Abbi's Story

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Abbi's Story

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:12 pm

Prologue
It was a peaceful and calm night to an unsuspecting traveler. The moon was out and the sky was clear. In the distance, if you listened closely, you could hear crickets chirping and perhaps some livestock murmuring. However, this was not the case for one young rider. The wind stung on his face as he urged his horse to go faster. He quickly looked behind to see if they were still behind him. He couldn't see anything, but he felt the night was too still. He considered stopping but decided not to risk it. The sooner he found what he was looking for the better. He was in enemy territory after all.
He rode on until his poor, fatigued steed could barely breathe and then slowed to a stop. Looking up into the sky he saw the moon was still high above him. He’d been riding since midday and scolded himself for pushing the poor creature this much. It couldn’t be helped, though, he had to keep going and would continue as soon as he was able. Checking quickly around him, he dismounted and took the horse’s reins to lead it away from the path. The two walked into the forest until the rider found what he deemed a suitable area to hide and rest. As he removed the horse’s tack he began to mumble to it, though in reality he was merely speaking to himself.
“Honestly,” he muttered as he removed the saddled and blanket. “What on this earth was Andrew thinking.” The horse merely huffed and tossed its head.
“Even you agree, don’t you,” the rider exclaimed and began to remove the rest of his horse’s gear, and stroked its neck. “’Hmm… Yes, the best idea for hiding what might be our only saving grace in this world is to…,’” he mocked, stroking an imaginary beard. “’Hide it in the absolute center of the most dangerous place I can think of. Yes, very good idea, Andrew! Thank you, Andrew! Self-high-five,’” the rider preceded to high-five himself. “’Oh, and Alec, be a good little doggy and fetch! Go get it, boy! Fetch!’”
He got no response from the horse, but merely a cold, hard stare. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go get your grass,” he said to the unhelpful beast. It walked off, without so much as blinking at its somewhat perturbed rider, in its search for food.
Alec, the rider, was a young captain in the Minuf army and had been charged to go into the Renith, a neighboring kingdom currently at war with his own home nation, for a “simple” retrieval mission. The rest of his poor kingdom was in shambles and had been under siege for the past month. The capital had fallen and things had begun to look grim. The people and army had refused to surrender and had somehow managed to setup new headquarters in a neighboring city, Noran. However, the royal family had not been so lucky as to escape. To put it lightly there was no leadership in the troubled country and the people needed all the help they could get. Alec, had managed to slip out to find what was so precious to the survival of his kingdom with the help of the court’s highest ranking mage, Andrew. However, I digress, back to our rider.
Alec dug through his pack and pulled out a tin canteen. He unscrewed the top and attempted to take a sip but was not met with any water. He flopped down on the ground and sighed. “Just great… I’ve been spotted so the Renith army knows something’s up. My horse is dead tired so riding any further for at least to two hours is out of the question. And even then I’ll have to be slow. My canteen is empty and I’d much rather not go stumbling around in the dark. Things just aren’t going well. Are they?’
“Not for you I suppose.”
Chapter One
“Anya, Anya! Are you going to the celebration?”
Anya looked up from her work in the garden to see a young boy with unruly brown hair running up to her. Shortly behind the boy was an even smaller girl, around four or five years old, toddling after him. Anya stood up and waved at the two, after wiping her hands on her skirt.
“Hello, Kain and hello to you, Elle,” she said as Kain, the boy, came to an almost screeching stop in front of her. Elle ran up to Anya as well and immediately hugged her legs.
Anya smiled, picked Elle up, and asked, “What celebration, Kain?”
“Didn’t you hear, Anya? The capital of Minuf fell and the war should be over soon,” Kain exclaimed.
Elle gripped Anya’s dress a bit tighter in excitement. “Since the war is over does that mean Da will come home?”
“Yeah, Elle,” he brushed off, clearly more excited about the immediate future. “The whole village is getting together and we’re going to have a feast and a dance and Mary said the men are going to have a rope pull contest!”
“Woah, kid, slow down,” Anya said to stop the constant flow of words. “The capital fell a month ago. Why celebrate so late?”
The boy puffed up immediately. “Well, the capital fell but not the king or his family, but a messenger rode through and told the butcher, Fat Nat-”
“Kain! What have I told you about such names,” Anya scolded sharply.
“Oh sorry,” Kain replied, obviously not the least bit remorseful. “Anyways a messenger rode through and said that the rulers have been defeated, so victory will be ours in a matter of weeks!”
