Atairi: song of souls
Trim Build, slight tan, average height, waist length light brown hair, green eyes, big boobs. Need I say more?
I was 14 years old, staring at the lifeless body of my older sister, and I had just killed a man. It was justified but I had still killed him. I know that the sheriff will ask what happened, I will have to tell him about Kinliegh and what the man I killed was doing with her. First, let me explain who I am and where I come from.
I am Annaliegha Silverstone. I am 14 years old, the 3rd born of my parents children, all of us except my oldest brother were born on Silverstone Farm, for those of you who don’t know the area, that’s the large potato and turnip farm near the Village of Wertzclabber. My father is Dominik Silverstone, he is 43 years old and I have never had a full conversation with him about anything other than the farm. My mother, Gwendolyn has seen the same amount of summers and is a loving and caring mother but shares nothing of our family or their life before coming to the village and buying this farm.. My eldest brother is Dominik Jr, Dom Jr for short, is 22. He is tall, has dark hair and looks just like our father with broad shoulders and a thick neck. Though that’s not all he shares with my father, they also share the same secretive attitude about our family’s origins. My older sister Kinliegh is (or was) the beautiful one, at 17 years old, slender like our mother, beautiful blonde hair down to her waist and to add to that beauty, she has a wonderful mind for numbers and can remember almost anything! I am the next child, completely average in all ways, I have semi long light brown hair, a slight tan from working the farm and I am in training under Amalia, the village’s medicine woman, to take her place when she leaves this world for the realm of Imrich. My little brother Reginald, of us who know him he prefers Reg or Reggie, is 8 years and has a penchant for only seeing the good in everything! He follows Dom Jr like Dom was sent personally by Imrich to save the world, sadly he continues to be hurt by Dom’s seeming anger at the world. My baby sister, the light of my family is Carlissa, she’s just two and other than suckling, walking and the typical child things, she knows nothing of this world.
Enough of my family, Joe is where this story truly starts, Joe is short for Josephina, though don’t let her hear you say it, she hates the name! Her family has the farmland adjoining ours, she is the daughter of Mikulas and Karmila Mlynka. They farm potatoes for milling into potato flour. Joe’s mother Karmila was left invalid from the loss of Joe’s two twin brothers in childbirth. She is bedridden and not lucid most of the time, leaving Joe all on her own with her father Mikulas. Joe is gorgeous, waist length black as night curly hair she pulls up every day except the days we go for worship, those days she allows me to braid and style her hair as I choose. She has been working the farm with her father for 4 years and has the form to show it, trim and strong, she is the fastest runner in the area, though Reggie still tries to best her.
Joe and I were returning from a bath in the river that connects our lands and going to make lunch for her mother when we heard the screams from her barn…
“Help!!!” yelled a woman’s voice.
We start to run for the barn and as we get closer we can more clearly hear the woman and I realize that it is Kinliegh, my older sister.
“Kinliegh!! We’re coming!” I yell back. “Joe, grab that shovel, we may have to fight off a wolf, she’s terrified of them.” I grabbed a tiller and ran to the door with Joe following close behind, as I ran up I thanked Imrich for my father teaching me those swordsmanship lessons I thought I’d never need.
We could now clearly hear Joe’s father talking, “Shut up little girl, you know you like when I touch you. Always asking for it, the way you bathe in the river where anyone can see. Now I know what it feels like to touch your body and it feels just like my dreams.”
“Father! What are you doing to her?” Joe screams, “You’ve a wife and daughter, are you that stupid?”
Mikulas turned his head towards us, “Oh shut up you child, your mother is as good as dead, of no use to me now.”
As he looked back down at Kinliegh and started reaching for her to continue his assault I hit the closest beam with my tiller as hard as I could to get his attention on us, hoping that Kinliegh could get away from him. “Please Mr Mlynka, you know us, you know Kinliegh doesn’t intend to tease you so, please sir, let her go!”
