Friday, September 15, 2017

06 ~ The Pioneer

The outskirts of Dragon Valley
Era of Prophecies: Year 802

~

“Je t’aime, je t’aime toujours.”



The grass bent beneath the feet of an eight-year-old boy as he ran circles around the trees and laughter bounced off the surrounding area. He was happier in the wooded outskirts of Dragon Valley than he had be in the crowded streets of Gallia’s city center.


He hadn’t even thought once that day about his father being returned from the war in an urn almost a year prior.
“I am forever yours.”



The boy hopped over a fallen log and circled back around, the sound of his mother’s singing keeping him in the general vicinity around her as they walked deeper into the forest that tickled his skin with magic.
He giggled as he moved his arms up and down. “Maman! Look! I’m a bird! Caw!”
“Sweet dreams, sweet dreams, mon cher.”



The boy’s feet came to an abrupt halt as he dropped to his knees with wide eyes. In a quick motion he pulled a notebook out of his short’s pocket, his hands continued to pat at his pockets furiously as he tried to find the writing utensil he had brought along with it.


“You’re always in my prayers.”
He had waited for a rest in the song before piping up. “Maman! Maman! Look! Look!” He continued patting his pockets. “It’s… it’s an antirrhinum!”
His mother came over and smiled warmly. “Very good, Robert! That is a snapdragon, but it’s not flowered yet. Good eye, petit coeur.”


Robert beamed, flipping through pages in his notebook before looking up at his mother with bright eyes. “You can dry them and use them to help fight inflammation.” He fumbled through his pockets once more, finally coming across the broken piece of colored wax he used to scribble unreadable notes in his notebook with. “Do you think the water will be enough, maman? Should we grab some other herbs while we’re out here?”


“Idina doesn’t have inflammation, but we can keep our eyes out for other herbs. Sound good?” His mother held out her hand and Robert took it with his own.
“Oui, maman.”
They hadn’t walked long before Robert let go of his mother’s hand and bolted ahead, grabbed by another fascinating thing. His mother often called him ma petite éponge, ‘my little sponge,’ just due to how quickly he absorbed the world around him.


It wasn’t long before he struck fantastical gold once again. “Maman! Maman!” He pointed wildly at the glowing blue flower, his eyes wide with wonder. “Fantastique! Is this magic, maman? I’ve never seen a flower do this! It looks almost like a campanula! A...ahh… bluebell!”
His mother smiled softly down at him. “Oui, mon petit coeur, it means we’re getting closer.”
He could not tear his eyes from the brilliant, blue flower. “We’re looking for… a river right?”
“A stream my dear, and this flower means we’re getting close.”


“Streams are smaller than rivers! I read about them.” Robert stood up, once again leaning his head against his mother’s skirt as they began to walk. “We want the stream’s water because it’ll help Cat’s mom, right?”


His mother stroked his hair gently. “Not just any stream, darling, but one very specific one. This stream has a very special source.”


“The Spirit Spring!” Robert whispered with wonder in his voice.
“Exactly. The runoff from the Spirit Spring makes this water special. It gives it healing properties that I can bolster with my herbs to make tonics.” His mother hummed softly as she continued rubbing his hair.


Robert hopped in front of her, thrilled at the prospects before him. “Do you think we can see inside it, maman?”
His mother shook her head carefully. “No, darling. We won’t get that close to it. I’m not trained enough in magic to go so close to something that powerful.”
“If the water is healing, why not just give Cat’s mom the water, maman?” He had begun to run circles around her skirt, having far more energy than he knew what to do with.


“Well, mon petit coeur, I speculate it’s because the water we get is diluted. The further away from the source it is, the less healing properties it has. You see, Robert, when your grandmother was sick, my father, your grandfather, went deep into the woods, as close to the source as he could possibly stand and got your grandmother water that brought her back from the brink of death.” She recounted it softly as she looked forward as they walked. “He was very nearly injured himself by the sheer power of the Spirit Spring, though, so that’s why we don’t go up that far.”


