Destiny Beyond the divide
“Ish-ha, Ish-ha, Ish-ha, Ish-ha.”
The following is the sixth installment in a series of fictional stories and is a part of a collaboration of Vocal Creators. All the stories are original to the authors. The other stories are linked at the end of this one.
Destiny Beyond the Divide by Gerald Holmes
Failon felt it in his bones. There was something near, something that chilled him to his core.
He could sense a presence that was not clean of heart and soul as he approached the edge of the cliff. A fear he had never known was entering his mind, and the closer he got to the edge, the stronger the fear became. Several times over the last hour, he wanted to turn back and run, but there was something else there, something that needed his help.
Just below the presence of evil, another presence was calling to him somehow. It was different from the other. It felt more like him, more alive, more natural, and more human. It felt like her, the one from his dreams, and she was in grave danger.
As a child, he had learned not to speak of his dreams and the things he saw. Everybody would tease him and say he was just as crazy as his grandfather was; everybody except his grandmother because she knew the truth.
Failon was named after his grandfather, who also had visions appear in his dreams, images of other people far across the divide that had also survived the sickness.
Long before he was born, in the time of the great sickness, his people had escaped across the divide. Stories were told about that time and the unimaginable cost it brought to his people. It was a time of great loss and great change. The journey through the divide and the battles with the entities that lay within had taken the lives of over half of their village.
After weeks of struggling through the frozen land , his people stumbled upon the deep hidden valley that was now their home. It was a completely different world from all they had known before that time. The never-ending cold darkness filled with ice and snow did not exist here. His grandfather told him that the cold could not live there because of the countless hot springs that percolated throughout the valley.
After bathing in these waters, the sickness that lived among them was washed away, leaving them with a sense of hope for the future of their people.
Failon’s grandfather started having visions around that time. The name of their village, Raya, was given to him in one of his dreams, and the people agreed that it was perfect. In the old language, Raya meant hope, so there couldn't be a better name.
They lived in peace and harmony in their little valley, away from the ice and snow and the evils that lived across the divide. For some reason, the entities feared their village and stayed away.
His grandfather left the village when Failon was a baby and never returned. He'd tried to convince others to join him on his quest to help other people trapped on the far side. The village elders just laughed and called him crazy when he explained that he had seen these people in his dreams and that they were in grave danger. Nobody believed him, so one morning, after kissing his wife, he walked out of the village on his own.
For weeks before Failon left the village, his dreams were filled with visions of his grandfather. At first, his grandfather was alone and trying desperately to tell him something important. Upon waking, the dream and the message would disappear quickly from Failon's mind and left him frustrated and confused.
Everything changed three days before he left when his grandfather came to him clear, loud, and not alone. This time there was a woman with him, a woman of unimaginable beauty and strength that imprinted the message to his waking mind.
She spoke to his soul and told him that the time was now. The time for him to fulfill his destiny and help shape the future for all has come. She told him that over the millennia, nature had always provided the answer and the weapons to bring great change when it was needed.
She explained that the entities could not come near his village because of the water from the hot springs. Over time nature had created this water to cleanse and kill the sickness and all that had brought it forth. She said with the help of another that was much like him; the world would be freed of this evil. But time was running out so he had to leave soon. The most important thing she told him was that the water was their weapon and he must carry it with him always.
Walking for over two weeks now, he was as close to exhaustion as he had ever been. At first, he thought the hardest part would be climbing out of the valley to the plateau far above, but he couldn't have been more wrong. As soon as he exited the cover of the forest onto the plateau, he was met with bone-chilling cold, fierce winds and blinding snow. Every step forward in this new world sapped more energy from him than an hour of running in the valley.
Luckily a rock wall ran along the north side of the plateau pockmarked with small caves where he could rest and spend his nights out of the elements. Over a week ago, he crawled into one of these caves for the night and came face-to-face with Ish-ha.
This cave was deeper than most, which he was thankful for as the farther he could get from the howling wind, the better he would sleep.
As he got to the back of the dark cave, the sounds from outside were replaced by a sound very close to him. “Ish-ha, Ish-ha, Ish-ha, Ish-ha.”
Not knowing what this sound was, he scrambled back until he was up against the cave wall. He quickly retrieved his fire-making kit from his pack and placed the dried grass between his legs before striking his flint. The spark from the flint ignited the grass instantly and filled the cave with light and his heart with fear.
Not five feet from him lay the largest cat he had ever seen. He had never seen anything like it in his life, but he knew what it was. This was the mythical snow lion that before this day he thought was just that; a myth. It was twice the size of a full-grown wolf and had the shape of a mountain lion covered in long white hair.
