This is lemonlimesweetness' fanfic. I'm taking it over for her since she didn't want to continue it and I didn't want to see it go. I'll be uploading this a chapter a day so I can have time to prepare mine. Enjoy and Review! (I didn't edit any of this, because I wanted these chapters of hers, to remain totally and completely hers.)
Summary: Daria was a former peasant girl until a tragic accident occurs
A small and delicate ten-year-old merrily hummed herself a tune as she washed a heap of food-stained crockery. She had donned a simple, crème day gown: a cheap one with a rough texture, large stitches, and many stains.
She automatically scrubbed each dish, rinsed it off in a small tub, and then wiped it dry with a tattered rag. She did each without even thinking about it. Instead she envisioned her self about seven years hence. Would she still be working at the inn? Would she still be dressed as scantily? Would she even be alive? As she was about to place down another platter, a loud voice rang out from the other room, "Daria!"
Upon hearing the voice break through the previous silence, Daria suddenly jumped back, startled. Her elbow hit the sink behind her and the dish slipped from her grasp. It shot up straight into the air, and for Daria it seemed as though time stopped. She stumbled back to try to catch it but hit the tub, thus causing it to spill the sudsy water all over the hard wooden floor. Then it got worse. She slipped on the water; fell flat on her back, and just barely caught the large ceramic platter. By the time she got back up, Daria finally noticed the throbbing pain in her elbow. She slowly pushed back her sleeve to inspect the wound. There was a bluish-purple bruise that dotted the area where her elbow had hit the sink, and slowly inflating around it was a reddish swell. She winced as she gingerly caressed it with her fingertips. Wearily, she collapsed onto the floor, her shoulder-length waves sprawled out around her head.
"Daria! What are you doing just lying around there?"
A middle-aged man stood leaning on the doorframe. He had dwindling black hair and a bushy mustache. He was tall and lean with pallid skin. Clothed with merely a cotton tunic, brown breeches, and a ragged apron, it was easy to tell that money was scarce.
Daria stood up, her icy blue eyes twinkling. Suddenly, she erupted into laughter. In a few seconds, she was laughing so hard that she almost fell down again. It took a few more seconds for her to retain herself.
"If that's enough--," her father started, but that was all it took for Daria to start giggling once again. Each minute wore by with more peals of laughter, her father kept trying to get a word in between chuckles.
"Dinner" giggle "is in" giggle "five" giggle "minutes!" more giggling. Clutching her stomach, Daria nodded to show consent and then returned to the floor, still laughing. Her father walked back to the main room, muttering something about 'children'.
When Daria finally caught her breath, she walked over to a small hand mirror on the table at the side of the room. She raised it up and looked at it. To her, it showed a small porcelain girl, with her wavy black hair in a right old mess. The only thing Daria actually liked about herself was her eyes. They were big and almond-shaped. When she was happy, they twinkled with life, and when she was mad they were icy, and you felt as though she could see your every thought as they poured deep into you.
She gazed at her self for some time, and then she reached over to the table, where laid a single wide-tooth comb. She brought it down through her hair, trying to tame it. After that, she went back to the sink and washed her face with the cheap kitchen soap. It was the only thing her family could really afford when they had all their other expenses to think about. She dabbed her face softly with a dish rag, and walked out the door for dinner.
The inn was bustling. Guests were running up to their suites while travelers, folks here only for food, rushed out. Daria's father was outside, turning a sign on the dirty glass window outside, while a woman and two other children hustled to each table to clear them and clean them.
It was closing time for the inn.
Daria stepped swiftly behind a crevice so as not to be swept up in the closing rush. After the downstairs of the inn was cleared out, and after Daria's father finished locking up the front and back doors, the family pushed two tables together for supper.
Daria took an uncomfortable chair beside her Mother and younger sister and brother, twins. Her mother had short, ragged blonde hair that was drawn into a messy bun. Deep set were two shining brown eyes. She was slightly plump and short. The only thing she had in common with Daria was her skin color. Other than that they looked nothing alike. Her twin brother and sister were only 2 years old. They took on the look of their mother with blonde hair and brown eyes. In fact, Daria was the only one in her family with blue eyes. They little twins were Emilline and Daniel, but they like to be called Emma and Danny. Daria's mother's name was Gina, and her father was Michael.