“Or what child, you think you can stop me? You’re puny and plain, nobody will ever want you.” He laughed but didn’t even step away from her. “Your sister deserves this, always in that river, knowing I was watching as she ran her hands all over herself, then drying herself naked on the shore. She is lucky to have a man like me showing her what it’s like.”
“Father, get down here! You’ve no right to do this to her. She’s just a girl! Let her down!” Joe yelled as she ran for the loft ladder, “Don’t make me come up there and stop you!”
“You want her down there with you? Here, have the whore!” He shouted as he threw Kinliegh off the loft.
“Kinliegh!!!” I cried as I ran to her, “No no no no Kinliegh please be okay!” I checked her for a pulse and found one, slow and faint but there nonetheless, willing her to be okay, I turned towards Joe’s father, “You. Tried. To. Kill. My. Sister.”
“So what you little girl, bet you’d like to get some attention like that,” He said as he climbed down the ladder, jumping the last few feet, “Come here you little brats, it’s your turn to meet Imrich!”
“No!!! You will not hurt anyone else I care for!” I screamed as I ran up behind him,
Joe somehow sensing what I was going to do, ran at him from the front to distract him and garner his attention, “Come on Father, if your own wife isn’t good enough for you maybe it’s YOUR time to meet Imrich!!”
He grunted and stumbled towards her and I saw my chance, I raised my tiller and brought it around as hard as I could on the back of his head, with my years of tree climbing and farming, I have fairly strong arms. Being a medicine woman’s apprentice meant I was the one lifting the people who fell into the sick beds, or helping a poor farmer unload his laboring wife out of the wagon at Amalia’s clinic. As he fell to the ground blood started to spurt out of the gashes in his head, “Joe, you run fastest, go hurry, get Amalia! I’ll do what I can for them and be here waiting for you both!”
As she ran she yelled back, “Take care of Kinliegh first, I don’t care what happens to that sick bastard!”
I ran back to Kinliegh’s side and found her pulse still weakly hanging on, I started checked for breaks and bleeding, her right side had hit the ground first and as I expected, both arm and leg of that side were broken, I set them with strips torn from her already ripped dress and some kindling nearby. I found a large spike of wood had impaled her side and I pulled it out, after a quick check for splintered pieces in her side I used the remaining cloth and tied her waist as tight as I could, putting pressure to attempt to stop the bleeding. All this time I was praying to Imrich that she would be okay, praying she would take minimal damage. “Please Kinliegh, Carlissa loves you so, she won’t be the same without you to play with, and Reg needs you, I don’t know how to comfort him like you do Kinliegh, we need you Kinliegh! How will you ever teach me to make those darn biscuits if you don’t make it out of this?”
I walked to check on Mikulas and found he had died, I took his head in my hands and closed his eyes, laying him down and covering him with some seed bags that were in the corner. His soul had gone to Imrich for judgement now, the body of the man that tortured my sister was just a shell now.
“Annaliegha!” I heard Amalia call, “We’ve made it, come grab the bag!”
I ran to her wagon and grabbed the big ramshackle bag she carried her medical supplies in and helped her down, “Amalia, come quick, I’ve set Kinliegh’s breaks and have a pressure bandage on her wound but her pulse is growing slower and I can hardly find it anymore!” I said, rushing her into the dim lit barn and over to where Kinliegh lay.
“Oh my child, give me the laudanum, your sister needs the relief,” Amalia directed me as she examined Kinliegh, “Oh sweet Kinliegh, such a shame for your life to be ended this way.”
“What?? No Amalia, please! She can’t die!” I cried, “What about our family? We need her! She’s the only one with a mind for numbers, who will balance the books, who will keep us fed when mother is gone? I can’t cook!”
