Genna Merden

Genevieve and Dane Merden live in a place called No Man's Land with their drunken father that so desperately tries to run from his past. For all Genna’s life her only goal was to make sure her father didn’t drink himself to death and keep the secrets that needed to be kept. But secrets never last, and she won’t realize how dangerous they are until they get out.

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“Ya don’t cook?” the man from the diner asked her.

“No.” Genna said bluntly. The diner was gloomy with the smell of cooked meat and coffee in the air. It made her mouth water. When was the last time she had meat? Right, the old rooster about a week back. Father had shot it right through the head after it had jumped onto Dane’s back. He had been coming home late from the fields. The grumpy old thing had always been a menace.

“Then why should I hire ya?” he asked.

“I could bus tables.” Genna offered.

The old man sighed. “I already have a bus boy.”

“What’s one more?”

“What’s one more?” he put his hands in the air as if it was obvious. “Another person to pay, that’s what!”

Genna bit her lip. She was about to say something that didn’t come out of her mouth often, “Please?”

“I’m sorry, Ms Merden.” he said apologetically. “There is nothin for ya here.”

Genevieve Merden nodded and walked out the door. There was nothing for her anywhere according to everyone in the village. She really despised the idea of finding work, but her brother, Dane, was making less than three pieces a day now. The growing season was bad and his wage was cut in half. Their father was no help of course. The small amount that he made all went to the pub down the street.

Genna walked down the dirt street. The street consisted of men on horses, wagons pulled by a variety of large animals or people, and mothers with their children. They were all different, but the one thing they all had in common was they were all tired. Tired and dirty. It was No Man’s Land after all.

No Man’s Land. Technically the middle eastern region, but more commonly known as No Man’s Land, or the blue collar region. The place mostly consisted of farmers and outlaws hiding from their mistakes. The Merden family was a true No Man’s Land family because their family consisted of both those things. Her brother worked on a farm and her father was an ex-assassin. Her father’s past profession was, “A long story,” according to him.

“I never killed nobody that didn’t deserve ta die.” her father had once told her. She believed him. He might have killed for money, but he was no lier. She also knew he wasn’t lying because she would have felt it if he was not speaking the truth. That skill Genna had gotten from her mother. Another reason it was called No Man’s Land, was that many other creatures inhabited the region. And not creatures as in animals.

Bloodsuckers, werewolves, nymphs, witches, wizards, mages, and more. Genna was technically some type of hybrid. So was her brother, and her half sister. The northern region was full of these people, but some came down to No Man’s Land. There were stories down south of how dangerous these types of people were, but in reality, they caused no big problems. Yes, not all of them were particularly ‘kind’ but for the most part they left normal humans alone and even lived among them.

Some kept it no secret of who they really were, but others, such as her brother and herself chose not to mention it to anyone. There father insisted on it. He never said why they should keep it a secret, but it was obvious. It was just one more way to keep them safe from people finding out the real secret.

They were two out of the three children of Isabel Malwood. Equally, or more commonly known as the Ice Queen. She ruled the northern region. The southern region was powerful, but was nothing compared to the north. The Ice Queen-Genna’s mother-could take out Greenshore’s vast armies with her pinky finger. She was the most powerful being known to all the regions. She had what people called ‘The Golden Heat’. Not to mention her followers, the people of Iceshore. Her followers were incredibly loyal, and almost all of them had powers of their own.

Powers could very anywhere from an abnormal appearance or a good sense of smell, to something like her mother’s powers. Some people’s powers could be so small that they were not even aware of them, to them having to isolate themselves from civilization. Genna didn’t know the full extent of her powers, but she was definitely on the strong side. What had she expected? She was the daughter of the Ice Queen. The only help she got was her father’s and a witch, Marge, that lived on the outskirts of town.

Father had heard of her and begged for her help after Genna almost blew the roof off the hut they lived in. She wasn’t completely sure what to do with Dane and Genna when he had brought them to her, but she did what she could. Marge did a fine job under the circumstances. Genna was now in control and had a pretty good understanding of what she could do.

