05-22-2012 10:50 PM
Aliera sat down next to the river bank on a blanket, dipping her feet in the cool water
to escape the heat of the day. A gentle breeze kicked up, blowing the grass in green
and golden waves. She relaxed, stretched her arms out and laid down on the soft grass.
She glanced up at the sky, the sapphire brilliance of the midday sun beginning to fade
slightly, the soft rose tones reflecting on the clouds that had begin to lazily drift
across. She closed her eyes, and for a time lost herself completely in the simple
pleasure of the moment. She opened her eyes, and suddenly the sky was darkening, but
it wasn't the dark of night, nor of a storm, but rather as though the sun was fading,
as a lantern running out of oil.
Aliera sighed, shook her head slightly and closed her eyes, waiting for a few moments.
The visions had been coming more frequently these past days, as her twenty first birthday
neared. The sky returned, though to her eyes it did indeed seem as though the sun had
been somewhat brighter a few moments earlier. She sat up, drying her feet by shaking them
over the river, and put her tall riding boots back on. She chided herself for not bringing
a towel along, the water still on her feet would wear on her boots, and make her feet smell.
Shrugging, she stood up and walked over to her horse, a gentle Osterian mare with a nasty
habit of being lazy.
"Come along Swifty, it is time for us to be back at father's home." Aliera said
as she deftly mounted her mare. Swifty, ironically named, tossed her mane back
and eyed Aliera for a few moments, as if deciding just how much effort she was going
to put forth. "There is an apple in it for you if we beat the night fall." Aliera
whispered, and Swifty whinnied slightly, then began to trot back through the soft grasses.
"You must want that apple huh dear." Aliera laughed lightly. It took a good twenty minutes
of trotting, but just as dusk was settling in Aliera arrived at the manor of her father,
Duke Reginald Atritus.
Scowling fiercely, Arik walked up to Swifty and took the reins, steadying her
as Aliera dismounted. "Be sure to give her an apple, she kept her end of the promise up."
Aliera smiled brightly, talking to Yoerik, a young stable hand. Arik harrumphed slightly,
then fixed his gaze firmly upon Aliera. Aliera never lost her smile, though she suspected
by Arik's countenance that she was going to be scolded for running off without an escort,
or rather, without his escort. For as long as she could remember Arik was her guardian,
and before that her father's guardian.
Arik was a large man now approaching his fortieth summer and it was beginning to show.
With gray in his beard, the rich blond hair he had beginning to fade to straw, and
the all to common settling that happens as men age is apparent. That being said, Arik was a Khardan, and still retained the physical toughness that is their hallmark. More importantly, to
his mind and the Duke's, he had the experience of over twenty five years of military
training and experience. It was this experience more than anything else which the Duke
coveted, and this experience was furious with Aliera simply wandering out without a proper
escort, and to Arik's mind he was the only proper escort.
"Lady Aliera", Arik began tersely, "You cannot go simply wandering about the fields.
There have been reports of wolves and banditry. What would I tell your father if something
had happened." he finished, his steely gaze fixed on Aliera's soft blue eyes.
"I wasn't that far from here Arik, just down by the river, which if I'm not mistaken,
Sandy goes to at twice my age to wash the castle laundry every day. Nevertheless,
I understand why you are concerned, and I am sorry. I just wanted to get away from
being Lady of the castle, and enjoy a beautiful day." Aliera replied softly, meeting
Arik's gaze with her own soft one.
As the two of them walked in from the stables, Aliera paused briefly to change her
boots, putting them on a small iron rod that hung above a clay pot with a few embers.
"You shouldn't get those boots wet like that. As good as Osterian leather is, it is still
leather, and if it is wet, it will lose its cure." Arik cautioned, shaking his head.
Aliera put on a pair of simple slippers and joined Arik, who was waiting for her to finish.
"I understand, I do try to take care of things, particularly my boots, which I do adore.
They are far more comfortable than anything else, particularly these fancy slippers.
We have mink oil don't we, I'll be sure to rub some inside and out, like you taught me."
Aliera said with a small smile, pleased to see Arik nod in approval of her plan.
Arik suddenly stopped in a torch lit hallway, pausing and checking to make sure no
ears were in the vicinity. "Lady Aliera, I know you are not a child anymore, and I
know you can look after yourself, but still I worry. You are young yet, and while you
have strength and knowledge, you have yet to temper it with age, and I worry that if
put to the test, you will shatter instead of bend. I will not always be at your side,
and there is something ill gathering."
"Arik, for all the years I have known you, you have never been anything less than
ideal. I could not ask for a better guardian, nor could my father. You have taught me
everything you know about the world, about how to be aware of my surroundings, how to
care for riding equipment, my clothes and myself. You are giving yourself too little
credit old friend, I think you will see the second coming of Ronaldus." Aliera laughed
lightly, her smile beaming brightly. "Put aside your worries over wolves and bandits,
you mere presence is enough to set them to heel."
Duke Atritus' hall was mostly empty, only his steward, Jones, was there attending to his
master as he always had. Jones was a willowy man, tall, thin, and graceful in his own way.
He had been with the Duke for nearly all of his sixty summers, and knew more about the affairs of the dukedom than perhaps even the Duke himself. Jones was wearing his usual woolen trousers, neatly creased, a white woolen shirt, held in place with a wide tan leather belt and carefully worked silver buckle, his long graying hair pulled back loosely. He glanced up from the large scroll he was reading as Arik and Aliera entered the hall.
"Sire, Arik and the Lady Aliera have returned." Jones said softly.
"Aye, my eyesight has not deserted me Jones, nor have my faculties." Reginald joked.
"Sire." Arik intoned gravely with a small bow, before turning to head off to check on
the evening watch.
"Father." Aliera said happily, quickly walking up to the chair where Reginald was sitting,
and gave him a big hug, which he returned with equal enthusiasm.
"Hold on Arik, a moment." Reginald said, still holding Aliera.
Arik paused and turned around, waiting at attention for his orders stiffly.
"Arik, there will be a seer arriving in Nettlesome in the morning, please ask her
to attend and escort her." Reginald said, his concern evident to both Jones and Arik.
Arik nodded gravely, and then answered, "As you will Sire. Now, I'll check the watch."
Arik left, and Jones followed, leaving a scroll rolled with the Duke's proclamations
on the new harvest taxes on the Duke's large oak desk.
"Work never ceases does it?" Reginald commented absently, as he reviewed the scroll
which contained a lower tax rate, his way of helping after a harvest which wasn't as
abundant as earlier thought. "Never forget daughter, while we rule the people, the people
support us. If we take from them too much, we too will suffer. Wolves merely thin the herds,
they do not massacre them."
"Father, are you suggesting that I am a wolf?" Aliera joked, feigning a snarl.
"No, you are far more dangerous to me than any scraggly wolf. The seer is renown,
I hope you will attend my audience with her." Reginald said, his voice growing softer.
"I will father." Aliera replied, hiding her growing concern. She felt as though something
was distinctly wrong, but she couldn't figure out what it was. It was as though something
ominous was hanging over the land itself.
Madam Shaleigh was renown throughout the valley as the preeminent seer, someone gifted
well beyond any other in generations. Madam Shaleigh also fostered and spread these tales,
knowing that her comfort rose commensurate with her reputation. Despite this rather selfish
attitude, she was truly gifted with the sight as it was often called. She wasn't bound,
something often attributed, and something she never denied, but rather she simply
understood how to listen, and more importantly, how to correctly interpret signs from
nature. She dressed in simple robes, layered scarves of different colors, bangles and
small gold earrings, a floppy wide brimmed green felt hat, with a ridiculously large
eagle's feather stuck into it.
Arik was scowling more than usual when she entered in the morning, barking orders at
servants to bring her the softest cushions, to boil water for her, but not too hot,
not from the castle well either, but from the river, and to remove anything made of
cedar or quartz from the room. "Theater" Arik muttered to himself, drawing a sharp look
of reproach from Madam Shaleigh, and a frustrated sigh from Duke Reginald.
Aliera entered, wearing a simple lavender dress, plainly embroidered with a simple flower
design on the bodice, and her most comfortable house slippers, which were not all that
comfortable, but still more appropriate than her riding boots.
"Well Madam, I have summoned you for advice, and your thoughts on the recent reports
of bandits and wolves." Duke Reginald asked politely, speaking as though he addressed an equal.
"I am concerned that I hear reports, but find no one who can actually attest to a real bandit
or wolf in my domain. Is it just the talk of peasants over ale, am I being deceived, or
am I genuinely missing something." the Duke concluded, his voice openly concerned.
"Well Duke, if you will be quiet for a few minutes, I'll see what the spirits have to say."
Madam Shaleigh harrumphed, shifting herself slightly, causing her various bangles and bells to chime.
"Impertinence." Arik growled, stepping forward, stopping only when the Duke held up his hand.
Madam Shaleigh began to sing softly, a gentle croon which quietly filled the audience room.
The fire in the small hearth began to flicker and soften, retreating back into embers which
began to emit a soft white smoke which smelled faintly of oak and cherry.
Aliera watched in rapt fascination, having never seen anyone use actual sorcery. Madam Shaleigh ended her song after a few minutes, small beads of sweat beginning to appear on her face. "I have a few questions to ask, and a few answers to give." Madam Shaleigh stated simply.
"Let us hear these famous pronouncements then." Arik muttered louder than politeness dictated.
Madam Shaleigh looked at Arik, her gaze meeting his with equal strength.
"You wonder at night if you will be around long enough to fulfill your oath of honor.
I can tell you this, you will die oath fulfilled, though it will not be enough without
help." Madam Shaleigh said evenly, her voice seeming to carry greater weight.
