Chapter 2 Twilight's Fold

(From left to right: Guile the Gurden, Cylor the Dhasum, Tynun the Bakkon, Sarby the Elnoa)


As they overlooked the deep wilderness beyond, Cylor felt a sense of importance. They had been preparing for the day they would all venture out of the small colony of Jalla together for months now. Well, Cylor and Tynun had. Cylor only recently met Sarby and Guile. And now that Neyr was captured, they needed to expedite their actions.


They couldn’t do much alone, but they believed together they could make it to the ends of the planet. Sarby’s red star-shaped crystal cluster that hung from his backward overarching horn on his head grew bright, and Cylor touched it lightly with a finger of his tail.


“Pretty neat, right?” Sarby said.


“You’re getting too excited. You need to calm down. Someone will definitely catch us when the sun goes down with that thing beaming all over.” Guile leaned toward Sarby.


The cluster grew even brighter, and Sarby seemed to know it. He pulled his paws over the two smaller horns on the side of his head and stroked them in an attempt to calm himself down. And within a few seconds, the light dissipated. “You know, we may have to use my light to get around dark places, or if we need to search for anything. So I don’t want to be blamed if we are caught in those crucial moments.”


“If that’s the case, we’ll just hide your light like this.” Guile walked on his four legs over to him, then pushed Sarby on his large middle horn, tipping him backwards. Sarby’s arms and legs flailed as Guile continued pushing his horn and horn-like tail into the ground, digging a place for them to stick into.


“…” Sarby lay in mid air, horn and tail keeping his body from touching the ground. “Why? Guile, why do you always have to do this?” His cluster brightened once more, though it was hard to see as part of it was also stuck in the ground.


“It’s what you get for having a giant red light hanging from your head.”


“At least I only have a red crystal, not bloody red eyes.”


“Better than people being able to read my emotions. I can tell if you’re excited, embarrassed, or angry. You can’t tell anything about me.”


“I can tell you’re an—”


“Hey,” Tynun interjected. “Let’s come up with a real plan.”


“I’d love to,” Sarby said, still thrusting his hands and feet through the air.


Cylor couldn’t help but exhale an uncomfortable laugh as he used his tail to pull him out of his temporary bed. Were they serious about the things they said to one another?


“Damn, I’d kill for hands,” Tynun said. “Anyway, so what do we exactly know about these specific humans?”


Cylor flopped his flippers, shrugging.


“I saw ‘em real well.” Guile put his two arms up and made a fist with his claws. “They’re much different from the last ones that invaded. Though I guess the last time some invaded, I was only a couple years old.” He looked out over the cliff. “They had these weird things. I don’t really know how to explain it, but they threw it at many of us in my village and they were like zapped inside. Some broke free, but quite a few didn’t…”


Everyone stood in silence, Sarby’s cluster fired up again.


“As soon as the ones broke free, the humans darted away carrying the things holding some of the other Gurdens. They must have gone over to the Bakkon village after or before? I don’t know. This was two days ago.” Guile looked down. “Seems that the humans have been bothering the Bakkon village more often than the others. They go from Bakkon to another, back to Bakkon, over and over.”


Tynun stayed silent, but his eyes looked hollow.


“Some of us tried rushing to them, but they were too fast, riding on species I had never seen before in my life. I’m not sure we have a shot against them, but why not try? We need to protect all the creatures of Jalla like they have protected us before.” Guile pounded his paws together.


They all nodded in unison.


“Plus, if we have Cylor, perhaps it will scare them away. They might think you chopped off a human’s hand and stuck it on you hahaha!”


Cylor frowned. He had gone his whole life with every Dhasum giving him odd remarks, stares, and even been involved in physical altercations because of his tail. Only a few truly accepted him as he was without mocking him behind his back. His father, mother, and Juun. Cylor always wanted to move to another village. The other species were less critical of him in general.


“Just ignore him, Cylor,” Tynun said. “We need him for the mission, and I promise he isn’t that bad a guy.”


“Oh, my bad. Didn’t realize you were sensitive about it.” Guile huffed. “I meant it in a good way, don’t worry. Humans are trash. I wish I could attach myself a human hand if I’m being honest. My claws don’t have much of a grip. Can barely bend my paws, especially not enough to grab things. Always gotta stab ’em. Sarby, on the other hand, I’d actually trade my paws for something more like his, sure his claws aren’t as sharp but he can at least hold on to things better than I. That is, if he doesn’t tip over when he sways his arm back too hard, must suck to have such a large horn always pulling you back.”


“Ah, of course. The only way to make someone else feel better is to put me down again, huh?” Sarby said.


“I didn’t put you down.” Guile walked over to him and pushed him over, then smirked.


“Guys!” Tynun shouted. “I’m serious here! My brother has been captured! Can we please have this bickering some other time?!”


Guile and Cylor helped Sarby back up, and they all returned to the edge of the cliff and sat down.


“Sorry,” Guile muttered.


“We can see pretty far from here, and if I had to guess, the humans are still over there by those large stone pillars. That’s usually where they come from, I’m told.”


“That’s such a long distance. How will we ever make it?” Sarby said, the light from his cluster diminishing.


“Distance doesn’t matter. I’m going.” Tynun stood back up on his eight legs.


“I’m coming, too.” Cylor stiffened his body. “I’ve always wanted to leave the village. I don’t care what my parents think, I can’t stay here forever. And this is a just cause.”


“Well, Sarby? Guile?” Tynun crawled around to face them.


Their gaze drifted from the large pillars blocking the sun on its way down to Tynun, then they both hesitantly nodded. Sarby slapped himself in the face, turning his cluster bright. “Yeah! We’ve got to do this! That’s why we all came down here in the first place!”


“So, what now? The only idea I have for a plan is to gather food and medicinal things to bring.” Guile said.


Tynun dropped his body low. “Yeah, I guess that’s really all we can do at this moment, huh? We’ll raid the abandoned rescue squad building out here once it gets darker. We’ll just need to be wary of the guards who watch the Fold, but we all know their routes already, so we should be fine.”


Tynun looked out over the cliff. “It’ll probably take a day or two worth of walking just to get to those pillars, right? Maybe we plan once we get closer. So, everyone, do what you need to do with your families. Then we meet back here when the moon is at its highest, once our villages are all sound asleep. We can do this.”


They all shouted in affirmation.