Amalia stepped away from Kinliegh and set her hand on my shoulder, “Come child, it’s time I had a talk with you” she said, leading me from the barn and into the wagon, “Kinliegh should have been gone within minutes of that fall, you have a magic in you child, I knew it from the start. That’s why I chose you for my apprentice, you see, Joe was in line for my apprenticeship, we come from the same line and before her loss Karmila was a wonderful medicine woman. When your family came along and I helped your mother to birth you I felt it then.” She paused, looking around as if she was worried someone would stop her before she could finish, “You have the soul energy, you can help people Annaliegha, I have it too, I’ve learned over the years how to focus my energy.” She turned and started digging in her bag, coming out with a pair of thick banded bracelets, “These will help, they are the first I was ever given. I used them to help funnel my own psychic energy into those I was helping. They will help you as well.”
“I don’t know Amalia, I’ve never felt very magical. Are you sure it was me and not Joe?” I asked.
“Oh sweet girl, I was the one who helped birth Joe as well, you two girls were meant to be best friends but Joe twas not blessed with the magic, that was you.” Pressing the bracelets into my hands she continued, “I have a feeling you’ll be needing these soon my girl. Now go, take Kinliegh home, bury her where she always wished to be, under the shade of the old oak at the riverside.”
“Yes ma’am. I will do as she wished, please say you’ll come,” I begged, “I could use the support.”
She gave me a gentle hug and whispered, “Of course child, you will always have me!”
As she climbed in her wagon to leave Joe came from behind the barn and started talking, in her usual way, fast and loud, “I guess we gotta get the sheriff huh? Well let’s get to going to town then, we can pick Mother up some lunch while we’re there, that way we don’t have to cook on top of everything else.” She stopped to take a breath, looked at me, saw the bracelets and my tears, “Hey Annaliegha, I’m sorry about Kinliegh. I know you are going to have a hard time with this. Come here, let’s ride to town, it’s been awhile since either of us have ridden.”
We stayed mostly silent on the way to town, me in contemplation of the murder I had just committed and Joe, well she was probably thinking about how the sheriff was going to take the news of her father’s death. With how many times Mikulas had been in and out of the jail since Karmila’s incapacitation, he’ll probably be glad to have one less drunkard to deal with.
Before I knew it, we were at town and the sheriff was following us back to the farm, upon our return he told me to go home and get my father. I rode through the river, the shock of the cool water waking me and soothing my horse at the same time. “Mama! Father! Dom!! Hello, is anyone home?!?” I yelled as I rode up to the house. Hopping off my horse I ran into the house, “Mama!”
“Annaliegha Estera Silverstone! If you wake Carlissa I will put you in time out, 14 or not!” Momma said as she came walking in from the bedroom Carlissa and I shared, “What has got you yelling so?” Seeing the blood and the rips in my dress she stopped and stared, “Oh Anna!! What in Imrich’s name has happened?!”
“Oh Mama! It’s Kinliegh, Kinliegh is dead!” I cried, “Mr Mlynka killed her because Joe and I caught him hurting her! Oh Mama I killed him! Mama help please! We got the Sheriff, but he wants me to get Father and go back over there. Please Mama help me find Father!!”
“Oh dear sweet Annaliegha, come here child, let Mama see you, are you okay? Where did all this happen? Is this your blood?”
“No Mama, I hit Mr Mlynka with a tiller because he was trying to hurt me and Joe and he was going after Joe, plus he’d already thrown Kinliegh off the loft. Then I was bandaging up Kinliegh, but she was hurt so bad Mama, I couldn’t do anything but pray.” Just then we heard heavy footsteps on the porch and as the door opens I see my father, “Oh Father! Please come, both of you! The sheriff needs us!”
I run out the door and hear mama telling Father all that has happened, then Father runs out and across the bridge of the river and Mama is following behind on my horse, I walk back through the river, letting the water rinse away some of the blood. When I got back to the Mlynka’s barn, the sheriff asks me to tell him what happened, so I do, then he says, “Dominik, Gwendolyn, this is a tragic situation but I think these girls acted with bravery and supreme intelligence.” Turning to look at me he continues, “You won’t be charged with murder Miss Silverstone, but self defense and that means you can go home and bury your sister in peace.”
“Thank you sheriff, is there anything else you need or can I take my family home?” my father asks.
