Beauty is a beast: The Earthsong Series

Alyss is a forest girl. With her home-knitted shawl and shoes two sizes too big, no-one would ever put her down as a city girl. But when her parents ask her to leave for work and money, she can't refuse. So she goes and some very interesting things happen along the way.

(For the Unexpected Adventure competition)

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2. Telling

Alyss had to wait a week for her parents to tell her. Her mother was always on the verge of telling Alyss but stopped herself, leaving an awkward silence hanging in the air. The atmosphere was so tense, it was almost tangible.

It was a beautiful sunny day when Alyss's parents finally came clean about it but to Alyss it felt like the darkest day she had ever experienced. She was out sowing the early crops for the summer when her parents finally cornered her, the children nowhere to be seen. A chill stabbed through Alyss's heart as she watched her parents walking up to her. She turned back to the crops, hoping that they were not coming to give her the terrible, frightening news.

They approached her cautiously, as if she was a wounded tiger, ready to lash out at any time. When her mother stood in front of her, Alyss looked at her reproachfully. There was no reason to have hard feeling and Alyss regretted that this was probably how she would spend her last few days at home: with hard feelings.

As her father came up to her, she took in a deep breath, mentally telling herself that this was all for the best and that she should be grateful for what she had and what she had to maintain. 

'Alyss, love,' her father said gently, putting a soothing arm around her tense shoulders and turning her around to face him. She looked up into his kind brown eyes, so much like her own, and burst into tears. Her mother, who had been standing a metre away with her hands clasped in front of her, rushed forward to soothe her poor child.

Alyss sobbed with her head in her hands, her mother rubbing her back and shh-ing her, telling her that it would all be okay and her father with his huge arm around her shoulders, supporting her weight as she leant on him.

It took three days for her mother to find her work. She was to work in the big city, in Alverbi, as carer for the goats in the King's palace. The pay was enough to help keep Alyss's family alive, for now, so Alyss took the job with a steely determination to not let down her parents and her brothers and sisters.

 

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