“How fortunate,” Anya said with a smile. “I suppose you’ll win the rope pull with one arm tied behind your back?”
“Yeah! I’m the strongest man in the whole village. In fact, Da said I’m head of the house while he’s gone.”
“Truly? Well, I’ve never met a man so short or so young,” a new voice said. Anya turned to see Connor, one of her closest friends, approaching her. Connor was a shepherd of only nineteen years old, quite close to Anya’s age and had been caring for his father’s flock for nearly four years now, due to the old man’s steadily declining health. Connor had a somewhat slight build and was often considered small. He worked tirelessly none the less and always at his heals was his constant companion, Toby, a young sheep dog.
The shepherd and his dog trotted up to Anya and the kids and Anya put Elle down, who automatically ran over to the large, fuzzy dog and began to cuddle it affectionately.
Kain yelled at him flustered and red faced, “Yeah? Well, the whole village knows you’re in love with An-”
“Anya’s cooking! Yup, I love Anya’s pies,” Connor said suddenly clamping a hand on Kain’s mouth.
Anya was not oblivious as to what Kain had meant to say and was aware of Connor’s feelings but had decided not to comment on it until he told her himself. They had been close since their childhood and the entire village was anticipating his confession and had been fully expecting their marriage since they could walk. In fact, a not so secretive betting pool had started as to when it would be. 1/30 odds it would be in the next two years and 1/1.5 odds were that Anya would get inpatient and do it herself, and to be honest Anya confessing was the smartest bet. She chuckled at the two as Connor suddenly pulled his hand away from the boy’s mouth in disgust.
“You licked me, you brat,” he exclaimed. Connor wiped his hand on the boy’s shirt and Kain proceeded to punch Connor in the stomach. What ensued was a very one-sided fight ending with Connor’s hand propping Kain’s head up as the kid swung his arms wildly at Connor.
“I’m going into to town and wanted to see if you’d like to come with,” Connor asked as though he couldn’t feel or see the wild boy. “You know, as long as you aren’t busy.”
Anya thought for a moment then nodded. “Sure! Just let me grab my bag. I’ll do my rounds while I’m there.”
Connor smiled clapped his hands together, forgetting about Kain who shouted in protest as he fell, “Great, I’ll wait out here!’
Anya walked inside her small house, grabbed her bag, and checked to be sure she had everything.
“Five elixirs, two powders, and… Hmm… where’s the salves,” she muttered to herself and began to look throughout her kitchen. She found them rather quickly as there wasn’t many places to hide them. She only had a small kitchen and parlor that were combined into one room as well as her small bedroom. The kitchen had a simple fire place, which served for an oven and heating the house, two shelves, a few cabinets, a bowl for washing, and a bucket of drinking water. The living room consisted of a small table and two chairs. Some called her poor but she preferred the term simple.
She had lived on her own for almost two years now and made her way as the village healer. Her father had died when she was only seven and she couldn’t remember much of him. He had been drafted into the army and had been killed in one of the many nameless battles. She had lived alone with her mother until a sickness hit the village and her mother had passed away along with many of the other people in the small town. Her mother had been the village healer before Anya and had been teaching her since she could see over the edge of the table.
Once Anya was sure she had everything she needed she walked out to see utter chaos. Connor had grabbed Kain by the collar of his shirt and Kain was swinging his fists wildly at Connor. Elle had managed to get on the back of Toby and the large dog was chasing his tail while bouncing up and down. The young girl giggled and squealed shrilly as she was nearly tossed into the air. The chaos soon subsided when the door to her house closed and the group looked in her direction. Connor smiled sheepishly at her and slowly placed Kain on his feet. Toby sat down abruptly and began wagging his tail, causing Elle to slide off and plop onto the ground.
Anya rolled her eyes and muttered, “Couldn’t you have at least done this outside of my garden? Honestly.”
“Sorry, Anya,” the trio chorused as though in a well-rehearsed play. Connor walked off the freshly tilled soil and the kids followed suit. Such occurrences weren’t an oddity as Kain had declared Connor to be his rival two years ago, when he had been only six at the time, and Connor had little patience for Kain’s constant challenges. Connor never hit the kid, of course, but instead held Connor away from him so he couldn’t hit him and continued whatever he had been doing. This tactic only enraged Kain more but proved extremely effective.
