No Evil Part I Plenty of people were afraid of the dark,
but Iona was not one of them. She didn’t know what darkness was, really. Nor light.
She knew her Ma’s favorite color was blue, and it seemed sensible to her to make that
her favorite color as well, but she’d never known what blue was. Iona had never known
what any colors were. She imagined they were something like flavors, but for the eyes.
And, just like some people didn’t have functioning tastebuds, she didn’t have functioning eyes. Iona stood at the edge of a cliff, smelling
the tangy scent of salt air and listening as the waves crashed against the beach hundreds
of feet below. She couldn’t be sure what time of day it was, but given the sensation
of hot sunlight on her skin, she imagined it must be somewhere about midday. She reached
her hands to the sky and tried to feel which way the wind was blowing. It wasn’t that
she needed to sail anywhere or do anything before the light died, it was merely that
she loved the feeling of the world. If she couldn’t see it, she could at the very least
experience as much of it as possible. There was a sound behind her, and she tilted
her head to hear it better. One perk of not being able to see is not feeling the need
to whip around and stare at a thing when you might need to not be moving at that time.
One downside is she’d never be able to look at whatever it was and assess the situation.
Her ears alone had to carry that burden. The sound rose again, and she realized it
was voices. Not just any, either. Her Ma and Pa were inside, speaking in hushed whispers.
She turned and walked to the left of the house – she’d never gotten caught eavesdropping
on that side – and listened in closer. “ – be fine. It’s not as though the villagers
have any reason to suspect what we’re doing.” “What if they think we’re bandits? What
if they think we’re vagrants, and they come up to investigate? It’s not exactly difficult
to tell Iona’s weakness.” Iona frowned at that. Sure, she wished she
could see because it would make a lot of things easier, but she didn’t consider it a weakness,
per se. The conflicts that set stories in motion weren’t considered weaknesses on
the heroes’ parts, they were just situations that were, like the wind or the trees. So
was her blindness. She bet Heroes wished their stories weren’t taking place sometimes,
too. It’s just that people generally appreciated what heroes went through.
“Dear, we can’t run. Not again. Iona’s spent the past six months getting used to
this place, and only now does she feel comfortable being out there alone. Do you really want
to put her through that again? And what about the road? Besides, if we’re caught moving
her -” “And what if we’re caught hiding her,
Hesphae? What if they find her when we’re not home?”
Iona shifted in her hiding spot, and something went tumbling into the trees beyond. There
was silence for a time, and when their whispers returned it was too quiet to know what was
said. She sighed, then leaned forward to feel for a good walking stick. She selected a decently
long one, then used it to explore the woods around their home. By the time she made her way home, she couldn’t
tell shade from sunlight, but the warmth remaining in the air told her it wasn’t quite night
yet. She had gone far enough that it took a little while to orient herself back towards
their home. She smiled as she found more familiar terrain, letting her walking stick down and
finding her way back into the house itself. She made her way to her room, got in her bed
clothes, and leaned against the window to catch some fresh air. She could hear the twittering voices of the
townspeople carried on the wind. Their home, hidden just above what she assumed had to
be a smaller village, had once been a temple to the goddess Delia before its abandonment.
She wondered how Delia felt about having a Lakya like herself live there. She touched
her eyes with her small hands. When they’d lived back in her home village,
she’d always wanted to go out and explore. She’d wanted to meet other children. That
wasn’t possible now, and it never had been. It was difficult for her to accept, as Anva
had a need to be together. Their race, the whole of it, was considered by the Church
to be of one holy, spiritual being. Every person was an extension of that holiness,
called the Lakyn, or “one blood.” She was Lakya, a person who the church said
had been born of the corruption and evil in the bloodline. This was always easy to tell,
as Lakya was any child born with a disability, birthmark, or other so-called ‘imperfection.’
They were meant to be sacrificed, to ‘purge the bloodline’ of the evil they held, but
Iona’s parents had never believed in that sort of thing. They’d locked Iona away for
years to keep her safe, but now they were on the run for it. “Dad! Mom!” She yelled, pulling away from
the window. “I’m heading to bed!” Her parents came quickly, pulling her into
their arms with a laugh. They goofed around for a bit, then settled her in and kissed
her goodnight. “We love you, dearest.” “I love you too, Mom. And Dad, even if he
stinks.” “Hey! You try working in a mine, see how
that goes?” “You mean feel how that goes, right?”
They laughed together, and her parents left to enjoy the rest of their evening together.
The nice thing about being blind was that she didn’t have to worry about whether it
was too bright to sleep yet. She just slept whenever she wanted to. In her dream, she was drifting along a river,
the feeling of dense wood at her back. She soaked in the sun, smiling as it shimmered
with heat under her skin. The air smelled of flowers, sunlight, and morning dew. Birds
twittered, leaves rustled, and there was clearly a waterfall nearby. Its roaring nearly drowned
out the babbling of the brook. She felt the canoe twist, as though someone inside had
just shifted position. She sat up, stretching, and put her hands in the water beside the
canoe. The dream was just so vivid, from the biting cold of the brook to the refrains of
windsong through the trees. “I hope you’re not uncomfortable.” The
voice that spoke was as musical as all else around her, and she felt comforted by it,
somehow. “No, this is beautiful.” Iona replied.
