"This is the story of the beginning and the end, the rise and the fall. Our gait will begin its saunter at the source, where the infant learns to crawl."
The Bawaba Brothers always spoke in riddles. But, no matter how hard they were to understand, two brothers, Adakias and Pallis loved to listen their stories. Always the child, Adakias would dream that he himself was the hero of the stories, the one to fulfill prophecies and make the world better again. But Pallis, the heir of the family, only saw them as a way to get his kid brother to sit still for a bit. With the seemingly endless night becoming darker, Adakias and Pallis huddled closer to the fire.
Out of all of the stories Baba and Baruka told, the brothers' favorite was that oh Holy the Sea and the Divided Terrain. The tale told of Arhima and the Lamps in the Land of the Light, how he tore them down, creating the Land of the Dark. No one knew what happened to that land of old, and no one wanted to. All the citizens, all the creatures, all the trees, even the very rocks in the Land of the Dark were evil, down to the very core.
Everything except Adakias. Ever since he had heard the Prophecy those many years ago, Adakias had the inkling of a feeling that he was the one destined to fulfill the Prophecy, reunite the Land of the Dark and the Light. But no one believed in him.
As Baba and Baruka finished their enchanting tale, Adakias and Pallis slowly stood up and began their slow saunter back home, leaving the warmth and glow of the Bawaba fire behind.
"Pallis," Adakias said softly as he walked beside his brother. "Don't you ever feel like you've been, I don't know…destined for something, something bigger than your skin?"
"What are you talking about?" Pallis asked in return.
"Ever since we heard the Prophecy, I keep having the feeling that I'm the one, I'm the one who has to rejoin the light and the dark and fulfill the Prophecy."
Pallis stopped and let out a chuckle. "Silly boy," he said. Adakias turned around to face him. "Silly boy, you speak of fiction. The Land of the Light isn't real, it's a myth! And the Prophecy? They're all stories, brother!"
Adakias was shocked by Pallis's response. "But it is real, Pallis! I know it is! And that's why…" Adakias struggled to tell his brother his plans. "That's why I'm leaving. I'm leaving, and I don't care if you try to stop me, I will find the Land of the Light, I will fulfill the Prophecy."
"Brother," Pallis said, shaking his head. "You are short sided, naïve, starry-eyed!" Pallis laughed. "You are not the chosen one; this will be your demise."
But his words never fell onto Adakias' ears. He had turned and fled.
"Adakias!" Pallis called after him. "Don't do this! It will be the end of you!"
Out of earshot, Adakias slowed his sprint down to a gentle walk.
"Hey, you." A voice said. "Prophecy Kid."
Adakias looked around frantically trying to find his stalker. "What are you talking about? Who are you? Where are…"
"I'm right here!"
Perched on Adakias's shoulder was a dainty, brownish spider. "The name is Barayas. And you know exactly what I'm talking about." His voice was melodic, clear. Not something Adakias was used to.
"Barayas…" Adakias knew the name. "The same Barayas that convinced Arhima to tear down the lamps?"
"The one and only."
Adakias was lost for words.
"Look, kid." he said. "You're the Prophecy boy. Stop chatting with me and arguing with your brother, and go do your job."
"But how do I do that? Where do I go?" Adakias looked at Barayas. But his shoulder was bare. "Barayas!" he called. "How do I find the light?"
"You gotta get lost." Barely a whisper, the not-so-helpful words echoed through the woods.
Adakias searched around him to find some indication of where he was, but saw nothing. He fell to his knees in despair. He was lost.
"Hello?" he shouted. "Is there anybody out there? I need…I need to get out of here…"
The dingy, rotten trees around him began shimmering, as if a heat wave were rising from the ground. But Adakias didn't notice. The shimmer turned to a glow, and slowly but surely, the trees and surrounding forest began…changing. The rotten bark began re-stitching its plant fibers, revitalizing the dead wood. And soon enough, Adakias was surrounded by a lush, green forest. He had found the Land of the Light.
"Are you okay?" a melodious voice asked. Almost like Barayus, but prettier…and female. Adakias looked up into the delicate face of Anhura, Princess of the land of the light.
"Whe….where am I?" Adakias stuttered, trying to regain his senses.
"In the Land of the Light, where else would you be?" she replied. "My name is Anhura, who are you?"
"Here, Adakias," she said, producing a skein and unscrewing the cap. "You look tired, have some water." As Adakias drank greedily, Anhura sat down beside him. "So, how did you come to end up in my forest?"
"I… I'm not quite sure, actually. I guess…I guess I just got lost."
