Tag Archive: science fiction

The Queen Who Wasn’t

          Fierya had been counting down the seconds till she could make her escape, unimpressed by the string of never-ending courses. Finally, sugared fruit tarts and sweet warmed cider were placed before each person.  She looked down at her plate wishing she could enjoy the treat, but instead Fierya started the conversation, “What are your plans for me?”

          He picked up his cider with a careless gesture and sipped at it thoughtfully. “Let me begin somewhere else Fierya. You are without a doubt my daughter, one need only look at your eyes to see that, and you most decidedly have power.”

          “But why does this mean she must be your responsibility,” Haddie cut in. “I am sorry to be the one to say it, but it does seem questionable that your bastard child appears only in time to usurp your legitimate heir and be sent to the Phlox.”

          Auria could almost feel Haddie’s fingers upon her strings as if she was no more than a puppet, but she could not help responding. “In three short years I am to be named Queen Heir, and you would find me hard pressed to give that up.  Father, it is all I have ever learned, I do not know how to be anything else.” As quickly as the words dried up on Auria’s lips, tears welled in her eyes, which she unconsciously wiped away.

          “We’ve been through this,” Fierya said exchanging looks with both Auria and Dronocum, “I want nothing from you.”

          “Then why are you here?” The hate in Haddie’s voice colored each of her words.

          Fierya pivoted in her chair to take the white-haired women on face to face. Drono tried to break their eye contact with a wild but unfortunately useless gesture. “Have you something to say to me girl?”  A half-smile played across Fierya’s face, but her eyes were empty and unforgiving. “I’m not like you.”  The words were simple but they seemed to hang upon the air heavy and full of meaning causing the smugness to fall from Haddie’s face as if she had been hit. However, before she could say anything Fierya continued. “How did you ever get those snow-white locks? I wonder?” The way the words rolled off her tongue left little to no doubt that Fierya did more than wonder. “And, why suffer the humiliation of being the Queen that wasn’t?  I am nothing like you, and you will do well to remember it.”

          The silence that followed rang with the same finality that Fierya’s threat had. “Enough! Fierya?” Dronocum was torn she now had answers to the questions which often kept him up at night, but this had to end. “You are my daughter and shall be named as such on the same day Auria will be named as my heir publicly, in four nights.” The King then spoke to Haddie, “I shall escort my daughters to their room and then will receive my Lady-Consort in my suite.” He rose stiffly but without hesitation, and holding an arm out for both girls left supported by their youth.


          At the sound of the main door swinging shut one of the young men who had carried the large serving platters entered the dinning room, but when Haddie’s wide eyed glare meet his curios gaze he nearly ran from the room.  Haddie shook with unreleased rage. 

          Her chest heaved and spots danced before her eyes when she was finished with her outburst, but she managed to make her way past the thrown dishes, spilt food, and broken glass to the door with deft grace at immediately odds with her surroundings.  She leaned against the strong oak door for but a moment regaining her composure before she made her way to her rooms not his.  Whether or not he knew it he had chosen, and wrongly.

          In her own suits the women shied away hanging on the walls very awear of her mood and disposition.  “Tell the King I’m indisposed,” the command cut through the air like a horn blast sending the women in a hundred different directions while she went to her boudoir shutting and locking the door behind d her.
         “Stupid Drono…just sitting there and letting that whore-spawn…talk to me…like that!
How dare she think she knows anything…about me…me!
I am queen…in all but name…how dare she…cross me!”

          Each exclamation was followed by the ripping sounds of Haddie shedding the formal blue gown from her person.  Finally, she stepped from the ring of ruined fabric making her way to the large hanging mirror.  Bathed in only the moon light her elaborate hair coiffure shone and sparkled so like her desired crown making Haddie smile slyly.

          “Dangerous game your playing, bastard.  The last one who thought to best me lost more than she bargained for.”


Finding the Blood Stone

As the two walked through the tunnel, Llana had blindly ran to, Odellia smiled softly as she thought to herself that perhaps the girl truly might be ready for the first step.  Odellia’s mood improved with each step so much so that softly under her breath she sang the anvil’s song.

