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Lost and found

By Heather Zieffle Published 3 months ago 13 min read

Alleyways are disgusting! If an elegant silk scarf from Neiman Marcus could voice its opinion, that would be it. The beautiful blues and rich yellows turn brown as the muddy water from a puddle seeps into its fibers.

This city was always windy and beautiful women who wore high-end scarves should know how to tie a proper knot before venturing out.

A thoughtless toss over perfumed hair, with no concern about the weather outside, now has a lavish wrap wilting in the soggy backstreets of a busy city. It was enough to bring even the haughtiest of clothing low.

Trying to come to terms with one's ending wasn’t easy, so even as the night deepens, a desperate hope clings to its expertly spun fibers. The pretty lady with excellent choice of perfumes could come looking for her favourite piece of fabric… right?

A splash of bird poop lands next to the scarf as if mocking such foolish thoughts. No one who could afford such rich apparel would want it now. If fate favoured such things, it would be lucky to find itself the handkerchief of a vagrant.

Hurried footfalls sound from the mouth of the alley, the slap of thick-soled boots bouncing between the buildings. Ah, so here comes said vagrant, ready to claim their hanky!

But it’s no vagabond that stumbles to a stop as she reaches the scarf’s place of rest. Chest heaving and emerald eyes that dart from one end of the alley to the other, the mysterious woman pulls out a cell phone.

As… pleasant as it was to lie among the garbage of the city, her arrival sparks new hope in that soiled garment. A simple glance downwards is all it would take. The water hadn’t soaked the length of the scarf yet, so much of its beauty was still apparent.

It’s not meant to be, and the woman’s focus remains on her phone. But she doesn’t hold it up to her ear to make a call. Instead, she points it at the wall in front of her before pressing one of its buttons.

Tendrils of energy erupt on the surface of the brick building before coalescing to a point in front of the woman. The brilliant glow illuminates her deep brown hair, and as she takes a step back, the heel of her boot snags the hem of the scarf.

Stickiness from some food scrap or a sharp pebble, whatever the reason for it, as the lady leaps into the swirling light she drags the bedraggled stole with her. The intense winds nearly whip the scarf from its tentative hold as both woman and wrap tumble through the portal.

Time seems endless as the scarf tangles around the woman’s leg. Perhaps this ride will never end, but at least it was cleaner here.

With a pop, the duo escapes the energy stream and rolls several feet before coming to a stop. The turbulent exit dislodges the scarf, and once more it finds itself crumpled like trash on the ground. Although the mossy earth and towering trees were a far cry from its last location.

Filtered sunlight dapples the woman as she stands, her movements unhurried. Dirt clings to her jeans and she brushes her hands over them as she scans the area. A rumbling chuckle has her spinning toward a thick cluster of trees. “I know it’s you, Destorn,” she says. “Stop playing games and come out. We’ve no time to waste.”

The result of a warthog-hippo crossbreed would be less monstrous than the green-skinned male that comes out from hiding. Nearly twice the height of the woman, his scarred muscles flex as he hefts a long spear. For once, the scarf hopes to remain unnoticed.

“Sorceress Rostina, you’re late by two days, the master is not happy,” the craggy faced Destorn grumbles.

“He will be once I show him what I’ve found in that realm. This will be the turning point in this war, I’m sure of it.” Her confidence has Destorn cock his bald head.

“You better hope so,” he grunts.

The creature turns, ready to move off, when his beady eyes spot the length of silken material. Lumbering over, a yellow-toothed grin stretches his chapped lips as he scoops up the scarf and ties it around the shaft of his spear.

“Pretty,” he huffs before leading the woman deeper into the woods.

Where was the wind when you needed it?

Not since the days of metal armour has a piece of clothing witnessed such atrocities as the scarf does over the next few months. A war had indeed erupted across the lands of this strange place.

Beings of fantasy manipulate magic and take up spear and sword to battle each other.

Destorn is a savage and takes delight in the torture of enemies and allies alike. It’s minor consolation, but the spear he wields is mostly for show, so nary a drop of blood stains the trussed scarf. His rusted, yet decidedly sharp machete is his preferred weapon, and he uses it with cruel efficiency.

During the many macabre scenes, thoughts of softer times help to shield the genteel cloth. As the days wear on, though, a fervent desire to escape permeates its every thread. And when the knots Destorn first tied begin to weaken, anticipation nearly vibrates through the scarf’s fibers.

No longer caring if it ended up buried under a pile of rock and dirt, the scarf just hoped to end this horrid existence. A hanky to anyone would be preferable.

Two more days pass and the fighting intensifies. Destorn, usually content to sit on the outskirts of the battlefield while his troops die and kill, takes up his blade in desperation when the lines break.

