Book Cover by Abyss-of-Crazy
My beautiful and beloved readers,
Due to the way stories are presented on Wattpad and some confusion that seemed to have occurred, I feel it is my duty to clarify:
This story is written from the first person POV (Point Of View) of two different characters.
The first POV is Cello who is male.
The second POV is Syianne who is female.
The POVs are separated by chapters though occasionally two consecutive chapters will follow the same POV.
For your convenience, each chapter has been titled with the name of the appropriate character.
Thank you and may you have a thrilling read.
1 - Cello
THE ground's soggy from the thawing snow under my boots. The snow's leaving, but it's still too cold for it to be spring. It's too dark for it to be morning too. But I'm up, awake, walking – and just like the snow, I'm leaving.
I was born to leave this place, Aafta, my town, my home, where my mother lives. Exactly sixteen years ago when I breathed my first sticky, wailing breath of air, it was obvious that I'd be a temporary resident here. There was one small yet apparent detail that defined everything that I was — everything that I am.
I have a Jewel on my forehead, and somehow that means that I am a Jewel. There is no other human race or ethnic in the world that is categorised by one of their body-parts. It's a deep-rooted belief that at the beginning of time, my soul had been chosen to be the soul of a Jewel so when I come of age I can serve the Zephyr.
Supposedly, as the legend goes, in all my past lives, I have always been a Jewel. Throughout history, I have left countless families behind, endured the sadness of separation just like today. But right now these stories feel like random nonsense to me. I know that the point of it all is, I'm different from everyone else, my path is clear and uncompromising. That's just the way it is.
I'm leaving home, I'm leaving forever. My eyes scan white peaks of the dark mountains all around me, even in this not-quite-dawn the scenery's stark beauty makes me numb. The silence of the mountains is both thick and thin, it makes the world feel big. I know that this will always be my one and only home, I know that after I leave here, I'll never have a home again.
And I chose to leave now, before my mother wakes, without saying that last goodbye, because I can't. I can't look into her eyes and know it's the last time. I already regret my decision, just as I would have regretted if I waited. There's no way to win this, I just like to feel that I'm in control somehow.
So I took my rucksack in one hand and my boots in the other and tiptoed past her bedroom. The only time I made a sound was when I locked the door behind me. The entire way down the stairs of our block of flats, and as I navigated the streets from there, I had dreaded – or maybe hoped – that the sound had woken her and that she'd come after me and see me off.
And maybe, somehow, find a way to stop me.
My feet crunch on the icy path on the side of the road; somewhere in the distance a raven braves the cold, cawing into the first of the dawn's misty greyness. With the lone platform of the Aafta train station in sight I am assured that mum is still asleep – alone, in a flat that now would have a spare bedroom.
"You there! Boy, you can't take a dog on the train without a muzzle."
The voice is harsh, snapping at me with an official drone. I jerk awake and wipe drool off my cheek. I had fallen asleep with my head in an odd angle and now my neck's stiff. Yawning, I massage it.
"Did we pass Lebrix?" I ask sleepily, turning my face to look at the train steward.
Like all train stewards, the man is middle-aged and bad-tempered, and seems glad to have finally found a victim to bully and throw off the moving train. The stewards are chosen for their sadistic tendencies, every year dozens of people are thrown off trains, some of them even die "We're an hour from Lebrix but you'll be getting off at Fargore with that dog... "
"She's not a dog," I point out.
The steward's face begins to redden. It seems that as far as he's concerned, even if Risa were a lizard, she'd still be a dog if he said so. With one foul sweep he catches hold of the front of my shirt, forcing me to my feet. I close off my nose so as not to smell the steward's breath. Even so, I still get a whiff of the fermented beans the man had had with his breakfast this morning.
"I am authorised to throw particular garbage off the train," he spit-talks in my face, "and if they're disturbing the peace, I don't even have to wait for it to stop."
"That might be regrettable," I manage through the corner of my mouth; I don't want to swallow any spit either.
"Won't it now?" the steward says in a low voice, giving me a little shake that knocks the hat off my head.
"Especially for you," I reply. The chill spring sun peeks out from behind a cloud and shines right into the clear diamond on the centre of my forehead, creating a sparkle that momentarily dazzles the steward.
I get the satisfaction of watching the man gape and fail at finding anything to say. I'm used to these reactions when people realise what I am, yet it always makes a chill run through me.
After a moment of shock, he registers that he's still holding onto the front of my shirt and quickly lets go. The terror of having touched a Jewel is evident in his eyes and sends a painful pang through my stomach. I'm used to this kind of thing, but sometimes, like now, it catches me off-guard.
"I beg your pardon, y'honour," the steward says in a breathless voice as he retreats a step back with his hands in the air, putting on his most humble smile. Just then, Risa lifts up her head, regarding the stranger with two tea-cup sized black eyes. Her entire head splits in half as she yawns hugely, revealing three rows of needle sharp teeth.
The steward stiffens and we stand in awkward silence for a bit. "I'll be going now." He finally deems it safe to leave, with his smile stamped on his face from ear to ear. Moving mechanically, he turns on his heel and marches down the aisle, through the door and to the next car.
I watch him go before shrugging my shirt back into place and bending down to retrieve my hat. It's the best I can do to hide a wave of embarrassment. Jewels are not common so far from the Zephyr; encountering one is even better than visiting a zoo. The other passengers feast their eyes on me. I don't look at them, but I can imagine what expression they're wearing. Curiosity, fear and contempt, all mixed together.
I stuff my hat back on my head and rise, trying to pretend that nothing has happened.
"Excuse me? You're a Jewel?" asks a boy a few seats away. I hastily decide upon a change of plans, I quickly grab my rucksack from the overhead compartment and, holding it with both hands, walk in the opposite direction from the steward and into another car altogether.
Risa follows me, making no noise at all upon her flat velvety paws.
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