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Muer'Khista Ch. 4

by Kimberlain O'Driscoll, MBA, M.Ed 5 months ago in Adventure
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Tre'Leigh decides to leave home. Her friends refuse to let her travel alone.

Ch. 4 Preparations

“We’re going with you whether you like it or not”. Yari told her. Shannon nodded. Her eyes had the look of mischief in the making. Almost a month had passed since Tra’Leigh was released from training. The walk home to inform her parents was grueling. She worked so hard and was finally doing well, but since Liandrin’s death she seemed to lose focus and any means of caring. Leaving home gave her some sense of purpose.

Tra’Leigh knew in her soul she wasn’t meant to be a weaver or forger like her parents. She wanted more and could sense that she was destined for something much greater, but she had to explore the world beyond to find what that something was.

“But look what you two will be giving up.” She said, trying to talk them out of following her. “You’re to be saanti’d next year. That’s all we’ve dreamed of since we were little.”

Yari spoke up. “Now that Liandrin is gone…” She paused. Saying it was still painful. “As we see it, Shannon and I are your sisters too. We’re family and family stays together. Besides, just imagine the adventures we’ll have.” Tra’Leigh looked at Yari, then at Shannon. Her eyes welled up in tears, happy tears. She rushed forward and hugged them both. The three held onto each other for a long while.

Finally Shannon spoke up. “We should let everyone know we’re leaving. It wouldn’t be right to just disappear in the night”. None of them really wanted to tell their parents and Mistress P’lara would especially take it badly, especially just after having to dismiss Tra’Leigh. Now she’d lose two more students she had grown very fond of. Regardless of the anger and hurt they knew would result from this, each went her own way to do what had to be done. They agreed to wait a week to collect the supplies they’d need.

Tra’Leigh’s father began to yell when he heard the news. It wasn’t like him to behave this way. She knew he’d be upset but he was beyond furious.

“What are you thinking? Are you trying to get yourself killed like Liandrin?!” He caught himself once he said it. Mirah just cried. Whenever Tra’Leigh tried to console her or explain, her mother put a hand up as if to say not now and stepped away. Aside from the occasional questions of why? and what have we done to drive you away?, dinner that first night was deathly silent and barely tolerable.

Tra’Leigh finally went to bed after pushing food around her plate from one side to the other without really eating anything. She tossed restlessly through the night battling the urge to call it all off and stay. But each time she was about to concede to her desire not to hurt her parents, a deeper calling beckoned her. Tra’Leigh didn’t want to be a weaver or follow any path that would deny her what would be perhaps her only chance in life to truly discover the outside world. One day she would come back home and perhaps then settle down and learn some mundane craft and marry someone completely uninteresting, but before that happened, she had to free herself to experience something larger than this village. Coming back was always an option, but once she set roots, leaving would be near impossible. She had to do this now.

She was up a little before the rising sun peaked over the eastern mountains. There was a slight pink glow in the eastern horizon with a dark, starry sky above. The early morning birds sang. It was peaceful. After making a cup of tea, she sat on the front porch steps to clear her mind. The refreshing autumn chill, steam rising from her cup and the peace of this moment were all memories she wanted to keep with her in the days to come as a reminder of home.

Her attention was drawn toward a newly lit candle just down the road. It was Shannon. She was also awake early, saw Tra’Leigh and crossed the cobblestone road toward her. Shannon wasn’t wearing shoes. She stepped carefully to avoid the sharper stones and whatever unpleasant things she might step in.

“Good morrow. Can’t sleep either?” “No.” Replied Tra’Leigh. “I spent all night convincing myself to stay, then convincing myself to go.” Shannon nodded in understanding and sat next to her, holding the candle with both hands in her lap for the small heat it gave off.

“We could wait until spring if you like, when it’s warmer.” Tra’Leigh shook her head at the suggestion. “If we don’t go now, we’ll never have the chance later.” Tra’Leigh turned to face Shannon.

“You and Yari can still change your minds. I love you two for wanting to look after me, but like I said yesterday, look what you’ll be giving up.” Shannon was quiet for a moment as if trying to remember something. She finally spoke.

“Some are born to be legendary, but on occasion the Legends choose one who is common and mold them to greatness.”

“What?” asked Tra’Leigh.

“That was on the parchment you read in the cave. It’s from a story I once heard my mother tell. It was of a woman named… Oh, I can’t remember the name, but she rose from a rag covered child who had to steal to survive and went on become a great queen of her people. She started out like you.

“What, I’m poor and starving?” Tra’Leigh pretended to look offended. “No silly. Shannon smiled. “Like you, she was more than it seemed. Yari and I want to be there when whatever it is you are deep inside finds you.”

Tra’Leigh was flattered, but still doubtful. She stared into her nearly empty cup, trying to hide how uncomfortable she was with compliments as if Shannon didn’t already know.

“I’m not her.” Tre’Leigh finally said in a flat tone. “I’m nobody. I just don’t want to rot in this village. I keep thinking about you and Yari not going through your saanti next year and it hurts to think you’ll miss it because of me.”

“That’s our choice to make isn’t it? And nobody is nobody. Everybody is somebody. Even you” Tra’Leigh started to say something, but Shannon cut her off.

“We’ll find our greatness together. Who says the Legends only choose one? Besides, we’ll take our saanti together one day. All three of us. When we get back and they see what you’ve become; what you’ll be able to do, they will insist you saanti. I know they will.”

