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᯽Riversong᯽ part 1
Ever stared across the moonlit water, waiting for a song. When midnight struck and the wind whistled over the water and the ethereal music came over him. It was perfect. It was safety, it was freedom, it was forgetting. It was secret. It was his.
Through everything he had this song. Since boyhood. Before the coup, before his family died, before he became a fugitive of the totalitarian new government. But it was ok, because he had the song. It only played at midnight when the wind was just right. But when it did it was more precious than the world and everything on it. He wouldn't trade it for all of the money in the world.
The song, of course, ended. It always did. But this time he heard a whisper of words, echoing and quiet. Danger, danger... danger… They come, come... come… Destruction, struction... struction… Fate, fate… ate…. HURRY!
Goosebumps ran down his arms and legs and fear pounded his heart as the words continued to echo in his mind, turning his bones to ice and heart to jello. A wolf howled and he lost it. He screamed like a child and ran away, away, but his legs didn't move and the wolves kept howling, their awful voices screaming and pressing in on him until he felt he would surely explode and the moon grew brighter and brighter until the light was all he saw and the howls all he heard and insanity the air he breathed and the river grew and raged and drowned him and-
Ever woke up with pine needles pressing his cheek and cold morning sunlight glaring in his eyes. He groaned and rolled over, brushing the needles off, and looked at the river. She sat peacefully, gentle waves lapping over smooth stones and roots.
Goodness, he was a mess. He must have had fitful dreams, but he didn't recall the nightmare that plagued him of his families death. No, no, something els- Danger! Destruction! Fate! HURRY! The dream. Where had that come from?
He looked back at The River. Sunlight sparkled on her ripples as if she winked at him. She was so peaceful. And though her midnight song was mysterious and racing and beautiful, it had an odd restful quality about it.
Yet some feeling in him told him it wasn't just a dream. That some danger was coming. But even if it were, what could he do about it?
He jumped and whirled, staring at the stream, quietly burbbling along. The voice was water and sounded like it came from the ground behind him. It couldn't have been the river maybe a talking fish. That was less crazy than a talking river.
The Riversong was crazy. But it was real. The River was as true as he lived. The water flowed in his veins, gave him life, give him meaning and reason to keep going. The river was all he had left.
He was facing the water this time. He couldn't deny that it had come from the water. But ho-
Danger. They come swiftly. Destruction. Fate... HURRY!
That wasn’t a coincidance. He blinked and stared at the morning sunlight shining on it's crests innocently. Was it laughing at him?
“Who?” he kicked a rock. He didn't expect an answer, which was fortunate because he didn't get any. Instead he sncuk down to the village and listened in on the slaves conversations. They kept talking about destroying the forests and streams and rocks to make way for expansion and to flush out defectors.
The government! Everything wasn't enough to take from him? They had to take his sanctuary and his song? He would be killed. But he didn't care. He stared at the wet banks.
He could run away, but to what? No, he wouldn't run. He would die with the River.
No! He couldn't fight! He couldn't fight anymore! He was powerless! Just some urchin escapee! Tears swelled in his eyes and he kicked the waters. It didn't do anything but make his foot wet. He turned and punched the ground. And again. Why was he so powerless? Why was he him? Why wasn't he strong enough to defend what he loved?
Why wasn't he strong enough to defend his famliy? Why did he hide like a coward and listen to them scream? Why wasn't he strong enough to fight when the governemnt took over and turned everyone into slaves? Why did he hide like a coward and let them take his world away? Why wasn't he strong enough to save the River? Why was he going to let them kill him like a coward so he could just leave? Why wasn't he stronger? Why was he a coward?
He hated himself! He hated himself and he hated the river for telling him to fight and he hated the river for comforting him and he hated himself for hating the river and he hated the government! He hated it all!
But mostly, just himself.
Maybe if he had stood up when the coup happened things would have gone diffrently… who was he kidding? What diffrence would someone like him make?
“NO!” he shouted aloud and pummeled the earth harder. Hate hate hate hate hate!
Within an instant it was night. What? He sat beside the river and on the oppisite bank a young woman with white hair and blue clothing stood watching him. He stared in confusion. This was his place. But he trusted her somehow. Intutivly.
“Hello, Ever,” she said in a familliar voice.
“How do you know my name?” he kept watching her. She just smiled like he was amusing. “What's your name?”
“I have many. You can call me Song.”
“Ok.” He sounded stupid.
“Why do you hate yourself?”
He suddenly felt ashamed. “I… I don't know,” he lied.
“I think you're brave. Why do you hate me?”
“Wh- I don't! I don't know you!”
“Yes, you do.”
“You don't think you can fight?” she changed the topic abruptly.
“Didn't you forget something?”
“I don't think so.”
She walked across the river, her feet never breaking the surface, and stood beside him. She put he hands on his and guided them. He felt hot. But as she moved his hands, the river rose slitly in a swell facing him. It felt as if it was staring at him like a puppy.
“Now direct it,” she whispered and let go of his hands. The water splashed back to the river. “Try again. You can connect directly. The motions are just a crutch.”
He moved his hands they way she had and on the second try, it swelled a little. “Could the government do this?”
“No. They don't love the River and they don't know her Song. You are very nearly one with the song, and one with the river. You could change reality with it. Though it would destroy the river if you used to much power. But we trust you.”
But the dream was dissolving. She faded away and the world brightened. It was just a dream?
Her voice! Was she the River? The Rivers Song! The River spoke plainly to him? He stared down at it. Then he smiled. Maybe he could fight.
He did the wavy thing. It was harder outside the dream. He tried connecting directly but flinched and feel back. It felt like a punch to the brain. He tried the mavy thing instead and got a little swell.
He practiced all day and by sunset his eyes glittered like the river with excitement. He didn't fight when they took his home. He didn't fight when they tookk his famliy. He didn't fight when he fled. But today, he could fight. Today he had power.
He slept until midnight, when his body was litrally programmed to wake. Tonight, the song wasn't the etheral, haunting melody. Tonight Song’s voice was jubalent and happy. Tonight she rejoiced! And he with her. When the music ended he went back to sleep.
He had several dreams, but then one was interupted. He stood beside Song again. She looked worried and afraid. “Wake up, Ever. They’re coming!”
He woke up. He saw torches and heard feet. He stood and crouched behind a tree, watching 5 men approach carrying… something.
“Dump it in the river and move along!” the leader shouted. No more hiding. Time to fight.
He stepped out. “No.” He tried to make his voice powerful but couldn't stop the quavers.
They laughed. “No? Look, the little boy hiding in the woods says no! We ought to turn around before he throws acorns at us!”
“I. Said. NO!” he was shouting but he didn't hear himself, he couldn't stop the terror gripping his heart with an iron fist. What the heck was he going to do? He could make the water swell a little. How was he supposed to drive them back?
They kept laughing. Deep down, he agreed with them. He would laugh to. Who was he to stand up to them? But he walked to the river and did the wavy thing. It swelled a little, then a lot. The men from the government looked slightly concerned and confused but the leader directed them to dump the stuff in the river. He moved it towards them and it splashed in their direction. A few flinched but none ran and the water just splashed to the grass.
“Kill the freak already and then take out the river,” one said to the captain. The river swelled up without his direction and splashed around him. For a breif moment time stopped and Song stood in front of him.
“It's no use. But we can give you the power to do something. You could fix things or teleport or whatever you want to do. It could kill you if you use to much. Hurry, you don't have long.” SHe disappeared but the water stayed around him.
There was only one thing he could do. Fix things. If he rewound time to just before the coup, he could change things. So he did.
The world went black and he felt himself falling.