She kept her face turned toward the waters, letting the cool spray wash over it.
“You need not cower from me, dear. All about you is as natural and right as the wind in
the trees, even if at times things like blindness must be burdensome.”
Iona sat up, shaking her hands of the droplets of water. “A little, I guess. It’s the
isolation, really. I’d be fine enough if I had friends.”
“That is something I wished to discuss with you, in truth. A friend of mine is grappling
with sorrow. Would you be so kind as to comfort her? I cannot. She refuses to acknowledge
me.” “Who is she?”
“Someone of great potential. Please, let’s not dally.”
“Okay, I guess.” “Thank you, dear.”
The woman took her hand and guided her gently out of the boat, taking her through the rustling
of thick leaves to the rushing sounds of endless fields of grass. She was glad when they left
the last of the bramble-tossed briars to the soft, loamy soil beyond. The woman’s hand
disappeared, and despite her cries into the void she found no one.
“Would you please let me be? I tire. Leave me be.” This voice was all too concrete.
Iona grimaced. Who was this entitled woman? “Hello, there!” She began wandering towards
the sound of the voice. “What are you called?” “Go away, foul child. Let me be to mourn.
That woman sent you to comfort me, yes? I cannae know what spills from your clumsy lips
at such a distance. Let me alone!” Iona strode to the voice, crossing the final
distance until her feet hit cloth. “Off of my dress, I say! Get! What madness
consumes you, to bother one who wishes to be let alone? Let me mourn, cretin, let me
mourn.” “For what do you mourn?” Iona asked, sitting
beside her. “And I apologize for my misstep. I can’t see.”
“See what, daft girl? Oh – Oh my. Direct your eyes to my face. No – that’s not my
face. So she’s collecting your kind now? Collecting corrupted children? What cruel
deception is this?” “I can see why she doesn’t want to assist
you.” “Cease your mumbling! Enunciate. Move your
lips. I cannae hear what you’re saying!” “Ahhhh-ue c ah n ssss eeeee -”
“You think me daft. Speak quickly, but move your lips. I cannae hear!”
“What can you not hear? Oh, so you’re like me.”
“I am not. I am deaf, not blind. I became deaf after birth, I am not corrupted as you
are!” “If you truly believed that, why are you
sad?” There was dead silence. Then, the woman spoke.
“I thought you daft. Perhaps it is I who must learn. Your uncultured words bid my mind
discount you. My apologies, Lakya.” “And to you, Lakya,”
“I – oh it’s no use. What is it you call yourself, girl?”
“My full name is Eliona, but my friends call me Iona.”
“Well, Eliona, I believe we to be allies against the world. I call myself Avon. Oh
my – here comes another. We may as well set a picnic, Eliona. What’s your name, newcomer?”
Silence fell. Then, someone sat in the grass. “A fine name, Tylia. Iona, your blind eyes
cannae see it, but we’ve been joined by a fine young madame. She knows the language
of gestures! You might well benefit from learning it. Oh, wait, nevermind.”
“I can! I can learn! It doesn’t matter that I can’t see, guide my hands!”
“But we cannae speak to you with that tongue.” “Well you know Anvan, but you can’t hear
it!” “Fair point, Elliona, I am on a journey
because my deafness was discovered. Survival may be best pursued as a company. Where are
you, fair Elliona?” “I am in Marvala, near the Vivid Ocean.
I live in a temple with my parents.” “Bah! Your parents kept you? I – oh yes,
and Tylia as well, – we share a vastly more antagonistic relationship with our folks.”
“Mine’ll take you in, I’m sure. They’re the best.”
“One moment, Elliona, Tylia is signing.” They spoke and made merry until their host’s
melodious tone shook them. “Good to see my dearest children getting along so well.
However, morning is coming. Avon, Tylia, you know now where you must go. Iona, wait for
them.” “Yes’m!” Iona called. She felt a warmth
rest over her, an exhaustion on her eyelids. Sleep took her, and she drifted away into
its embrace. “Ma!” Iona screamed, running down the
stairs with a jubilance she’d forgotten. “Ma I – Oh!” Her foot caught on the molding
and she tumbled to the bottom. “Iona!” Her Ma screamed, almost teleporting
to her side. “Iona what are you running for?! Is something the matter?”
“What’s happened?” Her Pa trotted into the room, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Mom I had a dream of prophecy! We’ll be visited by two others, Tylia and Avon!
They’re on their way now!” Ma laughed. “Oh honey, it was probably a
dream.” She pet the girl’s hair. “No one knows where we are.”
“I told them, Ma. They’re coming! One’s – she’s upper crust, I think. Fancier than
we ever were. She keeps saying things like ‘cannae’ and ‘cease this’ and ‘enunciate!’
She’s Lakya like me! And so’s Tylia, but she’s mute so I don’t know as much about
her.” “You told them where we were.” Pa said
dully. Iona nodded. “It’s just a dream, Hesphae. She’s not
hurt anyone. It’s merely a dream.” Her Ma promised. playing with her hair.
Iona laughed and told them she was already forgetting it, but as she looked out the window
she became increasingly certain. Tylia and Avon were on their way, and she couldn’t
wait for their arrival.