“No Dominik, you’re free to go home, I’m sorry for your loss.” Looking at Joe now, “Miss Mlynka, I understand you played a part in bringing your father to justice, it’s in Imrich’s hands now, I’m sorry you had to experience this. You won’t be charged either, if you need help burying your father, I would like to volunteer my services, I’m pretty good with a shovel.”
“Joe, honey, would you like to come home with us for now?” Mama asked. “You can bunk in with Anna and Carlissa.”
“No thank you Mrs Silverstone, I appreciate the offer but I want to bury this heap of trash and then I’m going to take a bath and take care of my mother, I may be over tomorrow morning though.” Joe answered and upon giving me and mama hugs, turned to the sheriff and said, “Hope you don’t mind the smell of rot, he’s got a special place under the compost heap!”
Wrapping his arm around my shoulder and grabbing Mama’s hand, Father walked us home, “Oh Annaliegha, I’m so sorry you had to witness your sister’s death, and to kill a man. You’ve a strength I’ve not seen in many years. Go inside, get some clothes and Mama and I will draw you a hot bath. Dom and I will go get your sister, pick out her best dress and lay it out, we’ll get her ready for a proper burial.”
Inside my room, I stripped my clothes off and bundled them in the corner, fully intending to set fire to them after the burial. I grabbed my cover and wrapped it around myself, suddenly freezing cold in just my underclothes, despite it being 30 celsius outside. Then being careful not to wake Carlissa I found a clean dress and underclothes, and after carrying them to the kitchen where mama was getting the tub ready, I went upstairs to Kinliegh’s room and picked out her favorite dress, a deep purple gown she only wore twice a year for the harvest and May Day festivals. She wouldn’t be able to wear it to Harvest this year so she may as well wear it when she meets Imrich.
As I carried her things down stairs the enormosity of everything that had happened that day hit me and tears started falling down my cheeks. I made no attempt to stop them, only made sure none landed on Kinliegh’s gown.
In the kitchen Mama took the dress and left me to the bath, squeezing my hand as I slid out of my chemise and into the water. I laid there until the water was cool and then washed quickly and got dressed, brushing my hair as I hear Carlissa waking. I walk into the room, catching her as she starts to climb down out of bed, “Adventurous are we today Carlissa my dear?” I laugh and set her back in bed, “Let’s change that nappy shall we kiddo?” After changing her I get her dressed in what Kinliegh called her sunshine dress, bright yellow muslin the color of the sun.
At sunset we go out to the riverside and watch as Dom and Father bury Kinliegh, right under the big oak, exactly where she wanted to be. Mama cried while Reggie held her hand and tried to understand how Kinliegh could be gone. After Father finished the prayer for Imrich to take Kinliegh’s soul and keep her safe at home with him we all went inside. Hugging mama I asked to be excused from dessert and allowed to go to bed, she patted my back and motioned for me to leave the room.
Upon laying down, all I could think of was that I killed a man, the man I killed had killed my sister. He had deserved to die but I had still killed him. “Oh Imrich please forgive my rash action! I know you ask us to love everyone but how could I love the man who killed my sister and very likely would have killed me and Joe too had he the chance? Imrich I am sorry! Grant Kinliegh peace with you, nothing that transpired today was her fault, poor innocent Kinliegh!” I prayed through my sobbing tears, “Imrich, if possible will you please give me peace and sleep?” Rubbing the bracelets I remembered Amalia’s earlier words, “I have a feeling you’ll be needing these soon my girl.” What did she mean? As I drifted off to sleep I rubbed the bracelets on my wrists, briefly considering taking them off but having no energy to do so.
Upon waking I walk to the kitchen, “Mama?” I called.
“Oh Annaliegha! Child you had us so scared! You must have really needed your sleep!” Mama cried, coming and wrapping her arms around me, “Why dear, you’ve been asleep for 7 nights! The doctor said it was probably just stress.”
“What Mama? How?” Confused I look around, “How could I have slept for so long??” Sitting down at the table, “Oh Mama it wasn’t a dream then? Kinliegh is really gone?”