Anya shook her head simply and looked over the young plants and newly planted seeds briefly and seeing there was no real damage stood up and said “Alright, let’s go. I have a lot to do and as payment for goofing off in my garden, I want all of you to help me.”
Kain groaned as the group began to walk onto the forest path that led to the village and then insisted, “I wasn’t goofing off, Anya. It was serious rival business.”
Connor raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Anya, however wasn’t having it. “No matter what it was it shouldn’t have happened in my garden. If my plants don’t grow I can’t make any healing mixes. Which means I’m out of a job.”
“Fine,” Kain drawled out. “What do you want me to do?”
“I need you to take this,” Anya told him, taking out one of her many potions, “And give it to Mr. Frankston. Make sure to tell him not to take it before eating. Can you do that?”
“Of course I can. I’m not a baby like Elle,” he boasted.
“Hey! I’m not a baby,” the normally silent girl exclaimed. “I want a job, too.”
“Are you sure? Okay then,” Anya looked through her bag and grabbed a vial of a burn salve. “Give this to Simon.”
Elle nodded solemnly at her first big responsibility but her expression quickly faded as her brother challenged her to a race. The two tore off into the trees and Toby bounded happily after them, leaving the two young adults alone.
“You never said if you were going to the festival tomorrow,” Connor mentioned. “Are you planning on attending?”
“It’s a bit short notice but I think I will. Are you going,” Anya asked.
“Yeah. Pops said he wanted to go so I’m taking him and my mom. It should be fun.”
“It sounds like it. I may just join in the rope pull,” she joked.
“No fair! You have to give others the chance to win. If you enter we’ll have to just hand the prize over,” her friend exclaimed, winking.
“I suppose you’re right. It’s a good thing we don’t have to worry about that with you though.”
“You wound me, Anya,” Connor said dramatically placing his hand over his heart.
Anya chuckled and the two continued chatting idly about the festival and their daily lives as they walked through the woods on the path to the village.
Connor sobered and looked over her briefly. “How’s your head?”
Anya sighed and rubbed her neck. “Better, but it still aches a bit. I’ll be fine, you worry too much.”
Anya had been struck with a crippling headache only a week ago and had only recently recovered. It had started out of nowhere when she had been tending to her precious garden when it had quite literally knocked her off her feet. She could barely breathe and Connor had found her curled up in a ball after what had felt like an eternity later and tended to her for a few days until Anya could care for herself. Connor had tried to care for her longer but Anya was fiercely independent and insisted on him leaving. The two continued talking until they reached the village.
“I have to go to the market and see my patients,” Anya said. “I’ll meet up with you later.”
“Alright, don’t be a stranger,” Connor replied as he walked off.
Anya’s patients were mostly the elderly, as many men from the village had been drafted into the Renith armies, though there were a few exceptions. . The village was mostly women and those who unable to fight. The mayor, a butcher, a blacksmith, and a few other men remained, if there was any attacks made against them, but it wasn’t the same and the economy had to begun to suffer and Anya hoped that with the war’s inevitable end would soon return things to normal.
The kids and families of the men had grown quite excited with the prospect of their return and Anya observed the various people chattering excitedly as she walked through the streets. She delivered most of her medicines quickly and had arrived at her last stop before she went to the market square. In front of her was a somewhat lavish house next to the town’s center. She’s stared at it for a minute before sighing and knocking on the door. She heard some scuffling and then the door was thrown open.
“Anya! How nice it is to see you,” an elderly woman with wispy white hair exclaimed. “Wilheim! Come look who came to visit.”
“It’s a pleasure to see you too, Maurice. Unfortunately, I really need to-”
An old man limped over to the doorway and smiled brightly. “Anya! How nice of you. Come in, come in.”
Anya clenched her teeth slightly and then nodded, smiling, “Sure only for a bit though.”
In what felt like an instant she was sitting in a plush chair with a piping hot glass of tea. Such fineries were quite rare and Anya felt obligated to stay, as thanks for their kindness. Wilheim was the town’s mayor and had led the people since before Anya was born. It was normal to them to extend such kindnesses, but Anya could never quite get used to it. The old couple had also begun their routine barrage of questions, making it nearly impossible for her to deliver the medicines or slip out.
“Have you gotten taller?”
“Not far three year, no.”
“Have some cake, you need some meat on your banes.”
“Thanks, but I don’t think I can have another bite.”
“Has Connor proposed yet?”
“We aren’t even courting.”
