This is, as you can see from the title, a rough draft of Part One. This has been edited from its form on my Friends-only journal, but its still basically the same, except that part four has been finished.
Please to enjoy!
“I’m sick and tired of people saying things about you, Da!”
His fathers lilac eyes widened and Tienne felt the world pressing back onto his shoulders in that moment.
“I’m sorry, Da,” he managed, righting the chair he’d knocked over and returning to his fathers bedside. “I’m just…” He bit his lower lip. “I hate it when they talk about you and Ma and Rayen like that. Me, I can take, but not you…”
“Pay no mind to the town gossips,” Typhon Saris said softly, his eyes meeting with his sons. He took Tienne’s hand in his. “You know who you are. That should be enough.”
“Don’t you ever get sick of it?” Tienne looked away, unable to meet his fathers gaze. “All they ever talk about is how Ma left the castle and how she died out here and how Rayen is a lovechild because she’s too young to have been Ma’s baby. And that she looks different than us, we both have purple eyes and long ears and she’s got gold eyes and short ears, how we’re both darkish and she’s paler than snow. Rayen cant even go to school anymore without hearing about it, Da, doesn’t that worry you?”
Typhon smiled serenely.
“They say things about you, too,” Tienne said bitterly. “They say you’re going to die, but I don’t believe them, Da.”
Typhon sighed, sitting up in his bed and sliding his jaw. “Tienne, you’re thirteen. You have ages ahead of you. I am much older than that.” He smiled again. “If I do die-“
“Don’t even say that,” Tienne snapped, the door creaking behind him. He looked over his shoulder.
“Whats wrong, Da,” the girl at the door asked curiously. “Ti?”
“Its nothing, Rayen,” Tienne said bitterly, the world pressing on his shoulders again, harder than ever. “I’m going to Town,” he said, turning his back on his father and ushering his younger sister out the door. “I’ll be back later with the groceries.”
He closed the door softly behind him.
“What was that, Ti?” Rayen’s pale gold eyes practically rolled back in their sockets to reach Tienne’s purple-blue ones, and her older brother sighed, scooping her up in his arms.
“You’re late for school,” he informed her, and the pale girl grinned rather wickedly.
“I’m not going,” she replied, her blonde hair slipping over his arm as he set her back down. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to Town to get food, and you’re going to school. Where’s your pack?”
“Polish Arine stole it,” Rayen replied.
Tienne grit his teeth. “Nevermind then,” he said. “You can stay home. Don’t leave the house and make sure Da drinks all of his tea, alright?”
“Uh-huh,” Rayen replied, throwing her arms around Tienne’s knees. “You’re getting very tall, Ti.”
“No, you’re just very short. Now let me go, I’ve got to walk all the way down there and be back before lunch.”
“Uh-huh.” Rayen grinned up at Tienne. “Have a nice day.”
“You too.” He knelt and gave her a kiss on the forehead, ruffled her blonde hair a bit, and left.
That was when Rayen was eight years old.
Now, seventeen and practically a fullgrown elf, she was almost up to Tienne’s shoulders; impressive, seeing as Tienne was from a long line of Saris’s and Saris’s were unmatched in their height. Tienne couldn’t pick her up anymore—Typhon never had been able to—and now she was old enough to go to town.
So she claimed.
“Please, Ti?” Rayen picked up the pack of groceries her brother had discarded on the floor, hoisting them to the table and beginning the laborious task of unpacking the items inside. “There’s a great big parade, the Nobleman Mirath is coming to Town.”
“I bet Elis Denthe told you that,” Tienne scoffed, tying his navy blue hair back and hoisting another satchel of goods onto the table.
“He did not,” Rayen said indignantly. “You can come with me.”
“Thank you for the offer, but I’ve got to stay home with Da, and you’re staying with me.”
“Ti,” Rayen whined, sliding a jar of mucklesap berry jam into the cupboard. “You’re being perfectly awful.”
“I’m your brother, its my job.”
“You’re such an old man,” Rayen said exasperatedly.
“I’m only five years older than you. Could you grab that molasses and stuff it in the back? I’m saving it for Da’s tea.”
Rayen made a face. “Molasses in his tea?”
Tienne shrugged. “The healer said it would help him get his strength back.”
“Oh, please, Ti, you know everything that healer says is a load of Perrysap,” Rayen argued, sliding the jar of molasses behind the mucklesap jam. “Anyways, why cant I go? Da’ll be fine on his own, I’ll go with you and we can watch the parade!” Rayen sighed, unpacking a few leaves that looked suspiciously like yelert. She frowned at the vegetable, stuffing it back into its cloth wrapping. “Imagine! A real nobleman!”