Llana did not notice the changes in Odellia as she was watching with fascination as the walls in front of her became dotted with silvered light.  The further into the tunnel they walked the brighter the wall became and soon the dark was gone completely and a false twilight prevailed.  This was the only sight until they reached a bend in the tunnel where a tall man stood with a kind of stout strength exuding from him.  As the sounds of their approach reached the man’s ears he turned pickaxe in hand looking them up and down.  Without pretense he dropped the axe from his shoulder and walked up to Odellia grinning ear to ear.  The closer he got the more of Llana’s field of vision he seemed to take up.  The large man stopped less than a foot in front of the two and said, “Be welcome ‘Dellia,” in a booming voice at odds with his wide smile.  However, as he took notice of Llana standing behind and to the side of Odellia his smile dropped and out of the corner of his eye he took the girl’s measure, “Who’s this?”

Llana, however, did not have a chance to answer because Odellia quickly wheeled the man away from her and held him in quiet conversation.  While Llana impatiently waited on the conversation’s end she warily eyed the walls wondering how it was that they seemed to create their own light.  To her they shone like beat tin except in one spot which sucked in any light that ventured in its direction.  She reached out for the dark spot wondering if it was empty; when she felt a liquid warmth rush up her arm.  Startled she stepped back and much to her amazement she held a stone that glowed blood-red at the center of what appeared to be a piece of amber.  She must have gasped in her surprise because the talk in the corner cut out abruptly as they both turned towards her.

“Bless the mist Beorn!  Why didn’t you tell me there was a blood stone in here, I would have come a different way,” Odellia nearly shouted hurrying back to Llana.

“I didn’t know ‘Dellia honest.”

“How can you not know?”  She did not even look back over her shoulder as she responded.

“Haven’t been this way since last time you were here, we only took a yard all around.  No one mentioned anything.”  Beorn sounded hurt like a scolded child.

Suddenly the warmth in Llana’s hand started to prick red-hot into her hand, burning her very soul it seemed.  Only Odellia’s harsh words broke through the pain.  “Drop it Llana… now… let it go!”  With the last word a short almost unfelt blast of power separated the stone from young flesh.  When the girl looked up Odellia’s top skirt was quickly being wrapped around the stone as the tunnel started to dim back to silver.  The last image girl understood before she sunk to the floor was the oddly shaped mark in her palm.

Beorn was quick enough to grab the child in her swoon and held her lightly as a rag doll turning this way and that.  “Dellia we must be going this is not a good way for you to be discovered, not with what you got under your cape.”  All she had time for was a nod of her head and they were off.

The darkly light tunnels flew by as they wound their way through scarcely used twists and turns that entered at last into a clearing in the middle of the forest.  “Wait,” Odellia motioned to herself a twinkling spectacle with her uncovered chains, “it would be almost as bad to run into the village like this.”

Chains that make no noise

Out of the quite sounds came a small and rather uncertain voice, “where are your chains?”

If Odellia hadn’t been sitting across the table from the girl child she doubted she would have even heard her but as it was Odellia had very little choice but to answer her.  “I am wearing them,” she held out her right arm in such away that the sleeve fell back exposing her wrist and the flash of pale metal in the light, “and where child are yours,” she answered.

“I am no child and I have no chains,” Llana looked confused and sounded offended as she barely suppressed a scoff, “why am I here?”

“I thought you sought answers girl.”  As her words hung in the space between the two Odellia took to eating.  Llana, however, showed no enthusiasm for the meal before her as she stared unabashed at the wrist and neck bands that she could see spark in the low fire light.

“They make no noise… are they light then,” Llana asked hopefully suddenly meeting Odellia’s piercing gaze.

While she knew that the girl could not help but be curious this was a conversation she wanted no part in, and as her anger got the better of Odellia struck back with a question of her own.  “Why would the chains have to be heavy to be heard or better yet light to go unnoticed?”

