Daughter of Light (rewrite) / Chapter 2
Posted January 16th, 2019 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
a/n: i've decided that i'm going to post twice a week.
i'm thinking wednesdays and fridays would be good times to post.
Finn Hadar, Prince of Euanthe and heir to the throne, needed a translator. He had everything he could ever ask for at his fingertips, but when he decided to take a trip to the market, he couldn’t communicate with the Daenysian painter. He wanted to know how much the oil painting was and he had asked about four times before he came to the conclusion that she couldn’t understand him. Not anymore than he could comprehend the gibberish coming from her own mouth.
Eventually he dug into his pocket, handed her two gold coins, and took the painting. She seemed rather pleased. A closer look at the painting and he knew why. He would’ve been surprised if she had priced it for a single gold coin. Maybe not even a silver.
Finn raised his hood and pushed through the crowds of people swarming Berea’s streets. Mid-afternoon was the busiest time to be out in the capitol city of Euanthe, with everyone heading home or shopping or selling. It was also the hottest part of the day. The sun gleamed in the sky and beat down on them in scorching waves. After a while of walking through the full streets, Finn started feeling like packed cattle. He took a right down Maybury Street and cut across the busy road, slipping behind a tall horse-drawn carriage. Sandy dirt spun up from the wheels, and Finn held the oil painting against his body to keep it from getting ruined.
Two shops down, a sign dangled on rusted chains.
Naldwine’s Wooden Toys.
The front room looked dark through the bay window, but that didn’t mean they weren’t home. Finn knocked on the door. Moments later, a man late into his fifties, his head hanging low over his shoulders, opened the door.
“Castor’s not here right now.”
“Do you know when he will be, Mr. Naldwine?” Finn asked.
“He said he was going to the market. And assuming he’s going to find trouble somewhere, I’d say a couple hours.”
Finn smiled and waved. “Thank you, sir.”
He started back toward the Market Square, but something about the thick, sweaty hoards of shoppers seemed less appealing than it had that morning. And his painting might get ruined if he left it out in the steaming sun all day.
Finn tucked the painting under his arm, ran a hand through his dark hair, and set off to the castle.
Finn arrived in his room and discarded his doublet and shoes, sprawling out on his bed and enjoying the cool castle interior. He set the oil painting against the wall to hang later. The doors to his balcony were closed, and the curtains drawn, enveloping the entire room in darkness. Finn turned on the oil lamp beside his bed and it flickered to life, scattering orange light across his unmade bed.
Ciara hadn’t been there yet.
He reached for a book under his pillow and began devouring words, passing time while he waited.
By the time he’d reached the halfway point of the book, a quiet knock echoed through the room. Finn’s heartbeat raced as he flew from the bed, threw a glance to the mirror to check on his hair, and then opened the door.
A small, fiery girl only a couple years older than Finn stood on the threshold, holding a bucket of cleaning supplies with an old cart behind her.
She looked down and curtsied, but Finn could see the smirk on her lips.
When she rose, her long red curls fell around her shoulders.
“Do you need a cleaning, your grace?”
“Of course, Ciara.”
She fought back a grin and stepped inside past him. Finn tossed a glance up and down the corridor and shut the door behind her.
She sat down the bucket and sighed. “That thing is heavy.”
Finn stepped forward on bare feet and reached out for her hand, their fingers intertwining.
“I could get you fired for complaining,” he said.
Ciara rose an eyebrow. “I could get you fired for this.”
She stood on her tiptoes, cupped a hand behind his neck, and kissed him. Finn sank into it, wrapping his fingers in her hair and—
She pulled away.
He laughed and wiped at his lips. “You can’t get me fired from being prince. I’ve already looked into that.”
She threw loose articles of questionable-smelling clothing into her laundry cart.
“Come on,” Finn started, wrapping his arms around her waist. “You don’t actually have to clean. I locked the door.”
She didn’t stop. “It’s my job.”
“But…if you clean it then you can’t come back, because there won’t be any more messes.”
Ciara turned around and laughed. “Like you’d have a problem making more messes.”
“As a matter of fact,” Finn said, sitting on the edge of his bed. “I am a very neat, organized person. I just do these things to see you more often.”
Ciara started straightening the books on his shelf. “Do what things?”
Finn was silent for a second.
She turned over a shoulder, her hair falling back in a spiraling wave of red, a little smirk on her lips.
He smiled and lifted his shirt, pulling it over his head, and throwing it on the floor.
Ciara eyeballed him, but turned back to the bookshelf.
Finn slumped on the bed. “Are those books more interesting than me?”
“Yes,” she said. He could hear the grin in her voice. “You know we can’t do that.”
“I can solve that problem,” he said.
