The Shade of One's Hope
Roughly 9000 years later after the Orb -Vanishing Isle
Styxx dressed in skins of the few animals on the island. He would have made for an interesting sight if anyone was actually was there. He has no concept to how long he had been banish to this Vanishing Island by the Greek goddess Artemis. Quite frankly he didn't really care anymore Styxx was tired of this lonely existence, but because of the bond he share with his traitorous Immortal god brother, Styxx couldn't die. No matter how grievous, the wound it would eventually heal. No matter how long he'd may starve himself all it would do was become a weakness. So Styxx on this island that no one came to, has been alone with no one to talk to for over eleven thousand years, give or take a few decades.
All that he had, all that he was had been taken from him. All because his own brother had believe what everyone else thought they believe about him. That he was a spoiled rotten prince with no care of anyone or anything that got in his way. Which if anybody in his bloody family had even bother to pay attention they would have seen otherwise.
But that didn't matter anymore Styxx had become use to this solitary life. Time held no meaning to him, all that matter was surviving to the next day. The only thing Styxx regretted more than anything was not being there for his wife and unborn son when they died, and not even able to see their bodies. All that was left of them were their names he had carved into his arm until it had scared, "Bethany and Gallen..."
October 25th, 1993 -Vanishing Isle
Styxx was just on his way back from a hunting trip, when he caught a glimpse of something beyond the trees... No someONE... Putting his kill up in the tree so that any of the other hunters of the forest wouldn't get at it, he went to investigate.
He could not believe his eyes, as he made it to the beach. He had not seen another person let alone a young child was longer than he could scarce to remember. He was started to call out to the child, but it took him a sec to remember actual words. Not pictures, it had been that long.
"I need to get out more...' He mutter to himself cautiously started towards her. 'Heh... yeah right, I think I've been outside long enough "
Sitting on the a ledge over looking the ocean was a little girl just sitting there staring at it. The child looked about three, or just old enough to be mobile. She has long light golden blonde hair was tied back and she had some strange clothes Styxx had never seen before on. A soft looking cat spotted one piece suit with attached equally soft shoes on. And he couldn't be sure but he was pretty sure her ears were slightly pointed. As he drew nearer he realized that she was partially see through, like a shade.
"How odd... Is she a ghost or some kind of spirit?" Styxx notice that the girl didn't seem to notice him as was speaking out load to himself. But as he moved from the woods to sandy beach his foot broke a twig.
The sound made the girl look up, and she looked Styxx over with wide innocent eyes as he approach. Turning towards Styxx, he saw that her eyes were a shimmering silver color, Shiny like mirrors. Not like his brother Acheron, a swirling silver. That he wouldn't be able to stand.
The girls mouth starting moving as if speaking but nothing came out. She talked a little while longer until Styxx became sure she realized a problem. When he didn't respond, she'd wrinkle her nose at him and tried to say something again.
But the adorable pouty look on her her little face told Styxx that she was mostly speaking to herself this time. Wondering what to do with this see through child. Styxx watched her warily, as she got up and walked over to him.
Being only three years old, a toddler is never the best walker. Almost to him she tripped on a rock and started to teeter over. Reaching out to the child to catch her. Styxx hands went to reach her under the arms to lift her up before hitting the ground. He was shocked to feel his hands pass though her arms and out the other side.
"What the..." Was all he got out as the young girl with silver eyes went face first, threw him and on to the sandy beach behind him. Scraping her hand in the process
Styxx went to comfort the young girl as the tears started to flow from her eyes and sobs racked from silent lips. Unsure of what to do as the little one sat there crying over her cut. Because every time he tried to touch her to help he just passed though the girl. "Great, first person I see in Gods knows how long and I can't do anything." Styxx kicked at the ground to ease his frustrations. After that he just sat next to her quietly till she calmed.
After a few minutes the mystery girl slowed in her crying as if realizing that her mother wasn't coming to help. Or father... whoever is supposed to be looking after her. She started to look around at the beach she was on and then at the strange tall man beside her. Styxx had to suppress a laugh as the little girl almost fell backwards trying to look up at him. Moving her mouth again trying to say something all Styxx could do was put a hand to his ear to try and show that he couldn't hear her.
"I can't hear you little one and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't understand anyway." For he spoke ancient Greek and he had no clue as to what language she would or even could speak coherently. She cocked her head to one side in a adorable way of confusion finally realize that she couldn't hear him either. She confirmed it by mimicking the hand gesture of hand to ear.
