The girl scrubbed the windowpane, she must finish this before the moon went behind the cloud, and she wasn't allowed to use valuable candles. Staying up and doing this was her punish meant for taking to long to scrub the floor today, the only reason for that was that Saren had had come in with muddy boots and had to pace around for a while, it had taken her hours to clean it all. She looked up at the moon she loved nighttime she didn't know why, it just felt right. She brushed the long dark hair out of her eyes, she was almost finished. She made the last wipe and picked up her bucket, and careful to not make any noise, she put it away and went to her bed on the veranda. It was really just a straw mattress with a mouldy old blanket, but she liked it because she could look out at the night before she went to sleep. She looked up at the full moon, she realised tomorrow was her birthday, not that it mattered. Her parents had never taken notice of that sort of thing; they didn't even take notice of her unless they want something done – clean this, wash that and mend this while your at it. It never stoped. But then, she supposed it was the best she had and she mustn't complain, she'd been beaten a lot at the moment, she knew she had been rebelling. The beatings were carried out by her father, they hurt a lot, to stop them she must conform, it was hard but she must…
The next day her father seemed particularly agitated he kept looking to the door and outside.
'Those windows look dusty today, maybe they need a clean, hah Girl?' he asked in his usual arrogant way.
'Yes, Father.' She said demurely, there was no use telling him she only washed them last night, it would only cause problems.
'That healing woman said today didn't she?' her father said to her mother, 'if she doesn't keep her promise I don't know what I'll do,' he said looking straight at his youngest daughter, what have I done now she thought.
During the day she did her usual chores but everyone seemed tense, her brother Saren was pacing around being particularly vindictive, he had lost his job, but then he was always losing a job so it was no big deal. Her sister Marcella was laying around ordering her sister around she reckoned she was practising, she was to be married to an Earl, she was very lucky to be even thinking about being up that high, their family was not exactly poor but they definitely weren't rich-it had only been a chance meeting between Marcella and her Earl.
'I need another drink of water, this one has dirt in it!' Marcella said.
'Yes, mam,' she said, she couldn't wait until her sister left for good.
Later that night her father was pacing, he was snapping at everyone, even Marcella who was his favourite. It was getting very late, she didn't know why everyone was just sitting at the table, she offered to go and clean the kitchen, any thing to get out of the room, but they wanted her to stay exactly where she was.
'That woman lied, she's not coming for her!' her father said staring straight at her, what had she done? Who was this woman?
There was a knock on the door.
Her father got up very slowly and opened it.
'I've kept my promise, there was no need to doubt it,' said a strong clear voice from the door way, 'is she still alive?'
A woman walked into the room she was wearing a long blue cloak with the hood pulled back, her hair was grey and pulled back to a bun on the back of her head, she gazed around the room.
'Well, Noxunus, the time has come,' the lady said looking straight at the girl sitting in the corner, she looked around, who was Noxunus?
'She does not know of that name,' her father said.
'You did not tell her? She does not know that she is to come with me tonight.' the lady in the cloak said standing up strait in front of her father, a thing most men couldn't do.
'Just get rid of her!' Marcella said spitefully.
'Girl, you are to go with this lady,' her father said, mocking the term 'lady', 'you must behave or I will come to find you!'
'Yes sir!' she said walking over to the lady and siting at her feet, 'I will serve you well, madam.'
'Now, we agreed you would give us four gold,' her father said, she couldn't believe it! She was being sold! As a slave! This will be different to being a slave to her own family, she must behave, there was no telling about this lady – she could be worse than her own father! She was suddenly very afraid.
'Here is your gold, we must go, follow me Noxunus,' the lady said opening the door, 'good bye to all here,' and she walked out with the girl following. She didn't feel sorry or sad at leaving her family, she never had love, and even her mother had been icy. She followed the cloaked lady, shivering from the cold.
'Don't worry about the cold we'll be at my carriage soon.'
They came to a carriage with four horses, she was amazed, only rich people had four horses and a carriage as good as this one, this lady must be very rich. The lady opened the door.
'Climb in,' she said, the girl did as she asked, the lady followed in after her. The carriage was very roomy and luxurious, the lady sat opposite her. The carriage started immediately but she hadn't seen anyone to drive it.
'Now there are a few matters we need to discuss, Noxunus,' the lady said.
'Excuse me, madam, but who is this Noxunus?' she asked, perplexed.
'Why it's you! I named you myself, your parents didn't tell you! Well then I must fill in the gaps,' she said, 'firstly, my name is Aquera, and I was at your birth, it was I who named you…
Aquera proceeded to tell the story…
Sixteen years ago…
The woman screamed in pain this was much worse than the birth of her other children, this one was a surprise, her husband, Nevnn, was very suspicious, he didn't think the child was his. Even in witnessing her pain he refused to call for a proper midwife, his wife's sister was trying to help her but she had had no child of her own, so as far as he was concerned she was useless. There was a bang as the door swung open, out of the darkness a lady stormed in.
'You have a wife in pain, yet you refuse to call a healing woman!' this woman said in deep disgust.
'What right do you have to come in to my house and question my authority?' he said arrogantly, 'I insist that you leave immediately, or I shall have to forcibly remove you!' she just turned back and walked to the agonising woman.
'Is this your first child?' she asked.
'No, she has had two others, they weren't nearly as bad as this!' said the woman's sister.
'I'll do all I can to help her,' she said and laid a hand on the woman's forehead, the pain seemed to lessen. The healing woman and the sister worked continuously, despite his threats Nevnn let the healer continue, she was ensuring that if his wife died, he would have someone to blame.
