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Aria lit the candle, a pyramid-shaped light persimmon meditation candle, and tried to center herself as its sandalwood scent filled the small dwelling. Just as her concentration reached its peak and her balance was found, a crash sounded off to her side. Turning her head, she easily discerned the cause.
Beside the wooden dinner table stood a small boy, no more than eleven or twelve. He stood over a broken bowl, and though he was unharmed, he directed a startled look first towards the shards of glass that glittered across the stone floor, and next up towards the older woman, though his gaze didn’t stay their long either. He looked towards his feet as he stammered out an apology.
“I had been attempting to meditate,” she told him as she waved him away from the table and bent to retrieve the shards of glass. “Go outside and play, Balfour.” Though she said the dismissal in a calm and somewhat soft voice, his golden eyes showed something similar to shame.
“Yes, grandma,” he said as he slinked to the opening of their home. He paused and looked back as he pushed the dark cloth that served as their door to the side. Aria did not look back at him, though the sunlight that streaked into the cavern alerted her to his continued presence. After the only light left was candlelight, she decided that he would have said something had he needed anything.
Aria returned to her meditative stance, sitting cross-legged in front of her candle. She knew that she should be clearing her mind, but she was finding it difficult to do so with her mind battling to address her thoughts. She eventually let it win, deciding that deep thought was better than no rest at all.
She knew that she was no good at raising a child, and had not attempted to do so for much longer than the 137 years of her current form. She wondered, then, why the High Council had decided she should raise this one.
As loud laughter broke her thoughts, she frowned. It was likely that Balfour was doing something he should not be again. The boy only seemed to have fun when disobeying her orders. So she stood, toeing on her shoes, and went to make sure he was being good and to let him know that they would be eating soon.
“Balfour, it is time.” She called this out from the doorway, deciding to be merciful and let him cover up his misdoing should need be. “Wash up before you go in!” She told him as he darted past her into their home, ignoring her request completely. She sighed and walked out to the little garden in front of their home. After picking a few vegetables, some that resembled potatoes and others that resembled carrots, she returned to the house and prepared their dinner.
They ate quickly and in silence, Balfour remembering for once that it was rude to talk with his mouthful, and Aria found it rather peaceful. She had never seen the purpose of conversation over meals. When Balfour didn’t speak at all for the rest of the evening, Aria couldn’t help but become a little worried. Balfour was usually incredibly talkative, and would talk to himself if nobody else were willing to listen. She observed his silence without word, however, deciding he would go to her should he need anything.
Aria woke sometime in the middle of the night, when the twin moons were high in the sky. She wasn’t exactly sure where the feeling had come from, but she was sure that Balfour was in danger. She dressed quickly and found herself reaching for her spear, a weapon she had not used for about fifteen years. It was heavy in her hands, she found, the silver and gold colored metals almost too much for her to handle. It would have to make due. She had little time and made haste to her destination.
The ruins had always been forbidden to Balfour. Few exceptions had been made to this rule, and these ruins had been ruins of a different nature. Those ruins glittered with clear crystals amongst their white stone; they glittered with the color of lifeblood. The ruins before Aria, however, held bright viridian crystals set in their stones, crystals that glowed in the moonlight and told of the curse that filled these ruins.
Her eyes quickly found the form of the boy, huddled on the ground beneath the shadow of the beast. It was a wolf-like creature, though it stood hunched over on two legs and was perhaps three times the size of a normal wolf. It was growling and scratching at the boy, though it seemed hesitant to kill.
Aria found that the weapon, which was earlier to heavy for her tastes, fit perfectly in her arms as she charged the beast. She had not attempted to hide herself, and the beast quickly abandoned its game with the boy to jump back from her advance.
The beast did not hesitate with her as it did with Balfour. It swept back, clawing at her, and she dodged instinctively. Luckily, she had not needed to tell Balfour to run, he had already taken off towards home, and she decided it wise to follow his cue. The beast would not follow, she knew, as the farther it got from its ruins the weaker it got.
Tired but unharmed, Aria returned home to find Balfour sitting quietly at the table. She checked him over, relaxing a bit when she found only shallow cuts and scrapes. She had always secretly hoped for something like this to happen, something to enforce her rules and her teachings. Now, she could only find herself hoping that this would not leave a lasting impact.
She bandaged the cuts with clean cloth and love, and let Balfour sleep in her bed for the rest of the night. Even with him right by her side, she found rest difficult. While he slept contently, she worried that this might happen again. Instead of sleeping, she sipped some hot tea. This would happen again, she realized, and there was nothing to be done about it. She returned to the meditation she could not accomplish earlier that day, feeling a sense of understanding she didn’t have before. She decided that there was solace to be found in that.