Rivka, a young female royal guardsman, is tasked with a daunting mission to assist a species known for brutality against her own.

Caine, a prince of a dying race, seeks aid from those his kind feast upon.


Author's note

This story will include graphic images and attempt at horror. If gore is not something you are comfortable with, I recommend to not read. Certain themes maybe too much such as infanticide and noncon. While noncon will never be described in this version, it will be mentioned as a fact that it does happen. Please steer away if you might be triggered.

9. Seedlings (To be moved)

That night, Rivka dreamed of a more innocent time. She dreamed of a time where she still retained her innocence, her happiness, her ability to express herself.


Rivka treasured the way dirt felt on her small feet. Soft, sometimes slightly wet. She loved to wriggle her toes in the soil of the gardens. She loved the smell of after-rain, her adopted mother told her the word for it was petrichor. The smell made Rivka feel blessed, alive, and content.


The gardens were huge, filled with hedges, ponds, flowers and vines. The most beautiful attraction was the willow tree when in bloom. All the softly delicate flowers would drift and fall with the breeze down to the pond surface leaving a sparse but beautiful blanket of white, a lovely compliment to the swans that floated by.


These gardens were situated in the middle of a castle in the city called Ginseng Fréamh. Mrs. Cleaver worked the gardens, Rivka always came along with her and used her little gifts to aid her because of Mrs. Cleaver’s old age. Her father was always worried that she would trip on a root or rock and hurt herself and no one would be around to help.


That day after she finished her chores, Rivka ran off to play in the bushes, Mrs. Cleaver said to stick close because it seemed like it would storm but Rivka disobeyed. It is nowhere near time for the storm season and a little rain wouldn’t hurt. Besides that, she needed to be alone, Rivka needed to release.


With her eyes tightly closed, Rivka lifted her face to the sky and let the slight drizzle wet her hair making it cling to her neck and face. She got on her knees facing the sky, putting her hands on the ground. Rivka let all the happiness and emotion flow from her chest down to her hands and knees. The soil readily absorbed after which she finally faced the ground and opened her eyes. Small seedlings poked their stem and leaves around her tiny hands and knees and as she stood up they overtook the space where knees had sunk into the mud.


If she didn't release regularly, it was impossible to control. As soon as she could be in seclusion, she’d release her emotions and feed the earth. Sometimes around in the castle gardens, sometimes she’d walk alone by the outskirts near the far wall, past the lakes and farms, where new homes were built for newcomers. People appeared there all the time, no memories, no home… all they could cling to would be the clothes on their backs. 


She was the same as them, except Rivka appeared in the gardens, in the hollow of the willow tree in the middle of winter. Her adopted mother claimed it was amazing that the infant was found, that she wasn't dead. They knew she was different because despite it being the middle of a harsh winter, deep snow, and in a storm, the willow tree kept her safe and warm. Mrs. Cleaver said there was magic that night.


Thinking about that makes frightened Rivka, terrified that someone other than her accepting parents would discover her, hunt her down like they do the feral beasties in the woods, burn her. She crossed her arms and tried to calm herself lest she made a real noticeable scene. 


“Rivka?” She whirled around to see the young heir named Ivan running just at the peak of a soft green hill. He sprinted down the slope as best as his athletic skill would allow him to, his curly bunched up black hair shook droplets of water everywhere as he nearly slipped. Luckily, he had just made it over the hill after Rivka had finished growing seedlings. She had been trying to avoid Ivan all day, he had a particularly bad streak lately and Rivka didn't want to be in trouble because of him again.


Ivan was already dirty, his feet caked in mud and his clothes are soaked with the recent rain.


“Rivka, I’ve been looking for ages, why do you keep leaving me alone? I thought we would go play in the puddles and make mud pies. It gets so lonely in the castle.” Rivka was known to be stubborn and short tempered. His soft blue eyes questioned and begged for her attention so pleadingly that she nearly surrendered to Ivan and his pretty irises. 



