Hey all, hey all. Now for the moment you have been waiting for! Book 1 is now complete. I'll be uploading a new chapter every day (or two, I have a couple of very short flashback chapters) and there are 41 chapters - so you'll get pretty much a month of Fanar updates. Today I'll reupload the updated prologue which is now Chapter 1 as well as Chapter 2. I would like to apologize for the exceedingly long wait on this and thank all of you that have been keeping up with the story since I was in High School. You are beautiful, patient people.
Amaya shifted the tray on her shoulders so she could lean over and grab an empty plate off the table as she walked past. Realizing she didn't have a free space on the tray, she turned and began to head to the back.
"Barmaid!" A rough voice called.
Pausing to orient herself towards the specific voice, she gave the man a frown. "Riagan, you are well enough aware of what my name is."
The greying drunk laughed at her. "Regardless, a refill!" He slurred.
Rolling her eyes at the man she maneuvered around tables and people to him. "Last one." She threatened, making a space on the tray so she could take the tankard from him.
"Oh you're no fun." Riagan said lifting his hand in a way that Amaya knew was going to land on her backside.
Twisting her body quickly, Riagan's hand missed her rear and hit the chair she had been standing in front of. "Keep your hands to yourself!" She called over her shoulder as she slipped past people, periodically asking for their pardon as she moved towards the back. Once safely in the kitchen, she was met by her older brother.
"Busy out there?" Garthos asked taking the laden tray from her.
Amaya rolled her shoulder with a slight groan, wincing as the stiff muscles protested. "Yes, and Riagan is trying to act up which makes it all the better." Amaya grumbled, heading towards the keg.
Sparing her a look as he deposited the dishes in the sink, Garthos frowned. "Do I need to go out there?"
"No, I can handle him fine. No need to cause trouble." Stopping the flow of ale, she retrieved her tray from Garthos who was still frowning at her. "I'm fine. I'm faster than he is."
"He gives you trouble you tell me or pa." Garthos said gripping the tray so she couldn't leave.
"Who's giving you trouble?" Their mother asked as she walked from behind the ovens.
"No one." Amaya said quickly.
"Riagan." Garthos added ignoring the glare his younger sister leveled at him
Lorna gave her daughter a frown as well. "You are engaged now Amaya, you cannot afford to allow him to harass you. If he starts trying to put his hands on you, tell your brother or your father."
Grimacing at the mention of her betrothal, she nodded. "Yes ma." She said tugging the tray from Garthos and walking out of the kitchen. Sighing as she left their earshot, she weaved through the crowd of people and deposited the tankard in front of the drunk. "Last one." She reminded him before she dodged another hand aimed for her rear. Grumbling as she moved through the tavern, she glanced about seeing if anyone new had walked in and spied a cloaked figure sitting by the fireplace. Pausing for a moment at the size of the man under it (If it were a man, they got some odd breeds passing through from time to time) she hoped he wouldn't cause much trouble and headed for him. "Welcome to the Dancing Dragonfly stranger, can I offer you food and drink?"
Turning his head towards her, Amaya tried not to squirm under the gaze of bright yellow-green eyes. His pupils adjusted to the difference in light, widening from cat like slits but they didn't keep her from noticing that he had small horns growing just under his hairline. "You're young to be working in a bar." The stranger mused out loud. His voice was quiet, warm, and deep.
Amaya swallowed. "I'm 16, plenty old enough to help out with the family business." She said, trying not to stare.
"Still young." He repeated idly before glancing around the room. "What's the special tonight?"
Shifting her weight, thankful that his eyes were no longer on her she rattled off the special. "Potato soup, roll of bread, spring greens with cured beef. Comes with ale."
Nodding, the stranger looked back at her. "That sounds good, I'll have that, and to whom do I speak with about renting a room for the night?"
Amaya glanced around the tavern with her lower lip between her teeth. "That would be my father, Cleaus who is..." Frowning, she realized that her father wasn't at the front at the moment. "It appears he may have stepped in the back at the moment. I'll go get him and send him your way." She said flashing a smile at him absently.
"Thank you." He said and Amaya quickly headed back towards the kitchens again, sidestepping Riagan who had finished his ale and was asking for a refill.
Poking her head back into the kitchen, a quick look told her Cleaus wasn't there. "Ma? Where's pa? Someone wants to rent a room." She asked. "Mary, one special please."
