Chapter One: Persecution

Chapter One: Persecution

A Chapter by Greystone

The trek up the steep side of the stern mountain left Susan exhausted. Her ragged panting was the only sound that accompanied her slow progress, for man and beast both avoided the haunted mountain of Ivea. There were rumors in the village, rumors of spirits that prayed on the weak minded at night, malevolent spirits that were bent to the will of the Stormbringers. Susan normally stopped to rest every few minutes, for she was somewhat of a lazy stormbringer, but today she did not stop once. She ran as far as she could, her long legs working hard, leaping up the path like a maddened gazelle.


Soon, when she was about half way up the mountain, the faint sound of singing danced about her ears. She slowly made her way towards the sound as it bounced among the trees, echoing like a caravan of singing elves. To Susan, who had heard little to nothing on her way to see her beloved family, the sound was enchanting. She found herself humming along to the familiar Rhyme:

"Today is the day for the fairies all to play! A wind is in the willows and the leaves are blowin' away.

So wave to them goodbye, my lovelies, let your dreams go too-- for one day you'll be big and strong, and they will follow you!"


Eventually she came to the glen from whence the sound had come, and she saw three children and one young maid, no older then sixteen, dancing about. The maid, beautiful as a jasmine blossom, Mirage, continued to sing. Of all the voices, hers was the most beautiful, clearer then any bird's. Susan patiently waited for the children to cease their happy song, and when it became apparent that they had concluded, she strode onto the clearing.


The venomous glares of the young-lings would have demonstrated to anyone else there one thing:


She was not welcome.


"Nieces, Nephews!" Susan said loudly, ignoring their heart-wrenching stares that held no emotion, "How are you this fine, beautiful day?"


She looked at each of the young children in turn, reminding herself how very much like her sister they were. The youngest boy, who Susan knew to be called Alexi, had innocent brown eyes and a matt of black hair that seemed to be a common trait. He was six, or at least, Auntie Liae thought so. The second eldest, Violet, had the same dark hair as her younger brother. She held herself like a queen, and her dark green eyes held as much expression as any actor could dare dream.


The third child, Henry, always had something unnatural mixed in with his normal colouring-- he loved using magic to change his appearance. Today, it was his hair that he had meddled with: red and purple highlights dotted his thick locks. Out of all the children's eccentric, personality-specific outfits, his was the oddest. His long pony tail met with the dark robes of a mage, which had been died black. His eyes were yellow, with cat-like pupils. He seemed more annoyed that Susan had walked in on their game then anything else.


Then the last, the strongest child of them all them, Mirage. Susan always was reminded of her mother when she looked at Mirage, for Mirage was the only child of the clan that had inherited her mother's talent of Stormbringing. She had hair that was as dark as the mysterious midnight sky, and her blue eyes were as beautiful as spring's fresh flowers. She smelled like flowers, too, Susan noted, a pleasant mix of roses and lilies.


Her pale fists were clenched, and she stepped forward-- not so much unlike a mother bear, protecting her cubs. She echoed the families' reply to Susan's long-forgotten quandary: "You are not welcome here, Susan Liae."


Her voice shook softly, like thunder. Susan gulped, for she knew how powerful Mirage could be if she needed to be. Even as she spoke, a subtle wind blew onto the clearing. Susan reached into her bag and withdrew a piece of parchment. It was obviously very, very old, and it bore only a strange symbol and a phrase, which Susan read aloud.


"Stormbringer's call," Susan said, a tone of warning and urgency to her voice. The younger three children looked confused, and they looked at each other with a mixture of excitement and fear. Violet clutched at Mirage's elegantly simple blue gown, and Alexi was staring at Susan with the discipline of any adult. Mirage stared at the aged parchment, her red lips parted in a sort of anguish. Even strong Mirage could not deny her aunt the right of a Stormbringer's call.


"Very well," Mirage said finally, "State your business, Liae!"


"My business," Susan said, just as firmly, "is for your mother. You are not yet of age."


"More's the pity," Mirage said coolly, "if theives are to appear in the woodwork, would you not say, auntie?"


Susan flushed, but she could not touch Mirage under the right to a Stormbringer's call-- the right she had already invoked. After a moment of tense silence, Mirage looked at her brothers and sisters.


