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The Allumadon, Ch. 1
Grace rested her head against the large maple tree, and looked up to see the reds, oranges, and golds that the leaves portrayed. It was rather beautiful, but she knew that they would fall; leaving a sickly, sleeping tree to shiver alone once winter came. That's the way it's always been for her; observing things around her until they wither away, or leaving before the things which capture her attention die. Time was funny that way, and had a crude sense of humor when it came to her, considering it left her behind.
She had been holding the Allumadon charm in her hands thoughtfully as her deep green eyes scanned over the motionless leaves in the tree. The warmth of that charm pulsed through her arms, and to her heart; as it had always done. It served as her life force; sustaining her seemingly endless existence in these unknown and unkind lands. When she felt it throb in her arms again, she closed her eyes and forced a weak smile.
'I'm not wanted in either world, I suppose'' She thought glumly as her gaze shifted from the leaves of the lonely tree to the forest on the other side of the plain. The outer trees were so thick that no one could enter. No leeway, at least to the eyes of man, existed that could entertain the thought of discovering what lay at the heart of that secret grove. The trees, as stubborn as they are, banned together as a last attempt to protect Mother Nature's original design, and have stood as a barrier to that day. Since Grace was left on the outside world, the forest saw her as an outsider; no better then the lying, treacherous, sinful humans who she surrounded herself with.
'Why'' She questioned herself brokenly. 'Why did they leave me here? Why won't they let me come home?' Her grip tightened around the Allumadon as tears began for form in her eyes. 'Why did they leave me all alone?'
Again, she forced a half-hearted smile. It was a smile of defeat, almost; revealing the realization that no matter how many times she asked those painful questions, nothing would change. 'I shouldn't do this to myself,' Grace told herself as she pushed back her tears. 'I really have spent too much time in this world. It has made me soft''
Slowly, she put the charm in her long, wavy blue blouse and pushed herself to her feet; eyes still locked on the forest. The sun began to set behind the large, wild trees; casting an outreaching shadow onto the grassy plain and dimming the sky to reveal small stars above her. Grace didn't notice how long she had been there until now, but she must have been there for hours considering the fact that she first arrived in the early afternoon. For her, time was always at a standstill. She never fully perceived her surroundings until she absolutely had to, because it was often painful for her to be attentive all the time. If she found pleasure in one living creature because of her feeble attempt at understanding the life around her, within the blink of an eye, that creature would die. Life outside the forest, after all, was short lived.
As she walked away from the tree and down the worn path that led to the town of Byssora, Grace felt the dread that unhappiness in her heart; emotions that were partially to blame by the state of that town. Byssora was an infamous town, known for its few wealthy citizens, and farmlands. For people who live in neighboring towns, it sounds prosperous. However, under the surface, the majority of the money was taken by the wealthy; leaving the workers insolvent and hungry. Most were forced to live in the poorer part of the village, where she lived. Other's left when they realized how horrendous the situation had become. Those who stayed were defeated at heart, and had no desire to flee from their homeland.
Grace refused to work in the farmland, for the rich. She didn't have it in her to obey the rules of those creatures, let alone work to feed them. For food, she would hunt in the plain for rabbits, and steal herbs and vegetables from the farmland. They never noticed, after all. She didn't have to eat as much as them, so a head of lettuce and a handful of spices a week weren't very much missed.
However, she did realize that she would have to leave Byssora eventually. It's been six years since she moved into Byssora, and the people would have to notice eventually that she hadn't aged a year since her arrival. Her biology, which even she hardly understands, allows her to age only one year every ten. That has mainly to do with her Allumadon, and its magical properties.
'How long has it been now?' Grace thought; eyes scanning the worn path below her. ''maybe' seventy. No- eighty years?'
While she was walking, she pulled the Allumadon out of her blouse and looked at it thoughtfully. It looked as if it were glowing in her hands, even though it was too dark out for it to catch any light. It was as if it had a life of its own, and shared its long lasting existence with her. 'I'm pushing my luck.' She dropped and let it dangle around her neck freely as she found herself on a dirt path that led to the village. In the distance, wooden houses could be seen beside a large creek. It seemed kind of dreary to her; people sitting outside of their homes and others walking about as though in a daze.
'Home sweet home,' Her inner voice said sarcastically as she walked past an empty, forgotten chicken coop and a small barn. Eventually, she made it into the town, and began walking past the old, wooden homes. The dark, dreary windows harbored weak candlelight's and echoed small voices from within. On the porches of some were tired citizens, who said nothing towards one another, but shared the existence of their day with similar expressions on their faces.
After a moment of scanning the line of houses on both sides of her, she looked ahead of her to see two women standing on the right side of the street, a young man resting against the wide of his house, and one man walking in her direction. It had gotten so dark, however, that she couldn't see who they were exactly. This made her a little nervous.
'Hey!' She heard the man scream; causing her to stop. 'What are you doing here?' He shouted at the two women standing in the street. They seemed to be chatting with one another and having a good time until he came. She could tell because what little light that shed on their faces before this man's intrusion revealed happy smiles. Without a fuss, they hurriedly walked away from him, and disappeared between two houses.
'He's going to say something to me. I know it'' Grace thought worriedly to herself as she began walking again. Her eyes locked onto the unruly man, whose identity was not yet revealed to her, with a frigidly cold stare.
Before she could walk past him, the man glanced at her and stopped in the street. Without thinking twice, Grace looked down and kept walking.
