Arcadia (Sample) | Teen Ink

Arcadia (Sample)

August 31, 2013
By Arcaeynn SILVER, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Arcaeynn SILVER, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
9 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The only thing we're allowed to do is hope that we won't regret the decision we made."

The king stood in a sea of golden trees, listening to the whispers of the wind around his ears. The sun was not heavy, the light shining upon the figure with a kind of delicacy and softness rarely seen. Without word, the lone king stood within an environment alive with the hopes and dreams of those who had died fighting with cause.

The king closed his eyes, savoring the feeling. The glistening leaves shone their light upon him, the brilliance reflecting off of his armor. He seemed to be glowing, in a way. No crown lay upon his head, but the wielder of the holy sword did not need an ornament to signify his honor and dignity.

The king took the scabbard of his sword, and brought it to his lips.

"Arcadia," he whispered in a voice that could barely be heard as the wind increased in intensity, the trees and grass rustling in response to his proposal. Arcadia…they sang.

Arcadia, arcadia, arcadia….

I had known about that story from the time when I was a small child.

My mother used to read it to me in bed, where I would stare and listen with an intensity that made her chuckle, but slowly nod off as the minutes ticked by. She would pronounce to me, in a loud, clear voice, the names of the great warriors who fought beside the legendary king. Phenex, Dal Rhomartus, Isica, Tymus. The names of the great ones who slew legions of monsters, but ended up dying horrific deaths at the hands of those who decided that their cause was not as great as it seemed. The king himself was never mentioned in name, but there was always that one word he shouted before every battle, a word that mysteriously instilled hope and bravery into his men and plagued the bodies of his enemies with fear and hatred.

"Mother, what does 'arcadia' mean?" I would ask every time. It's true meaning is still unclear to me even now, 10 years later.

"No one knows," she would reply. "It's something bigger and more powerful than hope."

"How can it be more powerful?" I would inquire, intrigued. By this time I would be more than awake, having shaken out of my drowsy state.

Mother would chuckle again, putting her hand to her mouth in a petite gesture. "I don't know, dear," she would say, patting my head and stroking the long, blonde locks that hung down the sides of my face. "It's a strange thing."

I went flying as one of the burly men sent a fist flying at my face. It hit me square in the jaw, and I spun as I hit the ground.

"You don't stand a chance against us!" another man called out. "Especially if you're a lass!"

I stood up, even angrier than before. They always called me weak because I was a woman. They didn't know the life I lived, how hard I worked every day to earn money for living, how men always ogled at my body just because I had the courage to step out of the shadows and work in the open, or how desperate my mother was for medicine. Always, always because of my gender…

The man who punched me tried to tackle me to the ground, but I was ready. I grabbed his outstretched arm, and kicked his legs out from underneath him. He went flying into a nearby batch of rotting cabbages. The other men in his group stared as their boss writhed on the ground, my foot planted firmly on his face.

I retrieved what I had been fighting for from the man underneath me, and gave the rest of the group a death glare. As expected, they all scurried away like mice, with the boss throwing my foot off of him and scrambling after them.

I heard someone call out my name. "Lysia!"

It was Micha, an old friend of mine. I had met him one day during a market visit, and he was a year younger than me. I handed him the few pieces of copper coin I had retrieved from the burly man. "Next time, don't let them bully you into having your money."

He chuckled. "I know, but they threatened to string me up by my pants, and I didn't want to go through something like that. I was scared."

I smacked him roughly on the head. "Of course you're scared! But if you don't fight, you can't win. You have to protect the things important to you."

Micha looked sheepishly at the ground. Like the majority of the people in the kingdom, his family was poor. Mine was not much better off, but instead of taking care of only a mother, he had four other siblings plus his own mother to feed. Money was not something he could afford losing just because of a simple threat.

I sighed. After the death of the previous king, the country had been trying to keep itself stabilized on its own. The king's advisors and consultants had been trying to organize things on their own while attempting to find a successor, but lack of experience as well as greedy nobles toppled them from power. Now, the kingdom of Erthrea was struggling to feed its citizens while the nobles grew fat from our struggles.

"But still, you were so cool!" Micha's energetic voice snapped me out of my reverie. I watched him begin to mimic my moves, throwing a punch towards an imaginary foe, hopping from one foot to the other. "You fought against this huge man, but you kept on running circles around him." He launched himself into a roundhouse kick, but was unbalanced and fell over. He shot another kick into the air, the momentum launching him upright. The scene was so ridiculous that passerby began to watch.