Everyone in the family tucked in. Settled on each plate was a slice of coarse brown bread, a chunk of cheese that was studded with hazelnuts – they had some growing in the backyard and this year's lot was abundant – and some sort of vegetation; it was the exact same thing that they had yesterday, and the day before that, too. Next to each plate was a simple tumbler filled with water. Daria inwardly sighed. She had dealed with poverty since she was but a baby, but it still bothered her every time she glanced at her measly dinner. She took her small and dented fork and dejectedly poked her broccoli and carried it to her mouth (or as we commonly call it, the pie-hole). When she finished her vegetables, she moved on to the bread. As always, it was stale and flavorless. To try to give it more appeal, she ate some cheese with it. She almost brought the cheese to her mouth when she noticed the green spots that appeared in big dots around the surface. She squealed and threw the moldy cheese onto the floor.
"Daria! What was that for?" asked Gina.
"We're sorry Daria, but it's all we have." It was her father this time. She sighed, out loud this time and carefully picked the spoiled morsel up. She then tossed it into the garbage bin.
Suddenly a thought came to Daria. It's my birthday tomorrow! She realized with a jolly acceptance. After a few minutes, she asked her parents. "Tomorrow's my birthday……" she said warily. Both her parents looked at her.
"Yes, it is" said Michael.
"So….. I thought that for my birthday present I could have a birthday cake, and maybe even a new gown."
"Oh, Daria," her mother looked at her remorsefully. "Daria, we know how much you deserve it, but you know that business has been slow lately and….."
"…….and you can't afford it," Daria finished impassively.
"Daria we're so sorry," Gina started saying.
"I know" Daria said. She put down her plate, not very gently though, and trudged upstairs to her room.
"Daria!" Michael shouted, but she ignored it. She swung open her bedroom door and threw herself onto the small bed. After a while, when she finished slamming her pillow against the wall, she crept down to the base of the stairs and hid in the shadows, still un-noticed by her parents. Emma and Danny had already headed/been sent upstairs after Daria did. Now her parents were alone downstairs. The other guests of the suite were already sleeping, not a care in their minds as they dreamed.
After Michael made sure no one was there, still not seeing Daria, he headed back to the table where Gina was seated. There was a slow creak as he pushed the table back to its former position, the place it was before the family had dinner. As he dusted the windowsills, Gina started speaking.
"Michael, it is her 11th birthday. Maybe we could break the budget for one day." Michael sighed, "Gina, that's the problem." He paused for a few seconds and then said, "I didn't want to say in front of the kids, but I checked our income and our expenses…………we're broke," he blurted out.
Behind the staircase Daria's eyes widened and she blanched as she heard the news. "What!" Gina exclaimed and she mimicked Daria's expression. "Yes it's true, I am going to Ayortha to ask a favor from an old friend and maybe he can help us……………." Daria would not hear anymore, she ran up the stairs not caring whether or not her parents heard her.
She went back to her bedroom, her mind muddled with thoughts.
We are broke? That cannot be right!. And I can't believe I asked for a cake! And a new gown! What was I thinking? It's the same thing every year. And Father is going to Ayortha; that isn't fair! How long will he be gone?
Footsteps were heard coming up the stairs, it was Michael. Daria could tell from the type of footsteps. Smack! Thunk. Smack!
She took her thin quilt and encased her body with it. She pretended that she was sleeping. "Daria?" he checked whether or not she was asleep. Daria did nothing, but to be cautious, she breathed deeply and moved her chest up and down in a steady rhythm.
Michael sat down on the edge of Daria's bed; there wasn't that much room left because Daria's bed was miniscule. He then laid his hand on her head, "Daria, I'm sorry," he said. Then with one last look at his slumbering daughter he headed to the door. Right before closing the door, he whispered, "Goodbye." And then he closed the door.
The next day, Daria woke up late, around seven. She was usually woken up by 5:30 so that she could do her chores: help make breakfast, dust around the inn, clean the suites, and other such things. There was only one occasion in which she was allowed to be woken up this late. She realized that it was her birthday! She rose cheerily and crept downstairs, not wanting to alert the others of her presence. Daria was surprised when she found, instead of the happy faces that she was used to, the faces here were dreary in comparison.
Daria saw an absence of the pleasure usually in store for each day. Instead, there were teary faces.