She simile as she to finally put two and two together about what was happening. Glancing down at the cut on her knee, that simile turn to a frown as realize the problems it could make. When she looked back at Styxx tried to give a reassuring simile.
They stayed there sitting on beach watching the waves for a while. Styxx could swear it felt like he knew this child. He wasn't sure how and unless she aged Very slowly or was an immortal then there should be no way he could have met her. Still even if she wasn't competently here nor was she someone that could actually help him. It felt kinda nice just being near someone. "Probably just you delving into insanity too deep again. You know better than to eat the yellow mushrooms.." But as he thought about it he couldn't remember the last time he picked bad mushrooms. and he certainly knew better than to actually eat any. While his life is tied to his brother he couldn't actually die from it. But it would incapacitate him and leave him vulnerable for other animal to take a nip. And that was not worth it... not after that binge 7,000 years ago...
Styxx thoughts cut off as he saw that little girl turning her head sharply as she heard something, Styxx saw her pointed ear prick a little and the slivers eyes flash before without warning the little girl disappeared.
"NO COME BACK!" He screamed He may not have been able to hear or touch her but it was something... Someone. "Come back..." He whispered as miserable Styxx turned around to get his kill, wondering the rest of the day of why he needed to be torture like this.
It wasn't until two weeks later that he saw the mystery shade girl again.
November 8th, 1993 -Vanishing Isle
Still wearing those strange spotted fuzzy onesie clothes she came running up the beach waving her arms as she found his little camp. The shoes that where connected to the rest of the outfit were apparently not good for running on sand. As she fell over several times before reaching him silently huffing and puffing as she caught her breath. Styxx just shocked seeing her again he didn't respond right away.
Her mouth was moving and gesturing as trying to say a lot of things that he couldn't begin to hear or understand. After awhile she finally noticed the confused look on Styxx's face as the let out a little harruff at remembering that no sound came out. So Styxx watched as the little girl started to move around his camp looking at everything. He could believe his eyes. One hallucination is one thing but two! he need to find out whats causing this, taking a quick glance at the herbs wondering which one he should accuses...
When Styxx looked back he was surprise to see her actually pick up one his skinning knives. He jumped up and quickly took the blade away from her. "No, No, little one, you shouldn't play with sharp objects." Even if she couldn't hear him it felt good to at least pretend to talk to someone. She pouted at him and reached from one the skin he was drying on the rack. Petting the soft fur, Styxx wonder why she could touch objects but not him.
As if noticing this odd fact herself the little girl looked up at him wide silver eyes and back to the fur. When she looked back at him and then to his hand. Reaching out her little hand to his, Styxx held out his hand as well. They were both disappointed to see the hand pass through each other again. Crestfallen Styxx sighed and went and sat back down on the beach putting his head in his hands. "Why him..." He didn't even know who this little girl was what she was doing here other than to torture him with thoughts of being with people again.
Lifting his head out of his hands he saw the little girl standing there in front of him with a concerned look on her little face. She attempted to pat his knee in comfort as he had done when she had fallen before. "Heh its ok little one its not your fault.-" He started to say as she seem to have an idea about something and moved away from him. Moving around his camp looking for something. He look to see where he put the skinning knife to make sure she wasn't going for the sharp objects again. Knowing his luck she'd tired to stab him with it. Heck if his own mother and sister could do it, why can't a young child....
When he looked back to the girl, she was coming back over with something in her hand. Stopping back in front of him Styxx saw that she had a bit of leather that he had been using as a kind of rag. Dangling one of the rag of his she shook it until he took hold of it. She pulled at it and started shaking his arm from side to side grinning. Styxx started smiling too when he realized that this was her way to shake his hand since they couldn't in the 'normal' sense. He felt much better even though it wasn't true contact it was still something, and it proved that she was there as he could feel her tug on the rag.
"Good to see I didn't just create an imaginary friend, or that I had picked and bad herb. But if you really are here, Who are you? and How did you get here?" Her face wrinkled as she try saying something in response to him, but no sound again. Since she continue to try, wherever she is from she must be able to speak. He figure as the only explanation, but everything else was a mystery.
After bit the girl got bored with tugging on the rag and let go. He wasn't quite ready to lose contact but he knew children got bored quickly. She had spotted one of his sand sculptures as was staring at it in awe. Styxx chuckle as she reach out to touch it and it fell apart. The surprise and concerned look that she might be in trouble was funny to him. He had to simile even more broadly and gestures his hand to show that everything was fine. Styxx didn't care if they lasted or not, they fell apart with time or the tide and he just build a new one, not like he didn't had the time.