“You are attending the festival, correct?”
“Of course I am.”
“I remember when you were only up to my knees. How time flies.”
“Indeed it does.”
“How is your garden? Are you going to try any new ointments?”
“Perhaps later in the season.”
Anya sat there chatting politely with the mayor and his wife until she looked at the large clock on the wall, realizing she had stayed there for longer than two hours.
“Oh, dear,” she said apologetically. “I really must go it is getting late and I still have some errands to run.”
“That’s fine, dear,” Maurice said. “It must be hard living on your own. Nonetheless, you are always welcome here.”
Anya smiled softly and nodded. “Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind. Oh, before I forget… Here’s the cream for your arthritis, Wilheim,” She handed the cream to the old man and headed off to the town square. No matter how tedious the couple could be she did appreciate their company.
Anya quickly bought some food and supplies for herself from Mary, a timid baker slightly younger than Anya herself, and Nat, the rather rotund merchant. Before she left to go home she checked in with Elle and Kain’s mother to be sure they were home safe. The two were quite excited to see her however, she stayed for only a minute before finally heading home. The sun had just set and the air had the early spring chill in it. Anya pulled a shawl from her bag and wrapped it tightly on her shoulders in an attempt to warm up.
Her house was about a mile or two from town and the path to get there was through the woods. The area around the town was peaceful so there wasn’t any reason to worry, but when she heard a sudden rustle hear heart nearly stopped. She froze and turned around. She saw nothing and the forest had become eerily quiet. Anya quickened her pace trying to keep watch for any predators or bandits. She heard a shrill cry ring out through the night and the rustling of undergrowth coming closer to her. Before she could react a dapple horse with panic showing bolted past her down the path, causing her to nearly jump out of her skin.
The creature was far off before she could even registered what had occurred and Anya, not wanting to find out what had sent the poor thing into such a state ran down the path until she reached her home. As quickly as she could manage, Anya threw open the door and dead bolted it shut. She ran through her house closing all windows and putting her shutters up. She grabbed her blanket from her room. She wrapped the blanket around herself and closed the door leading to her bedroom. She plopped down with her back against it for support and stared at her front door. She sat there for hours waiting for a knock or scratching or anything remotely scary, but nothing of the sort happened and eventually she drifted off to a somewhat fretful sleep.
Chapter Two
Anya woke up slowly as sunlight filtered through her shutters. She rubbed her eyes and jolted up after remembering the previous night’s events. She stood abruptly and slowly walked to the door. She unlocked it, slowly pulled it open, and peaked out at the surroundings. The area was calm and peaceful as though nothing had happened. Perhaps she was just being paranoid. The horse could have just been a local farmer’s that got spooked. Yes, that is probably what happened and Anya had just been on edge due to the darkness. She closed the door and began to prepare a small bowl of porridge for herself. As she waited for her pot over the fire to boil she tidied her house. By the time she finished, the water was ready and she finished making her bowl. As she ate, Anya went over what she had to do today. There really wasn’t much since she had delivered her weekly round of medicines and gone to the market yesterday.
After she had finished eating, Anya decided to head into town and see if anyone needed help setting up the festival. She grabbed her coat and walked out the door only to see the large, dapple horse from the other night grazing on her garden. The stallion gave no notice of her and continued munching happily on her plants. Anya stood there stared at it before realizing what it was doing and tried to shoo it off by waving her arms and shouting at it. The horse looked up at her, folding its ears back, and huffed grumpily. It returned to its eating and Anya grumbled in annoyance. She wasn’t about to lose all her hard work, so she walked over to her small run down shed and grabbed some rope. After tying the rope in a make-shift lasso she attempted to loop it around the large horse’s head a lead it away. This, of course, was no well received by the horse and it dug its hooves into the ground and refused to move from its spot. Anya continued to pull and this resulted in a rather comical scene.
Suddenly, the horse lurched forward and Anya flew backward dropping the rope. It whinnied happily and Anya swore it sounded like the creature was laughing. Anya glared and sat up. She grabbed the rope and began to pull again. The horse was much more complacent after her tumbled and trotted up to her without complaint. She glared at it led it away from her garden.
“What should I do with you,” she mumbled looking at it closely. The horse was a stunning dappled gray however was covered in dirt and sweet. It had mats in its dark, black hair. It was a strikingly large horse as well. Anya didn’t believe it belonged around here. It wasn’t very stocky and she didn’t recognize it at all.


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