A twilight like none seen on earth hung over the hilltop.
This was the favored meeting time for The Five. Overhead, the skies were a dark indigo, but on the horizons behind them, the light warmed to a deep salmon glow. The stars overhead were brilliant.
The wind moved about the grass on the hill. The peach colored light of a seemingly imminent dawn rested gently upon the shoulders of the four who were present. And a shadow rested in the empty grass patch where the boy usually sat.
“Where is the List-maker; the Giver of Clues and Warnings?” asked the girl with the teardrop-shaped mark on her forehead. “Where is the Deliverer of Verdicts?”
“The boy is probably shelling out fake quarters in crumbling arcades,” whispered Arachnia, chuckling. “Perhaps he has even forgotten his name.”
Teardrop, with her with aqua-colored eyes, turned toward her. Her face was drawn tight. “Don’t say such things, Snatcher.” She inhaled, looked up to the stars for a moment, and then exhaled. Spoke to nobody in particular.
“He won’t get lost.”
The four sat for another moment. The wind moved through the trees in the meadow, rustling, hushing.
A sound grew in the distance, as if the wind were growing legs. Sharper, closer.
Then, the grass parted and a boy who might have looked nine years old or so in Earth years took a seat between Arachnia and Oza. On his forehead was a deeply-etched mark in the shape of a quill. The girl to his left, the one with a spider tattoo on her forehead, smiled slightly in his direction.
“Did you forget to set an alarm on Earth?” she asked, smiling. “You had Oza worried, boy.”
The boy with the quill mark only bowed his head slightly, as if to signal apology. Then he looked up and spoke to all four. He did not hesitate with his words, and spoke with a soft voice that had a slightly husky edge.
“The Forgetting spreads wider. Our time grows shorter. The One Who Refuses All grows more powerful.”
The Five sat for a moment in the bluish-pink light to consider his words.
Across from the boy was an older girl with dark gold skin, and a long, thick, black braid that rested on her shoulder, and coiled in her lap like a snake. On her forehead was a golden lightning bolt. She spoke, and her voice was clear and sweet, like a lute.
“This only means soon he shall overplay his hand. And the terrible Game will soon end. Do you bring us any clues today, Escribo?”
The boy looked into her warm brown eyes and smiled.
He opened his hand. In his palm were three green grapes.
“Now, we must find who can be fed without asking.”
The one with the third eye on her forehead smiled in kind.
But the boy was not done.
“…with food taken from those not willing to give.”
Soon, the hilltop was empty, and the Five were gone.
But not for long. They had their parts to play in the game. Just like the humans on Earth. The only difference was that the Five knew they were playing. And just what was at stake.