Chapter 9 - Awakening

“Hey, Hyanga, hurry up! We need to help this Elnoa! They seem to be injured. They’re still breathing though,” a voice buzzed above Sarby. 


“Huh, it’s odd to see one of these guys out so far from their cave. We should probably help bring them back. We’d probably get a fancy reward, too. What do you think, Star?” A pattering of steps trotted over.


Sarby remained motionless. His body was worn out more than he had thought. He stared up at the odd species directly above him. They stood on two legs covered in purple-blue feathers and large wings. An orange beak flapped as they spoke. 


“Idiot, the creature is conscious, they can hear everything we are saying.” Star shook their head.


“Sorry, still, we should probably take them back. Here, hoist them onto my back.” An orange lizard made their way over to Sarby. “Oh, this one has such a large crescent horn. We’d probably get a decent chunk of change for this one—”


“Hyanga, please.”


“It’s a joke, Star. Now let’s get this kid home.”


Sarby witnessed everything happening around him, but couldn’t stop a thing. He pushed through his mind to resist, to jump up, to find and save his friends. But no matter how strong his resolve was, his body refused to listen. In the areas he once felt his energy pulsing, now were empty and unresponsive. Star wrapped Sarby in their wings and placed him on the flat back of Hyanga.


“Damn, he’s a bit heavy, but we should be able to make it back in a couple days.” Hyanga grunted and started crawling in the direction of the Elnoan Cave. “It really does suck for these guys though, huh? The only time they can be powerful is when they use their Crystal Energy, according to rumors. You think they Awakened? Though, there hasn’t been an Elnoa Awakening in about a hundred years now… If you think about it, this matches the description of what happens after Elnoa’s Awaken for the first time.”


“Power always comes at a price,” Star said. “And it’s hard to say. This one seems just as normal as all the other Elnoas I’ve seen though, so I doubt it. This one probably just got attacked by some other species. This is close to the Thornals’ lands.”


“Yeah, true.”


Sarby squinted his eyes at the bird that hovered over him as he moved on the lizard’s back. The sun was on its way down. Had he really slept for almost an entire day?


He dozed off again, but awoke to the sound of a splash. To Sarby’s surprise, he was able to adjust his head as he lay on the ground. The orange lizard, Hyanga, tucked themselves into a small river and left their tail out of the water. The balls of their tail now resembled large berries growing in the damp ground. Sarby winced as he realized that he himself was also being used as bait. Herbivore or carnivore, these monsters would attack and feast on either. Sarby showed fear through his eyes.



“Don’t worry, young Elnoa. You’re safe here, if some carnivorous beast comes breaking through I’ll be able to fly with you just enough to get out of range. Whatever appears, Hyanga can take care of it. We’re hungry.”


Eating other Higher Beings? Just what was the outside world?


“You’re thinking how could you eat us Highers, right? Well, you seem fine with eating anything that can’t speak, correct? You aren’t speaking now either, perhaps we could claim you are a Lesser as well, and feast upon you.”


The muscles in Sarby’s jaws ached as he forced them apart. “No…”


“I know what they teach you in Jalla. But how is us eating Higher Beings any different from the way you eat the Lessers. Believe it or not, there is no difference between Highers and Lessers. You all just gave them their own terms to feel less guilty about eating something not so different from yourself. Jalla even tried to impose those views outside its own territory, outreaching to our own land. What a typical country. Didn’t work though.” Star smirked.  “Well, I know whenever I’m hungry, I eat whatever I can. Survival of the fittest out here. Though if there is one thing all of us out here agree on, it’s that humans do not belong in this land. We’ve managed to kill our fair share. They’re not too tasty, though.”


Sarby tried again to speak, but this time his mouth clenched even tighter, and only a breath escaped.


“It’s all right. We’re not going to eat you. We got a rule about eating only adults. And that’s our self-imposed rule, though not everyone even follows that one. Out further, you’ll meet a world of interesting creatures. And it’s not like we eat every living thing we come across. It comes down to how they act, if they act hostile at being tricked by us luring them, we usually kill them. It becomes justifiable in a way, no?”


Dreams of running away spread all around Sarby’s mind, but the miasma of Star’s fear-filled sentences fogged them. Images of disturbing scenes flashed in his mind, then a familiar image panged at his heart. Had he killed that Charthu yesterday? The thought of the blood that pooled from their head made his immobile body fidget.


“Calm down, Elnoa. Every little movement will wipe you out at this state. We’ll get you home soon enough. Let’s hope that Hyanga is wrong and that you didn’t Awaken. If you did, I’m sure your tribe will be ecstatic.” Star shook their head.


Tears strolled down Sarby’s face. He knew the term Awakened. Every time these species had mentioned it prior, he pushed it to the back of his mind. But he couldn’t hide it anymore, he knew that was what had happened to him. He knew the punishment that would come to him once he arrived back home.


“Someone’s coming.” Star huddled into the tall grass, save for their two eyes, peering out from behind the swaying grass, invisible to anyone who didn’t know they were there.