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“And there`s the girl who`s getting her own Meladian” My brother, Stoc, says antagonistically as he tosses his hips from side to side, strolling into the room.
I just rolled my eyes and continued to stare at my reflection in the mirror.
“Your dress looks awful cute, Pete” He smiles as he says this, staring at my reflection in the mirror with me.
“But as for your shoes…” He says after a moment of silence, antagonistically, again.
“Oh, one day, Stoc, you`ll understand that women don`t dress for beauty, they dress for respect.” I say, mimicking Mom`s tone. We both look at each other and crack up.
“Hey I got to go. Keep getting ready, oh and do me a favor, seriously, change your shoes.” He says.
“Pf. No need. I want us to look like twins.” I said.
He immediately looks down to his shoes, then he slowly looks up at me with his trademark, all-knowing look. “Of course.” He says, as he leaves the room.
I walk out of the room five minutes later, staring into thousands of peoples` eyes. All of the Gardets, or the authority, were up on a taller platform, above the crowd. All of the Bacx were to my far right, looking snarly with their nose, bull piercings, wacky hairdos, and dark impression. They have not ever scared me, though. The Thus and Jusies were mixed in in the middle of the crowd. They work together. The Thus figure out problems, the Jusies figure out solutions. The Mordones were to the left. They were the cruel ones, looking striking in their gorgeous gowns, always going to fancy feasts and acting perfect. It is their responsibility to enjoy life, making it seem fun. They do a terrible job, though. The Tithons were not there, because they are of the least important, so they do not come to any ceremonies.
I stand serenely, with my harms hanging, my right hand loosely holding my left hand beneath it, in front of my body. I keep my chin up, my complexion honest, my cheeks pale, and my eyes not wandering. I knew that at any moment, the chief could call my name. For a split second my eyes dashed down to the black granite floor, up to the similar ceiling, and then back to the crowd. Don`t be nervous, I think, there is nothing to be nervous about. Only, there was. If I were to be chosen as queen-to-be, signaled by the Meladian being placed on my head, I would have to be of the greatest royalty, high above the Mordones, which is what my family wants. If I were not to be chosen, I would go into a series of tests, then up to the Gardets to decide where I would go next.
I took a deep breath. “Celcia Shinro: Thus” he announced. I thought that the Gardet was announced first. I just thought that I must have been all mixed up because of how nervous I was.
“Galet Ne: Bacx” he seemed happy.
“Jeniva Bermrood: Fortify” oh no, I thought. This is not good. Fortify means that she did not qualify for anything, making her a Daxter.
She struggled to try to escape from the guards as they grabbed and pulled her away. They dragged her into the back room as she called out, “Mom, Mom, I love you! I love you, Mo-“
The door closed, and even though the walls are soundproof, I could hear a sound as slight as a nail tapping glass. Only one little tap. She was put to death. I stood still the entire time, knowing there was nothing I could do about it. I glanced over to her mother once who looked like nothing happened, looking at her nails and biting them every so often. Either she was doing an extremely good job acting, or she was one selfish person.
The ceremony continued until there was only one person left: me. I was trying to stand as calmly and still as possible as the announcer and two of his three guards were whispering about something, obviously me. I was starting to sweat and grow pale as he called out, “Petron Vicox:…” more whisper, “Fortify.”
I do not know what just happened, and being unalarmed, I walked steadily over to the room. Tears were dripping down my face, but I showed no other signs of emotion. I did not know what to do or think. I was still shocked by the situation. Right as the guards were about to open the door, he says, “Wait.” Impatiently, still deciding what I am, “Rollback, she`s with the Tithons.”
I was then walked back to another door, where I was shoved out. Outside was cold, dark, and wet. All around the ground was covered in sticky clay. I pulled my shoes off, feeling the smooth goop under my squiggly toes. I fell to my knees when I tried to run, putting multiple tears and rips in my dress. I got up again, tried running more, and succeeded. I kept running, not stopping for a long time, finally to arrive at the area where other Tithons live. All of them were there (there are only less than twenty left). I looked around, seeing soulless, empty, blank faces hidden in doubt. I immediately understand: these people were separated from their families, just like me.
I walk past a hump of clay that a lot of them were sitting up against, and head straight towards the thin stream that provides water for the Tithons yearly. There was a man on the other side of the stream, across from me, drinking water, too. I helplessly stare at him.
I little girl holding a wicker basket to gather water in kneels next to me and whispers in my ear, “He`s cute, isn`t he?”