“How was grandpa able to get so close, maman?” Robert stared up at her, curiosity filling his young eyes.
"Magic, dear. The same magic I have, and the same magic that you have, too.” She poked his nose softly. “Only, I am not as trained in it as he was.”


“Oh! What if I train in it? I can get really good and we can see the Spirit Spring! Maybe I could go inside and meet one!” He jumped up enthusiastically before breaking free from her grasp and running ahead.


His mother laughed and slowed slightly, her breathing heavier. “Mon petit coeur, please come back. I think I need a break, come sit with me.”
“But maman! We’re almost there! I can hear it!” He called to her as he stood on his toes, craning his head around to get a glimpse.


“I know dearest, but the stream isn’t going anywhere. I’m not feeling the best.” She had slowly lowered herself to the forest floor and patted the ground next to her.


Robert hopped back towards her on one foot before dropping to the ground and running his fingers along the nature found there. “Maybe you should drink from the stream too?”
His mother smiled at him, brushing some dirt that ended up on his face away. “Perhaps, but I am not here for me. We’re here for Idina today. It’s important we only ever approach the Spirit Spring with the purest intentions.”


His little brow furrowed and he looked at her curiously. “Why?”
His mother laughed like it was obvious. “To show respect, of course! Spirits do not barge into our home and take things that are ours.”


Robert giggled at the thought, “spirits don’t ever leave the Spirit Spring though, maman!”
“Perhaps that’s what they want you to think, petit coeur.” They both quieted as Robert looked off towards the edge of the forest as his mother watched him with pride. “You know when I was your age, my father took me out here and told me an important story. Would you like to hear it?”


That caught his interest and Robert’s head spun quickly to look at her. “A story? What story?”
“My father heard this story from his mother, who heard it from her mother. This story has been told many, many times.” She smiled as Robert’s interest only grew. “Before the world began, there was a being who existed. Your grandfather said we called this being ‘the greatest creator,’ and he was the size of a mountain!” She drew her hands up wide.


Robert’s eyes widened. “But… but that’s not possible! We would see him if he were that big!”
His mother laughed. “He’s not here, mon petit coeur! He lives beyond the Spirit Springs in a world with his children, the spirits.”


“Like the Spirit Realm? I read about that place! It’s supposedly barren!” He nodded fiercely.
“It’s possible. The story says he created our world so that we could live in peace and safety while he and his children guard the doors to our world. He would do it himself, but creating things tires him and so he sleeps. Rumor says every time the earth shakes it’s because he’s snoring!” She laughed, smiling at her son brightly.


Robert laughed too, but he shook his head swiftly. “Does the great creator answer to the Lord Aadish?”
His mother shook her head firmly. “Absolutely not! The God of Knowledge and, well, all of our gods would answer to him instead. With good reason, too, as the story your grandfather said that the greatest creator was benevolent and perfect in every aspect!”


“That’s not possible though!” He protested.
His mother frowned then, looking at him seriously. “Oh? And why is that, Robert?”
He continued shaking his head. “None of the books ever said anything about a great creator! Surely if this were true it would be in at least one book!”


His mother sighed softly, yet she tried to smile gently. “You’re so smart, my son.” She reached over and tucked a strand out of his eyes carefully. “Do you know how the people who write the books you read talk about the information they do?”
Robert shook his head, unable to come up with a response.


“They discover it, Robert.” She reached over and tipped his face up to look at her. “Sometimes you have to be the pioneer to learn something new. Does that make sense, darling?”
He nodded, a mischievous smile growing. “I could be the one to discover it!”


“You absolutely could! I just need you to promise me something, ok?” His mother looked at him gently. “You must promise you will always treat the Spirit Spring with respect and admiration, do you understand? It is the home of the spirits, and they are the reason we are here.”
“Oui, maman.” Robert slowly leaned until his head fell into her lap. “I wonder… if the Spirit Realm is their home, is it like our home, maman? Do you think I could see it?”


