Daughter of Light (rewrite) / Chapter 5
Posted January 18th, 2019 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
a/n: so i posted chapters 4 and 5 back to back because they are both so short lol. i hope none of you mind.
“We have issues that need to be addressed,” Loren said, tapping an idle finger on the head of her staff. “Half the Witches in our village have no homes until we are able to rebuild, which may take months.”
Eileen sunk into the shadowy corner of Loren’s upstairs, watching the three Elders of the village sat straight-backed around a circular table. The Elderwitch had asked her to observe this meeting, as if she were training to become the next Elderwitch. Or maybe Loren just wanted her to gather the information being discussed so that she wouldn’t have to relay it back to her later.
Though nothing of much importance had been talked about yet, just the repercussions of the attack last night. The other Elders started speaking about what order to rebuild. Of course their houses were higher up on the list, but under the mess hall, which had turned into a blackened husk of a building during the fire.
“Some of us are going to have to take in others until the construction is complete, and all of us are going to have to do our part in that,” Loren said, sharpening her words. Eileen sensed that she was preparing them for a final blow.
“And what are we going to do about the attackers?” Elder Winona asked.
“Well,” Loren tightened her lips. “I feel that there is a war on the horizon.”
This was expected.
“Kailen informed me that our neighboring countries have already begun fighting minor battles on their borders. Attacks like the one we received.”
“We are not on the border,” Elder Diana interjected.
“You’re right,” Loren said. “We are deep in the mountains of Mohana, so why would Leon Hadar decide to attack here? Of all places?”
Eileen’s stomach dropped. She should have seen it coming—she should have known why Loren wanted her to be here. To show her off—to parade her around to the other Elders. Damp coals glowed in her chest as she watched the Witches all waiting for Loren to answer her own question.
“Eileen,” Loren said.
Not a single one of them looked at her, as if she were nothing more than a coat-rack shoved into the back of a room for them to ignore.
“Leon Hadar wants Eileen, because of her abilities.”
“She’s a mutt,” Elder Winona snarled. “Why would he want a mutt?”
“Maybe because his entire country consisted of Warlocks. Maybe because she is the last known person in the world to control water like they could.”
“Well he can have her,” Elder Winona flicked her hand.
Eileen felt her shoulders sinking in, her body melding in with the inanimate objects of the room, falling back into the dark and dust—
“Step forward, Eileen,” Loren commanded.
Her blood and bones froze and it took her a few moments to process the Elderwitch’s words. She peeled herself away from the corner and stepped into a shaft of light, the long window showing a line of green trees. She had never been this high up in a building, only in trees. Rosalyn had—it was Rosalyn’s duty to climb to Blackbird’s Peak and light the warning signal. She’d only ever done it as a drill, except for last night. She’d made it halfway up the trail when the village fire went out and she came back down to see what happened. Eileen had been slightly disappointed that her sister missed her actually using her powers in a helpful way, but pushed that thought aside.
“This young Witch right here is the key to having a fighting chance in this war.”
Eileen’s flowery thoughts of nature and breathtaking views shattered, leaving her staring into a fuzzy abyss.
“This is ridiculous, Loren,” Winona said.
“Let me speak,” the Elderwitch said, her voice cracking like a whip. “Eileen is young. She has potential. King Hadar is only going to keep making weapons using fire—weapons that we can’t fight against. You all saw what this girl did just last night. She extinguished a maelstrom of flames in seconds. Eileen is the only chance for Mohana to be more than a smoking battlefield when this war is over.”
A fire sparked to life in that abyss, boiling Eileen’s veins. “Don’t I get a say?”
Every head turned to her, red eyes waiting like the opening depths of volcanoes.
Loren nodded, “Of course.”
“I never agreed to be a part of this. Any of this. What I did yesterday, that was just instinct—I don’t even know what got into me, but that wasn’t something I can just do.”
“You might be able to if you try, Eileen—”
“Not only that, but I don’t want to be the winning factor in a war against Euanthe. I will fight alongside our kind, but I refuse to lead a group of people that have treated me like dirt my entire life.”
“Please,” Winona scoffed.
Diana tilted her head. “Loren, I just saw more passion in that girl than I have seen in eighteen years.”
Loren’s eyes were glowing. “Right? Doesn’t her potential just shine?”
