Insanity, Fly Away

Chapter One- Home

Amina hurried along the path back to her house, the pail of water slopping over her bare dusty feet creating little drops and rivulets on the dry ground. She heard her mother Nallah calling for her to hurry up with that water and come help with the cooking. She went on chattering about how Amina did nothing but dawdle and the dinners were suffering for it. Truthfully Am had not noticed whether the quality of the food they cooked had gone down. They only ever ate stew and bread and fish usually, unless there was some special occasion.

She dumped the water into the big cooking pot which hung over the fire. The pot hissed as the water was poured in but Am paid it no mind and dumped a huge bowl of red meat into the pot after the water. The afternoon sun splashed about on the surface of the water as the hunks of beast-meat were unceremoniously tipped inside.

Her mother yelled at her to come and help with the bread from inside the wooden house and she rushed inside, all smiles. Nallah thrust two thick pieces of cloth at Amina who obligingly took them from her mother's hand and checked the woodstove to see if the bread was done.

"Mother! It's still got a few minutes, can I finish the stew?" Amina asked.

"Be sure to put a lot of those vegetables in it this time child and don't skimp on that spice Elgen brought back!" Nallah shouted from upstairs.

Adamina rushed outside again and began liberally dumping spices and vegetables in the stew she'd started. Her mother always told her to put more vegetables in the stew, but she never did, it wasn't good to waste their winter stores so soon.

After finishing putting the ingredients in the big pot Amina trotted back inside to check the bread. She could hear her mother yelling from the window upstairs to ask Elijah, her brother, if he was done chopping the wood.

Such were the ways of Amina's house in the afternoon. Mornings and evenings were free but the afternoon was solely dedicated to work, making dinner and bread for the morning, chopping and bringing in wood, fetching water. Then in the evenings everyone would collapse into bed to wait for the next morning.

Her thoughts were interrupted by her mother thumping down the stairs. She was a woman of average height and weight with long curly brown hair and kind hazel eyes. She looked over Adamina critically.

"Look at you child! You're filthy, what have you been doing all day?" She asked and took some of Amina's filthy, curly auburn hair between her fingers. She let the hair fall back to Amina's shoulders and grimaced at the dirt left on her hands. Amina grinned, her hazel eyes twinkling.

The door opened and a ray of sunlight was thrown across the floor. Both females turned. There, almost filling the doorframe with his height of seven feet stood Amina's father. He had bristly blond hair that was cut very short and bright blue eyes. His skin was very tan, and Amina thought it looked very fitting on him.

"Nallah honey, have you seen the bigger pail?" The man asked.

"Nope I haven't Allerin but Ammy was using it earlier." Nallah said and turned to get back to the kitchen.

"It's just outside the door daddy, honestly I don't know how you could have missed it." Amina said in fake exasperation. "Have you seen Aldeon? He's supposed to stir the pot."

"He's probably watching Elijah chop wood, and being completely useless in the process." Nallah said loudly from the kitchen.

"Just go look near Elijah and I'm sure you'll find him pet." Allerin said fondly and then stepped outside to fetch his bucket.

Amina walked outside, smiling at the feel of the cooling dust beneath her feet. It was just the end of summer, the last hot days were coming to a close. Then the equator of the planet of Foroth would lapse into its cooler phase for a few months. Amina walked towards the clearing where she could hear her older brother Elijah chopping wood.

Upon arriving at the clearing one who did not know her family well might think it was Allerin chopping the wood. But to look closer they would see a man with much softer features, who was a few inches shorter and a little bulkier than his lanky father.

"Eli, have you seen Ally? He's supposed to be helping with dinner." Amina said, slightly annoyed. Elijah gestured to the side of the clearing where a boy of no older than seven sat on a tree stump watching his brother. Amina, who was a full eight years older than her brother usually took care of him after morning. Her brother Elijah was two years older than Amina, and Aldeon followed him everywhere just like a little shadow. He idolized his older brother so Elijah was always careful what he said and did to keep the trust of his youngest sibling.

"Alright, you urchin you." Amina said in mock scolding. "This is the second time in the past three days you've failed to turn up to help with dinner." She continued and waggled a finger at him, "Now you can come quietly or I'll have to restrain you." She giggled. Aldeon was a scrawny brown-haired green eyed little boy. Most of the other boys in the village older than five could wrestle him down in a fair match.

Aldeon smiled at his older sister and began to skip alongside her to keep up with her long strides on the way back to the house. He was a bright little kid, and he loved music. When he wasn't chasing after Elijah he could be found whittling pipes or playing instruments he'd made before. Amina herself could just barely grasp some of the more difficult tunes, but she liked music.