Even Adakias didn't know why he didn't reveal his origin. But regardless, at that moment, Adakias and Princess Anhura fell in love.
Love was everywhere! You could taste it in the air. Everyone knew of Adakias's and Anhura's love, except Anhura's father. So, when they finally came to the conclusion that they were going to get married, it was time for Adakias to meet him. He had to bow before him, kiss his jeweled fist. Get approval from the one and only, his royal heiness, the king.
"Daughter, my dear," King Malka said firmly. "Please open both your ears. There is something not right here! I can't place my finger on it, but this young man's filled with darkness."
Anhura clutched her father's hand desperately, pleading for his approval. "Dad…I love him!"
"Sir," Adakias interrupted as politely as possible. "I can assure you that I am not after your throne or jewels or riches. I just want your daughter's hand, because I love her…and she, well she loves me back."
"Dad, I love him…"
"I love her. Please, my king…"
"QUIET!" the King shouted.
Anhura backed away in fear, into Adakias's waiting arms.
"You will NOT marry my daughter!"
As the tears streamed down Anhura's face and began to sting the eyes of Adakias, they ran away from the palace, as far away from the wretched King as possible. Soon after, Anhura fell to her knees, weak. Adakias took her hand, trying to get her to move, but his efforts were futile.
"Adakias…" she whimpered. "I can't do this…I'm too weak…"
"Anhura, you have to try. If we can't be in love here then we have to find a place where we can!" he said desperately as he kneeled down beside her. "Anhura…" Adakias brushed his hand over her cheek. "Anhura, you're cold as ice…Anhura? What's wrong?" he said frantically.
"I…I don't know…"
Dizzy and exhausted, Anhura rested her head in his lap. Ponderous, Adakias soon came to realize what had made his love so ill. It was his proximity. She was ill from his company. Evil's ubiquity.
This brought on another realization for Adakias. In a déjà vu haze, Adakias realized…they were lost.
A familiar shimmer filled the air, and time seemed to accelerate as the trees around Adakias and Anhura rotted and decayed, transforming back into the Land of the Dark.
"Anhura…Anhura!" Adakias whispered softly, trying to wake her. "I know where we are, I know someone who can help you!"
Anhura's eyes fluttered open. "Adakias..." she mumbled. "Where...where are we?"
Adakias hesitated. "We're in the Land of the Dark." He knew he could not tell her how he knew what he did. "I...I used to come here as a child, with my brother."
Too exhausted to understand, Anhura simply gripped Adakias's hand and looked up at him, her face desperate.
"I know of a doctor," he said. "He can help you."
They arrived at the doctor's living, a ramshackle house barely held together. They walked cautiously up the walkway, skeptical about what they were going to find. Adakias reached out his hand and knocked an the worn and weathered door.
As the door creaked open and Adakias and Anhura walked in, there was a rustle in the nearby bushes, and familiar face emerged from the shadows.
The inside of the shack looked almost exactly like the outside. Covered in dust and broken glass, most of the house's only room was bathed in shadow.
A cackle echoed out from the darkness as the door slammed shut behind Adakias and Anhura.
With wild hair like liquid black and face caked with soot, Doctor Dumaya emerged from the shadows. "Welcome, welcome!" he said in a raspy voice, that wasn't welcoming at all. "Welcome to my humble abode," he crooned, bowing. "Please, don't mind the mess, just nest yourself down comfortable, and let the doctor do the rest." Anhura collapsed on a nearby gurney-like bed, and Adakias simply stood beside her.
"Now I must admit," the Doctor began, seemingly dancing around his 'office' gathering tools and vials that looked harmful to your health. "I knew you'd come, the boy and his love. Eloped to save her from disease, and wash your hands of her blood."
Anhura looked at Adakias in confusion, but he only continued to follow the Doctor's erratic movements. He came to an abrupt start in front of Anhura.
"Let's get started," he cackled, a wicked smile spread across his face.
Adakias turned away, fearing what he could see.
"Now," the Doctor announced. Adakias turned around, taking Anhura's hand. "I don't mean to alarm you, but you certainly are ill. You're stricken with a sickness, deadly enough to kill. Even the strongest man would drop dead where he stands. I urge that we take haste! If you are to stand a chance." Anhura sqeezed Adakias's hand in fear. "Now, what you got 'aint no quick fix, unlike the common cold. What you need is a bonafide, genuine, Doctor's miracle. Lucky for you, you've found me, so there will be no fuss. But..." Adakias feared the remainder of the Doctor's thoughts. "Before we get to saving lives, theres a few things to discuss.
