“All the riches in the world cannot save you from definition.”
Now that I look back on it, read it, thoroughly digest it, I think Johnny noticed first. The subtle changes… the unnoticeable fears… In fact, it was the first time that our instincts had lied to us, deceived us. Our instincts were working against us, for that unnatural enemy who slept beside us, drank with us, and in the end terrorized us. It all seems so unreal. Power in its truest form- simply put, we have none. We were made to think that we were the mightiest, but in reality we were simply pawns, screws in an eternal machine on a mission with details I don’t even know. Now that I look back, I could have seen it coming. I could have loved it, embraced it...
Now, they just seem like simple dates. December 31, January 1. They are just days, periods of time. Yet they were the dates when Planet Furth almost died in the way that we know it. He saved us, saved her… saved everyone. Yet, ask someone if they have heard about him, and no one will recognize the name. The ones that do will probably curse him and say that he was odd. The ones that love him would sigh and mumble about love being the one that defeated him. She… she would look down slightly and turn away so you could not see the tears.
This is Planet Furth, a world inhabited many centuries ago by were-humans. People who came from Earth after an experiment with DNA gave them animal attributes added to their normal human form. War broke out between the humans and were-humans, and the two sides agreed to let the were-humans escape into space. That was an unknown number of years ago. Nonetheless, this point of their history began two weeks before their year 2000. We had thought that we only existed for two thousand years, but… well, I will let the story explain itself.
Saturday, December 18, 1999
It all started at the beginning of the ‘Millennium Contribution Fair,’ an exposition celebrating the upcoming new millennium. Many young adult cubs traveled to the event to represent their individual tribes from around the planet. For many, it was their first time out in the real world. They carried the pride and reputation of their individual provinces on their shoulders.
Anemius walked through the crowded hallways with his friend Ravis trailing behind him. The Elders had chosen him to make the journey because of his animux.
“Hey, wait a second,” Ravis called out to the wolf human, “The conference does not start for another thirty minutes.”
“I want to get the best seats,” Anemius replied. He looked back at the big bear human, obviously tired from all the traveling.
“The faster we find a seat, the earlier we can rest,” he sighed.
Ravis looked satisfied with the idea. The pair pushed their way through the crowd of were-humans, finally making it to the hallway leading to the auditorium. As Anemius had expected, the auditorium was empty except for a few early creatures who had wondered in. Anemius and Ravis found a pair of seats that allowed for a good view of the stage plus a view of whoever was coming in the entrance. There was always the threat of terrorists, and if anything looked suspicious, they would see it come through the door.
“Today’s event is supposed to explain the animux,” Ravis read from the program, “explanations about the Millennium’s effect on them. Who would have known that these necklaces would have such a profound influence on society.”
Anemius looked down at his animux, a shiny metal sickle emblem adorned on a platinum chain around his neck. Animux had spirits in them that acted as the creature’s soul and instincts. They intrinsically communicated with a creature just like intuitive feelings. Some were stronger than others, but all served the general intelligence of the individual. Anemius’ animux had powers that the Elders recognized, allowing Anemius to see deeper into the soul of another creature. He could always notice small, minute things that didn’t catch the eyes of others. Now, as the Millennium sped towards them, the Elders of many nations noticed a change in the way that the population acted. More specifically, they were worried about the ways that different animux started to act. All around the planet, animux were sending their owners warnings about the Millennium being the end of the world. Creatures were panicking and expecting the worst, some cities experienced mass looting.
Anemius and Ravis watched as more creatures slowly started to fill the room. All different tribes and species were represented.
“I’m going to get a few winks before this thing starts,” Ravis said, yawning. “I would hate to fall asleep in the middle of the lecture.”
Anemius was not paying attention to his friend, something had caught his eye. In the distance, a white tail flickered. It was striped, yet the owner was lost in the crowd. Anemius moved so he could get a better view of the creature, and finally he caught a glimpse as the crowd thinned a little.
She was beautiful. A lithe white tigress human walked silently across the auditorium, unaware of the wolf human watching her. Her eyes were deep blue, her white fur soft and delicate. Anemius watched, admiring the black stripes decorating her body. He slowly noticed that her tender feet-paws were bringing her in his direction.