Her older brother was the real strength of the family. He spent all his time brawling with boys almost his height and weight, chopping wood and hauling the logs back to the house. Amina liked to joke that his muscle filled so much of his head that it would be impossible for him to fit any brain in there. It was true that he was a little slow but he was very kind and fair to everyone.

Her mother Nallah was very intelligent and Amina thought it was a shame that she spent all her time at home doing chores and helping the neighbors, her intelligence could really be put to some good use if she had the chance. She would write a story or song every once and a while and everyone in who had the chance to listen would be awed by her incredible description and way of getting the point across.

Allerin was a very nice man. He would never charge somebody more for his services (he was a smith) because he didn't like them or they weren't from around the village. He tried to make friends with all and was loyal to his children all the while.

Amina was the middle child of three and she was pretty average. She was very blunt and honest, not afraid to tell others what she thought in any situation. She was a great leader and lots of people looked up to her. There were also those who thought badly of her cheerful disposition, but they were sour people and others loved the fair-skinned child who told stories to the younger children and helped out at the schoolhouse, even though she'd already finished her education.

Upon arriving at the house Amina thrust a long wooden spoon to her brother who groaned and rolled his eyes. He hated stirring the cooking pot, he said the steam got into his eyes and addled his brain. Amina thought he'd inherited his mother's grand ability for using fancy words. She's had to ask him what 'addled' meant before she would let him go play.

Amina went back inside where her mother gave her a pile of washing to take upstairs. She groaned under the weight of the tottering pile of clothing but took it upstairs and placed the appropriate pile of cloths on the bed of each person. Amina had her own room, Elijah and Aldeon shared one and Allerin and Nallah had their own room at the end of the hall.

She looked through her window which overlooked the yard and saw Aldeon standing grimly on a stool so he could see what he was doing. He idly stirred the pot with a glazed look in his eyes, no doubt thinking of some tune he could write later before his mother forced him to bed.

She thumped back downstairs and her mother told her to help Elijah take in some of the wood he'd been chopping. She nodded and ran off to grab the wheelbarrow and then jogged back to the clearing, leaving a dusty trail behind her. Elijah smiled at her and shouted a greeting when Am came close to the clearing and when she got there he loaded her barrow with wood. He then hefted two huge logs under his arms and followed her back to the shed where they would put the wood until it was need for the colder season.

The shed was half full, or half empty depending on the way you looked at it, and they began stacking the wood at the back where the wood was stored. They returned to the clearing several more time to get wood and it took a great bit of maneuvering to get through all the various tools and things that were stored in the shed and by the end Amina was panting for breath. Elijah's forehead was beaded with sweat but he was grinning and looked about ready to do that again. Amina was smiling too, but only because there was no more wood left to haul in.

At dinner everyone was quiet as always, except for Aldeon who was humming a little tune. Maybe it was the one he'd been thinking of during his time stirring the pot, Amina had never heard it before. Everyone else was too tired to say very much except Aldeon, who was too small or considered too young to do much of the work around the house.

After dinner everyone was stuffed and tired. They sat around the front room for a while playing cards and other games until one by one everyone retired for the night. The moon was shining brightly outside Amina's window when she finally trudged upstairs to climb wearily into bed. It wasn't very late, perhaps only ten thirty but the days here were longer than the traditional ones on earth and time was measured differently. An hour was much longer on Foroth than it would be on earth. Longer by about ten minutes. If you can imagine that would add a whole four hours onto a terran day.

She felt like she had only been sleeping a few seconds (Foroth's seconds) when shouts and screams could be heard from the village below. She was out of bed in an instant, such noises were not often heard with such volume and terror in the village of Arras. She grabbed her pile of clothing and shoved it into her bag, she continued shoving things into her leather sack, anticipating the worst. She swung the bag onto her back and looked out the window.

Her suspicions were confirmed. There were fires burning where houses ought to be and the forest was ablaze. The rogue dragons had come to Arras. She hurried down the hallway shouting for everyone to awaken and pack their bags. Aldeon met her at the bottom of the stairs, his bag already perched on his back, his eyes wide and fearful. Amina felt great sympathy for her younger brother, the family and others beyond it had told him terrible things about the rogue dragons and what they might do if they got their hands on you. She gave him a pat on the head and grabbed his hand.

"Aldeon youngest sibling, I want you to run to the river and stay. I'll be along with whoever survives later." Amina said and kissed his forehead. Wasting no time Aldeon tore from the house as fast as his short legs would carry him.