“Noblemen aren’t a noble as their titles imply,” Tienne replied stubbornly, stuffing a stick of tree gum between his lips and chewing lazily. “You’re not going.”
“Why should I let you go?”
Rayen bit her lip in thought. “Because you love me?”
“Because you’re my favorite brother ever.”
“Wrong answer, and put those yelert leaves on the counter, we’re eating them for supper.
Rayen groaned, doing as her brother instructed. “Because you have a heart,” she tried, giving him her best pitiful pout.
Tienne grinned, kissing his sisters forehead. “Nice try. Go ask Typhon. If he says yes, I’ll think about it.”
She squealed and threw her arms around his chest before dashing off, shouting “Da! Da!”, her sandals flopping against the floor madly.
Tienne rolled his eyes. Typhon would never say yes.
He had underestimated his father.
The entire town was collected into the square; even the Poppins, notorious for staying to themselves in their ramshackle hut to the north, had traveled all the way to Town for this event. A nobleman. It was unheard of for a nobleman of any sort to pass through Deep Wood, the deepest reaches of the Elven Kingdom. It was even more unheard of for a nobleman even think about passing through the Southern Hills of Deep Wood, where the only town was called Town and the smallest bit of magic was practically sacred.
Tienne frowned to himself, squeezing between cracks in the crowd and managing to make it to the front of the throng. Rayen followed closely, letting out a few “sorry” or “excuse me”s as she went.
Tienne could hear the sounds of drums, no doubt played by the slaves, slowly rat-tatting. He stood on his tiptoes, seeing easily over the heads of the rest of the crowd, and managed to catch a glimpse of the beginning of the proscession. From where he stood, it looked like a solid block of dark-skinned slaves. Then again, noblemen were notorious for being lavish with their servingpeople.
Rayen clutched Tienne’s arm as the proscession started, squeezing arm and pointing wildly at the people at the front of the crowd, apparently lost for words. The first drummers passed by, looking somber and dark, and then the troupe of slaves began to dance. Rayen gasped.
“Ray, those are the slaves,” Tienne said exasperatedly.
“Yes, well, they’re awfully nicely dressed for slaves,” Rayen replied indignantly, her eyes glittering.
The slaves were dark, but lighter than the Saris family (save Rayen); they were as tall as Tienne, and a few were taller, looking like stretched taffy. Their arms and legs were gangly, making their dancing appear high-spirited and wild. A few of the slaves on the fringes of the crowd played flutes and other instruments, others singing words Tienne couldn’t make sense of. There was one instrument Tienne had never seen before and didn’t know the name of; it looked like it was made of a taillet reed, stiff at the bottom and willowy at the top. The willowy part waved and danced, and seemed to change colors as it wriggled in the air. One of the players of this instrument danced on the edge of the crowd, catching Tienne’s eye. The elf snapped back. These creatures, he realized, were not human, like most slaves. They were too smart to be human, and their eyes were deep violet- it occurred to them that they might have been elves, but Rayen clutched his arm harder before he could dwell on it too long.
“Look, look, it’s the servants!”
White-skinned, all with whiteless green eyes, the servants followed the slaves. They did not dance hodge-podge as the slaves did, staying in neat rows. All of the servants were female, garbed in glowing gold dresses. Their hands and arms waved delicately, kissing the air and painting it light green as they did.
Rayen was hypnotized.
The servants were dazzling and beautiful, all of them humans that had been exposed to magic. They looked like dryads, their pale, thin feet jangling with anklets and creating a music of their own. Their hands created a simple magic as they moved in an organized pattern, creating a thin cloud of shimmering green gossamer above them. As the servants continued down the street, the thread fell over them, devouring them whole. Their arms still moved against the thread to the beat, looking like some hideously beautiful creature.
“Fantasmical,” Rayen whispered. “That’s relling fantasmical.”
“Watch your language,” Tienne said half-heartedly, in a similar trance. His eyes followed the green thread. “Relling is a word for stupid people. I bet Elis Denthe taught you that.”
“Contrary to popular belief, everything I know does not come from Elis Denthe,” Rayen said stubbornly, turning to look at Tienne and suddenly taking a sharp breath.
Tienne turned his head.
They were short in comparison to the magic-exposed humans before them. Their hair varied in color; black, blue, pink, yellow, silver, and green. Their lips were black or dark purple, and fleshy looking, unaided by lip-stuffs or beauty magic. Their eyes were all rimmed black, their faces thin and narrow. They held black parasols neatly, their midnight-black dresses fringed with dark blue. Each of the Ladies had their eyes on the back of the Lady before them, and the last row of Ladies was singing a mournful song Tienne could only assume was in Drow.
“They’re night-elves, aren’t they?”
