I am a hunter, what does that mean? It means that when I show up people look at me with fear and concern on their faces. It means that when the time comes to kill, I’m the person people call to get it done, and not have to worry about it anymore. I am darkness, and shadows, and all the things people fear.
But why would I choose to be a hunter? Some adults look at me with pity. And when I turn my back they wispier. “Look at how young she is, can you believe she has to be a hunter at that age?” I hate pity, I hate it because they think they’re stronger than me–but their not–and they never will be. But there is a reason why I became a hunter so young.
Five years before I was born the world ended. Black clouds sprang up into the air and blotted out the sun. I’ve never seen the sun, the stars, or the moon. Those are just words to me, meaningless. But in this world only power lets someone survive the darkness, and there are only two kinds of power, the power of a group, and the power to kill. The hunters gave me both.
“Tene, your spacing out again aren’t you?”
“Sorry Lux, I was thinking about something else again.”
My friend Lux looked at me with concern as we walked through the Sleeping Woods, a long-dead forest of nothing but lifeless trees. It would have been pitch black with no way to see anything save for one fact. Lux glowed, she was her own light source. The adults called her a celestial, but that word didn’t mean anything to either of us. To me she was just Lux, it was an appropriate name as far as I could tell. But being a celestial was certainly important to other people. My fellow hunters heated celestials, especially the hunters that were born before the disaster that took away the sun. But none of them could give me a good enough reason to hate her too–so I became friends with her instead.
The other hunters hadn’t figured out that I was friends with a celestial then. And that was probably a good thing, though it didn’t make me feel good like I was hiding my friendship–like I had some reason to be ashamed of my friendship with her.
“Are you sure about this Tene?” Lux’s face was a mask of blankness. She tended to stare with an intensity that could be intimidating. It was something she had learned to survive in the dark world. Emotions were dangerous and needed to be hidden. But her voice was filled with concern. She was kind, far too kind for her own good even though she didn’t seem like it on her surface.
“I’m sure, think of how cool it will be to be the first hunter who’s also a Linker.” Ahh words, words that you probably don’t know what they mean. But bear with me here everything will be explained.
“Yeah but…” Lux hesitated–trying to find a way to express what she was thinking. “All the adults say your black blade is poisonous to Linkers. What if you become a Linker and then just die from your own power.”
I resisted the urge to put my hand on the hilt of the long sword that was safely sheathed at my side. When I touched the sword it made people nervous, I had been taught that early on by the others. We hunters were supposed to be symbols of safety, of course, that was before the disaster, but the older hunters all believed that the sun would come back and the hunters would reassert ourselves as the main peacekeeping force just as we had been before.
“I really don’t think that will happen, hunters are resistant to the effects of our own black blades. And besides, aren’t you at least a little bit curious if what Narmin said is true.”
Lux looked away from me, her face impossible to read. But I was almost certain she was just as curious as I was. The old paranoid man who really hated Lux, had yelled at her to make sure she didn’t go around bewitching people and turning them into Linkers. Words again, words that mean a lot, and nothing at the same time.
“I am, the old paranoid man said I could turn people into Linkers, right? And when he said that something felt right, like I understood what he was talking about even though that was the first time the thought even crossed my mind.”
“Exactly, so let’s try it, I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Before Lux could respond another creature appeared from the woods. It was a wolf-like with pure silver eyes with no pupils. That was Alpha, Lux’s Cryptix, I think it’s species is moonlight wolf or something like that. Once it was back safely into Lux’s sight it started to glow a faint blue color, it could glow much more intensely if it wanted. But there was no need to draw more attention than necessary.
I hope my Cryptix is as cool as Lux’s is. I thought while admiring the creature.
“Nobody followed us,” Lux said nodding. “Let’s hurry to the hideout.”
We moved quicker than before, jumping over roots and rocks, making our way to the secret base. It was a place that only Lux and myself were aware of. Nobody else in the community knew. Of course, nobody else in the community was willing to risk leaving the safety of the well-lit underground without letting somebody else know they were leaving. As the commander always said that was a “recipe for disaster,” but both of us were born in the darkness, and moving around in it came as natural to us as moving though the woods came to a Cryptix. The adults were so afraid of the darkness that they let their whole lives be dictated by that fear. And that made them all idiots.