|From Sunhame to Haven
Author: ElfWarrior PM
A Companion races to Karse to save his Chosen...a Karsite commander has second thoughts about her position...two children are taken for Vkandis...and I suck at summaries, so just read it please. And REVIEW.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 5 - Words: 8,107 - Reviews: 28 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 05-21-02 - Published: 05-06-02 - id: 763650
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters mentioned in any books by Mercedes Lackey. Duh.
Note: This story takes place sometime during the first two Mage Winds books, before the alliance with Karse and before Solaris took her place as Son of the Sun, and the very first part of this story (the Companion bit) takes place a little before the rest.
Marion struggled to contain her mental laughter at the sight of the two prancing stallions, trying their best to make themselves look good in front of her. Alshir and Daeor, two of the most charming Companions around, and certainly the most entertaining of those who hadn't Chosen yet, were both thoroughly taken with her. Unfortunately, Marion couldn't pick between the two.
Alshir leaned his head closer to Daeor, who gave a kick of his heels and trotted forward a few paces. Alshir came level, and they both tore off, racing for the Grove.
Marion watched the race with interest. They were neck and neck, then Daeor began to pull ahead...
He stopped suddenly, almost sitting on his hind legs as he pulled up. Whinnying furiously, he spun on his heels and ran for the stables.
:Daeor, what are you doing?: Marion asked.
:Where are you going?: Alshir added.
:They're going to burn her!: he cried frantically.
:What?: the other two chorused.
:My Chosen! They're going to burn her, oh, gods!: He leapt the low fence easily. :They're hurting her and they're going to burn her!:
:Daeor, are you sure—: Alshir began.
:Hell I am!: the Companion snarled. :I have to go to her! They're going to kill her!:
:Who is?: Marion asked, trying to make him calm down.
:The Karsites!: Daeor screamed for the stableboy.
One stuck his head out, cursed, and hurried back inside for Daeor's tack. Daeor neighed again, dancing in place. The boy ran out again, weighed down by saddle, barding, and bridle. :Hurry!: Daeor told him frantically.
The boy's jaw dropped, and he almost let Daeor's tack fall to the ground.
:Daeor, is that really necessary?: Marion asked. Daeor ignored her.
:Don't bother with the barding,: he told the boy. :Just hurry.:
"Ranan!" the boy yelled. "C'n I 'ave some help, please?" He set the saddle on Daeor's back and began bucking straps.
Another, older boy ran out of the stables. "You can saddle a Companion yourself, Jack."
"He has to leave now. Leave the barding, and hurry!"
"How do you—"
"He told me!"
Ranan swore reverently and picked up the bridle.
Less than five minutes later, Daeor raced off, tail streaming, with only a hasty, :Thank you!: to mark his passing.
Ralca had fought long and hard to gain the position she now held, and she wasn't about to give it up.
No matter what.
She had been the only woman in all her classes, and she had excelled, but because of her gender, her success had been overlooked. Her lone female teacher had explained, quite bluntly, that the only way for a woman to over get anywhere in the Karsite army would be to sleep her way to the top. Ralca hadn't punched the teacher, but it had been a close thing. That day, she had decided that she would prove the teacher wrong, whatever it took. And now, here she was, an officer of decent standing with a sparkling future ahead of her.
But now came the time of year she hated most, and tried to be far away from any form of civilization at: the Feast of the Children, where each child was brought to the temple of Vkandis so the priests could choose those with the powers to serve the Sunlord, or those heretics with witch-powers.
The treatment of these children was inhumane. Ralca couldn't ignore it. She tried not to think about it, but this year she had been appointed to head the children's guard from Arshal to the Children's Cloister, where they were kept until they completed their training or were burned for harboring witch-powers. All those children, all of them bound to be given to some terrible fate...
Ralca's stomach turned, and she gave herself a little shake. Her mount tossed his head in response to her movement. Ralca quieted him automatically.
"What are you thinking about?" Jarin, her partner and lover, asked as he rode up next to her.
"Nothing." Ralca grinned crookedly at him. "I'm fine."
"Good. Come on, Ralca, don't look so gloomy. It'll be fine. I'm sure you'll make a wonderful impression on everyone."
"That's not what I'm worried about." Ralca's dark eyes grew serious, and she looked away. "Let's go. We have to reach Arshal today."