"Your worries over bandits and wolves are well founded Duke. There are indeed wolves
and bandits gathering, particularly in the northern borders near Khardis. They are being driven to banditry though, the wolves driven as well, by a greater scourge. The other concern, the one in your heart, the one hidden from all, that is indeed true. I do not envy you Duke,
you will bear a heavy burden, a decision to be made that will not be easy." Madam Shaleigh
said, a certain degree of genuine sorrow in her voice.
Madam Shaleigh looked at Aliera, her eyes carefully measuring Aliera as she stood waiting.
"Tell me girl, when were you born?"
"I was born on the fortieth day of Planting Madam."
"I see. How old are you?"
"In a few days I will see my twenty first birthday Madam."
"The moon is full is it not?"
"I believe so."
"You have seen the dim haven't you?" Madam Shaleigh said coolly, her gaze fixed on Aliera.
Aliera's eyes opened widely as she suddenly felt recognition of what she had thought a
trick of her mind from the previous day's ride. "Could it be real?" Aliera wondered to herself,
losing herself in her own thoughts, becoming lost as she was the previous day.
"I will be taking the Lady Aliera with me." Madam Shaleigh announced suddenly, to the
shock of everyone gathered.
"Over my dead body." Arik stated flatly, his hand drawing his longsword with the practiced ease of a veteran soldier.
"Calm yourself Arik, no blood will be shed in my house. I must say though Madam, I am of
a mind to agree with Arik." Duke Reginald said as he rose, hoping to keep Arik from killing
"If the prophecy is true, and you know it as well as I do Duke, then she must be
prepared to fulfill her role. You cannot prepare her for this, you lack the ability.
He cannot prepare her either, all the bluster and steel in the world will be as nothing.
This is Fate. Sometimes it is kind, sometimes it is harsh, but always it is." Madam
Shaleigh said calmly, seemingly oblivious to the very real threat Arik posed.
"Fate. I believe in Fate slightly more than I believe in fortune tellers." Arik scoffed.
"You don't need to believe in Fate soldier, it is enough that Fate believes in you." Shaleigh smirked.
"Arik, please. I don't know what any of this means, I don't know what my fate is, but
I do know that I don't want to see anyone get hurt, so please Arik, let her be. I can't
explain it, but I think that I am supposed to go with Madam Shaleigh. It feels like the
right thing to do." Aliera said, gently putting her hand on Arik's sword arm.
"Very well, then I'll go with you." Arik stated simply, then turned towards Reginald,"By your leave."
Reginald nodded his accent to Arik's request, then carefully turned to see what Madam Shaleigh would have to say.
"I know better than to stand in the way of Fate. Perhaps you'll learn something as well soldier."
Madam Shaleigh commented. "We must be on our way, for all our talk of futures, time moves towards it all too quickly. We ride in a quarter arm."
05-22-2012 10:55 PM
No one user submitted yet.
Author's notes -
I've been working on this for a while now, in my spare time. Any criticism is welcome.
To avoid any confusion, an arm as referred to is the distance the shadow of the arm of a sundial travels between marks,
roughly one hour.
If you are interested in submitting a character I am still accepting submissions. Please feel free to do so
in the character submission thread.
06-02-2012 12:20 AM
06-05-2012 07:17 PM
Finally got around to reading this.
I am confused on how Arik can be both Aliera and her father's guardian. If I read right, Arik is approaching 40 while Aliera will be turning 21. I assume, since Arik was also the Duke's guardian, that Arik has been with Aliera her entire life...which would make Arik 19 when she was born. That doesn't seem to leave much time for Arik to oversee the Duke.....nevermind. I'm now going with the assumption (since it just occurred to me) that the Duke must have saved Arik's live, or some such service, that Arik pledged himself to the Duke and his family so he could fulfill his oath of honor.
Anyway, I enjoyed this chapter and looking forward to the next
06-06-2012 10:11 PM
Aliera retired to her chambers, where she found Lillian, her handmaid, already
laying out clothing to pack. Lillian was a year younger than Aliera, with a
curving body that drew quite a few glances and not a few sore necks from following
her. Her hair was long and blonde, flashing like sunlight. Her eyes were a deep
sea blue, the kind that men would get lost in, if they could pry their eyes
from her bosom.
It was because of this that Duke Reginald first offered her the position of Aliera's
handmaid. Her family were among the longest established in the dukedom, a long history
of smiths and coopers. "Mistress, I have your summer and winter dresses, your boots
and hose, and your crochet needles. Sadly, there is no yarn, the sheep haven't been
sheered for the summer yet." Lillian said, bowing respectfully.
"Lillian, you were listening in again I see." Aliera said, smiling softly.
"It was my duty my lady. How could I serve you best if I did not know what you needed.
Besides, I do not trust this seer. I must confess, I am relieved that Arik is going along."
Lillian said, as she began to pack the soft leather cases with the neatly folded dresses
and hose. Lillian also walked over to a bedside table, and removed a small enameled
frame, a picture of the Duke and Aliera together. She wrapped this in a carefully
embroidered towel, before packing it away as well. Aliera looked a question at
Lillian, curious as to why she would pack such a thing for this trip.
"It is to remind you of where you grew up, and who loves you mistress. I'm
sure the Duke will be looking at your portrait in the hall, this way you can
look on his image as well, and your hearts will never be apart. That is what
my mother says at least, and I think it is true." Lillian said, a small tear
"I am truly blessed to have you Lillian." Aliera said as she embraced Lillian.
"It is why I'm so scared to ask, but will you accompany me? I don't think
I can do this without you." she continued, looking Lillian in the eyes.
"I already have my bags packed, with a picture of my father and mother." Lillian
said, as she turned to finish packing Aliera's bags.
Arik retired to his spartan room, a gray stone affair with a single shelf,
a small faded portrait of a woman with short green hair and blue eyes, a worn
wooden peg where he would hang his sword and scabbard, a bed with a straw mattress,
clean but threadbare sheets and a small chamberpot. He opened the worn oak armoire,
took from it two pairs of cotton pants, his leather breeches, an extra pair of
boots, several jars of oils, and several basic shirts. He made sure to pack
carefully the extra plates for his mail coat, plates he rarely wore around the
relatively peaceful castle. He murmured a short prayer for strength, then stopped
at the door, turning and packing the small portrait at the last minute.
Arik walked through the torch lit halls towards the stables, passing by
the guard posts and inspecting them for the last time, trying to calm doubts
about the safety of the Duke. "Sir, nothing will happen to the Duke. The walls
are tough, the guards tougher. We will be here when you get back, the Duke
safe." Lucian said. Lucian, Arik's closest friend and lieutenant, was tall,
sturdy, young and eager. Arik knew that Lucian would be fine if things stayed
routine, it was his ability to deal with the unknown that concerned Arik.
"Make sure you send out patrols in no fewer than six, with at least one warder."
Arik cautioned, as he packed his horse.
"Right, no fewer than six, with one warder. Good luck sir." Lucian said, clasping his friend's hand.
"And to you as well. Be here when I get back." Arik ordered.
Aliera knocked on the heavy oak and iron door which led to her father's private chambers.
The small rooftop door had been opened, drawing in a fresh and cooling breeze. Reginald
was sitting in a small comfortably stuff chair near the larger of the two windows, going
over a report from one of his warders who had spotted tracks from a pack of wolves. His
frown disappeared as he turned up and saw Aliera slowly walking in, checking to see
if he was alone.
"Are you busy father?" Aliera asked.
"I always have time for you daughter. What is it that is troubling you?"
"This trip. I'm not sure what I am supposed to do, or why I have to go."
"I understand. Come here, and let me tell you a story. It is a prophesy, handed down
for generations." Reginald said, his voice softening and growing somewhat sad.
"Long ago, when this world was young and the spirits walked more openly, a powerful
and evil necromancer sought to shroud the world in darkness. To this end, he sought the
aid of spirits of darkness, powerful and evil things which abhorred the light of day.
They aided the necromancer, and they very nearly succeeded. There was a great and terrible
war, and both sides fought to a stalemate. It was then that the great spirits of light
and darkness met on the shores of the sacred Lake Tatanshu, and there they decreed that the
spirits of Light and Darkness would leave the world, allowing Man and Nature to exist
freely. The Sun would set earlier in the colder times preferred by Darkness, thus we
have the short and cold of winter, and the length and warmth of summer for the Light."
"The Darkness though played a trick. They insisted on an equal portion of all,
including the Sun itself. Thus, too late to realize, the Light agreed, and the Hand above
All decreed this. So, within the Sun now there is darkness, which grows slowly,
dimming the Sun over time." Reginald finished his tale, looking somewhat sorrowfully
at Aliera as he did so.
"So, the Sun is destined to fade to darkness?" Aliera asked.
"Yes. Like all things it is destined to fade to darkness. I'm sure though that won't be
for many generations, after all, the Sun is still bright, the days are still warm are they not?"
"It isn't a very happy story Father."
"I know daughter, and I wish it were happier, but it is the truth of things, which we must
all embrace, no matter how difficult. Please remember that, always cling to the truth. If
you do not, you will be led astray to darkness and confusion."
A heavy knock on the door was followed by Arik entering. "Sire, Lady, it is time for us
to be going. That seer is most insistent." Arik said, scowling more than usual.
"I understand. Daughter...." Reginald said, hugging Aliera close.
"I'll be back Father." Aliera said.
Reginald looked briefly over Aliera's shoulder, catching Arik's eye.
"I will hold to my oath Sire" Arik mouthed silently, waiting for the Duke to finish his good bye.
"Take care Aliera, mind Arik and the Seer, and remember what I've taught you." the Duke said,
tears beginning to form in his eyes.
"You sound as if we won't see each other. I'll be back in a few days at most Father." Aliera
replied, trying to sound confident for both her and her father.
