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The Fetters of Lineage

a story of kin and fire

By Leann EvansPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 10 min read
3

Cinnamon and cider, pumpkin and pecan—the scent of baking fruit and vegetables, doused in spices, filled the air and buried the scent of wet leaves and compost. A woman danced along a cobblestone path, humming and holding a large basketful of dried autumn leaves in shades of auburn and gold. Long blonde waves fell down her back, swaying in the wind with the movements of her hips.

“Morning, Calla.”

“Nice haul, dearie.”

“Happy Harvest, Mrs. Smith!”

Calla Smith answered her neighbors with a bright smile as she wove in and out of them. There was her friend, Marigold, with a pile of apples as tall as she was; Papa Oakley who had planted thousands of trees in his youth and now spent his days leading his blind wife around as she blessed those same trees, and the smallest, cutest woodchopper in Tahlnir, rosy-cheeked Fauna who had the biggest gap-toothed smile that ever warmed a person’s heart. Everyone in Tahlnir was bustling around the city, preparing for their harvest festival in eight moons’ time.

The same familiar, folksy melody that Calla had been humming carried through the streets, gaining volume as she got closer to the city center. Dulcet tones spilled from soft pink lips as Calla added her voice to the music:

“Fire spreads across our trees,

As pollen from the bumblebees,

The scent of autumn on the breeze,

Tahlnir gathers before the freeze!

We fill our homes; feed our friends,

Our treasure fields are ours to tend,

Emeralds and silver; rubies and gold,

We have a greater Harvest to be told!”

Voices joined hers as she swayed through the center of town and tipped her head at Wisteria Hillsea, a dark-skinned beauty whose magick was responsible for the music being carried through Tahlnir—a fact that grated on several people who disliked the fact that Wisteria’s mother was not Tahlniran. Calla cared little about things like that though. No matter if it were plum, mulberry, or wine, Wisteria draped herself in shades of purple each day. The glint in her eyes when asked about it had been the reason Calla befriended her—anyone with a sense of humor like that was someone Calla enjoyed knowing.

“Calla! Wait a mo’.”

Calla spun in a circle to ease her momentum, turning to greet Wisteria with a proper grin as she stopped singing to Tahlnir’s Harvest tune. “Wisty! Happy Harvest.”

Wisteria stared at her, unimpressed. The sight of her, hand on her hip and eyebrow raised, had Calla stifling a smile.

“I’ve known ya too long for tha’, Calla Smith. You wipe tha’ smug little smile off your face. Ya know I hate tha’ infernal nickname.”

“If that was true, I wouldn’t say it. I’ve known you just as long, Wis-ter-ia Hill-sea,” Calla grinned in jest, balancing her basket of leaves on her hip.

Wisteria rolled her eyes and grinned back. “You Smiths are shameless. That’s why I stopped ya. Your husband promised my harp would be done for the festival, but I know he’s gotta whole lot of work ta do. Do I need ta change my plans?”

Calla smiled fondly. Spruce Smith was the lead blacksmith at the forges and he ran a tight ship, but he had a tendency to try to help everyone and that led to some disappointment. Luckily, that wasn’t the case this time.

“No, Wisty, Spruce finished your harp last night. A certain someone tipped extra to make sure Miss Hillsea’s harp was done in time,” said Calla with a teasing lilt in her voice.

Wisteria flushed darkly. “Elm did tha’?”

“Sure did. Might have to play a special song for him at the festival,” Calla said, mischief in her eyes.

“You stop tha’ right now, Calla Smith. Go on abou’ your business! I’ll come by the forge later and you best not say a word!”

Calla side-stepped Wisteria’s playful swat and danced off with a laugh, swinging her basket back into her arms and making her way down Maple Street, the main road in Tahlnir. Maple Street was dressed in full décor for the festival: rows of maple leaves were strung from lamppost to lamppost, shops were all repainted in dazzling colors of red, orange, yellow, and brown like a mosaic of autumn, and there were people everywhere. A dapper blond with strength magic that Calla recognized as Rowan Trunk was helping Papa Rye hammer a new sign onto the front of his bakery right next to Calla’s destination.

It was a little store, painted well enough to blend with the colors of the neighboring ones, but not advertised. This store was for Tahlnir customer’s, not festival-comers, so it was never done up to draw attention. The front was painted red with a brown door and unlike most, there was no window displaying any wares. Calla braced her basket on her hip and waved to Rowan and Papa Rye before she pulled her necklace from where it had been hidden beneath her dress. At the end of the chain dangled a small copper key that had to be jingled three times before it would open the door.

The lock clicked and Calla knocked her shoulder to the door, causing it to slam open. “Blasted thing,” Calla muttered, tugging her key and the long length of chain to drop it back beneath her bodice. Shutting the door behind her, Calla glanced around the store, frowning.

“Mags?” She called out.