He hit Ravis slightly, nodding in her direction. The bear human grumbled in his sleep and looked up, a long whistle escaping his muzzle as he saw the point of Anemius’ reference. They both continued to watch the tigress human as she walked with her friends and finally chose seats two rows behind them.
Ravis looked at his surprised friend. “Oh, well, you might as well forget about her.”
Anemius looked over at him, a slight glare on his face.
Ravis yawned again and settled back down in his seat, closing his eyes. “Did you see that animux that she had? She is probably a priestess in training for the Gaia temple in the Frediam province. Anyway that you look at it, her tribe is still a good distance away from ours.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Anemius mumbled as the lights started to dim.
Applause erupted from around the auditorium as a raccoon human in a suit marched across the stage.
“Welcome to the Millennium Contribution Fair! I would like to extend my warmest salutations to all the tribes and provinces that have sent their young, soon to be adult cubs into the world to learn more about the situation that we are in.”
A large theatre screen descended behind the speaker and orchestral music started blaring all around the auditorium.
“Since the dawn of Planet Furth,” the speaker continued, “we have been at peace with Nature and her creations. We all know of the past that we escaped from the planet of the humans known as Earth. We will never cause such hardships on our planet thanks to our commitment to peace and these… animux.”
A picture of an animux appeared on the screen. “Since the dawn of our history, these simple pendants have helped us all achieve our meaning in life. Although we do not know what that is, these treasures have given us the power to continue the traditions set down by our parents and their parents. Indeed, we learned that the first one to own a animux was a simple otterkin human two thousand years ago.”
The screen changed to show a female otter human holding an oddly shaped animux. “She learned of the powers of these pendants, therefore changing our society forever. Now, as we reach our two thousandth milestone, many of you know that our animux have been predicting mass hysteria. They have never lied to us before, so we are going to take this seriously. Now, the plan for today... We will split into two groups. The first group will be for those whose animux have shown great powers. The second is for normal spirited animux. Please open the cards that you received when you entered the building. They will tell you your group and where to go.”
Ravis ripped his envelope open, revealing a pink slip of paper with faint wording on it. “Damn. Oh well, I already knew that my animux wasn’t anything special. What about you, Anemius? You were the one chosen by the elders and all.”
Anemius slowly opened his envelope, peeping inside. He pulled out a blue slip of paper with the letter ‘B’ on it.
“Whoa,” Ravis crooned, pulling the slip from out of Anemius’ paws, “that’s definitely a group one permit. The letter ‘B’ just signifies that your animux can communicate with the rest of the creatures in group ‘B’. All animux cannot communicate with everyone, you know.”
As the crackling of envelopes stopped, the announcer continued his lecture. “Please disperse into your individual groups now. The room number is on the slip.”
Ravis stuck out his paw at Anemius. “Well, I guess it’s time to split up. Just remember that there is someone from your tribe here, so don’t think that you are lonely.”
Anemius grabbed his paw and shook it heartily. Ravis pulled him up and bear hugged him. “Good luck. Maybe you will save the world or something.”
Anemius smiled, rubbing his sore shoulders as the bear human walked off. He turned around and started walking up the stairs towards the door. The crowd was thick as they entered the dim hallway leading to the rooms. As Anemius waited for the line to continue, a paw touched his arm. He looked up to see the tigress human that he had noticed before.
She pointed at the slip in his paws. “Excuse me, but I noticed that you have a blue slip. Any idea what room we are in?”
He looked down slightly. “This says Room 146. First floor.”
The tigress human continued to look at the slip. “Oh, you are in group B. I’m in there too. Looks like our animux can speak with each other. I’ll see you there. Thanks for the information!”
Anemius watched as she walked off with her friends. “Yeah,” he mumbled quietly.
The rest of the journey to the room was uneventful. Anemius ate some food and met some other creatures in group one. When he finally reached his room, he was able to stretch out a little and finish his meal. He looked around the large room, noticing that there were four letter groups, each as diverse as the last. The setting reminded Anemius of an orchestra made up of many sections to produce one sound. The same raccoon human announcer from the auditorium walked up to the podium in front of the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please find your specific letter group and take your seats.” The raccoon human continued when every creature was settled. “You are in this room because you are the best. We have a problem, as you well know. We need your powers to actually find a solution to this problem. We have all seen movies and television shows about the end of the world and Armageddon. However, that was for entertainment. Now it isn’t any joking matter. If the spirits are correct in what they predict, we will all die. That’s it. No nice way to put it. You have the lives of millions in your paws. Now I know that not all your animux can communicate with each other. That’s why we have placed you in these groups. Introduce yourselves to the others in your group and mingle. In a few hours, when you have come to some decisions, we will have a break. Then we will mix all the groups’ ideas and see what we have. Let’s begin.”
