Raewiel

Innocent Heart: Get Free

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The street leading down to the Warf nearly overflowed with a river of people. Before Torrin could find out where she was going and stop her, Feira, with no work left for the day, slipped out of the estate. Coppers in her pocket, she had purchased the small basket, and filled it with five of the nicest oranges she could find. Who knows but if he’d have to share? Purchasing a small bag of cherries for herself, she added one of the plump, red fruits atop the already filled basket, hoping he’d get the joke, before hurrying on her way.

She had to tell him! It wasn’t really actual news, but oh, the opportunity! While part of her did enjoy cleaning, the thought of actually working with people filled her with excitement. And the prospect of a promotion was good enough reason for her to drop by the docks and say ‘hello’, right?

Weaving easily through the crowds, Feira felt like a silly little girl. Only a short distance from the docks, and she felt rediculously giddy. The last turn was hardly two merchant stalls away when a hand suddenly grabbed her by the arm and, before she could cry out, drug her off to the side. Able to keep her basket of fruit from upsetting, she froze when she found herself with her back to a dead-end alley, and her path of escape blocked by Aunt Raewiel.

“There you are, you ungrateful whelp,” growled the woman, as towering and fat as ever. Raewiel set her balled-up hands on her hips, a stance the girl knew all too well. “I was wondering when I would run into you.”

Swallowing hard, it took everything in Feira to not cower back as her angry Aunt took a step closer. “I apologize, Miss Raewiel, if I got in your path. Please, do not let me not keep you from your day.” With that she ducked to the right in attempt to step past her, but Raewiel caught her, and shoved her hard against the stone wall.

“Oh, no, you don’t,” Raewiel sneered, glaring down at her. “Do you realize just how much trouble you have cost your father and I? And after everything we have done for you over the years!”

“I-I’ve been needing t-to find you, a-and discuss that with you, as a-a matter of fact.”

“Oh, you have, have you? Little whore, hiding behind your big brother. Ever since he moved you out, and made me quit the estate, it’s been hell finding good work!”

Suddenly grateful for the support of the wall behind her, Feira caught the breath that had been knocked out of her. Forcing her knees to hold steady, the girl lifted her chin in defiance. “I assure you, madam,” she responded coolly, “that any misfortune that has found you has been entirely of your own doing.”

Raewiel sucked in a hissing breath, drawing up like a snake preparing to strike. “Just as smart-mouthed as your mother. She got what she deserved, and I hope you meet the same end!”

Time suddenly seemed to slow, and Raewiel’s hand that swung towards Feira’s face froze in place. Raewiel had always blamed her for her mother’s death, but this time, it struck a new chord. No one deserved an end like her mother’s. It was a terrible thing to say. But, to be compared to her . . . . A hint of pride sparked inside of Feira, and something clicked.  You can do the same thing, sweet. Get free of her. . . . Time lurched back into motion. Slapping Raewiel’s hand away with surprising force, Feira seemed to grow a few inches as she stepped up to stand toe-to-toe with her much taller relative.

“Again, Miss Raewiel, I apologize for taking up so much of your time. I hope you have a pleasant day, and do send my regards to your brother.”

Raewiel blinked down at her, shocked by the daring look in the girl’s eyes. “What?  . . . are you challenging me?”

“No,” responded Feira with a firm, almost authoritative air. “I have no reason to. I am not like you, madam. You cannot do anything to me, nor can you make me care about anything you have to say.”

The older woman completely flabbergasted, Feira did not give her a chance to speak. She didn’t know where it was all coming from, but she couldn’t stop now.

“Seeing now that that is how things are, you have no further business with me. I would appreciate it if you never spoke to me again. I suggest that you take your leave now before you waste any more of your precious time.”

Huffing out a breath, Raewiel deflated as she stared down at Feira. A long silence passed between them, but the woman finally stepped back, and spun around to march away with whatever dignity she had left.

Turning her amber gaze down to the untouched basket, Feira took a second to process what had just happened. She wasn’t sure if she felt sick, or relieved . . . maybe it was a bit of both.

Quickly wiping away the moisture that sprang into her eyes, she moved back out to the street. Seemingly lost for a moment, a though came to her, and she headed off with new purpose. Finding an errand boy, she paid him the last coin in her pocket (which, to the young boy’s delight, was a silver), jotted down a note, and handed it to him, along with the basket.

“Take this to the docks; to the H.M.S. Turanwar.”

“Yes, miss! Who for?”

“Ask for ‘Gig’. When you find him, make sure he answers to ‘Lhainan’.”

Nodding fervently, the lad hurried off down to the docks, and Feira turned to go. She wasn’t sure where, but it would probably be somewhere she didn’t have to stand, as she still feared she might topple over. Somewhere with a good view, a good book, and a snack as a reward for her gumption.

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Innocent Heart: Sudden Courage

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She was late. Her work done for the day, Feira politely declined the other’s offers to go out with them. She felt sick with nervousness. Maybe Auntie won’t notice. Maybe she won’t mind. Scampering out the back door of the kitchens, Feira nearly collided with a guard on patrol. Bobbing a quick courtesy, and calling back an apology she raced for her father and aunt’s flat.

Not slowing her pace, the girl tied her hair back into a tight bun. She fixed the buttons of her blouse, straightened her collar, and tied her apron a little too tight. Auntie always huffed about her not keeping herself stiff and trim. But Auntie huffed about a lot of things.

