Posted August 18, 1997

Living in the Darkness

[Timeline: This chapter takes place about the same time as The Tale of The Blond Gypsy, Chapter Two]

Chapter Two - A Scrap of Cloth, A Scar, A Scarf

"Sweet Angel, rest peacefully,
Sweet Angel, I will sing to thee,
Sweet Angel, I will spin a tale for thee,
Sweet Angel, I will share my love with thee."

Samira sang a lullaby to her small child of three years. For three years the child had lived in darkness. But she was a strong child, despite her frail appearance. A full of curiosity wisp of a toddler, but she also contained her mother's fierce spirit.
"Will you rest now, child?" Samira asked softly as she tucked a blanket over Shiriluna.
"Not sleepy," Shiriluna burbled back, although she yawned.
"Yes, you are. And even if you are not, I am." Samira gave up getting the child to take a nap as Shiriluna sat up stubbornly. She herself was very tired. Of course now she slept more than when Shiriluna was first born, but she was still wary at night, when Their magic was strongest.
"Story," Shiriluna mumbled, crawling into her mother's lap.
Samira suppressed a sigh. She did not feel like telling stories right then. Clopin was better at storytelling. She wondered if Shiriluna would ever hear his voice weaving words and fancy together to create true magic.
"Mama." Shiriluna was tugging on the sleeve of Samira's dress. "Tell me a story."
"I have something better," Samira murmured. Or better because of our position. She gently pushed Shiriluna off her lap and went over to the pile of blankets that served as their bed. The little girl followed. Samira dug through the blankets until she reached the very bottom in the middle. One blanket was folded in half, and sewn that way on purpose. She made a neat pile once again, then raised the folded blanket. Carefully she pulled apart the stitches. When there was enough of an opening for her fist, she slipped her hand into the created pouch.
Her hand withdrew clutching something tightly. She motioned for Shiriluna to come closer. Then she opened her fist. Shiriluna's eyes went wide. It was simply a scrap of cloth which sat on Samira's palm. But it was color. A brilliant blue amongst the darkness of Robuert's world. Samira had salvaged it from her old dress before the Dark Gypsies took the dress away.
"Pretty," Shiriluna whispered in awe, reaching out to touch the cloth scrap to make sure it was real. Samira frowned sadly, knowing that the child did not know how colorful the world was. Then her scowl became fierce. I swear that one day you will see the bright colors of the land.
Suddenly Samira heard footsteps coming up to the tent, and she snatched up the treasured scrap of cloth and put it in the best hiding place she could think of on short notice; down the front of her dress. She drew Shiriluna onto her knee before the child could begin to whimper.
Robuert entered a moment later, carrying a plate and cup. He had learned a long while ago that it was useless to try to poison Shiriluna's food and water, because Samira would always switch the plates and cups right in front of him, so he brought just one plate to serve the two. Samira always took the first sip of water, as well. Robuert would never let her be poisoned.
So he set the plate and cup down in front of them. Samira grabbed the cup and took a quick sip. Robuert said not a word, his face stone, but Samira thought she saw a gleam in his eyes, one that she did not like. She shrugged it off as his usual attitude, and held the cup for Shiriluna. Robuert left right afterwards.
Samira sighed as she tore a slice of bread into small pieces. She could not let Shiriluna live like this forever. The child was destined for more, she knew even without looking at the stars. She had to plan an escape. But they were always watching her, and there seemed to be some type of force keeping her from wandering too far from the camp. Shiriluna would not stay here forever.
"Oh!" Samira uttered a frustrated cry, throwing down what was left of the bread. What did they want with her? Why would they not let her go? She had known nothing of the dark magic they possessed previous to her capture; but she had learned almost everything about them because they kept her there. The fools! They should have just left her alone!
She suddenly realized that she had been showing more anger than she had intended. Shiriluna was huddled nervously away from her. "I am sorry, my child. I am not angry with you," Samira said sadly. Shiriluna uncurled and crawled over to her mother to sit in her lap. Samira gently ran her hand over her daughter's long black hair. Innocent child, you will be free, Samira vowed once more. I will find a way.
She let out an abrupt yawn, feeling very tired all of a sudden. Shiriluna scurried over to the other corner of the tent to play with the cloth doll Samira had made for her, and Samira tookthe advantage to lie down on the bedding. She felt so very tired...Her eyes began to slowly close. There was darkness around the edges of her vision...Was that someone coming into the tent? She was not sure. Was that Shiriluna screaming? She was not sure...

