HelpMe512

United States of America

Artist, poet, writer
Dear Evan Hansen
Newsies
Confused as hell
#GOrwell1 Winner! :D

"If I wait 'til my tomorrow comes, is the waiting all I've ever done?"
-Ben Platt

Message from Writer

Go check out my contest - #Helpme2020
The more entries the merrier! :D

The Crown of Flowers - Prologue/Chapter 1

February 10, 2020

FREE WRITING

5
Prologue
    Rubble crashed all around Zayrian, and he clung to his mother for dear life. He buried his face into her shirt, afraid to see what the Empire had done to their village. His mother whispered comforting words into his mop of dark hair, but her voice was shaky. "It's gonna be okay, baby." she said, stroking his hair over his ears so he wouldn't have to listen to the chaos around them.
    Zayrian was unconvinced, but he let himself try to disappear into his mother's lap. A scream rang out, jagged and full of terror. He squeezed his eyes shut, and his mother clamped her hands around his unusually shaped ears. They huddled like that together in his bedroom, hoping the Empire wouldn't notice them.
    Heavy footsteps clambered toward them. Zayrian's mother held him so tight, he thought he might be crushed. A bark echoed through the halls, and Zayrian's mother couldn't help but let out a small whimper. He didn't know what it was, but the bark sounded menacing and inhuman. "I love you, I love you," his mother repeated to him again and again as if that would ward off the soldiers. It was no use. The door was bashed in, sending splinters of wood all around the room.
    "Humans! Give up now or die!" A booming voice said in halting English. Zayrian and his mother shrunk behind the bed. The Empire soldier said something in Elven, and a creature entered the room. The strange creature looked like a mix between a dog and a lion. Fangs sharp as razors were bared, and foam dripped from its maw. Claws that looked like they could shear through flesh in a single swipe dug into the flimsy wooden floor, cracking it. The animal's nose twitched, and its yellow eyes swung to where Zayrian lay. It snarled and advanced, taking its time. The soldiers leaned back against the wall, looking forward to a show.
    "Wait!" Zayrian's mother cried, standing up from where she hid. Was she crazy? What was she doing? The animal paused, taken aback that the human dared to show courage. "Take me, but please spare my son! He is half elf, and just a boy!" She pled desperately. Zayrian looked at her in alarm. Surely the Empire wouldn't believe her!
    An elven soldier held his hand up, and the animal stopped with a disapproving growl. The soldier walked over to Zayrian and lifted his chin with his sword. The steel was icy against his skin, but Zayrian didn't dare move. He stared into the elf's hard blue eyes. "It is true." the soldier announced after a moment. "This boy is indeed a half-breed. Put him with the others." He motioned and one of the other soldiers, and Zayrian was dragged out of the room. The last thing he saw was the soldier brandishing a sword in his mother's direction. Then, he was taken away and he could only hear a sickening scream before silence lapsed over the house.
    "No!" Zayrian screamed. "How could you do that?!" He kicked at the soldier that dragged him away. The soldier grunted and pushed Zayrian away.
    "Stop that, swine!" He said, his English rough. "You are lucky we let you live."
    Zayrian didn't feel very lucky. So instead of following the soldier, he bolted for his house. Perhaps he could save his mother. He didn't know why he decided to go back there, but it was possibly the most important decision of his life.
    The soldier cursed in Elven, and growled an order. Before Zayrian knew what had happened, he was taken down in a flash of sleek black fur. One of the creatures was on top of him, pinning his arms with its awful claws. Zayrian screamed, and the last image in his mind was the sneering face of the creature, and its fangs that dripped with blood. Then, pain seared across his face and he saw nothing but empty space.
    He awoke in a wagon, his face aching. His eyes were covered in a cool cloth that was tied around his head, but even without the cloth, he couldn't see anything. "My eyes!" Zayrian screamed, though his voice was still hoarse.
    "Shhh. You're okay now." A sweet, melodious voice told him. A smooth hand touched his hand, sending a shiver up his spine.
    "Where is my mother? What happened?" he asked, his voice terrified and his hands quivering. He remembered the soldiers taking him away. And the creature. That horrible, dog-like creature standing over him.
    "You're okay now," the voice repeated. Then, he heard music. Whoever was with him was singing. The song was calming, and he felt his limbs become heavy and his mind weary. Just before he fell fast asleep, he heard the voice whisper to him, "You are safe with us, Zayrian,".

