From the Dark

From the Dark

A Story by S.Diane.L.

The Warrens were located beneath the city of Alfheim, the city of Elves. Hundreds of Ratfolk lived in harmony beneath the Elves. Many Ratfolk worked, whether they were tanners, blacksmiths, tinkerers, simple herbalists, chefs, bakers, even traders. Thousands of Ratfolk passed through the Warrens yearly, many close family relations, some complete strangers wanting to trade.


The culture was very lively and widely loved within the Warrens. Family and Friends meant everything to a Ratfolk. Elven artifacts and decorations were littered across the Warrens, the beautiful, delicate metal glinted in the dim lighting; giving the otherwise dark appearance a soft, welcoming feeling.


Sasha closed her eyes and sighed. She leaned against her family’s bakehouse wall, her thoughts on the adventures she so wanted to go on. She looked down at her paws, they were covered in a filmy white flour; she grimaced. This wasn’t what she desired for herself.


Rikkan, get moving! We have seven orders to fill before the day ends.”


Sasha peeked around the door frame and eyed her eldest brother as he slaved over the hot oven. His gray tail swished back and forth, signaling his irritation with their mother. Her eyes shifted towards the imposing figure that was their mother.


Fhar Garish stood at no more than three foot four, but by all the Gods, she was imposing. The female Ratfolk had been both mother and father to her and her brother, Rikkan. She was a pale brown, white spotted Ratfolk. Her big eyes were ember colored, with flecks of green through the irises. Sasha allowed her gaze to travel down her mother, towards her tail… or what was left of it, anyway.


Fhar, mother dearest, had never told them what had happened to her tail. She had maybe a foot or so left of it, from the scarring at the end, Sasha assumed the tail had been cut off. By who? She had no clue. Her gaze wandered back up to her mother’s face and she winced.


No matter how many times she had pestered her mother, Fhar had never opened up about the scars on her face, either. She was partially blind in her right eye, giving her an odd, fixated look. Pink scarred tissue had healed in a thin line that ran right across her eye; giving away the cause for blindness. She had obviously been hurt with a sword or dagger, but again, when?


“Sasha!” Fhar barked. “I know you’re hiding outside. Get in here and help us!”


With a wince, Sasha shuffled into the kitchen and stopped before her mother. She raised her head carefully, keeping her ears pinned down on her head. “Sorry, mother.”


With a sigh, Fhar reached out and rubbed Sasha’s head. “I know times are hard, Sasha, but we must do what we can to survive.”


“I know, mother.” She didn’t bother arguing with her mother, all that ever did was annoy her and Sasha usually got punished.


“Besides,” Fhar continued, “if you are in here, I do not have to worry about you being with litter.”


With burning cheeks that Sasha could feel through her fur, she jerked her gaze away from her mother. Surely she hadn’t discovered her romantic interest in noble’s son? Right? Tamoq and Sasha had been more discreet than that… surely.


Rikkan snickered as he checked the loaves of bread in the stove. Sasha glared at him. “Hey,” he chuckled, “I’m in here for almost the same reasons.”


Fhar glared at her two children, “both of you will not end up with a litter before you see the world!”


“Oh, come on, mother!” Sasha stamped her feet, feeling irrationally angry. “I’m an adult in less than a month! And Rikkan,” she pointed towards her brother, “he’s already two years past his majority! You can’t just keep up locked away like prisoners for the rest of our lives!”


“You keep this up, young lady, and I will.” With triumphant eyes, Fhar pulled her apron off and draped it over Sasha’s head. “Help your brother.”


Unbelievable! “And where are you going?”


“I have some errands and deliveries to make.” Their mother picked up two wicker baskets that were filled to the top with pillow soft loaves of bread.


And faster than she could blink, their mother Fhar was gone. “She always does that,” Sasha grumbled as she walked towards the counter. She looked down at the dough, it had risen beautifully, and looked like a balloon. She almost hated having to move it.


Rikkan took the copper pan that Sasha held out to him, “I know it’s hard, Sasha, but you know mother is trying her hardest.”


“I know, Rikkan, I know.” Sasha measured out the ingredients for a loaf of bread and began mixing them together in a big, copper mixing bowl. “I just hate it. Why are we stuck here? She never lets us do anything. For goodness sakes, your fourteen already. Two years past your majority.”


Rikkan shook his head, drawing her attention to the three, thin braids that hung from his head. She frowned. For as long as Sasha could remember, Rikkan always left his hair loose, allowing the gray hair to hang haphazardly around his head.


