
Seth shielded his eyes. "Okay! I get the idea! No need to alert all of Silvermoor to our presence."
"Sorry! Sorry!" Lohit said. "I hadn't meant to do it so hard. Here." He handed one of the seeds to Seth. Seth accepted the seed, careful to hold it gently.
"All right. Thanks. Where to next? How do we find this man?" Lohit nodded and started walking. Seth matched his step.
"Well, we have to find the White Witch of Endor first. She'll know how to find the man I told you about."
"A witch?" Seth said skeptically. "I don't like the sound of that."
"No, no she's not a witch like you are thinking. She's the one good witch in the whole world, and she lives a couple of miles away from here, in a cave at the base of the mountains of Endor."
"Hmm. And you're sure she'll help us?"
"She likes helping people. That's what she does. She's very friendly. She used to come over to feast with my father."
"Your father must be an important man," Seth observed.
Lohit turned averted his eyes. "Yes." He cleared his throat. "Anyway, she was always really nice to me. She would enchant my toys, animating them so they would play by themselves. She's was always saying I could come and visit her sometime. My father never let me, though. He doesn't like me to go to close to the mountains. It's too close to the Border."
"I came through the Border Gate." Seth observed. "It's right between Zorthanc and Silvermoor? But why did it only seem to open up into Silvermoor?"
"The Border Gate deals with multiple dimensions. I don't really understand it, but my father said to think of it like two different gates that can access either place. You could open up the border gate and end up outside the sanctuary, or open it and walk into Zorthanc, and vice versa. It depends on who is opening it, how they opened it, and why they opened it."
Seth shook his head. He made a motion with his hand gliding over the top of his head.
"How long will it take us to reach the mountains."
Seth nearly cried out. "Are you sure?"
Lohit nodded. "We'll have to stay off of the main paths, and have to rest at some point. When tomorrow comes they will start looking for me so we'll have to get as far as we can tonight. This is an island you know. We're almost to where we'll have to row across. Luckily, I have a boat moored there. Sometimes I like to fish. Once we get to the shore we'll run if we can. I brought my brother's map." Lohit patted his skirt. It didn't appear to have any pockets. Seth wondered where the boy kept everything, but was afraid of the answer, so didn't ask. Instead, he asked another question that had been stirring about in his mind.
"Who is your father?"
Lohit stopped walking. He brought his tail to his hands, but something in the way Seth was looking at him made him drop it.
"Jarrah." He said at last.
Seth nodded. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Lohit gazed up at him with big eyes. " I was afraid that you wouldn't let me come, since they will come looking for me."
"Your father loves you very much and he will be angry with you for disobeying him."
Lohit snorted. "You know that wasn't me he was talking about before? That was my brother, Lobar. We passed him in the hall, remember? Big guy? He's the one my father is really proud of, not me. He didn't even mention me. I rarely cross his mind. I'm not even sure he will come looking for me."
"He will," Seth sighed.
They had come to shore line. Seth couldn't see blackness of the water. He knew it wasn't but he felt like he was standing next to the ocean again. An ocean of blackness.
"Here's the boat." Lohit hopped in a small skiff. "It'll be a tight fit, but we can make it." The Anamorph boy bustled about for a moment checking that the boat was in order.
He turned to smile at Seth. "Ready?"
Seth didn't say anything for a moment. He just stared at the black water lapping the shore.
No, he thought.
"Yes," he said.
"They are coming." The girl in the white robes stepped down into the room. "I have seen them."
"As have I," the reply came from an old woman, her skin burnt chocolate, her wild white hair stretching out in every direction. She wore a white dress, and had a grey shawl draped over her bony shoulders. She looked into a mirror on the table.
The orange glow of fire in the hearth illuminated the room. All was quiet and still except for the crackle of the fire.
"Are you not impressed?" The elder asked the younger.
The proud, beautiful head was thrown back in scornful laughter. "Impressed? By what? His patch of night trick? I knew you would like that."
"He is powerful. Though not nearly as powerful as you are, my child. He will need you."
"I have already told you that I will not go with him. It is madness." She crossed her arms and stood to the shadowy side of the firelight.
"Perhaps what he has to say will change your mind."
"I cannot imagine that it will."
"Your heart is hardened, my daughter." The old woman frowned. "It is my fault for isolating you. You are bitter."
The girl blinked. "I do not harbor animosity toward you." Her response came out too quickly for her own liking.
The woman chuckled and then sighed deeply. "He is the world's hope for salvation," she said, her voice leaden with a knowing heaviness.
And he is my hope for you.
UPDATE: I went back and added some to chapter three about why the Anamorphs speak English.