Chapter 1
    "Zee!" A squealing voice cried out. Zayrian's little sister, Val, ran up to him and snatched the sword that laid at his side. "Teach me how to use this, Zee!"
    Zayrian laughed. "You know the rules, Val. On your tenth birthday, you'll get your sword."
    Val pouted and gave him her best puppy dog eyes. "Please?"
    Zayrian shook his head and chuckled. "Impatient little one aren't you?"
    "I get it from you!" Val teased, setting Zayrian's sword down. Zayrian's smile faltered. Val was too young to understand, but he knew that he wasn't her actual brother. He had been adopted by this group of elves after his mother was killed in an Empire raid. Despite what the old humans used to think, elves weren't just tiny humans with squeaky voices and curly shoes. They were the exact opposite, in fact. Elves were stronger and more cunning than humans, with the pointed ears of a hunter. That's why the Empire sought to kill all the humans. They were also taller and thinner, and some of the shorter elves could cover their heads and pass for human. When that happened, half-breeds like Zayrian were often born. However, Zayrian didn't feel like explaining that to Val.
    "Go do your chores, and then you can watch me practice," Zayrian said to Val fondly.
    Her face lit up and she skipped away, almost vibrating with excitement. Zayrian looked at her go, her little form in his vision. He was used to it now, but when he first came to the village, his magically restored sight had been disconcerting. When his eyes had been taken by one of the Empire's monsters - Hounds as they were called - he had been blind until an Empire soldier took pity on him and took him to a village healer. The elf that restored his vision was a mysterious one, but now Zayrian could see with the help of a magic pendant. Now he could see as if he was never blinded, but his eyes were still covered by a cloth tied around his head.
    Zayrian remembered his first time in the village of Shendaya, when a soldier had allowed the healer to grant him sight again. The soldier had smuggled him out, and left him at the village. The Empire was supposed to make Zayrian into a good little soldier, but some of the soldiers disagreed with the Empire's ways. Before he even regained consciousness, he found himself with a new family and a new life.
    "Hey, Zayrian!" A familiar voice interrupted his thoughts. "I've been looking all over for you!"
    Zayrian turned to see his friend Rowan approaching. Zayrian waved him over to the spot where he was sitting. They were on a small hill covered with lush grass and little wildflowers, trees from the forest dotting the horizon. It was the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
    Rowan sat next to Zayrian and placed his sword beside him. "What're you up to?"
    "Watching the sunset." Zayrian replied, looking back at the sky. It was starting to turn a shade of deep gold and pink. "Beautiful isn't it?"
    Rowan nodded and settled back. For a moment Rowan said nothing, absorbing the beauty of the sky. Then he said softly, "Why do you always watch these sunsets?"
    Zayrian tilted his head down, his cheeks reddening slightly beneath the cloth that covered his eyes. He paused. "It's my mother. We watched the sunsets together."
    "Oh," Rowan placed his hand on his friend's shoulder comfortingly. "I'm sorry."
    "It's no use thinking about it now." Zayrian whispered, grateful to the cloth that hid the tears welling up in his damaged eyes. He hated talking about his mother because he was secretly ashamed of her. After living with these elves for so long, he had started to look on his human past with embarrassment. Although this village tolerated him and he had made a few friends like Rowan or Val, he knew he truly didn't belong.
    As if reading his thoughts, Rowan sat up and swept up his sword in one fluid motion. "Care for a spar?" he said, holding his hand out.
    Zayrian gave a small smile and allowed Rowan to help him up. "Bring it on."
    They started to circle each other, the sunset dousing them in a surreal golden light. Rowan was an expert in swordcraft, but Zayrian was clever and quick on his feet. Rowan made the first strike, flicking his blade towards Zayrian's abdomen in a quick motion. Zayrian saw it coming and moved back a hair, blocking Rowan's strike. Their blades clanged together, the sound of steel against steel ringing out from the hill. Zayrian was faintly aware of an excited Val coming up behind them to watch. However, his adoptive sister was quickly put out of his mind as Rowan struck again, this time dipping his blade so the hilt was aimed at Zayrian's shoulder. Zayrian moved out of the way at the last second, knocking Rowan off balance. The two moved around each other intently, dancing a deadly, intimate ballet. Their swords were like extensions of their bodies, and they knew each other as two dancers knew the moves the other would make.