“We’ll all see it one day, darling. That was the story your grandfather told me when I was your age. When we die here, we join the greatest creator in his world where we will live amongst his children.” His mother rubbed his back as she spoke.
“What about the Land of the Dead, maman? I thought everyone went there when we died?” Robert had scooted closer to her.


“I like to think that place is only a temporary place, and that after a while we are moved into the Spirit Realm near the greatest creator.” She continued stroking his back gently as she looked forward into the woods.
“Do you think da is with the greatest creator, maman?” The question made the woods seem even more quiet than they already were.


His mother sighed very gently, a distant look filling her eyes. “I hope so, mon petit coeur. I really hope so.”

~

It had been three months since Robert had ventured out with his mother to the Spirit Spring’s stream and they had returned with the ingredients for Idina’s tonic.


Robert had taken the tonic over that day and for the first time Catrina actually agreed to play with him. He knew it was probably due to her mother making her, but at least it was something.
Catrina was the only child that lived close enough that qualified for a potential friendship, and Robert wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a friend.


She was seven, and she hated playing with boys.
Or maybe it was just Robert she didn’t like playing with, he couldn’t be sure without more variables to test with.


Robert hopped up and down on the steps in his house, listening to the boards creak beneath his weight. He was supposed to be studying science, but he wasn’t very fond of physics. At least this way he could make the physics seem funner.


He had gone to see Catrina earlier and she hadn’t been nearly as bossy as she usually was. As the evening was winding down he was preparing to chalk the day up to being a better-than-average day.
He stopped at the bottom of the steps when he heard a sound that didn’t sound like the creaking of his own feet hitting the wood.


The thud that echoed in the hall made him jump. “Maman?”
There was no response and Robert took a hesitant step towards the kitchen where his mother was.
“Maman!” He called again. “Ma?”
When no response still came he could feel fear begin to enter him as he ran for the kitchen. “Maman? Maman!”


His mother had collapsed onto the ground, her body shook involuntarily and her eyes had rolled back up into her head.
He let out a wail, “maman!”


Robert rushed his mother, gripping her shoulders as he tried to shake her awake. “Ma? Maman! Maman!” Tears were falling down his cheeks as panic overtook him. She wasn’t responding. She wasn’t responding at all.


He had always known his mother was sick, but he had thought she was getting better. The nurses that would come to see her started to only come once a week instead of twice. Things seemed to be improving - the nurses had just come the day before, even. He needed help, he just needed someone to help her.


His eyes jumped around the kitchen when it landed on the basket his mother had taken with her when they had gone to the Spirit Spring previously.
He closed his fists with determination. “I’m going to get you water, maman! Just… hold on!”


Robert stood quickly, rushing for the basket as he snatched the vial from it and flew out the door as fast as his legs could carry him.
His home was disappearing behind him as he ran into the darkening forest. He closed his eyes and opened them several times, trying to adjust to the darkness he was running into. His foot caught something and he was thrown to the ground with the force of his own momentum.


Dazed, it took him a moment to pull himself up, his ankle protesting as he stood to put weight on it. The chill of autumn was setting in and now that Robert wasn’t moving he shivered in the night.
He checked the vial in his grasp and eased when he saw it to be in one piece still.


He looked behind him for the first time and realized he could no longer see his house. He had no idea where he was going and he was kicking himself for not making a map properly the last time he and his mother had gone this way.
Not that it would’ve helped, the forest was dark and only growing darker.


Robert pushed himself to run further, but all he could feel was the oppressing dread the darkness reminded him of. He was lost. He should turn around and run straight back home. He should run and get help from Catrina’s mother. It was foolish to run off into the woods.
Yet he knew Catrina’s mother couldn’t help.


It would be days before he could flag down a nurse, and at least several hours more than he had if he ran into town for the doctor.
The Spirit Spring could heal. It was his only option.


His eyes caught a flicker of something - a slight pulse and he stopped in his tracks.


The glowing bluebell was pulsing softly against the dark night. His eyes adjusted and he could see them - more of them. Dozens of them. He remembered it. He was getting closer.