"Now, you're probably wondering, what's in it for me? Surely, this Doctor wouldn't perform all these miracles for free. What I want, though, it won't cost you a dime." An even wickeder smile spread across his face as he pondered his pay of choice. "I just want the Princess here with me, right up to the end of time."
Awestruck, Anhura looked at Adakias in desperation. "Adakias, you have to find another doctor, I can't do this!"
"But you must, Anhura," Adakias replied tenderly. "Trust me, I know how this must go. Just do what the Doctor says."
Anhura and Adakias unwillingly agreed to the deal.
The Doctor mixed elixirs and filters, pried scrolls and read excerpts. He spoke in foreign phonetics and read runes from ancient relics. He stirred ointments with potions, and unctions with doses. He whisked it until smoke rose and seeped into her nose.
The illness had...relinquished. The Doctor had fixed it. The cleansing accomplished, Anhura's and Adakias's love was free to flourish.
But before it could sink in, the front door was kicked in. In it's place stood Pallis, driven by anger, he came to test his brother's love. But his word would not be enough. Pallis wanted it in blood.
"I've been following your steps, brother," Pallis said angrily as he strode towards the pair. "You and your dainty, exquisite guest." Anhura cringed in revulsion. "You've been across mountain lands, and even serpentining seas. You two have been on quite the odessey."
"Adakias..." Anhura whimpered. "What's going on?"
Pallis cut her off. "Now, it's just cruel to think that the ravishing Princess Anhura here could ever REALLY love a couple of poor boys like us. She requires riches recherchè. Charmers, not peasents, with flowering bouquets."
Adakias stepped up to his furious brother. "Casinovas have charmed her, tried with chiffons, so chi-chi. Presented her with antique wares, and even chased her with their concieted coteries."
"I've been seduced with shimmering, sparkling stones," Anhura added as Adakias finished her sentence.
"And I'm still the one she chose!"
Pallis ignored his brother's pleas and adressed Anhura. "Now, my dear. I unterstand how you could love a man of truth and good soul. So, why don't you just ask him where he spent his youth." Pallis opened his arms, inviting her to learn the truth. A look of terror spread across Adakias's face as a look of pain and betrayal embraced Anhura's.
"Anhura, please listen, I really can explain," he begged, taking her hand. "I should have told you sooner. But now you know the truth, and that knowledge shouldn't change the nature of our love, we've broken through the chains!"
"Adakias, Im sure she'd also love to hear your acumen as to how your very presence is the reason she is sick. But," Pallis sneered. "I suppose it would all be in vain because, well, her life is ending," he said as he delicately withdrew a thin weapon from its sheath. "When I thrust this blade into her heart, a-thumping."
The next few seconds were a blur for all three of them.
As Adakias fell to the ground, dagger in his side, Pallis was mortified at the realization of what he had done. Brother and lover fell beside their common friend in tears.
"Adakias, what have I done?" Pallis cried as he tried to stop the bleeding. "My blade has pierced your side," he looked around in search of Doctor Dumaya, who had just so happened to dissapear. "Damn Doctor. I assure you brother, this was never my intent...Oh God, please, stay alive..."
"Dear Pallis," Adakias sputtered. "You're my brother, you've loved and watched over me. But, your dagger's adge is bound in my chest..." Adakias coughed and grimmaced in pain. "I guess this truly was my destiny."
"Brother," Pallis whimpered. "I was short-sighted. I ignored your cries. If you really are the chosen one, this is the calculated sacrifice."
Anhura, in tears, gently slipped her hand into Adakias's.
"Please, listen to my last words, before I fade away," Adakias managed to say. "I trust that you always...will always...live and breath for your love, every...single...day..."
"Please, don't let your tired heart stop beating," Anhura said, trying to encourage her dying lover.
"You're breathing," Pallis added. "Now just...keep breathing."
"Place your hand on mine, one last time, and kiss me goodbye. Take the love inside my mind, before I die," Adakias's life was fading fast. "Please...don't...cry..."
The barriers seceeded. The light and the dark depleted. We have lost Adakias, but regained our beautiful consience. The world has finally been reunited.
So this is my cue of where to lead you. Now it's your story to pass on, because the idea of hope and peace will only be relevant if it is being thought upon. So remember, never surrender. Because the unrelenting constancy of love and hope, will rescue and restore you from any scope.
Jemena and Aria leaped into their parents arms, delighted after hearing the glorious tale from the Bawaba Brothers.
"Mommy," Aria said, smiling. "What happened to the Princess?"
"Well," Anhura replied. "I'm not sure you're ready for that tale quite yet. Pallis, what do you think?"
"Oh, I think we can tell them," he said cheerfully. "Come on, kids, it's time for another story."