Contributed by Larissa Peltier
In the white mountains of Lindane, where spruce trees are sprouted out of the deep moss and the valleys are laced with streams, a flock of songbirds settled down on the roof of the cottage and surrounding pines in a melodious cloud, trilling to each other as they rested.
Karice ran out of the house with a bucket in hand. She startled the birds and they lifted away, calling to each other as they departed. Karice scrambled over the flat walkway stones to the creek that flowed nearby. Filling her pail, she staggered to the house, clutching the heavy water with thin arms. The water sloshed about uncertainly in its young charge’s hands, but she was strong and not a drop was lost.
Once inside, she set the bucket down next to the hearth, then went to her baby sister who was trying to stand on short, unsteady legs. The baby’s coos for assistance were ignored by the two adults in the room. Karice took the baby’s hands in her own and the two proceeded to step about the table, the baby tapping her foot on the floor first to make sure the ground would hold before planting her foot to take another step.
Karice spoke words of encouragement, “Go ahead Icene, take another one, put your foot right there. Good! Keep going!” Soon the baby and Karice were marching about confidently with baby Icene gazing about in wonder at her newly elevated view of the world.
While the children played their parents carried on a battle of wills:
“I know you enchanted it Beija, it didn’t just run away,” Riven said to his wife.
“And what if I did? It’s my talent Riven - it’s what I do best. I won’t stop.”
“I bought that pony for Karice, not you,” Riven said.
“It was more useful to me than a child’s plaything,” Beija said.
“And where is it now? Gone! You’ve unleashed yet another mad beast into the forest!”
“I created a magnificent creature, who else in all of Ralorn can do what I can do! Not one person living! No one else knows what water and what plants will enchant! No one! I have the knowledge and the ability. Yet, I’m locked up here in these mountains so far from the other domains.”
“Lindane protects us from the other domains. This is the most peaceful and beautiful domain in all of Ralorn. Who knows when the next Dom War will erupt over a trifling insult. I won’t raise my girls where they will witness senseless murder,” Riven said in defense of his homeland.
“I’m wasting my life here, I can do so much more!” Beija said.
“You are my wife and the mother of my children, that is not a wasted life. You want to see wasted lives - thousands of them? Step onto a battlefield, then you will really see a waste of life!”
Beija fell silent. Her dark, lovely eyes refused to look at her husband. Riven knew she would listen no longer, but he tried one last argument.
“My love, I know it’s lonely out here, but it really is the best for the girls. You’ve sacrificed so much for me and our family, and I am so grateful. But please, set aside your enchantment. These beasts, they serve no purpose and they are too powerful to be roaming the wilds. I want you to be safe and they are so dangerous.”
“There’s a way to control them, I know it. I just have to figure it out,” Beija insisted.
“No. You can’t tame a wild animal, and trying to tame these monsters would be insane. One of these days Beija, they’re going to turn on you, on us. I order you to stop enchanting.”
The defiance in her eyes only became fiercer during his speech and Riven knew his plea had fallen on stone ears. Riven sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He sat down on a chair. Beija had not moved, but stood there, her coppery skin glowing in the setting sunlight from the window. She stood proud and erect, her delicate jaw set. The black tresses of her hair fell down in waves to the small of her back. She was a breathtaking woman and Riven wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her back into the laughing girl he fell in love with.
Riven took a step closer to her. He placed his hand on her cheek and traced the shadow of her cheekbone down to her chin. He tried to tilt her face up for a kiss, but she had turned into a statue. Riven’s heart sank. He kissed her forehead and walked out of the house.