One: The Banished Noble
The Village of Aberration was not a kind place. Among of its citizens were bitter nobles who got banished because they had no grasp of the Elementali, grotesquely disabled men and women, and criminals too wicked for the Land. Here be monsters and animals, sleeping and eating and trying not to kill one another.
Ironically, this was also the place where Fitcher the Jester would place the firstborn princess of the Fire Barony. He was a peculiar-looking man, that Jester, and he knew it. His eyes were sunk so deep one would have thought he had just gotten smashed by a golem right in the face. His skin had greenish tint due to malfeasance in magic years ago. Most people couldn't stand looking at him for so long, which was why he did this deed alone.
After getting off the horse, Fitcher tiptoed his way to the frontier of the Village, careful not to wake the baby as he trailed the legendary bridge that separated the Land with the dumpster. The baby had just been born three months ago and she could barely understand anything. But when the Lady of the Darkness, the djinni that lurked inside the bridge, came to him, the baby seemed to jerk from his hold and stared wide-eyed to the glob of shadows in front of him.
"Ah, Fitcher, my baby boy," a voice seeped through his eardrums, sending Fitcher a running tremor down his spine. "I know you'll come here again. Do you miss me, maboy?"
Fitcher replied by a scowl. Everything had turned so dark he couldn't even see his own hands. Fear and anxiety started to creep inside him. Fitcher shook his head. No. He shouldn't fall to the Lady's trap again. Making people panic was her specialty and once the prey had lost all of his hopes, then he was done. The Lady could take him anywhere in the world and his life plus his chance of going back was, a hundred percent without doubt, on the Lady's nonexistent mercy.
Fitcher knew, because he had been captured before.
"No, unfortunately not at all," he said.
There was a shrilly shriek, one that indicated amusement. "Ohh, a brave young man are you, now, Fitcher? Where's your girly screech, eh, eh? I want to hear it so bad."
"Listen to me."
"Are you happy, now that you're out from my lair? There are your friends still waiting for you, you selfish boy. They're all waiting and waiting and waiting…"
"I'm here because there's something important-"
"Lonely and shivering at night, dizzy and sunburned at day. Oh, what a horrendous situation you leave them, Fitcher, selfish boy…"
"Listen to me!" Fitcher shouted at the top of his lungs. When the Lady was still going on and on, he shouted her name, "Kimara!"
All of a sudden, the djinni made no other sound. The darkness began to cloud away, and behind it was a short, stocky creature clamping her hands over her long ears. She had a face of a goblin and the body of a very old dwarf, all wrinkles and scales. The creature doubling over looked very different from the image she had been projecting for centuries: a shapeless glob of shadows or a voluptuous woman with long nails and sensual lips.
But, as ugly as she looked, Fitcher preferred to see her like this.
"I need your help," he said.
"How did you- my name- my name! You know my name!"
Fitcher didn't answer, though he ached to. Kimara had been cruel to him when he was still a kid and a curious residence of the court, and it was his chance to get back at her. Djinns could be powerful and they could change shapes to either please or frighten you. But when you'd learned their names, you had power over them.
Fitcher considered blowing Kimara an inferno, make her writhe and beg like he had years ago. But then again, he was on an important mission and the effect of immobilization on the djinni only lasted for a few minutes. Kimara must have been searching for a new name as he was thinking right now.
"How I know your name doesn't matter," Fitcher said fast. "I need you to take this baby safely to the Village. Make Grindel keep her. You know Grindel, right?"
Kimara nodded reluctantly. She must mean to give false information but couldn't do so.
"Okay. No one but Grindel. Make her treat the baby right, make her teach the baby survival lessons. I don't care if you have to threaten her or give them presents. I want the baby to grow up proper and strong."
It seemed very difficult for Kimara to nod, but she did it anyway.
"Good," Fitcher whispered, though he was sure that he wasn't feeling the same thing. The Village was a cruel place, especially for a blueblood like her. He looked at the baby; there were already thick thatches of red hair growing on her head, bright colored, exactly like her mother's. He hoped the baby would open her eyes so that he could see the brilliance of his brother's eyes again, but then decided that it would be too much. Fitcher wasn't sure if he could stand it.
"Here," Fitcher's voice was quivering when he handed the baby to the demon. He grounded his teeth as he looked at Kimara awkwardly carrying it. Part of him wanted to take the baby back and raise her in the Palace. It was where she belonged, anyway. But another part of him screamed that it would be too dangerous. Harmless as she was, she had already made tons of enemies by staying in the Palace. Powerful ones, because it included the King himself.
Oh, if Fitcher could turn back time, he wished he could have told his brother not to mess around with the Queen.
"What's her name?" Kimara asked.
Fitcher was taken aback with this. For three months everybody in the Palace hadn't been calling the baby properly, giving her a lot of awful names such as: 'The Bastard', 'Girl', or even 'The God's Mistake'. The King was particularly fond of the alias 'The Spawn', while Duchess Lirayiah, the rightful wife of Fitcher's brother, always called her 'It'.
But Fitcher remembered how his late brother and the late Queen called her, and that was what he said to Kimara.