The pile of sand gave Styxx an idea of his own as he went and found two sticks one large and one small. He hand the small one to the girl. She took hold of it in confusion as she waiting to see what he plan to do next. He started to draw in the sand his name in Greek with an arrow pointing to himself. "I highly doubt this little girl will understand but its worth a shot." He thought himself as she looked at the strange lettering in utter confusion. Cocking her head from side to side in that odd cat-like manner of hers.
The girl tried copying his symbols and looking up at him to see if that had been what he want. Styxx shook his head and sighed, he tried pointing to himself and then to his name willing her to understand. "Why couldn't this be someone older. Someone other than a young child." But even if he couldn't get her to understand he was happy to have at least something.
The girl touch his name in her silver mirror eyes they flashed, reflecting his name for moment as they change into symbols of something else in her eyes. Shocked Styxx watch as she picked up her stick and in flawless ancient Greek she wrote under his name "S-H-A-N-N-O-N" With a arrow pointing to herself.
How is was possible, he didn't know but she-Shannon somehow understood Greek and now he knew her name. He was so happy he got up so fast that he fell backward over the log he had been sitting on. Laughing oh it felt good to laugh. He righted himself to find that Shannon was gone once again. Despair took away all the happiness as unsure like the last time if he would ever see her again.
November 9th, 1993 -Virginia
"Honey time to wake up!" A soft feminine voice said as she gently woke the little girl sleeping in her bed. Groggily the girl rubs at her now eyes which had turn from silver to hazel. "Mmnrrm... Don't wanna mama." "Come on its time to wake up and greet the day. You love mornings." The woman said as she cleaned the child's room from the previous days play. Still bleary eye the little girl mumble her reasoning for staying in bed longer."St-yxx... needs... friend." "Whats that dear?... Sticks? Theirs plenty of them outside if you just get your little touchy out of bed." The mother came over a tickle her little girl distracting the small child into full wakefulness, The need to go back to sleep forgotten.
Later that day her father was doing his yard work and keeping an eye on his youngest playing in the dirt with sticks. On one of his passes he look to she what she was drawing expecting doodles and maybe a flower. To his surprise he saw Greek letters. Never being fluent enough to read it Ray could recognize Greek when he saw it. "Girly do you know what that means?" Shannon grin up at her fatherly proudly waving the stick in the air. "STYXX, daddy! He's my new friend." Smiling Ray lean down beside her, " Now sweetie the 'Sticks' may be your new friend-' Mocking an angry tone 'But what have I told you about talking to strangers" Hugging her while she giggled and push away and replied. "Their BAD! But Styxx isn't bad, daddy hes just sad." Frowning Ray stare at the stick that she had been holding confused as to why a stick would be sad.
Ray was going to question his daughter further when she running off claiming that River was there and she was going to eat lots of fish. Shaking his head pondering over the fact that she away knew when the demon was being lazy and came to fish at the pond instead of doing his work. And since he didn't like to actually eat the fish his daughter thought the would of the demon for giving them to her. It worried him on how easily she tended to get along with things that she really shouldn't be like demons.. looking down at the abandon stick... "and sticks". But he little girl was an adventitious one he do what father should and protect his little girl when he needed to. He then chalked the earlier conversation to child imagination, and continue about his work
November 11th, 1993 -Vanishing Isle
Its was only a few days this time and Styxx was nursing a wound he got from one of the vicious predators on the island. The critter had gotten a good swipe into his left arm, he was just finishing wrapping up when he sense something behind him. Thinking it was another predator Styxx grabbed his spear and swung around to face the beast. He barely caught himself when he look into the golden fair hair child with wide sliver mirror eyes.
Lowering the spear "Sorry little one I did not mean to scared you." He said just for the sake of speaking. Shannon taking a few steps back but seam to understand that it was a mistake. Styxx looked at her more closely now because she was wearing something different today than the strange fuzzy one piece cloth, it was of materials he had never seen before. Red cloth cover her top section with the picture depicting a sitting black cat with blue legging and white shoes with red check marks one them.
Shannon came closer when he put the spear away and she reached up and they attempted to though hands again. Frowning when once again it didn't work, Styxx was starting to get very frustrated with it all. Letting out a heavy sigh he got up and when over to his tools to continue cutting the leather into cords.
She came over to watch him, note the sadness that had passed over him with the exchange. She wished she could help him, but she didn't know what to do as she watched him work. Her daddy told her never to talk to strangers but she couldn't help it when they were in pain like this. And this man had a lot of pain to deal with. With the ADD mind of a child she started fiddling with some of the leather pieces yet to be cut. Pressing her little hand into it create a small indention, she giggled. Styxx looked over to see what she was doing when a new idea came to him.