Llana sat open-mouthed as if struck so much sting had been in the words; dumbfounded she lowered her eyes to her plate.  “I…”

Odellia cut her off before she could even begin. “Eat.  We start tonight and believe me you are not ready.”

What the jeweler reveals

Chapter Seven

It was mid afternoon before he had enough time to complete his errands due to the amount of time and effort he had put into making the trip seem unplanned.  Drono hated being rushed and that was exactly what was happening today.  He had gotten up at dawn to meet Landon as he went on duty to let him know what he needed of him, unofficially, and to give him the necessary funds to make it happen.  Dronocum had then continued on to the Master of the Gurad’s quarters where he explained Landon’s pending departure.  He also sent two hurried messages, one to Haddie and one to the kitchen, for a resplendent brunch to take place after his morning rounds.  “Stupid brunch,” he quietly mussed to himself almost running to keep his appointment.  It had taken more time and effort than he had expected to give to it, but it had solved one rather tedious and problematic problem, that of a sulking Haddie.

Drono tried to rationalize with himself as to why he had circled the market before reaching his destination, which had put him in the situation that required him to be less than unobtrusive as he jogged through the crowd.  It wasn’t very likely that Digitalis would be wondering that market after all, but it was a chance he would take because there were still so many things he needed to know.


Shreeann smiled broadly as Drono walked into the store and off to the side with his hood still up as the rain had yet to stop, but the smile slid sideways as she realized she couldn’t allow herself to curtsy in acknowledgement.  With strained words Shreeann watched as the lady left with her bag and child in tow not even noticing him.  He laughed out loud as the door was shut and locked behind the little boy.

“I am so sorry Your Highness,” Shreeann said in a rush of words as she turned away from the door stumbling into some mess of curtsy and bow.

“Don’t be Shreeann I enjoy a bit of anonymity now and again.  Now where has that husband of yours gotten to I have much to talk to both of you about.”

“First allow me to share with you what you ordered, and then we can discuss why else you are here, if it pleases you Sire,” Edwin said in casual tones walking out of the back room not even breaking stride as he differentially inclined his head.

“Of course, of course Edwin.  What has already occurred can wait a little longer still, I assume, right,” Dronocum said with a raised eyebrow as he approached the counter.

Edwin began slowly, “Based on what we talked about earlier and what I saw yesterday I believe these will suit your purposes, exactly,” here he paused to allow himself a rather self-indulgent smile, “if I may say so.”  He then snapped the lids open of the hat boxes in front of him each of which held a circlet.

The similarities between the two were what hit Drono at first but slowly he saw slight differences.  The first circlet had the grace of a coronet, it was made of a metal which shone like white light and the bands wove through each other in a way that brought to mind the swirl of leaves in a strong wind; it was very traditional almost light and airy.  However the other one made with rose gold and yellow gold bands that did not follow the same path as before instead they fought each other almost like the brier vines; though it was more wild with an earthy weight about it every inch of it demanded attention.  “Edwin these, these were more than I could have hoped for.  It would seem that you have quite outdone yourself.”  Drono let his worry over the next part of their conversation fall away as he tried to earnestly show his gratitude, “I am in your debt.”


And so Chapter 6 Ends

Though Fierya had decided to immerse herself in the project he had left for her rather than come to dinner with Landon and Auria, he now, at least, had a clear picture of what had happened on the little distraction he had thought a good idea.  Distraction was a perfect name for what had happened because he now had three more people to deal with before the ball, and that was only two nights away, now that the early morning hours were upon him.

Edwin and Shreeann were no problem to talk to, with the ball only days away his appearance at a jeweler’s would not arouse Haddie’s suspicion.  Landon wouldn’t mind a day off of duty to prepare all that he would need to travel soon, and while he was at the market Drono was sure he could take care of all that need to be done at the tanner’s shop at the back of the market which they had visited the other day.  However, he had no idea how he would be able to meet with Talis to find out about the charm his daughter now wore around her neck and what it meant that she had it.

