Stories and Fantasies
May 26, 2021 at 6:15 pm #134464Joelle Stone@joelle-stone
Hey, welcome! And Story Embers is a GREAT first writing forum. 😉 Let me know if you need anything, and we’re so glad to have you with us!! 😀
"For love is strong as death." -GodMay 26, 2021 at 6:26 pm #134465May 26, 2021 at 7:32 pm #134466
The weather was damp, and for the hundredth time, Kaleiva wondered if it was so eternally. She pulled her already-slick oilskin cloak tighter about her thin frame, listening to the sound of pattering rain on her hood as she watched the water pour off her body in rivulets onto the ground.
It was only a distraction from her nerves.
What if she doesn’t listen? What if she doesn’t train me because I’m too young? What if she doesn’t understand my reasons, or worse — doesn’t like them?
Grandmother Nurys saw the look of nervous apprehension on her granddaughter’s face, and rested her hand on her shoulder. “You’ll be fine, Kaleiva. And if Captain Euran won’t train you, I’m sure that there are others who would — gladly.”
Kaleiva forced a smile, and looked up at her grandmother. “Thanks.” She took a deep breath, steeling herself as she stepped forward, knocking on the door.
The actual training center of M’irthen was on the very coast, just across the channel from the island of Shul, but here in K’arthen, the capital city of Mardem, was the one place where people could register for access to the training facility.
The knock sounded strangely echoey, and Kaleiva had to force herself not to flinch when the door opened.
A woman stood there, one hand resting on the doorframe. Her hair, so dark that it was impossible to tell if it was brown or black, hung down just past her shoulders in a small collection of braids, and she wore a clean white dress made of linen, embroidered with lilac flowers at the ends of the sleeves. Her eyes, like those of most Marvs, were dark.
She appraised the sight of the little girl and the old woman in silence, her face all but emotionless. When she at last spoke, it was in a dull, flat tone. “What do you want?”
Kaleiva steeled herself. “I’m here to see Captain Neila Euran,” she said, half-fidgeting with the hem of her oilskin.
“And what do you want with the Captain?” the woman responded, her tone switching from emotionlessness to suspicion.
Kaleiva met her gaze evenly, forcing her nerves into a corner of her mind. “I’m here,” she repeated, “to see Captain Neila Euran. I need to speak with her. About training.”
The woman raised one eyebrow, and appraised the girl. “You’re too young,” she said at last. “You cannot enter.” She glanced at Grandmother Nurys. “And she’s too old.”
“Nera!” shouted a sharp voice from further inside the building. “Nera, step aside. Let them in.”
“Captain Euran!” Nera stepped aside hurriedly, muttering a quick apology to Kaleiva and Grandmother Nurys.
Kaleiva hurried inside, pausing to remove her oilskin and shake the rainwater off of it before continuing on within. Her grandmother followed her quickly, doing the same.
A tall, lean woman stepped out of an adjacent room, her hair pulled back into a low-hanging ponytail that flowed down between her shoulders. Her skin was rather paler than that of most Marvs, only slightly lighter than Kaleiva’s. She wore a tunic with a kind of skirt at the end that reached partway to her knees, and leggings beneath that. Her leather boots had silver buckles, and the sides were tall enough to cover most of her shins. A pair of laced wristguards made of a rich-toned leather covered her forearms.
The Captain motioned to Kaleiva and Grandmother Nurys to follow her, then stepped back into the room where she had been. It was large, made of dark polished wood with a stone hearth at one end, inside of which a fire crackled, and around which were positioned several polished wooden articles of cushioned furniture.
It was over to that end of the room that they went, and the Captain sat at one of the chairs, then motioned to her guests to be seated as well.
She leaned back in her chair, locking eyes with Grandmother Nurys. “Might I ask why you are here?”
Grandmother Nurys only nodded toward her granddaughter. Captain Euran raised an eyebrow, and looked at the girl.
