The Faded Kingdom – Chapter 3

The Human walked for a time through forested twilight. Eventually, the trees gave way to one side of the road, revealing a meadow. This space was full of tall grass and flickering flowers, clearly not a place tamed by the hand of humans or occupied by Fae. The Human saw a small shape darting through the grass. It occasionally leapt into the air on long, joyous arcs, reaching into the sky before landing nimbly and again dashing away. The Human stopped and watched for a time, enjoying the exuberance of the small creature in what was generally a quiet and somber land. Eventually, the creature dashed towards the Human, revealing itself to be a white rabbit, large for its kind, and with a look of more intelligence than the Human had known rabbits to possess.

“Hello, Human!” cried the rabbit. “It has been long since I have seen such as you. Your people and mine have a way of meeting when one is on a journey. Are you on such a trip? What do you seek? Where are you going?”
“Greetings Rabbit,” said the Human, guessing at the creature’s name and bowing slightly, “I am, indeed, on a journey. I am searching for my family. Have you seen them? They are not like me, but are spirits. The Fae said they would have gone this way, seeking Oblivion.” The rabbit’s ears drooped sadly.
“Ah, a human with manners. That is good to see. Yours is a sad tale. I have not seen your folk, but I am not one to stay in one place. I change with the moon, and am only fully here because the moon is full in this land. You can just see it peeking over the horizon over there.” It sat up and gestured with its paw. The Human looked and could just see a glimmer of silver light through the trees.
“What does the moon have to do with you being here?” asked the Human. The rabbit gave a deep sigh.
“Have my deeds been so forgotten? Or are you of the people who see other things in the face of the moon? It is no matter. Once, long, long ago, a great teacher among the humans was traveling, and was without food and water. He feared he would die. I offered my body to feed him, and he honored my sacrifice by placing my likeness on the moon.”
“Who was that man?” asked the Human. “That story sounds familiar, but remembering things is difficult of late.”
“Some say it was the Buddha, others Quetzalcoatl, when he was a man. I do not recall. Humans are much alike to me. It was a very long time past, when the people of the East were one people, before they had spread so far. Perhaps it is only a story, and I remember falsely. It matters little. At any rate, I am able to go where the light of my shape shines, so here I am. There are other stories about me and the moon. And about me and your people. Some are less pleasant.” The rabbit scratched behind its ears and looked off into the woods on the other side of the road.
“You say you are seeking your family,” asked the rabbit, “but if they are spirits, then they will not know you. Why throw yourself into Oblivion for those whom you cannot touch and who will not know you? It seems a waste.”
“They are all I have. Even if I can just look upon them, I can remember our lives and the joy we shared.”
“How far ahead of you are they?” asked the rabbit, cocking its head to one side.
“The Fae said it was two weeks, but I do not know how time is measured here. Sunrise never comes, so how can we count days?”
“Ah, but the sun does rise,” said the rabbit, “just not here. There is a land of the Future where all is known and the sun always rises on a new day.”
“Truly? Would my family know me if they were in such a place? Could I take them there?” In excitement, the Human stepped towards the rabbit, placing a foot off the side of the road and into the meadow. The rabbit froze and stared at the Human in anger.
“I should have known. Just another human come to take what is mine. To enter my territory and kill my kin. To till our fields and wear our skins. You could not content yourself with staying in your place, could you.”
“But Rabbit, I did not mean any harm!” The Human took another step towards the rabbit, hands outstretched, baffled by the change in the rabbit’s demeanor.
“’Rabbit, help me!’ ‘Rabbit, tell me what I want to know!’ ‘Rabbit, die for me and mine!’,” the Rabbit mocked the Human, backing up slowly. As it retreated, its coat became yellow, and what the Human at first took for a shadow became a long, black horn sprouting from its forehead.
“My name is not Rabbit, or, rather, it is not only Rabbit,” growled the creature. “My people run and run from yours, but it is not our only response. I am also known as Al-mi’raj. Have you heard of me?”
“I have heard the name, but thought it to be myth. Stories told by poets of horned, yellow rabbits that would run through any who trespassed, and who feared none. Who could only be controlled by magics.”
“And do you have such magics, human?” the rabbit asked, taking a step back towards the Human.
“I do not. I meant no offense. I was excited by your mention of the Future and stepped amiss.”
“Then why did you continue towards me when it was clear I did not want you in my meadow? You are just like those of your kind who hunt and kill mine without thought. I shall show you we are not your prey!” The rabbit charged, snarling, head lowered. The Human turned and ran back towards the road, fearing what death would be like in this strange place. Stumbling back onto the road, the Human glanced back and came to an abrupt stop. Al-mi’raj was gone. Off in the field, a white rabbit again danced about, leaping towards the sky.

The Human hurried away, eager to put the changeable creature far behind.

Author: bekern

I write, draw, and make stuff in general.

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