Well, I'm glad to say I'm finally pick this story up again and writing it. A very serious case of writer's block and my muse going on holiday. It's change quite a bit. I'm trying to keep the 'bits' short so not to break the flow of reading and all...
Thank you for all the wonderful reviews in the past. I went through the whole piece, recently, pulled it apart, put it back together again and started writing...
Jetso, the Red Red Sky Tail
I sighed as I watched the Autumn leaves drift into the fountain. The rhythmic rise and fall of the captive water only reminded me of my own lack of freedom.
Why? Why must it always be this way?
The water did not answer me, but only bubbled as though mocking me.
"Coming!" I shouted back impatiently.
Why? Why was I born to this?
I glanced around the neat garden, tidy to a fault. It was as imprisoned as I was, forced to grow in a way they did not wish.
How I longed for the grassy woodlands, wild with life…
It will never happen... nagged a little voice deep within me.
I ignored it.
How I dream for adventure…
Dream on. continued the voice.
This - the fountain, the garden, my room, the mansion, my life as it was - was not enough. I wanted excitement, mysteries with no answers, never ending adventures… and most of all, to roam free in the wilderness, to just be Lassa - not Lady Legalassa, not Miss Legalassa, not some Lord's wife-to-be nor a Baron Jereriviel's daughter. I want to be Lassa, just Lassa, just me and freedom.
You can wait till doomsday... whispered the voice spitefully.
Yes, the voice was right - or at least I thought so then. I could never be just Lassa. I was Baron Jereiviel's daughter and nothing could change that. I was trapped there and nothing could change that. I was Lady Legalassa and nothing can change that. I could never have my adventures and mysteries and magic and nothing can change that. But one thing can change, and that will change, I will never be Lord Riwan's wife. However he demands it, I will not consent. So I held my head high, hopes resolved.
I heard a distant twittering. It was my bird. He circled above in large grey arcs, finally landing onto my shoulder. He chittered gently in my ear.
"It's no use, Acillia," I whispered back. "That would never happen."
"No, Lassa, it would," said the twittering voice of my bird. No one had ever told me birds weren't supposed to talk, so a never questioned the voice of my little bird.
"You're just saying that to cheer me up."
"Believe me, Lassa, believe me," whispered Acillia. "If it won't happen, I'll make it happen."
"I cannot," I shook my head. "I can never escape."
"You will, Lassa, I know a parrot called Larowa, she can help."
"You can know as many as parrots, dear Acillia, but what difference would it make," I said, softly.
"You'll see, Lassa," twittered Acillia, flapping his wings, "I'll bring him here!"
"But, Acillia!" I shouted, but he was gone. I sighed, wishing I too was a bird and could fly away with just a flap of my wings.
"Legalassa, how many times do I have to call you! Lord Riwan's here!"
My husband-to-be... he's here... my heart froze... He's here to claim my hand... I will not consent... but what would father say... Lord Riwan... he might... no he won't I'm his... but by then I won't be... he might even... can he?
A whirlwind of thoughts spun in my head. They chased each other around. Logic had flown away as a civil war raged in my mind. My last conscious thought was a vision of a young man with blue-black hair. He looked at me with his muddy brown eyes, and I felt as though I finally met someone that understood.
The sun was well in the sky, burning down mercilessly. In the small town of Cull, far from Lothing Forest, there was a young blacksmith hammering away cheerfully, regardless of the afternoon heat. He hummed a tune as he worked.
"Oi! Dasa!" called an older man from inside the workshop.
The young aprentice paused in his work and looked up with his muddy brown eyes.
"Why so silent?" inquired the man.
In truth, the youth was thinking about a dream, a recent dream. It was so real... There was a…
"You! Blacksmith!" thundered a deep voice, interrupting his thoughts. It was an armored knight on a dappled warhorse, they stood a little distance away. "You! Want to get hanged?"
"No sir!" shouted Dasa, scrambling from his thoughts.
"Shoe my horse and patch up my sword. I want it back before twilight or else I'll have you're head," threatened the knight, dismounting clumsily.
"Sir..." started Dasa.
"See to it, lad!" ordered the knight.
"I am Sir Aswin of Witingoth!"
That explained the shiny armor and attitude, but Dasa was puzzled over the man's purpose. Didn't knight's live in large drafty castles? "Um... sir?" asked Dasa, "Why are yer here?"