Madam Shaleigh was waiting in the stables, harrumphing and generally being an annoyance
as she waited. The stable hands were careful to avoid her as much as possible, as they readied
the horses. Aliera, Lillian, and Arik all arrived, and began to get ready, Arik holding
Swifty and Maple, a old mare who was gentle, for Aliera and Lillian to mount using
the block. Madam Shaleigh had moved outside when she saw the three enter the stables,
moving her mule cart with great skill. Arik pulled his stallion next to her cart, and
cast a quick glance over her before pulling in front of the procession.
"Tell me soldier, are you capable of reading minds or seeing the future?" Madam asked smugly.
Arik replied with a scowl and a glare, as she continued, "I ask because it occurred to me
that you don't know where we are going."
The road from the castle branched out, one path leading to Nettlesome, one path leading to
the Brandywine river, and a third path leading out toward the main highway which ran from the Dukedom to the Celtarian highroads. It was this third road, paved river stones packed into
the earth, which the party took, through the amber and green of the wheat and lorngrass fields.
"I'm not going to walk straight for a week." Lillian muttered. Lillian, for all her
duties in attending Aliera, never had learned to ride with comfort. Aliera pulled next to
Lillian, and smiled. "Lil, you'll be fine, just remember to set yourself on your thighs gently,
and you'll be fine. It gets easier with practice."
"You could always ride in the cart with the seer." Arik offered, taking a certain bit of
joy in volunteering Madam Shaleigh's cart.
"Could I ride in your cart?" Lillian asked hopefully, eager to find relief from her growing
"I suppose you could, it wouldn't do to have you moping and limping around my house." Madam Shaliegh replied, pulling her cart to a halt. Lillian sighed gratefully, and not without some clumsiness, managed to get off her mare, and climb into Madam Shaleigh's cart. "Here, sit on this."
Madam Shaleigh said gently, reaching into her cart and pulling out a slightly frayed cushion.
"Oh, thank you so much Madam." Lillian said, unable to resist the urge to give Madam Shaleigh a hug.
The party continued to ride along the highway, the large stones set ages ago, yet still
crossing the land in straight lines, linking the cities and even the great nations with each other.
Here in Reginald's domain, the highways were used to divide the various free farmers, it was
a natural barrier and an easy place from which to draw the lines on the plots of land. Due
to this, the farmers tended to place simple fencing and grow crops as close to the highway as possible.
Arik softly whistled the same call as a striped wing startling, his eyes narrowing and
focusing on a field to the left of the road. Aliera pulled up, motioning slightly for
Madam Shaleigh to wait. "What is it, it will be dark before we get back to my home at
this rate." Madam Shaleigh grumbled as she slowed her cart to a crawl. Arik rode even to them, his eyes fixed on an unusually large part in the fields of lorngrass to the side. "Stay down" he commanded as he rode past, smoothly drawing his sword from his side.
A sharp twang rang out, and Arik recoiled in his saddle, grunting and glancing down
at his left arm. The fields began to sway as if something was moving through them, and Arik
gave chase, urging his stallion over the fence with ease, nearly landing on the burly man
who was desperately trying to reload a small crossbow. Arik pressed his stallion past the man, knocking him to his back. The man dropped his crossbow and struggled to his feet as Arik wheeled around. Swords quickly and briefly clashed, Arik blocking a wild swing from the man before stabbing him in the chest, dropping him where he stood.
Lillian cried out and hid her face as she watched Arik walk up, a quarrel still embedded
in his left arm. "Are you alright? he asked calmly, before turning his eyes back towards
the lorngrass fields.
"Arik your arm." Aliera said, her concern evident in her voice.
"Indeed, the bolt might have been poisoned. We should draw it quickly." Madam Shaleigh said, motioning for Arik to approach the cart. Lillian continued to hide her face in her hands,
visibly shaking from the recent events. Arik looked at Aliera, then glanced briefly at Lillian,
motioning her to comfort and quiet Lillian with his eyes.
"You're lucky, the bolt missed the bone." Madam Shaleigh said as she quickly drew it out.
For his part, Arik winced slightly, then waited with a scowl as Madam Shaleigh wrapped
one of her colorful scarves around the wound. "I'll clean it and apply medicines when
we get to my estate." she said, turning her gaze back towards the spot where the bandit
Arik nodded and muttered something which Madam Shaleigh took as thanks, then rode back
to where he had killed the bandit. The man was burly, unshaven and clearly Khardan. He
hadn't been eating well lately though, his clothes were hanging loosely on his frame.
His sword was well made, but not often used, a family heirloom perhaps. The crossbow
and bolts were much cheaper, the bolts were made from slightly bent branches crudely
fitted with cheap metal heads. The crossbow itself was barely workable, explaining
why Arik had gotten off so lightly. Arik took the sword and scabbard, and then returned
to the waiting women.
"Arik, I'm sorry." Lillian said between sniffles, trying to put on a braver face.
"Sorry for what? You're not a soldier, you're a lady's handmaiden. I no more expect you
to help fight a brigand than I expect my horse to fly." Arik chuckled, smiling in an effort
to reassure Lillian.
"It is rare that he smiles Lil. You should be honored." Aliera chuckled as she mounted her mare.
"I see many things, but the soldier smiling is a surprise, even to me." Madam Shaleigh.
Arik harrumphed and his face resumed its usual dour countenance, then he motioned for the ladies to proceed. He took the sword he had claimed from the bandit, and handed it to Aliera as they rode. "This is now yours. It is good Khardan steel, free from rust. Care for it and
it will care for you." he said solemnly.
"Won't he need it in the next world?" Aliera asked, observant of the Khardan tradition
of burying soldiers with their swords.
"He was no soldier, just a desperate farmer driven from his lands I'd guess. He will
have no need for it in the Halls of the Fathers. You however may yet see yourself in need of it."
Arik replied, carefully watching as Aliera managed to buckle it around her waist.
"Take care to keep small pebbles from being kicked up, they could cause the blade to catch."
he offered as a final warning.
"We should get going, the sun is setting and I don't want to spend the night out in the open."
Madam Shaleigh said as she began to spur her mule. Arik nodded in agreement, and pulled
himself up next to the cart, Aliera on the opposite side. After a good three arms of travel,
they came to a shallow creek bed, and took a turn into a wooded glade. The thin poplars
were in bloom, with sugar maples beginning to bud, the forest floor covered with the leaves
of previous falls, dotted with the green bursts of new ferns and grasses. Through the forest
they rode nearly another arm before the soft sound of a running brook began to filter through
the calls of various birds.
The shadows grew longer as they rode, and there was very little left in the way of light
as they approached Madam Shaleigh's hut. Her hut was set into a small hill, about ten yards
from a small brook, which even in the failing light the clarity of which stood out.
"It's like a paradise, it is so peaceful here." Lillian blurted out, then began to blush as
Madam Shaleigh smiled and chuckled.
"She is right, it is peaceful here. I'm still wondering though, why am I here?" Aleira asked.
"Good question." Arik murmured.
06-06-2012 10:13 PM
No one user submitted yet.
Author's notes -
Bad Witch, you are essentially correct. Arik's full history is covered in later chapters.
Again, comments are always welcome.
If you are interested in submitting a character I am still accepting submissions. Please feel free to do so
in the character submission thread.
06-06-2012 11:29 PM
No one user submitted yet.
Author's notes -
I've been working on this for a while now, in my spare time. Any criticism is welcome.
To avoid any confusion, an arm as referred to is the distance the shadow of the arm of a sundial travels between marks,
roughly one hour.
If you are interested in submitting a character I am still accepting submissions. Please feel free to do so
in the character submission thread.
[thanks for reading]
When is the audio book coming out
06-07-2012 01:51 AM
Yay! I was right. Just can't believe it took me that long to catch on. That's what I get for reading late at night
New Chapter. I feel bad for the poor bandit. Something must be going horribly wrong for a farmer to take up banditting...is that a word? Probably not but I'm using it anyway.
I like Lillian. She's sweet.
Madam Shaleigh certainly has character to her. I laughed at question to Arik.
Can't wait to find out what Aliera's doing there
06-14-2012 11:11 PM - edited 06-14-2012 11:15 PM
I enjoyed the two chapters and it's nice to see you finally started the story.
Poor Arik, dour warrior surrounded by "frilly" females.
It'll be interesting to see how Lillian responds to the next battle. I'm sure that Aliera and Madam Shaleigh will acquit themselves well.
So how frequently will you be posting chapters?
BTW, I'm curious about the story's name. When I first saw it, I thought about the war bonds sold during WWI and WWII.
Edits: dwang tpyos!
06-20-2012 09:42 PM
They passed through the heavy iron bound oak door to Madam Shaleigh's hut, and inside
they found a simple layout, a few alcoves near the river stone hearth holding clay pots and
mugs, iron hooks and cook pots hanging by the small fire. Wreathes of laurel, lavender
and hanging widow's moss decorated the simple wooden walls, the whitewash fading from
age. There was a comfortable overstuffed chair near the one window, with leaded glass,
a testament to her financial success. A book case stood out in the far corner, its shelves
packed with crystals, books and parchments carefully rolled and neatly stacked.
"Very well, you two go off to the right, there is a small room there you can share.
I've got some extra blankets, they should be comfortable enough to sleep on out here."
Madam Shaleigh said calmly, indicating that Arik would be sleeping on the floor.
"Now, let us have a good look at that arm." she contoniued, removing the hastily applied
bandage. "I don't see any signs of poison, and it missed the bones, so it should heal clean.
You girl, bring me that bottle of moonshine there." she said, pointing Lillian towards a
pantry cupboard. "No, that's not it, the bottle to the right. Yes."
Lillian brought over a plain glass bottle, with a mide mouth and large cork.
