Kiya let an arrow fly as she weaved in and out through the dense forest surrounding her. She was training with her older sister, Elizabeth. They were training to defend themselves
if needed when needed. Her arrow hit her target perfectly and she jumped on a low tree branch pumping her fists up.
“Well Done!” her sister cheered triumphantly, “you’re getting good at archery, a few more days and you’ll be able to hit a target from a klick away,” Elizabeth told her enthusiastically.
They trained for several more hours, running and jumping through naturally made courses and practising stealth and weapon handling, before walking north through the dense wood to the small village on the edge of Lady Beka’s property they called home. Elizabeth hurried towards their home looking oddly rushed.
Before scurrying home Elizabeth turned around, “I’ll tell mum that you’ll be back by sunset,” her sister called out.
“Thanks,” she happily replied, the ferocious wind drowning out most of her voice. As she walked the wind whipped at the hair around her face forcing her to tie it back with the dull grey ribbon to match her grey clothes, Lady Beka her mistress had told her that all peasants were to wear the signature grey and it made her miserable.
Kiya decided to walk to the river, where it would be quiet. She walked through the fields, the waist-high wheat brushing gently against the sleeve of her clothes. The field stopped abruptly a wooden fence. Kiya dug her foot into the lowest railing and swung herself over landing on a small rock amongst the short grass.
Kiya looked up at a nearby tree as a bird suddenly came to life with a chirp and flew tree to tree, alerting its brothers and sisters. A rustling sound came from a small animal scurrying under the thick ferns and over the thousands of brittle branches and twigs. The constant sound of the breeze, rustled the leaves leaving them to gently sway in its caress. A chirp came from a smooth-barked tree up above her as if it were calling to something, letting it know it was still there. The strong smell of the trees scattered across the somewhat open lakeside mixed with the distinct aroma of fetid earth.
With the gentle gurgling of the winding river, the spotted trees hid all the critters that drank from it. The sunlight lightly shone through the leaves making polka-dots on the ground, slightly lighting up the dead tree trunks where shelf fungus had grown like dinner plates for the creatures inhabiting its sweet sanctuary. Mushrooms lay in clusters as if the Whzgoinons used them for their meetings, late at night when all was sound asleep, with not a peep.
Kiya walked along the riverside, occasionally stopping to pluck a pebble from the sullen river only to throw it back in. She found a patch of grass where she kneeled, placing her hands in her laps and closed her eyes, feeling a sense of peace in her surroundings, mirroring in her body.
She always needed some quiet moments after training, to wash away her anger and her fear. The king that ruled Alickia was cruel and killed her father because he broke his leg and was rendered useless. Her mother had come to believe that their father was still alive despite the numerous witness accounts including her own children’s that he saw his death. It had turned her mother mad with the belief that someday her husband would return. Kiya looked up into the golden sunset and gasped she had been so lost in her thoughts that she almost missed the beautiful sun sinking over the horizon.
“Oh No,” she whispered to herself as she spun around on the spot, her heels digging into the ground, and raced back to the rickety house, she was going to be in so much trouble.
Her mother was waiting for her at the door with a worried frown creased on her face.
“Elizabeth said you’d be home before sunset, so WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?”
“I - I lost track of time,” she mumbled knowing what was coming next “You are not allowed to leave this house for reasons other than working for 2 pinitais!” Her mother told her. Kiya bit back her sigh, “straight to sleep, — Now!”
She couldn’t bite back her sigh any longer as she shoved past her mother and made her way to a dark corner of the house, she didn’t have a proper bed and the make-shift bed she’d made was itchy, but she sank into the bed anyway, dosing off into a dreamless sleep.
Kiya was startled awake when the front door creaked open, her eyes couldn’t see through the darkness, and she squinted to see who it was. As her eyes adjusted, she saw her sister “Elizabeth? What are you doing?”
Her sister's mouth formed a hurried sigh, and she bit her lip. “I have to go, you know I have to go, the rebellion needs us. The king needs to be taken down, please come with me.” Elizabeth told her.
“I- I can’t,” her voice thick as she fought back the tears that were welling in her eyes, “Do you realise what you’re asking me to do, to leave mum, you know she won’t be able to handle this if we both runaway”.
“Yes – I guess you’re right, but you know that the rebellion needs you.
“I know, but mum needs me. Don’t leave please, it’s going to kill mum”.
“I have to leave, you know that, but –” she reached for something that hung around her neck, “Here it’s my necklace of you and me, wear it, that way I’ll always be with you” and with that, her eyes couldn’t hold back the flood of tears she was trying to hide, but her sister saw them. Elizabeth reached for her wiping away her tears saying “Hey, it’s going to be okay, It’s not goodbye forever just for now. Elizabeth hugged her sister one more time and Kiya hugged her back with as much force as she could, wondering if she should even let go, but when she did her sister offered her a weak smile, “Goodbye Kiya, I promise I’ll see you again”.
She nodded not trusting her voice, she waved at her sister as she disappeared, staring into the blank darkness for several more minutes before she dragged herself back to the surface of her cold itchy bed.
When she woke up her mother sat at the table sipping an empty cup and talking to herself.
“Yes Elizabeth, I did have a good night”.
“Mum… Elizabeth isn’t there”.
“What are you talking about Kiya, of course, she’s here”.
“No, Mum listen to me! She isn’t here!” She didn’t mean to raise her voice, but she couldn’t stand her mother pretending that she was still around, it hurt too much. Tears welled in her eyes, “She’s gone mum, she’s gone and she’s not coming back!” Her mum was still buried deep in her thoughts sipping at the drink she had in her hands and Kiya remembered how her father had gone to great lengths to get that cup for her.
Kiya sighed she knew what she had to do to see her sister again, but it involved leaving her mother, who was clearly in no state to handle herself. She buried the thought deep in her mind. Her mother turned back to the empty chair talking to herself, and Kiya decided to let the topic go. She dropped into the chair at the end of the table, fiddling with her locket, she opened it to the photo smiling at her sister.
She’s alright she told herself her thoughts kept wandering back to the last thins her sister said to her it’s a necklace with a photo of you and me, wear it, that way I’ll always be with you – her thoughts were interrupted by a loud knock on the door, she jumped and slowly made her way to the door, as she opened the door, she wished she could slam it again.
“Good Morning?” she told the knights.
“We wish to speak to Mrs Frost,” they stated abruptly. We believe she is having some troubles thinking clearly”.
She trembled, her mother was having issues thinking clearly, and she knew that the king would see that as a reason to kill her mother, but she was a terrible liar, so she nodded slowly regretting it as soon as the knight said, “By order of the King, your mother has been assigned to live out her days in a dungeon before she harms the community.” By this, the knight meant she was going to be killed.
“No, my mother hasn’t hurt anyone, you can’t do this,” she said.
“Actually, we can do whatever the king wills.”
“NO, PLEASE YOU CAN’T, I DON’T HAVE ANY OTHER FAMILY” Kiya screamed her voice choked with the tears that were streaming down her cheeks.
He pushed her aside and paused to look her in the eyes, “You can’t stop this, no one can, the king asked for her to be contained so she shall be.”
The rest shoved past her returning only seconds later roughly dragging her mother out,
“I love you Mum” she whispered, “I’ll always love you, Mum”.
She turned to the knights, her voice turning gravely and sombre, “I’ll make you pay for everything you’ve ever done to me, and punish you for everything you took away from me.”
The last knight to leave the small mud made cottage turned back to her with a small look of regret and sorrow but as quickly as it came, it went. “Goodbye Miss Frost.”