“What in Saoirse’s name are you talking about?” Eileen started toward the stairs. She reached the top step and turned around. “I am not going to be a part of this—of any of this. You’re all ridiculous.”
She stampeded down the stairs and hesitated at the front door, the Elders’ muffled voices continuing upstairs. Eileen stopped and listened.
“—I can see what you’re talking about, Loren.” That was Diana.
“Maybe. But she’s still not a Witch. Not with such vulgar blood.” Winona.
“But you’re on board?” Loren asked.
“Excellent,” Loren continued. “Now I just have to send word to surrounding villages that we have the answer to their problems.”
Eileen slipped outside, easing the door shut behind her. She tore across the village, keeping her head down to avoid anyone’s unwanted attention. The walk to Loren’s house that morning had been dreadful, full of wary glances and snide remarks from other Witches she’d known all her life. And seeing the destruction that remained after the attack had only cast a dark shadow over her mood. Only gray skeletons of almost half the village was left, buildings and belongings burned in the fire.
Eileen and Rosalyn were lucky. She knew that, though her sister had felt the need to tell her before they slept last night. Or rather before they tried to sleep.
Eileen supposed the only miracle from the night before was that no one died. That was something. Not even King Hadar’s soldiers perished, slipping away into the forest before the Witches could get a hold of them. No one knew what they used to start such a mighty fire, but Eileen supposed it must’ve been a large weapon to take out half a village.
She crossed the stream and passed a few still-standing houses before reaching her own and stepping inside. Rosalyn was leaned over the stove, stirring something in a pot.
“What’s that?” Eileen asked.
Eileen scrunched her nose and headed into the bedroom. Everything was the same—the smells, the light through the window, the made beds—so much the same that Eileen almost didn’t notice the Witch asleep on her sister’s bed.
One of the Witches in their village that had tormented Eileen since they were children and learned how to speak. Who had shot fireballs at her and forced her to either deflect them or get burned. But if Eileen used her own water powers to defend herself, then she got made fun of for weeks.
Eileen flinched at the memories and the surge of sour anger churning in her gut. What was Serilda doing in Rosalyn’s bed?
Eileen spun around to ask but stopped short, Rosalyn inches away from her in the doorway, blocking her off from the rest of the house.
“What is she doing here?” Eileen asked.
“Keep your voice down,” Rosalyn said. “She’s sleeping.”
“Her house burned down. She needed—”
“She’s staying here?” Eileen asked, eyes wide.
“Eileen, she needs a home—”
“Why can’t any of the other Witches take her in? There are so many to choose from.” Eileen couldn’t seem to keep her voice down—she couldn’t seem to keep her heartbeat down either, because her chest pounded like a drum. How was she out of breath just from being angry?
“They’ve all taken one Witch, some two. Serilda is staying with us.”
Eileen looked at the ground. It could be worse. It could have been Vaenessa, who’d physically tortured Eileen on occasion, back when she could get away with it. But Rosalyn wouldn’t do that to her…she knew about that and she wouldn’t dare put Eileen in a situation like that.
Rosalyn cast her eyes over at the sleeping Witch and ran a hand through her own golden blond hair. “Indefinitely.”
Eileen scoffed and turned away. “I need to go. I…I need to get out of here.”
“Where are you going to go? The woods aren’t safe.”
“Safer than here,” Eileen said, pushing past her sister and out the front door.
Rosalyn raised her own voice to say, “That is not at all true!” before the door cut her off.
Serilda…living with them.
Eileen listened to the gurgling stream and the distant murmur of Witches before taking off for the forest.
The trees always calmed her, like their roots were a vein hooking nature to her soul, intertwining them into one essence. When she argued with Rosalyn, or disappointed Loren, or despised herself, she took for the woods and climbed one of her favorite trees, where she’d sit for hours and let the leaves whisper her secrets—secrets that made her problems crumble. It was how she coped with anger, how she handled her sadness. She just let the fresh air and the breezes and the animals wash it all away.
Watery sunlight filtered in through the canopy and freckled her face with shadows.
She took a deep breath and watched a deer stride into the clearing below. Its ear twitched as it looked up, big marble-eyes staring down its nose at her.
One nod and a smile from her sent it running off into thick foliage, the leafage trembling in its wake.
Sometimes Eileen hated the Witches’ impact.
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