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Dust Trails: of Earth, Chapter Twelve
Aaron breaks the news to Lauren finally, and it changes everything
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Dust Trails: of Earth, Chapter Twelve

 

12-27-16 02:14 AM
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Chapter Twelve

"Know your enemy. Know yourself. Know that often the two are one and the same"


Lauren frowns at Aaron's response, and worry fills her features. "What is it?"

"Come with me." he answers as he turns for the hall.

Lauren follows close behind Aaron as he heads up the stairs and turns right to enter his bedroom. Opting to stand outside of the room, she looks on from the doorway as Aaron walks to his nightstand and opens the drawer to retrieve something.

"You can come in." he says to a confused Lauren.

Walking in she casts a quick glance at the shelf that she had left the stone on, and tries to determine what was with Aaron right now. That tone he used just a moment ago when inviting her in held something that she couldn't quite put her finger on.

A few more moments pass in silence as Lauren looks at her surroundings and Aaron continues fishing around in the nightstand drawer. Looking over at the stone again, Lauren can't decide if it's paranoia setting in, or if that thing has inched closer to the edge of the shelf since she last looked at it upon entering the room.

"Ah, there it is." Aaron's comment brings her back to the present situation and she turns to see him holding a small gold key.

After another quick smile that looks as nervous as it does friendly, he walks to his closet and pulls the folding doors back. Lauren watches as he steps inside and behind the right side of the closet doorway. Before she has time to wonder what he's doing in there, he's already emerging with a small wooden chest in his hands.

Lauren stares in awe of the little wooden chest and it's ornate carvings and relief designs of swirling leaves growing from a tree carved in the bottom left corner of the front of the small box. Budding flowers also stand out against the back drop of what appears to be sunbeams and a lake backed by a mountain range.

"Here it is." he says as he holds it in front of him, his arms extended, suspending the chest halfway between the two of them.

"Oh Aaron, it's beautiful." she says breathlessly "But where on Earth did you get it?"

A soft laugh escapes him and he replies simply "I didn't."

It takes a moment for his meaning to dawn on Lauren, but when it does she smiles at the strangeness of the truth "Oh. Well then, where on Milarim did you get it?"

"My father." he says as he looks down at the little ornate box in his hands. Then turning toward his bed he walks over to it and places the chest on the blue comforter.

Taking the key out of his pocket, he places it in the lock and turns it slowly, and Lauren can't tell if his pace is because he's savoring the moment, or if it's apprehension. Soon enough the lock clicks and Aaron lifts the lid.

Removing a large piece of dark purple cloth he turns to look at her and smiles an unsure but almost proud looking smile. "Come here."

"What is that?" Lauren asks as she walks over to him and he holds it out to her, gesturing for her to take it.

"A Milariman robe." he answers as he gently places it in her outstretched arms.

Presently a loud thud comes from behind Lauren causing her to jump and whirl around with a yelp. The stone lay on the floor —— it really was moving toward her. Seeing this she drops the robe and backs farther away, wide eyed.

"Sorry about that." Aaron says as he walks toward the stone to pick it up.

"Careful it" she stops before finishing her warning. She couldn't say anything or he would know she'd been in here before and messed with his things.

"It what?" he asks, looking confused for a moment. "Oh wait, have you seen this before?" he says, a knowing smile coming to his face. Lauren says nothing, only looks at the floor and blushes. "Don't worry about this little guy. It's harmless." he says as he scoops it up and places it on the shelf.


Hoping to get his mind off of the realization that she'd entered his room and pilfered a bit, Lauren picks the robe up off of the floor, and unfolding the garment, begins to examine it. It's a gorgeous eggplant color and feels like pure silk. It's also big enough that she could get lost in it.

"It's lovely Aaron, but whose is it?"

"Well I wore it last. It isn't exactly mine though."

"Oh, so it's a hand-me-down?" she asks as she examines it some more, turning it over in her hands.

"Not really, no. Just try it on."

Unsure whether she wants to laugh or take offense to the suggestion that she could wear this thing, she looks at Aaron confused. "This will never fit me, Aaron. Surely you can see that."

