Where No Flowers Grow
These streets of man-made stone. I walked over the false coating, my skin itched to touch soil. How things had changed over the centuries. I’d watched the infallible march. And I both hated and loved the forward momentum.
Rain darkened the skies, and a sadness hung low like the clouds. I shifted inside my hooded sweatshirt, longing to let my wings unfurl. Humans weren’t ready yet. Not for me, or my kind. But New York still beat the curving splendor of the Sunken City. I would trade the dirt lined metal and concrete for the stuffy porcelain corridors any day.
The soaked material of my clothes weighed heavily on my shoulders, much like the decision ahead. A council of five Immortal Fae had ruled that all of the fare folk would return to the Sunken City. When the last returned, a seal would be formed and the atmospheric barrier would be brought down. A maneuver that would destroy the human race for eternity, not to mention the last of the animal life.
My choice lay in staying out or letting everything die, just like the flowers of old. If I refused to return, law dictated that the barrier would stay in place.
I had watched the beautiful flowers be stomped out of existence. Stood by, as required by our laws, while almost every species of bird fell from the sky. Followed shortly by the land and sea dwellers. The only few that survived were ones in facilities. Both Fae and human.
They had chosen this path. To kill all the beauty.
I didn’t know if I could do the same.
The massive buildings around me were evidence of their ingenuity. Automobiles, from the early model A’s to the current hovering styles, intrigued me with their non-magic means of propulsion. Vessels that skimmed the water seamlessly, huge flower-like panels that captured solar energy for storage, and the gigantic domes where clean air processed before returning to the sky.
All without magic.
They thought their efforts had stopped the degeneration of the atmosphere. No one knew that the magical barrier existed, except my people.
I looked up at the sky. Even through the rain and clouds, I could make out the bright aura that covered the entire world. Anyone with magic in their blood could do the same. How odd, that a tiny layer could mean life or death for a whole world.
I turned on my heel into a low crouch, hands at the ready.
“Relax, it’s just me.” Roth raised slender hands in a show of peace.
“I told you not to follow me.” I straightened and turned to continue down the street.
“And you know I can not abide just sitting by as you throw your existence away.” Long strides matched my pace, in spite of my best efforts.
“I have yet to make that decision, but I assume that will not dissuade you.” My hands slipped into sodden pockets, as if that would change their condition.
“You would be correct.”
We walked for a few silent moments, then Roth inhaled deeply.
“I will never understand your favor for this place. Just the smell of the metal alone makes me want to flee.” Slender shoulders jerked as my friend shuddered beside me.
“The smell tells me that I no longer walk in a fake world. All that is visceral, all that is dirty, all that is cold has been earned through toil and despair. There is no perfection in it, yet there is a sense of purpose. I long to feel that for myself.” There was no point in tip-toeing.
“You envy their grueling lives?” Now shock registered.
“I only envy there margin for error. Out people act as if mistakes are never made. Yet, if that is the case, then why remove the barrier?” I spoke more to myself than to Roth, but still he responded.
“If the barrier stays in place, we will not have a planet left to bring back to life. The soul of the earth is dying Arien, can’t you feel it?” The question was unnecessary, of course I could.
“Roth, what the council asks is wrong. We’ve never taken such a drastic step. What if killing the human race is the wrong choice?” The heart of my dilemma.
“I know how gentle your heart is, that is why I came. Leave these troubles and return to the Sunken City with me. The humans have made it so that we are better off without them.” Roth held a slender, slightly luminous hand out to me.
It could be that simple. Just close my eyes and go.
Something shifted in my mind and I set my pale lips in a hard line.
“I give myself freely,” I started.
“What are you doing?” Panic didn’t suite Roth’s smooth tone.
“I give of my life, my energy, my being so that the magic of the barrier can never be undone.” I held my hands up and pushed at the clouds, revealing the ghostly green hue of the shield encasing the sky.
“Please, do not do this. Coma back and live, with me.”
I never thought I would hear those words, from anyone. Roth offered me an eternal companion, to be bound together. But I had made my choice.
“With these, my final words, let it be known that Arien Cloudskimmer gave their soul so that all on this planet may live.” My people could always fins solace in another dimension.
My oath given, I felt my body break apart. The energy flying up to mingle with the barrier, and the dust falling to the ground. My last hope was that one day, a flower would grow where I died.