“Yes daughter, your sister is home with Imrich now, we’re all learning how to do things without her around.” With tears in her eyes she looks at me, “Oh honey, I fear the worst will be that nobody can replicate those biscuits! Reggie has taken this the hardest, he doesn’t know what to do, with Kinliegh gone, you asleep, Dom and your Father busy with Harvest preparation, Carlissa is too young for him to talk to, she realizes Kinliegh is gone but I’m sure has no clue why.” Stopping suddenly, “What on earth is that?? Who in Imrich’s name is riding up here at this time of day?? I haven’t even got breakfast on the table yet! Annaliegha, you go figure out what it is they want and if it’s bad news tell them we’ll have none of it until after we’ve at least properly started the day!”
Walking out the front door I call to the rider, “Hallo! What brings you to out to Silverstone Farm this early morning?”
“I’ve a summons for one Miss Annaliegha Silverstone, I assume I’m at the correct place if this is Silverstone Farm?” said the rider.
“Well yes, I see your senses have not completely left you, what do you mean a summons? Who would be summoning me?” Slightly annoyed by the sound of the word summons, “Why would anyone want me?”
“The Therein Academy for Heroes of Might and Magic is summoning you dear child, for your magical abilities. Our oracle was given a glimpse of you. Now please, I’ve been sent to bring you back to the school with me. If we get an early start, let’s see it’s mid week now we can get there before the Harvest is upon this area, September I believe that is?” He asked.
“Whoa! Slow down! You think I’m just going to leave with you??” I asked incredulously.
“Well yeah, you don’t belong here anymore, you have magical abilities that need to be harnessed and Therein Academy is the perfect place for that. Your life will be better if you come with me back to the school.”
I groan, “Seriously? I just woke up from 7 nights of sleep because I killed a man and my sister died at the hands of that man, now you want to take me from my family too? Aren’t you just the worst timed escape plan ever!” As I stand from the stair I had sat on when he first started speaking of the summons, “Well you might as well come inside, Mama will want to meet you. I’m going to see my friend after I introduce you.” As we walk into the kitchen I call out, “Mama, this man has a summons for me to go to a special Academy for Heroes, I’m going to go see Joe now, I’ll be home for breakfast!” Turning to him, “Mama will set you straight! An academy for heroes! Hah!”
As I walked across the bridge I can hear Father and Dom working and preparing for Harvest, I get to Joe’s house and walk in like normal, surprised to find the house sparkling clean and the table set with flowers in the center, “Joe? You here?” I called. After no response I turn to go check the barn and I see her coming up to the house from the field, wearing her work gear. Running outside to meet her I wrap my arms around her for a quick hug, “Oh Joe! You wouldn’t believe the crazy man who is at my house right now! He wants me to go to some academy of heroes for magic or something. How silly right?!” When I realized she wasn’t laughing I pulled away and looked at her, “Joe what’s wrong?”
“Nothing Annaliegha, I’m just very busy getting ready for Harvest, I see you’ve got some new jewelry, I knew Amalia chose you over me! I was supposed to be the one in her apprenticeship! Not you! Your family shouldn’t even be here!” Stomping away she looked over her shoulder, “Enjoy your academy Anna, I bet there will be even be more losers like you there!”
Stunned I ask, “Uhhh what just happened??” Walking back home, I think of the conversation we had and why she could possibly be mad at me. “Well at least I know Mama will set that man straight. Really, an academy? Why would I ever leave here?” Realizing I’ve been talking to myself again, I stop before crossing the bridge, mentally scolding myself. As I get closer to home I can no longer hear the sounds of farm work being done and wonder what happened to Father and Dom. Stopping by the barn I say hello to my horse, Lucia and give her the grain I picked up. Seeing no one in the barn I walk up to the house thinking that Mama must have needed Father to shoo off the strange rider.