“I am here,” Kaleiva answered after a moment, “because I want to be trained as a shieldmaiden, Captain.”
Captain Euran raised an eyebrow, waiting a moment to see if the girl was joking. When she realized that she wasn’t, she let out a quiet sigh and locked eyes with the girl. “You do realize that you’re underage, right?”
“I do,” Kaleiva replied evenly, standing. “But I still want to fight with the Duallies in Mardem’s shieldmaiden division, preferably under your command.”
“And why, might I ask?” responded Captain Euran, standing as well. “Why is this so urgent that it cannot wait another few years?”
Kaleiva had anticipated that question. “Three reasons. Firstly — it is, Captain, a well-known fact that the Triforces and the Duallies are poised on the brink of all-out war. It’s only a matter of time until the fighting breaks out for real. Mardem’s army needs all the warriors it can get; therefore, beginning training as soon as possible would result in a warrior sooner than otherwise. Secondly — if I wait until I am considered old enough to begin training, I risk all of the captains being out in the field by then, with none being available to train me.”
“That is. . . interesting logic,” Captain Euran admitted, then paused. “What is the third reason?”
Kaleiva took a deep breath as the fire faded from her eyes. Why, why did I state three reasons? But, nevertheless, she answered truthfully. “The Duallies are raiding the defenceless villages of the Triforce kingdoms. People are dying, Captain. Dying, and being carried away by the enemy.” She closed her eyes, and felt Grandmother take her hand. After she’d managed to steady herself, to force approaching memories from her mind, she opened her eyes and continued. “My village was destroyed mere days ago, Captain. I watched my twin brother taken, perhaps killed. I barely managed to get my half-dead little sister to my grandmother’s. I will not — cannot — allow the same thing to happen to anyone else. But the only way I can make a difference, the only way that I can in any way protect defenceless peasant children, is with training.”
Captain Euran was silent, searching the girl’s eyes. All she found there was sincerity, and truthfulness. This was the child’s real reason. The heart of her motivation.
“What is your name, child?” Captain Euran asked quietly.
“Kaleiva Maverlock,” Kaleiva answered, even more softly. All of her cards were out on the table. All she could do now was wait, and hope. She had no more tricks up her sleeve.
What Captain Euran said next made her hardly believe her good fortune, if indeed fortune was what it was.
“Very well, Kaleiva. I shall train you.”
“Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.” -- Nick FuryMay 27, 2021 at 6:47 pm #134489
Argh, that chapter was supposed to be labeled Chapter 6! Sorry about that, guys!
“Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.” -- Nick FuryMay 28, 2021 at 1:20 pm #134492
The Queen leaned back in her majestic throne and smiled regally. “I must say Mayra – you remind me a lot about myself when I was your age.”
This comment caught me off guard. My eyes met hers again, shifting ever so slightly in my seat in order to face her throne a bit more. “I – I do?”
“Oh yes,” her voice lowered. “Many years ago, I was a fiery and passionate girl. Yet so naïve too. I was so confused about the world. Society, politics, the games we had to play. It was all new to me. I made decisions that were highly unwise. I was a bit of a wild card. But I learned, that sometimes in order for my people to work together, sacrifices must be made. My sisters and I – oh we were like ice and fire. Always trying to best each other. But we surpassed our obstacles, left our grief behind and fought for that chance at a future. A future where we could live with all living creatures in peace. And now, it is finally possible. With your power – oh we could achieve such wonderful things.”
“Is it possible – to get rid of this power?” I asked carefully. “Give it to – someone who actually – wants it?”
Her cold eyes napped to mine and regarded me curiously. “Get rid of it? You do not wish to keep your gift?”
I felt so very small beneath her gaze. “I – cannot use it,” I explained quietly. “I’m – not Aos Sí like you. I’m human.”
She was silent for several moments. “Well – yes. I believe it could be arranged.” Her eyes glinted. “I don’t see why not. But – if it works, then it would mean that all of your power will be taken away.” She raised a perfectly groomed eyebrow, a far cry from my own. “Are you willing to pay that price?”