Styxx got up and went to a larger piece of leather and one of his other stone knives. As the little girl watched on in a curiosity that made her seem very cat like again. He started working the leather cutting several pieces and long strips as well. Gesturing to the girl to place a hand down on the leather. he cut out the shape of her hand, after doing so 3 more times he started cutting out pieces of his hand out. Once done Styxx took leather cords and started sowing the pieces together until he made make-shift gloves. Giving the small pair to Shannon he silently prayed for this to work.
Shannon stared at the gloves, amazed on how even though they had been made swiftly they see looked really well made. She watched as he put on the pair he made. Finally catching on she hastily put on hers, and once there Shannon reached to Styxx's big paw of a hand grabbed on of his index finger.
They sat there for a full minutes as waves of emotions crashed though Styxx's skull. Finally human contact, in he doesn't even remember how long. Even if it wasn't true skin, or his Beth, or Gallan. It was something and that meant the absolute world to him. Even if she could understand him right now he had no words to convey the amount of relief he felt.
She somehow understood him and just let him hold her hand. Shannon sat down so that Styxx didn't have to let go. Days and weeks started go by like. Not every day nor every night, but it was more frequently then in the beginning. Using the gloves they could play games like catch or tag. The'd spent hours writing in the sand talking that way. Of course it was mostly Shannon writing about her days her family and friends as best as a 3 year old could. Styxx would just sit patiently waiting and help with spelling errors as best he could.
Most of the time they just sit holding hands, it almost always surprised that she seem to know when he just needed that extra comfort, after that first day he didn't seek her hand out unless he was showing her something. But she would just come over stopping whatever she was doing and sit down and hold his hand. Not seeking to do anything nor asking him for anything Shannon and Styxx would sit there watching ocean.
At home most of her family, babysitters and friends thought of Styxx as an imaginary friend and let her talk for hours about the scared man. Her mother and father started to worry when almost 2 years had past and it didn't seem to be letting up. But other then some of the disturbing details of the scared man there daughter never said one thing about him attempting to harm her. In fact some of her "stories claim Him saving her from "wild" beasts. Which she would get her brother and friends to play pretend of.
December 25th 1995 -Vanishing Isle
Styxx was finishing up his daily chores, wondering if he would get a visit tonight. They still hadn't peace together why or how this happen. Only that is happen when Shannon slept, but neither knew what trigger or why she appeared in a shade-like form. Either way her last visit had been over a week ago and she had been going on and about something called 'X-Mas' and 'New Years' it was some form of festival were a man in red brought good little boys and girls colored boxes. He didn't understand most of it but it was made her happy so he didn't mind, he just hoped she like the little wooden cat carving he made for her. Cat especially the cheetah were her favorites and she drew them often weather in explaining something him or just doodling while she waiting for him to finish the chores she wasn't allowed to help with.
He heard the crunching of sand before he saw the little five year old. Though to be fair she had nearly double in size compared to he first met her. Now the use to be clumsy little girl was a ball of unstoppable energy and excitement. He sometimes wondering if his son had he lived would have been as energetic as she was. or would that had been childhood friends if they had manger to grow together. Now she bounced around him like a puppy tugging on his gloved hand towards the woods. He made a face at her, he's told her not to go into the woods since it wasn't safe. But he followed along anyway at least this way he could protect her while she showed him whatever it was.
Luckily for his sanity it wasn't that far in just far enough to be out of view from his camp site. sense she seem to appear at random place on the beach it never occurred to him that she could be spending on the island somewhere and he wouldn't know. He slowed his paced as she let go of his gloved hand and to his surprised, scampered up a low tree with a hollow in one of the branches. She dug inside until finding whatever she was looking for, watching her silent laughter she quickly came back down as fast and she had gone up.
Turning suddenly bashful she clasp whatever she held tightly, unsure on what Skyxx's reaction could be. Shannon didn't open her hands until Styxx held his under hers to take it gently. He wonder what it could be. He remember her mention bit and pieces of 'X-mas' several months ago. Probably a year since these kind of events are similar to his own hims Greek festivals. But neither he, nor she for that matter understand enough to make a present and she is still child learning her own customs in about the same time frame that she what trying teach him. Lots of talking about the same thing but little information actually being communed.
She took and deep silent breath, as she remove her hand so that Styxx could look. When he did he felt his stomach drop as he saw the last thing he expected. After moving the bit of leather cord to reveal to little amulet entirely. He finger the bow symbol crudely etched into a bit of drift wood, staring at it in awe. Looking down at Bethany's name on he arm he had to fight back the tears before upsetting Shannon and making her think the that he was upset.
