To Be Home (short story)

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: To Be Home

Author: player of Charna Ja'Varrel'Kav

I returned to Haven by predawn light, the golden orb of the sun barely passing the darker line of the bay as I set foot on the Market Bridge. Orange and roses painted the sky as the sun began its accent. I stood for a moment, my arms resting upon the sides of the bridge, and watched as the hues were reflected in the water. This was the bridge that Pinchy the Lobster had been stolen from. A giant seagull had scooped him up, thinking that he would make a great meal. Somewhere in the bottom of the bay, the seagull rested; a victim to the tenacious lobsters claws. The waves rippled against the pylons, their soft sound a cadence to the dawn chorus performed by marsh sparrows, goshawks, pigeons, and meadowlarks.

It was the first dawn I'd actually taken the time to see since everything had happened. If I wasn't running across the world to hide from things, then I was sleeping well past dawn. I guess when the world wasn't endanger, defenders slept in. It was an odd thing to be sure, but it was nice to see the dawn over the bay.

Streaks of golden light lanced across the sky in a sudden final burst that shattered dawn and replaced it with a clear, blue morning. The chorus was finished, their time to perform behind them. Much like mine. I lifted my gaze from the water, and turned it towards the market. Home. I was coming home. I needed to be home. I needed to remember the good things, the happy times. I needed to apologize to the Red Tehir for my rudeness of yesterday. She was trying to be a friend, and she was trying to help. And I was being me.

Drifting on the early morning breeze was the scent of blueberries, and instantly I knew that Sohlmon was finishing up his early morning baking. If I hurried I could get the first out of the oven. Eating it would be tricky, but worth the slight scorches to my fingers. I rushed across the bridge and into the Muffin Stall in Market. He was there, and as I had seen him do a hundred times, pulling his trays from the great wall ovens. Within seconds two were mine, and I juggled them from hand to hand as I moved back into the market to sit and watch the morning.

I put one muffin on the bench. Pretending to ignore the muffin, I moved a bit from the bench and sat down on the damp cobbles. Moments later, with his nose twitching, the young urchin came around the bend. He sat next to the muffin, pretending like I was that it didn't exist. His eyes were pinched in amusement when he caught site of me eating my own muffin, and he scooped the one on the bench up in a movement that was too swift for the eye. He stood suddenly, and executed a mocking boy in my direction. It made me smile.

I'm not sure why, but I've always felt an affinity to that rascal. He was as parentless as I was, which may account for it, but he never seemed to let it bother him. I even caught him confusing a hag once during the invasions. She was threatening him with a cold death, and he suddenly asked if the woman had any silvers for his sickly mother. The hag stared at him perplexed. I beheaded the creature, and he yelled after me, "You're Welcome!" The scamp.

Chuckling, I shook my head and when I looked up he was already gone from sight; probably to pilfer someone over the by temples. I didn't even know his name, but it was just another familiar face. Another thing that made Haven my home.

Think of the good, I told myself for the second time today. Think of the good.

The creak of her shoes altered me to her presence; there was something about Mabel's shoes that made them creak and groan like old floorboards. In the seven no, eight years since I've been in 'Haven I've learned a few things about our Mabel. The first is that in the summer she smells like a clam left in the hot sun, it's really kind of gross but we all pretend not to notice it. The second is her shoes, and the third is that she seems to have more grandchildren then there are children in 'Haven. I'm not sure where they all live, but she prattles on about them sometimes. I think she must hide them in her creaking shoes.

She lowered herself to the ground next to me, her movements slow and exaggerated in the way that only the elderly have if they've lived their entire life by the sea. She made some odd comment that I only caught half of about her bones and age and sea air. I began to wonder if she could hear my thoughts.

"Just the lass I was looking for," she said in a withered voice.

My eyebrow must have shot upward because she began to chuckle. Maybe I had blueberry on my face; I rubbed at it just to be sure.

"Sing me a good rousing morning song, Lass."

Instantly I tensed.

"Mayhap ye ha'e nae heard, Mabel, but I dun sing anymore."

