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There once were two brothers. Born together under the veiled moonlight. Aelyn was first, and Micca was second born, gripping the ankle of his brother. But not too long after their birth, the boys with the strange fair eyes, were stolen away and placed in the dark forest.

And a lone apple tree stood and watching as silently, its branches hanging over a stone grave. Bearing fruit throughout the seasons.

The two brothers did everything together.

They ran.

They hunted.

They stole.

They ate.

The spirit of Mischief ran through both their veins freely, but Aelyn, the leader of the two, kept it at bay for the sake of his brother and his own survival. He was Micca's sole protector, friend, and rival, he fought hard for both of them and did not succumb to playfulness, that was left for Micca to master.

But on one terrible winter, the forest was barren, the prey dead, and the ground frozen solid, the two boys wandered aimlessly, their bellies hollow and aching. And Micca gave in to his mischievous ways.

"We need food." He growled.

"I know Micca... I know." Aelyn sighed.

"If you know, then why do you resist the village?!" Micca yanked Aelyn's arm so he faced him, but Aelyn did not budge, "We need food, and they have--"

"We are never to go near them." Aelyn tore his brother's hand off his shoulder, "Never, do you hear me!" He threatened his brother and when Micca backed down he relented.

"Where are you going?" The snow crunched as the eldest walked away.

"I'm going to find us something." Aelyn responded without even a glance back.

"And if you don't?" Micca detested his brother.

"Then I will give you my arm to eat." He stated as he disappeared into the forest.

"Great... Yummy..." Half-heartedly, Micca waited.

And in a few moments he had an idea. A grand idea.

A mischievious idea.

He ran to the tree that hung over the markless grave that stood crumbling, all alone under that twisted old tree. The stone grey looked so sad amongst the fallen dying blossoms that fell off the tree. Upon approaching, Micca saw that the delicate pink petals curled as if it was in pain, the stained rusty red that bleached the color away and leached away unto the unforgiving snow made Micca wrinkle his nose.

He shouldn't be here.

He and his brother, he recalled, had been watched by this tree ever since they had been placed under it, and even though it watched them as they grw up, Micca always thought that the tree was creepy. The fruit never fell, but the blossoms always did...

And the only fruit it bore was the one large, plump, deeply red plum that hung under the lowest bent branch. Tempting in every way.

Micca held up his hand and hesitated, but decided that it mus t be done. So in his brother's absence, he plucked the fruit form the branch.

The youngest of the brothers had done a terrible thing in picking the fruit, but he grinned at it and walked away, never seeing how vein-like roots grew and pulsed across the face of the stone grave and cracks spider-webbed across it. Micca looked back just once.

And the grave he passed by crumbled away into rubble.

The branch that he had picked the fruit from, it writhed and smoked and shriveled before falling off the tree as ash. And immediately, Micca grew sick at the sight. The tree itself seemed to groan in pain, and before the eyes of its killer. The old tree rented in two, the bark split open and the insides curdled from sheer white to sizzling bubbling black.

Again the tree shook as it moaned, much loudler now, this time in a more familiar voice... and language: "Return... Return... Return what you destroyed!" It was a shrill call that pierced the wind and bleed with want of vengeance.

So what of young Micca?

Micca, deep in the years of his inexperience, covered his ears and ran away. Faster and faster he sped through the forest until he could hear the screeching tree no more.

When he settled down he rolled the large fruit in his pale hands. It was so fat and juicy, but the thin skin of the fruit was the color of blood. He hesitated to eat it and was angry. His stomach had been scraped clean by hunger and now it felt like he was dying.

Bitter tears streamed down his cheeks as he held the plum in his shaky hands but couldn't eat.

"Micca?" His brother called out to him, but Micca was afraid and tried to hide. When Aelyn found him he saw the fruit, and then his brother's tears...

"Micca... what have you done...?" Micca didn't answer. He didn't have to. He had made up his mind.

Aelyn watched in horror as his brother bit into the fruit, the ink black juice streaming down his chin as he swallowed it greedily. His hands trembling, Micca offered the other half of the plum to his brother, his grey eyes brimming with tears.

Fear crept into Aelyn's sullen heart. He did not want to be alone.

He did not want to live life without his brother.

So with desperation and hunger gnawing at his fading conscience, Aelyn knelt down next to his brother bowed his head and ate the fruit from his brother's hands. The thick black juice staining his lips to look like that of the dead.

The fruit was gone, and it held no seed. So when their deed was finished, their bellies swollen and tender, the two sons of no one walked hand in hand

T o   f a c e   r e t r i b u t i o n . . .



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