But he was happy, it may not of been the same necklace that his Beth wore but it had been something meaningful to her. When she was alive her necklace had been a gift from her father and she had treasure it. When Styxx had gone to war, she had given it to him to wear and to remember her. But He had foolish given it back to her; she had left him day to protect her on her way home.
But how could she have known, then he remember a couple weeks back she had been asking questions about the names of his arm and he had even went as far to draw out the symbol when he had told her didn't have it anymore to show her.
When Styxx finally looked up he saw Shannon writing furiously in the sand so fast he barely make out some of the word. He chuckle as he attempted to decipher the first part "... not... mean... upset... .o.. Was.. .... help-..." He placed a hand on her shoulder and gently taking the stick with his other he wrote out for her to read. "Its perfect. Thank you very very much." She looked up to confirm the simile on his face as she watch him wrap it around his wrist to keep it safe.
While he had made a few of his own cravings of Beth's symbol he never wore them because they didn't mean the same thing. This time however was different, defiantly not of the same quality as Beth's or his own work. but it had been made For him and the attempt made all the difference to a man who was used to receiving nothing but heartache.
Picking the stick back up he wrote under his message. "Come now little one I had a gift for you as well." Her uncertainly at whether not or he like her gift instantly fled at the mention of her self getting a gift. Back to being the ball of energy she had been when she got there she practically ran back and from him to the camp site three times before Styxx made it. He went in a got the little carved cat he had made. Styxx kinda felt bad now looking around at the other craved toys he had made for her to play with she was here, she couldn't take them home. She had tried, and now he was giving her another one while she had given something very meaningful to him.
Those doubts vanished when he did give it to her. Shannon mouth ooh'd and awe'd over the details in the craving as she immediately started to play with it. Watching her enjoy the gift, he look over to the box that held the toy horse their sister had given Acheron for his birthday when they were boys, Styxx had gotten the matching solider. Out of fear of their father wrath Acheron asked Styxx to take care of it for him which he had. All these years later it was still in the same condition as it was eleven thousand years ago. He debated on bringing it out to let Shannon play with to. But he didn't want to taint this day with bad memories, so he let it be and continue to watch her play without a care in the world.
But as he look down at the necklace once more he had a bad foreboding the same one he had before Bethany died. Something was going to happen to ruin this again he knew it.... But like last time there was nothing he could do. Its not like even if he Ever left this place he would be unable to even find her. The only place he could protect her was here; and he didn't control when she came or left.
He looked up again to see she had disappeared again. The lump in throat became a lead weight in his stomach as he had the strongest feeling that this was the last visit. Bending over to pick up the toy he stare at it and at the sand with the child words of "THNAK YOU STYXX". Smiling at the misspelled Thank-you, he wish he could of giving her something keep to like she had, moving to the box he wrapped up the toy cheetah and placed it beside the wooden horse.
January 1st, 1996. Shortly after Midnight -Vanishing Isle
"SSTTYYYXXXXXXXSSSS!!!!!!" Styxx came awake with a start in the middle of night to the echoing sounds of screams in his ears. They reverberated across the island cause to wake several animals and birds. Styxx quickly rose he felt terrible some how he just Knew one of those screams was the little girl that had visited him the last two years. He couldn't explain how he just knew with every fiber of his being. That at least one of those screams were the little girl he had grown fond over the past 2 years. Even though he never hear her voice he heard his name coming from those screams along with other name he couldn't make out.
Styxx felt he arm warm up, when he looked to see the little driftwood amulet was glowing a shimmery mix of silver and red. Flicking like fire grew very hot as the shifting colors turn more reddish to sliver, like blood.
Styxx's heart hammered as he wished and pray desperately to do something, anything. "You are a worthless piece of shit, you can't do anything right can you! Just like everyone said about you, can't even protect a little girl." He continue his tirade against himself. Reliving every monument of not being able to protect the one he care for. Bethany and his son from Apollymi, Gallan from assassins after him, his soldiers from the ambush of his own Greek people when returning from the war, Acheron from his uncle, and finally his sister and nephew from the appolitie queens minions, he should had been there for them. And now he couldn't do anything again.
Styxx stood on the beach staring out at the ocean. The screams had long since died but they were forever etched into his heart. The amulet laid cold against the palm of his hand, the edges now singe.
There he swore if he Ever made it out of this hell he would do whatever it took die, and finally pass on as he should done long ago.