Anemius noticed that there were only four others in group ‘B’. Sitting right beside a bunny human next to him was the tigress human that he had noticed before. He shook his head, chasing the thoughts welling in his mind away. There was no way that he stood a chance with such a beautiful creature.
The creatures took turns introducing themselves. Anemius listened intently at the lion human, badger human, and finally the bunny human sitting next to him. Finally, there were but two more in the group who needed to introduce themselves.
Anemius stood up slowly. “I am Anemius from the tribal province of Silver Stremas, son of the ruler Horie. The name of my animux is Riam. Riam and I have always worked together to learn more about each other, and now I look deeper into every creature. I will do my best to help every creature in this group, and the world.”
As Anemius sat down, the white tigress human stood up. “I am Auis from the tribal province of Frediam. I am the daughter of the priestess Poiu and my animux is named Rles.”
Anemius turned around to see another member of his tribe in another group pointing at the tigress human and smiling wickedly. He smiled back, nodding his head.
The next couple of hours were uneventful for Anemius, decorated with the occasional fantasy about Auis when he got bored.
A voice attacked his mind. “Shouldn’t you be thinking about saving the world instead of your own physical gain?”
Anemius looked down at his animux and started to think a response. “Well, none of these creatures know what they are talking about, and I get bored quick. She is so beautiful, and since I don’t know her on a mental level, I can always dream on another…”
“Females like that are not interested in males like you. You’re too nice. Tigresses want rough and tough men, not creatures to worship them.”
Anemius sighed. “Maybe you are right. Any news about the Millennium?”
“Still not looking good,” his animux said in his mind, “I don’t know how this is possible, but I’m starting to think that there is nothing we can do.”
“Well if they is nothing that we can do,” Anemius chuckled, “let me get back to dreaming about Auis before we die.”
His animux sighed a response and disappeared into his mind. The remaining time went by slowly, until finally the raccoon human walked back up to the podium.
“We’re going to take a break for an hour. Be back here so we can discuss the ideas. There is a press conference here in two hours.”
Anemius stood up and stretched, feeling the bones cracking in his back. He looked around him, noticing that all the members in his group had disappeared, except for Auis. She was sitting in her seat, toying with her animux.
Anemius stood watching her for a few minutes before his animux’s voice returned in his head. “Why don’t you ask her?”
“Are you crazy?” Anemius almost said out loud. “There is no way that she will even recognize me. She’ll probably just laugh or something.”
“Just do it, you have nothing to lose.”
Anemius rolled his eyes, trying to muster the courage. He walked slowly over to Auis.
“Hey,” he said quietly.
She looked up from her animux, her blue eyes resting on him. “Oh, hi. Anemius, right?”
“Yeah,” he replied, “and you are Auis, right?”
She nodded and looked back down at her animux.
Anemius kicked himself mentally, finally speaking up. “Say, where are you going for dinner?”
Auis looked back up at him. “Oh, I’m waiting for my friends to come. We are going out on the town. You’re free to tag along if you would like.”
“Sure,” Anemius replied, hoping that he didn’t say it too quickly.
“Well, come on, then,” she said, tapping his paw and pointing at a pantheress human and a lioness human. “They’re this way...”
The voice erupted from the depths of the ground. It was the voice of a woman, a soft whisper that spread across the grassy plains on the wind.
Her voice was pleading, yet falling on deaf ears.
“I am here, my dear.” Silviah stepped out from the shadows, an unusual smile on his face. “I’m here, my love. You do not have to worry.”
The voice continued. “Silviah, why have you forsaken me? I gave you all that I had…”
Silviah turned and smiled to the other women behind him, winking at them. “I didn’t forsake you, my love. You are being silly.”
“Silviah, what is that in your hand? What have you taken from me?”
Silviah placed his hand behind his back, hiding the beating object that he was concealing. “Nothing my love, don’t worry. You know that you are my one and only. Don’t worry.”