There was no reply. Dust covered everything from the wide counter that had been white a few decades ago to the dark, creaky floorboards beneath her feet. Calla disregarded any urge she felt to take her shoes off to be polite and walked forward to set the basket of dried leaves on the counter. Its previously pale color had originally been to make it easier to work with the vibrant reds and yellows of the dried leaves but the grayish porridge color that it had become did well enough still. Calla began humming as she laid out the leaves she’d gathered and prepared, each one individually placed across the surface. It was important for the magick to be applied to each individual—

“Calla Lily Smith, that best not be you tryna start without me. Where’re your manners?”

“Mags!” Calla spun and smiled fondly at the elderly spitfire standing next to her. The older woman was shorter than Calla with hair grayer than the dirty countertop that fell in wisps around her shoulders. In a kingdom full of harvest colors, Mags was the only elder that wore white, a privilege given to her by the council. She was older than anybody and as far as their records went back, she was older than Tahlniran had ever been. In a few years’ time, if Mags was still alive, she’d be the only person to have ever witnessed two Hundredth Harvest Festivals (those only happened at the turn of the century). Most importantly, Mags was her mentor—the only one in the village capable of helping to direct Calla’s over-abundance of magick.

“Were you back there the whole time? I called for you and you didn’t answer.”

Mags shuffled forward to join Calla at the counter, harrumphing as she inspected each and every leaf that Calla brought. “I’m old, girl. How’m I s’posed to hear you?”

“You hear just fine when you want to,” Calla muttered, under her breath.

The sensation of a broom smacking the back of her legs was quick to make Calla jump. “Mags! What was that for?” Calla scowled at the cackling old woman.

“I could tell you were sassin’ me. Respect your elders.”

Calla sighed, but smiled. “Well? Do they all pass inspection?”

“Aye,” Mags nodded and then peered up at her. Dark blue eyes set within a wrinkled face held Calla’s own until the older woman returned her smile. “Good job, little flower.”

Calla beamed at the praise. Mags made her earn any praise she got, but it was all the sweeter for it.

“Alright, we can start the process of applying the preservation charms—” Mags cut off abruptly, her head snapping away from Calla to stare up at the ceiling.

“Mags?” said Calla. “What is it?”

“Something… something is wrong.” Mags shuffled to the door faster than Calla had seen her move in years. Calla hurried after her.

A horrid scent filled the air as soon as Mags opened the door and Calla covered her nose, recoiling.

“What is that? Mags?” Calla asked, but she didn’t receive an answer, so she followed Mags through the open door and into an unnatural heat. The air felt like it was trying to boil her skin and she coughed, her arms wrapping around herself. “Mags?” But it was no use. Calla couldn’t even see Mags anymore through a red haze that had descended on Maple Street. Calla was used to red, as anybody from Tahlnir was, but this was different. The scent came again on the humid breeze and Calla almost retched—it was the worst thing she’d ever smelled, worse than that time her brother had dumped an entire carton of rotten eggs on her head. Calla squinted into the distance, trying to make heads or tails of what she was seeing. Faintly, she could hear screaming and it was getting louder as if it was coming closer to her. The scent was getting worse as well and Calla finally dropped to her knees, gagging on the scent. As she tried not to retch, Calla braced herself on the ground only for her hands to meet…

“Mags? Is that you? Mags!” Calla leaned down and got close enough to see Mags’ wide-open, terrified stare. The woman was alive but in a state of shock. No matter what Calla said, it was clear the elderly woman could no longer hear her. But her lips were moving and Calla leaned down, desperate for any clue or hint on what she was meant to do only to hear the one answer that caused her stomach to drop. The one answer that meant there was nothing she could do at all.

“Dragon fire.”

--

Azaelfir flew above the desolate wasteland—it had been a few days since his brethren had laid waste to the once mighty kingdom of Tahlnir. Now, all that remained were ashes and those things that had somehow survived the fires. Magical fires burned hot and quick, but dragon fire was the worst of all of it. No matter the advice Azaelfir had tried to give, none of the young, aggressive dragons of his kin had listened to him. They had wanted death and fire and they had brought it. Azaelfir could no longer stay with such a vicious hoard and decided to find a quiet place to spend out his last years, but before he left the continent, he had needed to see for himself what his brethren had done.

As he soared over the center of what Tahlnir had once been, Azaelfir noticed something with his keen eyes and he swooped low. Down in the center of the town was an odd circle of stone and wood untouched by fire. When he got closer… he could hear the wailing and he was in shock. Somehow, a baby had survived the fires of his brethren. No doubt, the child was blessed with some magick of fire. But… what to do with the child? Azaelfir debated for several moments, before he gathered the child in his claws and flew into the sky. If nothing else, he could do this one act of keeping her safe.

Fantasy
3

About the Creator

Leann Evans

I am a twenty-four year old writer. My favorite genres to write in are fantasy and non-fiction. The best writing advice I've received thus far is: "You can't edit a blank page."

I am rather fond of bees.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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