"Just put it on."

Why is he so determined to get her to put this thing on? She can't begin to understand what he might be thinking, and this whole situation continues to grow weirder and weirder. Still she obliges and slips the robe around herself. Glancing over at the large wall mirror on the other side of Aaron's bed, Lauren can't help feeling silly: she looks like a child swallowed up in this thing, and the sleeves dangle a good six inches past her hands.

"I look ridiculous."

"Wait." he says as he heads back to the box and retrieves what looks like a brooch and hands it to her. "Tie the belt and place this on the robe, directly over your heart."

Looking at him like he's a madman, Lauren once again complies, but she's quickly growing tired of these antics. Is he making some sort of joke out of her? This whole thing is nothing short of bizarre.

As she places the brooch over her heart she realizes it has no pin to hold it, but before she can mention it, the thing seals itself to the front of her robe as if it were glued in place. What is going on? Looking up at Aaron she sees him nod to her as though reassuring her. Good thing he did, or she would have panicked when she noticed what was following the already odd behavior of the robe and brooch.

Lauren stares down in awe as the robe slowly shrinks until it fits her properly. Wide eyed she looks back up at Aaron, trying to ask something, but unsure as to what she should ask first.

"It's a Milariman robe." he begins explaining "One of those is given to every Milariman on their sixteenth birthday to commemorate their reaching of adulthood."

"That's a lovely tradition Aaron." she says, amazed at this insight into his culture.

"Thank you. Our people have many such customs." he says with a smile that still shows nervousness.

"Thank you for sharing this with me." Lauren offers.

"There's more." Aaron replies as he looks away for a moment while drawing a slow breath. Looking back at Lauren, he continues "This robe is organic."

"Wait." Lauren says, suddenly wanting to take this thing off as quickly as she can "Are you saying it's alive?"

"No, not really alive exactly. Not like an animal or human. Think of it like a plant. It can react to things, but has no feeling, consciousness, or anything of that sort." his words calm her down, but she still feels a little uncomfortable. "It can expand or shrink to fit the wearer when the bouran is placed over the heart. The bouran interacts with the Milariman energy signature and the robe reacts to that."

"I don't really understand what all of that means..."

With a sigh he looks her in the eye. He has to say this plainly "Lauren, every living being emits an energy unique to their kind, including different races of people such as Earthlings, Milarimans, and Deylonians. The bouran only interacts with Milariman energy signatures."

"What?" Lauren asks confused by what he seems to imply. "Then why can it interact with me? Did it sense your energy?"

"No, Lauren. It sensed yours. I don't know how it's possible, but you're not an Earthling. You're a Milariman. I've sensed it from the beginning."

Lauren shakes her head and begins backing away and tugging at the robe trying to get it undone, but in her confusion and panic she can't think straight enough to grab the belt and undo it, so she keeps clawing wildly at it as she backpedals farther and farther away from Aaron.

"Lauren, calm down. It's okay." he tries to assure her.

"No. No, you're mistaken. This...whatever it is... it's mistaken. I was born and raised here. I'm not...no." finally getting herself free of the garment, she lets it fall to the floor and turns to head down the stairs.

"Lauren, wait!" Aaron calls as he hurries to the door, but she's practically running, and by the time he reaches the upstairs hallway, she's already out the front door.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Lauren keeps jogging until she reaches the woods on the west side of the property, several hundred yards away from both of the houses. As she enters them she stops, bends over with her hands on her knees, and begins panting. Once she finally manages to regulate her breathing, Lauren walks deeper into the woods until she comes to a small clearing about the size of the little two bedroom house that she and Sanya live in.

Walking up to a large tree growing all alone in the midst of the clearing she leans back against it and closes her eyes. She found this place a few months after coming to stay with Aaron, and since then she's always come back here when she needed time alone.


A gentle breeze blows through the tree tops, a motion that normally creates a sound akin to waves crashing on the shoreline, but with only the scattered evergreens still leafy, the sound is far more hollow and lonely.