She took a moment to study her brother. The differences in their appearances were astounding. Rikkan had gray, mottled with orange fur that was short in length. He stood at four foot one, which was tall for a Ratfolk, even a male. His gray tail was an astounding four feet long, which was currently swishing lazily behind him as he worked.


Her gaze wandered to his paws. His paws were long and graceful, softer than most other Ratfolks. Working in the bakehouse was easy on their paws, giving them a gentler look that was almost soft " if not for the claws that were an inch and a half long.


She looked down at her own paws and saw much of the same thing. Except… her fur was snow white. She had no visible coloring in her fur, not even the trademark gray of their family. Rikkan and Fhar had dark gray, circular ears, with tufts of soft gray fur around the edges. Sasha had pink ears, with tufts of white fur.


Wait a second… “When did you get your ears pierced?”


Rikkan grinned, his sharp, canine teeth looked long and mature. His amber shaded eyes glinted in amusement. “You finally noticed, huh?”


“You’re getting mated? Why didn’t you tell me?” Sasha playfully threw a handful of flour at him. “You big weenie!” She scrunched up her snout, “Is this why mother was acting so funny?”


Rikkan shrugged, “perhaps.” He tilted his head, his eyes took on a thoughtful look. “But I don’t think that’s it. Something has been up with her.” She opened her mouth to ask, but he held a paw up. “Look, I don’t know what’s on her mind. She’s been making a lot of visits to upstairs.” He pointed up with his paw.


“You mean Alfheim?” He nodded and she gaped at him. “But we never go up there.” Her eyes widened. “You don’t think she’s gotten on the bad side of a Magister, do you?”


“No,” Rikkan sighed and returned to the oven, checking on the bread. “I think there’s something she hasn’t been telling us for a very long time.” His gaze slid back to her, “I think it involves you.”


“I hope not,” Sasha wrapped her arms around herself, feeling a foreign, cold presence.

 

One month later…

 

The day of her majority had come at last. Sasha looked down at the dress her mother had given her, saying it had been her own majority dress. It was a simple design, in a pale blue, with pink lace around the hem of the neck and cuffs. With careful, deliberate movements, Sasha balanced the hat on her head and grimaced at her appearance.


“You look lovely, Sasha,” a soft, male voice said.


Sasha spun around fearfully and breathed a sigh of relief. “Tamoq, you shouldn’t be in here!”


Tamoq was dressed in a simple, yet elegant suit. A soft gold scarf hung around his neck, drawing attention to the solid platinum chain around his neck. His black fur looked soft and silky in the lighting. He gave her a wide smile, his canine teeth protruding. “I’ve spoken to your mother.”


“You what!” she squeaked loudly. “And she hasn’t eaten you?”


“Well…” He hummed a soft note, “I do think she likes me. But, I haven’t gotten my hopes up too much.” He chuckled, “Do not fret, dove, she’ll come around.”


“Maybe,” she fidgeted, not sure what to say. She and Tamoq had been seeing each other secretly for nearing on two years. Sasha knew that her mother would disapprove, not of Tamoq personally, but of the off chance that Sasha could be with litter. Which she wasn’t. Tamoq had never made a move like that.


“Now,” Tamoq said, clearing his throat nervously. “I have a gift for you.” He held out a small, blue, rectangular box.


“Tamoq… you shouldn’t have gotten me anything.”


“Nonsense,” he chuckled. “My mother would have skinned me alive if I hadn’t.”


With a smirk, Sasha took the box and gently opened it. Her gaze flew back to Tamoq’s nearly black ones. “W-what?”


He smiled as he took the sparkling gold necklace out of the box. He held it up the light, a beautiful heart shaped diamond sparkled. “It’s a one karat diamond, set in a solid gold base.”


“But… I can’t accept this Tamoq… this…” She swallowed, “It’s too much. A simple “Happy Majority” would have worked.”


He rolled his eyes and stepped behind her, draping the necklace over her neck. She heard him tighten the clasp. “Nonsense, Sasha.” His paw gently gripped her shoulder, “You know that I love you and I aim to mate you one day. This,” he smiled down at the necklace, then back at her, “this is a promise that I want to make physical today. I want all the Ratfolk to know that I aim to mate you one day.”


“Oh, Tamoq,” Sasha gave him a watery smile. “Thank you for this beautiful gift.”


“Oh, ho, look at the lovebirds.” Sasha jerked her gaze from Tamoq and glared at Rikkan. “Happy Majority, dove.”