“No, Silviah, no… Please…”
By the time Anemius and Auis got back from dinner, the two had learned plenty about each other. They rushed back into the auditorium, sliding back into the room with only minutes to spare.
The raccoon speaker glared at them. “Well, there are the final two. I believe that they are in group B.”
Anemius smiled apologetically as he took his seat. Over the next half hour, every creature in the room argued over what to tell the public. No creature’s animux truly knew what was going to happen, but all could sense something. It was finally decided that they would tell the public not to worry too much, and that the scare was actually just hype. Not everyone agreed with this idea, but it made the most sense.
“… and in conclusion, thanks to our convention, we have classified this Millennium scare to be false. Our young generation, made up of the brightest from around the world, has used the strength of their individual animux to find that this situation is not a problem.”
The raccoon speaker started to take questions from reporters at the press conference as the group participants watched from behind stage.
“That rat bastard is taking all the kudos for himself,” Anemius said, shaking his head.
“Well, he is giving a little to us. I think the different tribes realize that without us, nothing would have happened,” Auis said, chuckling at Anemius’ disgust.
Anemius only continued to look at the screen.
Auis shook her head and looked up at him. “What’s your animux meditation sign? Maybe you and I could get in touch some time?”
Anemius looked over at her, surprised. “Yeah, it’s Riam, just like its name. I usually meditate, so you can catch me at any time. What’s yours?”
“PrGaia,” she replied, writing it down for him. “I was just asking because I might have to leave in a few moments. My friends and I have a long way to go to reach home.”
As she was talking, the pantheress and lioness walked up behind her.
“Are you ready, Auis?” the pantheress asked.
Auis reluctantly nodded affirmation and hugged Anemius. “I guess I’ll see you later…”
Anemius watched Auis leave the room before turning back to the screen where the raccoon human was still talking.
“… so let me repeat. The public has absolutely nothing to worry about this Millennium.”
Anemius awoke to the sounds of a commotion outside of his hut. His father, King Horie, stood looking outside before turning around to greet his son.
“Welcome back. As soon as you came in last night, you zonked out. Must have been a tiring day yesterday.”
“Father,” Anemius mumbled, stretching his legs, “what is going on outside?”
“Well, why don’t you find out for yourself?” his father answered. “Some of the creatures that went to the conference yesterday seem to be interested in that new friend of yours that I’ve heard about…”
Anemius headed outside, immediately blocking his eyes as they adjusted to the morning sky. Suddenly, cheering started as he continued to shield himself. Voices rang out from all around him.
“Hey, Anemius! Nice catch yesterday!”
“Hey, there, wolfie. What was her name?”
“Don’t you know that canines and felines just don’t mix?”
“I’m a lynx… you should leave that pretty kitty to me!”
Finally, Anemius opened his eyes. It seemed like the entire tribe was in front of his hut. The first noticeable face that he saw was Ravis.
“Good morning,” the bear human said laughing. “We had a little vote about the females at yesterdays convention. Your little friend won paws down in beauty.”
Another cheer lit up the tribe as questions and congratulations swamped Anemius.
He finally made it back inside his hut as the tribe started to make up rumors. The king and queen were waiting for him.
“Father, I would like to meet with this person I met yesterday. She was so beautiful and I feel….”
“Slow down, son,” his father interrupted. “Did I here that this female was indeed a feline?”
Anemius slowly shook his head in affirmation.
“Well,” his mother sneered, “that’s the end of that. There is no way that I will have my son loving some cat. We canines should see only canines. What’s wrong with the females in this tribe?”
“Mother, I felt something with this one. Something… different.” Anemius looked away from his mother.
“Slow down,” King Horie said to his wife. “It’s no big deal what mate my son chooses. We should be happy with whomever he decides to be. This isn’t the first time he has dated a feline.”
His mother looked away, slightly annoyed.
“What I’m interested in,” the king continued, “is what tribe this girl is from.”
Anemius looked down at the ground, sighing. “Frediam,” he said softly.
“Frediam!” the king roared. “They kill canines up there. They are very speciest.”
“But, there is speciesm everywhere,” Anemius said.
The king shook his head. “I forbid it. We are looking out for your best interest. It is true that there is speciesm everywhere, and I’m not forbidding it because of that. I am saying no because Frediam is too far away. I want to meet with the parents first.”