"Mind if I join you?" a woman's voice calls, and opening her eyes, Lauren turns to see Sanya sitting on one of the lower branches of a nearby tree, one arm around the trunk.

"How did you know I was here?" she asks, surprised that she had been found so quickly.

Dropping down from her perch, Sanya lands gracefully and approaches Lauren, her eyes full of compassion. "You always come here when you're upset."

"How did you know that? And how did you know I was upset? Were you listening in on my conversation with Aaron?" Lauren asks, untrusting after tonight's events.

"Of course not." Sanya assures her as she stops a few yards away "I'm linked to you, remember? I could sense you were afraid and I came out here because I figured this is where you'd end up. Besides, I kind of figured Aaron would make a mess of things."

"You mean you knew what he was going to say?"

"I did. I'm sorry." Sanya answers, looking down at the snow covered ground "I wanted to tell you sooner, but"

"Then why didn't you?" Lauren shouts angrily as tears spring to her eyes.

"What, would it have made finding out easier or something?" Sanya shouts back, but her tone doesn't sound angry. Instead she sounds sympathetic.

"Yes...no..." Lauren raises a hand to her head and closes her eyes tightly, causing large teardrops to roll down either side of her face. "I don't know."

Sanya feels her heart break a little more for this girl as she sees the tears sliding down her cool wind reddened cheeks. Walking up to her she places a hand on her arm.

"I'm sorry you had to find out this way, Lauren."

"How long have you known?" she asks as she looks up into Sanya's jade colored eyes.

"I suspected it the moment I awoke after you took me to Aaron's house." she admits, feeling bad for hiding it so long at Aaron's request.

"Then why did you never tell me? Why wait this long?"

"I wanted to tell you a long time ago. Remember when you called me a monster?"

Lauren winces at the words, and Sanya can't tell whether that's because she feels bad for having said them, or because she now realizes that she's just as much of a 'monster' as Sanya. "I do."

"Well, I started to tell you right then and there."

Lauren's mind flashes back to that night.

"Listen little girl, you're no better than me! I hate to shock you, but" so that's what Sanya had been trying to say when Aaron stopped her?

"You know, don't you?"

"I do."

"How long have you known?"

"I had my suspicions all along. I knew something was up, but it took me a little while to figure out what it was."


They weren't talking about Sanya at all, they were talking about her.

"So that's what you two were talking about. I thought you were talking about Aaron knowing who you were."

"Yeah, that was it."

"But why didn't Aaron want you saying something?" she asks, finally beginning to calm down.

"Well it wasn't really the best time to tell you." Sanya explains as she tucks a strand of hair behind Lauren's ear in a gesture of comfort. "You were already freaked out and afraid of me, and of him too by the end of the discussion. Even if you had believed us, can you imagine how you would have taken that?"

"Alright, but you've had nearly a month since then. Why not say something sooner?"

Oh boy, just what she didn't want to have to address. "That was Aaron's doing. He was afraid that you weren't ready to find out." she answers, hoping she put it in a way that didn't make him sound like the bad guy.

Lauren scoffs "When would I have ever been ready to hear that kind of news?"

"Exactly what I tried to tell him time and time again." Sanya agrees, then quickly adds "But he meant well. Aaron honestly thought that he could shelter you from it for good and everything would be okay."

"But surely I'd have noticed that my body was defying the normal aging process at some point."

"Hadn't noticed so far, had you?"

"But how is it possible? My mother was a hu...I mean an Earthling."

"Alright let's get this straight first: you are still a human." Sanya corrects gently "As for your mother I can't say one way or the other, but you aren't a full blood Milariman. It may be that your mother was indeed an Earthling and your father was the Milariman. Your energy signature is a deviated form of Milariman, which is why Aaron and I were both a little unsure about it initially. It isn't often that Milarimans produce offspring with other races ― it's frowned upon."

"Really? Why?" Lauren asks, the fear and confusion in her eyes now replaced by curiosity.

"Well more on that later, yeah? For now I'd kind of like to get out of the cold and snow before we freeze solid." Sanya says with a smile.

