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Adventure Science Fiction Fiction

~ Hello, this is Taylor, the author! I just wanted to say that this story is a bit longer than my usual ones, but nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it! ~

I woke up abruptly, beads of sweat covering my body. 

“Just a dream, just a dream…” I murmured, looking outside the window to get a sense of the time. It was dark, but there were a few tell-tale signs that the sun would be coming up soon. I had to hurry.

I rushed downstairs, to the water spout we had near the back of our abode. Quickly grabbing the small stone bowl of homemade toothpaste I’d made yesterday, I brushed my teeth. After splashing some more water onto my face, I went back up to our room, careful not to wake up Clem. 

Going through my clothes, I picked out a black cloak, putting it on quickly. Clem fidgeted, which was my cue to get going. She had a long night, and the last thing I wanted to do was to wake her up.

Staring at the ground, I walked briskly, heading to the town market. I had to finish getting food before the sun rose. That’s how things rolled in Azlardia.

Azlardia. The dictionary definition was “a large kingdom located around western Europe, well known for its strict rank-system”. That sounded good compared to what it was actually like. There were two classes, and I happened to be in the lower one. The higher one was the Monarchy. The royals belonged to that one, and when the rank-system came into place, many rich folk also begged to be let in, and they were, due to their money. They could control just about everything, had buttloads of money, nearly all of them were pretentious, and they despised the lower class. And then, there’s my class, the Unseeables. They were given nothing. We were apparently so filthy and poor that if they were seen by a royal during daylight, they were thrown in the dungeon, and if a nasty, cruel, royal saw them, they could even get slaughtered. And one more thing. Nobody had ever changed ranks.

I got to the market in a few minutes. It was still dark out, but I was pretty sure that no outsiders were inside. Looking around, I took off my hood, revealing my straight dirty blonde hair. I heard staggered footsteps, getting louder and louder. The frail street lights turned on, blinking weakly. 

“Dove.” A calm, raspy voice said.

I smiled, “Simone!”

She laughed quietly, “Shh. It’s still dangerous in the streets here, you know.” 

I looked down at her leg, which was wrapped in a dirty bandage. I felt bad, but there wasn’t anything I could do. Simone had been seen out in the daylight a few years ago while she was stealing some food, by a royal. Not any royal. By Queen Annabeth. She was quite - well known, by all of us poor folk. She was by far, the worst royal around. She believed she was at the top of the world (which was pretty much true, sadly,) and treated everyone, even fellow royals horribly. You can imagine how she treated the Unseeables. Simone was dragged into the dungeons, and I can only imagine God saved her, because everyone was sure she would be executed. We don’t know the full story, but we know she was spared of death, and instead was beaten heavily, especially on the left leg. 

I looked up at her, and felt a surge of anger. How could they do this to such kind-hearted people. How could they have ranked us without any sort of knowledge of what kind of people we were. Simone had been the grandmother Clem and I had never had. She provided us with warmth and comfort when there was no hope in sight. She always wore the same, modest, knitted sweater and baggy pants, her graying brown hair tied into a neat braid. And not to mention her dark black boots. I remember the day she stole those, the look of pure satisfaction drowning her face. We were all so excited. We’d never touched fabric like that, but only seen it worn by the Royals. Clem and I would walk over to her abode and admire it sometimes, after we’d fixed up supper for the three of us and her old cat, Daffodil. 

“Dove?” She said, her soothing voice snapping me out of my train of thought.

“Hm?” I said, realizing I was staring at her, “Ay, sorry Simone.”

Simone sighed, leaning on her walking stick, “It’s okay. I know the bandage is a sore to look at. You and Clementine will be coming over to my abode tonight, right?”

I nodded, “How could we miss our weekly supper with you. It’s the best thing we do all week!”

Simone smiled wearily, “Good. I’ll see you then. The sun is rising, you better get some food quickly.”

I hopped onto my feet, running farther into the market, waving good-bye to Simone. I was getting nervous, as I always did when the sun started to come up. A sinking feeling had established in my stomach, and all I wanted to do was grab some food and head back to my abode. Before they could do anything to me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Mama, we better head back to our abode.” I said, fidgeting with my fingers.

