Rianth skipped merrily through the buttercup field.
Her long flowing gown matched her golden hair, the light from above glinting off the various filaments of both.
The child playfully kicked the flowers, breaking them off near the roots. Small clods of soil followed the broken plants through the air as she blazed a trail through the patch. A large preying mantis perching on a stalk of timothy close by watched uninterested.
“Rianth Lee Ling Tulburt, stop that this instant!”, shouted a tall, dark blond woman who was picking blackberries from a patch close-by. “You know those flowers are beings, stop killing them!”
The little girl stopped, folded her small arms and stuck out her bottom lip. Her mean old second mother always spoiled her fun! Well, she’s not gonna do it this time!
Dorliss Ling stood up from her labor and looked at the child, studying her stance. The cross look on her visage softened somewhat when she saw the pout. “C’m here hon”, cajoled the adult, “I want to show you something.”
The child stood her ground at first, determined not to give the adult the benefit of the doubt. But when she saw her second mother bring out the bowl of blackberries from behind her back, Rianth’s resolve broke down and she bounded over to the adult, reaching for the tasty morsels.
Mother and child sat down, the woman stroking the long, golden locks of the child’s hair as she stuffed her mouth full of the juicy berries, “Y’know honey, the flowers are beings too and they hurt when you do that to them”, Dorliss lightly scolded, “They perform an important job for us and the Rock dear, you realize that, don’t you?”
Rianth was only half listening to her second mother, her hands and face purple with berry juice. Even at her tender age of twenty ans, she knew the importance of green plants and what they do for the ecology of the Rock.
The girl knew the difference between “alive” and “not alive”.
“I know Mommy. But everything is so alive today, it just makes me happy and it makes me want to run!”
Dorliss chuckled in spite of herself. A child’s enthusiasm is contagious at times and the timeless quality of it to defuse anger is an easy feeling to go along with.
The bowl of berries was almost empty now, the child had eaten her fill. Dorliss was still lightly stroking the child’s hair, who now was snuggled into the woman’s lap, snoring softly. The preying mantis that was watching the family drama from his perch suddenly leaped into the undergrowth.
Dorliss caught the movement out of the corner of her eye, startling her. Somehow, something doesn’t feel right she thought.
At first, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Dorliss scanned the field around her and her daughter, sending out mental feelers to sense potential dangers. “Odd”, she thought, “Nothing seems to be out of place, there are no scents of predators and I don’t hear anything out of the ordinary.”
But she was missing the obvious, she realized suddenly. Nothing smelled, heard (sound wise and mentally) wrong, the whole scene started to look wrong. Everything wasn’t bright any longer. There was a deliberate lessening of light, like what happened when one closed their eyes for sleep.
Dorliss’ heart sank when she finally realized what was happening around her. The helplessness of what she was witnessing was bringing her on the verge of madness.
Blessedly, the girl was still napping as the environment around her was changing. The mother on the other hand, was struggling to keep her sanity as the light was getting dimmer and dimmer.
Because for the first time in the one-hundred thousand generations of the People’s history on The Rock, Ancient Night was falling.