AN: This is my very first original story and I must say that as cringeworthy, cliché and slow-paced as it may be, I view it as my own child. I've poured literal years of my life into it and am very proud of it, despite its flaws. I hope that even if you dislike it, you can at least appreciate the care I've put into my work and will give it a chance. And if you have anything to add, whether it be to the plot, characters, setting or simple constructive criticism, it is always welcome!
By the way, I've got this full story completed with two sequels (one of which is being posted right now) and three prequels also already written. I'm just posting chapters in spurts as I polish them up. I will update chapter count, archive warnings, and tags as I come to them.
Storm let out a huge yawn as she glared at the mountain-sized stack of paperwork that she had to deal with. It was early in the morning and she was already beyond exhausted, despite having gotten a full night's rest. Part of it, she suspected, came from having to wake up not to a lovely autumn morning, but to a desk full of files for her to read and sort through. That would dampen anyone's day, especially for someone like her…
"Gooooood morning, Storm!" an upbeat, giant of man suddenly came waltzing right into her cabin. Without even knocking, he barged merrily on in. There was a huge smile plastered across his ruddy face. It was hidden deep under his bushy brown beard, but Storm still knew it was there. She could hear it in his jolly, booming voice.
"Good morning, Captain," she responded tiredly, cringing as he invited himself in.
"How's life treating you?" he asked, ignoring the annoyed look she threw at him as he sidled on over to her.
"Like dirt," snorted Storm, running tired fingers through long, golden hair. "I was planning on enjoying a nice, quiet, late morning to myself only to remember that you somehow bullied me into helping you and your useless, worthless deputy with the paperwork!"
"Glad to see you're in a better mood," he chortled, unbothered by her surly temper. It was normal for her and he knew this well.
"Hmph," Storm replied, crossing her arms as he continued to smile down at her. He really was a bear of a man, standing a head taller than her. Since she was sitting down, though, the size difference seemed even more dramatic. She barely even reached his chest now!
"Want a pastry?" he asked next as he handed her something he had been hiding behind his back. "You missed breakfast."
"Thanks," she said gratefully, biting into the breakfast donut he'd brought her. Frustrating as he could be, he really was a good, kind man, and Storm did not take him for granted, even though he seemed to enjoy getting on her nerves.
"I have some splendid news for you!" he continued while Storm munched on her little breakfast.
"Oh?" Storm began to wonder what thankless job he was about to guilt-trip her into now.
"Oh yes, you've hit the jackpot," he continued cheerfully, bright brown eyes twinkling. "You're getting a new apprentice!"
"I- what?" Storm nearly choked on her donut, but Captain didn't answer her, instead turning to shout at her cabin door.
"Iris Long, your mentor will see you now!" and as soon as he finished shouting this command, Storm's cabin door swung open for a second time that morning. This time, standing in the doorway, was a girl, and she couldn't have been more different from Captain if she'd tried! While he was a giant, hairy man with a burly and boisterous attitude, she was a tiny little wisp of a thing, and she looked terrified, shy, embarrassed and awestruck all at once. Storm could only blink. Was this a joke? This had to be a joke!
"That would be me," the girl said at last, tripping into the cabin and nearly falling flat on her face.
"Oh boy," Storm whispered to herself, rolling her eyes a little as the girl squeaked in surprise. She did manage to catch herself before she hit the ground, though, and she recovered quickly. It was obvious that her little stumble had embarrassed her, but she did her best to brush it off.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance!" she said next, extending a hand to shake. Storm gaped rather indecently at the girl's teeny hand and the tiny arm attached to it. How in Denbar would that girl even be able to hold a dagger without it being too heavy for her?! She looked like a child! The only thing more surprising than her tiny stature was her eye color which was, crazy as it sounded, bright purple. Storm almost thought she was hallucinating, but no. This girl's eyes were honest-to-goodness purple.
After a moment of staring, however, Storm finally found her voice again.
"A new apprentice?" she asked weakly.
"That's right," said Captain, clearly pleased with himself.
"I'm honored, Captain," Storm began, finally getting tired of Captain's chipper attitude. "But I'm really busy right now and you and I both know that I'm not exactly a good mentor. I may not be the best person to ask to do this job, I don't think I can give Iris the guidance she needs."
But Storm wasn't the only one getting tired of the false pleasantries and cheap attitudes. Captain, himself, was tired of Storm's consistent apathy and social distance from all of her fellow soldiers. For once, he put his foot down with her, his own tolerance finally reaching its end.
"This isn't an offer, Storm," he frowned. "You'll be working with Iris from now on, and that's an order. I expect monthly reports on her progress. You know how short-staffed we are. You should be thankful for an extra set of hands!"