Mama looked down at me with her sweet, comforting, smile, “We’ll be okay, Dove. There’s still time to get some food.”

I looked up at the sun anxiously. It was rising, the orange glow becoming stronger and stronger. 

I watched as Mama headed towards a stall, grabbing a few pieces of cheese and fruit. She didn’t like stealing, but she did love me. I was all she had left, and we needed to eat to survive. She couldn’t bear seeing me hungry. 

We had gotten all of our food, putting it in my leather satchel. We were almost back to our abode, when I heard the sound of footsteps. Not poor footsteps. These footsteps were large, heavy, making clunking noises.

We began to walk faster. We knew we weren’t supposed to be seen, but there was nothing we could do but run. We were almost back home, when I looked behind me, and saw that the royal had his hand grasped around Mama. 

“Mama!” I screamed, running towards her.

The royal looked at me with wide, evil eyes, “Stay back, child.”

I watched in horror as the royal cut my mother up repeatedly, and as she bled to death. There was one thing she managed to sputter out right before she died. “Run.” 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And as Mama advised me to, I did run. Having a small, agile, nine year old body helped me out. I ran and ran, knowing that I couldn’t go back to Mama’s abode. I headed back towards the market, and stumbled off into a neighborhood of poorfolk abodes I’d never seen before. I entered the first one, expecting an adult, but seeing a small, scared, girl my age with curly red hair. Clementine. We stuck together from that day forward, being best friends for life and living in the same abode together, looking out for each other. Both of our parents had died, executed by royals, so we were both scarred as ever. But we had that in common, and we never felt afraid to talk to each other. 

On the way back to my abode, a figure in a cloak bumped into me, causing some of the nuts I had gotten to spill onto the dirty ground.

“Watch it!” I yelled.

The figure cleared his throat, “Ehm, sorry.” He looked up at my face, “Are you Dove? The one with the famed tally mark wall?” 

I grumbled, “Yes. Now get out of my way.”

I didn’t like talking about my tally mark wall. It brought back some unsettling memories. Azlardians weren’t always controlled by ranks. When Queen Annabeth’s husband, King Ronald, passed away, Queen Annabeth decided that there was a better way for Azlardia to be ruled. She brought in the rank system. That’s why all of the Unseeables loathed her. I was five years old when it happened. That day, mother promised me it wouldn’t last. To make me feel better, she had me start a tally mark count on my bedroom wall. When she died, I counted every tally mark before running off to Clem’s abode, and then remarked them all on the wall of our bedroom. I had stopped keeping count, because there were too many. News spread and it was a fun attraction for the Unseeables to look at. It brought nostalgia of how life was before King Ronald passed. 

I started running back to my abode. From the corner of my eye, I saw the figure staring at me, as I opened the door.

I headed into the kitchen, taking out the food I had stolen and putting it on the one cutting board we had. I felt a tap on my soldier, and I quickly snapped backwards.

“Gosh! Clemmy, you scared me!” I laughed, giving her a hug, “Did you sleep well? You were out so late yesterday night, I tried to stay up, but my body let up and I fell asleep.”

Clementine grinned, “It’s no problem. I mean, what’s the time now? Around 7:30? Man, I really did sleep in.”

I popped a berry into my mouth, “Mhm, you deserved it. You got us so much food, it’ll probably last us a few weeks if we preserve it correctly.”

Clementine laughed, “Did you see Simone?”

I exhaled, “Yeah. She’s getting old Clemmie, I mean, I can hardly bear to look at her. She works so hard, with a non-functioning leg, probably infected bandage, still stealing food and staying positive. I wish I had that kind of willpower.”

Clem chewed on a piece of cheese, “She is truly amazing. I can’t imagine what we’d do without her. I mean, we have a bunch of great friends who are practically family, but Simone is the one closest to us.”

I agreed, “Yeah. I mean, remember, up to a few years ago, she used to take us to school.” 

“Oh my gosh! We’re snacking!” Clemmie exclaimed, slapping the berry in my hand onto the cutting board, “We need a distraction.”