Anemius tried to reply, but the king raised his hand for silence. Anemius cursed silently and turned around, sulking into his room. He decided to meditate to forget about the day’s events. He touched his animux and opened a channel to the spiritual realm. His physical body succumbed to the mental network of every creature on the planet. The animux linked together with everyone on the mental network and allowed for communication everywhere and to every creature. Anemius started to communicate with the village elders when a thought brushed past him.
“Anemius? Is that you?”
Anemius opened his eyes suddenly and closed them again, opening the channel again.
She laughed softly. “Yeah, it’s me. Why are you so surprised?”
Anemius stuttered randomly. “I just didn’t expect you to get in touch so early.”
Auis chuckled again. “Oh, well I was on, and you popped in, so I thought that I would drop you a line.”
“Let me ask you something,” Anemius began, “is it true that there are canine killers in Frediam?”
“What?” Auis said surprised. “No, those are further north. There are canines here.”
“Oh, it is just something my parents were bitching about,” Anemius replied.
“Your parents giving you Hell, too? Mine have some serious stereotypes about Silver Stremas.”
“Well, maybe if I came up there sometime, I could see that the place isn’t so bad,” Anemius offered.
“You would come up here? Sure, I would like that. There is nothing much to do because it is just a temple, but it would be nice to see you again.”
“Great,” Anemius said cheerfully. “How about a week from Wednesday?”
“See you at one,” Auis replied.
Anemius got up early and left his hut, telling his father that he was going hunting. He immediately ran over to the elders’ large hut, running into a buzzard human elder waiting for him in the back.
“You will have it back by five o’clock, right?” the buzzard elder asked for the fifth time, inspecting the old hover mobile.
“Yes, I promise. Thank you so very much.”
Anemius gunned the old engine, testing the throttle.
“Don’t damage it, prince,” the elder shouted as Anemius blasted into the sky.
Forty-five minutes later, Anemius landed at the Frediam Gaia temple where Auis was waiting for him. She brought her friends from the conference with her. He parked the hover mobile and jumped on hers. They spent the day down by the water hole, splashing in the pond. Every so often Auis would point out an occasional canine to prove that they were around. As the day wore on, Anemius noticed that his animux started to shudder softly. Finally, Anemius sat on the bank of the pond with Auis as her friends kept splashing in the water.
“I can’t believe we did this,” Auis exclaimed, “my parents would kill me if they found out. They think we are a couple for some odd reason.”
Anemius looked away and shook his head.
“What’s the matter?” Auis asked.
“Nothing,” Anemius answered shortly.
“No, tell me. I want to know what is going through your head. You never know. I won’t claw your face off or anything.”
Anemius sighed. “I do kinda like you, though.”
Auis nodded her head and looked down at the pond.
“In fact,” Anemius continued, “half the freaking tribe kinda likes you. We had a vote.”
“Really?” Auis stuttered, laughing slightly. “Wow. I had no clue.” She motioned toward the pantheress splashing in the pond. “Raghio is the one that gets all the males. I’m not all that pretty.”
“No, no, that’s not true,” Anemius said, touching her paw. “You are so beautiful. Gods, you have no idea how good you look.”
Auis looked up shyly. “Well, if it helps any, I like you too.”
Anemius looked startled. “Really? I had no idea…”
“Why do you think I asked for your meditational sign?” she replied slyly before turning to the pond. “Come on, girls, let’s get back. This wolf has to be home by five.”
When they reached the temple again, Auis walked Anemius back to his hover mobile as her friends waited.
“We really shouldn’t have done this,” she said softly.
“Yeah,” Anemius replied, turning around and hugging her. “But I’m glad we did.”
Their eyes met as they continued to hold each other. Anemius touched the soft fur on her cheek, trying to muster the strength to kiss her. As he leaned over, his animux started to shudder again, stopping him.
“You had better get home,” Auis said, reluctantly breaking herself away.
Anemius only watched her as she turned around and left the chapel. He climbed on his hover mobile and jetted off into the distance.
“What was that about?” he asked his animux.
“There was something there. I’ve sensed something about her. I think that you need to watch her and be careful. Her spirit is out of balance and she seemed to be emotionally hurt in the past. Just watch her for a while.”
