Elevea's Child

*Opening of the Elevea trilogy* In the ancient land of Elevea, the people of Hinnid have been surviving for a century after the rise of the Vanus (half-beings). Now, the Vanus are gathering in greater numbers than ever before, and Hinnid calls upon the help of the ancient magic protectors of Elevea, the Pistos, to help in the fight to survive.


7. Four

THE NEXT MORNING, Marda awoke to find Falnon already up, bending over the stream a little distance away and washing a few things from the previous night. Stretching her already aching limbs, Marda pulled herself to her feet and made her way clumsily over to Falnon,

“Good morning, my Lord,” she said, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and leaning over the water to splash some of the cold liquid onto her face. Falnon smiled cheerily at her and continued in silence: he did not feel the apparent need to chat. Instead, he ran his fingers in dismay through his damp clothes and sighed,

“We better get walking after some breakfast,” he concluded, “just to dry ourselves off.”

Marda agreed and handed him a piece of fresh bread they had brought with them. It was already half gone. Falnon let out an unsatisfied groan but quickly pulled himself up,

“Sorry,” he said, shaking his head, “I shouldn’t complain.”

Marda didn’t say anything. She finished her share quickly and the pair were soon well on their way long before the sun was properly awake.

They made their way steadily through moorland until the terrain started to flatten out and a beautiful meadow suddenly appeared at the foot of the last hill. It was wild, but had once been kept, a rotten fence still cornering off the wild flowers from the moorland. All sorts were growing there: the odd remnant of wheat, flowers and saplings, but dominant were the snow white weeds and dandelions which had grown to a colossal size. Marda stopped for a moment to exchange a glance with Falnon, but they soon had clambered over what remained of a stone wall and were sauntering through this magical meadow. Once a field, it sloped gently down the bottom of the hill, a large pile of rubbish and burnt out remains in one corner, and a great abandoned harvesting trailer in the other. But as the very bottom of the hill came into sight, so did the crumbling ruins of what had once been a sturdy and humble farm house. 

The farm house was built in a gorgeous light stone with rough, uneven bricks. A few plants poked their heads through the gaps in the collapsing walls and Marda could see many signs of animals scattered around the front door. The house has obviously been inhabited since its original owners had gone. As they found themselves in a tiny little garden at the front of the house, puddles of water had collected by the hollow of a front door and the odd dropping could be seen. Falnon hastily skirted around the outside of the building and cautiously tapped the walls before daring to enter, stooping low under the doorway which had crumbled from the top.

Inside, the house was nearly empty. It was very dark with the odd burst of cold sunlight finding its way through an old window or hole in the disintegrating tiled roof. In the centre of the room was a bent over table, which had been made from a sturdy oak, and had once stood tall and proud in the centre of the kitchen. It was all that really remained, with all the other pieces of spindly furniture rotten and in heaps on the floor. In places where the roof had vanished, even the stone floor had been worn away by the weather and time.

“Is it safe?” called Marda, who had still not moved from the doorway, letting Falnon prod his way around the room,

“It looks like it,” Falnon called back, running his hands along the great table, “or it would have collapsed by now. Look!” he pointed into a darkened corner where another broad outline emerged out of the gloom, “There used to be a fire and stove there.” He fought his way round the table and to it, “I can still see right the way up the chimney.”

“Hasn’t anything nested there?” asked Marda, timidly following Falnon’s steps into the room,

“No. I can see all the way up!” called Falnon, curiously poking his head into the fireplace.

There was a sudden loud crash from behind Falnon and in front of Marda. Marda yelled in fright, backing into the table,

“Was that you, sir?” she trembled. She couldn’t see Falnon through the gloom and he had stopped making any noise,

“Marda?” came his quiet voice from across the room, “Get out your sword.”

Swallowing, Marda fumbled until her sword was unsheathed, and she heard Falnon doing the same.

“There’s one in here.” He said again, his voice getting slightly nearer, “And I think it’s by you, near the back door.”

Marda could see the opening to her left where the back door had been and used the light flooding in to aid her.

“I can’t see anything!” she cried helplessly. She was shivering with fright and could not see Falnon either.

“I can, don’t worry,” came Falnon’s voice from right behind her shoulder. Marda jumped and gasped, unaware that Falnon had come across the room, “just stay quiet for a bit and it will come back over to us.”

There was another noise from very close to them, the sound of feet scuffing against the ground and a little gargle.

“Please, let’s just get to the door,” whispered Marda, her sharp breaths beginning to spiral out of control. Panic had gripped her and was making her sword heavy and hands sweaty. She could not focus on the dark and could see anything of the Vanus standing before her.

“Alright, just...” Falnon began, and Marda threw herself towards the door, not waiting for him to finish. Falnon yelled and tried to grab Marda to stop her, but instead grabbed something cold and rough, which was lunging itself at him: the Vanus.

“Marda!” he screamed. He saw her figure flash past the lit doorway and saw something else glint in the sunlight. He instinctively ducked as Marda sword came swishing manically at him and the Vanus. With all his might, Falnon kicked the body which was now clinging onto him, and grappled its arms off his chest. He could not see Marda but could hear her screams. A moment later the Vanus was gone from him and he could see two figures in the doorway: the Vanus launching itself this time at Marda. There was a clatter as Marda’s sword fell to the ground and she continued to scream in a piercing voice, begging for Falnon to come to her aid.