"This will probably sting." Madam Shaleigh warned after she poured out a small
quantity over the open wound, before standing up and retreating to her bedroom,
emerging again with a mortar and pessel, and some strips of pure white cotton.
As she began to mash together a paste of herbs and some salts, she began to croon
softly, a ethereal and somewhat haunting melody. Lillian quickly signed herself,
closing her eyes in quick prayer, a common peasant reaction to anything percieved
as spellworking. Arik scowled and refused to wince despite the sting of the alcohol,
while Aliera listen carefully and watched attentively, trying her best to commit
the notes and actions to memory.
Madam Shaliegh finished her song, and then dowsed her fingers in the moonshine,
before quickly smearing the paste on Arik's arm, and tying it down with the white strips.
The bleeding stopped almost immediately, though Arik winced and uttered a soft grunt
while being bandaged. "It should be better in a few days, and fully healed in a fortnight,
just in time for your next journey soldier. Until then, take care not to roll around
in the dirt." Madam Shaliegh cautioned.
"Then perhaps I shouldn't sleep on the floor." Arik observed sarcastically.
"You wouldn't fit in my bed." Madam Shaleigh replied with a curt laugh.
Arik scowled and found a soft place on the floor, sitting down, his legs crossed.
"Thank you for treating Arik Madam." Aliera said, smiling broadly. "I know
he isn't much for courtly manners, but he is a good man, and he would do anything
to protect any one of us." she whispered softly.
"I know that child. I just enjoy teasing his like." Madam Shaleigh replied, grinning
"Lady, I've unpacked everything in the guest room now." Lillian said, walking out from
the guest room. "I also found an old mattress in the closet, Madam, would it be alright
to set that out for Arik?" Lillian asked hoping to be helpful.
"Of course dear, he can sleep there. I must have forgotten I had that, I guess I'm
getting old." Madam Shaleigh offered somewhat disengeniously.
"Yes, the ravages of age I'm sure." Arik said, grinning slightly.
"Arik, Madam." Aliera said, shaking her head sadly while smiling.
"It is late, we should all retire now. We start early in hte morning with your training Aliera."
Madam Shaleigh warned as she closed the door to her bedroom.
"I'll get an extra blanket for you Lady, it seems like it might be chilly tonight." Lillian
said as she entered the guest room, leaving Aliera and Arik sitting near the hearth and its dying embers.
"Thank you Arik, you saved us all today. I don't want to think of what would have happened if you weren't there to protect us." Aliera said, hugging Arik tightly.
"I was fulfilling my oath." Arik replied, his tone carefully measured.
"I know. I'm glad nonetheless. We are safe here, please, get some rest. You are wounded,
and you need sleep if you are to recover quickly." Aliera said, kissing Arik lightly on his cheek.
"I'll see you in the morning then. Rest well, you are right, here you are safe." Arik said, his
hand resting on his sword.
Aliera finished changing into her nightgown, and then crawled into the small bed. The blankets were soft wool, the mattress itself free from major lumps and the sheets were linen, a little stiff but not itchy. Lillian began to spread out a few blankets on the floor and was about to blow out the candles when she caught Aliera's eye.
"Is there something my lady?" Lillian asked quietly.
"Why are you on the floor?" Aliera asked softly.
"Lillian, you are already going to be sore from riding, you should sleep in a proper bed.
Even Arik is sleeping on a mattress." Aliera said, lifting the blankets on the bed. "Climb
in Lillian, I won't bite."
Lillian nodded, and then crawled into the bed, trying to keep herself as respectfully apart
as the small bed allowed.
"Lillian, you are going to fall out. Come here, it's alright." Aliera said, as she pressed herself
up against the wall, trying to give Lillian more room. Lillian moved over slightly, and then settled in, sighing peacefully. Aliera wrapped her arm over Lillian, hugging her slightly, then fell asleep herself.
Aliera was dreaming, she knew she was dreaming, it felt somehow ethereal and real at the
same time. She was floating above her home, and it was burning, bands of soldiers, lean and
bloodthirsty, slaughtering everyone and everything they could get their blades on. Astride
a huge black stallion, a man stood, fully armored in intricately tooled plate and mail, blackened with age and soot. His surcoat was immediately recognizable, a black field with a single red blade facing downward. The sun itself seemed to be darkening, as though every death took a toll on its ability to shine.
Lillian woke up, and felt Aliera shaking next to her. She turned over, instinctively
holding Aliera close to her as Aliera woke up, tears streaming down from her eyes.
"Was it a dream my lady?" Lillian asked, pulling Aliera's head to her shoulder.
"It was a nightmare. They were burning the castle, they killed everything. It was awful."
Aliera answered between sobs. For several minutes she lay in bed with Lillian, grateful
that she was there, and cried. Lillian simply lay there as well, holding Aliera's head close
to her, content to allow Aliera whatever time she needed to recover from what seemed like
a terrible dream. She began to wonder herself if this trip was the correct thing to do,
like Arik, she harbored deep suspicions of Madam Shaleigh.
After what seemed like half an arm, Aliera stopped crying and regained her usual collected
composure. Lillian helped her dress, and Aliera returned the favor, then they went out into
the main room of the hut.
"Did you two sleep well?" Madam Shaleigh asked, her eyes on a large cookpot hanging over a small fire.
"I did yes, thank you Madam." Lillian answered, still wiping the sleep from her eyes.
"And you Lady?" Madam Shaleigh continued, her gaze narrowing slightly as it settled on Aliera.
"I had a nightmare, nothing to worry over though." Aliera admitted after a few moments.
"If you say so. You should get some oats, you'll need your strength." MAdam Shaleigh said,
nodding her head slightly.
Madam Shaleigh knew full well what kind of nightmare Aliera had, she herself had a dream
of the castle being razed, and knew full well the reason why. She didn't envy Aliera her Fate
in this matter, but without her cooperation, something much worse was almost certain to befall everyone. The spirits had hinted that Madam Shaleigh would have to choose herself, to help and risk her own life, or to sit idly by. When she first had that notion, that message being sent with more clarity than was usual for the normally cryptic spirits she could communicate with, she felt as though she shouldn't have to involve herself in the affirs of the world. She was
too old now to go trapsing off on quests, no matter the prophecies. After all, prophecies were
just rumors passed down becuase they sounded good, or worse yet, secured material power for churches, kings or cult leaders.
Looking at Aliera, and considering the the task that Fate had appointed her, Madam shaleigh
came to the conclusion however that she couldn't sit idly by, not again. Shaking her head to
clear her thoughts, she turned to face Aliera and smiled. "Alright child, you'd best wear
comfortable shoes, and bring a few towels, you'll need them. We'll be gone most of the day,
so take care not to burn down my house." Madam shaliegh concluded, directing the last towards Arik and Lillian.
"No you aren't soldier. You'll stay here and wait, the same as her handmaid. She will be fine,
but she needs to be able to concentrate fully if she is to awaken what is latent within her."
Arik scowled, his eyes narrowing as he thought about what best to do. After a few moments,
he simply nodded, and turned his attention back to the bowl of oats he had in his lap. Lillian
looked up from the cook pot, and caught Aliera's eye. "Are you sure you won't need anything
m'lady?" she asked, knowing the answer but still needing to hear it for herself.
"Yes, I will be fine Lillian. I'm sure Madam Shaleigh is just trying to keep distractions
to a minimum. It can't be easy to perform sorcery or see things, if it were everyone would
be able to do so." aliera said, smiling fondly at Lillian.
"She wants to keep her tricks a secret is all girl. It is all smoke and mirrors in any event."
Arik said, his voice unusually light hearted, and he almost cracked a smile as he heard Madam Shaleigh harumph.
The two ladies left in Madam Shaleigh's cart, her mule placidly pulling, though at a slow
pace. They passed through the hardwood and shrubs, along what seemed to be nothing more than a game trail at first glance. The path itself seemed to be somehow widening for the cart
as it passed, though Aliera wasn't sure if it was in fact true or merely a trick of her
mind brought on by her lack of sleep. Madam Shaliegh for her part simply smiled and
seemed to pay no mind to much of anything, save the occasional urging of her mule
when it decided to stop and munch on wild grasses.
"Madam, what exactly am I supposed to learn?" Aliera asked.
"To listen. You are supposed to learn to listen." Madam Shaliegh replied lightly.
"Listen to what?" Aliera replied, genuinely perplexed by the answer.
"You'll have to find that for yourself I'm afraid. I'm only the messenger in this,
even I don't know what exactly you'll need to do or how you'll do it. For what it is
worth, I am sorry." Madam Shaliegh replied, her voice full of genuine regret and concern.
The two arrived at their destination, a small waterfall, not much taller than a man, set in
a rolling hill surrounded by a grove of trees and high shrubs. "Yes, this is upstream from my
cottage, and I come here often. It is a peaceful place isn't it? Come along, I hope
you don't mind getting wet." Madam Shaleigh said, as she hobbled her mule nearby.
Aliera followed, and they walked near the bank of the river, slightly wider here,
and moving much quicker than the babbling creek near her home. Madam Shaleigh carefully
picked her way along the bank approaching the waterfall, muttering slightly and using a
well worn walkig stick to help her balance. Aliera asked her if she needed help, and
she smiled, declining, and reminded Aliera to watch her step, that slipping and falling into
the river was not something exclusive to old ladies.
As they got closer to the waterfall, they began to get wet, splashed by the waterfall and
rising mists. "Take care, there is moss on these stones. Watch and step where I step."
Madam Shaleigh cautioned as she carefully and quickly made her way through the waterfall
and into a cave which extended and was hidden by the falling river. Aliera managed to make
her way in, her dress and boots soaked in the process. She shook herself off slightly,
and began to wring out her hair, and take in her new surroundings.