When Anemius landed outside of the Elder hut back in Silver Stremas, the buzzard elder immediately ran over to him.
“Prince, some creature is waiting for you in the Elder hut. He told your father that he saw you hunting and that he wanted to see you when you came back. He seems to be a very wise elder that does not come from any region that I know about. No one has yet to see his face…”
Anemius turned immediately, heading for the Elder hut.
Anemius entered the room where the elder was waiting, where a creature wearing a dark robe sat waiting for him. His face was hidden in a constant shadow and his clothes seemed to be centuries old.
“Well, young prince, welcome back,” the creature said.
“Who are you?” the prince asked, growling.
“Call me Qoert. I am a traveling elder. Nice job defying your father’s wishes.”
The prince looked down. “Does he know?”
“No, I saved your tail. Actually, I’m here to talk about Auis.” Qoert stood up and motioned for Anemius to sit. “Do you notice anything odd about her?”
Anemius’ animux immediately spoke up. “She seems to be emotionally distraught. I’ve sensed that something has happened to her in the past that causes her to be like that. Maybe someone broke her heart. Nevertheless, I sense something deeper about her. Oddly, it is the same thing many animux are sensing about the Millennium.”
“Silviah,” Qoert muttered.
“Excuse me?” Anemius said, peering at the elder.
“Silviah. That was his name. I have a story to tell you, so you better get comfortable. What if I told you that the first were-humans came here 40,000 years ago?”
Anemius pulled up a pillow chair and sat down. “I would say that you were crazy, old man. Every creature knows that we came here two thousands years ago. That is the purpose for celebrating the Millennium.”
Qoert smiled. “38,000 years ago, Mother Nature fell in love with a man named Silviah. He was nice to her and loved her, for a while. In the end, though, he took advantage of her spiritually and physically.”
Anemius rolled his eyes. “So what does this have anything to do with Auis?”
“Patience, young prince,” Qoert said softly. “As I said, the first were-humans came here forty thousand years ago. Mother Nature destroyed all life on the planet when Silviah took advantage of her. She has been destroying the planet every two thousand years since in remembrance of him.”
“If what you are saying is true,” Anemius said, “then the next time the planet will be destroyed…”
“Is in approximately two days,” Qoert finished. “That is why the animux are acting up. When she wipes out all life, she starts again fresh. No records are ever kept.”
“I still don’t see how this relates to Auis.”
The elder sighed again. “Mother Nature has to assume a physical body because it takes all of her spirit to destroy the planet. She lives with us. Auis is that epitome right now.”
Anemius shook his head in disbelief. “How do you know this, old man?”
Qoert took off his cloak, exposing his body. Anemius gasped, clasping his paws around his mouth.
“I am the spirit of the only human to make it to this planet.” Qoert closed his cloak and headed towards the door. “If you do not believe me, ask her.”
As soon as Qoert left, Anemius opened a meditational channel. He found Auis and started to talk to her.
“Hello, Anemius,” she said cheerfully, “glad to see that you made it home safely.”
He smiled. “I’m okay… Mother Nature.”
He was met with complete silence.
“What did you call me?” Auis finally said.
“Is that true?” Anemius asked softly.
“You wouldn’t understand. How did you know of this?” she sighed before Anemius could answer. “He was so much like you. That’s what worries me. He was so nice and kind, and then he just treated me like a whore. I was so hurt because he stole the most precious thing from me.”
“What was that?” Anemius asked.
“I have to go,” Auis said quickly.
Before the prince could respond, she was gone.
As soon as daylight broke, Anemius was back in the air on the hover mobile. He headed directly for Frediam, but when he landed, he had no idea where Auis was. He explored the countryside, looking everywhere. Finally, he came upon a soft running waterfall and he stopped for a drink in the pond. As he looked at the waterfall, he saw someone showering in it. Upon closer inspection, he noticed the svelte figure of Auis. He looked over her quietly before taking his own clothes off. He waded in the shallow pond and put his head under the water, swimming over to the waterfall. Anemius quietly raised his head up right behind Auis, who hadn’t noticed him.
“Hello,” he said quietly.
Auis looked down at him and screamed. She immediately darted behind the waterfall. After a few moments, she stuck her head out of the waterfall and growled.
“You bastard! Peeping Tom! You know how shy I am, why did you do that?” she snarled at him.