Dane was pretty much superhuman, with enhanced strength, precision and speed. Dane and Genna shared the power of strengthened senses, better sight, hearing, smelling, and touch. Dane’s powers were very helpful with his work. In Genna’s opinion, hers were much cooler. The one she used most frequently was her ability to tell truth from lie. It wasn’t like she could really help it. If anyone’s tongue spoke wrong it was like her body swelled and there was a voice that whispered into her ear, “Lie.”

Telling truth from lie was just the tip of the iceberg. Genna was also a telepath. She didn’t have much control over it, but if she could get her hands on either sides of anyone’s head she had complete access to their mind. But, probably the coolest thing was her red sparkles. ‘Red sparkles’ is what Dane referred to them as. They came from her fingers when she moved things with her mind.

The red sparks were the most dangerous for their family. That power was visible, and the Merden kid’s number one goal was to make sure no one knew what they were. The word getting out about their abilities, that was one step closer to people finding out that Hugo Merden (their father) was not a widower.

Genna walked down the dirt street towards the hut she lived in. The sky turned a deep orange/red from the setting sun, transfiguring the brown ground to a rather beautiful shade of orange. The light traveled through her loosely curled red hair. She could start to feel the cool night air against her freckled skin. She walked smoothly across the rocks and dirt with her hands in the pockets of her brown leather trench coat. The coat was one of the nicest things she owned. Right next to her silver handled dagger that was strapped to her side. Right at the tip of the handle was a red diamond that was definitely eye catching. The dagger was a fancy looking thing, a real treasure in the village of Redbarrow.

The long coat and the dagger were both given to her by her father. A few summers back he had tackled a man that tried to steal from the pub. The man ended up being a killer that some people a bit to the west were trying to find. After his lynching they let father take anything he liked from the corpse. Father took a long barrel pistol for himself, the boots for Dane, and the coat with the dagger for Genna. The coat was a bit big for size, but did just fine. She had wore it every day since.

She came up on the pub where her father most likely was. She heard singing/yelling mixed with laughter. One singing voice stood out over them all, and she couldn’t help herself from turning inside.

Genna pushed open the swing door to the saloon. The thick air hit her hard. Inside it was foggy, dim, and filled with all the usual people. She recognized them all, not many lived farther than two miles away from the small pub. The building was made of old wood that creaked every step you took. There were about four tables on either side from where she stood. Above her was a small loft were the bartender threw the ones that could no longer stand.

“‘Ello, Lass!” a man on her left greeted. She nodded in return.

Straight ahead was a long bar with stools that were mostly tipped over by now. Standing on top of the bar was none other than her father.

“Whiskey gave me a broken nose!” He chanted some song he must have heard some time ago.

“Whiskey Johnny!” everyone echoed.

“Whiskey made me pawn my clothes!” he continued, with a mug in his hand.

“Whiskey for my Johnny-O!” they all repeated.

“A glass of grog for every man!” Father sung, he then made eye contact with her. A toothy grin crossed his face. He rose his glass in the air, causing some to splash onto the counter. He continued to sing as she approached the bar he stood upon.

She leaned on the bar with crossed arms. The men on her left and right both hit their fists on the wood along with her father’s beat. She looked up at him with a half smirk on her face. When the song was over he through his arms into the air and the pub cheered and a man in the corner started to play the fiddle.

“What brings ya here, Love?” he shouted down at her.

Genna smiled and shook her head. “Come on down from there before the air pushes ya down!” she shouted over the noise.

A broad smile appeared over his face. “She’s a smart one!” he told the large man standing next to her. The man’s name was Wayne. She seen him pulling in lumber to the village every two days. He was a rather large man with dark hair and green eyes.

Wayne gave a low laugh like thunder. “Aye. Come on down, Merden.” He extended a hand to help her father down from the bar. Genna made an effort to help, but Wayne had it handled. Her father landed gracefully onto his feet. He might have been more than a few drinks in, but he still maintained his balance.

Her father hit Wayne on the back, “Yer a good man, Barclay.” he called him by his family name. Wayne smiled and nodded, then went back to his own business.

Her father turned to her and took her hand to kiss it. Genna pulled her hand back with a snap. He just smiled softly and put his worn hands on her face. “Head on home why don’t ya. Save me a piece of bread before yer brother eats the last one.” he told her.

