Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chapter 1: Home Again

Home again at last.

Georgia Poet sets down her bags and stares ahead at the small, ramshackle old cottage sprawled out in front of her. The last time she saw the place, almost exactly eight years ago, a thick blanket of white snow cloaked the house and grounds, but today the property sits naked, exposed and sweltering in the brutal summer sun. The sight sends a flood of emotions coursing through her body, drowning her in memories of a childhood she has fought hard to forget.

She stands there for what seems like hours, lost in thought, when suddenly a cold wet nose bumps up against her hand, pulling her back to reality.

“I’m sorry, boy,” she smiles at him shakily and drops to her knees, running her fingers through the dog’s velvet soft fur coat. “We can go inside now, alright?”

Sayer, as Georgia calls him, wags his tail excitedly and prances toward the house, eager for whatever adventures lie ahead. George follows him slowly, each step heavier and more hesitant than the last.

Once inside, she lights a candle and heads straight for the small sleeping nook tucked just off the kitchen, and collapsing onto the rickety old bed Georgia allows herself to drift off into a restless sleep.

The trek home took just over two weeks, but more than the physical exhaustion of the journey she feels emotionally raw and bitterly alone. Georgia grew up in this small, rural farming village, but at the age of ten her mother sent her away to study at the convent located outside the kingdom's capital city of Praaven on the mainland. Even then, Georgia realized that she would most likely never see her family again, but still the notion that they’re truly gone, forever lost to the dark God’s abyss, leaves a twisted, writhing knot in the pit of her stomach. Worse yet, the knowledge that her mother, in a fit of paranoid rage, stole them from her, murdering her elder sisters and kid brother before savagely ending her own life, chills Georgia to the very core of her being.

“I can’t believe you would rather sleep right now than pay a visit to your dearest friend,” a smooth, sultry laugh awakens Georgia from her slumber. “Did the priestesses never let you rest, honey, or should I take this personally?”

Georgia’s eyes fly open, and she jumps from the bed and bounds toward her visitor. “Amara!” she exclaims, throwing her arms around the young woman.

Amara pulls her in for a fierce hug, choking back a sudden wave of tears. “I’m so sorry about your family. The whole village is in shock over it. Everyone knew your mother had issues, but no one believed she was capable of this.”

Georgia swallows and forces herself to nod. Her mother admittedly despised most of the townspeople, but her sisters got along fairly well with their neighbors, or so she believed. How could they not realize something was amiss?

“What are people saying about it? About me?” Georgia asks in a hushed voice.

Amara shrugs, avoiding her friend’s anxious gaze. “Nothing much.”

“Nothing much?” Georgia repeats incredulously.

“You don’t want to know, George,” Amara admits with a poorly concealed look of pity in her eyes.

“Yes, I do!” she snaps. “Mara, I must. If they think I’m the same as my mother…”

Amara sighs and shakes her head in resignation. “Some of the villagers want to run you out of town, while others say you should be hung to pay for your mother’s crimes. Still others fear that she cursed them somehow, and they demand that we lock you away until you reverse her witchcraft.”

Georgia’s eyes widen. “But- But the letter! They asked me to return. Begged me, even.”

“Yes, of course they did. They need you, Georgia. There are no other healers on this side of the island, and the townspeople know this. Your mother was a gifted alchemist, and her healing magic proved invaluable. She saved more lives, birthed more babies, mended more wounds than I could ever hope to keep track of, and the village wants you to take her place.”

“Is it safe, though? For me to stay?”

“I believe so, but Ma will know for sure. She wants to see you. Today.”

“Isolde?” A faint smile flickers across her face, temporarily displacing the exhaustion in Georgia’s eyes. Amara’s mother always treated her like a second daughter, and George often felt more at home in her friend’s household than her own. A visit to the old woman seems like a brilliant idea right about now, and so the friends immediately set off.

“Georgia, is that you?” A raspy voice, no louder than a whisper but still as clear and sharp as ever, greets George as she enters the house.

Isolde always had trouble with her vision, but by the vacant look in her eyes Georgia can tell that she no longer retains any of her sight. Still, growing up around the feeble old woman, Isolde proved perfectly capable of taking care of herself and her daughter, and even when her eyes functioned in a limited capacity she rarely seemed to rely upon them much at all.

“Hello Isolde,” Georgia smiles at her shyly. “How are you feeling?”

“Come here, child,” Isolde commands, ignoring George’s question as she reaches out toward her. “I want to touch you.”

Rising from her chair, Isolde gently takes Georgia’s hand in her own. “You’re cold,” she mutters. “Cold… and afraid. What do you fear, my dear?”

Georgia exhales slowly, allowing the woman’s words to wash over her like a warm soaking rain, and as Isolde’s fingers tighten around her bare skin she suddenly feels a blissful, sleepy fog envelop her mind.

