When I started this book, it was with the vision of seeing the Initiate Wars realized. I wanted to write what it would be like to go through war, through death and be a protagonist who is a soldier herself. So I went for it. I hope you enjoy Sara Fairchild’s journey and explore this new time period in Algardis history.
I asked my beta readers what author they would compare Blades Of Magic to. Here’s Laura Greenwood’s response:
I don’t really think that it is like any author, I’ve never read anything like your books! But if I had to pick one then probably Brandon Sanderson based on the similarities with unique and imaginative magic systems, and strong female characters.
I think that’s a pretty awesome comparison, don’t you? So here’s the first two chapters and the blurb for a brand-new series set in the Algardis Universe. Time to get lost in Sara Fairchild’s world!
Sara Fairchild stared at the three men and two women who surrounded her with hard eyes. They had cornered her in an alley. But only because she wanted them to. She was having a bad day, might as well end it right. Feet planted firmly in the dry dirt, she called out to the group arrayed in a semi-circle around her, “Nice day for a fight, isn’t it?”
The woman to her right wore a raggedy scarf around her hair and her ears were covered in at least five earrings per lobe. She glared and said, “You think you’re funny, girl?”
Sara watched as the woman spit into the dirt before her in disgust.
“Your da was a disgrace,” the woman continued. “You’re just like him. A coward.”
“And a cheat!” said the man directly in front of her. He nervously fingered a blade in his hands. It was a poorly crafted one. That Sara could tell from five feet away. She stood in front of him with her back up against the wall. She wasn’t carrying her sword, but she did have one fine long knife at her waist, a dagger on her thigh, and a baton she’d lifted from a city patrolman in her right hand.
“Is that so?” Sara said, directing her voice at the man in front of her, “And what, pray tell, did I cheat you of, Simon Codfield?”
Her tone was level. Even surprised. He shifted warily. He was nervous even with four of his friends to back him up. When the people standing with him began to look at him oddly, he stiffened his back. Simon licked his lips and said, “Cards. I know you had an extra ace in your belt. Admit it now and we’ll only beat you two ways until Sunday.”
She tilted her head. “And if I admit it later?” Even he couldn’t miss the derision in her voice.
“We’re trying to go easy on you,” said Simon Codfield, his voice dipping into desperation. He might be a liar as well as a thief, but he was no fool. Sara knew the only reason he and his crew had followed her into this alley was because if he didn’t accuse her, he would have to take the fall for losing over forty shillings in a card game that had only started on a bet of five. She knew and he knew that he didn’t have forty shillings to give. That was one month’s pay for a dockworker, never mind a ne’er-do-well like Simon who hadn’t worked an honest job a day in his life.
“Tell you what. Why don’t you drop those trousers of yours? Then we’ll call it even,” said the thief lord in charge of the west district of Sandrin. She turned to face the man who had spoken. He rubbed a hand over his two-day-old beard with a grin.
Sara brought up the long knife in her left hand. “Why don’t you drop yours, Severin, so that I can cut off your balls for you?”
Anger flashed in the thief lord’s eyes. Anger and passion. Sara smiled. She wasn’t joking. If she got close enough to him, she’d make him a eunuch without batting an eye. Simon Codfield gulped and took a step back. He knew she wasn’t playing around.
But Severin was new. He didn’t believe the reputation she had acquired on the streets. More’s the pity for him. He thought he would be in for what a man like him considered a little rough play—disarming a pretty girl of a simple knife. Maybe getting a few scratches and bites for his troubles.
She couldn’t wait to show Severin just how wrong he was.
Sara chuckled. “I’m feeling generous today. You lot can back off and slink back into whatever hidey-hole you crawled out of. Or I can show you some manners.”
Either way they chose, this would end soon. She had less than fifteen minutes to grab some meat pies off a vendor and get home. Sara Fairchild was seventeen years old. Almost a woman grown with the talent of ten swordsmen and the fierce determination of a lioness cornered. But even she quivered at the thought of being late to her mom’s dinner table. Hell had nothing on Anna Beth Fairchild’s anger.
“Well? Which is it going to be?” said Sara impatiently. “I don’t have all night.”
Severin chuckled while raising his hand. The brass knuckles on his fingers were still sticky with the blood from the last poor sod he had beaten into the ground. You didn’t get to be thief lord by playing nice. She grimaced. She hated those types of weapons. They were crude. Designed to provide the most damage to a body in the least amount of time. Which meant beating a person bloody until their head split open and the bones in their face were broken. There was no finesse about the brass knuckles and nothing clean about the kill. It was quite the opposite of the grace of her favorite weapon—the sword.
