Julia ♬

United States of America

I'm just a classical musician who tries to write.

16 | she/her | Pianist | Violinist | Artist | Nature Lover | Cat Fanatic | Bookworm

Proud to be owned by two cats.

Message to Readers

This is the first chapter of a book I've been writing, so there are some things in here that might not make sense until you read the later chapters, which I haven't quite finished editing yet. :)

Asha of Cayretayn

November 16, 2019

A thin silver mist hung over the dark sea, shimmering in the early morning sunlight. Waves rushed up to the beach, broke on the fine white sand, then fell back to the sea with the constant sound of crashing water. An ancient castle of grey stone stood on the crest of a sweeping green hill that rose up sharply from the sea. Lights shone from a few of the windows; small golden beacons that fought through the curtain of fog. 
    Down on the beach, a small girl called Asha was energetically throwing sand at her twin brother. She was no more than four years old, and she couldn’t understand why her parents had taken her with them to the beach so early in the morning. Not that she minded going to the beach; it was fun to play with the sand and have sand fights with her brother. 
    “Asha and Sarien!” said her father suddenly. “How many times have we told you not to throw sand at each other? You’re going to get it in your eyes someday, you know.” He scooped Asha up in his arms and kissed her forehead, then set her on the ground again. 
    Asha ran away to Sarien, who was now playing with the wet sand at the very edge of the waves. She felt the cool, soft sand under her bare feet and started digging a hole, watching the water pool up. Then her parents’ conversation made her stop and sit back on her heels.
    “Are you sure you must leave today, Airekir?” her mother asked her father. 
    Out of the corner of her eye, Asha saw her father put his arm around her mother’s shoulders. “Yes, I’m afraid I’ll have to go before noon, Luada. I’m the king, after all. I must lead the soldiers against the Arghethraid, or else we will never win the war.”
    “But suppose you never come back?” Luada whispered, and Asha had to strain to hear her. “I know that the Arghethraid will try to kill you first. He hates you.” Asha realized that her mother was crying. Asha frowned. Her mother had never cried before. What was happening?    
    “I will come back,” her father said firmly. “I’m not going to let him kill me.”


    Eight years later...


    “Hey! G-15! Stop daydreaming, and get back to work!” The overseer’s sharp voice jerked Asha away from her memories and back to the present. The tall man glared at her from under his thick black eyebrows and twitched his whip threateningly. Asha sighed heavily and reluctantly left the restful shade of the tree where she had sat down only a few moments ago. 
    The late afternoon sun beat down on the back of her neck as she knelt in the dry soil and began to pull up the innumerable thorny weeds in the flowerbeds once more. Her hands were scratched and blistered from the endless work in the palace gardens, and her back ached constantly. She had no choice but to work, for she was one of the slaves who worked for King Syrathyn of Cayretayn. She had been a slave ever since the slave masters had branded the identification number “G-15” on her left wrist at the age of five and sent her to work in the palace gardens. Ever since that day, she was simply a number; one enslaved worker in a sea of thousands. 
    Asha ripped the weeds out of the ground roughly and tossed them into the growing pile of prickly leaves. Her mind was still back in the land of her memories, thinking of that morning long ago at the beach. It was the last clear memory she had of her family, and she wondered what had happened to them and dreamed of finding them someday. Asha frowned bitterly and pushed a lock of red-brown hair out of her eyes. If there was anything worse than being a slave, it was not knowing how or why you had ended up as a slave. 
    “What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” 
    Asha dropped her weed and whirled around, startled. A small girl was standing behind her with her head tilted slightly to one side. Her large, deep brown eyes were filled with concern. 
    “Who are you?” Asha asked her quickly, wiping her eyes fiercely and glancing over the girl’s beautiful, expensive dress and silky black hair. In her dress, she stood out dramatically from the dirty and scruffy slaves with their worn-out clothes of rough brown material. 
    “I’m Caliana,” replied the girl. “But you haven’t answered my question. Why are you sad?”
    “Wait,” said Asha, her eyes widening. “Are you Princess Caliana of Cayretayn?”
    She sighed. “Yes, I am, unfortunately.”
    “Goodness! What are you doing here? This part of the garden isn’t finished yet. You should go around to the front of the palace if you want to see the best part of the garden.”
    “Oh, I don’t care about the gardens,” said Caliana breezily. “I came here to see people. I get so lonely in the gardens in front of the palace, and they’re too fancy and formal. It’s better here. But you still haven’t answered my question, you know. Why were you crying?”
    Asha sighed impatiently. “Look at me. I’m a slave. Would you be happy if you were a slave?”
    Caliana stepped back. “Well, no, I suppose not. I’m sorry.”
    “There’s another reason I was crying, though. I used to have a family who loved me and cared for me, but they’re gone now. I have no friends in the entire world, and I get a bit lonely sometimes.” Asha managed a twisted smile, then dropped her head quickly and wiped her eyes again. 
    Caliana knelt down in the soil beside her, forgetting about her elaborate dress. “I don’t have any friends, either.”
    “You don’t?”
    “No.”
    Asha took Caliana’s smooth hand in her blistered one and squeezed it. “I will be your friend,” she said softly.
    “And I will be yours,” said Caliana, smiling. 
    
    

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