The cave itself was about as wide as two men, and seemed to extend back a good ways.
There were quartz crystals growing from the walls, small clusters of dazzling colors
like jewels simply resting. Small stalagtites and stalagmites hung with glowing mosses,
the steady roar of the waterfall replaced with a soothing drip and gentle ripples of
the occasional pool of mineral water.
"Beautiful isn't it?" Madam Shaleigh asked, snapping Aliera out of her rapt facination.
"It is Madam. It truly is. The moss is the only thing that provides light?" Aliera replied,
taking in the seemingly magical nature of the cave.
"Yes, the moss that grows here glows and provides enough light to see by, but not so much
as to be seen beyond the falls. This is a special place, I'm sure you can tell that much."
Madam Shaleigh said, sitting down on a worn rock, and motioning for Aliera to sit on a
second stone, lighter in color and slightly rougher.
"I can tell this is no ordinary place, but I don't know how to describe it. It is almost
as though I can see with my heart. It is difficult to describe, but here I feel at peace,
and my heart is able to see or maybe feel things." Aliera said, confusion and wonder plainly
"That's good. Just relax, listen with your heart and concentrate on those feelings. You will
have to learn to do this reflexively. Just concentrate on the sense of peace you are feeling."
Madam Shaleigh said softly, her words seeming to take on a dream like quality to Aliera.
Aliera relaxed herself, and tried her best to calm the storm of feelings and thoughts
in her mind. She felt new things which threatened to overwhelm her, to toss her into a
storm of emotions. She struggled, feeling ectasy and despair in equal magnitude, as if
everything in the world was somehow known to her, but in the flood of feeling she couldn't make out anything. After what seemed like an eternity of this, she finally gained something of
a sense of calm, though the feelings, the storm was still raging, just outside and trying to
Madam Shaliegh simply sat back and waited. There was nothing she could do to help Aliera,
this kind of awakening was dangerous during the best of times, and lately there was a great deal of negative energy, another sign from the prophecy. Sighing, she prayed to whatever Gods might happen to hear that Aliera would be able to master the storm she was being thrown into, and not end up a raving lunatic as a result. She worried, if Aliera failed, then things would be extremely difficult, the least of which would be the reaction of Arik. Madam Shaleigh held no illusions about Lillian being able to control Arik's temper, and if anything happened to Aleira, Arik would almost certainly blame her.
Madam Shaliegh sighed to herself, and looked at Aliera closely, studying her face and
trying to read her progress. Aliera was sitting, her face twitching rapidly, a thin film
of sweat beading and running down her face. MAdam Shaliegh reached into a fold of her dress, and pulled out a reasonably dry scarf, wiping Aliera's brow gently before sighing and
softly saying, "I'm sorry child, but I'm simply too old for this. It shouldn't be you,
you really don't deserve it, but Fate is notorious like that. I do hope you find some calm."
In her mind, Aliera braced herself and managed to strengthen the wall between her and
the storm. Breathing heavily, she stopped, and looked around, finally able to see in her mind's eye.
It was an odd place, pastel colors shimmering softly around her. She heard what seemed like
a distant voice, a clear message trying to get to her. Carefully, Aliera tried to concentrate
on that voice, and slowly it grew clearer, more distinct from the storm. Aliera concentrated,
imagining a doorway opening to let in the voice, and the colors shimmered, parting like a
branch in a waterfall.
"You must take care" the voice said, as it seemed to take shape passing through the colors.
The voice appeared to Aliera as a copy of her, though somehow the colors were reversed. Her
eyes were still the same as Aliera's, and she felt a gentle kindness from the being standing before her.
"Child, you must always take care when doing that. There are things which would try to gain entry to your mind, to drive you mad, to betray you, or simply overwhelm you. I have done what I am allowed to protect you, but I cannot stay here and guard you. Not everything is what it seems, thus I grant you the heartsight." the figure said, touching Aliera gently on her chest.
06-20-2012 10:53 PM
Author's Note -
Nothing really new going on. No characters yet, but they are coming soon.
I am still accepting new characters. The thread is linked.
Forgin : I'll try to have a new chapter every two weeks or so, but no promises. I'm going to be busy over the Summer.
I am glad you are reading it though.
As always, comments are welcome.
[thanks for reading]
07-23-2012 11:06 PM
"What is heartsight?" Aliera asked, genuinely dumbfounded.
"The heartsight allows you to see the truth behind the falsehoods that mortals
project. You will be able to see the true content of someone or something's heart,
and thus know good from evil. Be warned however, while this seems a great gift, it
has a price. As you use it, your sight will dim." the figure said, a look of sorrow
crossing its face.
"I will be able to control it, to use it when I want?" Aliera asked, her voice showing
signs of fear at the prospect of losing her sight.
"No. Do not fear, it will take years for your sight to fade totally. Colors will
seem dimmer at first, then objects distant will seem blurred."
"You monster, why did you curse me." Aliera cried out, swinging wildly at the figure.
Her fist merely passed through the figures body, swirling it as a cloud of smoke
before it reformed, a look of profound sorrow on its face. "Young one, this was
always fated. Your heartsight will always remain, even as your vision fades. You
must have this, if you are to fulfill your destiny." the figure said calmly.
"What is this destiny? Can you at least tell me that much, since you've taken my
sight." Aliera said, her anger still present, her face full of impotent anger.
"It is the least I can do, and a not unreasonable request. Please, calm down,
and listen, much of what I have to tell you is already known to you, some of it
is not." the figure said, her voice soft yet firm and possessing a commanding presence.
"Once, long ago, spirits of both Light and Darkness had free reign over the world.
It was a chaotic time, both sides pulling at both Man and Nature. The spirits of
Light saw the damage this conflict was doing, and we decided that we must remove
ourselves in order to end the fighting. We knew however that we couldn't simply leave,
and condemn Man and Nature both to the caprices and terrors of Darkness. Thus,
we gathered at Lake Tatanshu, and there, under the watchful Hand above All, we
did come to an agreement whereby both sides would leave." the figure said, a look of
sorrow briefly passing over its face as it recounted.
"We were tricked however. The Darkness said that they would leave only on condition
that they received an equal part of all. We agreed, but too late did we realize what
we had agreed to. Thus, we have the darkness of men's hearts." the figure paused here,
sighing sadly. She continued, "Worse yet, the Sun, which warms and lights the world,
also has within it something of the Darkness, which even now grows, dimming the sun.
In time, unless it is stopped, the world will fall to cold twilight. So empowered,
Darkness would soon ride the land again, free from the agreement. We would be unable to
stop them, and your world would fall."
"What does this have to do with taking my sight?" Aliera asked, her anger still
stronger than the growing sense of horror at what this figure has told her.
"The Heartsight simply is, we have it as well. Sadly, mortals simply cannot learn
to use it without losing their vision. I don't know why that is, though if I could,
I would change that. I cannot work against Fate though, sadly it is the the way of things
that sacrifice is involved in these matters." the figure shook her head sadly for a moment,
"You must have the Heartsight if you are to succeed. There are those who have succumbed
to the darkness in their hearts, and will work to stop you. They know you are the only person
with the innate power to stop their efforts to dim the Sun. They can deceive your ears, your
eyes and your companions, but they cannot deceive your Heartsight. With it, you will always
know the true nature of those who stand before you. You must have this advantage, it is the
greatest magic we can bestow to any mortal, for it gives you the insight into the absolute truth
of the heart of whoever stands before you." the figure concluded, then suddenly embraced Aliera tightly, holding her head close.
"Will I be able to succeed?" Aliera finally asked.
"I cannot say for sure. You are the last best hope, the one who contains the new brightness.
I have come here to grant you the tools you need to have the best chance, but you alone
must decide. You can leave here and return to your old life, I cannot stop you from doing so.
If you do that, the Sun will dim and Darkness will ride the land, bringing terrible horrors.
If you decide to stand against the Darkness, you will suffer loss and sorrow, and you might not succeed, but if you do, you will banish the Darkness from the Sun for another hundred generations." the figure said, gently cradling Aliera in her arms.
"It won't be banished forever?" Aliera asked.
"No, it won't be banished forever. Nothing is forever, save the Hand above All. The banishment however will bring a second golden age, a chance to advance by a step towards a more just world, anger replaced with hope, vengeance replaced with mercy, but by degree. I wish it were more, but I won't lie to you. That is the way of Darkness. There are other things you must know, and my time here is drawing to a close." the figure said, her voice suddenly taking a tone of alarm and concern.
"You must find the last Knight, and get him to help you. Only he can hope to stand against
the true leader of the forces which array against you." the figure held up a glimmering arm,
as Aliera began to open her mouth. "No, I can see the question you are asking, and strong as he is, he is not strong enough. The last Knight, only he can hope to succeed, and even then, he
might not be enough. Tell Madam Shaliegh to go with you. She will also be needed. I wish
I had time to tell you more, but I must go before the Dark finds you through finding me.
I will be able to speak to you through dreams, so pay heed. Your Heartsight will be your guide.
Trust in it, and only in what it shows you to be trustworthy. Tell Wind she waits for him
to finish his tasks." the figure said as she faded back into the storm.
Aliera sighed, letting her frustration at the events which have transpired out. It seemed
almost to take on a life of its own, her anger, frustration, her sense of impotent rage at
whatever destiny was out there decreeing that she should be doomed to go blind, to take on
the responsibility of saving the world from Darkness. She just wanted to go home, to be by
her father's side, to sneak out to the river on warm days to dip her feet in it and cool off,
to hope that Arik wouldn't be too angry with her for doing so, and to gossip with Lillian
about cute boys before eventually she was married to someone of her father's choosing.
It seemed as though the more she shook, the more something formed in the chaos surrounding her.