"Of course I am," Storm replied, shoulders slumping and blue eyes narrowing as she slowly realized that, for once, Captain wasn't going to change his mind for her. "I am looking forward to working with Iris, and I'm sure she will be an invaluable part of this army in no time."
"That's the spirit," Captain's warning look immediately switched back to its jolly smile as he gently patted Storm's back.
"I really do appreciate it, Storm," he added a second later as he bent over to whisper in her ear. "I know you may hate me for this now, and that's fine, but it really would do you some good to not spend all of your time alone!"
"I don't spend all my time alone!" Storm replied, louder than she meant to, as she drew back from Captain's whispers. "I have Gale and Tempest!"
"True," Captain replied, still whispering, which forced Storm to lean back towards him again. "But as wonderful as they are, it is clear that they aren't enough. You need more people in your life, Storm! You need new people. And Iris is the perfect person to help you get started with that!"
"But Captain!" Storm tried, one last-ditch effort to convince the old man to change his mind, but Captain only turned around to face Iris again, who was watching the whole exchange with an embarrassed expression on her face. It was clear that she knew that she was eavesdropping on a rather private moment, and she felt bad about it.
"Welcome aboard, Iris!" he grinned down at her. If the size difference between Storm and Captain was laughable, then the size difference between Iris and Captain was a riot. He was tall and wide for a man and she was short for a girl. When combined, that meant that she barely even reached his chest while standing, and it would take maybe three or four of her to cover his bodily width. But even though comparing Captain to Iris looked like comparing a bear to a mouse, Iris looked up at him with bright, wide, happy eyes.
"Thank you, sir!" she cried happily, shaking his giant, outstretched hand. Both of her hands, and maybe more, could've easily fit into one of his.
"Just call me Captain," he replied warmly.
"Ok then!" she nodded back. "Captain!"
"Good, good," Captain, somehow, managed to smile even wider down at the tiny girl, clearly charmed by her sweetness and innocence.
"Now, you two play nice. I'm sure you will get along splendidly!" he declared as he finally made his way towards the cabin door, leaving Iris behind with Storm. "Isn't that right?" he asked, throwing one last look over his shoulder at Storm, who was now glaring daggers at him.
"Right," she growled through gritted teeth.
"Good!" Captain said, smirking. "Now, you two have fun!" then the cabin door slammed shut as he made his way back to the main part of camp.
"Great! Just great!" huffed Storm, as soon as she was sure that Captain was out of earshot. "While all the other soldiers get to go on patrols, missions, hunts, quests and battles, I have to act as a babysitter!"
"Well, I'm sure I won't be any trouble!" Iris promised quickly, voice high and nervous. It made Storm want to rip the girl's tongue out. "I'll do my very best to be the very best, I promise you that! I know I may not look it, but I am very fast and very strong for someone of my size! I promise I won't let you down! Just give me the chance!" she continued to plead.
"Ok! Alright! Fine!" Storm threw her hands up in the air. "Just stop talking!"
"Oh. Ok…" Iris looked a little hurt by such a sharp remark, but she obeyed immediately.
"Thank you," Storm huffed, but then she took a few deep breaths. Frustrated as she was, she still didn't want to lose her head at a new apprentice. It wasn't exactly her fault that she'd been saddled with Storm as a mentor. That was Captain's fault. So Iris didn't deserve to be yelled at, and Storm knew it, and she at least had the grace to try and calm down for that reason alone, if nothing else. She wasn't about to blame the wrong person for her misfortunes. This was Captain's doing, not Iris'.
"You can help file my paperwork," Storm decided at last, calming down enough to outline a basic plan for herself and Iris.
"Yes, Storm!" said Iris obediently, but Storm cut her off quickly.
"Hey," she snapped. "You call me ma'am, ok?"
"Oh, ok…" Iris began to stutter an apology.
"What was your name again?" Storm interrupted.
"Iris Long," the purple-eyed girl answered quickly. "Ma'am," she added next.
"Well, Iris, you can sit on my bed. Alphabetize my files from there," Storm instructed, not even bothering to look at the girl as she gave the order.
"Yes ma'am," Iris replied, catching the files as Storm threw them from her desk to the bed. Once she had all of Storm's completed files, Iris wasted no time and sorting them out just as she had been instructed. Storm watched her silently for about five seconds before turning back to all the other files she hadn't filled out yet. This morning was not off to a good start.
AN: Like I said in the first AN on "Shadow Over Denbar", I'm editing this story. There won't be too many changes, but I'm still fixing some stuff up. I wan to make things flow better. First note, I'm changing the name "Noctifer" to "Bellifer". I'll explain why in the future. For now, enjoy this slightly-altered version of my original story, Seeing Purple. Let me know if there's anything else I should edit that I missed during this first round.