Taking a breath to summon her courage, Feira slowed to a stop on the small porch. Turning the door handle as quietly as she could, she slipped inside.

“Feira? Is that you?” barked Raewiel’s harsh voice from the kitchen.

Feira winced. “Yes, Auntie.” Smoothing out her apron, she nodded to Lirion who sat on an old sofa, reading.

The girl’s father glanced up to her, then back to his book. “You better get in there. She’s not happy.”

She never is, Feira thought, though she knew better than to say it out loud. Tucking a stray hair behind her ear, she glided into the kitchen. “‘Evening, Auntie. I’m sorry, I –” She didn’t have time to duck as the fat woman smacked her over her head.”

“Worthless thing! Where have you been?” Raewiel then shoved a bowl of boiled potatoes into Feira’s hands. “You were supposed to be here an hour ago!”

Feira teetered for a moment as the room came back into focus, and she clung to the bowl so as not to drop it. It’s going to be a long night. “I was about to say that –” Feira stopped, swallowed, and started again as she caught a glare from the older woman. “Forgive me, Auntie. There were more chores tonight since a few of the girls were out sick. It won’t happen again.”

Raewiel chuffed out a sharp laugh. “That’s what you said last time, you empty-headed twit.” The woman returned, and wagged a potato masher inches from Feira’s nose. “You made us late tonight. You’re so inconsiderate of your own family. I’ve had it up to here with you, missy.”

Taking the masher from the woman’s fat fingers, Feira began to work on the potatoes. “Not much of a family,” she mumbled under her breath.

“What did you say?”

Feira looked up with fearful eyes and blinked innocently at Raewiel who pulled biscuits out from the side of the cookfire. “I said that the bread smells wonderful.”

Raewiel huffed. “Good. Gotta get you well fed. You’re so skinny, it’s not right. Need to put some meat on your bones.”

Feira worked in milk and melted butter to the mix. “I have plenty of meat on my bones, thank you.”

She could feel the woman’s gaze on her. “What would you know? Boys like girls with a little substance. No one will like you if you’re always a scrawny bird. It’s a shame, really, that you look so much like her. Seems you got her bird brains, too.”

Feira’s stirring slowed. “Don’t speak of her like that. I’m rather proud that I look like her,” she says quietly. “And you have plenty of “substance”. Where are your suitors?”

“You’ll hold you’re tongue.”

“No.”

Raewiel turned to face her. “No? Smart-mouthed little ass. You’re stupid, and worthless, and ungrateful. Who clothes you and feeds you, eh? Who got you your job? Though, I’m not sure why the Lord and Lady are fool enough to still keep you.”

Feira stood a little straighter even as she retreated a step as the woman drew near. “I haven’t taken a penny from you or father for the past year. I feed and clothe myself. If you remember, you still owe me for last month’s groceries. As for my job, Torrin got it for me.” She then sucked in a sharp breath and lifted her chin to look the woman in the eyes for the first time. “I’m smart, and I work hard, and when I am around you will never speak of the Lord and Lady and my mother with such disrespect.”

The girl’s world spun as Raewiel backhanded her across the face. “I don’t know where you’ve gotten the notion that you can speak to me like that, but I will not tolerate it, you little rat. Finish cooking supper. You’re grounded for the summer. Also, your father needs to speak with you about your mother’s trust.”

Hot tears springing to her eyes, Feira put a cold, delicate hand to her cheek. Reaching past the woman, she stabbed the masher into the pan. “You finish cooking supper. And you cannot ground me,” she said firmly.

“Oh? I can’t, can I?” Raewiel turned back around, hands balled into fists on her hips.

“No.”

“And why is that?”

Feira narrowed her amber eyes at the woman. She dared not pause lest her sudden courage abandon her. “Because you’re not family. You’re just a bitter old woman who hates me for something that wasn’t my fault. Family helps each other and loves each other, and you’re just cruel. I will be eighteen this summer. I am plenty old to live on my own. And as for mother’s trust? You and fa — You and Lirion won’t see a penny of it.”

Raewiel stared at her for a moment, blinking in surprise at the young woman before her. Then her forehead wrinkled, and her lips curled, and her hand shot forward. “Why you little –”

A shadow suddenly towered over the both of them. A strong hand grasped Raewiel’s wrist, keeping her from breaking off Feira’s necklace.

“Let go, Raewiel,” said a firm voice.

More tears sprung to her eyes. She couldn’t see through the veil of salty water, but she new the voice to be Torrin’s.

The older woman consented, and for once in her life she was speechless.

Torrin released his hold on the woman’s arm, and turned his back to her. Gently moving Feira’s hand, he inspected her cheek. Letting out an angered breath through his nose, the young man untied her apron, took down her hair, and, leaving a kiss on her forehead, directed her to the door. “Wait outside for me Faerie. I need only to speak to this woman for a minute.”

She felt numb, and her cheek throbbed as she made her way through the small flat. Lirion had not moved from where he sat, and this time Feira did not acknowledge him. Stepping outside, she did not keep the door from banging shut. Feira sat down on the bottom step, and all the energy that had built up in her escaped like air from a ball. She could hear the angry, rumbling voice of Torrin inside. Just his voice.

Taking a deep breath, she pulled a clean handkerchief from her pocket to wipe away the tears. The past few minutes felt like a blurr, and she had no idea what had possessed her. Hugging her arms to herself, Feira looked down the shadowy, lamp-lit street. Whatever it was, she hoped it stayed.