Laughing, Lauren walks back to the house with Sanya. As the houses come into view they see Aaron on his front porch.

"I should probably go apologize to Aaron for running off like I did." Lauren says, suddenly feeling guilty for reacting as she had.

Before Sanya can say anything back, Aaron comes jogging up "Hey, are you alright? I'm sorry I dropped everything on you like that, but I didn't really have a choice."

That's right, in all of the chaos Sanya had forgotten about him. How had she lost sight of this after being so hard on Aaron about it earlier?

"What do you mean?" Lauren asks, puzzled by the air of urgency Aaron has about him.

"Come on, we don't have much time. I'll explain when we get there."


___________________________


Once again in Aaron's room, Lauren stands by the bed and Sanya stays in the corner watching while Aaron turns to retrieve the stone. Lauren watches nervously, still scared of the strange rock after her last encounter with it.

"This is a Simkatte." he explains as he turns toward her with it. "It will awaken your abilities more fully. Here" he says as he holds it out to her "take it."

Reluctantly, Lauren extends her arms and lets Aaron place the stone in her hands. Just like before, it begins glowing dimly, then grows brighter with each passing moment until the same familiar light bands shoot forth and wrap themselves toward her. This time however she doesn't drop the stone, instead she stares into Aaron's eyes which comfort her with a reassuring look.

The bands take on an appearance similar to ribbons, and before she knows it, Lauren is wrapped in several of the glowing ribbons and losing sight of her surroundings. Everything fades away, replaced by bright light all around, and in a moment she finds herself in the field from her dreams. Before her is a bright glowing ball, floating in place. Instinctively she reaches out her hand and the orb floats toward her. As it comes to rest in her hand, she draws it in toward herself for closer inspection. However, before she can get a good look at it, the ball of light floats from her hand and settles directly over her heart. Settling on her, it begins to flatten, spreading itself wider until it covers her entire torso.

After another flash, Lauren sees her own self standing before her as though looking in a mirror. She's dressed in a cerulean blouse with a ribbon of silken fabric that extends at a 135 degree angle from just below a button on the front right of her high collar down to the seam of the blouse under her right arm. She also wears a black skirt that stops halfway down her calves, and the rest of her legs are covered by black boots. The new look is topped off by one white glove on her right hand with a strange golden symbol on the back, and a black mark on her forehead that looks like a capital A with curved legs and no cross mark, the tip of the mark is diamond shaped and has a red dot in the center of it.

As she continues staring at the strange image before her, she's overcome by a painful sensation in her middle that feels like a sharp knife in her gut. Doubling over and squeezing her eyes closed she feels an almost electric sensation spread throughout her entire being, and after a few intense moments the pain in her stomach subsides. Standing upright once more, she opens her eyes and finds herself in the room with Aaron and Sanya again.

Looking up at both Sanya and Aaron, she notices they're both staring at her, and the looks on their faces appear almost anxious in nature. Her eyes drop from them to her upturned hands where the Simkatte still rests, but now it doesn't glow, and looks in no way different from a normal stone saving it's odd shape and transparency.

Without saying a word, Lauren hands the Simkatte back to Aaron then walks back to the bed and sits down on the side of it. What had all of that meant? She can only hope Aaron or Sanya can explain it, not that she knows if she could handle any more tonight.

"Well then, that was something." she thinks aloud, then looks up at Aaron "Is that all of the surprises now?"

"Not exactly." Aaron answers her, his voice conveying that he feels bad for dumping all of this on her at once "There's something else you need to know about."

Lauren's shoulders drop in defeat, and her head tilts a little as her face takes on a look that falls somewhere between anger and disbelief. She starts to say something but seems to think better of it. Instead she looks down at the floor as she purses her lips, clenches her teeth, and slowly draws a deep breath.

Oh boy Sanya thinks as she notices her reaction This isn't gonna be good.

"What is it?" Aaron asks innocently. Sanya cringes, and Lauren lowers her head, placing her face in her hands. Seeing the reactions of both women, Aaron repeats his question as he shrugs "What?"

