V ladislava the Warrior… The heavy cloak on her shoulders is like a pair of folded wings; her silhouette is black against the burning sky of an alien world; her hair, a shoulder-length mane of curls, is golden in the light of the setting alien sun.
"Hello, Kangassk, my dear apprentice," she says, her voice a dreamy singsong. "How did you find me? I don't remember teaching the art of dreamwalking to you."
"It must be my cold obsidian. It gives me hints sometimes. I was thinking of you before going to sleep. I wanted to see you, master."
Kan felt the wind ruffling his hair, the movement of air, the feeling of his silky shirt against his skin, the warmth of the sunlight on his face… this dream of his was too real to be just a dream.
"Why did you want to see me, Kangassk?" asked Vlada as she was walking towards him, her steps soft, soundless against the eerie silence of the world.
"I wanted to ask you to teach me to be a Lifekeeper," he said.
"Is that all?"
"No… There was something else… But I can't remember what."
"I see. Your dreamwalking talent is amazing but you are still a novice, Kan. Your mind is not completely here; the boy standing before me is only a ghost of the real Kangassk Del-Emer."
For a long time, they watched the sunset, the master and her apprentice, both serene, both silent. The huge, alien sun was slowly sinking beyond the horizon, making the ocean burn, colouring the whole world crimson and gold.
“What is the name of this world?” asked Kangassk.
“Sigillan,” answered Vlada. “And I think it’s a good place to teach you the Lifekeeper’s way.”
The sun had set and left the world in the dark, its golden light replaced by bright silver of the four giant moons that appeared in the sky. The pace of time seemed different here. For the first time in his life, Kangassk felt that he had enough time for everything he wanted: for the exciting swordplay with his immortal master and all his questions…
“A katana is a sword with only one sharp side. One side is dangerous, deadly. It can cut a falling feather or an armour-clad warrior - in half. But the other side you can touch with your hand without fear. It can’t hurt you or anyone else. This is the side Lifekeepers respect the most. They remove the handguards from their swords so they can slide their palm to the blunt side of the katana when they want to save their enemy. With one of your hands grasping the blunt side of the blade, you can flip your sword like a staff and knock out the enemy with a hilt.”
“And what of the sharp side? Can it be used to save a life? Does cutting the enemy’s hand off instead of beheading them count as such?”
“It’s debatable, my apprentice. Sometimes, this is the best you can do, yes. But you should keep other options in mind. I will show you…”
The moves Vlada taught him had funny names: “Four-sides-of-the-world throw”, “Returning the palm”, and many others. The newbie phase of learning them felt like learning to dance: fun and serious at the same time.
“The hardest thing for a Lifekeeper is making the right choice in a split second. Sometimes you will have to maim and kill people, even as a Lifekeeper! Because your life matters too and you must do your best to protect it.
“The lesson is over, Kan. Now sheath your sword and listen to the world around you. I want you to take a good look at Sigillan and remember it the best you can because this world is dying.”
After they had removed their training weapons, people of Sigillan approached them. The natives had been watching the two aliens for a long time but the weapons and what they thought was a battle terrified them. Now, reassured by the guests’ smiles and laughter, the Sigillanians came to greet the strange creatures.
The voices of those beautiful people were as melodic and tender as a song of tiny silver bells in the night. They were beautiful themselves, those last children of the dying world, all their worries and conflicts washed away by the impending doom and replaced by pure serenity of minds and souls. Just thinking that they and even the memories of them would disappear forever made Kangassk’s heart sink and his eyes fill with tears. There was no way to help them, absolutely no way…
The more Kan thought about it, the more it hurt. There is no way to stop such things in a dream, they just keep growing and growing until you snap.
Kan’s last memory was him falling head-first into the wet, cold sand of the alien world with a soul-rending, tearless cry. Then he woke up.
Paypal no longer works in my country, so I can't get money from Ko-fi, Gumroad, and ComicAd.
But now I have good news!
Patreon still works! And I've replaced Ko-fi with Buymeacoffee! that works with Payoneer instead of Paypal. You can even buy my books there now. Boosty still works as well. It accepts Paypal and all cards.