    They kept up their match until Zayrian had his blade at Rowan's heart. "I yield," Rowan conceded.
    Zayrian smiled smugly and lowered his sword. All of a sudden, he found himself on the ground, grass tickling his face. Rowan had lashed out with his feet and knocked Zayrian over. "No fair!" Zayrian protested amidst laughter.
    Rowan rolled to face Zayrian and blushed. The golden light reflected off his brown hair so it looked like Zayrian was glowing. Zayrian sensed the heat in Rowan's cheeks and against his will, his cheeks reddened too. They laid next to each other on the ground for a moment, dappled in sunlight.
    Before the moment became too awkward, Val leapt up from where she was sitting to view the fight. "You have to teach me how to do that!" she shrieked.
    The boys looked away from each other sheepishly and sat up. "Did you get all your work done?" Zayrian asked.
    Val nodded, bouncing up and down on her heels. Rowan couldn't help but laugh at her childish excitement. "My, I can't even remember when I was that excited for lessons!" He joked.
    Zayrian grinned. "Well, a promise is a promise."
    He gave a slight gesture to Rowan's sword, and the other warrior nodded in affirmation. Zayrian gently handed the sword to Val. She grasped it with both of her chubby hands, her knuckles white on the grip. She held it out in front of her, like she was secretly afraid of the blade. "No, no. Don't hold it like that." Zayrian said, gently correcting his younger sister. He positioned her hands so they were more relaxed, and so that the blade seemed natural in her hands.
    The rest of the evening, Rowan and Zayrian taught some of their best tricks to Val. Technically against the rules of the village, Zayrian was sure they'd let this one slide. Especially since Val was such a keen learner; she was a natural at swordsmanship. A lot of warriors remembered fondly their first time with a sword. Zayrian came to the village when he was only a bit younger than ten, so he didn't have to wait so long to receive his sword - the official mark of becoming a warrior. However, Rowan had told him that almost all the warriors had cheated on this rule with an older sibling or friend.
    When the sky finally darkened enough so that they could barely see anymore, they retired to their homes. Rowan and Zayrian shared their goodbyes, and Zayrian took Val by the hand and walked her on the path that led back to their little house. Suddenly, Zayrian heard a deep, baritone sound that reverberated through the ground. "What was that, Zee?" Val asked, fear creeping into her voice.
    Zayrian paused and looked around, troubled by this strange noise. "I'll bet it's nothing," he said, although the lie was plain in his voice. "Go back to the house, and get your father." He instructed, unsheathing his sword.
    Val gave him a frightened glance before running into the undergrowth. Again, the strange noise sounded, this time louder and more powerful. It didn't seem to be coming from one direction, but from everywhere. He recognized the sound, but he couldn't recall from where. He stalked back up to the hill so he could have a clearer view of the village. The rumbling sound was getting louder and louder.
    As he reached the crest of the hill, he saw something that made his stomach drop like a stone. It was a sight that Zayrian never thought he'd have to see again. It was a sight that struck fear into his very soul. Just below the horizon, he saw a wave of Empire soldiers marching towards them, their battle horns blaring. It would be a massacre, just like the raid that lost him his eyes.
    Val's father - Zayrian's adoptive father - and a few other warriors raced to the hilltop and stood by Zayrian. But as they saw the Empire's march, they all let out a collective gasp. One warrior even dropped his sword in the ultimate sign of defeat.
    "What should we do?" Zayrian asked his adoptive father after the moment of shock had passed.
    The elder warrior hefted his sword. "We survive."
     