“Hey!” Falnon bellowed at the top of his voice and readjusted his sword, “Over here!” the Vanus could not be distracted and ignored him as it continued hurling itself at Marda.

Falnon groped his way through the room and to the door, throwing himself at the fighting pair and successfully prizing Marda away from the Vanus. It looked a little bewildered at first and tried to follow her as she fled around the side of the building, but Falnon had quickly brought it down with a swipe of his sword. It lay twitching on the ground for a short while before Falnon finished it off, adrenaline forcing him to plunge his blade through the chest of the creature and making sure it was dead.

Falnon took a few deep breaths and turned around suddenly, searching for Marda. He could not see her immediately, so quickly followed the path around the edge of the house, fighting his way past brambles and nettles. He soon saw Marda, on her knees and leaning against the wall, her head in her hands and panting heavily. On hearing Falnon, she looked up and let out a sob,

“I can’t do this!” she cried, “Look at me!”

“It’s alright, Marda:” Falnon tried to reassure, “it’s dead.”

Marda attempted to wipe away her tears and get to her feet, but they gave way and she fell back down. She shook her head and banged it softly against the hard stone.

Falnon made his way over and sat down next to her and although she was not facing him, he tried to turn her around,

“You fought it off very well,” he said quietly, patting her gently.

Marda nodded and managed to pull herself to her feet, turning quickly from Falnon and gesturing for him to follow as she led the way away from the house and into a small cluster of trees on the other side of the stone wall. She picked her feet up lightly and only let her top half flop dejectedly as she gave up and fell against a tree. She was crying again,

“I’m sorry, my Lord!” she tried to say.

“Marda, please!” Falnon interrupted, this time sinking down next to her and taking her by both arms, “Don’t be ridiculous.” He gazed earnestly at her and waited until her eyes met his, “What’s worrying you?”

Marda stood up suddenly, pulling herself away from Falnon and even looking a little angry,

“What am I doing?” she cried, shaking her head in disbelief, “Who am I? Who am I to even look at you? Who am I to need you to save me? Why didn’t you just let me die?” She threw her hand into the air and punched a tree.

“Wow, Marda!” shouted Falnon, grabbing her fist and hanging onto her arm, “What on earth...?”

Marda let out a shriek of anger and threw her head away from him,

“Why me? What did I do? Just look at me! I didn’t want this!”

She threw Falnon off her and strode a few paces away, more tears cascading down her face. Falnon chased after her helplessly, unable to stop or calm her down. Eventually, Marda sank once more to her knees, letting the sobs take her over, her small figure heaving and shaking with her emotions. Falnon waited patiently by her side as Marda slowly collected herself,

“I’m sorry, my Lord,” she moaned, “I’m sorry!” she repeated this several times before sinking once more into her shell of shame and angst.

After a few minutes of broken silence, Falnon dared himself to speak,

“Marda,” he said softly, “you were chosen to come with me. You are brave, strong and you know what’s right. What more could I ask for in a companion? Don’t hate yourself.”

Marda sniffed,

“I didn’t ask to come. I don’t deserve it!” she said in half voice.

“Marda, there’s no difference between you and I,” said Falnon, taking Marda’s pack from her trembling hands.

Marda clung on to it and widened her bloodshot, pearly eyes.

“You’re a prince!” she wailed, “And who am I?”

Falnon frowned, “One of my noble, worthy people,”

Marda wailed once again, “I am worse than an animal!”

Falnon won the wrestle and heaved the bag out of her hands, threw it down and grabbed Marda’s wrist again,

“I am never to hear you say that again.” He said, forcefully.

Marda sat in a stunned silence before gazing intensely into Falnon’s eyes. She turned away again just as she spoke,

“You don’t know what I am?” she asked, tentatively.

“What do you mean?” Falnon stretched himself out curiously.

“I’m a Bastard!” Marda spat, shrinking away from Falnon, “I have no father. I have absolutely no right to even look you in the face. I have no status, I have no rights; I am nothing!”

She looked down in shame and started to rock herself gently, half curled into herself on the forest floor.

“I believe,” said Falnon, standing up, “that there is no difference between us. You are just as important as I am. Yes, one day I will be King, but how can I help where and how I was born? Does me happening to have a Father make me a better human being? You can’t help it, you had no say in the matter. Marda,” he spun back to face her wide eyes, “I can’t stand the way you’re judged. No one should be, and you are my equal.” His voice was still soft, but the authority in it was evident. “You are a good person, and the best among the people. You care for your mother and care for me, you respect others and work hard. What more can we ask of you?” Marda wiped away more tears and took some calming breaths. Falnon continued, “What makes me a better person?”

Marda pulled herself more upright, “Don’t say that,” she moaned, “my Lord, please.”

“Marda, you’ve got to understand me!” Falnon persisted, “No more of this ignorance! I humble myself before you, not the other way round.” Falnon held out his hand for Marda to take. She did so, reluctantly, and Falnon pulled her to her feet. “Do you understand?” he asked, pleadingly,

“Yes, my Lord,” said Marda, biting her lip.

Falnon narrowed his eyes, “You obviously don’t!” he said, a little anger creeping into his voice, “My name is Falnon and I am not your Lord. I am your friend.”

Marda let out her breath and nodded slowly,

“I understand.”

“You do?”

“Yes,” she paused, “Falnon,” she lifted her eyes to glance at her prince and let them fall back to the ground, “shall we be on our way?”

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