“Why don’t ya come with me.” she asked, with a grim look on her face.

He made a troubled face. “I’ll be back soon.”

She blinked, unconvinced, but knew it wasn’t worth the breath. “At least be back before the sun rises.”

He smiled softly once again, “Cross my heart.” he promised.

She nodded and walked back out of the pub with her brown, worn trench coat flowing behind her. This caused the red diamond dagger to show. It caught the eyes of a few men as she walked out, but no one would dare touch her with her father, Hugo Merden, right across the floor from her. Even if she was a half mile away from his side, no one would dare. He used to kill for a living after all. Even as loopy as he was right now, he could take out the whole pub. Even a man as big as Wayne Barclay. No problem. No one feared him. He was a good man, as hard as it was to believe. As of now there was no reason for people to fear him.

Genna walked down the now dark road. The once hot air was now cool and caused her breath to show. She approached the old stone hut. Inside, she spotted the low light of a candle through the shutters. This ment Dane was back. She figured he would be, but lately he had been staying at the farm deeper into the night.

She pushed open the wooden door. It was a one room hut with a small open loft that had sheets separating three rooms. They owned one bed that was given to Genna, and the two men had other sorts of padding that substituted for a bed. Below the loft, there was a small kitchen and a stone fireplace that they used to cook and for warmth. There were three wooden chairs for each of them.

Dane sat in the chair farthest to the left, staring into the fireplace that wasn’t lit. Genna looked from the fireplace to Dane. His soft brown eyes didn’t flinch, even as she moved closer. His jawline was clinched. He had a strong build, probably from working in the fields all day. He had a pale complection that now had a red tint from the sun. He had the same red hair as Genna and their father. Although, Genna had a bit more freckles. Dane and Father had a few.

“Dane.” she spoke.

He blinked and turned to her, “Sorry, Gen. I was just thinkin.”

“‘Bout what?” she asked.

He smiled at her, “Not all that much.”

That was a lie, but she didn’t bother much with it. That was his business. She nodded and took a few steps to the kitchen. She took the last piece of bread and bit into it.

“Father probably wants that.” Dane said without looking at her, referring to the bread.

“Eh.” she said with a mouth full of bread. “In the morning he won’t remember that we ever had bread.”

“Ha.” Dane gave a short laugh. “Quite likely.” he agreed. He looked back to the dirt floor. Whatever was on his mind was troubling him.

Genna finished the bread. “What are ya thinkin’ about?” she asked again.

He sighed. “I heard talk in the fields today.”

Genna raised her eyebrows, “What kind a talk?”

“The kind ya don’t like to hear.” he said bluntly. Genna gave him a look of annoyance, she knew what was coming. “There was supposedly an Iceshore ship spotted at the port.”

Genna made disgusted face. The port was a ways to the east from Redbarrow, about a days travel away. This happened quite often. It meant there half sister, Lora, was coming for a visit. Her visits consisted of her subtly trying to get information on the two of them, asking about their abilities and such. Last visit she tried to convince them to have someone from Iceshore come down and pose as a bodyguard. She never succeeded, but she never stopped. She was persistent, Genna would give her that.

Lora was the youngest of the three children of the Ice Queen, and Dane was the oldest. Dane and Genna’s father was Huge Merden, but Lora’s was some man named Sam Cassy. Genna didn’t know much about the Cassy family, the only people she had ever heard of with the name were Lora and Sam. That lead her to believe that Sam also lived in Iceshore, where she would not have as good of a chance of hearing the name. Iceshore was a mystery in every way.

Genna wondered if Sam Cassy and her mother still spoke. Her mother and father hadn’t spoken since Genna was born, maybe not even before that. Her father never wanted to talk about it. The thought of her mother still being with Lora’s father angered her for some strange reason. Lora was probably living in Iceholt with her father and their mother. All while Dane and Genna lived in a cold, stone hut with a drunken father who most likely drunk because of their mother. Lora probably lived a happy with the good name Cassy. While Genna lived with the name brought a flash of fear to most people’s eyes. Merden. There was blood on that name.

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