"And even when he got you, you still got up to fight! I was so scared, I thought he had knocked you out or something!" Micha hid his face behind his hands, but quickly showed his face again. He smiled brightly. "But no! You managed to win! Even though you're a girl!"

I flinched. Micha realized his mistake, and his smile faded. The passerby watching us began to whisper, and even from a distance, I could pick up the rumors beginning to spread.

"How unladylike…"

"Picking fights even though she is a woman…"


I felt anger bubbling in my chest again, but tears began to prick at my eyes. I will not cry.

"Micha, let's go." I grabbed his wrist and dragged him down the alleyway, averting my eyes from the people who stared. I wondered if Micha could feel how tightly I was lacing my fingers around his bony wrist. After a few minutes, we reached another section of the village. I let go of Micha's wrist, and immediately Micha was apologizing in a teary voice.

"I forgot you didn't like being called out as a girl…sorry…I'm really sorry…" I could barely hear his voice. I was thinking more about what the watching villagers had said.

Unladylike? Disgraceful? Is that really what they saw of a woman who didn't stay inside to sew clothing, or take care of children? Was I really supposed to be so weak?

Suddenly, there was a loud scream, and the sound of falling baskets and rough voices reached our ears. I grabbed Micha's wrist again and pulled him into another dark alleyway. From the shadows we watched as a large mob of men holding swords and spears attacked the market vendors, kicking over baskets of fruit and smashing various pieces of pottery. Each of the men wore a black scarf covering half of their faces. The merchants themselves scattered in every direction, yelling in fear for their lives. None of them were harmed though, and as soon as it began, the attack ended. The men observed the carnage, and cheered. They shouted in triumph, yelling "Serves ye' right!" and "Your rights are our rights!" at the backs of the retreating merchants. I could hear footsteps of royal soldiers running to the scene, but as quickly as they appeared, the men disappeared behind a cloud of black smoke.

I felt Micha shivering behind me. "Did…did we just watch…"

I nodded. The attacks only began a few days ago, but rumors about a group of men attacking the rich and giving the stolen goods to the poor had spread like wildfire throughout the kingdom. Even more surprising was the public's general reaction. Many of them worshipped the thieves as heroes.

To me though, a thief is just a thief.

The door to my home creaked as I opened it. My mother bolted upright from where she had been lying down in her bed, but sighed in relief as she saw me.

"I heard that another attack occurred in the area where you worked," she said. Her hoarse voice, drier than normal, made my chest hurt with concern. "Why didn't you come back earlier?"

I deposited my daily earnings in a small jar next to her bed. "I watched it happen. Please don't worry, I was hiding with Micha."

"You dragged Micha into watching? Why did you do that? Poor boy, he's probably shaking even now." My mother's voiced was laced with a slight hint of anger.

"Mother, please relax." I opened a cabinet door to retrieve one of the small pill packages that my mother was required to consume within a few days time. I grew disheartened when I noticed the low number of packages that we still had. They were so expensive, but gone so quickly. There was no way we could keep up with the costs, and we had already lost many of our things due to the expenses.

I gave my mother a glass of water along with one of the pills from the package. I watched her swallow it with an expression of disgust on her face. Of course, I did not know how they tasted, but they were apparently less than delectable in my mother's opinion.

I asked the question I had been asking every day since the first time she had taken the medicine. "How do you feel?"

At this my mother would think deeply, carefully analyzing every function of her body. But her response was the same, and it made me even more worried.

"I don't think…I'm getting any better."

My mother had gotten sick one day when I was eight, suddenly collapsing on the kitchen floor in a fit of bloody coughs. The nearby doctor, after an hour of analysis, told me that she had contracted a lung ailment from unclean air and a dirty environment. We purchased the first set of pills from him at a cheap price, but was soon forced to pay in full. We sold everything to pay for those pills, including my father's prized hunting dagger. I didn't know my father very well, as he had died when I was only a few months old. From what, my mother never told me.

The pillows were too firm underneath my head. It was difficult to sleep. There were too many things to think about, too many worries. My thoughts darted from mother, to Micha, to the thieves, to the nobles, to the lack of an heir to the throne. Restless, I looked outside the window. The stars were bright, shimmering in a divine light. Fluffy clouds hung onto the moon, yet hardly diminishing its brilliance.

I chuckled with a tinge of bitterness. So beautiful in a world so cruel.

The author's comments:
Just a sample of a story I'm working on. Care to give some critique please?

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