She clicked to her mount and they headed onwards.
Ali looked up from her game of marbles. "Drat," she muttered. "I was winning too."
Kashil, her best friend, grinned at her. "Don't worry about it, Ali. We can finish this afternoon."
"No," Raldon corrected. "The Feast is this afternoon. We all have to go to the Temple."
Ali sighed. "Two more years, then I'll be thirteen and I won't have to go anymore."
"One and a half," Kashil, ever exact, put in.
"Doesn't count," Raldon protested. "You've got two more Feasts. I've only got this one."
Ali stood and dusted her skirts off. "See you at the Feast!"
"Bye, Ali!" The boys went back to the game.
Ali ran up to her mother, breathing hard. "Yes, Mother?"
"Where have you been? Playing marbles with those boys, I'll bet?"
Ali's mother sighed. "Suppose it can't be helped. Go get your nice dress on."
"Allrana, the Feast starts in little over a candlemark. Go get dressed."
"Yes, Mother." Ali ran upstairs. Why was her mother so worried? Mother always fretted whenever the Feast came around, perhaps because two of her older siblings and one of her younger ones had been taken, and one of them had burned. Father hadn't lost any family, but he shard his wife's anxiety. Ali didn't understand it. She'd been passed over six times—she was turning twelve in four months—so why should they take her now? It was all silly. She wasn't worried. Kashil and Raldon would be fine also. Everyone would. They always were.
She pulled on her slightly uncomfortable dress and snuck past her mother back to Kashil and Raldon. They had finished the game. "Who won?" she asked.
"He did," Kashil groaned. "Again."
Ali tried to think of something to take their mind off marbles, but before she said anything, they all heard the sound of trumpets blowing in the distance. "The guard is here!" Kashil cried joyfully.
They ran to the main streets to watch the procession. An armed squadron, headed by a man and woman on tall brown horses, trotted down the streets. "Wow," Kashil murmured.
"I want to do that someday," Ali announced.
"What?" Raldon said incredulously. "Prance around like that? You're a girl."
"I broke your nose once, Raldon, and I'll do it again if you don't shut up." Ali watched the female commander. "She's a girl, and she's of equal rank to the man."
The woman turned and looked at them. They all stared, awestruck, as she smiled, dipped her head, and moved on.
What they didn't see was the smile fade as soon as she'd passed them by, and an expression of sorrow take its place.
Ali stood patiently in line, waiting. Raldon was four or five people behind her, and Kashil was ten or so ahead of her. She watched the woman commander as she waited. She stood impassively, flanking the priest. Every now and then her partner would lean over and say something to her, or vice versa. She could see that the scabbards of their swords were scratched and marked with years of hard use—these were people who knew what they were doing, and did it well.
The woman looked straight at her for the second time that day. Ali did her best to appear brave and stare back. The woman gave a one-sided smile and winked at her, then looked forward as if nothing had happened.
Ali smiled and tapped her foot. She wished they would hurry up—
She gasped. The priest was walking swiftly towards someone in line. That meant that someone would be taken. She saw the woman commander take a deep breath, as if steeling herself, then fallow.
Kashil was whispering to the person in front of him when a hand fell heavily upon his shoulder. He looked up and choked.
"Take this one," the priest told one of his guards—the man.
Kashil tried to shrink away, but the guard took his arms and dragged him off.
The villagers watched in stunned disbelief. Kashil...taken?
Ali felt tears come to her eyes. Not Kashil. Oh, no...
"And this one," said the priest.
Ali looked up to see who it was. Before she could clear her eyes of tears, she felt strong hands grab her upper arms and pull her away. What—
"No!" she cried, digging her heels in. The woman kept pulling her. "No, no, let me go!"
"Allrana!" her mother called.
"Ali!" Kashil screamed.
Ali lashed back, kicking the guard's shins, but the woman was wearing armor, and all she did was hurt her foot. "Please, please let me go!"
"Silence her!" the priest snapped.
The guard brought the pommel of her sword down on Ali's head, and the girl knew no more.
Wow, I have defeated the evil demon of writer's block and written this much! Now if only I could work on all my other stories too...Write me reviews and tell me what you think! Now I'm going to work on chapter two...and I challenge you to guess what will happen, and tell me what it is.