All is chaos on the Island of Iriomote...as it has always been, after people came along and poisoned the seas. An immature, irritable wildcat, Autumn Grace, finds herself in the middle of it, as her clan desperately tries to scrap up something of a living. But something new is about, something wrong. When two perfect orphans, Silvana and Milo, appear to the clan, their world is suddenly ravaged by kidnappings and killings. Autumn wants to get to the bottom of things-but in doing so, she finds herself in the center of a war as ancient and powerful as fire and ice itself.
Not long ago, and not far away, a strange ritual had taken place. Powers embodied themselves in a feline Fireform, who had intentions on Earth. The day afterwards, two kits were brought to a clan of Iriomote cats, ones with powers that only immature Autumn Grace recognizes.
The flames reached into the sky, far beyond the cloud tops, twisting, its toxic smoke blocking the stars. Twelve wiry cats stared into the massive fire, seemingly mesmerized by it. The only sound to be heard was the wind through the trees; it was as if even the great, all-encompassing Pacific ocean quieted its ever-sounding roar for the occasion. Each pair of eyes were rended red in the reflection of that unearthly light, every eye fixed on the surreal flame. It appeared to tower past the stars. All went silent. No breathing, no wind, no water lapping at Iriomote's shore. The fire's crackle silenced.. The tower of flames fell, until all that remained were the sparks which danced in the sky on the slightest breeze. Then, they came together into an orb of fire, stretched, shaped, until it solidified in a unmistakably feline form.
"Lady Mother." one dark tom trembled from the darkness, his breath rising in a puff.
"My Children have came to Earth. Where are they?" The Fireform spoke with a harsh, whispering voice.
"I don't....know...what you speak of...Lady Mother."
"For shame." The fireform paced the ashes, and then leaped upon the tom. "Fool!" she snapped. "You know what I speak of! The Children have been sent to the level of Earth! Show them to me." The Fireform's "head" turned back, and then stared at the tom once more. "The newborns."
Another wiry cat, a queen, brought fourth two small kittens. They mewled as the Fireform touched them with it's nose, leaving a burn mark on the kits. "These...are the ones." it said with steady satisfaction.
"Born to Earth, Born of Yours, Now they are the Children of Mine!" The sparks spread about, and flowed as a stream of liquid flame, entering the eyes of the kits and into their souls. Initially, the two tried to run away from the force, crying for help. The other cats could only watch, hiding their pain from the Fireform. Soon, the kits' eyes glowed with a blood red, and their coats became pure black. The remaining sparks morphed into the Fireform Lady Mother. "Only when they are under my command." it murmured. The kittens' unearthly appearance weared into a plain, wiry brown pelt. Both kits again had green eyes. "Thyme's children." the Fireform crooned. "Their forms young, and their spirits new, yet torn. Your allegiance to I, has already been sworn."
1. Arrival Edit
I think it all started when they arrived.
They, being the impossibly beautiful, impossibly stable, impossibly perfect orphans discovered by the equally beautiful, infinitely wise and superbly eloquent Savannah. Somehow, he found these poor, pitiful little kits alone on the shore of the equally great Pacific Ocean, crying for his fail proof aide. Always selfless, our incredible patriarch brought the helpless things back to camp, while I was sitting around, the imperfect, clumsy tomboy kit. Before I knew it, the wonderkits were the toast of the town.
Those two kits are perfect. Which is impossible. They are impossible.
That I knew from the start. They were perfect, and there's no such thing as perfect. Basic logic. And though it would seem that the two concepts would go hand in hand, it took a lot of life before I realized that those kittens weren't supposed to be. It seemed that I was the only one to get this-you understand?
Of course not. It seems that the obvious thing to do now is tell about myself and my past with these kits, but, right now, I'm boring and of little significance. And self-centered, as you can see. So I am not fit to tell the story. In these following years, I will be. But not now. Get my drift? There are better people to tell this story. So listen to them.
"Autumn!" a smooth, yet wise and reliable voice called. "Get up!"
The gray tabby kit ignored her father's voice. Instead, she hid her head, and went back to sleep, trying to preserve the peace that it brought.
"Autumn Grace!" the voice never faltered, always a calm, strong tone. "Come on, now. I have something-someone-to show you." With that, she failed. Sleep left her. One eye opened, then another.
"Autumn..." he said, patiently. Autumn got up, and stretched out in a very feline way. She then shook her head free of tire. "I'm coming, I'm coming!" she shouted. "Sheesh." Autumn crawled out from under her shelter, a dense fern, into the strong sunlight. It hurt her eyes. The little kitten still wanted sleep. She didn't care about whatever her father spoke of. "What?" she sighed.
"Open your eyes, Autumn." her father said, only the slightest hint of strain in his voice.
Her eyes were still closed? Proof positive. This kitten needed more sleep. Still, Autumn did as she was told, and opened her eyes to the blinding light. A lot of blinking, until her eyes finally adjusted.
The summer morning sun wasn't not the cause of the fierce glowing. And yet, the kitten couldn't tell what was.
In a moment, she could see, barely. Two small kittens were glowing radiantly in front of her. It burnt Autumn's eyes in an acid way, like fire would if she got too close. "What's...the matter with them?" she stammered.
"Autumn!" her father said, clearly appalled. "There's nothing wrong with these kits! What's the matter with you?" Autumn cowered into her puffy chest, ashamed. "But-"
"I found them alone, by the shore, Autumn. I certainly did not bring them here so you could insult them!"