I blush and cannot hold back my smile. “And why would you say that?”
“Because I can`t date him.” She says, nudging my shoulder.
“So who are you, Young Lady?” I ask politely.
“I`m Tpota. Who are you?”
“Petron, you can call me Pete, though.”
I smell something foul. I do not see anything that suggests this, though. I hear boys playing way off in the distance, across the stream. They are to the left a ways. I also hear a mother singing to the baby asleep in her arms. She is leaned up against the hunk of clay.
“Okay, Pete. Nice to have a new person here. Um… by the way, there has been some small talk that he`s a runaway, you know from the ceremonies. So, just… be careful.” She winks at me as she says this.
I nod once, trying to look serious to be funny. . “Okay, well it was-“ something caught my eye.
“What? What is it?” She asked, curiously.
I was too focused on something to respond to her.
“Tpota, would you leave… here… if you could.” I asked, still gazing into the distance.
“What kind of a question is that? We`re never leaving here. We can`t.” She replied.
“Well, I mean, if you could. Like to somewhere… safe.”
“If I could live anywhere besides this junk place, I would.”
“Okay, then I may have proved you wrong, because… well… he… the “runaway” has a tattoo on his wrist. Tattoos only come from Bacx. Bacx aren`t allowed to transfer to anywhere, led alone this… junk… as you said.”
“Wait a minute. You`re saying he`s a runaway? But, really? So… he… must live somewhere else?”
“Pete… how do we find out where?”
“We follow him. See where he goes.”
“Oh, now you stalk boys, hun?”
“For the purpose of this life-long lesson, yes. I do.”
“Fair enough. How?”
“I don`t know… just… trail behind him.”
Her cheeks grew red. She got angry. “What? This guy is a pro. At anything. You think he can`t spot a newbie “just trailing behind him”? That`s ridiculous.”
“M-hm.” I say, nodding her head, trying to look serious, again. “You got a better idea?”
She looked embarrassed. “Oh, no. I`m sorry.”
“That`s fine. How about we track him down and follow him tonight?”
“No. He`ll be gone by then. And it gets really dark at night, so how about now?”
“Deal. He`s over there.” I say, nodding my head in his direction. He had walked away while we were talking.
“Look, he went behind the bush!” She says, as we run across the stream to the other side. We run right inside where he was walking about 30 feet ahead of us through some bushes. We try to be quiet and stay low as we follow him. He seemed unaware that we were following him.
He takes a sharp left. “Hurry!” I whisper as I tug Tpota`s arm forward. We run a while and straight to the left where he went, just to find him standing there, with his arms crossed, facing us, making it now obvious that he knew we were following him.
“I don`t suppose I have a couple extra shadows, do I?” He says.
“I am sorry. We were…” I say.
“You were… following me, perhaps?”
“Well… we know… about...”
Tpota kicks my leg.
“We know what you are. You`re a… kind and fun guy.”
“How about the… truth, maybe?”
“You are. If that`s not the truth, then it`s gotta be pretty painful-“
I could tell by his look that he did not buy it. “You`re a Daxter. That`s the truth.”
“And how did you know, hun? Looking for a better place than this?”
“Well, I-I saw your tattoo.”
“Hm. The tattoo. Explains it. Hate to bring it to you, but there isn`t a better place. Not that we can go to.”
“Hm. The truth, maybe?” I ask.
He looks really nervous.
“So you`re telling me there`s nothing suspicious about your disappearing every night and reappearing in the morning? Where do you go?”
“I don`t go anywhere. I don`t talk to people. Because they pressure me.”
“I`m sorry if you feel pressured. I`m just feeling like I`ve been lied to.”
He sighs. We leave. It is getting dark already, so I cuddle up with Tpota by the hunk of clay and we fall asleep quickly.
I wake up when the sun is just peeking up over the horizon. I wake Tpota up. The Daxter`s gone. We decide to look for him. He is not here. We wait, because we have nothing better to do, and four hours later he comes back through the bushes. When he looks up, he sees that I am staring at him, but I quickly look away. I saw that he was smiling at me. He walks across the river, past the sleeping bodies, to me.
“Come on.” He whispers to us. We follow him across the stream, past the bushes. About 15 minutes later we arrive at a shack built out of clay. It was big enough to hold ten people. There were two other men standing by it.
“You wanted somewhere better,” he said, “and now it`s not a lie.”
That was the best day of my life. I had a blast making things out of clay from that day forward. I may not have been under the protection of my brother, but I was under the loyal protection of a man I call Daxter.