"I'm on the trail of a villain, the Dread Pirate of the Eighth Sea," answered Sir Aswin.
Even this far in land the name of the Dread Pirate struck a cord of fear, but logic gave a sign. "In this village, sir?"
Sir Aswin tried to sound impressive. "Yes, peasant."
"Your soldiers sir?"
"Soldier have a habit of dying, it's an occupational hazard," muttered Aswin.
"Ain't he at sea, sir?" said Dasa slowly, doubtful of the knight's true intensions.
"He has legs, lad! Legs!" barked Aswin, getting weary of the questions.
"He must have a devil on his side, sir, if you can't catch him," said Dasa, absently.
"He does, and half of hell's demon's too!" barked Aswin, as he marched off.
Dasa tried to concentrate on his work, but his thoughts kept on drifting back to the legend of the Pirate of the Eighth Sea. Was he really in the village or was the knight simply lying to hide his true intentions?
"This has seen better times," he muttered to himself, tapping the steel into shape.
Dasa struggled to focus in his work, constantly reminding himself what failure would cost him, but never the less, however his crushed it, that vision kept coming back.
He saw a young lady of the court, but it wasn't the finery she was in that caught his eyes, nor was it her great beauty. It was the way she looked at him. Her melting eyes, imploring, expecting, yet admiring. They peeked into his heart, seeing his dreams, knowing when he had done something wrong, but those lips still smiled at him. That smile, not spiteful or amused, but friendly.
Dasa shook these thoughts from his head.
"What is wrong with you, Dasa?" he murmured. "You haven't even seen her before."
That did not make any difference. The image still stood out among other thoughts like a scarlet jay among crows.
Acillia flew restlessly, as the Autumn winds howled in the night, his wing-beats started to sound weary.
"This is for Lassa," he encouraged himself, but he didn't feel any better.
The wind lashed at the little bird. He grimaced, reminding himself of his purpose. He flew on and on and on.
My head was still spinning when I awoke. Spinning with all the thoughts I beheld, but the first and most distinguished though was : He's here, Lord Riwan here. I felt slightly faint again.
"Legalassa!" called my father, his patience was wearing thin.
I struggled with my thoughts, but one vision rose among others: that young man with muddy brown eyes and blue-black hair, smiling at me.
The long winding corridor loomed in front of me, turning and twisting, crossing and splitting. It often reminded me of the long lanes of life, turning and twisting like life's surprises and crossing and spitting like our 'hello's and 'good-bye's.
I'll be leaving this place soon. Will I miss it? I never liked it, but it was still part of me…
My thoughts reared to a halt as I too stopped in front of the oaken door, the threshold of my doomed future. I dabbled my eyes with my handkerchief, the embroidered bits scratched my eyes. I didn't was them to know I was crying. I took deep breaths to calm myself down.
Finally, gathering what was left of my disappearing courage, I turned the cold metal handle of the door.
Lord Riwan wasn't exactly as I expected him. He had clear features that might have once been handsome. His stone cold eye reflected his stone cold nature. He had a goatish beard that would have made him comical had not his eyes been so cold. I shivered when I met his gaze.
"My daughter, Lady Legalassa," said my father, his voice was polite but there was something about the tone that told me to watch my step. "This is the Lord Riwan de Rainult."
I curtsied awkwardly.
"Riwan, this is my daughter, Legalassa."
"Pleasure to meet you," he said, but his voice implied the opposite.
I tried to speak, but voice had left me along with my courage, so I forced a smile.
"You are very beautiful, Lady," he added, his voice smooth as honey - too smooth as though he was reciting this off some script.
Swallowing, I replied his compliment.
"You are ever so kind," I said, forcing my voice to be pleasant, it wasn't easy when what I wanted to say was, "You are ever so unkind."
"I will leave you here with Lord Riwan," said my father, his voice was once again tinted with a warning.
I glared at my father. I had hated Riwan before we met, and the meeting changed nothing. If I choose to obey, I would have spend hours of living hell with the Sheriff. If I choose to disobey, I would also have to spend my time in hell, listening to my fathers rages and lectures. For a moment I debated with myself, but not for long.
I ignored his warning. I choose to disobey.
I opened my mouth to state my refusal…
"That would not be necessary," said Riwan politely.