“Well,” Anemius started, standing up completely in the shallow pond. “I’m still trying to prove to you how beautiful you really are.”
Auis’ eyes slowly traveled up and down Anemius’ body. Anemius held his hand-paw out to her and smiled. She shyly took his paw and stepped out from the waterfall. They looked at each other, holding their bodies close under the falling water. Time moved slowly as they silently began to wash each other, both fascinated with soft touch of each other’s bodies. Auis raised her head, letting the water run through her hair as Anemius ran his paw down her back and off her long, slender tail. Auis closed her eyes and rested her head on Anemius’ chest, softly running her claws through his back fur.
“Why Anemius?” she asked, mesmerized. “Why did you come?”
Anemius loved the soft feeling of her fur against his as he held her. “I wanted to right the wrong that was done to you. I wanted you to know that I care. I don’t care who or what you are, I have feelings for you. I wanted you to know… that I love you.”
Auis looked up suddenly, her eyes wide. She pulled away from Anemius and bolted towards the shore. Anemius followed her, not understanding what he had done. He found her huddled and he sat down next to her, noticing that she was crying.
“What did I do?” he asked.
“It’s just that you are so like him,” she sputtered. She looked up and wiped her eyes. “Ever read books from Earth? I feel like what Laertes warned Ophelia about. I feel so used and abused.”
Anemius chuckled softly. “Yeah, I read the human books. They are pretty interesting. Like when Gaiwan said that women are the knight’s downfall.”
Auis looked up, tears streaming from her precious blue eyes. “You think I am your downfall.”
“No,” Anemius replied, “I really hated that book.”
A small smile appeared on Auis’ face. Anemius pulled her up and held her.
“Auis, not everyone is the same. You haven’t given up on love, you just can’t trust anyone. I do love you. I can’t see how someone could treat you like that.”
Auis chuckled coldly. “Anemius, I couldn’t love you if I tried.”
Anemius started to feel shaky as the remark hit him. Auis looked up at him and sighed, picking up his paw and placing it on her chest. Anemius looked at his paw for a few moments.
“Do you notice anything missing?” Auis asked softly.
Anemius continued to stare. Suddenly, he looked up as realization started to spread across his face. “There is no beating…”
“Silviah didn’t only hurt me,” she explained, “he stole my heart. When I destroyed the world the first time I got angry, I destroyed him and my heart with it. I can’t love any more. Losing my heart protects me from being hurt again. I’m sorry.”
She stood, looking down at him one last time before finding her clothes and walking off into the distance.
When Anemius returned to his tribe, his animux started to shudder. “Qoert is calling you. He is waiting in the Elder hut.”
Anemius traveled up the hill slowly, not knowing what to expect. As he entered the Elder hut, his animux sent a chill down his spine. The entire place was dark with no signs of life. A lone light shined deep behind a closed door. Anemius walked over to the door and opened it.
“Now do you believe me, young prince?” The voice of Qoert erupted from the distance.
“Look,” Anemius shouted into the darkness. “I really don’t give a damn about this beginning of Furth crap. The only thing that I care about is Auis. She is the one I care about, the one I need to heal.”
Qoert stepped out from the darkness. “If she could not love, why did she show interest in you? She wanted your meditation sign, she wanted to keep in touch. It took some feeling to do that.”
“I don’t know,” Anemius sighed. “Yet I still see this as being my fault. Cursed destiny! True ignorance is bliss. All my life, my animux and I have been searching deeper into the spiritual and intellectual realms of our planet. We have pushed ourselves to be able to pick up on others feelings. I know every nook and cranny of many creature’s soul. Yet this gift has brought nothing but heartache. I see what others can’t, so the only people I meet are those who are emotionally distraught. Auis was not the first one. In fact, she is the eighth creature that I have met and given love to who was emotionally troubled. For each of them, I have given something that they have needed. The first one could not see love any more, so I gave her sight. The sixth one could not feel others or feel love, so I opened my veins to her. With each lover I die a little bit more.”
Qoert chuckled. “One only loses his soul when one gives up hope. The answer to my question is simple. The reason that she showed interest is because she still has the ability to love and care for some creature. Do not give up hope. You gave sight to one, feelings to another. What does she need?”