“How?” Ciara balled up his shirt and threw it back at him.
“I’ll find a way,” he said, setting his shirt aside and getting up to help her work.
He trailed her into the washroom and grabbed a soapy rag from her bucket. He sat cross-legged beside the tub and started scrubbing the inside.
“This is my job, Finn,” Ciara said through gritted teeth.
“We’ve been through this.”
“So, you can’t help me do my job.”
Finn groaned and dropped the rag into the bucket. “Fine. I’m just trying to be helpful.”
Ciara didn’t look up as he left the room.
He couldn’t stay curled up on his bed, not while she was working just a couple steps away. He had to get out.
Finn didn’t bother lacing up his doublet again, and simply put back on his shirt, shoved on shoes, and threw a flimsy leather bag on his shoulder. The quietness of the hallway embraced him. He needed that quiet, needed someplace where he could gather his thoughts. With a quick glance back at his chamber door, Finn sped off out of the castle.
The inner bailey was crowded with people doing their jobs.
Hostlers led horses to and from the stables. The clanking of the multiple blacksmiths at work filled the enclosed grassy field, complimented by the ringing sound of sword-against-sword as the royal knights trained soldiers, and squires ran back and forth from the castle, gathering materials that their superiors might need.
Finn stood outside the stables and waited, peering into the cool, dim interior.
Eventually, a hostler named Travis approached him.
“Do you need Morana, your grace?”
“Yes, please,” Finn smiled. He waited a couple minutes and listened to the sound of Travis saddling up Finn’s preferred mare, while growing sweat made his cloth shirt cling to his chest. The hostler came walking out of the shadows of the stable, Morana following him on a lead. Her hooves crunched over the grass, her snorts steamy on Travis’s neck.
“Here you are, your grace.”
“Thank you, Travis,” Finn said. He took Morana from him, running a hand over the mare’s creamy brown coat. She nickered as he climbed into her saddle and adjusted himself on top of her. He dug his heels into her flank and she broke into a gallop. The inner portcullis was already raised, so Finn flew through, riding under the iron-wrought spikes that sank into the earth each night. They emerged into a down-sloping orchard of apple trees; the green leaves were illuminated by the sunlight and the crispy red fruit spring and summer bore hung low over his head as he ran.
Morana’s hooves made distant thuds on the grassy underbrush of the orchard.
“Right,” Finn whispered, pulling on her reins. The mare veered where the barely visible path, broken by roots and fallen leaves, broke into two. The left leading to the city and the right leading to Berea’s Forest.
The last remaining forest in all of Euanthe.
Trees rose like towers around Finn, the light against the canopy washing the entire forest floor in a sickly green glow. Morana stepped around roots and rocks, following a path that she’d rode hundreds of times with Finn on her back. Nearly one hundred paces away, the trees faded away and opened up onto a clearing overlooking the sky, the city, and the desert in the distance. Finn dismounted Morana and tied her lead to a tree branch. He unbuckled her saddlebag, grabbed his leather sketchbook, and took off for the overhang.
Boulders that had crumbled into smaller pieces of rock sat around the bare ground, exposed remnants of a mining excavation hundreds of years ago. Finn scaled the side of a boulder and sat precariously at the top, dangling his legs over the side. The world below him seemed to go on forever until it stretched into a blurred line. There was the forest, which from this height seemed smaller than it actually was, and beyond that the rest of Berea, which sprawled out in an intricate structure of roads and buildings. And the wall, the circular wall surrounding Berea and rising fifty feet into the sky. It was said to be the tallest wall in the world.
And past that, there was nothing.
Cracked desert, the ruins of the Sand War eighteen years ago, the devastating battle between the Warlocks and Witches that terminated the Warlock race and ended the war entirely.
No one would ever forget it.
But then again, no one dared to speak of it, except for tutors reading from anonymously published books. After that, the Witches all retreated back into Mohana and Finn’s father, Leon Hadar, arranged a treaty that would keep the Witches inside Mohana, and the rest of the continent out of it.
And in eighteen years, that treaty had not yet been broken.
Finn opened his sketchbook and withdrew a stick of lead from his pants. He soaked in the view and printed it in his mind, letting every detail come to life behind his eyes. Then lead hit paper and began tracing the outline of the curving wall, the sprawling city, the barren landscape beyond. If Finn could fly into the air and draw a picture of the southern view, he would sketch out the vast expanse of sea that splashed against the jagged palestone cliffs hundreds of feet below where the Berean castle sat.
He sighed and closed his sketchbook.
Dusk would come soon, and he needed to be back at the castle before then for his nightly lessons with Professor Lois. She would be furious if he was late again, so Finn climbed off the boulder, mounted Morana, and sped off for the castle, night chasing him.
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