December 23rd, 2001
The Beginning - By Ariella
The forest was a dark and forbidding void which dared any traveler to
enter it during the hours of twilight, looming tall like the monster so
many feared it to be. The full moon shone high above the forest, boldly
casting down its rays of light - yet even these barely made it through
the thick, leafy canopy to light the forest floor in patches. The pound
of horses' hooves sounded like a raging roar in what once had been the
quietness of the forest. They were gaining on her.
Brambles and upturned roots were raised as though trying to catch the
fleeing girl. They seemed to spring up from every which way as though
they were alive. They were snakes, waiting for their moment to strike.
Every now and then she would stop to rest, trying to catch her breath;
but when the sound of horses grew nearer she once more started to flee.
Her face, arms, and legs stung. She could feel the dirt that coated her
face, and feel the blood that trickled down her legs. The gnarled roots
and pricking thorns often caught the side of her night gown, causing
her to stumble till she finally fell. Fortunately her palms were held
outwards keeping her face from landing within the brambles. Each time she
fell, she had to quicken her pace to stay ahead. The gods forbid they
catch her. The gods forbid it.
Why were these men chasing her? What had she done to them? All she knew
was that she had been told to run into the forest - told not to let the
men catch her. "Run! Run my darling! Go into the forest and run and
never look back!" her mother had cried, ushering her out the back door.
As it slammed behind her she heard the loud thud of the front door being
knocked down. She had turned to watch her mother go back just long
enough to hear a blood curdling scream before she had fled into the forest.
Yet another upraised root snagged her small foot, dragging her down
into the dirt. Tears had started to stream down her cherubic face, and her
lips quivered. No, she mustn't cry out. She mustn't sob. She mustn't
let them find her. She had to find her way back to her family. She had
since long lost her doll during her dangerous trek and she yearned to
hold it, longing for any comfort that could be given. It was then that she
saw the small hole in the undergrowth, just big enough for a child of
small size. She dove in to wait there till the horses passed. Slowly, on
sliced up knees, she crawled beneath the bush, only to sit up and pull
her legs close to her chest. Peering through the leaves she waited
until the light of a lantern came, swinging near. The shadows flickered
fiercely across the ground as they searched for her. She could feel the
light wash over her, blinding her for a moment and her breathing ceased,
her body tensed with fright. Had they seen her? The next few seconds
seemed like an eternity as she waited for them all to pass. Only when
she was sure they had gone did she allow herself to breathe once more.
It was there that she cried herself to sleep.
It was the next morning that the scantly clothed child found her way
home. Or, rather, to what had been her home. All that remained was
blackened ashes and upturned sooty covered pieces of jagged wood. She could
see the outlines of forms including what had been her father. A burnt
skeleton seemed to grin upwards at her, the side of its head bashed in
with a blunt object. "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!"
That small cry came as she spotted her mother's body outside of the
shattered ruin of her home, dried blood coating the side of her nightgown
as the cold limp form lay upon the ground. She rushed to that pallid
form, kneeling as her arms brought her limp body to her, cradling it
lovingly. Small fingers stroked the chalked skin and blue lips.
"Mommy wake up! Mommy I'm home. I didn't let them catch me - I did what
you asked me to. Mommy, please wake up!" She started to sob, rocking
back and forth, grief consuming her as she shook what had been her mother.
For hours she stayed there until a traveling merchant passed by and
took her with him, hurrying her away from the corpse of her mother and the
remains of what had been her home. He had a kind face. "What's your
name little girl?" he asked.
"Ariella. Can you please wake up my mommy?" she replied. He only looked
at her, his lips set in a grim frown, before he took her by her hand.
From there he took her towards the nearby town where she could get
medical treatment and, hopefully, a new home.
As the girl grew her pain and sorrow remained, but faded into the
background of her life. The merchant, whose name turned out to be Mehmet,
moved from city to city, and she went with him. With each passing day and
week she grew. By the time they eventually visited the City of Medievia
some years later, she had come of age and was secretly eager to someday
avenge the death of her family.
After having rented a hotel room she ventured through the city as the
merchant Mehmet went to the square to try to sell some of his wares. So
many things were to be seen within the City - it was unlike any other
she had ever seen before. From quarter to quarter she went, struggling
through the bustling crowd till she came upon the Mage’s quarter.
Pulling away from the crowd she stumbled upon a loose stone, bumping into a
willow-like man, tall yet lean. "I'm sorry," she quickly apologized for
fear of upsetting the locals. He didn't seem to mind. In fact the kind
mage became her guide, taking her around the quarters and introducing
her to other mages.
After deep consideration and careful thought she sadly said goodbye to
the man she had grown to love as a father. No matter how much she
begged and pleaded Mehmet would not stay - he must continue to travel or his
business would fail. She was tempted to venture forth with him once
more but she needed revenge. After his tearful departure she enlisted
herself within the Mage's Guild, apprenticing under the man she had bumped
into - Silhem. First he showed her the basics, which, unfortunately,
took her a while to comprehend. He was even kind enough not to comment
too strongly on the time when she had almost accidentally burnt down the
entire building with a small flame spell.
Frequently he took her out to slay the monsters within the forest. She
didn't do much work, for he was indeed much stronger then her. What
mattered most, however, was that she became more experienced within her
studies, her spell casting abilities no longer so limited. She knew if
she continued to train hard then someday, yes, someday she'd have her
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