“Ivan,” Rivka began, “the last time we decided to make mud pies you were barred from seeing me and the garden for a month because you put that 'pie' in the dining room and made someone sick.” She looked at him angrily, still as unforgiving as ever. "I wasn't allowed to come to the gardens with Momma for two weeks!"


He pouted a little bit, picked up a small lump of mud and started molding it into a ball. He looked at her and the ball back and forth many times and then finally spoke, “Why are you always like this?”


“Like what?” Rivka snapped.


“I don’t know, you never let anything go, you’re always so mean and far away.” He scowled at her and crossed his arms, but his eyes quickly softened, "but hey, I'll be good, I promise! If it means spending more time with you, getting in trouble isn't worth it. Please don't ignore me for the sake of being able to see me, that makes no sense..."


“Do you think I like not being allowed to see you? You insist on getting us into trouble, separating us for months in trade for a good few seconds of fun. It feels as if you want a reason to not be able to see me.” As Rivka spoke, she turned away following a small pebble path deeper into the garden. It started to pour. The smell, petrichor, no longer prominent. She didn’t care though.


Ivan followed, but said nothing. He was obviously thinking but one can’t be sure what goes on in a ten-year old’s mind. Despite him being two years older than Rivka, of higher status and intelligence, she was indeed much more mature and graceful, (ignoring her current state of bare feet and now soaked, yellow dress).


Because he was more intelligent than she and could sense that Rivka needed his attention more than he needed hers, he probes and probes at her, triggering unwanted reactions she would try to hide. Rivka kept forgetting that they are both children and that she should be less stubborn and less hardhearted to him. She supposed one can blame her distance on the fear of losing herself. Ivan is the only other child that enjoyed spending time with her, why ruin that?


Smiling, Rivka proposed, “Lets climb a tree.”


Ivan would never turn down such a simple and yet daring feat. He was honestly a pebble. Dull, smooth and innocent with bits of mostly unnoticeable earthy waves of color that would draw the more interesting people into his life. The people who could see the beauty in the pebble. People like Rivka. He was the only child that enjoyed her time with him, and with that Rivka hoped they would never change, otherwise she would have only her family.


Still soaked from the ongoing rain, they came upon the willow tree, birds perked up as they watched them come by. They sung happily when they saw Rivka, they could resonate with her. She whistled to them and they sung back their songs, sitting under the protection of the willow. 


"They are always excited when you're around, do you feed them? How do you do it?" He smiled at them although they were never happy because of him.


The rain really started to pour at this point and thunder could be heard loudly. Out of fear, Rivka childishly scurried into the willow tree's hollow. Ivan laughed and followed behind her. Embarrassed at her sudden irrational fear of the thunder, Rivka pulled her knees close to her chest.


They sat in silence for a bit, the cold from the rain finally seeped into their bones. Shivering they hugged each other. Rainy seasons were common but not this early in the year, they were trapped in the hollow. When there is a bout of storms people were restricted to their homes because they can't afford to lose any citizens.


They stared at each other, smiling. She couldn’t remember meeting Ivan, he was always there. Her mother said he couldn't have cared less about her when she was a baby, crying for this and for that. He did grow interest as Rivka started to walk and talk, calling me HIS baby, and that she belonged to him. Ivan would be a terrible father, she mused.


She belonged to no one though. She let him think that until she had a mind of her own. Then came the constant bickering and fighting and seeing who could be in charge. Always fighting to see who was the boss of the other. Mrs. Cleaver said amid those fiery quarrels, her eyes were bright and her red, curly hair would shake ferociously. She said it could've convinced anyone, anyone except Ivan, who would fight with Rivka for the fun of it.


A couple more minutes passed, and her teeth chattered. She could hear her mother and servants calling in the distance for the two, but they weren't allowed this far in in such severe weather. Holding each other they both fell asleep, the rain lulled them. It was a couple hours until the servants found the troublemaker in the tree, Rivka didn't wake up until the next morning. Both children were sick in bed for the next week, however, they were even more inseparable after.  


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