“I’m not afraid-” she halfheartedly protests.

“Fear manifests itself in many forms, child. Your whole life changed in a moment. The world you once believed in no longer exists, and you don’t know what it holds for you now. But destiny clings to you, Georgia Poet, and I see a difficult road ahead of you.”

George yawns, her eyes growing heavier by the moment. “How so?” she asks through her haze.

Isolde shakes her head. “I hear laughter, the voices of children, in your future. Your dream of motherhood will come true, but at a price so steep I fear it will rob you of your happiness. You will lose a lover, a friend, and a child before you find the family you so desperately long for, but don’t let it break you Georgia. Allow these trials to empower you, and only then will you overcome your heartache.”

“My mother is delusional,” Amara grumbles as soon as they leave. “I swear she’s getting worse too. You know, I used to believe that she actually had the sight, but now…” she shakes her head. “Now I realize that she’s just one damn fine actress. At the very least, reading palms has managed to keep food on our table, but I wish she’d stop with her sham the rest of the time.”

Georgia laughs uncomfortably. “But you are a seer too, Amara. How can you doubt her abilities when you inherited them from her?”

“Honey, I never had the sight. I only told you that as children to scare you and your sisters into letting me play with you,” she winks.

“Amara!” A male voice, deep and rich with a pleasant melodic undertone, resonates from behind them, and turning toward the sound Amara lets out an excited gasp.

“Griffin!” she exclaims as she launches herself toward him. “When did you arrive back in town?!”

Wrapping his arms around her waist, the man pulls her in for a deep, passionate kiss. “Just today,” he smiles as they break apart. “I thought I told you this trip would only last a few weeks.”

Amara pouts and backs away slightly. “Yes, but I wish you didn’t have to go. I’ve been so lonely at night, without you there to keep me w-”

“Ahem,” Georgia clears her throat awkwardly. “Mara, I’m just going to go. I can always catch up with you another time…”

“Okay, hon,” she replies without taking her eyes off of Griffin. “I’ll see you around.”

Griffin laughs amiably. “Amara, aren’t you going to introduce us?”

Amara sighs dramatically. “Oh, alright fine. Griffin, darling, this is Georgia Poet. We grew up together. I told you about her, remember?” she asks as she strokes his face adoringly.

“Hello,” Griffin grins at her and waves casually.

“George, Griffin is a mage as well, although I still don’t fully understand what you do for a living,” she frowns as she turns back toward him.

Griffin shrugs. “It’s irrelevant, Amara.”

“Not if you’re going to keep disappearing for weeks at a time,” she sulks. “I’m beginning to wonder if you really want to be with me at all.”

“Not this again,” Griffin scowls irritably.

Recognizing the look of indignant fury in her friend’s gaze, Georgia quickly says her goodbyes. She has plenty of chores to take care of around the house, and she’d rather not get in the middle of Amara’s love life anyway.

Despite her young age, Georgia’s knowledge of the alchemic sciences runs deep, and she easily settles into her new position as the village apothecary. Neither her two sisters nor her little brother inherited their mother’s powers, and so Georgia started training in the discipline quite early. Furthermore, sensing her natural predisposition for healing magic, the priestesses at the convent devoted much of their time with her to cultivating her gift, and during the eight years she lived there Georgia eagerly absorbed their rigorous, but thorough teachings.

At night, she sleeps outside, preferring the cool summer air and wide open skies to the stifling, memory-laden walls of her childhood home.

“You’re becoming a hermit,” Amara complains over lunch one sunny afternoon. Three long, yet gloriously uneventful weeks have passed since Georgia first arrived home, and in that time she hardly heard a word from her friend. Until today.

“Let me guess,” Georgia smirks. “Griffin’s out of town again?”

And like flood waters bursting through a dam, Amara spills her story. “…And he says I’m being ‘clingy’,” she cries with unabashed disgust. “As if! I have never ‘clung’ to a man in my life. So I let him go on his little ‘business trip’. Again. He was supposed to propose to me this time, George,” she whines.

“Really?” Georgia laughs and sets down her fork. “You want to get married?”

“Well,” Amara stares back at her friend with pouty eyes. “I don’t know what it is about him. I don’t really believe in ‘forever’, but at the same time it infuriates me that he seems so blasé about us!”

Georgia sighs. “And going to the tavern tonight helps how?”

“I need to get him out of my head!” Amara exclaims dramatically. “And I’d like to find some male company this evening, if you get my drift,” she adds with a lustful grin.

“Amara!” Georgia turns a deep shade of pink. “I hardly think my presence will help with either of those goals.”

“Perhaps not, but how are you ever going to meet anyone sitting at home all the time?! No,” she shakes her head decisively. “You’re coming with me.”