“Shoot. Well, I guess it’s time to wash our clothes.” 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Before we knew it, it was getting dark and it was about time to head to Simone’s abode for supper. It was chilly, so we put on our wool-lined cloaks, stepping out of the door. From the corner of the eye, I thought I saw a figure lurking nearby, but I ignored it, thinking I was just tired.

We made our way across town to Simone’s abode. It was a medium-sized building made of aging terracotta and stone. We did our special knock on the chipping blue door, and Simone opened it shortly after.

“Come in, come in.” She said, welcoming us in. 

Clemmie giggled, “Thank you for inviting us, we really appreciate getting to spend time with you in your warm home.”

Simone laughed, “You hype it up, it’s not homey at all, that’s why we call our living quarters ‘abodes’ after all.” We all grinned, as Simone continued, “And dear Dove, tomorrow is your 19th birthday.”

I groaned, not liking thinking about my birthday and getting older.

As usual, we talked, laughed, gossiped, played some games, and cooked supper together. We had gathered loads of berries, so we decided to make a little tart for dessert. The night finished up quickly, and it was soon time to head back to our abode. We walked quickly, feeling cold in the breeze of the full moon, eager to start a fire back in our old stone fireplace.

When we got back, I headed upstairs to our room, to put my cloak back into our wardrobe. But it wasn’t like any other night. I heard frantic footsteps, and as I swung open the door, a figure was jumping out of the window. 

“Hey!” I yelled, noticing that all of the tally-marks were gone. Soapy water was trickling down the wall. I felt a knot form in my throat, a knot that made feel like I was incapable of breathing. That was the only thing I’d held on to, one of the only good memories I had with Mama. Paralyzing fear and anger flooded through my body. But I was used to fear. And I was used to anger. So I pushed it aside, and jumped out of the window after him. 

It wasn’t a smart move, considering there was a good chance there would be nothing under me, but my instinct took over, and there was nothing I could do about it. Thankfully, I landed on the little canopy in front of our door, but then bounced off onto the ground. I could feel my face and knees bleeding, and I felt dizzy, but the figure was not far in front of me. With all the strength left in me, I got back up, running after him. I was a very experienced runner, so I caught up quickly, pinning him against the wall.

“What were you doing!? Huh!?” I yelled, pulling off his hood, “Why were you erasing my wall?”

“I- I’m sorry!” A familiar voice said. It was the same boy from earlier. That’s why he was so interested in my tally-mark wall, “Please! Forgive me!” And then I realized who he was, gasping, “Are you serious!? You’re Prince Finnigan! Son of that - uh, son of Queen Annabeth.”

Prince Finn sighed nervously, “Please let me explain. Queen Anna - my mother, wanted to murder you and your friend because of that tally mark wall. I convinced her otherwise. And then, I was forced to erase it if I was going to spare your life. I’m sorry. But I’ll let you know, I don’t agree with her morals at all. When I’m king, all of this is going to change.”

A dimpled smile flickered onto his face as he spoke about being king. 

I could feel myself smiling, so I quickly hardened up, “I could kill you. Right here. Right now. I could get revenge for everything your mother did to me, my family, and my friends.”

Finn laughed, “I’m not my mother. And uhm, I counted the tally-marks. There were 5109 of them. I know it’s a burden to re-mark them, but I figured I’d count anyway.” 

I grinned, impulsively giving him a hug, but quickly releasing. I could calculate how many there were, but I really appreciated and valued him putting in the effort to count all of them. He really did seem different from his mother.

I was at a loss of words, but I sputtered out, “T- thank you. I’m Dove.”

Finnigan grinned, “Pleasure to meet you, Dove. Well, I better be going.”

Before he started running off into the distance, I managed to get out a few words, “Finn! Would you maybe want to come here more often?”

Finn’s face lit up, “Y- yeah! I mean, for sure! I have nothing better to do anyways.”

“I’ll see you soon! And another thing - I think you’d make an amazing king.”

Finn blushed slightly, waved good-bye, and rode off in the distance.

December 31, 2020 04:54

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