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Crystal Chronicles Story Collection

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...He had the dream again.

Waking up, he was greeted with the faint traces of the dim early morning light poking through the glass of the window overlooking his bed. He allowed himself the small luxury of lying on his mattress for a few more seconds, unwelcome memories surfacing in his thoughts as he saw a few wisps of cloud floating above his head through the glass.

The dream was always the same, no matter how hard he tried to forget it. In the dream, he relived the moment when he buried his father.

It played on a constant, repeating wheel: the shock that had overcome him at the time, giving way to despair and grief with each motion of the shovel--the aches as his nine-year-old body suffered under its burden.

Reliving it every night, thinking upon it every was almost more than Yuri could bear.

Refusing to let the tears that threatened to spill out constantly overwhelm him this morning as well, he rubbed hastily at his green eyes and sat upright so quickly that it appeared as if someone had literally started a fire under his bed...a joke his sister had often playfully teased him with in reference to his eagerness to begin the day when they were younger.

If he didn't get started right away, he would dwell too much on what happened...he would accomplish nothing.

...What would crying accomplish now, after all? Home was still horribly, horribly empty and silent around them--nothing was going to change the events of that night.

Letting his despair swallow him whole would do nothing but make the situation worse. He had to keep going, to stay strong. There was so much to do...

He glanced over at the figure occupying one of the other beds in the house. She stared straight forward with a blank gaze, her expression frozen in place.

At first, it had shocked him horribly when she didn't respond to his voice after that night...when she didn't blink her eyes or so much as turn her head slightly when he tried to move her. He still nearly cried thinking of how lifeless his sister Chelinka looked, how much like their father's lifeless eyes her own resembled despite her still breathing. Despite her presence there, how he knew she was still with him...her condition made living here seem all the more lonely to him in a way.

But he couldn't cry, he knew. Crying wouldn't help her, wouldn't solve anything. He had to be strong, for both of their sakes...for their father's, for Al's, and Meeth's too.

Yuri managed a small smile in the direction of his sister. Though he wasn't sure if she was even aware of his presence or not anymore, he always tried speaking to her: both because he wanted her to know that he hadn't given up on her and also because being able to hear his own voice, to have someone to talk to even if they weren't really "there" so to speak, helped to keep his mind grounded--to remind him of what he was still doing here.

"Good morning, Chelinka! Did you have any good dreams last night?"

Silence. Chelinka continued to stare straight at the wall in front of her with dull green eyes.

Suppressing the sob that always seemed to accompany this string of one-sided conversations no matter how often he continued to do them, Yuri's smile widened.

"I think it's going to be a really nice day today. Hopefully the sun will stay out for a little longer than it did yesterday."

More silence.

He stared down at his hands. They were already forming tough calluses and large blisters were still forming on the softer parts of his skin. He couldn't help but wince at a rather large one on the inside of his thumb...from the look of it, it would likely burst the second he gripped his sword handle.

At least he knew how to make bandages now, he thought wryly. He would wrap a medicated linen around all of his fingers before he did his training today in order to keep the odds of infection down.

Once he was gripping the sword in his hand, he wouldn't be stopping until he had to make the afternoon meal for his sister. Then he would go immediately back to training afterwards until dinner, and then he would continue to train until he would collapse exhausted into bed well past the time when the stars showed heavily in the sky.

That was his routine, the same one he'd been doing over and over with very little change every day since that night.

He wondered if a year had gone by yet or possibly two even...not sure of when he'd lost track of time in the repetition of his daily motions, beyond the fact that he was noticing himself and his sister starting to get a little older every so often. He was lucky that he'd been able to find some spare clothes their father had apparently kept in storage after getting a good deal on them in Rebena Te Ra at some point in case of any potential growth spurts the two of them might have.

Hopefully it wouldn't rain today. Gripping with bandages was a bit harder when the weather did that.

But first...but first today, he had to get Chelinka cleaned up and make sure she had a decent meal for breakfast. And he probably should cut some wood for the chimney and stove later on too--he thought they were getting a little low last night in their supply.

Then he would train again. In a strange way, he could just picture his mind becoming as sharpened as the blade he practiced with when he did so...focused only on his thoughts of improvement, of becoming stronger.

He would lose himself in those motions and thoughts for a time, and not feel as if his dreams and memories were threatening to swallow him whole.

He couldn’t help anyone if that happened...and he knew that the best thing he could do for Chelinka right now was to keep moving forward, to become stronger so that they wouldn't have to lose anyone close to them again.

Whether or not he’d be able to succeed was still up in the air, but it would not be because he didn't try.

"I'm going to get breakfast started, okay?" Yuri headed over to the pantry as he started to go through his daily morning routines, his eyes glancing over to his sword propped by the door as he did so.

"...There's a lot to do today."