'And you!' She suddenly heard him shout.
She cringed unhappily at his voice, but nonetheless, she stopped and looked over her shoulder towards him. 'Yes, sir?' Her voice sounded cold and uncaring.
'Aren't you that girl who won't lend us a hand in the field?'
'Yes, sir.' She answered again.
'He took a step towards her clumsily, and grunted; proving to Grace that he was, indeed, drunk. 'Why live here if you won't support Byssorians? Why live at all if you won't support yourself?'
'I don't see how that's any of your business, sir.'
'My business? My business!' He screamed angrily.
'Grace'' She spoke to herself, 'Why do you always get yourself into this? If you were a few minutes earlier, or later, you could have avoided this drunkard and been home without any fuss at all'' She sighed unenthusiastically, and turned around towards him.
This is MY town!' He raised his grimy, dirty hands in the air. The wind pushed his loose brown shirt freely around his torso. 'You not doing you're share means more work for us! If that's not my damn business, then whose is it?'
The wind blew harder; pushing Grace's long black hair over her shoulders and brushing her bangs behind her hair as her bitter green eyes burned into his. 'My own, sir. And I'm sorry if I refuse to grovel like a dog!'
He walked over and grabbed her right arm tightly. 'Why you-' He raised his free arm and balled it into a fist.
Suddenly, grace forced a step back and pulled her fist back as well; preparing to hit him back if necessary. However, before she could even comprehend what had happened, someone had already punched the drunkard across the face. His grip on her arm vanished, and he stumbled back until he fell on the ground. Grace glanced at the figure beside her. It was the young man who sat against the wooden building only moments earlier.
The boy took a step in front of her, and looked down at the man. 'That's enough, Van.'
Van leaned upwards, balanced on his left hand, and held his jaw with his right. Grace couldn't see his face, but she could tell by the sound of his moaning that he was in pain. ''Yup,' She thought to herself again. 'This was definitely something I wanted to avoid.'
'You'' He grunted angrily; snapping Grace from her thoughts.
'I'm warning you,' The boy hissed calmly. 'If you rise, I'll break that jaw of yours.'
With that, he turned around and said with a sincere tone of voice, ' I apologize for his behavior. Please allow me to walk you home.'
Grace stood still for a moment, then smiled halfheartedly. 'No' that's alright. You don't need to go that far.'
'Please? It's the least I can do''
'Well,' she looked down in thought. 'If you really want too.'
He gave Van one last look of disgust, then turned around and began to walk alongside Grace. She looked down shyly when they turned down another dirt road lined on both sides with old wooden houses.
The boy glared at her for an instant silently, then reached up and scratched his head. 'Listen' I'm sorry if Van hurt you in any way.'
He didn't.' Grace answered quietly, still looking down as they walked side by side. 'Thank you, though.'
'Why thank me?' He asked thoughtfully.
'Well, you know'' She looked at him quickly. It was so dark now, though, that she couldn't see much of him, other than his dark outline. 'You people say that it's the thought that counts, right?'
Grace looked ahead of her to see a smaller house on the end of the street, near a stream. A weak smile crossed her face.
'That's a beautiful necklace, by the way'' He said.
Her smile faded slightly, and she looked down to see both her hands gripping the charm. It glowed lightly in her hands, and pulsed quicker than usual. The warmth that it provided with every pulse grew all the warmer while she spoke with him. 'Oh. Thank you'' Her eyes narrowed as it pulsed again.
'It looks very old,'
'If only you knew,' she thought mockingly. 'It is,' Answered Grace. 'And it's very important to me.'
'I almost forgot to tell you,' The boy put his hands in his pockets, from what she could see. 'I'm Roanen.'
'Grace smiled again, and looked back towards her house. 'I'm grace.' When they made it to her house, she walked up the steps that led to the small porch, and turned back to him. 'Again, thank you.'
Roanen stood at the bottom of the steps, and looked up at her happily. 'There's no need to thank me.' He told her. Roanen moved his gaze from her and up to the moon. 'It's getting late. I should go''
'Sweet dreams.' He waved, then turned around and walked back toward the main road.
She scanned the street for a moment, and then looked down at the Allumadon; which was still pulsing unusually fast in her hands. 'Oh, shut up.' She thought to the charm as she let it go and walked over to the wooden door that led to her one room house. The creaks and groaning of the wood holding her weight didn't bother her anymore. After almost six years in that village, almost nothing got to her. But for some reason, Roanen caught her attention.
Grace looked back to see the outline of the boy walking away from her. She smiled once again, then pushed her way into the small house and closed the door behind her. Nothing could be seen but dark outlines of end tables, a dresser, and a handmade bed. There were four windows in the whole house; two on the wall opposite her, and one to her left and right; casting dark and dreary shadows all around her.
'I wish I knew what he looked like,' Grace thought sadly as she took a few steps and fell onto her bed. The Allumadon, now hanging off of her stomach from the chain, began to beat regularly. 'The charm was beating so fast, too. I don't think it ever happened before' so why now?' Grace raised her left hand and rubbed her eyes, and then laid the back side of her hand on her forehead; pushing back strands of hair onto the bed. 'What did he have to gain from saving me, anyway? It's not like I was crying for help or anything. I just don't understand''
For what seemed like hours, she laid there; wondering and thinking about that young man. But finally, fatigue crept in and she fell asleep peacefully