Gina was walking around, dusting the same places over and over again, she looked close to tears. Emma and Daniel were already crying, tears streaming down their little chubby faces. What's going on? Daria thought. And then it hit her.
Gina and the twins looked at Daria with surprise etched into their face when they heard the inaudible whisper.
"Happy Birthday, honey," Gina said, trying to look happier but still looking miserable.
The twins, however, brightened up considerably when they saw her.
"Halply Blirfday!" said Emma.
Danny just came and hugged her. Daria smiled. The twins were only two years old and they did not really see the importance of the matter.
"Where's Father?" Daria asked, even though she already knew the answer.
"Your father has to go to Ayortha for a little while, hun."
"Sweet, we need money. That's why"
Six week later, an unexpected visitor came to our inn. It was the Ayorthian prince, Oscaro. Though Daria would rather it had been her father, she was still astounded that such an important visitor would have arrived, and he was received with great pleasure. What wasn't received well was the grave news he carried.
"Good day," he said in a gravelly voice. His face was smiling, but upon further inspection, Daria realized that his eyes said differently. And her smile was immediately replaced with a frown; his majesty didn't notice. Would he give bad reviews about the inn? Would he make customers stop coming? Would he get our license revoked!!
The rest of the day, Gina and Daria cared for the princes every need, and tried to extol all of his wishes. When he asked for a stew for lunch, Gina spent the whole morn trying to make it perfect. When he asked for a mug of ostumo, an Ayorthian delicacy, for dinner, Daria spent an hour going on the streets to find an Ayorthian that could give her the recipe.
When the day came to a rest, and the inn cleared out, the prince was the only one left. He sat down and requested an audience from Daria and her mother. Danny and Emma were sent up to their beds to sleep.
As they sat down, Daria asked, "Sir, if you may, could you tell us of our father? Michael of Frell?"
"Ahhh, yes that is what I wanted to talk about." The look in his eyes returned. Was it reluctance? Daria didn't know.
"You see………" and he related the entire story back to them.
It was time for the most respected tournament of the year. The treasured prize was the song diamond. It was worth at least 1000 gold yorthys, or in Kyrria, 10 trunks of gold KJs. Swordfighters from all over, from right there in Ayortha, from Kyrria, even the distant land of Pu, came to contest against each other. The battlefields were close to the castle itself. It has stands encircling it, holding rich nobles desperate for enjoyment. There were long, thin, metal poles on the corner of the battlefield, almost touching the stands. Draped between these poles were large squares of black metallic mesh, put there to protect the audience in case of any accidents. I was sitting right at front, and I watched as each man fought, with all their strength, fueled by greed: all but one. And he was Sir Michael of Frell. Each fight lasted about an hour. And each round, a day. So the time until the final round was a month durance. In the final round, there was the Duke of Jenn, a location that is in Kyrria itself, and your father and husband, Sir Michael of Frell. The fight that stood between them was grueling, but as each opponent grew wearier, and the swords turned heavier, the fight came to an end. Using his last morsel of energy, Sir Michael dispatched his adversary. In this way he won the tournament; he won the song diamond, too. He turned his back to the Duke of Frell, to take in the praise from the audience. Then, the Duke, overtaken by greed, drew his sword, and….and…..he….the sword was thrust, through Sir Michael.
Daria turned deathly pale, as did her mother.
"And?" She said, shakily.
The prince sighed.
"I am sorry to say that Sir Michael," he turned his head away, for he couldn't bear to look at the pair, "Sir Michael is gone."
Daria let out a sob and huddled over, her body shaking. Gina just blinked, unwilling to believe it.
"The Duke was sentenced to execution. I came here to tell you. And, I came here to give you what is rightfully yours: the song diamond."
Drawing a cloth colored sphere from his cloak, her passed it onto Daria; Gina was now crying so hard, she could do no more than nod.
Daria took it, tears still streaming down her cheeks. She unraveled the cloth, made of satin, and took it in.
The Song Diamond was beautiful. It was an unnatural golden color, and it reflected the small amount of light that came from the seven lamps that hung around the walls of the inn. All the same, it was taunting. Yes it was gorgeous, but it was no substitute for Daria's Father. This is why Daria refused it. It was a foolish mistake, but Daria hated it. And she hated herself.