The two other kittens ran away, scared. "I'm sorry, father." Autumn mumbled.
"What were you talking about, Autumn?" her father asked, in a tone of anger. "They're perfectly fine."
"They're-they're-glowing. Didn't you see? It hurt my eyes."
"It's just the sun, Autumn. Honestly." Her father prowled away, upset by his daughther. My eyes don't lie. she thought nervously. She was upset. Everyone was, now.
Do you understand, quite yet? I learned that those kits were wrong on the very first day I met them. Or, rather then met them, first saw them. I saw things in those two kits that nobody else did. And still, in the end, I liked them. Sort of. There were these times when all they could do was to shine. Literally. In those times, they were admired by all. And still, there were times when they were normal. Deep, imperfect. I liked those kits then. In those times, when they weren't glowing, everyone else were revolted by these kits, acting as if the two did something terribly wrong. I guess you still don't understand me. I guess...you need to know about those times, as well.
"....a yowl escaped her jaws, and then..."
Autumn pawed the ground excitedly. "And then what, Milo?"
"Her eyes turned red and she burned up inside! When the other cats found her, she was just a pile of ash." A small queen sitting next to Autumn looked upset. "Why did she burn up?"
"I already told you!" Milo spat. "Remember? She was possessed. And the evil spirit drank her life force. It was so hot, she burned up inside."
The little queen shuffled her paws. "I don't like that." she murmured.
"Loosen up, Silvana!" Autumn purred. "It's just a story."
"And it's a lot more exciting then the ones that the elders tell." Milo added.
"Yeah!" Autumn mewed.
"It...scares me." Silvana said meekly.
Autumn rolled her eyes. "Oh well. Come on; let's go to the river!" Before the others could say a word, the gray tabby queen was bounding down a matted grass patch, under trees and over hills. "Wait up!" Milo purred. Silvana hesitantly followed.
"Why are we going to the river?" she mewed.
"'Cause it's fun!" Autumn and Milo announced simultaneously.
Suddenly, Autumn was scared. As they came closer to the river, every thing seemed wrong. Where there once was the sound of water crashing against stone, there was a roar not that of water, and a pungent, fowl smell that made her cough. "What's that?" she asked, almost to herself, now sharing the same meek tone of Silvana.
Even Milo was, uncharacteristically, nervous. "I don't know." he whispered.
Finally, Autumn found herself looking down into the valley where the river carved its path. She couldn't see any water. Instead, a large, gray, flat path seemed to fly over the valley, falling to earth on the other side.. Many large, colourful creatures zoomed past, the force of the breeze they created knocking Autumn off her feet. "What are those?" she asked, shocked and, frankly, offended.
"Where's the river?" Silvana asked quietly.
"Maybe in there." Milo's tail flicked towards a silver aluminum tunnel running uninterrupted across the fjord of the small valley.
"Impossible!" Autumn exclaimed. "The river can't be contained! Everyone knows that! It's like bottling sky!"
"Let's see for sure." Milo leaped down into the valley, running towards the tunnel. Autumn didn't want to go in, but she did anyway, leaving Silvana no choice but to follow.
Milo came down, and leaned against the tunnel, Autumn following suit. "It's cold." she whispered. "I..can..hear the water. I can't believe it."
"The river's in there?" Silvana started to weep. "How....where will we drink? We can't drink ocean! And where will we fish?"
"Who did this?" Milo asked himself. Autumn felt prompted to look around. There used to be rocks and fish and wild waters flowing untamed here. Now there was only dead, stiff grass, pieces of sharp glass and some tacky bottles. She started to shake. It was as if someone she loved just died.
"They did it, Autumn." a regal voiced declared. She couldn't tell if it was entirely in her head, or if it was real. Still, she responded aloud. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that those two destroyed the river, Autumn." Her father appeared on the canyon edge above.
"Savannah," Milo pleaded to him, "I don't know what you speak of. How could we ruin the river?"
"You well know how. Forshame." Savannah pounded away angrily.
"This is bizarre." Autumn shook herself. No doubt this was a dream. But she wasn't waking up.
Disturbed, the siblings Milo and Silvana huddled together and started glowing. It seemed that the two kits were absent when they glowed, their personalities dead. Still shining, they started walking back home. Autumn reluctantly followed.
Now you know. I hope. There are two sides to Milo and Silvana, real and unearthly radiance. Ever since they came, my family changed. We are changing, the world is changing, everything is changing. If you don't quite understand my point yet, you will soon enough. But there is no point in dwelling on the past, for the future is happening now. I'm scared for the future. And I hope I survive it.
As the humans build roads and destroy Autumn Grace's home, she notices much more subtle changes in her world, as her friend Milo is drawn into a strange cult, Silvana disappears, and a body appears under the freeway bridge.
It was a true pity.
They were so young, they barely understood anything yet. Now, all they'd ever see was hate, greed, dark ambition, death, evil. And always feel the constant burning, the never ending burning that was the brand of Flame. Inside, their spirits screamed.
And soon enough, they gave up, and handed over controls to the Fireform, who would decide their fate. They couldn't help it. The two kits were frozen by the binding words, Thyme's children. Their forms young, and their spirits new, yet torn. Your allegiance to I, has already been sworn.
Now they'd never be free.
2. Changes Edit
I don't think I'll ever sleep well again.
Those creatures on the gray path-"monsters", as Savannah called them-roared on, filling my ears with their constant disruption of peace. They never stopped; the monsters traveled by day and traveled by night, always roaring, and always breathing their rancid breaths.