30 Jan

I can't believe the gall of that absolute blockhead, Tokar. His name left a sour taste behind my lips. Even looking at him made me burn with annoyance. I never liked the man, but this? This was the last straw.

All in one night, the idiot managed to let those weaklings escape execution. And after all we went through to capture them! 

Curse the bloody heavens. Sometimes I wonder if this goddess is completely on our side.

For days we tortured those miscreant land lovers. Every waking and sleeping moment.

We starved them, deprived them of peace. One of them, the featherless pouli, was so delirious at one point that he was seeing things that weren’t there. He mistook me for his father. Ha! Almost made me feel bad for the poor bastard, didn't seem much older than myself.

I took pride in my hard work. The king would be so proud of what I had accomplished. Making a prisoner so brain dead he found comfort in delusions that were nothing but the air we flew through! I would have gotten a most glorious position on the high guard! 

When they escaped they were nothing but skin and bones— practically corpses already. Execution would have been merciful. But Tokar, the densest boulder there ever was, was too lazy to just simply watch them for one night. I mean, is it simply too hard to imagine that anyone would sympathize with the rebels? 

Try other rebels, that’s who. 

I’d give Tokar one hell of a verbal lashing, if it wouldn’t cost me my job. Instead, I merely fumed to myself as he ranted on and on to us about how we needed to uphold our end of the job, to fix his mistakes. 

If I were King Goltri, I’d reconsider his position in power over Rao. This place is going to shit anyways. 

What made me most furious was that I’d trusted him enough to go home and rest for the evening. We all did- the four of us.

Stars- He had one job! ONE.


Calm down, Shoa. Anger clouds the mind. 

Now, we’re forced to chase after the escapees after they’ve had time to heal and plan a route to freedom, all due to his incompetence. Though I’m glad that it was us who got assigned for this mission. We all have powers specially adapted to tracking and capture, and our success will earn King Goltri’s favor. 

Maybe then, I think. Then, I can finally be a part of the high guard! Finally, I’ll be rid of this place, of Rao. Of Tokar.

The four of us all scoured the jungle floor, eyes to the ground and to the trees, searching for clues, all while Tokar bitched and moaned about how long it took. 

“Shut up,” I hissed at him. “The rebels could still be close. Your incessant whining will scare them off!”

I felt his massive fingers wrap around my throat and press at my windpipe before I could even blink. 

“Do not think you are better than me, Shoa.  You are in no position to issue me commands. Got it?” Saliva flecked over my face at his annunciation. 

I looked at my associates; Adrian, who could paralyze body parts with a touch; Gosa, who could summon a stone whip that could break and pierce boulders; Kaz, who could become invisible; and I, Shoa, who could control people via their shadows. They knew better than to talk back to Tokar. Two others came along from Goltri’s lower guard, whose names never came up or mattered. With one being able to summon a spear of ice, and the other a sword of mud. 

I needed this job. It had been years since I’d been taken off of my King’s guard, but this could finally be my chance. My chance for recognition. 

I needed this. 

He pressed down harder. “GOT IT?”

I could take this no longer. All I had to do was touch his neck- specifically the shadow under his chin- and his body froze up. My eyes glowed as I bent his limbs to my command, setting myself down and releasing my throat from his bind. I gasped for air and coughed for a moment, my control over him waning. He smacked me across the face, and I hit the ground hard. 

I hated this. All I could do was cough, and I hated it. 

“Now stop wasting time and get back to work,” Tokar barked. Adrian came to my aid, helping me to my feet, but that was the end of any sympathy given to me. 

That was fine. I needed no sympathy. We had a job to do. 

At least he had enough brain cells to know when to call it quits. Tokar stopped issuing orders to the four of us and let us do what we were brought here to do. 

No one ever got away from us. Especially as we have gotten better and better at tracking over the many years we’d been assigned to the same group. 

Immediately outside of the hole they’d escaped from they’d left a very distinct trail; each had propelled themselves using their abilities over a hill and towards the trees, a dense jungle that stretched out vast distances of the mainland. 

Beyond the hill, the trail of scorched land stopped, replaced by much more faint skid marks that trailed off into footsteps and eventually becoming nearly untraceable as they moved into the brush. 

We fanned out, setting our sights on things the untrained eye would take years to piece together- a broken branch here, a disturbed silkworm nest further down, a flattened leaf of a fern smooshed into the mud in their panic. 

Adrian spoke up next, summoning us all to him. Wedged between a large tree trunk and a sheer rock face split from the ground in some great shift was a strange leafy cocoon, torn along the seam as if a giant butterfly had emerged, though nothing like that lived near here. 

It must have been the Pouli traitor described by the soldiers at the scene— A woman with nature based abilities, so into her gimmick even her clothes were made from leaves and vines. Supposedly my King could not remember someone to that likeness, but who else could have given her such an ability?

The rebels’ next stop was at a larger sized hole filled with greenery. It was clearly a clean up job done by rookies. This was where they must've stayed the night. Not too bad, had we not known the land so well, had we not been trained to smell the faintest odor of ash on the air, no one would have noticed. Too bad, so sad.

The tracks didn’t stop there either. They continued on for quite awhile, leading straight into the entrance of a well known spot in this region: A vast lake covered with a ceiling of  multi-colored tree brush. Locals called it kaleidoscope point, and though beautiful, it was largely left alone due to its depth within the jungle and the predators whose favorite snacks had feathers. We used an abundance of caution as we continued. 

The entrance dipped down a hill towards the rocky shore on the edge of the lake. There, taking in the scenery were the three we were looking for: one wingless boy, a fish man, and the pouli traitor with nature powers.

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