With frenzied swings of his machete, Destorn cuts his enemies down. But his rage isn’t enough to turn the tide of the fight.

His strength seems limitless though, and many more fall by his steel before a screech sounds overhead. Destorn’s wail of fear shocks his remaining followers. But as a winged shadow blots out the sun, their wails join Destorn’s.

The ear-piercing noise sounds again before the owner of that shadow lands. The earth trembles with the impact, and the sweep of the animal’s wings rises dust and debris. Those gale-force winds nearly rip the scarf from Destorn’s spear.

A wall of ebony scales ripples as the dragon turns to face the bulk of Destorn’s force. Its sinuous neck lashes out to grab a mouthful of enemies, their screams deafening. Those out of its reach flee, their faces drained of colour, but they don’t get far before a jet of flame consumes them.

Destorn tumbles backwards as a lithe, elven figure leaps from the dragon’s back and stalks towards him. The continued breeze from the dragon’s wings ruffles the being’s long hair and pulls at the scarf. The possibility of escape tantalizingly close.

The pointed eared figure stalks Destorn’s trembling form and relief thrums through the length of the wrap, sure its suffering will finally end.

Drawing his sword, his silver armour glinting, the elven warrior narrows his golden eyes, his mouth set in a tight line. Neither speaks as Destorn holds his rusted blade out in front of him.

Time stills, and the cries of the dying seem muffled.

Destorn screams as he lunges forward, his swing wild but full of power. A deft twirl and measured steps take the elf easily out of reach. Grunting with fury, Destorn continues his chaotic attack, each desperate hack falling short.

Finally tiring of the game, the pale fighter lands a blow to Destorn’s sword arm, sending the blade flying.

Pulling in lungfuls of air, Destorn stumbles, nearly falling. Dislodged from its sheath, his spear tumbles to the mud-soaked earth at his side.

With renewed strength, the near defeated brute grabs up the spear, his mouth flashing a deadly smile.

Like some pennant of old, the scarf flutters weakly.

Over confident in his prey's downfall, the elf’s eyes widen as he narrowly dodges Destorn’s thrust. The slim figure goes on the defensive as he tries to regain the advantage. But Destorn has nothing to lose, so he gives the elf no quarter.

As the spear connects with the elf’s sword, Destorn pushes forward, his bulk bowing his opponent.

A frantic light enters the elven warrior’s eyes, and he grits his teeth. With one last burst of strength, he sends Destorn flying back.

But the elf is nearly on his knees, his breathing coming in quick gasps. With his composure shattered, he struggles to rise.

Now it’s Destorn who stalks the elf, his spear gripped easily in his hand.

Sending a sharp glance over his shoulder, the elf looks for the great beast that delivered him here.

The dragon isn’t far, but its attention remains on the bulk of the force.

A muted acceptance settles over the elf’s face as he turns to face Destorn. Raising his sword, he braces for impact.

Grinning, Destorn lifts the spear, pausing as if to savour the moment.

A crisp breeze picks up, finally tugging the scarf free.

As if in slow motion, it billows out. The length of it wrapping around Destorn’s face, the thin material acting as a blindfold.

Cursing, the tusked-faced monster swipes at the covering but can’t dislodge it.

Seeing his only chance, the elf leaps forward, driving his sword deep into Destorn’s chest. A last gust of breath ruffles the edge of the scarf before he lies still.

Whipping his blade out, the elf holds it high, his triumphant shout ringing through the air. His friends join his cry with whoops and muted laughter. They might have won this battle, but their many dead dull the moment.

Satisfied that it would lie and rot with Destorn’s corpse, the rumpled wrap accepts its end. It no longer cared to adorn the elegant neck of some rich person. Oblivion was preferable to what it had witnessed.

But since when did fate care what a lowly scrap of cloth wanted? Grabbing up the scarf, the elf holds it in his fist and thrusts it into the sky. The ends fly out like a banner as he heads for his mountainous ride.

His people chant the warrior's name, “Varrion, Varrion,” and as the elf nears, the dragon lays its head low so he can climb on.

Securing the scarf to the pommel of the dragon's saddle, they take to the air. Once more bound, it hopes that events will look less bloody from up here.

But as months pass, death and destruction flourishes on this side of the battle-lines as well. Families devastated, crops destroyed, towns razed to the ground; war doesn’t distinguish between evil and good.

As more dragons join the fight, though, the tide of battle shifts and hopeful whispers swirl that the war's end is in sight. This side’s leaders draw up final battle plans and issue last orders to their troops.