It was dark, ominous, an almost mirror opposite to the figure she had just spoken to. It however didn't seem to want to talk to her. It was straining against something, some kind of shimmering barrier which flashed with rainbow colors at each attempt to pass beyond. Aliera studied the figure, trying to determine what it was, and suddenly she keeled over, dropped to her knees by feelings of overwhelming anger, hatred and a desire to destroy everything. Gasping, Aliera tried to close herself off before the feelings began to overwhelm her. It seemed like an eternity, and then she began to hear a soft familiar voice, as if it was coming from a tunnel. Slowly, she opened her eyes, and say Madam Shaliegh sitting next to her, holding her head and fanning her lightly with her floppy hat.
"Easy child, rest. I don't know exactly what you've gone through, but I know it was difficult.
I could hear you, it is fortunate we are here alone. I shudder to think of what that soldier
or Lillian would say if they had heard you." Madam Shaliegh said, as Aliera sat up.
"Here, drink this. The waters which drip down in here are special, they can help you regain
your composure." Madam Shaliegh said, offering Aliera a small shallow bowl full of
crystal clear water.
"Madam, I saw things, I don't know how to explain it, but I think I saw an angel." Aliera
blurted out, shaking her head in disbelief even as she continued to explain what happened.
"It was beautiful, but it was unearthly, transparent, and it seemed so sad. It told me
I had to save the world by saving the sun from the Darkness within it, that if I failed,
the sun would dim and Darkness would be unleashed. It said that it would give me something called Heartsight, that I would be able to see the absolute truth of the heart of those
who stand before me. It also said that my vision would fade over time. Does any of that
make sense to you? I just don't know what I'm supposed to do." Aliera said, tears beginning
to well up and run down her cheeks.
"I thought this might happen. In fact, I saw that it would." Madam Shaliegh said, her voice
full of regret and sympathy.
"You knew I'd be cursed and took me here anyway?" Aliera cried, pushing herself away.
"Yes, I knew it and I took you here anyway. I didn't want to do that. I didn't want what I
foresaw to come to pass, but it did, and I knew that it was Fate, and Fate cannot be denied."
Madam Shaliegh replied, sounding much like a tutor scolding a child for an outburst.
Aliera shuddered suddenly, then fixed her gaze on Madam Shaliegh, her eyes seeming to both
focus on and focus past Madam Shaliegh. After a few moments, she gasped out, and then
bowed her head. "I'm sorry." was all she said.
"So, you are learning quickly, that's good, because we haven't much time. The first lesson
though is this, you must learn to hide this, if you allow it to possess you, you will be
in great danger. Learn to see, and learn when to speak of what you see. Not seeing something
can be dangerous, speaking of what you see can be fatal. It is late, we should be getting back
now, lest that grumpy soldier do something dumb like try to find us." Madam Shaliegh said as she stood up, and straightened her skirts.
"Madam, I'm sorry, I wanted to say this though, for everything, thank you." Aliera said
as she stood and wiped her sleeve against her cheeks.
"You're welcome child. Come now, we've still got a long ride back, and the night here
can be troublesome."
Arik was waiting outside the cave, while Lillian was pacing back and forth nervously.
"I'll get the horses." Arik said softly, and walked over to the bank of the small river
where he had tethered the horses loosely, allowing them to forage and drink. Lillian
rushed over to the wet stones which ran under the waterfall to the cave entrance, and
nearly fell into the river twice before Aliera begged her to stop and wait on the
shore. Madam Shaliegh made her way back, somewhat slower in the fading light, and
fixed her gaze on Arik, who was returning with the two horses.
"You should have waited Lil, I told you that I would be fine." Aliera said, as Lillian
hugged her. "I know, but it is the woods, and there are wolves and bandits. I couldn't
live with myself if something happened and I wasn't here to help." Lillian said firmly.
"Lil, if we had been attacked, you would have been hurt as well. How am I supposed to
live with that?" Aliera asked, as she returned Lillian's hug gently then looked at her.
She saw the genuine concern that Lillian had for her safety, a devotion that wouldn't
change for anything. Aliera smiled and thanked Lillian again for her concern, but reminded her that she could take care of herself, being sure to say that loud enough for Arik to overhear.
For his part, Arik didn't acknowledge Aliera's obvious remarks, but rather fixed his gaze
on Madam Shaliegh, who even now was approaching him, a finger out and pointing as menacing as any sword.
"Now you listen up, you don't wear a helmet so your brains can't be rattled that hard.
I said that I would bring her back, and I said to wait in my home. You have no place here
soldier, this is a grove of peace." she said, her voice giving no room for excuses or argument.
"I told you, she would be under my protection. I will allow nothing to happen to her, I've
sworn this. How am I to fulfill that oath if I'm sitting about in your home, while you and
the Lady are traveling woods at night full of bandits and Gods only know what else."
Arik replied coolly, holding his injured arm up slightly.
"Arik, I will be fine. Please, you and Father worry so, but you more than anyone else
should know that I am quite capable of taking care of myself, you saw to that yourself.
There is something though that I must tell both of you, when we get back. Until then,
I'm glad that you are both here safely, and I'm sure now that we'll be all make it back safely."
Aliera said as she walked over towards the horse which Lillian had ridden on. She glanced
over at Arik, who was scowling slightly towards Madam Shaliegh, but little else.
She saw though the weight of his oath on him, and she knew that he would die to fulfill
that oath, that no matter what stood in front of him, he would never turn and run, he would
stand and protect her because it is his duty to do so. She felt and knew that it was fear which
motivated his courage, he was terrified that he would fail the Duke and allow harm to come
to Aliera, which is why he was so protective of her. Aliera sighed slightly, then reached out
and hugged Arik tightly, catching him by surprise. "Thank you." she whispered softly as she
let go, and mounted her horse with practiced ease.
"What was that about?" Lillian asked aloud, and she clambered up onto the cart
next to Madam Shaliegh. Madam Shaliegh for her part was still angry at Arik and
Lillian's intrusion, but decided that there were better times to have a discussion about
respecting her right to privacy.
"I think it was just stress, or a way to stop that thrice stubborn metal mule from
saying something he would regret." she replied to Lillian, content with earning a quick
scowl from Arik.
07-23-2012 11:08 PM
Sorry for the delay.
Next chapter, user characters start to appear.
You comments are always welcome.
[thanks for reading]
10-23-2012 09:41 PM - edited 10-23-2012 09:44 PM
Serena crouched down in the woods, wiping her glasses briefly with a small green
cloth she carried in a pocket. She had been told to go ahead of the main force, to scout
out possible paths of advance and to keep a wary eye out for anyone who might alert
the castle. She didn't like having to do these kinds of things, but her family needed
it done, and they were trying to unite the world to make it a better place. They took
her in, they raised her, they gave her a great gift, so it wasn't too much to ask
that she fight for them and help them succeed, especially since they were trying to
do the right thing and bring everyone together.
She spied out a small group, it looked like a few soldiers and at least one
guide. This concerned her, the soldiers she could evade, but the guide might
spot her depending on how good he was. No one seemed to be paying much attention
other than the guide though, which was in her favor. Still, a larger group like
this would be trouble, they might well send someone back to raise the alarm.
Sighing silently to herself, Serena moved with exaggerated slowness, timing her
movements to the wind to disguise her rustling of the leaves.
The soldiers were annoyed, Lucian sending them out in such numbers was getting
tiresome. It was difficult to navigate the narrow woodland paths and game trails
in large numbers, not to mention slow. They knew full well that Lucian had gotten
his orders from Arik, and so they raised no formal complaints, but still grumbled as
soldiers will do when faced with disagreeable orders. "What's worse is that we make
so much noise that all the game is scared off. The least we can do is come back with
some meat for the pot." Johans grumbled half-heartedly.
"Oh, so ye would add poaching to dereliction of duty." Ryan quipped.
"Dere what?" Johans said, removing his helm to scratch his head and wipe the sweat from his brow.
"Hush the lot of you." Stephen, one of only three official warders the Duke employed,
said, as he crouched down and narrowed his eyes slightly. Stephen walked down the game path
a few yards, and crouched down, looking for signs of anything unusual. The past few days
had been dry, and sunny, baking the clay soil. It made finding any tracks nearly
impossible, but he was glad to be away from the loud cluster of men, if only
for a few moments. Sighing, he stood up and walked back, content that nothing
particularly dangerous was running about. "Come on, there is nothing out here,
we might as well get back now, besides, we can't find any tracks, the ground is too hard."
Stephen called out as he walked back, leading the soldiers back to the castle.
Serena breathed out slowly, she had been truly concerned, Stephen had been a scant
fifteen feet from her, but he hadn't noticed. She felt as though perhaps the spirits
had been shielding her, hiding her from danger. Her family had told her that they might
do that from time to time, that she was special and the spirits would look after her as
long as she helped them out. She waited until the patrol had passed beyond earshot before
carefully creeping out from the brush. The ground was still hard, but she took care to
carefully snap some branches from a bush and drag them behind her, in case she left
Serena made her way back almost half a day, coming to the camp of the army her
family had joined. The army was large, certainly the largest she had ever seen.
It had smiths with it, as well as doctors, and her family, which were gifted with
witch's sight. It made her proud to be part of that family, and to be able to help
the Lord Marshall in his efforts to bring peace to the world. She wondered why this
Duke had to be eliminated, what it was that he had done which was so bad. His soldiers
didn't seem to be cruel per se, at least no crueler than any professional soldier.
His peasants seemed to be reasonably well fed, it wasn't as though he was starving
them. She shrugged it off, she had a report to give, and time was important, that was
something she knew for sure.
The large field tent of the Lord Marshall was a dark affair, with his banner,
a black field with a single red sword, blade down, snapping in the gentle breeze.
