Before the Storm

Lyra Dark has spent her whole life in a town that does not understand her. Working as an apprentice in the Forge run by her uncle, she is not what is considered to be 'a proper young lady'. Her reputation constantly leads her to clash with the soldiers stationed at the garrison on the outskirts of Ferrinsford, but when a new soldier comes on the scene, her life will be inexplicably changed forever.

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1. The Girl

The rhythmic, repetitive ring emanating from the forge blended in with the other sounds of Ferrinsford created a unique melody that was playing out to the composition of the lives of the locals. The crunch of the wheels of various carts and barrows moving along the high road that cut through the heart of the town, the raucous singing being drawn from the inn and the usual collection of shouts and curses that always accompanied the market in the  center  square. All in all the town was entirely ordinary, with people to match. One member of the modest populous of the town was currently rocking back and forth in the forge out of nervousness and fear. The character in question was little Meila Woodrose, who's normally upbeat and cheerful  demeanor  had been thrown completely out of the window by the time she had approached Lyra as a ball of tears and sobs. She had secretly taken her new pony out for a ride when two of his horseshoes had come loose and she had had to dismount and sneak him back into the town and smuggle him to the back of the forge where he was now tied up, while the blacksmith's apprentice worked inside on repairing the two shoes.   "Th-Th-Thank you Lyra" the little girl managed to get out in between sobs. "You wont tell anyone will you? Daddy told me that under no circumstances was I to take him out to ride until he'd had Joseph chack him over, but Joseph isn't going to be back for at least another weak and Chestnut looked so sad and lonely in the stables that I thought it would be ok. I'll be in so much trouble if daddy finds out, he may take Chestnut away and, and..." the girl broke out into another fit of tears and couldn't speak anymore. The elder of the two girls finished hammering the final horseshoe into shape and then quickly tossed it into a vat of cold water, watching the steam hiss and rise. Slowly she made her way over to the weeping girl and put her arms around her in a comforting embrace. "Don't worry little one, I promise I wont tell. Just next time listen to your father, he was right you know. If any of the breaks on these shoes had been any more serious both you and Chestnut could have really been hurt" she said in what she hoped was a soothing manner, crossing back over to the water to check on the state of the horseshoe " OK  Meila its ready now, bring chestnut in here and we'll have you ready to go in a giffy." In a flash Meila had gone and returned with her horse, whom Lyra promptly preceded to re-shoe and lead out of the back door to the forge. "You'd better get home quickly Meila, before either of you are missed' she said ushering the girl out of the door, "and remember what I said about asking your father next time,  OK ?' "Yes Lyra I promise" the little girl shouted back as she skipped back to her home.   After she watched the Meila go off down the road to ensure she was indeed on her way home, Lyra finished what she had been doing before the weeping girl had arrived, which was locking up the forge and going home. She placed all of her tools back onto their correct hooks and into their correct draws, hung her apron up on the hook by the door and doused the fire that was still roaring in the furnace with the pale of water she had been using earlier. As she locked the door behind her and started her walk home, she smiled at the thought of Meila coming to her for help. Had it been nearly anyone else in Ferrinsford she would have told them to come back to the forge the next day during opening hours, however she could not bring herself to say no to the little girl who looked to her as an older sister. It was not that she disliked the other people in the town, on the contrary, she would have happily accepted all of them as friends. The problem was that none of them accepted her, the blacksmith's apprentice. Part of the issue was with her very title, it was not common for girls to be working in a forge, or working at all for that matter. Unlike most of the girls of her age who stayed at home learning to become good cooks and wives, who dressed in corsets and skirts, and who spent all day  fantasizing  about the soldiers who's barracks were stationed on the outskirts of the town; Lyra spent her days working hard in her uncle's forge, she wore her blacksmiths' leathers and who wouldn't dream about having anything to do with those idiotic soldiers who she despised. It was because of this that the people of Ferrinsford found it hard to accept her, like she was was a broken spoken in the perfect wheel of their town. The only people who actively sought out her company outside of her family were the younger children of the town, because she was always the one who had time for them; time to play fight in the fields with the boys or to braid the hair and tell stories to the girls.   As she was lost in her train of thought and memory, Lyra had failed to  realize  just how far she had walked, and was abruptly and rudely interrupted from her musings by a shout originating from the barracks, which were stationed alongside the road that lead to her home. 'Not daydreaming about me are you Lady Lyra?' Laughed a youth of about twenty from beyond the fence that divided the barracks from the road. 'Go fuck some sheep Damien!' Lyra shouted back in a voice dripping with anger as she tried to hurry past the pig stye as she called it. 'You should learn some respect little girl' Damien snarled as he vaulted over the fence 'or that mouth of yours is liable to get you into trouble.' 'In my book respect is earned through actions not through the size of your ego' she retorted, stopping in her tracks and turning to face the offending party. 'If its actions you want, then its actions you'll bloody get!' and with that, Damien attempted to through a punch, which Lyra easily dodged and answered with a punch to the face, a knee to the groin and finally an elbow to the back which sent the young man sprawling on the ground. She nudged his whimpering body over with her foot and rested it on his stomach. 'Who would have thought it Damien? You were actually right about something! the actions were so much better. It proved that there is no way in hell that I will ever respect you.' Leaving him groaning in the dirt, She shouted over to his comrades in arms that had gathered by the fence and whom had watched the whole scene, 'best let the commander know that this little piggy wont be able to go to market tomorrow, he'll be a bit too sore for that', and she continued on her way as if nothing had happened, leaving a stunned silence in here wake. 
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