"Marra," he said. "her name is Marra Havykhan."
And with that, he spurred around and walked out of the bridge. He wanted to make sure the djinni had done his orders right but knew that the people in the village hated him and his lot. The People, with capital P and curled lips, that was how they called him, as if he and the other residence of the Land were the most disgusting creature on the earth. And now, Fitcher should bear the thought that years later Marra would also call him and her relatives in such way, hating them with passion, and showering in the gutter together with criminals.
Still, it was better than death.
Fitcher looked at the direction of the palace. It was miles away, but even from this distance he still could hear Duchess Lirayiah's wails about the baby, the King's endless outrage, and the small riot happening there.
It might be unfair for Marra to be sent here, but her banishment would mean peace for the Fire Barony. Peace for the King and the duchess. And, in a way, peace for herself.
Everyone should sacrifice something. And at age three months, Marra Havykhan had sacrificed her freedom.
### nearly 13 years later ###
'Curse the People! And if they can't be cursed, I will make sure they'll be pissed forever!' Marra thought as she ran all the way down the alleyway, lips stretching into a smile as she heard the man behind her screaming and urging people to get her.
Heh. They would never be able to get her. The People, or they preferred to be called 'residence of the Land', were often too lazy and too comfortable and most of all, too proud. Bet they had never ran as fast as they could to save their life.
Marra, of course, had had enough practice for a lifetime, which was why she had no troubles running away and curved in the right places. She might live in the Village of Aberration, but she'd spent dozens of hours in the People's streets, merely to observe the People and their often disturbing antics.
The man screamed curses that most of thirteen years old wasn't supposed to hear, and this triggered a laugh to Marra. She didn't bother deciphering what those words meant, but from the level of the decibels, it must mean very nasty.
She kept skidding along, her hands held the meat tight. It was only seven pounds, but when she was younger, the weight used to keep her down. The memento of her failures still could be seen when she exposed her back. The wounds had made her timid. Now they served as proofs of her bravery to younger audience.
"That way! The urchin's going that way!"
The sound of galloping hooves was right behind her, and Marla felt adrenaline rushing through her every vein, heightening her senses. Pilfering from the People might be a regular routine for her, her matron made her do so once in every while. But even when she was not on duty, she liked to do it just for fun. She had always hated the People, hated their arrogance, hated the way they hated Marra and her lot. Making them angry was the only thing that made her grateful that her Shame, whatever it was, was shameful enough to get her banished to the Village of Aberration.
The hooves were becoming louder and louder, crackling noise followed as she made every turn. Her pursuers escalated with every more minute she was not writhing under their wrath.
Marra was about to smile, but then she felt a pressuring aura closing around her, and right in the same moment her instinct commanded her to sprawl, a surge of Water sphere glide through the place where her back had been.
So, there was a Durre among them. Even more interesting.
Marra went back to her running fit, this time adding more speed. The kind of speed she was putting on would eliminate most of the 'regular' chasers but the truly capable ones. It'd been a long time since she came across a Durre, and this time she thought she was ready for him.
Another fizz of bubble dashed to her, and missed her arm only by an inch short. It still had its effect, though: there was a cut on Marra's arm, and the blood that rushed out from the open wound was blue-colored.
Marra hated seeing her blood. She didn't mind tending fellow children's injuries; she was also used seeing it, being a citizen of the Village and all. But her own blood, she didn't know how long it'd take to make her get used to her own blood.
Her pursuer, particularly the Durre who charged at her, might also noticed it. There was a pause, a very long one, that. Despite herself, Marla turned around and saw three boys twenty feet from her, all three red-faced and all-three had a sudden change in their expression: what had been regular exasperation for a thief now transformed into terrible contempt for a blueblood.
Marra gulped. Great. So they're all Durres and they're not Nobles. What a deadly combination for someone like her.
"Get her," the boy on the very right –the tallest, bulkiest among his friends- commanded, but now his tone was different. It's cold and downright scathing, like he's prepared to kill her.
O-kay. Marra's heart pounded so fast she felt it'd broke her ribcage. Now she thought too much adrenaline wouldn't do her good.
The boys stormed to her with speed she didn't anticipate from guys as big as them, their right hands were forming translucent balls of water ready to be thrown to her. She only needed a one-second look to know that her body would be gorily contorted had all three spheres hit in the same place.
She considered dropping her meat, but then it wouldn't affect her speed much and she would go home with empty hands. Marra slipped the meat in between her stomach and her slacks, and while apologizing quietly to the poor children who would smell a bit of Marla in their dinner, she took flight from the boys.
It was much harder to escape now. Marra had put practice everything she had learned for years. She tried the roofs, getting into strangers's dens, and even the gutter. Now she smelt like she hadn't taken bath for twenty days as opposed to the correct fifteen, and still her life was at stake. The boys were still running after her, not losing determination, and occasionally throwing her palm-sized spherical bullets. Only God knows how she managed to survive.
Marra's senses turned alert as the roads that she had been trailing now becoming homely familiar. Only a few more meters before she entered the Village of Aberration, her home. This was good. The road to the village was unique and esoteric. Not many could get into there if they hadn't had a slightest idea about how the village looked like.