Finally Dronocum had to lie down, as sleep threatened to take him at his desk, thinking that no matter how complicated all would wait till light.

The Pendant

Fierya hated to admit it but the speed at which Auria ordered all the necessary things for them both amazed her, which meant it had taken very little time to make it back to the front of the market.  However, it seemed that there was one last stop to make before this little trip was over, but no one was taking the first step to get there.  Landon and Auria were whispering quickly and quietly much to Fierya’s enjoyment it looked like Auria was on the loosing end of the discussion, but before she could guess why, Landon started talking to the other guard.

“Since you covered for me when I got caught up at the back of the market,” here he paused while Chrestop smiled widely, “let me return the favor.  The ladies would like to look in at the jewelers before we return and the four of us will be a tight squeeze why don’t you relax here and then when we all go back neither of us will feel cheated.”

Chrestop agreed and went quickly away from the group which now headed toward a small shop with windows filled with interesting and ornate items.  Once inside the shop the cramped feeling dissolved away leaving behind an open room filled with glass display cases which caused the space to seem as if it was floating.  Immediately a small bejeweled woman rushed out form behind the counter.  “Your highness, what are you doing here,” the woman asked in hushed tones.  “We, we did not know, we were given no message.”

Auria raised her hand to quiet the now frantic woman before speaking, “No notice was sent ahead of me Shreeann you need not worry.  I came quietly in order to not be noticed.”  Here Auria paused to give the small woman time to realize that there were others in the room.  “We,” she gestured to Fierya, “have need of a few things.”

“Of course you do, forgive my thoughtlessness your highness, I’ll bring Edwin out.”

“Is that what you two were arguing about?  What to do when she recognized Auria.  Well why are we flirting with such danger, according to the window this is nothing more than a pretty bits and bobs stand.”

“Fierya, we are here to find your focus.”  Auria said from across the room already peering into a display case.

“What here could possibly help me focus, Auria?”

Landon tried to smother his laugh and failed.  “No, Fierya it will become a focus not give you focus.”  He turned towards the other girl and sighed loudly, “Auria get over here you can search later.”  She looked back reluctantly at the counter but walked over to the small group anyway.  “This is my focus,” Landon said as he held his hand out, “It is a stone that for some reason, which I do not understand, amplifies my abilities.  It is also a sign of my power and rank.”

Auria smiled an apology as she too held out her hand to Fierya.  Fierya while confused was still able to register how finally crafted these items were.  The stone on Landon’s hand was a swirl of greens and browns and had a heavy and solid look to it, but Auria’s stone was delicate and looked almost like trapped smoke.  “They are very different from each other.”  She reached out to touch Auria’s ring fascinated by the design which appeared to be in constant motion.  Auria jerked back as Fierya touched the ring and shouted in surprise, “No you mustn’t!” But she already had Auria in hand.  Fierya looked up to see them both exchange worried glances.  “I wasn’t going to hurt the ring I just wanted to look at the design better,” Fierya said in hurt tones as she released Auria’s hand.

“You touched it?”  The question fell from Landon’s mouth like lead.  “Fierya can you touch mine?”

Auria was wringing her hands and looked terrified but Fierya ignored her and took up Landon’s hand turning the ring this way and that in the light.  “Is that your family crest on the side?  Auria had no such markings on her’s.” Fierya finally asked as she let go of his hand.

“No it is a mark of my rank.”

That was all that could be said as Shreeann returned with Edwin, a broad-shouldered bespectacled man.  “Auria what a pleasant surprise for us both I think.  I hope you don’t mind but I caught word from a rather important bird that you might be in need of something worthy of a ball.”  With a flourish he procured a small box which when opened sparkled in the light.

“They’re gorgeous Edwin I’ll be sure to wear them thank you.”  With those words Auria ran forward and hugged both man and woman who helped her put on the new earrings.

“Landon I trust all is well even if they are confusing,” Edwin said looking at Fierya.  Landon turned a shade of red that was very unbecoming as he tried to avoid the non-question, “Why yes things could not be better Edwin, yourself.”