     *    *    *    *
    '
    You can't be serious!" Zayrian growled. His fists were clenched at his sides.
    "We cannot stay to face the raid!" Zayrian's adoptive father, Mattaniah, said authoritatively. "For the good of the village!"
    "This is for the good of the village! The Empire will only grow stronger if we keep running away like scared rabbits!" Zayrian argued.
    "Dammit, Zayrian! We can't beat them!"
    "Yes, we can!"
    "You and your foolish arrogance!" The leader barked, sticking his finger in Zayrian's face. "We will get slaughtered! Think of the children!"
    "Then send away the children, but we must stand and fight! Think about it. The Empire will keep hunting us until we join them, taking our land and our warriors. We will be living on the run. What life is that for our children?"
    "Fool!" his father spat. "I would rather be on the run than dead!"
    "But-"
    "Enough! I have made my decision. You may stay behind, but the rest of the village will be leaving."
    "I assure you, this is the wrong decision!" Zayrian would not give up.
    "I am the leader. We will leave at sunrise." His father said with finality. "Gather the village," he instructed Sahara, another warrior. She saluted him with a touch to her heart and ran off.
    Zayrian jumped up from his seat and shoved his finger into Mattaniah's face. "You are condemning this village!" He roared loud enough for the approaching army to hear.
    Zayrian's father glared daggers at him. "I. Have. Made. My. Decision," he snarled, pushing Zayrian's hand away. "I am no fool. I will not be persuaded into the wrong choice by a headstrong young warrior. We are leaving, with or without your approval."
    That left Zayrian speechless. There was no way he would ever convince Mattaniah to stay. But he knew, deep inside, that it was the correct choice. "Then let me stay. I will defend our land,"
    Mattaniah looked at him incredulously. "Absolutely not. Even if the entire village could defeat this army, there is no way a single warrior could,"
    "I will stay. You can leave, and destroy the fate of this village. But I will lift it up and save our land, you'll see. And when I do, I will take your place as leader and lead this village to victory against the Empire!"
    "What a rousing speech. Fine. I cannot force you to stay. We will mourn your death as an outcast of this village. You are no longer a warrior of the Shendaya."
    Zayrian staggered back. "I am trying to help you! You can't cast me out!"
    Mattaniah regarded him coldly. "Get this traitor out of here," He instructed a guard at the door. Obediently, the guard advanced on Zayrian.
    "You will regret this!" Zayrian sniped before brushing off the guard and stalking out on his own.
    Rowan ran up to Zayrian as he was exiting his house. Or rather, what used to be his house before he was banished. "What happened? They could probably hear you halfway to the Empire!"
    Zayrian regarded his friend with annoyance. "I'm banished. The village is leaving and I won't be going." He said bluntly.
    Rowan's eyes widened. "No! You're the best warrior we've got!"
    Zayrian offered a small smile. "That would be you, my friend. Take care of Val for me okay?" He clapped Rowan on the shoulder. "I'll defend our land. We'll see each other again." he promised.
    Rowan had a sad look in his eyes. "We'll see each other again," he repeated quietly. "Farewell. You'll always be welcome to me no matter what Mattaniah says."
    Zayrian nodded and turned away, trying to hide the grimace on his face. From below his blindfold, a tear slid down his nose. He knew, deep down, that he would probably never see his friend again.
    Zayrian forced himself to walk away, already regretting his choice to stay. It was suicide, he knew. There was no way a blind halfbreed warrior could go against a highly trained army of pureblood elves. He would find a way to win, and take back their land. He would show Mattaniah that he was more than worthy of being a warrior of the Shendaya clan.
This is the first experimental chapter in a novel length story I hope to write. Please give feedback as this is just a first draft. Thank you to everyone who gave me name ideas! I'm really glad that I could use some of them.

Print

See History
  • February 10, 2020 - 5:48am (Now Viewing)

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

2 Comments