She softened her gaze, “thank you, Rikkan.”


“Hey, it’s not every day your baby sister turns twelve.” Her brother’s gaze slid to Tamoq’s hand that rested on her shoulder, “and not every day a brother gets to meet his future brother-in-mate, huh?”


“Oh, Gods, stop it!” Sasha smiled, then tilted her head, “wait… did you…?”


“Yes,” Rikkan grinned, “I’ve known about the two of you for almost a year. Mother has too.”


“What!?” How in the Gods names did she know that? “But… how?”


“Come on, Sasha, do you think mother was that oblivious? She knew, but…” He shrugged, “She wanted you to discover for yourself what it was like to love.” He clapped his paws together, “now,” he produced a medium sized blue present. “I want to give this to you before all the other Ratfolk get here.”


Sasha took the box and carefully opened it. Inside lay a delicate lacework book and inside it… Tears filled her eyes. Pictures, hundreds of them. The very first picture was of Sasha when she was a pinky, so little and swathed in a blanket to keep warm. She touched a paw to it. Rikkan was holding her, his eyes were soft and loving as he gazed at her.


“When did you do this?” Sasha asked passed the lump in her throat. “Where did you find the time?” And the cost! Pictures were hard to come by, a talented Magister could use their magic to capture images and morph them into physical form, but at an extremely expensive price.


“Ah,” he scratched his head, “mother had them.” He blew out a breath, “it’s from mother and me. I made the book, but mother supplied the pictures. Now, enough dwindling, we need to move it. You should see the pack down there… they could be swarming by the time we make it down to the bazaar.”


“Thank you, Rikkan.” She put the book back in the box and set it carefully down on her bed.

 



Sasha sat at the high table within the bazaar, her mother sat to her right, Tamoq to her left, and Rikkan was supposed to be beside her mother, but he was off dancing with his new mate, Jix.


Fhar’s appearance was lovely, she was dressed in a simple white dress, that she somehow made it look elegant and rich. Her mother had even put in her white gold hoops in her ears for this event. Soft, white, lace gloves fitted over her mother’s paws. It was strange to see her mother dressed up. She was so used to seeing Fhar in her simple peasant’s dress with a flour covered apron on.


She looked around at the Ratfolk as they drank and ate merrily. A majority party was one of the happiest days within the Warrens. Even if you were only slightly acquainted with the Ratfolk coming into their majority, you were expected to attend.


Sasha wanted to feel happy, she really did. But her mother kept giving her these strange, off looks; making Sasha weary of asking her what was wrong.


“Come, let’s dance,” Tamoq offered her his paw, which she took gratefully.


Fhar looked at her with a sad look in her eyes. Sasha shook the odd feeling off and allowed Tamoq to lead her to the dance floor.


All around her, she heard Ratfolk laughing, chatting, and having a great time. Oh, Gods, forget it, she thought. This was her majority, she was supposed to enjoy coming into adulthood.


Hours passed as they danced, feasted, and drank. By the time Fhar and Sasha had made it home, it was very late.


Still giggling, Sasha opened the front door and walked into the living room, feeling light and airy.


“Oh, that was so fun, mother!”


“Sasha, we need to talk.” Fhar nodded towards the couches, which had the beautiful daisy and tulip fabric print on them.


It felt like the wind was suddenly ripped out of her sails. Sasha walked towards the couches and gingerly sat on one, scared to hear what her mother had to say. “Mother?”


Her mother sat down beside her, her own bonnet in her paws. Her face was cast downwards as if she were afraid to look at her own daughter. “I need to tell you a story and I need you to listen until the very end. Okay?”


“Okay…”


Fhar lifted her head and gazed at a potted plant, her eyes taking on a far long look, as if she were seeing something in the past, not the here and now.


“A long time ago, perhaps fourteen years ago, I was an adventurer. I was young and naïve, I had craved adventure. Despite my having Rikkan, who was a little over three months old at the time, I refused to settle down.” Her mother looked down at the bonnet in her hands, “I left Rikkan with his father all the time.


I had an adventuring party. Gimlet, the stout, battle hardened Dwarf. Elyse, the soft spoken Human cleric. Havard, our resident Drow assassin. Erik, the age wise Elf wizard, what you would call a Magister. Then there was me. I was the ranger of our group.  


I brought home hoards of treasures, gold, and silver, copper, bronze, you name it. Rikkan had always grown just a little more each time I saw him. And his father had grown more and more distant from me. He blamed me for leaving him to manage the house by himself. Demanded that I stay each time I returned. But, I couldn’t, Sasha. The call to adventure was in my blood. I needed out.”


