Forgotten and Ashamed
How long had it been now, three? Four days? No, certainly it had to have been longer. Sol had left multiple times to hunt and find water for himself, and had even fallen asleep in the tree where he kept watch over the strange thing, but it still stood there in the middle of the clearing Sol called home.
At first Sol had thought the strange thing to be an intruding drakiri and had approached him with aggression to chase him off, but upon closer inspection had felt every hair on his body lift in alarm. The drakiri looked exactly like him. Not just that they had similar markings, but they looked exactly the same. Sol had scars on his body in exactly the same spots he found them on the other drakiri’s body, and no amount of trying to get its attention changed its stance.
Sol had taken to watching the copy-cat from the tree he often occupied when he wanted to be off the ground. He thought at some point he would have become bored of watching this unmoving, statue-like creature, but he couldn’t stop watching it. Its chest rose and fell with breath, when birds or insects landed on it, its skin twitched until they flew away. But there was no other motion to show that it was even alive, let alone sentient.
He’d spent days trying to decide whether or not he should speak to it, but had yet to figure out if he should. So he waited and he watched.
Weeks passed and Sol became more and more alarmed at the appearance of the drakiri. Its eyes looked more sunken with each day that passed, its cheeks hollow, ribs and hips visible beneath its yellow pelt. He felt more distressed as the hours passed until finally he couldn’t stand to look at it anymore and imagine himself in its place.
“Why do you stand here in this clearing, starving to death?” he called from his tree, digging his claws into the soft bark. When he received no response, Sol flew down to the ground, landing heavily and leaping toward the drakiri, his frustration bubbling over into anger at its presence in his life. He tried to knock the drakiri over, but it stuck fast in its spot. He looked down and stiffened as he saw the drakiri’s feet had become roots, driven deep into the ground.
“Why have you stood here so long you have become part of the forest?” Sol asked, his voice small with fear.
Finally, the drakiri turned its head to look at Sol, and he shuddered as his own blue eyes stared back at him, haunted and hungry. “Because I must,” the imposter breathed in a voice that was so weak it was nearly carried away with the breeze. “He will find me if I leave this place.”
Sol’s mind was filled with visions of an enormous drakiri with dark horns and sharp claws, beautiful and terrible as he drove those claws into Sol’s pelt. Marcus.
“You’re a spirit,” Sol said, shaking his head. “Or a specter of some kind…here to warn me to leave, is that it? He’ll find me here, is that what you’re warning me about?”
The imposter’s eyes filled with tears that spilled over its cheeks and dripped into the grass beneath him.
“This place will become my grave, but it will not be his doing,” the imposter sobbed. “This is my own doing…In trying to protect those I love, I sacrificed myself.”
The feathers on Sol’s wings lifted in alarm and indignation as he paced back and forth in front of the imposter. “Are you saying I am sacrificing myself? I’m here to keep my children safe! They are in danger because of that monster, he has cursed me. What more can I do? It would be selfish to endanger my children and those around them simply because I want to see them!”
The imposter was silent as tears continued to fall from its eyes, and before Sol’s eyes he watched the drakiri’s legs crack and bleed, skin peeling away to reveal roots and tree bark beneath.
“Then I will perish here,” the imposter breathed. “I have left the world, and the world will leave me. It is a fate I have brought upon myself, one I have made peace with.”
“I’ve made peace with nothing!” Sol snapped, raising his voice finally. “I will not stand here and die like you, I am Sol!”
The imposter’s head snapped around, blue eyes blazing with the rage Sol felt burning inside his chest. “Then do something about it!”
Sol lashed out at the imposter, but his claws raked harmlessly through the leaves of a gnarled old bush that grew in the middle of the clearing. He blinked in surprise and glanced around as if worried someone had seen his outburst at a shrub.
I will not die here, he thought vehemently. I will not be forgotten.
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