Her sister, Mary, started to portion out soup as their mother walked over. "Your father is with the traveling priest, the one that helped with the new town shrine." She said. "I could set him up in a room.
Amaya bit her lip and thought back to the man. "I think pa should handle this one." While she didn't think the man, or whatever he was, would cause a ruckus, he was still a very large individual and wasn't sure how he would take to females.
Lorna's eyes narrowed. "Why?" She asked.
"He doesn't seem dangerous he just is really big." Amaya explained.
"Big? So what?" Mary handed over the food that had been ordered.
"Well, he also has horns." Amaya muttered.
Sighing at her daughter, Lorna glanced at the oven. "The priest said it was important that he talk with your father, I don't know how long they'll be. I'll talk to him." She started taking off her apron and starting back towards where she was baking.
"He's at the small table near the fireplace." Amaya called and her mother waved a hand at her to acknowledge she had heard.
Mary eyed her little sister. "Don't spend too much time near where he is Amaya, he could be an incubus." She said.
Scoffing, as Amaya bumped the door open. "I highly doubt that." She said.
Making her way through the floor again, she was able to neatly avoid Riagan and head towards the stranger. "One special, and my father is occupied at the moment so my mother will be out shortly to get you a room." She said depositing the food and utensils to the table.
The man expressed his thanks again and Amaya started around the floor again, clearing tables, taking orders and avoiding Riagan who was adamant that he should get another ale. Most of the patrons that night were locals and helped distract the drunkard as she did her duties until at long last, her father's voice boomed that it was last call so everyone who didn't have a room was to leave. Breathing a sigh of relief as people started clearing out – a knot of people taking Riagan with them – she fiddled with the leather engagement band around her wrist.
"How does it feel to have a band of your own?" An old voice said.
Turning towards the old man, Amaya nodded with a forced smile. "It itches."
The man, their local priest, let out a wheezy laugh. "Once you're used to it you won't even notice it's there. By this time next year your belly may be swelling with a babe." He said fondly.
Amaya's smile nearly faltered. "Perhaps." She said noncommittally. The idea that she could get pregnant so soon sat as easily with her as a needle sat on its point and she wished people would find something else to talk about besides her upcoming nuptials.
Pulling coins from his purse, the priest pressed them into her hand and told her to keep whatever was extra before he left. Amaya glanced at them and was able to take the extra coin, a copper piece, and set the rest in her apron pocket until she could go deposit the coins in the safe. Walking around the room, chatting idly with the few patrons left, she found herself at the table near the fireplace. The stranger wasn't there anymore, but he had left more than he owed and the dishes stacked neatly. Smiling, she scooped the coins up and quickly separated her tip from what was due before gathering the stack.
"That's the last of them." She said heading into the office after depositing the dishes to Garthos. "Hey pa." She said walking into the little room.
"Hello dear, everyone gone?" Cleaus asked absently, carefully stacking coins from earlier. Cleaus was a man of large girth, from his thick arms to his stocky legs, the only thin things about him was his razor blade nose and the sparse hair on top of his head.
Amaya dug and stacked coins from her apron onto the desk. "All of them. Got some good tips as well." She dug out the extra coins and set them in a jar. Pausing as her father only 'hmm'ed at her, she turned and looked at him. "Is something wrong?" She asked.
Tired brown eyes glanced up at her and studied her as if they had never properly seen her before. "Nothing is wrong my dear, but once we are done here we need to have a talk."
Mouth twisting into a grimace, she nodded. "Yes pa." Assuming he wanted to talk with her about her marriage with Thomas, the butcher's son, she decided to take as long as she feasibly could with her chores before having to hear again what her future would be.
Walking into the family sitting room that was in the connected building, she was surprised to find Silas, the butcher, his son Thomas, and an assortment of priests all sitting in their living room in addition to her family. Pausing as they all looked up at her; she nearly backed out of the room. "Did I do something I'm not aware of?"
"It's entirely possible." The traveling priest who had helped rebuild the temple, Brother Brian, said.
"You haven't done anything." Cleaus said. "Come and sit."