“Yes,” I agreed. My heart leapt with excitement. Finally, finally someone has given me some semblance of hope. “You can have it, yes. I – don’t want this burden.”
“Good.” She smiled sweetly. “Well then. You don’t have to worry, we will take care of you child. All you need to do is co-operate with me. I might be a Queen of many nations, but I care about each of my subjects. I want what’s best for you, dear Mayra.”
A cold feeling slithered down my spine. But I held her gaze and nodded in agreement.
“Very good.” Her expression was bright. Even a little – hungry. “Oh, how wonderful this is. This is certainly even better than I had hoped for.”
She let out a long breath, her red eyes glittering. “With your help, I could restore brotherhood and peace to this world. Imagine Mayra. An Earth without bloodshed. Famine. Suffering. War. It will be the new Tír na nÓg. A Paradise.”
“And I – will get passage to – Buenos Aires? In exchange?”
She looked at me blankly for a moment. “Oh yes,” she answered, smiling and showing all her teeth. “Yes of course. You will get to go wherever you desire my dear.”
That brief moment when she hesitated and then covered it up. It shouldn’t have bothered me at all. But – it did.
“So, do we understand one another, child?” the Queen leaned forwards, her eyes solemn and open as she looked directly at my face. But her cool smile was devoid of any emotion. “I want you to feel that you can count on me, dear, as I can count on you. This is a harsh world for women, especially those who have been blessed with power almost too much for us to handle.”
She sighed dramatically, staring out at shining window. “Every day I wonder if a member of my own cabinet is going to turn against me. It is so difficult being High Queen, as you can imagine.”
My eyes fell on the utter luxury in this chamber. White marble floors, carved pillars with images of battles wrapped around them, velvet couches with silver brocades, glittering chandeliers, golden goblets, delicious food at the snap of a finger. Not to mention her towering throne, carved from a chunk of black diamonds. One silver platter was enough to feed a large family for at least two years. Oh yes. I could very well imagine just how hard this lifestyle of hers was.
She sipped from her wine, set it onto the table and leaned towards me, her crown glimmering in the dim lighting. Her heavily perfumed scent filled my nostrils, almost overwhelming me. “Mayra. You must know how important this is. I’m going to need someone with your resilience and eagerness to help me to help me to end this conflict with your people. And establish real peace. I feel as though we could become very good friends – if you allow me into your heart my dear.”
With that she reached out and grasped my hands, holding them prisoner in her own. Her fingers felt like icicles. No – like skeleton hands. Her touch spread a feeling of death and despair into my very soul. I felt the urge to pull away and run as far away as possible from this – being. But I resisted, forcing myself to widen my eyes a little as if curiously innocent.
She stroked my hands in a way that was meant to be reassuring, and leaned in to whisper. “But for that to happen, we’re going to have to show a little bit of trust for each other, don’t you think Mayra? I’m here to help you. I am not your enemy. You can trust me with anything. Including your own safety.”
I kept my face neutral, even as something roiled inside of me. She was addressing me in a compassionate open manner that seemed genuine on the outside. But all it took was one look in her emotionless, icy gaze for me to sense the entire shadiness of this situation. But I gave her a small smile and nodded.
She squeezed my hands in a sincere manner. “I know it’s not easy, dear, placing your trust on a complete stranger like me. But overtime, I truly believe that we could become loyal comrades. We live in a dangerous time, packed with false identities and concealed names, ruthless rebels and mysterious forces. No one can be trusted. Not really.” She stretched her thin lips into a reptilian like smile. “But – it would be nice for me to know whether or not I have gained your full trust, Mayra, as likeminded as we are.”
I didn’t trust her. Not for one second, not when I felt a strong instinct as though I was being led straight into the mouth of a Venus Flytrap. But I managed a polite smile. “Of course.”June 2, 2021 at 5:39 pm #134678June 2, 2021 at 6:21 pm #134682
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