That was probably the only time I ever felt thankful that he spoke.
"I'd rather you did before we set off to Haoidien," insisted my father.
Set off to Haoidien... so soon? I knew that thought would haunt my sleepless nights.
"If it would please the Lady." Riwan gave in.
"It..." I started.
"It would please her very much," interrupted my father quickly.
I was a moment too late. There was no escape. I picked up my lute which lay nearby.
Riwan sat down, the boredom was written all over him.
I choose my seat as far away from Riwan as possible. I sat down, arranging myself further away.
I saw the muddy-eyed youth in my thoughts, smiling encouragingly. Clinging on this vision, I survived the hour.
The blood red sun started on it's descending course to behind the mountains.
An omen, thought Dasa, staring at his unfinished sword. He had spent so much time dreaming of his green-eyed beauty and thinking about the Pirate, he didn't have the time to work. Dasa sighed, and resolved to face death with a fight.
"You! Blacksmith!" barked a voice from behind him. "My sword, is it done?"
Dasa spun around. It was Sir Aswin, in his full armor. Dasa didn't feel as brave as he thought
"Sir... Aswin... I wasn't expecting you so soon," trembled Dasa. "...your sword isn't quite ready..."
"I've already warned you, Blacksmith," said Aswin, his voice dripping with anger.
Dasa remained speechless.
"You know the penalty," thundered Aswin, raising his unfinished sword.
Dasa dodged the blow long before it arrived, then he snatched one of the swords that lay nearby.
For a moment, Aswin was surprised, but only for a moment. He smiled cruelly, amused. This peasant thinks he can fight a trained knight. Well, he'll show him otherwise.
Aswin adjusted his grip on the two-handed sword.
Dasa studied Aswin, alert for the slightest change. He may not have finished with the sword, but it need not be sharp to kill. The blade could simply crush his bones.
Aswin attacked, lunging at Dasa. Dasa sidestepped, then retreated. He ducked, with Aswin's sword lashing less than a hair's breadth away. Aswin took the retreat as a sign of cowardliness and sneered, continuing his attack. Dasa stepped aside again, escaping the blow. Aswin slashed at Dasa's legs, but he merely jumped over the blade and landed lightly. Aswin aimed for the heart but Dasa turned as the sword missed, flying past his chest.
The duel began to resemble a bullfight, with Aswin and in his heavy armor as the bull. Dasa, nimbly avoiding the sword, as though he knew in advance where the next blow would land. Dasa was the bull-fighter.
Aswin was so used to standing toe-to-toe at an opponent and hacking away was surprised and unfamiliar with this tactic. Now, he was tiring, his heavy sword and hindering armor grew heavier at every step. Dasa, on the other hand, clad in his peasant's outfit and a leather apron, relied on his quickness to stay clear of danger.
By now, Dasa had sapped Aswin of his strength and the knight was tiring fast. The knight lowered his guard, inviting Dasa to attack, but the youth ignored it and stepped back, beckoning him on again.
Aswin lumbered forward and cut awkwardly at Dasa's head. Suddenly, steal met steal with such a force it numbed Aswin's arm. Dasa had brought his sword into play.
Aswin retreated with slight shock, and for the first time, Dasa moved forward. The knight parried clumsily as Dasa's sword flashed like summer lightning. The sound of metal against metal rose. A final burst of energy flooded Aswin's veins, he made every attempt, tried every trick, used every minute of his experience, but it was not enough.
With a final flick of Dasa's sword and Aswin dropped his greatsword in reflex.
Aswin gulped nervously.
"You will let me live, won't you?" said Dasa smoothly, enjoying his moment of victory.
Aswin said nothing.
The sword at his throat inched closer.
"Yes!" cried Aswin.
"You will pay me for my work, won't you?" said Dasa.
"Of course," replied Aswin, hasily, eying the sword.
Dasa lowered his sword cautiously.
"You are an expert fighter, It's worth letting you win," said Aswin acting as though he had let Dasa win on purpose. "I suggest you come work with me, there is a sudden shortage of soldiers."
Dasa didn't answer but watched Aswin pick up his sword. Now, Aswin was once more in control.
"Of course, Sir Aswin it would be a pleasure," said Dasa, not entirely willing.
"Finish my sword and we set off at dawn!" said Aswin.