I am perched on the edge of the rocks, staring up at the sky. The tranquil blue sea stretches out around the golden sand and grassy hills that make my little island. Our colourful patchwork hammocks are suspended in a cluster of trees, and flickering candles line the rocks. I stand up, stretching my wings, and cheerfully hop from one rock to the next, before sliding down a grassy slope and giggling as I hit the ground. The portals to the other realms lie open, and I imagine what it will be like when I am allowed to go on journeys of my own, saving the lost spirits and helping our land.
I am jolted out of my daydreams as my best friend Fiora jumps out of the undergrowth, and I collapse against the rocks, startled. As I recognise her, we both collapse with laughter, then she challenges me to a race. We both jump a few times, then eventually rise up into the air, higher and higher before we suddenly dive into the water. Exhilarated, I quickly shake my wings dry, then pick up speed again and circle the island. I can feel the wind whipping against my face, and my cape billowing out behind me. I gain momentum and crash down onto the grass again, laughing at Fiora’s disgruntled expression as she lands just after me.
Suddenly, we notice voices growing louder and louder from the trees. In confusion, me and Fiora glance at each other, before heading towards the commotion. The sky turns dark, and shadows dance ominously around the candles. Lighting flashes, and the waves crash against the shore, flooding the beach. This kind of weather is unheard of, and it is said that the sky foreshadows the anger of the spirits. The chief is arguing with my father, both with menacing glares burned into their faces. “Is that a threat?” the chief asked, taunting him, “Is that the best you can do?” My fathers face is twisted in a snarl, his kind smile gone from his face.
Shock and hurt must register on my face, because Fiora is anxiously trying to pull me away from the scene that is unfolding before me. All I feel, however, is numb, broken. Peace and harmony is the one key component that holds out world together. Without it, the realms and the portals will slowly crumble to dust. The terrifying thoughts that are racing through my mind are already draining my light, and even Fiora looks pale. We gather by the flame, and quickly our energy is regained, but the memory of the awful day will never leave me.
In the morning, a horrifying sight greets us. A black candle is lying on the floor, extinguished. No one can find their voice. Someone is dead. As the chief emerges safely from the trees, I know who it must have been. A single image pulses in my mind, and I don’t have the strength to fight it. My fathers body, gruesome and mangles, shards of darkness penetrating his soul. His light extinguished, the black candle is the only reminder of what his life was.
Fiora comes to speak to me later, but she seems to be speechless. I can’t find the words to describe my pain. I doubt there are any. I have been curled up in my hammock, listening to the rain resounding on the flat stone that we use for worshipping the gods of light on the island. A hollow sound. A single candle sits next to me on a log. I gesture for her to leave, and she looks sadly over at me before she does so. I sit and wait for my light to dissapear.
Three years later…
Trudging over to the rocks, I longingly reach up to the sky, where I imagine my father is now. Tears drip silently down my face, and I reach for the book next to me. I haven’t come to this spot in three years, as I used to go swimming here with my father. Finding that I have forgotten it, I begin to get up, before I notice another book similar to the one I had been reading. It is a leather bound book, but unlike mine, the title is knowhere to be seen. Opening the first page, I read: Unusori. My fathers name. Intrigued, I turn the page. The book appears to be a description of my fathers Journey, the spirits he saved. I flip through it, wanting to see some writing about his time spent on he island with me and my mother and sister. There are none. Instead, I flip to the last page, which is blank. Confused, I turn back a few pages.
“I couldn’t continue. My light was almost fully faded. I was a coward, and left my Journey just to save myself. There is one more spirit I could have saved if I had kept going. Saved her life and sacrificed mine. Instead I came home. The chief has never forgiven me, and I knew one day he would finally lose control. I wished to go before then, but I never could. Until now, I have never finished my Journey. Never visited the final realm. Never been to the Dark City. I intend to finish my Journey now.”
Hope flickers inside me, and betrayal too. The first true emotions I have felt in three years. Maybe my father left this for me to find. Maybe he isn’t dead after all. If there is any hope, any at all, I have to go to find him. Complete my Journey right now, and save him before it is really too late. A last sentence catches my eye.
“Her name was Efulu.”