All through the day she played and joke with her friends, when night came she soaked the deer hides on oak water to soften them.
She read the leather bound book that the girl had given her. It was a book of stories, folklore and rumors about the land of the heartless. About those that survive the trip and regain feeling, the gems in their chest giving them power. There were spells, then there were prophecies and stories about the magicians. Ivy read all night but she was nowhere even close to a fourth of the way finished.
In the morning she left the hides out to dry, before picking a load a berry and meeting the girls for breakfast. They cooked another one the the deer Ivy killed this time with they berry's Ivy picked and made a venison with berry preserve. They laughed and talked freely as old friends do, carefree without the knowledge of the secret each other girl held in their heart. All but one, Ivy knew the secret each held in their heart. She knew of the hatred Saffron felt. The intense pain Thalia was always so careful to hide. Ambers high self doubt.
Maye worst of all the jealousy from Lia. Lia was extremely jealous of Ivy in particular, Ivy realized that Lia had been severally sextually abused. By the king first, then the men she sold her body to in exchange for money to keep her sister fed and safe. She envied the other girls for not being raped over and over and over again. It haunted her every moment. It dreams she still could see them, it horrified Ivy. Lia had done everything to feed her sister and keep her safe, but none of it mattered, in the end Lia had been ripped from her, the girl couldn't hope to support herself.
Ivy was glad none of them could see the secret her heart held, the burning desire for revenge. It was the only thing she lived for. She would get revenge, then she would disappear, or perhaps she would help the other girls save the kingdom by killing the king. Or she might even stay in this land. She had come to love this fierce and wild place. Perhaps she would stay here. Escape the troubles back in her home by leaving them behind. With the hides soft pliable and dry Ivy started to tanning processes.
Aided by magic it was far faster and by lunch she was a fourth of the way done. After lunch she relaxed in the hot pools of water. There was a network of streams running all over the huge city like encampment. After the scalding hot bath the girls sat on the edge of the stream bank.
Then something utterly amazing happened. A wind began to blow. Ivy had forgotten that air could move. She had forgotten that wind could blow, and that air could touch you. She didn't remember what it felt like to have the wind blowing through her hair. Then slowly it died away.
Ivy sighed, 'Wow, that was amazing."
"Did you like it?" Selena asked.
"Did you make that happen?" Ivy asked.
Selena nodded then brought her hand up and the wind started to blow again, only this time it didn't die away after a few seconds.
Thalia smiled "Oh looks like fun, mind if I join," and like always she didn't wait for a reply. It started to rain, heavy and hard. Then Lia stood up. Her eyes sparkled and glowed bright yellow, electricity crackled all around her. Then off in the distance was thunder and lightning.
Ivy stared in wonder, Lia looked so happy. She look absolutely radiant. Ivy looked up at the dark cloud, she forgot that water could fall from the sky. She forgot what thunder was, and the sound of things other than voices.
"We can keep in up all night and most of tomorrow!" Lia boasted. The other girls nodded in agreement. Ivy was delighted she loved storms. Unfortunately her cat did not and was already in the garden. But they only kept it up for about an hour. Ivy was sad when it went from a full blown storm to a light warm rain and slight breeze and an occasional rumble of thunder. But she felt far happier on the whole. By the time dinner came her tanning was half way through, by the morning it would be finished. After dinner ivy circled up under the tree and let sleep overtake her. Just before she fell asleep the rain began, it stayed steady the whole night, Ivy could feel it in her subconscious.
When she awoke the tanning was done and she had soft and beautiful brown leather. The rain was steady and they sat inside of one of the wooden cabins. They laughed and they played and engoyed simple pleasure that they thought they had forgot once they got there. With the fire and the rain pounding down on the roof above their heads it was ever so easy to forget.
Ivy sharpened one of the bones into and ivory needle, and borrowed a knife from Sylvia and cut a long strip of hide for thread. Then she began to construct a pattern from memories. She cut out the pieces of fabric, stitching in a cross work pattern to sew up the sides. seven years and she still wore the clothes she was wearing on that day, The wide shirts could be easily adjusted so she never saw reason to make anything new. She stitched and laughed with her friends while in front of the fire. They still had venison so the roasted in over the fire. They licked their fingers and talked like old friends, though it had been far less than a month since they had been together. The girls filled Ivy in on what she had missed. Many things had happened. They had made the camp huge. And shot a flare into the sky. It declared that they were there, and any traveler could come meet them and find shelter. It also invited monsters to come attack, the girls were not afraid. And so they looked more closely at their powers. Selena could create high blowing wind strong enough to blow away another draget that came to visit. Thalia could create ice and boiling water and steam as well and rain and such. Amber could make forest fire and fire balls out of nowhere, but she could also control other peoples fires. Thalia could also control others water. Lia could make lightning come down from the sky, but she could also shoot it from her hands. So far they had made their came huge so that any travellers would have a place to stay, and strong protection, no one had come so far. Sylvia and Saffron worked together and they hadn't shown any of the girls what they were working on yet.