Shannon shivered slightly. “I’m getting cold. I have to get back inside and pack some more. We have to leave before we’re snowed in, or we will be waiting until spring.” The two said their morning goodbyes. Tra’Leigh took a final mouthful of her now chilled tea and went back inside.

The next few days of preparation passed quickly which was a good thing because Tra’Leigh’s parents had barely spoken with her. As much as the guilt over leaving still haunted her, Tra’Leigh knew that she had to do this or her regrets in the years to come would be far worse.

On the morning of their departure, she awoke before the sun as they had planned and saddled her horse. To avoid any further conflict with their families, the decided to leave as soon as they could. They didn’t break fast. It would just add to more of the pain and sorrow they were already feeling. There would be time to eat in the saddle once they were on their way. Tra’Leigh considered bringing a pack horse but decided against it. Yari was bringing one for everyone to share. Their bundles were light enough for it to carry what they needed. Shannon was an excellent hunter and Yari was more than fair. Tra’Leigh was a skilled fisher and of course even with the loss of seeing auras, she could identify edible plants from memory. Between what they carried and what they would be able to hunt and gather, they would certainly not go hungry.

The air was crisp, a warning of the winter that was soon to come. Frost which had formed overnight glittered. Tra’Leigh’s breath and that her horse formed a small cloud of mist. Tra’Leigh was dressed for the weather with layers of clothes that could be removed later as the day warmed. It was that time of year when despite how chilly it could get at night, the days were still very comfortable.

The slow plodding sound of horse hooves on packed earth and stone drew her attention. She could see Yari leading her riding horse, a dun mare and along with it, a grey dapple gelding that carried their packs which they had already given her the day before. Her parents and little brother walked with her. Yari’s father formed a blank and unreadable expression on a face that appeared chiseled and unmoving. Her mom’s eyes were red from crying. She held Yari’s hand as they approached Tra’Leigh’s home. Yari’s little brother Druh looked to be excited and kept talking about how he wished he was going with them. A short while later Shannon arrived atop her roan gelding. She was alone. Her family had chosen to say goodbye at their home. Shannon, who was normally the mischievous one, who always had a smile on her face, looked sad. It was obvious by her expression that she and her parents had argued again that morning.

Tra’Leigh made one final inspection of her saddle’s girth strap and began to mount up when she heard her mother’s voice. She was standing in the open doorway of their home.

“Aren’t you even going to give us a hug before you go?”

“Of course I am”. Tra’Leigh responded as she rushed into her mother’s arms. Her father emerged from the door of the house and embraced her as well while kissing her forehead.

“We still aren’t happy with you leaving, but think we understand why and how important it is to you”.

He looked down at her and smiled. It was the first smile she had seen on him since she announced her intentions. Although her mom sort of smiled, it seemed more forced for Tra’Leigh’s benefit than genuine.

“I have something for you”. Her mother said. She reached inside the open doorway and retrieved a long slender package wrapped in blue linen and tied with the cord. She presented it to Tra’Leigh. “Your father and I agreed, and this is for you”.

Tra’Leigh was honestly surprised as she took it from her mom. She slowly undid the knot and folded back the cloth. It was a sword. Not just any sword. It was Liandrin’s sword which was returned along with her sister’s other personal things a few months after she died. Tra’Leigh’s mouth dropped open in disbelief.

“Liandrin loved you very much. We know she would’ve wanted you to have this”. Her father said in a soft voice, his tone beginning to crack as tears welled up around his eyes.

“Oh Daddy, … Mom, thank you. I love you both and I’ll come back home, I promise you that I’ll come back home.”

Her dad gently took the sword and draped the baldric over Tra’Leigh’s shoulder, adjusting it and stepping back to take in the full view. He nodded in approval. “It looks good on you. It looks right on you.”

After seeing this, Yari’s mom and dad finally broke their silence and with fresh flowing tears, wished her safe travels as they held her close one last time. Yari climbed atop her horse with her spear-like mataar in hand, while Tra’Leigh’s father helped her into the saddle. Rennith leaned close for one final hug. As Tra’Leigh leaned down, he whispered in her ear. “I placed three bottles of naye in your saddlebags. One for each of you. Don’t tell your mother”. Tra’Leigh gave him one final hug, promising to keep the secret between the two of them and said goodbye to her mother one more time.

“You girls take care of each other”. Yari’s dad called out. Everyone paused to wave one more time before continuing on. The three of them reigned their horses toward the path that led to the river. From there they would turn north and ride for about a week until they reached the mountain and the world which way beyond the void. Tra’Leigh promised to herself that she wouldn’t look back, but she did. Many times. Her parents and Yari’s family watched them until the trees blocked the view.

They followed the road north which skirted the Kasii River on their right. Neither of them spoke a word at first. After about an hour had passed Shannon started pointing out places where three of them had spent many nights and recounted the fun times they had when they were younger. This was all they needed to snap out of the mood. In no time there was smiling and laughing and talking about the adventures they were going to have. The ate bread, cheese, and fruit as they rode along.


About the author

Kimberlain O'Driscoll, MBA, M.Ed

My stories come in the form of vivid dreams. The challenge is putting them to words. I'm medically a retired navy veteran and nurse, world traveler, artist, lecturer, and past journal reviewer with 5 ferrets who keep me very entertained

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