“He felt no remorse for the death of the man he had murdered. But it unnerved him nevertheless.”
Koll was sitting under the eaves of a farmhouse to take shelter from the pouring rain. He heard a pathetic sound coming from a gutter and went to take a look. There was a pathetic little baby bundled up in dirty rags. Koll could hardly feed himself, but he could not leave a baby there to die. So he decided to adopt the little orphan. He called him Arcaror, which meant “Rain.”
Arcaror lay on a bed for the first time in weeks, waiting for Koll to return home from work. His adoptive father worked as a farmhand to support Arcaror and himself, but they could not afford housing. An innkeeper had been particularly generous and given them a room since business was slow. Indeed, it always was, as the planet was a very sparsely populated colony, and they were in a farming village. The innkeeper lived off the land and ran the inn as a side venture. The door swung open, and Koll limped in dejectedly. He looked much older than his usually merry self. Arcaror asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I lost my job.”
Koll explained that he would have to move to the only city nearby to find work.
It was a long journey and there were many perils along the way. But they all paled in comparison to what awaited them outside the city gates. The Ragnoils, a subspecies of Honim, feed only on Honim flesh, and their eyes burn red with the evil of their mind. A Ragnoil who lived in the city often waited outside the city gates, trying to prey on travelers. This had earned him a few meals and many a bruise, so he learned the ways of the sword and hired two “bodyguards” to assist him. When Arcaror and Koll arrived at the capital city, they found three strangers blocking their path. One carried a broadsword, but the two beefy men on either side of him were too proud for weapons. The red-eyed man with the sharp teeth grinned and yelled for the men to attack.
Koll knew these men were no joke. Their muscles could kill. He picked up a cobblestone, and with the precision of one who had once thrown stones to live, hit the bigger of the two men in the head. His companion did not stop to check if his partner was alive. He felt no remorse for the death of the man he had murdered. But it unnerved him nevertheless. He tackled Koll, bringing him to the ground. They fought viciously. Koll’s vision blurred from the pain. Koll felt his body numbing as the big man bludgeoned him. But then it stopped and Koll could feel the pain again. After it subsided, Koll stood up and saw the man’s limp body, covered in punctures and blood. Arcaror stood, staring at a bloody spearhead. He couldn’t believe what he’d done. There was no time for guilt however, as the Ragnoil was charging at them, and his blade looked sharp.
Koll felt fear, fear worse than when his father left him in the woods as a small child. His lower body was on fire, and the world was spinning. Koll’s eyes widened in shock as he fell to the ground for the last time. Screams filled the air. Arcaror could not believe it. The man had killed his only friend in the world. He shuddered with rage. The Ragnoil was about to strike Arcaror down too, but then he noticed his red eyes. The Ragnoil remembered his half-human son. This boy looked exactly like the baby he abandoned. He felt a strange sense of guilt. Even Ragnoils weren’t monsters all the time.
That thought was interrupted by Arcaror slamming his fist into his head. The Ragnoil staggered backwards, confused. Arcaror wanted vengance. The Ragnoil would pay. He hefted a large rock over his head, and cracked his enemy’s skull. But there was no glory in killing, even a terrible cannibal. The Ragnoil explained as he died that he was Arcaror’s father and had abandoned him because he knew he could not care for a half-human. Arcaror refused to believe that this cruel creature was his father. But it made a little bit of sense. Why else would his eyes be dark red like blood? Why did he crave raw meat? Why did the religious people who saw him avoid him? He knew why now. He was half demon. Koll had seen what Arcaror was capable of. Now he needed to talk to him one last time.
“Arcaror,” Koll mumbled with his last breaths, “Don’t kill again, unless you have to…”
Koll’s voice cracked and trailed off. Koll was gone. Arcaror buried his face in his hands, and his face was wet with tears. But Arcaror eventually left that place, and moved on. Arcaror entered the city. Everywhere there were new smells, and the city was packed with refugees from the countryside, for many crops had failed, and there were now industrial factories that attracted unskilled laborers. Smoke bellowed out of many chimneys and lamb roasted over hearths. But Arcaror noticed another thing about the city. Everyone seemed to be gathered around a large field in the middle of the city. Arcaror heard chanting and screaming. He was very curious, so he asked a vendor what was going on. The old man thought for a moment, staring into space, before replying, “Err, something about a project to fix up a crash-landed spaceship and send an astronaut into the universe. At least, that’s what the ads said. Admission is three kings. As for me, couldn’t care less. I have a stall to run.”
Arcaror was surprised. He thought that the planet was very primitive. He read a lot for someone his age, and the books he had read were all religious, meaning that they believed that the galaxy was populated by demons and pirates. Arcaror knew in his heart that he was a demon, and embraced it. He would stow away on the ship.
Arcaror ran through the crowd to where there were guards warning the people to stay back. A huge hulking behemoth of metal and fuel tanks was attached to a makeshift scaffold, and the astronaut was waving to the crowd outside the rocket. He entered the scaffolding. Arcaror didn’t have much time left. Arcaror ducked under a guard without being noticed, and ran towards the rocket. He was spotted and the guards raced after him, but he had made it to the scaffolding. Scrambling up a rusty ladder, Arcaror heard a low rumbling and the frame began to vibrate. The guards ran back as fire scorched the grass and the scaffolding started to melt. Arcaror leapt for the door and desperately tried to wrench it open. Just as it was becoming unbearably hot, the door budged. Arcaror let out a sigh of relief. He was off the planet for good.
Arcaror saw the lone astronaut hunched over his instruments. After two days of waiting, he’d grown impatient and decided to finally see space. It was dizzying, with millions of stars. And right ahead of them was a planet that glittered like a broken diamond. The planet was covered in cities and small lakes. As the rocket sailed into the atmosphere, the rocket began to burn up. “What’s happening?” shouted the astronaut.
The air defense system of the planet was firing at the ship. The ship was burning. A missile smashed into the rocket, and the engines failed. Now they were in freefall. Arcaror relished what he thought would be the last moments of his life.