Ivy told them of her hideaway and of the beauty of that place, but she also made sure they knew she was glad to be among them again. Ivy smiled and her hands flew busy at their work, constantly sewing and Soon she had a beautiful pair of leggings. She never took her eyes off their faces or her hands off her work, but kept going until she could sew no more and she ran out of thread. They told stories of the monsters they fought while she was away. Thalia had a dragets skin, and was going to turn into into armor. Sylvia had looked at their bones and found them far harder than any non magical substance she knew of. She had started to make knives of them. Saffron was using the blood to make potions. Amber and Lia just stayed clear of the dead monsters as much as they could. They girls had stopped doing watch and now Plante watch for monsters at night. If there was a problem Plante would just hit a the drum the girls made and the girls would come running. Also if there were any travellers plante would also hit the drum. During the day the girls would watch for travellers. Tomorrow Ivy would work with one of the girls to strengthen Ivy's magic abilities.
All of the girls had strengthened capabilities. They were working on discovering new spells and magic all the time. They also were training in weapons use. They fought mock battles with each other or in some cases practised with targets. Ivy watching in amazement as Ambers spear hit in the center each time. Selena could throw all thirteen of her knives within thirteen seconds and hit the center ring of the target each time.
Ivy had yet to show the other girls her new weapons. She brought out them out with a great show of pride. She had enchanted them, and while they were in motion no sword or blade could cut them.
She watched a fight between Sylvia and Lia. It was amazing to watch, Sylvia had perfected the art of deflecting bullets with her knives, and she won in the end. Ivy and Saffron fought and Saffron won but there were definitely times when it could have gone either way. And with practice Ivy would get better. At night Ivy retired to her garden. The separation with the other girls had done a lot of good, and she found that she was once again in love with Thalia, she also realized that she had been going a little stir crazy, and now she didn't feel like she wanted to kill someone. She also felt more confident, she had proven to herself that she could support herself.
At night they sat around a fire and Selena brought out her Citole. It turns out she was a traveling bard. She played and Ivy danced She had not danced in a very long time, but she realized she still enjoyed it. She could close her eyes and pretend she was dancing in a street with her sister and parents watching her from the caravan. When she finnish dancing the other girls applauded her dance. Ivy bowed and smiled, she had forgotten what it was like to dance, she had forgotten simple pleasures such as that. And not for the first time since she got to that barren land she questioned her desire for senseless revenge. She had something to live for now, she had friendship and love, was it really right to throw away her life for revenge of something so long ago? Was it really right to make her friends sad because she desired to kill for a killing?
"Life is a delicate thing, given only to the lucky, it is not to be thrown away, it is a beautiful thing, and a wonderful gift." Ivy remembered her sister saying. Her own dead sister. "Is that truly the way I plan to remember her? Disobeying her?" Ivy wondered.
Selena's Citole started again, a slow sad melody, Ivy recognized it as a storytelling song and sat down. "Let me tell you a story of a girl who wanted nothing more than adventure, and the glory it brought. She was not quite thirteen was she left and ran away. She knew nothing of her parents, be they alive or be they dead, and she ran for many days and many nights. With no way to support herself she became a petty thief. She was a pickpocket, and she only stole from the rich and the well off. One day she stole a instrument. In the night she taught herself to play and in the day she sung. She had a sweet voice and deft fingers. Her songs touched the heart, she gave up thievery and played at taverns and inns in exchange for a meal and broadening and of course her coins from the ale drinkers. She learned simple magic, but music was her passion, she traveled to lands near and far. She never found the glory she had longed for as a child but she found passion and happiness, and I found that music was more important, yes this is my story, the story of a girl who longed for adventure and glory but instead found she prefered a simple life with music and travel." Selena stood up and left.
The rest of the girls dispersed, and Ivy was left alone. The wind began to blow and snow fell as if Selena was crying. The rest of the girls left but Ivy stayed by the fire. She stood and began to dance, she danced the traditional gypsy dances, but she also danced the choreography she made. And then she danced from the heart, of the pain and bewilderment she felt. She felt the pain leave her body through the dance. She felt old wounds she did not know existed begin heal.
She left to her garden to sleep. But instead she found herself reading the strange book. There were spells in it that seemed to fit Ivy's magic perfectly. It seemed every rumor and every story of the Land of the heartless and of the magician was in the book. The book said that the gems were their source of power.