Aquera looked out at the full moon, it was getting close to midnight, the birth was close, she expected it in the next few minutes, the woman's screams were piercing the night, Aquaria had done every thing she could to make the pain lessen, it was getting hard on her too.
'It's time!' called the woman's sister. Aquera rushed over to prepare the woman for the birth.
'It's a girl!' Aquera cried as midnight brought the infant into the world.
She looked in to the child's dark eyes and felt as though she was drowning in a dark sea…
She searched with her mind for the power...
She shook her head; it couldn't be true, could it?…
She felt the power; that was for sure…
However, there was something else…
The child's power was great, almost…
Aquera blacked out, the woman's sister only just managed to grab the child as she collapsed onto the floor…
'Wake up!' the sister called, she was frightened, the healer had just looked at the girl and collapsed, she was afraid to look at the child herself, she had only just managed to catch her. The healer opened her eyes, she felt dizzy, she didn't know what happened, it all came back to her in a rush; she forced herself to get to her feet. The woman's sister was looking worried.
'It's all right, I've just got over a sickness, it was just a dizzy spell,' she staggered over to the mother who was feeding her baby, 'are you all right?' she asked.
'I'm fine, I'm very tired though.' Her husband strode into the room; he took one look at the child and slapped his wife across the face.
'Slut!' he said his eyes narrowing.
'What, what have I done?' she asked gasping for breath.
'The child has dark eyes and dark hair! You and I have blond hair and blue eyes, and our other children are the same! You've had an affair!' he screamed, livid with rage. Aquera looked at the child, her eyes were unlikely to change, her hair might, but she didn't think it would. 'Drown the bastard! Kill it! I have no use for it!' Nevnn shouted. In a rush Aquera realized what would happen to the power that she had felt.
'Wait! If you consent to keep her, the day she turns sixteen I will take her, you will never have to see her again,' she said trying to save the girls life,
'What do I get for her?' he asked, his mind calculating.
'What do you mean?'
'I will feed her and clothe her until this day in sixteen years, if you give me four gold,' he said, it was a high price, he doubted if she would agree.
'Done, in sixteen years I will come for her,' she said, it didn't matter about the money, she was just worried about the life that was in store for her, 'if I am to have her, I would like to name her.'
'Name her?' he was confused why would this woman care about a name, 'all right then, whatever.'
Aquera picked up the child.
'Noxunus,' she said looking at the child's eyes, but guarding her self against drowning into that mysterious ocean, 'her name is Noxunus'…
'What does it mean?' Noxunus asked, despite her resolve to be a new demure slave, she was curious about the story and her name.
'It means night one, and your father never told you about this?'
'No, I was just a slave,' she said letting her guard down just once, 'what is this power? What will happen to me now?'
'You have questions, that is good. The power is magic, I know it is illegal, but it happens, I am, in fact, a witch. And I think that you can be too, maybe even a sorceress, with a lot of training of course.'
'You mean no more slavery?' she asked, amazed at the story of magic.
'No, you never have to be a slave again, I wouldn't have left you with your father but I was still learning to be a witch myself and it was impossible for me to take in a new baby,' she said, 'we are almost to my house.'
They stopped outside a moderate house, Nox couldn't believe that she was going to live in such a beautiful house, not even the largest house in her village was as big as this one.
They got out of the carriage, Nox was shivering in the cool air, her clothes were little more than rags, passed down after her mother or sister had worn them.
'Here, this is my home, and, now yours,' Aquera said opening the door and walking in, Nox followed in after her and marvelled at the luxury of the house, it seemed at different proportions to the outside. Nox was immediately confused.
'Now, would you like something to eat or would you just want to go to bed?'
'Oh, I think I'd like to go to bed, I'm pretty tired, if that is okay of course.'
'That's fine. Your room is this way,' Aquera said leading the way down a corridor, they passed a door, 'this is where we will have breakfast in the morning, so as soon as you wake up, just come down here.'
They came to another door; Aquera opened it to reveal a small room with a bed with a white quilt, a washbasin, a desk and chair and a wardrobe.
'This is your room, I know it's a bit plain, but don't worry I'll show you how to jazz it up.'
'Oh, this is too much! I don't deserve this!' Nox said amazed.
'It's fine, now, you need some night attire,' Aquera said, she waved her hand and a long white nightdress materialised on the bed. Nox opened her mouth in amazement.
'How, how, how did you do that?' she asked reaching a tentative hand out to touch the nightdress to see if it was real.
'Don't worry, you'll learn soon.' Aquera smiled, 'now, get some rest, there will be a lot of talking tomorrow.'
'Goodnight,' Nox said stroking the bedspread, it was of fine quality. Aquera must be very rich.
Nox closed the door and undressed into the nightdress, she felt like a queen, she had never worn anything so fine, never been in such a beautiful house, she thought back to last night, it had been so different. She climbed into the bed, never had she been in a bed so warm…so comfortable… she drifted off to sleep…
The woman stood there…so much like her…but there were differences…a golden circlet was on her head…but it came to a V on her forehead…it had a black stone…in the shape of a drop…off the point…the circlet had eight different coloured stars on it…the lady had a black pendant…it had eight sides…they each had a different coloured star…her dress was black…was she in mourning?…her dress was covered in gold stars…she glittered…so like her…dark hair…dark eyes…eyes that drowned…but there was something else…a power…Goddess…