Her mother took a shuddering breath, “And then, about thirteen years ago, I met a surface Ratfolk clan. They were strange, so different from us Warren Ratfolk. They lived and governed like humans. These rats wore shoes, it was odd.” Fhar closed her eyes, “I met a male Ratfolk named Ninnec, and he was so sophisticated. And although I was considered beneath his Noble status, he didn’t treat me as such.


He respected my drive for adventure and knowledge. It wasn’t long before I fell madly in love with him.” Fhar’s eyes slid over to Sasha’s. “He was considered one of the most eligible Ratfolk in the area, many female Ratfolk wanted him. And they couldn’t fathom why he would choose a simple Ratfolk ranger over the noble females.”


The ghost a smile appeared on her mother’s lips, “to this day, I can remember what he looked like. He was almost four feet in height, snow white fur that was long and silky, a bright white tail that was nearing four feet in length, adorable pink ears with the white tufts of fur. And his eyes,” her mother looked intently into Sasha’s, “you bear his ruby colored eyes.”


“But mother-”


“Shh,” her mother pressed a finger against Sasha’s lips. “Let me finish.” She took a breath. “I discovered that I was with litter, you, when Rikkan was a little over a year and a half old. I didn’t even tell Rikkan’s father about it, I left in the middle of the night. It took me four solid days of traveling on my mount to reach the small Ratfolk town.


I was tired and dirty from my long trip, I was so exhausted I didn’t even bother bathing before I knocked on Ninnec’s family estate door. His butler permitted my entrance and went to fetch Ninnec. I had never been inside the estate, so naturally, I went snooping.” Fhar closed her eyes, “I wish I hadn’t that day. I found Ninnec in the parlor, holding a female Ratfolk close to him. He caught sight of me and immediately let her go. But the damage was done.


“I fled from the estate, and to this day, I can still hear Ninnec’s cries for me to stop.” Her mother opened her eyes, tears spilled over, running down her face. “I was halfway home when a terrible storm rolled in. I found shelter in a cave, one that I had used with my party before.


“I fell asleep quickly, tired and heartbroken. I awoke to the sounds of swords being drawn and the metallic clink of armor. When I opened my eyes, I was staring up into the eyes of human soldiers.” Her mother sniffed, “They wanted to arrest me for the murder of Countess Vivi,” her mother sighed, “Ninnec’s mother. I ended up getting into a scuffle with them,” her mother touched her stubbed tail, “I lost most of my tail and partial eyesight that day.


My dire rat, I had had him for almost ten years, had died that day. He fought to the death to protect me. I managed to stumble the last two days home, blurry with fatigue and pain. When I got home, Rikkan’s father was sitting where you are now, his suitcases packed beside him.


I remember his words, ‘I love you, Fhar, and I always will. But I cannot stay here any longer and wonder. I know you are with litter, another Ratfolk’s litter. Take care of my son and the one you are carrying.’ He didn’t even look at me as he left. And I haven’t seen hide or hair of him since. He just… disappeared. Perhaps to another Warren or community. Whatever the case, that day, I discovered that I had made a mistake. I allowed the one male Ratfolk who had loved me without fail to leave me. To leave Rikkan.


And for what? For love and adventure.” Her mother seemed to age years as her story came to a finish, her shoulders slumped, and her fur seemed dull.


 “Rikkan and I are only half siblings?” Sasha shook her head, no way. Her mother would never have had an affair… it just didn’t fit. “But mother, surely you hadn’t cheated-”


“I did, Sasha, and we all paid for that.” Fhar smiled at Sasha, “I tell you this now because I want you to adventure before you settle down. I know that Tamoq and you are very close, and judging by that necklace, he wants to mate you.”


“Yes, mother,” Sasha blushed and looked appropriately embarrassed. “I can’t just go off and adventure. I have no gear, no training… nothing.”


A small chuckle rose from her mother, but it sounded stifled, different. “I kept all my gear for this very day, Sasha. I want you to experience the world before you have litters of your own. Before you settle down.” Fhar’s eyes were piercing as she gazed up at her daughter, “You must decide if you wish to adventure before you mate. Do not make the same mistakes that I did.”


“One last question,” Sasha tilted her head, “the pictures in the album Rikkan gave me, where did they come from? The cost alone would be enormous.”