“Is that supposed to intimidate me?” Sara said.
“It should. You’ve got too much pride,” he taunted back.
“For a woman? Or for a Fairchild?”
Severin looked at the man who stood next to him. Then he jerked his head to lackey while issuing an order. “Get her, Rube.”
Rube moved forward without complaint, every step he took jangling the rusty chain of metal links intertwined between his fingers.
Then Severin turned back to her and answered her question of why she had too much pride. “For both,” he said.
Then there was no more talking, because Sara was facing off against a menacing Rube. A lumbering giant, Sara had a feeling he was Severin’s muscle on the docks when the thief lord was cheating sailors out of their hard-earned coins. She’d heard stories about the lumbering giant. Here, in the rapidly darkening alley, as she faced him down with just a knife and baton, she could see why he was intimidating. To most people. But not to her. Because Rube moved with a slow gait. Not the careful precision of a trained fighter, but with the bulk of a man who didn’t know how to use his weight to his advantage.
She smiled. That was too bad for Rube, because she did.
Keeping her back to the wall, Sara Fairchild danced forward on light feet with her baton at the ready. She wasn’t going to kill Rube. He was the dumb muscle—she could see it in the placid cow-like gaze of his eyes. Severin gave the orders and he followed them. She didn’t kill attack dogs like him. She killed the owners that made them kill.
Rube swung the thick metal chain out with the strength of an ox. The chain snapped forward with enough speed to crack open her head like an egg, if she had stood still. Instead Sara was already moving forward with the speed and dexterity of a warrior trained by the very best. With a swift grunt, she jumped up onto Rube. The force of her momentum as well as weight knocked him back flat on the ground. She was careful to keep her balance and fell with him until she landed atop his waist in a straddle. He sat up with a roar of anger. Wasting no time, she brought her baton down with a harsh crack, infusing it with just a hint of battle magic. It was enough to make the baton take on the weight of twelve of its kind. So when Rube fell back this time, he fell hard.
As Rube’s body crashed into the packed dirt with a loud thump, she jumped up and landed behind the remaining four thieves with ease. Turning so that her back was now to the opposite wall, she smiled.
They looked down at their unconscious muscle man, then back up at her.
Severin snarled, “Kill her. I don’t care about her loot. I want her pretty throat cut from end to end.”
Simon looked ready to bolt. But even as she watched his comrades ease up on her warily, she pitied them. They were in a tough position. The thieves’ code meant if one of them ran and the others found them first, they wouldn’t be outcast; they’d be killed on the spot by their thief lord. Simon couldn’t run on the off chance that one of his group survived their encounter with her. But she could tell that he didn’t want to stay and face her, either. She could have told him to run because no one would survive this encounter if they didn’t turn tail first, but she didn’t. This was his fault anyway. Who runs up a forty-shilling wager on their thief lord’s tab and doesn’t break for the hills the moment they loose?
The woman with all the earrings said, “I’ll give her a red throat from ear to ear with pleasure, Severin. This one is getting on my nerves.”
Sara raised an eyebrow at the cocky broad.
She shrugged her shoulders. “If you think you can take me, then come on.”
Instead of a chain, the woman came at her with a wickedly-sharp curved blade. A modified scimitar, really, Sara thought as she dodged back from the first thrust.
As Sara watched the woman swing wide again she thought with a calculating eye, But she has no form. A blade like that should have a proper mistress.
“Come on, you whey-faced coward!” shouted her opponent. Anger emerged in the rapid tic of her eyelids as Sara dodged another blow easily.
Sara sighed, “If you insist.”
In the blink of an eye, she changed from defensive to offensive. She moved forward with her knife at the ready. Sara had no plans to spare this woman. She had insulted Sara’s father, and she carried something Sara wanted.
That scimitar is mine, Sara thought with some glee.
The idea of possessing the blade was a nice bit of sunshine in the spiral of darkness that was her life since her father’s execution.
She shifted the knife in her hand so that the blade rested almost horizontal to her palm. She wasn’t going to stab the woman. She was going to slash her throat. With a silent move, Sara came up under the woman’s broad chest as her opponent swung the scimitar wide for another attempt at a killing blow. As swiftly and silently as a cobra, Sara slit her throat only to quickly dodge to the side to avoid the red spray of blood. Sara had gotten into a lot of scuffles over the years. Many of which had ended up with her opponent dead. She’d learned early on to avoid all evidence of such fights on her clothes. It didn’t please her mother if she came home with her tunic stained red with blood.