“Yeah. They all serve the night-elf senator- thats who the parade is for." Rayen nodded vaguely. "You can tell by their lips,” Tienne said, bending over a bit to whisper into his sisters ear. “And by their eyes. The night-elf Ladies have the same yellow eyes.”
“All of them?”
“All of them.”
“Do all night-elf women look like the Ladies?”
Tienne shook his head. “Only the royalty looks like that.”
“Not as pretty as you,” Tienne replied, ruffling his younger sisters hair and ending the brief conversation. The last row of Ladies passed by them, a gap behind them. Tienne waited patiently for the next row of society, the Lords, to follow behind them, but only the wind danced in front of them, still carrying the dark shroud of melancholy the Ladies had left behind them.
“That cant be the end of the proscession,” Tienne muttered, frowning.
“Maybe the Lords and Handmaids and Higher Ladies and Gentlemen and Noblemen are just slow,” Rayen suggested, craning her neck to see up the cobblestone street. The people around them did the same, though the elves at the end of the street didn’t notice the absence of courtisans. “I don’t see any-“
There was a loud popping sound, like fireworks. Sparks fizzled in the air. The sparks exploded into flames, setting a few people to shouting in fear- Tienne took a step back from the fire, although it didn’t burn, and it occurred to him that going to the parade might have been a bad idea.
It didn’t take long for the people to realize that the flames were harmless. They flickered and danced in the air ominously, unmoving, and even people near the end of the street craned their necks to get a look at this bizarre fire as the Ladies passed on.
One of the fires rose above the others, vaguly ovular in shape. All the eyes of Town were trained on this sole flame. The fire shuddered, then split apart, like an egg cracking open, and a pale man with wiry red hair emerged. He wore only a pair of cotton pants, looped with two strings of leather holding bottles of some strange substance. For a sacred moment, the entire crowd was silent.
The man reached into one of the bottles, drawing out a silvery drop of liquid. Murmurs started, curious. He smeared the silver on his lower lip, taking another bottle and dripping a wax-like red substance onto his outstretched tongue. He drew his tongue in again, drew back, took in a rumbling breath through his nose, and let out a steady stream of blue and black flame. The flames below the fiery platform on which he stood cracked open as well, releasing more and more of this peculiar race that breathed fire; men and women, all of them pale and redhaired, began to perform tricks, still standing on the remains of their firey eggs.
The crowd burst into cheers. Enthusiasm wasn’t strong enough a word- children screamed with delight, adults whooped and cheered, and even older elves were shouting delightedly.
The noise was overpowering; Tienne winced, rubbing his ears. Rayen gasped in delight, shouting out elven praises- “S’rasta, s’rasta!”- and trying to catch the eye of some of the preformers.
Elis Denthe shoved a cotton bag into Rayen’s hands. “A present,” he shouted, before dashing off and clambering to the top of the general store. He produced a number of gold talismans, thick with luck-magic, and tossed them at the performers. A few of the fire-breathers caught them, kissing them with smoky lips and tossing them back into the crowd. One of the ladies, who was juggling, snatched up five or six talismans, juggling them along with the sticks of fire in her hands, using her feet and shoulder to keep all of her items in the air. Another lady pinned one of the talismans to her shirt, blowing a kiss to Elis and continuing with her hypnotic fire-dance. Flames spurted from her hands and feet as she moved, melting into the other flames in the air, forming a blanket around the preforming race.
The broken eggshells continued down the street, and behind the fire-people, a troupe of human entertainers- jugglers, acrobats, contortionists- followed in their wake, garbed in tight clothes of green and purple. Rayen gasped in delight.
“These aren’t the Lords,” she said, her eyes wide in awe of the strange tricks the circus humans performed.
“They’re entertainment,” Tienne said, grinning faintly, still rubbing at his ears in irritation. Rayen kneeled and scrounged a few gold talismans from the floor, pocketing one with the kiss-mark of a fire breather. “This is a strangely large parade for the Southern Hills.”
“Don’t complain,” Rayen said, gasping and standing up. “Look!”
A few of the contortionists had bent themselves into a sort of table. One of the acrobats did a cartwheel in front of it, and suddenly a green-skinned man with black hair appeared on it. He wore black, and a purple tophat, which he tilted in the crowds general direction. The contortionists moved, balancing the man on top of them, and the man proceeded to produce a flower from seemingly nowhere.
A few of the smaller children gasped at the display of magic, the adults waiting tentatively for the magician to continue. As he moved closer to where Tienne and Rayen stood eagerly, he waved his hand over the flower and the stem vanished. Then the flower hovered in the air before him. Simple magic, really, and not very entertaining. He folded the petals into a heart, which he displayed to the crowd. Rayen watched with bated breath.