“Interested at the moment quite interested,” was the man’s only response.

It was at that moment that Fierya decided that she was tired of this and of this man way of turning all comments in to barbed questions.  “I am uninterested in buying a trinket to use when I have a talisman of my own.”  The words had the desired effect as every one of them stopped what they were doing; however, they all then turned to face her.  At first she was as shocked as the others not knowing where she would have gotten that idea, and then she felt the warmth at her breast and relaxed.

Edwin regained his composure first and gesturing grandly at the rude girl and spoke, “My I see this talisman?  You see a beloved piece of jewelry is far from the talisman which you shall require if you are to be among these two.”  He smiled wanly as Fierya reached around her neck pulling on a long gold chain.

Fierya was as curious as every one else as in all the confusion of her first days here she had neglected to examine the necklace like she had first intended.  The chain ended below the breast in a pendent.  The pendent was shaped like a teardrop and was the color of a sunset with a woven knot carved into the center.  Fierya was lost in her emotions, a gift like this was irreplaceable and priceless and without meaning to immediately wondered at how her mother could have possessed something such as this, but only said “It was passed down to me from my mother and foster-mother.”  Auria inhaled sharply when she saw it sure of its import, but not of its meaning.

“I…I’m, I am so sorry miss I had no idea,” Edwin stumbled as he tried to think.  “Of course that is a talisman I would never dream of suggesting otherwise, however it is not in a setting perhaps we can have one made for you by the ball.  I shall call on your father Auria and seek his advice on this, I think, and you shall finally have a use for the setting I made for you years ago if I understand what is to take place at this ball.”  He smiled and winked trying to lighten the mood which had fallen on them all.  “I do have a small ring with a fire ruby in it, as I assume that you may want to keep this one as a pendent, in wearing the ring you can still appear to keep to the traditions of the day.”  Edwin eyes were wide as he took up a bit of leather to fold the stone in before taking the necklace Fierya offered him at arm’s length.

Fierya did not understand the attention now being placed on an object which she knew nothing about, but she changed her mind immediately about the man.  “I would like that very much.”

She stood proud almost unworldly with the sword belt on her hips.  The sun warmed her profile in golden fire that licked her face.  Landon stood awed on his feet torn between throwing himself at her feet and just throwing himself at her, but the vision was rudely jerked from his sight as Auria entered the picture.

“Where has everyone gotten to, I” she stopped mid sentence and swallowed.  The Essence be merciful this girl was more than she had ever had to deal with.  “That isn’t a scabbard,” Auria said calmly trying to not get angry.  She turned to the young guard who seemed confused and on the verge of hysteria.  “Is it?  I mean I don’t even think that would cover the blade itself.”  There that was as much of an attempt at not hurting Fierya’s feeling as she was willing to give, did she not realize what she was doing.

“No, dear girl, that is a belt, built for function and just a little show,” the brawny man in the leather apron said as his eyes glinted in the light.  He noticed as Auria turned an unfavorable eye his way and stopped.

“You are here to get a scabbard, not something like that.”  Against her better judgment Auria had allowed some of her contempt to leak out, but the look it left across Fierya’s face made her cringe inside.

“What do I care what I am supposed to get,” Fierya said bitterly.

Auria could stand it no longer, “Because you are under the banner of the King what would he think, what would anyone think who saw you this way.”

“I know not, and care less.”

The words sounded like she ground them out rather than having spoken them which startled the man, but he still moved forward.  “Miss the belt was made with the purest of intent,” he said as he glanced at the girl who had just made him a very nice offer on some one of a kind work, “but you had better not be angering the King, child,” he said to the girl with red hair.


It was gorgeous and finely wrought made from some of the softest leather she had ever felt.  The sheath was rich orange that blushed crimson at the edges with a design worked in crush velvet to match the butter yellow of the interior.  She would have found it beautiful if it hadn’t been forced upon her.  Fierya walked with her head down sulking over the life she hadn’t asked for, the education she didn’t really want, and the rules made by men in power as they finally made their way to the next stall.