"What?" Lauren asks without moving to look up at him. "What?" she nearly shouts it this time as she looks up at him. "You really don't get it, do you?"

"Get what?" Aaron replies, and Sanya's palm flies to her face at the comment as she watches helplessly. No way is she stepping into this one. Aaron is on his own here.

"Ugh!" Lauren's dragged out cry of frustration with Aaron's ignorance borders on a scream as she jumps up from off of the bed and storms out of the room.

"Lauren, what did I do?" Aaron calls as she enters the hallway and turns for the stairs.

"Just leave me alone already!" is the answer that comes.

"Nice work, buddy." Sanya derides him from her place in the corner.

"I mean you too, Sanya!" Lauren shouts as she descends the stairs.

Aaron looks over at Sanya, wanting so badly to say something.

"Oh shut up already Aaron. This whole thing is your fault." Sanya replies as she too storms out.

"Seriously, what did I do?" Aaron asks exasperated.


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(edited by Eirinn on 02-08-17 02:59 PM)     Post Rating: 2   Liked By: Mynamescox44, TheReaper7290,

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Well.... Didn't see that coming lol. 

So that's what that stone is for then. I wonder what else she's going to be capable of besides healing now that it fully unlocked her abilities. And what was up with her appearance? Is that like some indication of who her ancestors are or her bloodline or something? (Like the A thing on her forehead for example). 

So, is it just me, or are these ladies constantly mad at Aaron for no good reason? lol. All he does is try to look after them, and he's still getting yelled at or blamed for stuff all the time. Just seems to me like he could use a break from being made out to be the bad guy  

Hopefully the next chapter is a little more eventful. I can't wait to see what happens when Rylan finally arrives ^^
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Mynamescox44 : Heh well the next chapter is nearly finished actually. That's part of why I was so late on this one — I got caught up writing in my free time and nearly wrote two chapters before I stopped to edit and proofread. As for the next chapter: without giving away too much, things do get a bit more interesting but not exactly what you're hoping for I'm afraid.


Yeah, this has been in the works since the beginning. Just putting that out there so it doesn't seem like I got carried away with the race reveals. Lol I've been dropping hints for a while now, with the stone being the first, then Sanya's comment that was cut short, etc. I was leaving clues all while hoping nobody would find them. xD Oh and that appearance will all be explained, but not anytime soon. Consider it the voicemail's evil twin: it just mocks you for several chapters before finally giving it up and explaining itself.


Can't help but feel sorry for poor Aaron. He keeps catching flak, but with his insistence on running from the truth and keeping secrets, he kind of brought it on himself.
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Yea, in retrospect it's pretty clear you've been building up to this, I just didn't expect her to actually be a foreign race as well. You definitely had me fooled lol. 

And as for the appearance (or just the clues you drop in general), stories based outside of reality are much more open to unexpected twists. I'm sure this gives you a ton more room for developing the story, as everything that could be seen as "realistic" for the world you created is a logical explanation for anything you want it to be (and you can just make the rules up as you go lol ). 

And just for the record, I don't get what the ladies were so upset about at the end either. I sympathize with Aaron because all that flak would catch me just as off guard as it does him XD

Do you still plan on waiting a week to publish the next chapter, or will it be sooner since it's nearly complete already?
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Mynamescox44 : True. I have plenty of freedom in that regard. That's why I love sci-fi and fantasy so much: they can do things you could never expect because logic and reality don't hold them to certain rules.

Well I guess that means I'm succeeding in trying to depict the differences between male and female logic and reasoning. There's definitely a distinct difference, and though all women are different and all men are different, there are undeniably certain differences between the two and their thought process at times. Aaron being the only man in the current story happenings is on the outside there. And beyond that even, Sanya and Lauren — while often at odds — have an obvious connection. They tend to understand one another on a level others don't.

As for the next chapter, I have to do a bit of revising as the last half of it was almost all dialogue and the story felt nondescript and bare bones. I'm adding in more descriptive content to hopefully better convey the thought process and emotions etc. in the scene before I proofread and post it. So it may be out in less than a week, but it'll probably be close at least.
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