"Come," she said, struggling to keep the anger out of her voice, "If we hurry, perhaps we can wheedle mother into baking a pie."


Brushing by Susan without a word, she lead her siblings to a path.


Susan smiled, despite the hostility of the moment.


"Just like her mother," She muttered to herself, and without further ado she set off after her neice.


It was only a short time after that when they had arrived at the small house in which the children, and their parents, lived. It was simple, as everything was to a member of the Stormbringer clan, but it provided an overwhelming feeling of safety. A feeling of safety that reminded Susan of just how much she had to lose... Swallowing her fear, she walked inside, ignoring the warning that was beginning to creep into her heart for the second time that day.


Susan's sister Sariel had not changed. Still the empty eyes of a blind, defeated women, ignorant of the changes around her. Still the face of one who had seen all there is to see without seeing it, and still, the expression of one who had cried many tears. One who had borne the weight of the world alone, for far too long.


Sariel Stormbringer had pepper grey hair streaked with some of its original blond, and pale skin that had seen no light since she'd lost her sight. Susan remembered that incident well, and she shivered as she felt it. As children, they had practiced Stormbringing, the families' art, daily, in addition to normal schooling. Susan's lightning bolt had hit her sister full in the face, and had made her go blind. So the stormbringers had disowned her, the simplest mistake had condemned her to over twenty years of loneliness. She had been sixteen, Sariel, fourteen.


Yet Susan knew she could not think of that now. There was business to be discussed.
"Its happened," She began, "the clouds have faded in the west, the great flames faded to embers. . . embers that will cease to glow by the end of the week. This weak excuse of a fortress, Ivea, is the last remnant of our clan, Sariel."


"So," Sariel replied, "it was you that summoned the storm last night? John and I were wondering, but we did not send the dogs out after you out of pure courtesy. You repay us by showing up on our doorstep, full of viscous lies!" Susan's breath caught at her sister's forwardness. She had been hoping reverently that in light of recent events the old arguments would not come out, yet there they were, strong as ever.


"I felt it, Sariel! I have seen our ends--can not you hear?! Your family faces persecution beyond that which a few fancy words and cleverly distributed coins can solve. Listen to reason, for once in your ignorantly blind life!"


"You cannot tell me this," Sariel snapped, "I did not believe it then, and I do not believe it now! Be gone from my sight!"


"I forgive you."


"Oh, you forgive me? That's rich. What for?"


"The pun."


"Oooh, you little.." As Sariel began her rant, Susan did not move. She stood before her sister's chair, determined as ever. At least, she was, until Mirage walked in.


"Susan Liae, you challenge our hospitality. We gave you an order, and while I have lightning in my fingers you will obey me. Leave while you can of free will, or I will force you!" Susan smiled, there was a somewhat mocking gleam in her eyes.


"Do not challenge me, child. I have been alive just as long as you."


"Yet you cannot show the sense even I do? Somehow that seems wrong. Perhaps your name is correct, aunt."


"You told her!?" Susan said sharply, spinning back to face her sister. Sariel nodded weakly.


"I told her how you earned your name, and why we chose it," Sariel said evenly, her words slick as a snake, " 'Liae,' is fitting, it strips our proud name to your pathetic existance. "


Susan leaped at Sariel, and her sharp nails dug into her sister's neck before Mirage took her by the scruff of her dress and threw her into the wall. Mirage's blue eyes were blazing, crackling with some unstoppable force. "I believe," she said slowly, "that I told you to get out. Now would be an excellent time to demonstrate that you are capable, Liae." Susan felt as though she had been struck in the face, but the feeling faded. She threw back her head and cackled.


"Fine!" She said, "Fine, but don't expect me to come and save you!" She left, slamming the door behind her. As Sariel and Mirage watched her go, both of them heard the gunshot that killed her. Both of them watched, horrified and rooted to the spot, as John came from his barn to see what the noise was about and was shot in the head for his curiosity. The children joined them in time to see their father shot down. They were in time to see a mob emerge from the trees, pitchforks and torches in hand, crying something that made the children and Sariel cling to each other.



© 2008 Greystone

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Added on December 23, 2008



Fort Atkinson, WI

I've been writing for about five years. Mostly, I focus on fantasy, although to be honest I've dabbled horribly in Romance, Science Fiction, and modern-day roleplays. I enjoy drawing, painting, wood c.. more..

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