It was still difficult to think of the King with another daughter, and as soon as he was given leave he would get to the bottom of it, but as it was he currently had his hands full. Landon had wanted to run after the girl with the eyes but had stayed at Auria’s request as she entered the lady’s forage.  While he had gone to great lengths to appear unconcerned on the surface Auria failed outright as Fierya walked back out carrying a blade bare in her hands.

“What have you done,” Auria practically screamed.  “Do you know how unusual and for the most part unseemly it is for a woman to carry a, a, well that’s nearly a sword.”

“This is nothing like a sword,” Fierya replied without concern.  “A sword is heavy and useful only against armor; this is light and can be used for anything, if you know how to use it.”

Landon was shocked to his core and from the look of his secondary guard something had to be done before the girl was believed infirm.  “If she knows how to use it,” he began talking to Auria but asking the question of Fierya.

“For three full years I have been at master level,” she said.

“Then I suggest as she can not be seen carrying it as such through the market place we guards will take up your baskets so they…remain safe.”  It sounded lame even to him, but in his defense he would never have expected a King’s daughter to choose that out of any line up.

“I think that only makes sense and honestly mine is getting rather heavy already,” Auria said as she handed her basket to the quiet guard who more often than not had his head down.  “Since that’s settled,” she sighed dramatically, “we really must find some placed to get you a scabbard or something to cover it with, and I can get a quiver to match my fletching.”

Landon held his hand out for the basket which Fierya pushed at him and then slowly gave the blade handle first to him as well before quickly walking away while hissing, “Here you better hide it fast wouldn’t want anyone to know.”

Landon swallowed as the acidity of her words ran through him, but before moving on he looked at the blade.  It reached from the palm of his hand to the crook of his arm, was curved into a crescent moon shape, and was the color of spun cooper, but very solid.  Unsure he placed it in the basket and followed three steps behind.


Auria stopped at the first tanners she found it was at the end of the row and looked like it would be full of antiques and unique pieces, which was something she always prized.  “This looks like a good place to find a quiver and a sheath of some kind for the blade.”  Distaste colored her words as she continued, “You must cover a blade that size even if you can use it.”

“If it’s for protection why would anyone want something ornate getting in the way when you draw it?”

“Then we shall just have to hope it never needs used,” Landon answered from the rear of the group.

Fierya sighed at the thought of covering the craftsmanship, but followed Auria without protest.

She had tried to wait patiently while Auria shifted through piles of colored leather searching for the appropriate one for her quiver, but she soon found herself wondering away from the group.  Fierya had looked through bins of scabbards, but not one suited her anthame.  Just as she had decided to give up and find her way back to Auria she noticed a section of out of fashion styles.  Behind many heavy and cumbersome leather pieces hanging on the wall was a woman’s sword belt.  The belt was made form a thick slice of sueded leather worked with interwoven fall colored throngs.  Fierya placed the belt around her in a way that caused it to angle at her hip, and stood testing its restrictions.

While Landon would make good on any wish of the King’s this one had him at a loss, but it had been done none the less.  Six non uniform guards were set up to walk a parameter around a four person group.  The group would be consisting of two girls and two uniformed guards, one would be him and one would be young and new to the castle but capable and trustworthy.  As soon as the two girls appeared he walked forward to introduce himself.  “My name is Landon, and I am a member of the Vesper guard.  There will be nothing to fear at the market so do not worry.”  Then he looked up.  These were not the maids they had appeared to be, but the Princess and a girl with the King’s eyes.

“I couldn’t worry with you here to protect me Landon,” giggled Auria.

Very quickly all the extra and seemingly tedious directions made sense.  “How did you talk your father into this,” Landon said as he looked from side to side warily.

“It was his idea believe it or not,” she said trying to look hurt.  “Perhaps introductions are in order,” Auria said mischievously, “Landon, have you have not met my sister?”  She watched as his mouth fell open.  “Well since mums the word about Fierya, and well everything we had to leave the walls to get anything done.”

