Author: SapphireMount PM
After marrying due to an arrangement, Ellissa must now escape her insane husband. She find sanctuary at The Fort, the place where she studied the magical arts. A vile force threatens both her and her entire way of life; Raiber was just the start.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Romance - Chapters: 17 - Words: 48,962 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 05-11-12 - Published: 04-07-12 - id: 3011541
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Welcome to Part Two! I should clarify one small point, Ellissa's hair is actually white. I only realised I hadn't changed it until after most of the chapters were up. It's that way for a reason, I swear! just think of the way light works and you'll get it.
A World Away
Aleno trudged through the thick mud that covered the road leading to the small town of Basti. The recent heavy rains had made the road all but impassable. The town was too out the way to warrant a proper stone road like those along the main trade route. He sighed as his boot sunk for the tenth time in as many strides. He pulled it out with a sucking pop. Despite the conditions he was happy to be away from the gloomy solitude of Raiber's place. His hard work at the fortress over the last five years had paid off admirably. He had risen from a lowly guardsman, to what amounted to an officer soldier in his lords patch of land. All thanks to his determination to help those who lived within the grounds to actually live, rather than suffer under Raiber's tyranny, which had only grown in recent years after his wife's mysterious disappearance. Aleno was visiting this town to, supposedly, make sure that his men were collecting the money that the town's people owed Raiber for the pleasure of dwelling on his land. He doggedly approached the large building where his men were stationed. Outside a small group of his closest friends were stood, laughing at his attempts to cross the small distance.
"Away Leno!" yelled Brogd, his deep, booming voice startling a couple also trying to walk along the edge, where the mud was less thick. "Even Gerty here made it here at a rate that just about beat a snail!" He grinned down at the small wiry man at his side. Gerty and Brogd had grown up together and were inseparable, despite being the most unlikely pairing you were ever likely to meet.
Finally Aleno made it to the building, with a little help from Brogd as he almost fell on his back after a particularly ambitious step.
"What's the prognosis?" he said.
"Not here" replied Gerty. "Drink first."
That wasn't good, they only drank before a brief when the village was particularly hard done to. A situation that was becoming more and more common. They went inside, heading for the small room at the back which served as the visiting officer's quarters. Today that was Aleno. He nodded at the men that were lounging in the large room as he passed. There were a couple of new faces in the crowd, also not good. It never boded well when a group changed. He wasn't in big trouble yet, if Gerty or Brogd went, it would be time for him to disappear. As they entered his room, Gerty brought out a small bottle of brown liquid. Aleno found three small glasses in the cabinet to the right of the door. The sat round the rickety table, on equally rickety chairs. Brogd poured each of them a glass, as one they downed them. Gasping at the bitter taste and burning sensation in his throat, Aleno looked first at Gerty, then Brogd. It was time to hear it.
"We're in deep." Brogd muttered, his voice very different now compared to his usual volume. "These people are dirt."
"Dirt eh?" Aleno inquired. Dirt meant dirt poor, they had nothing but the mud under their boots.
"Aye, we had a problem with two new residents. They don't know the rules yet." Gerty said, mentioning the two new comers to the group.
"Hmmm. We need to get Raiber's money. He's asking for a quart from each person. Here I doubt a quart is worth much." muttered Aleno.
"Agreed" Gerty and Brogd stated.
"We need to get nasty" Aleno sighed, pouring another drink, before sharing it out to the two other glasses. Indicating they would take all they could now, but come back and share what they could out later.
"There's a delivery tomorrow." Gerty injected.
"A market? Here?" Aleno was surprised, it seemed too out of the way.
"It's only a small one, but people will be out willing to buy and barter."
"Tomorrow then" he raised his glass and drank the liquid in one.
He stood up and entered the large room off his. The men all looked up as one. A few of them threw cursory glances at the two newcomers.
"There's a market tomorrow, with this mud they'll probably have it just outside the town. We'll collect our quart from everyone. Now these people are dirt. They'll put up a fight more'n likely."
"What we do if the fight?" piped up one of the newcomers, it was a test more than likely.
"Same we always do, ask 'em nicely." Aleno sneered. The man grinned maliciously at him. He was right to have been cautious. "I'll assign jobs tomorrow."
The next day dawned bright and sunny. The mud had hardened slightly, making it bearable to walk on. On the outskirts bright tents had appeared overnight. A few tenders were already calling their wares to the early risers of the town. Mostly farmers who had finished their early morning rounds. Aleno's men lined up in front of him. He gave a chart to five men randomly, and assigned each another three men. He deliberately separated both Gerty, Brogd and the newcomers. He joined the fifth group. He handed each small tokens, to keep track of who had, and hadn't given their quart. Today they would get their quart from the people. His men were in two minds about it he knew. Once they were finished they would have money of their own to spend at the market, but they didn't like seeing people suffer so much, when they got paid so well.