Located at the heart of their small village, the Old Millhouse Tavern & Inn has for generations functioned as the social hub of the Lincolnshire community, at least among the common folk, and tonight the bar proves busy as ever.

Amara and her razor sharp eyes immediately locate two off duty soldiers mingling amongst the rest of the patrons.

“The tall one is married, but the young one looks awfully lonely to me, don’t you think George?”

“How do you know he’s married?” Georgia asks curiously.

Amara smirks and shrugs her shoulders. “Call it a lucky guess.”

And with a flip of her hair, she saunters over to him, effortlessly starting up a conversation with the stranger.

George watches with wide, hungry eyes as the man falls easily for Amara’s flirtations, and with a wistful sigh she quietly gathers her belongings and sneaks away. Growing up with such a charismatic best friend, Georgia long ago came to terms with the fact that she would never be as graceful or charming as Amara, but she often finds herself wishing that at the very least she wasn’t quite so shy, especially around men. At the convent, she scarcely dreamed she’d ever get the chance to have a husband and children, but now that she’s on her own the idea seems slightly less ludicrous. Still, who would possibly want to marry her? With no dowry, no family, and no connections, she’d be lucky to meet a wart covered toad who’d be willing to settle down with her, much less an attractive, interesting young man. No, George knows that she will most definitely end up alone, and she refuses to let herself think otherwise.

The next day begins like any other, with chores and housework and a trip to the market, but as the morning sun rises high in the sky Georgia suddenly feels overcome by a reckless urge to break free from her mundane routine.

“You think so, too, Mr. Swallowtail?” she giggles as a green butterfly lands squarely on her nose. “Well, that settles it then.”

After unsuccessfully trying to convince her dog Sayer to wake up from his nap and join her, Georgia grabs a picnic basket and sets out for the bluffs overlooking Angler’s Bay. She vaguely recalls from her childhood the magnificent wildflowers that bloom around this part of the island during the summer years, and fortunately her memory serves her well. George spends the next several hours in blissful solitude, wandering through the wide open meadows and gentle rolling hillsides.

Interesting. I didn’t take you for a romantic, but yet I find you here of all places, with your nose buried in a summer bloom.

With a start, Georgia glances up. She notices the cat, one of Everly Isles many strays she assumes, but yet she sees no trace of anyone else at all.

“Who’s there?” she calls out in her most defiant tone.

I am here, the voice replies, a note of smug amusement in his words. Georgia Poet, we meet at last. I am Ari Sidra, lion of the gods and occasionally of the stars as well.

“The heat must be getting to me,” she mumbles. “I could have sworn-”

Must we do this? he sighs impatiently and struts over to her. I don’t understand why a telepathic cat is so hard to comprehend. Every time She sends me on one of these missions, I have to go through this with you people, and every time you always insist that your sanity must be faltering. And I find it downright disrespectful!

Georgia giggles, her initial disbelief at the situation replaced by stunned amusement at the stern intensity of the cat’s lecture.

“I’m sorry, little one,” she smiles and reaches out to pet him. “I didn’t mean to offend you, but you must understand. It’s not every day one meets such an expressive and communicative animal.”

The cat purrs, seemingly contented with her apology.

“So why have you come to me?” Georgia asks after a moment’s hesitation. “And who did you say sent you?”

But Ari ignores her questions, his eyes suddenly transfixed on a spot in the distance, and in a flash he takes off running.

“Wait!” Georgia calls, dropping her basket to follow after the cat. “Where are you going?!”

She chases him for ages, determined not to lose sight of the feisty animal as he nimbly dashes through the old, overgrown forest. Finally, at a small clearing, he comes to an abrupt stop.

“Why did you do that?!” she pants angrily, her breath coming in ragged waves. “You can’t start a conversation with someone and then just -”

Georgia freezes mid-sentence.


Author's Notes:

So. I’m trying again. It’s been almost an entire year since I updated my previous random legacy (not quite, but close), and I’ve been itching to start another one for ages now.

Set in a medieval fantasy universe, this legacy does not tie in with my other legacies at all. There may be some characters from those legacies that show up every now and again (or have already shown up ;D), but the lore and backstory are a bit different. So, just in case anyone remembers anything from my other sims stories, all bets are off this time. I want to leave myself the flexibility to rework elements of this world without being tied down to my old writings, and although I hate the inconsistency I’m really excited to create new fiction for this universe. =)

On that note, I am planning on creating a page that delves into some more of the details of my universe, but I haven’t quite finished it yet. I’m using a lovely world from the exchange, Côtes d'Ambonnay by xSorcier and Reachsims, as Georgia’s home setting, but it has several different pockets that will function as the various communities in her province which might get confusing. The world itself is an island, but in my mind it lies quite close to the mainland and is considered an integral territory in the kingdom as a whole. But more on that later. =D

Thank you for reading, and I hope you all like it! More updates soon, I promise! <3