“The Boundaries” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Muhammad Taha Bajwa, Nobles International School, Saudi Arabia.
A Moon Phoenix was trying to conceal his body with the luminosity of the moon. He had been sent by the Moon Tribe to retrieve a powerful artifact that had been stolen by the Sun Tribe centuries ago. Orion grasped his brittle cargo closer. If he could make it across the boundaries, he would be out of danger. The boundaries separated the Sun Tribe from the Moon Tribe. They were once united and got along excellently, but because of Queen Hera’s arrogance, they had to separate. The Boundaries were so close, but his larceny wasn’t as stealthy as he thought. He could hear the piercing shrieks and the blazing wings of the Sun Phoenixes from behind. He could see their wings glow far from the clouds.
The wrathful Phoenix on the mountain ledge had enormous wings that coruscated with the gleam of a thousand moons. His bright eyes narrowed, watching the soldiers and their flaming wings track him down. An ear-splitting shriek echoed off the sky as their talons seized Orion’s Body.
“Bind his wings” the furious phoenix ordered as his soldiers secured a scorching chain composed out of pure sun energy around his body. He tried to resist the heat of the chain but he was incapable of doing so. “Well Well Well what do we have here?” the phoenix’s forked tongue slithered in and out through his beak. “You won’t be able to do a thing nom, Moon Phoenix.”
“He stole one of our most precious artifacts, Queen Hera,” said one of the soldiers presenting the artifact to her. She squinted at the round figure and soon it turned into a cube. “How dare you set foot into my kingdom and steal from me” she hissed. Hissing steam circled his snout where the hot chains met cold feathers.
“You thought you got away unnoticed, didn’t you?” Hera said with a smile on her face. “My lookouts are not fools. Queen Hera knows everything that happens in her kingdom.” Hera held up the shining Artifact up to the light of the moon and started examining it. Green and yellow shimmered below the pale, smooth surface. The artifact was prepossessing and could change appearance at will for it held the power of the sun and moon combined.
“Interesting,” she mused. “Why would they send you to steal it?” She thought for a moment as the moon started to lose light. Unless… the night of the seven moons is tomorrow …”
Her tail flicked like a scorpion’s, the blazing feathers inches from Orion’s wounded body. “You’re not in the Moon army, are you? You’re one of those insipid underground peace mongers.”
“The Moon Order?” said one of the Phoenixes. “You mean they are still around? I thought we killed every last one.”
Queen Hera snorted.
“Unwrap his chains; he won’t be able to harness his powers until his body cools down.”
She leaned closer to the mutilated Phoenix as the chains started to disappear. “Do you really believe what your king tells you; will an ancient artifact decide my fate?
“Yes, and soon we all shall unite under one flag and the thousand-year war shall end”, snarled Orion.
“I don’t care what your king says, no one can stop me!” snarled Hera
“We shall have peace when I rule both tribes and when my brother is no more. I am not going to let a Moon Phoenix decide my fate.” She leaned even closer and looked straight into Orion’s eyes. She started to examine his eyes. “Hmm, I see loyalty and courage, OH such pity you weren’t in the Sun Army.”
The Phoenix’s body started to gain strength, “The artifact will end your reign whether you like it or not.”
“Hmm…, what if the artifact is never found…what if I destroy it”
“No, you can’t, it’s impossible” choked Orion
“Right, I can’t destroy it, but I can conceal it in the Sun cave, where NO Moon Phoenix can enter”, said Hera cleverly.
On that very night, Orion was murdered, and the Artifact was hidden away…. But could it be that one of Hera’s own citizen will stand up against her?
When will her reign of terror end?
When will the boundaries be eradicated?
All these questions shall be answered in my next book