Varrion, his mount, and their silken observer fight for three more days, decimating the scattered forces. On the fourth day, their army engages the enemy hoard.

For nearly a week straight, blood, smoke, and screams saturate the air.

It’s almost surreal when, finally, silence greets the dawn, the last of the enemy soldiers scurrying for their holes.

Soaring high in the sky, Varrion and his troop of dragon riders issue a thundering cheer. The war was over.

It seemed the onslaught of the dragons had trumped whatever the Sorceress Rostina had retrieved from the other realm. It’s an idle thought, one the scarf didn’t really care one way or the other about anymore.

Still celebrating, Varrion pulls the silk wrap from its mooring, once more holding it high. The strip of fabric is unsure whether the act is intentional, but suddenly it's floating free of the elf’s grip. The wind unfurls its length, sending it higher than ever before.

Never has it felt such freedom. The land below shrinks, the scars of war receding as thermals of air push it towards the vibrant sunrise.

Soon, the battlefield is far behind. Gusts of warm and cool air play with the tattered cloth, bringing it nearly to the treetops before thrusting it high once more. Soothing sounds of wind and nature are alien after the chaotic noise of combat.

For miles, it soars, the landscape softening to rolling hills. As the air stills, the scarf floats down before finally landing in the rapids of a river.

The frothing currents carry it even further and many days pass. At some point, the river branches off, becoming a leisurely creek. As the clear water slows to a trickle, the soaked fabric soon catches on a bit of debris.

It was a decent place to end its days. Multi-hued pebbles line the stream's bed, its gentle burble, soothing. Pale spring grass and delicate flowers colour the bank. This rest was more than welcome.

The blush of spring gives way to the robust heat of summer and life flourishes and dies quietly here. No screams or pleas for mercy.

One morning, a delighted giggle breaks the silence of the place, the unexpected sound one the scarf had nearly forgotten. The splash of bare feet wades close to the tattered garment before a small hand reaches down, carefully tugging it free.

Rich brown eyes set in a cherub-like face sparkle as they run over the water-logged material. “Oh, ye were a thing of beauty once, weren’t ye?” she says with another bubbling laugh.

She was tiny, but she wasn’t a child. Tucking her red-gold curls behind her pointed ear, she contemplates the scarf. “Ye know, I have some beautiful red thread that will fix ye right up.” Squeezing out as much water as she can, she tucks the scarf into her pack.

Buried beneath enormous tree roots, the being’s home is warm and cozy. Sturdy wooden furniture, a stone hearth and plush woven rugs add to the place’s charm.

Pulling out the sodden material, she pins it close to the fireplace before stoking the simmering embers until the fire flares to life. Running her hands over the cloth, she makes sure it’s close enough to dry, but not too close to catch a stray spark.

The woman goes about her day completing chores. After cooking her evening meal, she checks the scarf, and finding it dry, pulls it from the pins. Taking up needle and thread, she sits in an overly stuffed chair by the fire.

She hums a tune, the melody simple but cheery, as she works on repairing the frayed wrap. Stopping often to run her hands over the soft fabric or to hold it up to inspect her work, she sews for hours.

The thread is thick, coarse, and nothing like the machined needlework that went into creating the silken scarf… it’s never felt so desired.

It spends years entwined in the woman’s braid or warming her neck. Nights would often find her adding various details to the material’s length.

Dinner parties with friends, town festivals, planting gardens, gathering berries and nuts for the winter. The scarf is part of it all.

And when the cherub-faced woman marries, she proudly adorns her dress with the scarf.

This is what life should be. Not struggle and fear, but love and community.

So, when the woman’s hair turns silver, and her children have children of their own, she sits once more in front of the fire with the scarf on her lap. Her hands shake, and her eyesight is dim, but she adds a last detail.

Stroking the wrap, she lays it out on the rug in front of her. “Oh, aren’t ye a thing of beauty? I’ve managed to fix ye right up,” she chuckles, the joyful sound filling their home.

No longer an over-priced fashion piece, or a macabre trophy, the windblown scarf had become a priceless tapestry of a woman’s pure and vibrant life.

And when that life ends, her children pass down the beautiful piece of art, its lore and love following it for centuries.


About the Creator

Heather Zieffle

I've been writing for a few years, and I'm grateful to have found my passion! I've self-published several sci-fi romance novels on Amazon, but want to branch out into fantasy soon. Any feedback is welcome!

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Comments (2)

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  • Babs Iverson3 months ago

    Fabulously written!!! Fantastic fantasy story!!! Loved it!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Test3 months ago

    From War-Torn Alley to Cherished Heirloom: A silk scarf's journey through chaos, mending, and love. Fabulous work! Keep it up

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