He crushed the heart in his hand, letting the broken petals fall; he paused them in mid-flight, whispering an incantation and burning it to ash. The crowd was entranced by the transformation. The ash he caught in his hands, and molded it into a flower again. The ash obeyed him, staying in a perfect flower form. The magician blew on it, whisper-light, and the flower was coated in ice.
Tienne, who was still preoccupied with watching the humans and the last of the fire-people, didn’t pay the magician any mind; Rayen, on the other hand, was gasping and squealing in delight.
The ice-coated ash-flower’s original stem was produced from the magicians pocket, even though it had vanished some minutes before. Rayen watched as he looped the flower onto it, folded his hands over it, and revealed it again, now on a chain seemingly made of glass.
Rayen tossed a few of the gold talismans, thick with luck-magic, at the magician encorougingly. Other members in the crowd threw slips of paper charmed with bits of luck-magic or love-magic, the traditional parade gift. She tossed her last talisman at him just as he passed, and the magician caught it in his palm with ease. He made some silent order for the contortionists to stop moving, the rest of the acrobats still performing around the little table they formed.
The magician hopped off the table, still holding the ice-coated ash-flower and the talisman. He strode to where Rayen stood, tilting her face up to look into his.
Tienne frowned, putting his hands on his sisters shoulders. Rayen, on the other hand, was absolutely enthralled- the magician had practically stopped the parade for her, and had a look in his yellow-green eyes that said something magical was about to happen.
With a sharp movement, he presented her with the ice flower. His other hand waved over it vaguely, and she watched as the talisman molded and melted, fitting over the edges of the flower neatly without obscuring the ash within. The people in Rayen’s immediate vicinity looked on with awe as the magician looped the necklace around Rayen’s pale, thin neck. Rayen barely had time to say anything before the magician kissed her forehead with lips full of luck-magic, throwing his black cloak around him and appearing back on top of the contortionist with a leaf and piece of glass in hand, ready to begin his next trick.
Rayen was dazzled.
A final row of acrobats flipped and cavorted past the place that Rayen and Tienne occupied. Following them was a dark melancholy akin to that of the Ladies; a group of extremely handsome young men wearing white dress shirts with regal black vests.
The Lords were as pale as the Ladies, although with a grayish tinge to their faces; their hair was an assortment of purples, blacks, greens and blues, hidden beneath fancy top hats. Each Lord carried a black cane, which they would periodically shift in unison. Each time they did, a shard of black magic, accompanied by a loud, dark sound like ripping silk, would explode into the air, which never failed to send the crowd jerking back in alarm.
Rayen fingered her necklace as she watched, and Tienne was very tempted to slap it away- as it were, he didn’t, and simply watched the Lords continue instead, fascinated by their elegant masculinity. They had perfected posture, and at the end of the row of men was a pair- one Lord, one Lady- dancing gently to a dark and haunting music that seemed to come from nowhere.
The Lords passed on, the Couple dancing down the street. Following were young blonde women, their hair in matching buns. They wore green dresses with white aprons, and stood with a modest grace. Each was holding the hand of a girl child in a green pinafore, and the children had baskets full of a strange looking sweet that looked suspiciously like a lolly.
“These are the Handmaidens,” Rayen said informatively. “They’re above the Lords on the foodchain.”
“Very good, Rayen,” Tienne said in a teasingly mocking voice as the children began to toss the light blue sweets at the crowd. “And those are the Little Maidens.”
“I knew that,” Rayen snapped, sulking slightly. She dropped to her knees and grabbed a blue lolly from the pavement, stuffing it in the cotton bag Elis had given her. She paused for a moment, then took off her necklace and put it in the bag as well, tucking it away lovingly.
“Of course you did,” Tienne said with a gently teasing smile. The Little Maidens began passing out white, yellow and green lollies as well, along with a vast assortment of other candies. Tienne spotted a carmel colored lolly he recognized as a mucklesap-lolly, but Elis Denthe shouted “Acciend!” and the lolly shot into his outstretched hand. Tienne looked up at Elis, frowning deeply.
“They’re called night-lollies,” Rayen said excitedly, repeating a snitch of conversation she’d overheard. “They turn black in the dark and blue in the daytime!”
“That’s terribly interesting,” Tienne said, the image of sarcasm. “What else?”
“Star-lollies, moon-lollies, blood-lollies.” She picked up a red lolly Tienne assumed was the latter and stuffed it in her pocket.
“I wouldn’t eat anything called a blood-lolly,” Tienne warned. “Especially if its night-elven.”
Rayen stuck out her tongue childishly, and Tienne rolled his eyes. “Watch the parade,” Rayen said firmly, nodding at the passing Handmaidens, and that was that.