Failon could see that the cat was severely injured, and the sound he had heard, Ish-ha, was from the animal’s laboured breathing. He moved closer to see a large gash on its right front leg matted with blood. His need to help the animal overtook his fear, and he reached for the only thing he could think of that might help; the water. He retrieved one of the canisters, and as he reached out to touch Ish-ha, the cat looked into his eyes and spoke to him somehow. It was thanking him and asking for help.
Failon cleaned the wound with the spring water before wrapping it in a clean cloth and moving back to feed the fire to warm up the cave. Shortly after cleaning the wound, Ish-ha slept peacefully, so Failon lay beside the fire and tried to get some rest.
His sleep was filled with fitful dreams. She was there close to him, and something was terribly wrong. He could see her on the edge of a cliff climbing for her life, almost in a panic. He could always feel and understand her thoughts, but this time her thoughts were jumbled and not making sense. One minute she was struggling with fear, but the next, she would be a child playing in the snow or running through the forest with a wolf. It was almost like she was losing herself, and Failon felt that all would be lost if he didn't get to her soon.
He awoke with a start as he felt the hot breath on his face to see Ish-ha standing over him with their faces inches apart. He should have felt fear, but as he looked into the animal's eyes, he felt something more like peace wash over him. He could hear Ish-ha in his mind saying, "It will be okay. I will help." Failon sat up and rubbed the cat's head as he slowly removed the bandage from Ish-ha's leg to see that it was completely healed.
Over the next several days, Ish-ha did help as she easily carried the heavy pack of supplies that had slowed Failon down. A couple of times, as Failon neared exhaustion, she even carried him.
Failon knew that Ish-ha felt the same things as he did as they approached the cliff. When they got to within a hundred feet of the edge, Ish-ha released a low growl and shook the heavy pack from her back before moving slowly forward as Failon removed the cap from the canister in his hand.
Just as they got within ten feet, the girl popped over the edge, looking frantically behind her before turning to look with shock and surprise into his eyes.
She stopped when she saw him, just long enough to allow the thing to come over the edge screaming as it laid its hands on the girl's neck. There was something stuck to the entity's face that seemed to be smoking and burning.
When it touched her neck, the girl froze, and ice started to appear on her face and hair, causing Failon to stop in his tracks for a second.
The girl was gasping for air, and Failon's feet wouldn't move until Ish-ha let out a roar so loud that it shook the mountain. The roar broke the concentration of the thing long enough to release Failon, so he rushed forward and threw the water into its face. It immediately released the girl and started shaking violently before falling backwards over the cliff to the rocks below.
The girl fell unconscious face-first into his arms as soon as she was released. She was barely breathing as Failon rubbed her face trying to wake her as Ish-ha rushed to his side. The cat rubbed against his leg, telling him to put the girl on her back as they didn't have much time. Using some cloth from the packs, he tied the girl on and ran along beside them back to the cave they'd left this morning.
Saraya, starting to wake, felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time; warmth. She could hear the crackling of a fire and smell something cooking that made her stomach growl. She slowly opened her eyes to see a man, with his back to her, adding wood to the fire cooking the soup. She tried to speak but could only get a couple of words to form, "who. Where?"
He quickly turned when she spoke and moved closer to her, asking, "Are you okay?”
He'd been watching her sleep for hours and was overwhelmed by her beauty. She was so similar to the girl from his dreams that it scared him, and he felt tongue-tied in her presence.
She couldn't pull her eyes away from his and was sure that she had seen him before. Something about him made her feel safe and that everything would be okay. It felt like they were supposed to meet.
Failon came out of his trance long enough to ask her name, feeling stupid as he did.
She tried to say her name, but the first syllable didn't come out, so it sounded like she said, "Raya."
He looked at her in disbelief, “Raya? That’s the name of my village. It means hope in our old language.”
She smiled and said, “No, my name is Saraya, the same as my grandmother.”
He laughed, “That’s even better as Sa Raya means Our Hope.”
She stared at him and knew now that he was the man from her dreams, “Who are you?”
"I am from the village across the divide known as Raya, and I'm named after my grandfather Failon."
She smiled, “Your name means home in our old language, and I believe we were supposed to meet."
He touched her hand and said, “I also believe this. I think there is something important we need to do that we can only do together. I think this is our destiny.”
They were sitting staring into each other’s eyes when Ish-ha walked into the cave carrying two white rabbits in her mouth. Saraya pushed herself back in fear as Failon laughed and said, “It's okay, Saraya, don't worry, she's a friend."
Ish-ha placed the rabbits beside the fire and lay beside them as they talked about what their future would hold and cooked their first meal together.
Click Here to read the first story by Lena
*** Click HERE to read the Second Installment by Vocal Creator Dannielle Nelson! ***
*** Click HERE to read the Third Installment by Vocal Creator Lilli Knight! ***
*** Click HERE to read the Fourth Installment by Vocal Creator Esmoore Shurpit! ***
*** Click HERE to read the Fifth Installment by Vocal Creator Abby Draper! ***