Amaya nodded slowly, unsure of what the priest meant. Glancing to available seating, Thomas gave her a smile and gestured to the chair next to him. Giving him a smile absently, she took the chair because it was the only free seat left. Once she settled, Thomas caught her hand, entwined their fingers and lifted their hands so he could press a chaste kiss to her knuckles. Blushing slightly, not from love's sweet rush but because she still was embarrassed from the attention, she nodded at her fiancé and turned her attention towards the priest who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"Is everyone here that this will affect?" Brother Brian asked and received nods from her parents. "Well, in that case I suppose I should start with an apology to the young couple."
"Why would there be a need to apologize?" Thomas asked.
Sighing, Brother Brian tapped his fingers together. "Well, because what I am about to say will upset you, most unfortunately."
Amaya was intrigued, dreading what was going to be said, but intrigued all the same.
"I'm afraid during my stay I have noticed some odd going-ons regarding Amaya." He said.
Feeling Thomas bristle beside her, Amaya squeezed his hand in an effort to silently tell him to calm himself. He squeezed back but still opened his mouth. "If you are accusing her of some sort of impropriety-,"
"Quite the contrary!" Brother Brian interrupted. "I accuse nothing of the girl! I merely state that I had noticed things. Subtle things, she disappears quite readily into even sparse crowds have you noticed?" There were some nods and Amaya just shrugged. "And things sometimes seem to break without cause if she's upset."
"I didn't break them!" Amaya said quickly.
"Not intentionally I'm sure, and not by touch either." Brother Brian said.
"I'm afraid I don't understand." Lorna said. "How can she break something without touching it?"
"By magic." Brother Brian said
Amaya's stomach dropped, witchcraft was a very serious accusation with some very serious disciplines attached to it. "I am not a witch!" Amaya said as Thomas's hand tightened around her.
"Why would you accuse her of this?" Thomas demanded. "She's innocent of it!"
"You misunderstand Brother Brian." One of the other priests said. "We do not believe that she is a witch."
Silas frowned. "If she does magic, she is a witch, plain and simple. How can you say you suspect her of magic workings and then say she's not a witch?"
"Because we believe she is actually a Magissa." Silence dropped as the short fat priest spoke and everyone began to look from Amaya to the priests. "They are God-chosen; conduits, there is nothing unnatural about them."
Brother Brian nodded. "They're actually very important for society to move forward, when a new Magissa is found, it means that something good is going to happen."
"I don't know magic." Amaya said. "And I'm ignorant of much outside of Calibran, how could I possibly help society move forwards?"
Brother Brian gave her a sympathetic look. "We don't know, the Gods will guide your path."
The fat priest stepped forwards. "She has not shown the traditional signs of having magic, much of that can be explained by her unconsciously suppressing her powers to be an acceptable member of society." He said. "But her ability to seemingly disappear and the strange occurrences that sometimes seem to happen around her point to her having abilities. The necklace points to her being a Magissa."
Fingering the bauble around her neck she glanced at her parents with worried eyes before turning back to the priests. "This? I've had it since I was very small."
Brother Brian nodded. "Tell them what you told me about how you came to have it."
Lowering her eyes as she dredged up the memory, she nodded. "I'm a veil child." She started. "I was walking through the woods and found this necklace, it seemed like it called to me so I touched it. There was this bright light and then I found myself wandering the woods outside of town. Ma and pa found me and that's how I got here."
The priests murmured happily together and Thomas put his arm around her shoulder.
"What does that mean for her?" Cleaus asked.
"It means she is the Magissa. There have been hints as to the next Magissa, we knew it would be a girl, and there were passages that hinted at her being a veil child." The fat priest said.
"This is wonderful." Thomas said pressing a kiss to Amaya's lips, even though she didn't reciprocate it. "You deserve so much more than me as a husband, but I hope you will not change your mind about marrying me."
"I-I-," Amaya stuttered.
"That's the other thing." Brother Brian said sadly. "She won't be allowed to be married." There was a collective 'what?' from around the room. "Rules are that she will train under the Head Priestess to become a priestess herself and fully realize her powers. Priestesses, I'm afraid, don't get married."
Amaya saw her silver lining in this whole deal.
"She'll need to be packed as soon as she is able to be." The fat priest said.
"What?" She asked. "But, we have a priestess here, at the temple. Why do I need to pack?"
The fat priest gave her a look that made her feel like a child. "My dear, you'll be training under the Head Priestess at the Great Mother's Temple in Ano Avera. We'll need to leave as soon as we can."
Suddenly, her silver lining wasn't so bright after all.