Unfortunately, the boys seemed to know about the village, she could hear one of them shouting a satisfactory 'Ha!' before then, right in front of her, stood a solid wall of ice.
No other way, then.
Fifty meters before the border of the village, Marra braked. She then pivoted so that now she was facing those three boys.
This action seemed to be unexpected, and that resulted of a momentary halt from all of them. This, however, only lasted a second, and when they were out of their shock, three wicked smiles formed on each of their lips.
"A noble, big bro," the one on the left said, his voice still sounded like a mix of a man and a woman, this one must be ten years old top.
"And banished, too," the one on the right added with a patronizing nod. "Wonder what kind of Shame she has?"
Marra instinctively put a hand across her wound. She herself hadn't found what was actually wrong with her. She was in a relatively good health, she was a Durre and discovered her Elementali (by Hardeeth's luck it was fire) by herself when she was five, and she thought she was quite good-looking. At least her nose and her eyes were in the right places. Why the hell her parents banished her to this place when there was nothing shameful about her?
"How much do you think she'll worth?" Midget asked his brothers. Bah. Doormat.
"I'd wager fifteen coins. Look at her wrists," the bulky one replied coldly. He eyed Marra, inspecting her so thoroughly it was rude. Then a small chortle escaped his lips. "that kind of money would probably only buy us one week equivalent of food, but what's more satisfying than capturing a noble?"
With that, his right hand started to make strange movement and in an instant, another sphere was at her.
Marra was quick enough to dodge this. She clutched the little time they took to recharge by forming some fire herself. The atmosphere around her started to whorl around in a familiarly unpleasant way, sucking her breath and leaving her in near asphyxiation.
A small burning blaze formed above her palm. Marra concentrated her energy to her palm, all the while running around to avoid being noticed doing it. When it was the size of a regular apple, she threw it to the shortest.
Unfortunately, it got sapped completely by the water sphere his brother threw right the moment before it touched his brother's chest.
"You can call fire!" The one in the middle turned at her, his eyes, if possible, grew even wider than before. "You're a Durre?"
Marra rolled her eyes, but she could understand their disbelief. Usually the banished nobles didn't have even a vestige of Elementali power.
There was another moment of complete stillness out of shock. These people must get petrified a lot. The situation's good for Marra, though. She formed another fire, this time bigger, since she had ten seconds of a head start. She threw the fire to them, but again, she couldn't witness how strong her power was, because the older brother had threw both his hands on either side, creating a protective shield that absorbed everything.
The shield became a cruel wake up call for Marra. The boy could make something that powerful in seconds. Moreover, he had two hangers-on ready to annoy her. They were out of her league; she wouldn't be able to win against them.
So, either she ran to the Village and risked the people there to save her, or die here in the hands of three complete strangers.
The answer to that question was easy, if not ignominious.
Marra turned again, and now sprinted as fast as her legs could bring to the Village. She was only ten meters away when she realized that she hadn't heard any thundering trample.
"A coward, aren't you?" another voice called, and this time, Marra was pretty sure that the voice belonged to a girl.
She didn't bother turning around or say anything, and kept running ahead. Whatever the girl did to those boys, Marra didn't want to know. She's more than happy not to hear any of their footsteps again. Ten minutes full of them was more than enough.
"Hey, wait up!" the girl called to her, but Marra ignored her. She tackled the icewall with her burning hands, creating a hole that only her bony figure could fit. She arrived to the stale bridge that would bring her to the village, and then threaded on it. She was more than sure that the girl wouldn't follow her, there was a river a few hundreds meters below the bridge, and anybody sane wouldn't want to risk their life to see the life of the Aberrated and the Abandoned.
The trip to the village itself was pretty long and tiring. The stale bridge wasn't actually that stale, only it wasn't safe in there. fifteen meters after the ride it'd become pitch black and if you were not strong-willed enough, then the Lady of Darkness would claim you and then keep you in her lair for indefinite amount of time. Rumors had it that she would even take you to some trips to the Land Below, if you were unlucky. Marra had been caught once, and what she felt like three months of complete darkness was actually three hours in real world. It wasn't the experience she wanted to reprise.
Marra inhaled deeply, and then the darkness began.
Marra held her breath and then steeled her resolution. In her mind she etched the sentence, 'I want to arrive at the Village of Aberration, hag,' and then spoke it aloud over and over and over again. She couldn't keep her mind a blank paper here, the Lady of Darkness would feel mischievous and then bring her to a totally different place. The Land Below could be the worst place anyone could be deserted to.
Ten minutes and three hundred and twenty three of 'I want to arrive at the Village of Aberration, hag' later, she finally stepped her feet on the familiar ground. The ever-present pungent, the bags of trash in the middle of the streets, the sound of constant screaming and cat screeching. It was all familiar, and it was comforting enough for her.
Marra exhaled, and without turning back, she entered her home.
Chapter One Ended
Hey, I hope you like the story. I was hoping to create a different kind of main character. Marra is not a one hundred percent good person. I'm going to use a few main characters in this story, all of which are a bit of anti-hero.
Thanks for reading.