After a few hours Aleno was extremely depressed. He'd forgotten just how bad it could be taking money people just couldn't afford from them. He decided to take the brunt of the next tax. He could live off wheat for six months if they managed it for their whole lives. It was over now and he walked through the market, now sparse with people. The tenders would be little bothered as there were always those who had money in any town. His own men also would spend more today than they would normally. He browsed the wares of one tent, extraordinary instruments were displayed there. The two men who owned it played a haunting duet on violins. He felt the music fill him with a strange sense of purpose. He had the urge to do something, and knew he could do it. Shaking his head he regrettably moved to the next tent. There were oddities of interest there. Strange contraptions that changed their appearance as if by magic, though no doubt the result of Master crafting and tricks of the eye.
The young woman behind it however was what really caught his eye. She was tall, wickedly curvaceous and had glittering emerald eyes. Her white hair was cropped to surround her face in flicks and waves. A spark of recognition went through him as he looked into her eyes, he saw the same in hers, and her mouth fell slightly. How could it be her! She was an old woman. She had passed years ago. Yet here she was, young and alive.
Ellissa felt her face drop as she looked into the face that she had missed from her stay in the forest. His face had lost all vestiges of the child he had been. He stood taller than her by a good head. His back was straight. His uniform was that of an officer. He had got his wish after all. He must have worked very hard to get so high up so young. She saw his eyes search hers for any sign of recognition… he knew it was her! How? She was so different now to how he could ever have seen her at the castle or in the cottage. Yet there it was. Deep in his eyes, he saw her. Don't jump to conclusions, maybe he has a friend who looks similar.
She approached the stall opening and smiled at him softly. In a bright voice she asked;
"See anything you like?" She gestured to the wares they had set up on a makeshift bench. She glanced up and saw with dismay he was still staring at her. He was beginning to attract attention from others he stood so still. Acting decisively Ellissa pulled him into the tent, crying out. "Come there must be something that would interest you." Inwardly she cringed at the assumptions that would be made by the passer bys, but that couldn't be helped. She needed to speak to him. Now.
At the back of the tent was a covered wagon with thick padding and covers. It would have to do. Aleno had begun babbling inanely. "How….you. But I saw… you were…" impatiently she pushed him into the wagon before clamouring in herself. She closed the covers and hoped against all the elements that the silence spells that had been cast on the wagon were still effective. Inside Aleno was sprawled on the floor, facing her. His eyes filled with confusion and fear.
"Yes." Was all she could say.
"Very long story." Ellissa said. Sitting down on the floor also, her back resting against the wooden side of the wagon.
"But you were old…and dead, and missing…and, old."
"You're one to talk about changing." She said lightly, "Look at you all grown up, and an officer to boot."
"Yeah, well, I…don't change the subject!" Aleno was relieved to find himself become more coherent. He tried further to get a straight answer out of the impossible woman sat across from him. "How can you be here, young…well younger, when you were old. Thinking of it how could you be old in the first place?"
"I told you, it's a long story."
"Well you're in luck. I've got plenty of time." He was determined to get it out of her.
"Aleno, seriously. I can't tell you. It's too much even for you to know that I'm still alive. Damn I knew I should have waited another decade." She held her head in her hands
"To do what?"
"This. Travel the new trade route. I knew there would be a chance, but I thought I would be safe after five turns of the seasons. I never even considered the possibility of anyone recognising me." She said. Her frustration brought an edge of bitterness to her words.
"Magic?" Aleno shouted, causing Ellissa to cringe, both at its suddenness and the fear that the spells would hold. "That explains it. It's real then?"
Ellissa could only nod. He knew now. That left her with only a couple of options, none of which seemed good. She could, in theory, silence him forever. Yet she could see the effect his men had on the area, and his badges showed his standing alone had enough to do with that. She sat back, slowing Time around her to think her options properly; Kali had taught her that much at least. Those were definitely badges of office, meaning the fuller coffers of these people were due to the man moving slowly in front of her. She could tell him everything, but that was an even bigger risk. Or she could alter his mind, at least until she left. That was probably the safest option. She would just have to do it once they were outside, and then hide until they left. She brought Time back to its normal pace to find Aleno still in the middle of saying his next word.
"Knew it!" Aleno continued, "but don't you realize how close you are to Raiber's? He checks these villages personally, even having a travelling market is a big risk as it sends riches out of his lands."
"I know," Ellissa replied, deciding that if he was going to forget this conversation soon anyway, she could tell him about a world that he obviously dreamt about.
Later she erased the conversation, and her appearance from his mind. He would remember later only that he saw a woman at a stall. That she was pretty, but forgettable
Ellissa did not realise how unforgettable she was.