Landon tried to say anything but the word sister kept rolling around in his head.  “Talk about an understatement, all he said was that Haddie had caused a scene.  I can’t even imagine.”

Fierya who had been watching quietly finally interrupted the two smiling individuals slightly to her right.  “Perhaps we had better get on our way before you two start calling anymore attention to the fact that we are leaving.  I for one do not want to be locked back up in there before I have to be.”  Before she had finished Fierya walked forward leaving the other two no choice but to follow in her wake.


The first half of the morning had been spent in unnecessary necessities as far as Fierya was concerned.  She had watched impatiently as Auria carefully inspected Rowan arrows fletched with blue-gray feathers.  Fierya could tell that her sister knew what she was doing in the selection though she doubted she had much actual experience.  Walking through the weapons shop sent Fierya back in her memories to the summers when all the Umbel girls went to training with the Canna where only a select few would remain, as long as their drive held out that was.  It was not immodest of her to say she had skill with most of the hand-held weapons but her personal favorite had always been the traditional athame of the seers, which could save as easily as kill.  Her head fell forward in despair thinking that it was not very likely she would be able to find that blade here among such obviously ostentatious weaponry.  However, as the group changed their direction from the Eastern outskirts towards the center of the market Fierya noticed a young girl working bellows as women tended the forage.  She could not help the swelling of tears that caught in her eyes as she hurried forward reaching out to the nearest woman in a leather apron.

“This is a place with deep roots is it not?”

The woman with the apron turned from her work looking slightly annoyed.  “And if it is,” tension rose out of every syllable.  Then she noticed the tears silently running down the girl’s face and changed her mind softening her tone.  “What have you need for girl child?”

“You make anthame here?”

The woman looked at her outstretched hand and then back at the girl’s eyes, “I do, but what need would you have of one,” she asked quietly as she guided her towards the small collection she kept in her shop.

Without hesitating Fierya went to one with a copper-colored blade and an alabaster handle and without looking back said, “Great need.”  The words surprised her as she turned the anthame over in her hand, but they felt right, “I will be traveling and this,” she said turning to face the shopkeeper handing her the blade hilt first, “will suit me best.”

The woman accepted the girl’s coins in a shaking hand sure that the she had been right to help the child but unsure about the girl herself.  For when she had tried to see what need the girl had the woman saw nothing, but the nothing was not blankness rather it was the pressure of so many things that nothing was clear.

“The essence be merciful,” she whispered trying to regain her composure as she watched the red-headed girl walk lightly back out into the sun.

A distraction

It was mid morning the next day before a knock sounded at Auria’s door, and she was quickly upon it.  “Father?”  Obvious disappointment laced Auria’s voice as she let him in and a slight flush rose past her collar.

“Not who you expected?” Dronocum asked in amusement with a half-smile crossing his face.

“I know you better than you must think I do; Landon has to be here or we would not be going.”  Auria nodded with an all-knowing look that bordered on smug.

He grinned but only said, “I come to beg a favor and…to offer a distraction,” looking first to Fierya then to Auria.  Once he had both of their attentions he began in earnest.  “First, since you have great skill with your stitches I had hoped that you might consent to making something for me.”  It was barely a request more of a compliment, but Fierya nodded and looked thoughtful no doubt what would require her brand of stitching.  “Good then all will be here when you return.”

Auria now lounging near the fire perked up immediately, “Return?” she asked with her eyebrows raised in mock surprise.

“Have you forgotten that you are to travel but shortly and be long away daughter?  Where else might you need to go but to market where all can be in your grasp?”  Drono opened his arms in a grand gesture with a wide smile upon his lips.  Which was in direct contrast to the O of wonder written all over Auria.  “Besides it shall accomplish two very important things at once for me; keeping you from building up clouds of distracting nervous energy and out from under foot and overly watchful eyes.”

“How will you ever accomplish the later of your list watchful eyes will most defiantly see my banner?”

Drono cast a sly glance at the door before turning to face the quiet red-head to say, “I had an idea.”

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