Even when Sara explained that battle magic was in her nature, just as it had been in her father’s, her mother wouldn’t hear of it. Sara wasn’t sure if it was getting the bloodstains out of her clothes, or the practice from which the stains originated that revolted her mother so, but she did her best not to remind her mother of their family’s preferred occupations of fighter, hunter, and killer.
As the second body fell, Sara watched it with detachment. She would gather the scimitar when she was through with the others. She shifted back into readiness when she heard a shout from behind her. To her surprise, it wasn’t the remainder of the thief lord’s people coming at her, although she had the sneaking suspicion Simon was hedging his bets until the last possible moment, but rather Severin himself who came for her this time.
Teeth bared in a fierce expression, he came for her with his fist upraised. The brass knuckles on his hands were coming at such a fast pace that she knew it could be a death blow. But Sara wasn’t stupid. Her cold execution of the woman was more than desire for the scimitar; it was wary calculation. She’d angered Severin enough to startle him into the action. Unfortunately for him, she was aware at all times of the area around her, including the space’s limitations and usefulness. Just before his fist connected with her face, she darted to the side. He had no time to correct his movement. He ran forward, straight into the wall, and his right hand smashed into the stone with a sickening crunch that made even her wince.
His screams lit up the alley. She knew the bones of his hand were probably broken in multiple places. Served him right for trying to kill her. She watched the thief lord as he sat back on his knees cradling his hand at his waist and sobbing. She had no sympathy for him. She just wondered if she should kill him now or wait. Then the only other woman of the thief lord’s crew made Sara’s decision for her. She swung an old piece of wood filled with nails and jagged metal at Sara’s head. Sara smirked, dodged the attack, and then stepped forward directly into the woman’s space. They were nose to nose, with their breath mingling in the air surrounding them. But only for a moment.
The woman dropped the makeshift weapon from trembling fingers and fell backwards. Not in a move to save herself, but because Sara had already given her a death blow. Smoothly, Sara leaned down to pull her knife out from where it rested in the woman’s heart and stepped back. Seconds later, the life passed from her opponent’s eyes. Sara turned around to see the sniveling thief lord had gained a backbone. Severin had stood up and he now held out his sword with his working left hand. A tremor of pain ran across his face, but he didn’t falter. She felt some admiration for him at that moment. Fighter to fighter. It certainly wasn’t compassion, but he wouldn’t expect that anyway.
She could see that from the look in his eyes he had determined his fate. A thief lord couldn’t rule with a useless hand. He could die by her knife or die after one of his men put a knife in his back. It made no difference to her. But she would allow him this first move. It was the honorable thing to do. With an enraged shout, he came at her with his sword upraised. With an expressionless face, she ran at him. They passed each other in the alley. One serene. The other finally at peace.
The thief lord’s body fell to the ground with a similar wound to the scimitar owner’s—a garish red smile. Sara grabbed a fallen cloth from the ground and cleaned her knife off. After sheathing the knife where it belonged at her waist, she turned to stare at the man who had started it all. Simon Codfield stood there in the alley, trembling. She wondered what he was thinking. Sara had watched as he held back while she took the other four on. Waiting in the shadows like a true coward.
It had been a cold but calculating move. Which was why he was still standing last of all.
He held up his hands as she watched him. “Now, Sara, you know I didn’t mean all those things I said, don’t cha? If I hadn’t told them what they wanted to hear, they would have killed me for being a piss-poor card player.”
She raised an eyebrow. She didn’t see how this was her problem.
He began edging sideways. Away from her and toward the mouth of the alley—to escape.
“Simon,” she said softly.
He halted with a wary eye toward freedom. “Yes?”
“Do you remember what you said to me three months ago?”
“Th-three months ago? That was a long time back, Sara.”
“But surely you remember,” she prodded. “After all, you lived in the building two streets over. In fact that day was special. My mom had just given your wife some cod-liver oil for your baby.”
“Oh, oh right! Yeah, she was colicky that day. Beautiful girl, my Sarah,” he said nervously. “You know she was named after you right?”
He was dodging the question.
“She was named after her grandmother—don’t change the subject. Now, do you remember what you said?”