As I walk inside I see the rider sitting at the table enjoying breakfast and laughing with my family, “Adopted him have you Mama? You always did have a soft spot for the weird ones!” I say, planting a kiss on Mama’s cheek, “Where’s my breakfast, I’m starved! And why is this weirdo still here anyway? Shouldn’t he be on his way back to that academy?”
“Well Annaliegha,” Mama starts.
“NO Mama, I know that look! I don’t want to go with him!”
“Annaliegha you need to let your mother finish her sentence!” My father said, around a mouthful of hotcakes.
“Yes, as I was saying Anna, you should go with him. He told us of your ability, really dear, why would you hide this from us?” She asks with a frown on her face, “I never knew, but that does explain why Amalia begged us to let you apprentice with her.” As she gazes off at the window, “Yes it does explain that at least.”
“As your mother is trying to say Annaliegha, we feel it is best in light of recent circumstances for you to go with him, Therein Academy will do you well!” My father chuckles, “Besides, you do have a strange resemblance to my old….ah well nevermind that. This will be good for you child. Imagine that! My middle child, at a school for Heroes! I never would have thought it possible! Go with our blessing and our love child.”
“Well,” I said, addressing the rider, “Seems I’ve no choice, I’ll go pack some things and meet you outside. I would like to say goodbye to my family alone thank you.” As I walk away I can hear mama packing up food and supplies for the trip and my father clasping the rider’s hand, I realize as I hear their voices that I don’t even know his name. “Well Anna girl, guess you’ll just have to ask!” I pack quickly and kiss Carlissa’s little cheek as she stirs awake, “I’m sorry honey, I didn’t mean to make so much noise and wake you, sleep softly little one, dream of pleasant things, like a whole family, put together, none separated by realm or by distance. I love you my sunshine, grow quickly, you’re going to be the only girl around here, don’t let Father change your heart!” She nods and hugs my head as she falls back asleep. I walk back out to the kitchen.
“Mama, are you sure I need to go?” I ask, even as I grab the bag she has packed and swing it over my shoulder, knowing the answer before her mouth is even open.
“Yes my girl, my dearest Annaliegha, this is your destiny. Go with my blessing and my love, keep the memories of your time here close and do not let the world mar your beautiful heart.” As Mama kisses my forehead I wrap my arms around her and hug her tightly,
“Oh Mama, I’ll miss you all so much!” Seeing Reginald in the doorway I hold out one arm, “Get over here you little bugger! I’m going to miss your silly happy self. Be strong Reg, Dom will eventually return your affection, he’s just busy with Harvest time. Make sure to dance with that girl from the village at the Harvest Ball, you know she likes you!” Laughing as I wipe the tears from my eyes I tweak his nose and turn to my father and Dom. “Oh you two, come give me a hug, this may very well be the last time you see me!” Exchanging hugs and words of assurance, I walk out to the oak tree and say goodbye to Kinliegh, “I promise Kinliegh, I will keep your memory with me, I will keep your strength and your heart close to mine. I love you dear sister, rest well with Imrich, say a special blessing for me, I imagine this will be the hardest time of my life.” Rubbing my bracelets I reach into my bag and pen a short note for Amalia, letting her know where I’ve gone, though I suspect she knows it already, and telling her I’ll write when I’m settled. Going back through the house I give the note to Mama, giving her and Reg one last hug, “Please get that to Amalia, she doesn’t know where I’ve gone, I don’t want her to think I’ve skipped work! I love you both.”
Walking out the door and climbing into my horse’s saddle I turn to the rider and ask the question I’ve been waiting to ask, “So stranger, what is your name?”
He turns with a smile on his face, “Oh Annaliegha, I forgot you missed the introductions, I am Vavrinik, are you ready for the journey now?” After a quick nod from me, “Well then, let’s go!” As he kicks his horse into a run, my Lucia follows his lead.
Looking at my horse, “Well, ready or not Annaliegha Estera Silverstone, looks like your life is taking you away,” Looking up I shout ahead, “Lead on Vavrinik, we’ll follow!”
To Be Continued….