Samira woke later when something small and crying grabbed her waist. She groggily raised her head to see that Shiriluna had attached herself to her, and the child was nearly hysterical in tears. "What is it, child? What?" Samira asked. Then she remembered. Someone came and Shiriluna had screamed...and she had been poisoned so that she could not stop them! Samira clenched her hands into fists. Why wouldn't they leave Shiriluna alone?! She was just an innocent child...
Shiriluna let out a yowl that snapped Samira out of her anger. She looked down again. "What, child, what did they do to you?" The little girl could only whine through her tears. Samira looked her over for some kind of wound, and her fury built to the point of exploding rage. He had better not have--
Then she saw it. A black mark on Shiriluna's left arm that had never been there before, just below her shoulder. Samira stared at it harder. It looked like a symbol of some sort, in a pattern of straight and curved lines.
Forgetting all shreds of sleepiness, Samira took up Shiriluna in her arms and walked right out of the tent, heading toward the center of camp. As expected, Robuert was by the fire, casually polishing a knife.
"What have you done to my daughter?" Samira demanded, turning Shiriluna so that her scarred arm showed.
"Since we failed to kill her, she had to be marked as not being one of us," Robuert replied non-chalantly.
"I am not one of you, either," Samira said bluntly.
"Well, I could mark you, too." He looked up at her with a leer.
Samira glared back, then spat at him. "You will pay for this, Robuert. I said you would never touch her, never harm her, and I will not let you get away with this."
"Your threats do not affect me, Samira."
Immediately Samira snapped her head upward. It was night, the stars were out. She hummed quickly and held her gaze steady. Please, tell me something, she prayed. The words came without another thought as she proclaimed, "Your evil will be your undoing. One of your own will destroy you." She glared at him with a finality that sealed the prediction in the mind of both.
Robuert uttered a hiss. "Get back to your tent! No more of your accursed stargazing!"
Samira smirked, then turned her back on him. She felt satisfied with the prediction, even though it did not say who, or when, or where Robuert's fall would occur. But, as long as it happened with such irony, she was satisfied.
Once inside her tent again, she examined the mark, gently pressing it, but Shiriluna squirmed and whimpered anyway. Samira would have swore had Shiriluna not been there. The mark had been burned into the skin. Inside, Samira cursed herself for letting them drug her so that she could not even hear the child screaming as they branded her. Samira hugged her daughter against her. They would pay, some day...
"I have something for you," Samira found herself saying. She found the sewn-up blanket easily, and pulled out her second treasure in this world of darkness; her yellow scarf, which she had hidden before Robuert could take it from her.
Shiriluna immediately stopped crying and stared at it. "The sun!" she blurted. Samira smiled gently and wrapped the scarf around Shiriluna's arm to cover the mark. Shiriluna hesitantly reached out to touch the scarf with her right hand. Then she smiled broadly. Samira hugged her.
Neither could fall asleep quickly, a short while later. Shiriluna finally dozed off, but Samira wanted to keep watch. Soon she decided that they knew they had done enough harm for one day, and she allowed herself to drift off to sleep.
She dreamed.

She was sitting on a soft patch of grass, Shiriluna settled on her lap. Samira had been stargazing, or maybe telling a story. Then they noticed a hissing sound. Samira glanced ahead and gasped. A large black snake rose up from the taller grass, deep red diamond-shaped patterns along the length of its body. Its piercing black eyes glared at them. Then it hissed again and bared its sharp, gleaming white fangs.
Samira shrieked and pulled Shiriluna back, shoving the child behind her to shield her. The snake hissed, its forked tongue darting out and in. Samira looked around frantically for a weapon. There was nothing. It was as if they were in a grassy enclosure, nothing more, even though there were trees beyond where the snake sat.
Samira looked directly into the creature's eyes, her stare hard and angry. She silently threatened it if it tried to hurt her child. The snake rose up higher and opened its mouth further, then dove toward them, its fangs leading the way.
Samira knew she could not get out of the way in time. All of a sudden a colorful blur dove in front of her. She blinked. She recognized the festival costume she had made for him. Clopin! He still had the black gloves, too. And she gave a cry as the gleaming fangs of the snake sank into his arm instead of her leg.
"Clopin, no!" she cried. He did not turn his head to look at her, but rather watched the snake as it hissed and thrashed, digging its fangs deeper.
She heard muffled cries from Shiriluna behind her. The child had her face buried in her mother's dress out of fear. Samira did not want the little girl to see her papa like this...She turned back to Clopin, then stared. The snake no longer lashed viciously, no longer glared, nor moved at all. Clopin was prying its mouth off his arm. The fangs withdrew gleaming red. He tossed the creature away, then turned to her, smiling weakly. He reached toward her to hug her. But before he could touch her, he fell forward and lay limp, his face buried in the grass.
Samira stared in horror. He died to save her...just as it seemed he had died trying to save her from being captured in the first place. She reached toward him. Maybe--maybe he wasn't dead, maybe it had not been a poisonous snake. She then drew her hand back and stared again. He seemed to be fading...No, not all of him...She stifled a scream as he became nothing but a skeleton in Clopin's clothes.

"No!" she uttered out loud, and woke with a shiver. What did the skeleton symbolize? That he was dead? That she should give up hope that he was alive? Had he lived but was now dying?
She would not give up hope. She would find him again. For Shiriluna's sake. They would escape the death trap and find him.

Coming Next: The Third Chapter of Living in the Darkness: Fearless Moon.

Back to: Chapter One A Song for the Moon

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(c) 1997-2004 Autumn Loweck. This work may not be copied, distributed, or reprinted without the author's permission. All characters not owned by Disney are property of Autumn Loweck (aka Shiri) and may not be "borrowed" or mentioned in other works without notifying the author first