He stilled like a rat in a trap. He knew he’d been caught. She knew she had him right where she wanted him. Like she’d planned all along. Sara could have played a game of cards with any man or woman in the tavern that night. But she’d chosen Simon. A terrible player and lousy sport, quick to pull a knife and accuse another of trickery. At first she’d let him win to get his confidence up. When he started to think he couldn’t lose, then she took him for all he was worth. She watched now as understanding lit his eyes.
“This was a set-up,” he blustered. “You did this on purpose.”
“Yes,” said Sara. “Now, one last time: What did you say to me three months ago?”
The poor man raised his chin. His fists clenched at his side as his knuckles grew white from the tension. But he knew no matter how far he ran or how fast he was afoot, she would come after him. She wouldn’t stop until he was dead. Her determination was in her eyes. Everyone knew: Sara Fairchild tolerated no one’s belittlement of her family.
He said reluctantly, “I said ‘Your father is disgrace to this empire. Be glad his blood soaks the land.’”
“Yes, that was it,” Sara said softly, “As a father yourself, you should know this, Simon Codfield—there is no greater love than a daughter bears for her father.”
Before he could move or protest, she threw the dagger that was attached to her thigh and it pierced his throat. He fell to the ground like all of his friends. She walked up to stare down at his body. Sara tilted her head to the side as she noticed that she’d been off by a millimeter. The dagger hadn’t pierced his jugular. As the blood seeped from the wound to pool beneath his head, she knew he’d be dead within a minute. He couldn’t speak with the wound to his throat. As his fingers twitched with the death throes of a man who could barely move, she shrugged and picked up the scimitar at her feet. After wiping it down, she wrestled the scimitar’s carrier off the dead woman’s back. Hefting it carefully, she swung the sheathed scimitar along her back.
By that time, Simon Codfield was dead, and she retrieved her dagger from his throat, careful to wipe the blade down on his tunic before putting it back at her thigh.
Without breaking a sweat, she had taken them all on and won.
As she sprinted down the alley with her newly acquired scimitar in hand, her well-trained ears caught the groan of the lone thief still left alive in the alley. The muscle man would live to tell the tale of Sara Fairchild another day.
Sara had one thing on her mind while she ran through the streets of Sandrin: getting home quickly. She desperately hoped that the telltale sign of blood wasn’t on her clothes. She’d done her best to avoid blood splatter, always killing cleanly and from a distance, if possible. But blood had the strangest ways of falling. It could splatter, it could spray, or it could shoot out. You never knew which way the blood would come until the second before you killed a person. Sometimes not even then. She’d grown used to blood ever since her father had taken her to her first executioner’s gallows. She had been twelve. They had executed a man, convicted of raping a child, by guillotine. The fierce joy of the crowd had been unsettling for a still young Sara. But her father had spoken to her long and hard after the crowd had dispersed. He had explained the man’s crime. Had explained that the child the executed man had hurt had suffered for a long time and then died at his hands.
“That was why the crowd gloried in his death as a rightful passage. It righted the wrong he had done,” her father had said in his grave voice.
Sara had understood her father’s explanation. The death hadn’t bothered her as much as the crowd’s adulation. But even while she stood in her leather boots on the cobblestones stained red with the blood of past executions, it hadn’t been long before she became fascinated by the blood and the sport that went into the killing of one single man.
As far as killings went, that one was tame. But it was the first time that she had seen a person killed alongside her father. The first time Sara had seen life’s blood flow from someone’s veins. The first time she’d seen a head separated from a body. But it wasn’t the last. Because fighting and blood was in her veins. She was a Fairchild, and, more importantly, she was the daughter of Vincent Fairchild, one of the empire’s premier commanders and the man responsible for the most wins in the imperial games for the last fifty years. Before her father had been a commander in the army, he had been a gladiator without peer. One whose tenacity in the ring, ability to defeat the most fierce foe, and calmness when faced with death had beguiled even the most jaded spectator.
As Sara flew down the streets of Sandrin, she thought it was ironic. Ironic that her father, so feared in the arena, had gone placidly to death. Had not resisted the empress’s men as he was led to slaughter.
Then she laughed cruelly. “But that was my father. Honorable in the gladiatorial games and honorable in his death. But there was no honor in why he died. There is no honor in desertion.”