Her mother smiled a fond smile, “Erik had been taking them whenever he was down here on business. Eventually, you became too old for him to be in direct contact with you, so he secretly took them for you, knowing that one day, I would want them.”

 

 

Later that same night, Sasha sat in her room, staring down at the leather armor her mother had given her. Despite its age, it was in remarkable condition. The cured black leather was worn, but soft and sturdy. Her mother’s bow was fascinating. It was obviously crafted by an Elven wordsmith, the artistry was beautiful and delicate, but the bow itself was sturdy. It had been tinted green, giving it a natural look.


She picked up the necklace Tamoq had given her and felt torn. She so wanted to adventure, it had been her lifelong dream. But she wanted to mate Tamoq. She was in love with him and she knew he would be heartbroken if she left.


‘Do not make the same mistakes that I did.’


With a sense of inevitably, Sasha set the necklace down and began to write a letter. To Tamoq.


My dearest Tamoq,


I write to you to say goodbye. Know that these past two years have been some of the best years of my life. When I felt stifled and trapped, you lifted me up and made me feel alive. Your love has no bounds and I know this will be hard to accept.


I am leaving the warrens in search of adventure. You once told me that following our dreams was important, and without dreams, our souls would wither and die. My soul calls for adventure, I have a thirst for knowledge that I know the warrens cannot provide. I wish to see the world and discover fascinating secrets.


I want to travel across the world and discover for myself what other races are like, how they live, what they do. To see wild animals in the forests, to climb the mountains.


But I also want to meet my father and demand an explanation from him. Yes, Tamoq, I have a father! My mother was once a renowned adventurer and she had met and fallen in love with a surface Ratfolk! Think about the possibilities! How would they live? Are they so different from us? Why would they choose to live like that? So many questions! And sadly, the only way I can find the answers to these questions, is to experience it myself.


I love you, my dearest. Know that you will forever be in my heart, and if you choose to move on and get mated, I understand. I do not expect you to wait for me.


Take care,


With all my love,


Sasha.

 

 



Gripping the bridle on her direct, Sasha swallowed nervously.


Rikkan bounced on his feet, he was so excited. “Gosh, I can’t believe you are doing this! But I guess I can’t be too surprised!”


Sasha smiled up at her brother, “Be sure to give Tamoq the letter.”


“Yes, Oh Mighty Adventurer.”


“Shh!” Sasha playfully batted her brother’s arm. “I’m going to miss you.”


“Me too.” He gave her a watery smile, tears in his eyes. “Do write to me when you have a chance, yeah?”


“You bet! Only… I’m not sure if you can write back to me, I might be on the move a lot.”


“Ah, that’s fine, Sasha. As long as mother and I hear from you every once and a blue moon, we won’t freak. Too much.” He gave her a crooked grin, “do come back to visit soon, Jix is with litter.”


Sasha blinked in surprise, then sudden joy. “That’s wonderful!” She gave Rikkan a side hug, “I’ll try to visit as soon as possible!”


“All Ratfolk leaving the warrens,” an announcer called out from a funnel-shaped horn, “please approach the gates. We will be opening the doors momentarily.”


“I guess that’s my queue.”


Rikkan nodded, “Take care, Sasha. And please, for the love of all the Gods, do be careful. And hey, if this adventuring thing doesn’t pan out, you’re always welcome back at the bakehouse.”


And with a nervous smile, Sasha mounted her direct, cast one last look towards Rikkan, waved, and began to the long walk into the future.


Another Ratfolk off to adventure in the world beyond the warrens. A quest to discover the long-lost father she had never known.


© 2017 S.Diane.L.



Author's Note

S.Diane.L.
This is actually a backstory for a character in D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). My husband and I used to play with a bunch of our friends and me being me, a writer, I went a little crazy with my characters backstories. I thought, what the hell, why not share some of them? I have three separate backstories for three characters.

This one's about a Ratfolk named Sasha.

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Amazing. Never played Dungeons & Dragons before, but seeing the love and thought you put into your characters and their stories makes me wish I did. Great job.

Posted 5 Months Ago



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Added on April 28, 2017
Last Updated on April 28, 2017
Tags: Fantasy, Elves, Humans, Dwarfs, Ratfolk, Magic.

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S.Diane.L.
S.Diane.L.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada



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Why, hello there! Welcome to my page. Here's a bit about me: I've always loved reading and writing, ever since I was ten or eleven years old. My love for writing really took off after I started readi.. more..

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Born Again Born Again

A Story by S.Diane.L.