It renewed his vigor and he sprinted once again, the sounds of water entering his ears now.
He collapsed at the side of the stream where his mother had taken him originally and reached for the vial.


“I speculate it’s because the water we get is diluted. The further away from the source it is, the less healing properties it has.”
His hand hovered over the water hesitantly. This water wouldn’t be enough to save his mother. It was too weak. He needed more.


“Your grandfather went deep into the woods, as close to the source as he could possibly stand and got your grandmother water that brought her back from the brink of death.” Robert’s eyes traveled up the stream.
If he could just get closer.
His mother had told him not to - that they couldn’t… but his mother needed it.


Pain was radiating in his ankle and his legs burned from the sprinting yet he pushed himself up and began to work his way upstream.
He stumbled along the rocky bank, attempting to run further, before he lost his footing and slipped. He let out a cry as the rocks dug into his palms. His lower half was soaked from landing in the water and the muck from the bottom of the stream seeped into his socks.


The hand that held the vial opened to reveal it still safe, and with his other hand he brought his arm up to smear away the tears that fell involuntarily down his face.
Once again, he forced himself to his feet, despite all of his muscles protesting. Magic was tickling against his skin, but the tickling was growing into stinging that worsened every step he took.


He scrubbed his face against his sleeve to stop the burning, his eyes beginning to water further. It was getting lighter out, but the world was seemingly losing color. He didn’t know much magic, just the basics. He pushed his hand out to form a weak shield that made him lose his breath.


It worked enough though, and the stinging lessened. With that, he carried onward along the stream.
He wasn’t sure how long it had been, or how much time he even would have. The Spirit Spring was glowing in his vision, searing into it. He winced and looked downward towards the stream that all seemed to glow in this black and white world.


Robert stumbled on a slippery rock, yet when he braced himself for the fall… nothing came. It was almost like he was suspended in the air.


He found his footing and let himself drop to his knees, suddenly feeling the weight of himself again. He shivered against the cold and the magic in the area made his head spin. He felt woozy. Would he even make it? His eyes focused in on the stream below him that glittered with the magic.
This was it.
He could feel it.


His hands shook as he grabbed the vial and brought it forward. He tipped it into the water carefully, sniffling as he did so.
He could feel the magic battering against him, his shield had completely waned away and he whimpered. “I… I’m sorry for… for coming into your home… my maman… my maman needs help. I-I only want some w-water to help m-my maman...”


The magic seemed to quiet and Robert looked around with weary eyes. He pulled the vial up from the water with a small smile of victory.
He stood up, but almost too fast. His legs wobbled beneath his weight. The dizziness filled him until he nearly stumbled.
He moved to stabilize himself, and in the jostling the vial slipped from his fingers.


Robert jumped to catch it, but it was too late, the vial had hit the ground and shattered along with any hope he had of saving his mother.
All the air escaped his lungs and he screamed, dropping to his knees again as he scrambled to examine the glass fragments. “No! No! Maman! NO!”


His vision blurred as tears spilled over. He had failed. He made it all the way here and he had failed.
He had clutched his knees to his chest when his blurry vision grew brighter and brighter. It grew so bright he had to wince and look away. It was almost like someone had turned an insanely bright light on.


Robert blinked rapidly as he looked for the source. His eyes adjusted slowly until he saw it.


Her.
Her bright blue eyes glowed and blinked back at him and he threw himself back at the sight of her.
A spirit. It had to be.
Yet those never left the Spirit Spring according to Lord Aadish’s studies. Ever.
He knew what he was seeing had to be a spirit, he could just feel it. She tilted her head as she looked at him. Perhaps she was here to punish him for coming too close?
Robert averted her gaze and looked to the ground, choking on his tears. “I-I-I’m so-so-sorry… I-I just wa-wanted some wa-water to save m-my ma-my mom.”
He couldn’t stand to look at the spirit and instead he gave into the sobs that choked him.


Something tapped him and he shot upward, causing the spirit to nearly fall backwards too. Yet she jumped right back up, her hands cupping something. She looked at him with eyes that were not full of upset nor anger.
Instead she urged him to look with her eyes as her hands came open to reveal one of the blooms from the nearby bluebell.


