He unclasped his fingers. Little bursts of light burst from his palm, before circling around about, their blinking yellow glows disappearing into the orbs decorating the night sky. Letting out a breath, he didn’t realize that he was holding, he stared at the stars above. They were always so majestic, and so welcoming. Like his mother…
He closed his eyes, briefly, sighing. It’s been so long. He could hardly remember her face. She had always been a pillar for him as a child. The night that took her was a night that he would never forget.
He had been sleeping, when his mother suddenly woke him. A loud, unfamiliar roar resounded through their camp. A terrifying sound that he had never heard before in his life. She put a finger to her lips, shushing him. He sat up in the darkness, doing his best to get out of his covers silently. The roar came again. He froze. It was certainly closer. If not for the tent, he was almost certain that they would’ve been noticed by whatever stalked their camp.
Something crunched in the grass nearby. A weight, pressing down on a fallen leaf. They would be lucky if it were a normal bear. In the dim light, he noticed his mother tense beside him, her hands tightened around dagger hilts. He had never seen her wield a weapon in the past. Though he knew her to be skilled with the knife in the kitchen, it wasn’t common to arm women for combat.
Heavy breathing could be heard from outside the tent. He held his breath. Though his bow and quiver were nearby, he didn’t dare to shift from his crouching posture. Any movement could be enough to alert whatever was outside of their presence. A deep throated growl, followed by thud and a whimper. He looked at his mother, the confidence in her pose comforted him. Still, he continued to hold his breath.
Moments later, there was still nothing. He released his breath, and pulled on his quiver. Bow at hand, he felt ready to face any threat that might be waiting for them outside. His mother continued to hold her pose. After what seemed to be ten minutes, she finally lowered her blade, breathing a sigh of relief.
Still they waited in their tent, in silence. Though the creature may not be an immediate threat, that didn’t mean that it already left the area. Half an hour later, they finally emerged from the tent. Someone put up a fire, indicating that the danger had left the area. His mother rushed at his father, daggers no where in sight. He didn’t remember seeing her put them away. His father opened his arms, welcoming her, before pulling her tight into a hug.
His father looked up, smiling at him, before waving him over. He grinned and dashed over, joining them in a group hug. His parents always did this. A reminder that they were grateful for and cherished one another’s presence. His heart warmed to the knowledge that his parents still cared about one another. In their clan, it was rare to find families like his own. Couples were often forced into relationships, and marriage thereafter, based on age and height. His parents were lucky, and that luck rubbed off onto him as well.
Basking in the afterglow of surviving without any casualties, many of the clan members joined in a ring dance around the fire. His parents sat before his father’s tent, smiling as they looked on the dancers. Sitting next to them, he looked up at them as he waxed new arrows. A shadow appeared behind his mother. It couldn’t be. Did it not leave? He rubbed his eyes, it was definitely there.
“Watch out!” He shouted to them. His parents looked back. His father had left his weapons inside his tent. A silver flash, daggers appeared in his mother’s hands, glinting in the moonlight, as she blocked the creature’s incoming blow with her blades. He drew his bow, firing an arrow at the creature’s single eye, in the opening. His father took the cue, and quickly dashed into his tent to fetch his weapons.
The three of them quickly overpowered the creature. But before long, the entire camp was saturated in similar beings. The creatures flogged his parents left and right. Slowly, the forces from the ambush seemed to shrink, seemingly almost at an end. As his father worked on finishing off one of the stronger beings, another took advantage of the moment appeared behind him. His mother dashed before it, trying to block its attack, when it impaled her deep in the gut, suddenly transforming its black tar-like arm into a javelin head. The creatures had attacked in the middle of the night, and she wasn’t dressed in her normal armor. Resisting the pain, she plunged her blade into the creature’s chest, killing it, before collapsing herself. His eyes widened, as he realized that the creature created a mortal wound.
“No!” His father shouted, as he delivered the final blow to the being keeping him busy. He dashed in the direction of his mother, as his father scooped her into his lap. Tears spilled like rain, forming miniature puddles near her. The conflict was over, but it had costed the one thing that mattered the most. Their family.
He closed his eyes, pushing away the memory. His father had told him that his mother would continue watching him from above. The stars seemed to confirm that. But none of what it gave could replace the happiness that their family once had. None of it would ever be a worthy substitute capable of replacing the woman he once called his mother.