I had a relatively productive night last night. I finished a chapter and it weighed in at roughly 1800 words. That brings the total so far as of last night up to 9901 words. So almost 1/5th of the way to the goal. I should have probably written more last night but I was feeling a bit drained. For anyone wanting to catch up here are the chapters I have posted so far.
4 – The Gifts
By the time that Jace made it out of the house with a pitcher of lemonade and some glasses, the warm light of evening was beginning to shower down on the grove. As he had expected the family had more or less arranged themselves around a circle of logs that set beside the stream behind the house. Uncle Benj was mussing with the fire pit to provide some warmth as the evening drew on, as this place had been the location of many a late night conversation. Uncle Bemel was amusing the circle with a tale about some fantastical beast as was often the case. Benj looked up from the firepit to notice that Kale was in tow behind Jace with a tray of cookies.
Kale had looked frail and weak when he found her in town trying to steal something to eat, but now she looked almost happy with the life seemingly restored to her cheeks. Benj smiled as the pair trailed into the circle “I see you brought our guest as well, have a seat… everyone this is Kale she will be staying with us for awhile. She is going to help me get the farm ready for winter.” Kale nodded awkwardly to the strange arrangement of figures around the circle. All of them looked as oddly out of place as she felt.
For a bit she had wondered if she had stumbled into some circus family. Bemel with his twiggy stature and busy red beard, Morrow with her heavy set earthen look and almost green cast hair, Oaks with his with his brown cast skin and grey mane of flowing hair, and finally Bethilda with her fine features and vibrant yellow hair. None of them looked like they belonged in this world, but each and every one beamed a gigantic smile at her as they noticed her surveying them. This of course made Kale feel more than a bit self conscious about her own visual oddities. She took a seat on one of the stumps as the murmur of welcomes circled around her.
She was feeling a little odd, and not because of the awkwardness of being welcomed into such a strange setting. That coldness she associated with the other world was growing inside her. Based on the occasional worried look up the stream, she thought that maybe Bemel felt it too. In the south along the stream there seemed to be a group of thunder clouds growing and slowly working their way towards the farm. Bemel and Oaks motioned towards them with slightly worried looks, but these were brushed aside by a silent reproach from Morrow. With that the group continued on their generally merry conversations. Kale however could not shake the feeling that something was just wrong here.
As evening turned to night a cold wind began to blow in from the south, which caused the group to huddle closer to the fire. Bemel began rummaging through his packs and produced a small wrapped present. “Jace my boy, a little something in honor of your new year.” he said handing it over to the boy. He unwrapped the delicate paper carefully and in the core of the package was a small pendant on a silver chain. Kale looked at it with suspicion as it looked an awful lot like the waypass she had received from the Wildfae. Mixed in with the silver were enabled gold, brown and red autumn leaves.
It was time for Morrow to rummage in her own pack to pull out a fine green cloak that looked horribly out of place, and something you would see in a Hollywood fantasy movie. Jace however seemed to like it quite a bit and pulled it on to guard against the cold wind that had now picked up considerably and was causing the fire to dance wildly in the pit. Oaks produced a thick and sturdy walking staff, which she assumed would be of use on a farm. None of the gifts really seemed to fit a sixteen year old boy however, or at the very least they were a bit old fashioned.
Next up was Uncle Josah, who produced some sort of a wooden musical instrument that looked like a tiny harp. “Let it’s music protect you from harm.” he said to Jace, which Kale remarked seemed a little odd. Finally it was time for Bethilda who produced from the folds of her dress a small vial of some sort that was glowing with an amber red light. At first she thought it was some sort of a firefly and then a wave of sick realization washed over her, as she saw a tiny woman with furiously beating amber and red wings inside it. Almost falling off her stump she backed away from the circle.
Kale stood taking a scared defensive posture, and the group all looked at her with some shock at the commotion. “wildfae… you are all wildfae” she said with slow realization sinking into her voice with just an edge of fear. Bethilda let out a long chuckle “No my dear we are not wildfae at all”, Jace looked rather confused at the whole exchange as well. Not really understanding the gifts he had been given nor especially what this Wildfae thing was that Kale asked. He looked down at the vial that Aunt Beth had produced and finally saw the small woman inside. “Aunt Beth, what is that?” pointing at the vial.
“This my dearest Jace is a firespirte, her name is Dimcy. She has served my court faithfully for years, and now I give her to you… so that she can protect the most precious thing in the worlds. The vial is for her own protection, here on the mortal plane she would burn so brightly that she would extinguish herself.” Bethilda said as she carefully handed over the vial. Jace looked at it for a moment dumbstruck. He had so many questions and did not even begin to know where to start.` All he could manage was to mumble a questioning “Mortal plane?”
“This new year of yours is a rather auspicious one, for you Jace are coming of age. We are not of this world, and you are only partly so.” Bethilda continued addressing a rather confused Jace. “We are of the Elfen courts of Avalon. Your Uncle Bemel is from the Autumn Court, Your Aunt Morrow and Josah are of Spring. Uncle Oakswurv is a shade and one of the last remaining loyal members of the Winter Court. Finally I am a member of the Summer Court and Benj is my Woodsblade protector.” Benj fidgeted slightly and let out a disapproving clearing of his throat when Beth mentioned she was a “member” of the court, but was quickly given a stern look that caused him to back off the point.
Jace looked down at the ground for a moment, and then back his Aunt Beth with confused eyes. Before he could think of a question to ask, there came a loud crash from upstream that sounded like the peal of a thousand thunderclouds. Moments later the entire hollow was awash in this strange purple glow originating from what seemed to be the site of the sound somewhere upstream. The loving eyes of Bethilda turned to sheer terror of realization at what was happening. “Jace, Kale… Take Bethilda inside… something is coming through!” Yelled Benj with more determination in his voice than Jace can ever remember hearing.
Jace did as he was told, dragging his Aunt Beth by the arm and tugging her towards the house. He watched in amazement as his Uncle Benj picked up a branch from the ground and it began to transform to his touch shifting, elongating and within a few moments where once was a branch was what appeared to be a gleaming saber. There were just too many questions and not enough answers. Beth resisted slightly but within moments Kale was at her other side trying to drag her inside the farmhouse. The terror on Kales face from earlier was replaced with a cold look of determination, as though she had seen things like this before. This alone worried Jace more than anything.