She nearly spit the last word out as she rushed by the meat pie vendor so fast that she didn’t see it. She smelled the pies but couldn’t stop. She ran. She ran to escape her past and to be removed from the present. She ignored the shouts of cart vendors, of a guard whose horse she startled, and of the urchins still playing in the streets. She ran with tears streaming down her face until she got to her doorstep on a quiet street. Breathing hard, Sara looked down at the pail of water that her mother had left at the door for the stray dogs. She knew she must look a fright. But she couldn’t let her mother see her tears. Every day, Sara defended her father’s memory against foes seen and unseen. She fought in duels in alleys and kept her chin high in the streets. No one could tell her why her father had deserted his empress’s cause. She had the scary feeling that even if they could, nothing they said would ease the pain of a daughter whose father had fallen in her eyes.
But still she did her best to keep those worries from her mother’s doorstep. Never letting her know what people whispered behind their backs. Sara made sure to never let her mother get a hint that her daughter was floundering. Because under Sara’s fierce exterior hardened by battle scars and training, was a young woman facing the harsh backlash of a father’s damned legacy alone. She would never let her mother down. Not like her father had.
Sara took a deep breath, splashed water on her face, and wiped away the wetness on her sleeve. Then she opened the door to the smell of baking bread and the sounds of a home where laughter was long gone.
She quickly shut the door behind her and took off her new scimitar to lean it against the wall. Next she took the knife, dagger, and baton from their secure holds on her waist and legs. Those she placed on the ‘weapons table’ her mother had set up. It was the only house rule her mother had in regards to battle magic and the family tendency to fight: No weapons carried to the dinner table. She did, however, allow a long blade in the kitchen for defense and gave Sara her blessing to keep her favorite blades in her room.
“Sara?” called her mother, “Is that you?”
“Yeah,” Sara called as she hastily grabbed a cloth from the chair to rub her hands.
“Coming, Ma,” muttered Sara.
She hastily trotted into kitchen, where her mother had set up a rickety wooden table on top of the upside-down washing tub. Seeing the set-up made Sara sad. Not for herself, but for her mother. They had come a long way from their days as the family of the preeminent gladiator and then commander of imperial forces. When her father was executed, the magistrate’s court had stripped her mother of all the land he held in his name as well as his pension from his years as a gladiator. All as further punishment for his unnamed crime.
Like being dead wasn’t enough, Sara thought miserably.
Whatever her father had done to be charged with desertion, then execution, had far-reaching consequences until this day. Her father had died months ago. But Sara and her mother still suffered daily for his crimes. From the torment Sara endured on the streets to the fact that her mother couldn’t retain a job as a wind dancer anymore. None of the companies would hire her. Doors were shut in their face and none had reopened with time.
Her mother looked up from where she knelt praying on the floor. A smile lit up her beautiful face. Smiling herself, Sara walked over to kiss her on the cheek.
“Did you get the meat pies?” whispered her mother.
Sara froze. “I—oh no, I forgot, Mother. I got caught up in some things.”
“Games with your friends?” her mother said happily. She desperately wanted Sara to have a normal life. A normal sense of identity. But that had long since gone.
“Yes, with my friends, Ma,” Sara said as she leaned back against the wall. She didn’t want to lie. But she didn’t want to tell her the truth, either.
My friends deserted me the moment my family lost prominence, Sara thought bitterly, Every last one of them at the fighters’ school won’t give me a nod or speak to me anymore.
Sara knew that wasn’t entirely fair. After all, it was she that avoided the gladiatorial halls after her father’s execution but neither had they made an attempt to see her outside of the school walls. She hadn’t seen hide nor hair of any of her former friends in months. It stung.
Her mother nodded, then moved over to sit on the bench. She patted the space beside her for Sara to seat herself and they ate a dinner of peas and fresh-caught fish in silence.
As she finished her meal, Sara asked politely, “The bread is for the morning sales?”
Her mother nodded. “The baker was kind enough to let me fill some orders for him on the wharf in the morning. It should be a good day. I can get five to ten shillings for that. If I give him two shillings for acquiring the permit, we can keep the rest.”
Sara didn’t say anything to that. Five or ten shillings would make a difference in whether or not they kept a roof over their head. But it would only stretch so far.
Sara nodded. “May I be excused?”
“Yes,” said her mother, “but one moment, Sara.”
Sara looked at her mother patiently.
“I don’t want you out on the streets. Getting into fights. It’s not good for you.”
“I wasn’t in a fight.”
“Don’t you lie to me, Sara Fairchild,” her mother said. “Your father tried the same thing. I could see through him just as I can see through you now.”
“Well, Father lied about a lot of things,” Sara snapped as she stood up abruptly and rushed away.