Serena entered, after the guards standing outside the tent gave her a quick but
thorough look. She walked in, and saw her adoptive father Zen, and mother Shayla, standing
over a small bronze brazier from which a peculiar reddish smoke was rising.
"Ahh, daughter, what news have you?" her father asked, his eyes glazed over, his thin
mustaches twitching slightly as he brushed them back with his thin bent fingers.
"The castle is lightly guarded. There aren't more than maybe thirty men, and
at most six warders. I don't think this will be much of a problem at all, the
soldiers are getting tired and distracted from patrolling constantly." Serena said,
bowing to her father.
"Excellent job daughter. Were you seen?" he asked, as he turned his attention back
to the brazier.
"No, I wasn't seen. The good spirits shielded me from their wicked eyes." she replied.
The Lord Marshall looked up, his eyes empty and cold, like black ice, and fixed his
gaze on Serena. He was tall, well built, with graying hair cut close, a scar running across
his left cheek and down his neck. "Was the daughter there, the one with the pink hair?"
he asked, his voice sounding oddly hollow and deep.
"I didn't see any women, save an old washer woman Lord." Serena replied, her voice trembling
"She must be found." he replied evenly, his voice carrying with it the implied fate for
failing him a second time.
"Yes my Lord." Serena stammered, as she bowed and left the tent.
"Is it wise to send her off like that? We have seen the Duke send his daughter off with his
Captain of the guard. I'd hate to lose all the work we put into that one." Zen asked.
"My armies are out as you well know. The Duke never had much in the way of fighting men,
his castle will fall and she will be forced to flee. We simply wait, and if the girl manages
to flush her out, all the better." the Lord Marshall replied.
"It seems reckless though, all the time I have put into her shouldn't be squandered on
a petty task that any hired blade could accomplish." Zen said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Do not lecture me on time spent. You are not the first adviser I have had, nor will you be
the last." the Lord Marshall said, his voice full of menace and sounding oddly hollow.
Serena left the large field tent, and returned to her own small lean to. She crawled in,
and stripped off the leather armor she had been wearing, washing herself quickly with a
small cloth and a half barrel of cold water. She retrieved a small white cotton shirt and a quickly put it on,
not trusting the average soldiers around her to mind their manners, and not desiring to have
to kill any of them tonight as she has had to in the past. She carefully and slowly brushed
out her hair, falling into a kind of trance while doing so, it was something which always
reminded her of her mother. After a good ten minutes, she settled down into a small but
sturdy cot which was set up in a small corner. Her pillow was reasonably soft, a mixture of
straw and goose down, and the heavy burlap of her cot had been combed, making it much softer.
She stretched out, almost cat-like, and then put her head down, a large knife in her hand
as she fell asleep.
The next morning saw tremendous activity in the camp. Soldiers were gathering and forming ranks,
the familiar ring of steel being sharpened filled the air, as soldiers donned coats of mail and
helms. Serena stretched out, then pulled her hair back, tying it with a bright ribbon. She shrugged
slightly as she dressed, taking care to wrap her feet with thin cotton strips to help protect them
from blisters. she took out a whetstone, and with a practiced hand began to sharpen the thin long
dagger and short elegantly curved saber she carried when she expected to be in a fight. She always
felt slightly sad when she did this, she didn't like to take life if she didn't have to, but it
was what she was good at, and her family needed her help.
Serena walked out past the noise of the camp, what she needed to do now she needed to do in
silence, or at least free from the distractions of the camp. It took her only a few minutes of
brisk walking to clear the camp, and arrive next to the small stream which had served the army
as both well and latrine. Sighing slightly, she splashed some of the water on her face, the cold
coming as a shock. She whispered softly, strange words which she couldn't possibly know in a language
which hasn't been seen since the dawn of time, yet they came to her lips with practiced ease.
She splashed her face again, this time the shock of the cold came with a glimpse of a small
cave behind a waterfall, several leagues away. She opened her eyes, wiped them dry with a small
cloth, and began heading off, feeling herself being pulled towards that cave.
The Lord Marshall walked out from his tent, fully dressed for battle. He raised his blade, catching
the reflection of the sunlight, and simply lowered it, pointing it towards the castle. The men cheered
wildly, and began to rush out, with what seemed to be little in terms of military discipline.
"I live for this." he whispered softly to himself, as he mounted his warhorse and began to trot
after the mob he had so casually unleashed.
The sounds of the soldiers howling wildly carried across the land, and the farmers between
their camp and the castle took to hiding and prayer, often concealing themselves in root cellars
under half empty bags of potatoes. The soldiers barely payed any attention to the farmsteads, the
occasional torch being tossed out of pure malice. These men were focused on the castle, which they
hoped to overwhelm before any serious resistance could be mounted.
At the castle, Duke Reginald looked up from his desk as he heard the din from a distance.
He looked out the window for a brief moment, shocked and stunned with disbelief. He already saw
his castle guard and warders struggling to close the castle gates, the wooden portcullis dropping
into place with a resounding thud. The warders took to the battlements, their hunting bows aimed
outward and already taking a toll. The Duke knew however it was a matter of time. He had no army,
he had never needed one. He had guards who were good, but few in number and not experienced in more
than chasing the occasional bandit and keeping peace in the markets and during the harvest festival.
This was an attack by seasoned soldiers, not merely dunking the local drunks in the horse trough
when they got out of hand.
The Lord Marshal rode up, seeing the battle unfold. He had hoped the castle would not have time
to seal the gates, but the portcullis was wooden, and under cover of large tower shields, his men
were already hacking at the joints with heavy axes. He casually raised his shield to deflect an arrow,
and grinned under his helm. "I do hope they put up some sport." he observed to himself. He was more
concerned though with the girl. She had to be captured or killed, either one would work for his
purposes. Zen had warned him of a guardian, but the only soldier here was the Duke's captain,
and one man would be dealt with easily enough.
Lucian wiped the sweat from his face, and looked around. He knew his men wouldn't be able to hold
the portcullis any longer, he ordered them to shove as much as possible in the entryway, and then
ordered them to fall back to the manor. His only thought now was to get the Duke out safely somehow,
and then to find a way to get to Arik. He sighed heavily, and then led what was left of his command
back, barring the door to the manor proper and shoving a heavy table in the way of the door.
"Hold what you've got." he barked out, then ran off to the Duke.
Duke Reginald was sitting in his chair, writing furiously. The letter finished, he dumped the
bottle of sand over it, and quickly blew it off. Scanning it over again, he then folded and carefully
sealed it, before secreting it away behind a small loose stone. Lucian entered as he finished,
and said, "Duke, we must flee, my men won't hold for long. Come with me sire, I won't let anything
happen to you, but we must flee now if we are to catch up to Arik."
Duke Reginald smiled sadly, and shook his head. "I won't be leaving. Go Lucian, you must tell
Arik and Aliera of what happened here. I'm too old to run, I'll only slow you down."
Lucian started to object when a heavy crashing sound echoed from behind him. "Go, now."
Duke Reginald commanded, but Lucian shook his head. "Sire, my duty is here. I can hold them at the
doorway." he replied coolly, then turned his attention to the door. An axe blade had already begun
its work, quickly chopping a large hole in the heavy oak door.
Lucian waited a brief moment, then stabbed through the doorway, feeling his blade bite into
a soldier who was unprepared for the possibility. A pair of crossbow bolts reached out from
the other side of the door, but Lucian had already moved aside. A deep voice called out from
the other side of the door, "What is taking so long. One old man and a mere boy shouldn't
be this much trouble." Lucian chanced a glance through the hole, and saw a large figure in
blackened plate armor, his shield blazoned with a single red sword blade.In his hand he held
a glinting longsword which seemed somehow unreal, a sword which seemed to glow softly.
With one mighty swing, the Lord Marshall smashed the door into splinters, the force of the blow sending
Lucian flying backwards. The Duke had armed himself as well, with his sword and shield he had taken from
the wall. Reginald blocked the flying splinters from the door, then drew himself up as much as he could,
his eyes narrowing as he swung his father's blade at the Lord Marshall. He blocked it easily, a chuckle
escaping from his helm. "where is she and I'll send you on your way quickly." he asked, his voice
sounding cold and hollow.
Lucian had recovered from the force of the blow which had send him staggering, and saw the Duke
trying to attack the Lord Marshall. He staggered to his feet, and rushed at the Lord Marshall,
shouldering him backwards into the hallway. "Run Sire" he called out, as the Lord Marshall
stabbed him. "Now that the interruptions are over." he continued, as Lucian fell at his feet,
"Where is the girl." Duke Reginald sighed, seeing his life end not surrounded by his loved ones
in peace, but rather surrounded by flames and war, and raised his father's sword one final time.
The Lord Marshall chuckled softly, and whispered, "So be it." as he ran Reginald through.
"Loot what you will, if you find the girl, be sure she is unharmed, mostly." he called out to
his waiting soldiers. The castle was looted and burned, no one was left to speak of what had happened.
The army then regrouped, the day having been spent looting and having sport, the night would be
spent reveling in conquest and ale. Zen walked up to the Lord Marshall's tent, and entered.
"Well, did he tell you where the girl was?" he asked smugly, as if he knew the answer.
"Tread carefully. I suppose now we wait and see if your creation can deliver." came the cool reply.
10-23-2012 09:45 PM
Author's notes -
Sorry this has taken so long to get up, I've just been swamped of late. That all ends in two weeks though, so hopefully things will get back to normal.
Serena - Ciddy
Comments are welcome.
[Thanks for Reading]
01-11-2013 08:52 PM - edited 01-11-2013 08:53 PM
Aliera snapped up from the bed she was sleeping on with a start, a cold sweat
running over her. Lillian woke up almost as quickly, and turned towards Aliera,
frightened at the sudden nature of being woken up, and the sight of Aliera shivering.