Robert sniffled and wiped at his face, his eyes squinting as he looked back at the spirit carefully. She kept gesturing down with a motion of her eyes and he looked again, only to see the bloom had grown significantly. Before he could ask anything, the spirit dunked the bloom into the stream, filling it while sprinkling it with dust that came from her fingers, and sealing the top of the bloom back up. She held her hands out in front of her, now urging him to take it with her eyes.
He hesitated. “A-Are y-you sure?” He sniffled again and wiped his face once more.
Her eyes glanced up and behind Robert before returning to him. He moved to look behind him when she pushed her hands forward and placed the new vessel into his own hands.


He tried to straighten but he almost couldn’t believe the kindness he had received. “T-Thank-” As he had opened his mouth to thank her, her hands suddenly moved towards his face. He had no time to react as liquid drizzled into his mouth.
Water.


She had taken the leftover water in her hands and given to him. He could feel his own body growing lighter, and before he could say anything more, the spirit nodded to something behind him and he was lifted suddenly. All he could see was darkness.


He spun his head around, catching a glimpse of the forest and the bright spirit waving at him as she got further and further away at a rapid pace.


The world was moving so fast it was dizzying. He closed his eyes and by the time he opened them again he was standing at the edge of the forest facing his house which appeared unchanged, breathing heavily. He barely had enough time to shake off being dazed when he looked down at his hands and realized he still had the glowing blue bloom.


He turned to look at the forest, uncertain of all that had just occurred. His clothes were wet and dirty, but all of the scratches and bruises he had received had vanished.
Robert ran back inside of his house and helped his mother drink the water given to him by the bright spirit. It wasn’t long before she was up and recovering.
Robert had gotten far more than he had bargained for from the Spirit Spring. That day had set events in motion that would change his life - and the world - forever.




SimNoWriMo Word Count: 3902
SimNoWriMo Picture Count: 69


~

French Translation:
(Special thanks to Blamsart for help with the French portion of this chapter: je mange votre pantalon).
“Je t’aime, je t’aime toujours.” - "I love you, I love you always." 
"Maman" - "Mom"
"Petit coeur" - "Little Heart" used as a term of endearment.
"Mon petit coeur" - "My little heart," used as a term of endearment.
“Oui, maman.” - "Yes, mom." 
"Fantastique!" - "Fantastic!" 

4 comments:

  1. hsrehgoaksjglbav

    i cant this chapter was so much
    LIKE LOOK AT YOU GO DARLING, MET YOUR FIRST SPIRITS. and not any kind of spirits.

    GOD THAT SCENE WAS INTENSE. I'M FLOORED AND PLEASED AND SO HAPPY. I squealed when I saw Theran and Adriel, I admit it. There is no shame.

    ReplyDelete
  2. MY HEART.
    GAH.
    THIS CHAPTER.

    I adored the editing and loved how you incorporated it into the human realm. When I saw Adriel and Theran, I died a little bit of happiness. I loved, loved the hints about the flowers throughout the chapter.

    I would say amazing chapter as always but...this might have been the best thing you wrote.
    I'm in awe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have no words. And, I don't think I ever will. This is just.... WOW
    I think my brain might explode if I try to think of anything to say except that..... WOW

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't know much french, but my boyfriend does a bit so I pulled him in before I saw the translations at the end haha
    Speaking of, he was really worried for me during this chapter. I got very vocal when this little boy had to run through the forest. Also when he dropped the vial! That broke my heart.
    I've only just met him, but Robert is a darling and I adore him already. There's hardly anyone I don't so far! Oh well there is his friend Catrina who seems like a spoiled brat haha

    I might've squealed loudly when I saw Adriel and Theran. I've only been separated for a bit and I already missed them.

    I have a confession. I usually enjoy reading just one chapter of a story a day. That's what I've been doing so far with sims stories, and sometimes longer than a day. It might just be today, but I can't seem to stay away from your story for very long!

    ReplyDelete