Only the quiet gasp of her mother behind her halted her retreat. The greatest fighter in Sandrin was barely able to control the emotions that rushed through her. Only her family could get her this worked up with just a conversation.
Sara laughed bitterly. Only my mother could ever make me retreat in a battle.
Slowly she breathed out and unclenched her fists.
Turning, Sara said, “That was wrong of me, Mother. I’m sorry.”
Her mother shook her head. “I just want you to be safe, Sara.”
“I am safe. I’m the best fighter in this city. I tested out of all the grade levels at the fighter’s academy and I’ve never been bested in a duel.”
Her mother bit her lip as she looked at Sara wistfully. “Your father said the very same thing to me when we started courting.”
Sara stared back at her. “What did you say to him then?”
Her mother whispered the words to her: “That I’d never forgive myself if he died before I did.”
Sara felt a tumult of emotions rise up in her chest.
Her mother shook her head sadly. “He made me a promise then and there to end the fights. He knew how much our life together meant to me. That’s why he became a commander in the empress’s army. He was supposed to be safe. With hundreds of soldiers between him and his fiercest opponent. Instead, he became his own worst enemy.”
There was nothing Sara could say to that. It was true.
But she knew what her mother wanted to hear.
“I’ll be careful. I’ll be safe. No more fights,” she whispered to her mother.
Her mother nodded her head in thanks.
Sara cleared her throat and said a sentence it pained her to say. “Tomorrow I’m going to the fisherman’s district. To see if I can find a job as a fishwife.”
Hope and sorrow warred in her mother’s eyes. Sara was the best fighter in the city. She could best anyone she came up against. Just like her father. But because of her father she was barred from entering purse-winning tournaments or even fighting in the gladiatorial games. For too long she had tried to scrounge at the card tables for easy pickings. Now, they had no choice. She might have won forty shillings from Simon Codfield tonight, but he’d barely had ten in his pocket. The rest he’d promised on ‘credit.’ She learned to never trust credit; it was bloody hard to collect, and besides, dead men paid no fines.
Now she and her mother were close to starving and every bit of money she was able to get was going to rent. Sara had no choice. She wouldn’t take to stealing coins. She wouldn’t. Weapons from a duel was fair play. But taking another man’s purse was not. So she needed to do something to keep them fed. If that meant a Fairchild working in the fishing docks, so be it. They looked at each other—in accordance for once.
“Goodnight, Mother,” Sara said quietly.
“Goodnight, dear,” her mother replied.
Sara went to the door and collected her weapons and the bucket of water from outside. She need to clean and polish all of them before she went to bed tonight. After trudging up the rickety ladder where her room in the loft was, she sat down on her small bed and tugged off her boots one by one. Then she carefully took each weapon and cleaned it of blood, polished it and sheathed it for the night. Only after the weapons were clean did Sara tend to herself. As she climbed back down the ladder, she had an easy view of what passed as a kitchen nook for them. It was really all one room with a small recess for a cooking pot and then her mother’s ‘room’ cordoned off with a string and cord. But it was home, and Sara smiled to see a steaming kettle in the hot coals. On the bench next to the kettle of steaming water was some lavender soap.
Tossing out the bloody water from her weapons cleaning, Sara quickly scrubbed down the bucket with lye and put the scented soap and hot water into the tub for a wash-down. The scented soap was a luxury. It was one of the few luxuries they had, and Sara knew it was from the last of her mother’s stash. She’d given it to Sara as a way of making amends. Her mother didn’t like confrontation. Sara didn’t like confrontation with her mother. Anyone else she’d confront and rip to shreds gladly. But not her mother. She stood in the kitchen as she cleaned her body of the dust, the dirt, and the few flakes of blood that had managed to land on her skin. Then Sara dressed, tossed out the dirty bathwater, and knocked on the wall next to her mother’s private space to give her a silent hug. Nothing needed to be said between them.
All was forgiven.
That night as Sara curled up in her blankets, she heard chittering coming from above her head.
Turning to her side, she called out, “Come here, you blasted ball of fur.”
She waited for a moment.
“Chrimrale, here now. I know you’ve been fed already. Mother may dislike you, but she wouldn’t let you starve,” grumbled Sara.
The next moment a light ball of gray fur, almost impossible to see in the darkness, landed on the blankets near her hand. It quickly skittered up to her chin and curled into a ball in the curve of her neck.
“That’s better,” muttered Sara as she dozed off.
That night Sara dreamed about what it would be like to walk onto the fishermen’s wharf and beg for a job. She knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.
Thanks for reading!