"Nonsense," she prattled on in her infuriating way. "People don't just stop singing, and you've got one of the better voices in Solhaven. Why I remember?"

As she prattled on I began to feel this pain in my temple. Why couldn't anyone accept that I had stopped, that I had given up singing, playing, and performing my tales? Even the Red Tehir asked for stories, and she knew.

I was beginning to lose the good humor I had gained by watching the sun rise.

"Mabel!" I said sharply, and was greeted by an echoing silence as the Market stilled. Had I yelled that?

"Mabel," I went on more quietly. "I ha'e givin' up music, I dun sing anymore."

She dismissed my comment much the way others had dismissed the things I've said to them.

"What about that great song about Knyadl?" She continued, and then began to go on about how the sailors were making their way to the docks and didn?t I want them to have a good catch for the day.

I closed my eyes, her voice beginning to grate on my ears. Something that the Red Tehir had said to me last night came to mind.

"But I saw Savius about a fortnight ago."

"One of the things he said about you was that you never learned."

I had snapped something at her about having learned just fine, and we fought. She thought he was right. I'd left in a huff. Sitting here listening to Mabel prattle on about everything that SHE wanted me to do to make everyone ELSE happy was beginning to make me wonder if they were all right.

"Mabel!" And I knew I yelled this time. The tension in the market was so great that I began to feel a tension in my neck and back. I clenched my jaw, but that didn't help the pounding in my head. Through clenched teeth I told her that I didn't sing or perform anymore.

She placed her hand upon my arm and something in the way I glared at her wrinkled old hand made her remove it very slowly. I lifted my eyes and she had that look in them that look that Myra had gotten the other night. The look that 'Rashi had given me, and the Guardian, and the list went on.

"People are careful around you. You've got an aura of a wild beast. One that isn't sure what its next move will be."

Kernn had said that to me just two days ago, and the man hadn't even known me.

I unclenched my fingers one by one, my cheeks flushed and hot. I mumbled an apology and Mabel, bless her or curse her, went blithely on about that being the problem in 'Haven. She told me it was my job to fix that problem and if my songs could lift spirits again as they had during the siege, and wasn't that I lovely song that I had made to rouse everyone's spirits in the tent that one day. I shouldn't think that she hadn't heard it because she had, everyone had heard it and was singing it and wasn't I such a dear for making it for them.

"Now see," she said to me finally, "You can't give up music my dear, you simply can't. Too many people will miss it."

She nodded her head at me in a that?s-that type of way. My eyelid had begun to twitch half way through her lecture.

"Fine!" I said explosively and pulled the harp case out my backpack. I had meant to put it in storage after my muffin, the muffin that now sat like lead in my stomach.

I pulled the beautiful harp out; it had been given to me last night by the Guardian. It had been the source of my argument with the Red Tehir. It was a truly beautiful piece. Dark wood, the kind I liked, carved with a sinuous dragon and a mastiff at its feet.

I'd purposely left it untuned; it was something that I remembered my teacher telling me about traveling with instruments. I plucked an opening chord; it was sour and set my teeth on edge.

"The intsy wintsy spider caught a mouse in its web." I sang my voice harsh and angry. I glared at Mabel as I carefully formed each word. The Market was still silent and I could feel everyone glaring at me.

"The intsy wintsy spider bit off the mouse's head!" And I truck another horribly chord.

The look on her face was horrified and I could hear the startled gasps from around the Market. I wanted to slink away, I hated being mean; it wasn't who I was. My cheeks were bright red again, but if I didn't make her stop by saying something that she would never forget then she'd keep on me. Why couldn't she have left just understood that I felt dead inside and didn't want to sing anymore?

Lowering the instrument, I maliciously said to Mabel, ?An' tha', ole' woman, is why I ha'e given up music."

I carefully placed my harp into its case, my ears were on fire.

"Well, I never." Mabel finally said into the silence. "Wait until Matriarch Fillee hears about this."

I groaned, and knew that I was in for it when the Matriarch heard how rude I'd been. As Mabel stormed off to find her, I slunk off to quietly purge in the bay. Oh yea, it was great to be home.