"What is wrong milady, are you ill?" Lillian asked, as she pulled the blanket up
to wrap around Aliera.
"Father" escaped from Aliera's lips in a soft whisper, then she passed out, falling
into Lillian's arms.
Lillian cried out loudly, and both Arik and Madam Shaliegh were in the room
within a moment of each other. Arik was wearing only his breeches, but had his sword
in hand. Madam Shaliegh looked around the room quickly, as if scrying for some
unseen force, but then settled herself down.
"Put away your blade soldier, there is nothing here for you to skewer." she said softly.
Arik scowled, and lowered his arm, bringing his sword down next to his hip, though
not sheathing it. Madam Shaliegh frowned slightly, but knew this would be the best
she could expect at the moment.
" Tell me girl, what happened?" she asked Lillian, who was still cradling Aliera.
"She woke up in a cold sweat madam, she gave a start, and I think she whispered something,
but I didn't hear it." Lillian said, wiping Aliera's forehead with her shirt sleeve
and hugging her tightly.
"I saw my father, the castle, fire..." Aliera whispered out, her voice shaking.
"The Lord's castle? We must go there now." Arik said, his voice offering little choice.
"Silence metal mule. Would you have us rush to the arms whatever it is that did this?"
"Watch your tongue seer." Arik replied, his voice betraying the bare level of control he
had over his rising anger.
"Arik, please." Aliera whimpered, then turned her gaze towards Madam Shaliegh.
"Is it true?" she pleaded, desperately hoping it wasn't.
Madam Shaliegh nodded once, solemnly, then offered her condolences with a matronly hug.
Arik turned on his heel and left, the door slamming behind him.
Lillian started to stand up, but Madam Shaliegh caught her arm. "Leave him to his own
devices child. He is a loyal and honorable man, he must come to grips with his own grief
in his own way. Besides, your friend needs you more than he." she said, looking down at
Aliera who was sobbing.
Arik looked out on the dark forest, his eyes narrowed and vision blurred with the
tears he couldn't shed in front of anyone. His thoughts turned towards his duke, and to
Lucian. He was furious with himself, he knew that Lucian wouldn't be ready by himself,
he felt torn, his duty and his honor in conflict, and the words of his father coming back to him,
that should ever his duty and honor come to conflict, he alone was to blame.
His mind called forth unbidden memories of his childhood, of being orphaned by
raiders, chased from his home by a half glimpsed black banner, of wandering, starving,
and finally collapsing on the far reaches of the Duke's estates. He was found by the
Duke himself, who was out hunting a troublesome lone wolf. Brought back to the castle,
it seemed like he would die from a fever brought on by starvation and exposure.
The boy survived, and recovered his strength slowly under the care of the Duke's household.
He grew into a man, and having no other skills, he became a somewhat reluctant soldier.
He took to the training readily enough, grateful to the man who saved him. When it came
to killing though, he was not as eager. That changed over time, one robber at a time.
His trip down memory lane was interrupted though, as Madam Shaliegh walked out and stood
silently next to him.
"What is it?" Arik asked, his voice flat, as he quickly wiped at his eyes.
"She is resting now, I thought you should know. The girl is with her, and they
are nestled in each others arms. She will be fine, she is strong." Madam Shaliegh
said softly, her voice losing the sarcastic tone it usually held when she spoke to him.
"She shouldn't have to be." Arik muttered softly.
"You couldn't have stopped this, if you had remained behind, she would be mourning your loss
as well." Madam Shaliegh replied softly.
Lillian cradled Aliera softly, letting her cry and saying nothing, brushing her hair
from her face occasionally while she rocked her back and forth slowly.
"It is all my fault Lillian, I know it." Aliera sobbed softly.
"No, it isn't. You didn't do this, you were here the whole time." Lillian replied.
"It is because of me, because of whatever this destiny I have. That's why my father is dead.
It isn't fair, why should he have to die because of me. Why should everyone at the castle
have to die. They didn't have anything to do with this, they just wanted to live in peace,
to raise a family and pass on that peace to their kids. I never asked for this, I don't want it,
but I'm stuck with it." Aliera whimpered.
"Aliera...." Lillian replied, hugging Aliera closely to her, doing her best to keep from
crying herself over seeing the woman she loved as a sister in such anguish.
"What now then Madam?" Arik asked.
Madam Shaliegh was taken aback by the sudden nature of Arik's question. "She should stay here
for a day or two, then perhaps we can risk heading back to the castle. She should have the
chance to say goodbye, don't you think?"
"Beyond that? What should we do for her, where can we go? I appreciate your hospitality,
but if whoever did this comes here to find her, I cannot defend her." Arik said.
"She must now fulfill her destiny. It is why she has the heartsight. She will know
what must be done now. All we can do is support and protect her as she tries."
"Will she succeed? Will whatever it is she is supposed to do be worth this?" Arik asked.
"It will be worth it, but I don't know if she will succeed. That has been hidden from me."
It wasn't the answer Arik was looking for, but he accepted it with the same stoic nature he
had accepted all hardships in his life.
Dawn broke, the soft light spilling in through the cracks in the window shutters
of the cottage. Lillian woke up, Aliera held tightly in her arms, paused for a moment,
then decided that she would simply wait for Aliera to wake on her own. She heard
stirrings outside the room, the soft scrape of metal against stone, and the faint aroma
of oats beginning to simmer.
Aliera woke up in Lilian's arms, and whispered a brief good morning. Lillian loosened her
hold on her, and Aliera wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her nightshirt. She yawned, and
Lillian rose to fetch her a small mug of fresh water. "Thank you." Aliera said, as Lillian
returned with the water, as well as a small bowl of oats with honey. Aliera ate mechanically,
still in shock from what she had endured the previous night. Lillian looked the obvious question,
and Aliera nodded and smiled briefly in reply, though her smile wasn't as bright as it used to be.
Lillian smiled back, and hugged her warmly before turning and leaving Aliera to herself.
"Is she alright child?" Madam Shaliegh asked, taking a sip from her cup of tea.
"Yes Madam, she is alright, just shaken up I suppose." Lillian answered, sitting down and
getting her own breakfast.
"Thank you, for helping her last night." Arik said, not looking up from his blade, which he was
still honing with a stone.
"Yes sir. Thank you sir. Lillian said somewhat timidly. She was disturbed by Arik's face,
his eyes in particular, which seemed to have lost their life. They reminded her of the eyes of
a criminal or killer, they were eyes which didn't seem to care about anything anymore, and
the slow scraping of a whetstone against his blade seemed like some kind of awful dirge to her.
Aliera walked out from her room, bringing with her the empty bowl which held her breakfast,
as well as the small bowl of fresh water she had used to wash up. She smiled at everyone, and they
in turn smiled back, save Arik, who couldn't bring himself to look at her.
Aliera walked up to Arik, and whispered in his ear, "Arik, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
You couldn't have stopped this, I know that now. I don't like it, but I've had time to think, and
I know that it was going to happen no matter what we did, so we have to accept that, and move on.
Please, I can't do this without your help, I'm not strong enough."
"You will have it." Arik replied softly, his eyes still closed.
"It's alright to cry." Aliera whispered, knowing that Arik would never cry.
Madam Shaleigh motioned for Lillian to come over, and quickly began to order her about,
gathering various medicinal herbs and pots full of foul smelling ointments.
"Ugh, how can this be helpful?" Lillian wondered aloud, her nose wrinkling.
"Don't judge, if you catch screaming fever that smell could well save you." Madam Shaleigh
replied, as she began to gather some clothes and the various crystals and tools her her trade,
carefully packing them into a traveling trunk which had been lined with a rich velvet.
Lillian continued to pack away, and then turned her attention to packing away Aliera
and her belongings, many of which were not really unpacked to begin with. She sighed and
tears began to well as she put away the small cameo of Aliera's father which she had insisted
Aliera take with her. Lillian wiped her eyes on her sleeve, and finished her self-appointed
task, pausing only to wait for Arik to lift the trunk she had packed.
Arik found himself loading Madam Shaliegh's cart, filling it with the trunks and bundles
she and Lillian had packed for their journey. Usually inclined to scowl at tasks like this,
Arik instead simply loaded the cart, grateful that Madam Shaliegh had compassion enough
to spare him her usual barbs. Madam Shaliegh for her part knew full well how troubled Arik
was, and knew as well that he wouldn't do the sensible thing and let it out, that he would
instead suppress his emotions and try to be as strong as the steel in his blade. Shrugging,
she put out her fire, and cleverly barred her door with the use of a modified door pull.
Serena crouched down and watched the party of four gather. The spirits had been kind to her,
and led her to this small grove. She felt out of place, like something in the area was calling
to her. She dismissed it as quickly as it came, knowing it was likely a trick of some evil spirit,
a distraction designed to stop her from her good works. she had carefully blackened her blade,
using some charcoal and a small bit of water to make a paste. She had done this before, and knew
that she had to act quickly when she did it, the paste would foul her scabbard and might cause the
blade to stick, but it would hide it and prevent it from glinting.
She knew that her real opponent would be the man, and from watching the casual way he
was moving, she knew he was a tough veteran. she had to strike quickly, and hope to
kill him in her first strike, a long fight would only result in her losing. It concerned her
that her real target was wearing a sword as well, if she had been trained, even casually,
she could possibly strike back. In a single fight, Serena was confident that she could kill
this woman, but if that man intervened, she could find herself outnumbered. She decided instead
to follow them, she had been hidden thus far, and would instead wait for night.
01-11-2013 08:54 PM
Serena - Ciddy
I am sorry that this has taken so long. I will try my best to be more productive in terms of writing.
Your comments are always welcome.
[thanks for reading]
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