“She needs a heart,” Anemius replied. “Yet I still feel like it is my fault. It seems like Silviah was a pack of cigarettes that Auis was smoking. She loved the pleasure that she gained from smoking for so long, until she got cancer. Silviah gave her cancer, and now she can’t remember the pleasure that she gained. I come along and act as her nicotine patch. I give her the pleasure that she once had without hurting her further. The fact is she still has a cancer that is killing her. There is nothing that nicotine patches can do to cure that cancer.”
“Um, truly original little parable there,” Qoert said before sighing softly. “But that is true, young prince. The fact remains that tomorrow night is the destruction of Furth once more at the Fallen Altar. What are you going to do?”
Anemius looked up, a tear streaming down his face. “Do you know where this Fallen Altar is?”
“I’ve been there for forty thousand years,” Qoert replied.
Anemius looked around the room, finding a sharp hunting knife hanging on the wall. “We shall go there tomorrow night.”
Thirty minutes before midnight, Auis stood before the Fallen Altar. She extended her claws and waved them in the air. Bolts of electricity started to shoot from the table, blasting into the air. Auis watched the altar deep down in an underground cavern, the same cavern where Silviah raped her of her heart. She kept these thoughts alive as she continued to say the chants from the book that she was holding. Suddenly, a dimensional picture of the world started to break through the cement altar. The planet continued to force its way through until it hovered above the communion table. As soon as midnight struck, she would move her paw across the planet, destroying all life.
Qoert pointed into the hidden cavern. “She is in there. It is up to you now.”
Anemius shuffled down the steep drop, falling on the ground behind Auis. He pulled out the hunting knife and hid himself low.
Auis looked at the individual provinces. Some were praying, others in the throngs of celebrating the new Millennium. She had seen it too many times before. Every two thousand years, animux everywhere tried to warn their owners of impending danger, but no creature ever saw deep enough to pick up what truly was happening. She looked at the time capsule. Now in seven minutes, everything would start fresh again.
“Auis,” a voice moaned from behind her. She spun around.
“Anemius?” she asked, surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“Trying to save you,” he replied.
Auis shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes. She looked down, and her face went blank. She saw Anemius holding the glistening weapon, drops of crimson falling on the cavern floor.
“Anemius?” Auis said, starting to fear the worst.
Anemius fell on his knees, dropping the knife as more blood started to pour from the wound under his chest.
“Anemius! Anemius, no!” Auis ran over to his wounded body. She held him, trying to stop the warm life fluid from streaming out of him.
“I told you that I wanted to right the wrong,” Anemius said weakly. “I will never tell you that I love you. I will show you. You see… Silviah and I aren’t similar at all.”
“Anemius, don’t speak… I’ll try to save you,” Auis said, crying uncontrollably.
Anemius only chuckled softly. “It’s too late for me. Now do you remember what love is? All I ask is for you to answer my dying wish.”
Auis leaned down and kissed his lips, tasting the coppery flavor of blood. “Your wish is my command. Please don’t die.”
Anemius chuckled again, his eyes starting to glaze over. “Take my heart. I give you all that is left of me. Take it and don’t let anyone steal it anymore. Do it now! That is my final wish. If you care, you will do it.”
Auis started to shake through her sobbing. She touched the wound, almost screaming as the reality set in. She tried to control herself as much as possible, and slipped her paw through the wound.
Anemius spoke his final words. “Take it. I love you.”
Auis pulled her paw from the wound, gasping and falling back. An uncontrollable throbbing feeling erupted over her body. She tore off her robe, feeling her chest. She felt it beating, pumping. A heart had returned to her. She continued to gasp for a few moments as her body adjusted to the new feeling of the pulsing. Finally, she pulled herself up and looked down, only to see the lifeless eyes of Anemius. She crawled over to his still body, still warm as though the spirit had not left. She held him, sobbing miserably. She looked back up at the altar, wanting to kill everyone on Furth to make up for the pain that she was feeling.
Somehow, she couldn’t do it. Somewhere, deep inside, she felt a love for the creatures start to grow. Even deeper, she forgave Silviah for what he did. She could not kill the people for something that they did not do. It all made perfect sense to her now.
All around Furth, eyes stood on clocks and statues.
“Three, two, one… Happy New Millennium!”
Celebrating ensued, and all were happy that the animux had been wrong with their prediction. No one knew how close they had actually been to death.