The Legend of the Rah
Author: LCD

Chapter 6

Myquenna stepped out into the bright post-eclipse sunshine and squinted. She was still a bit dazed by her dreams, or rather her recurrent lucid nightmare. Stopping for a second at the threshold of the doorway, she scanned the dusty yard where her friends were running around carefree and playing games again. This camp was their new home, away from home; one in a long series of such. Like nomads, they had been relocating, depending on the next military target to attack. This was the place their trek was supposed to end but no one knew for sure whether they would ever return to their villages again, Myquenna realized.


One thing was certain, however: nothing would ever be the same anymore. The warmth and comfort of her mother's arms were forever lost and gone. The strong and reassuring sound of her father's voice would never reverberate throughout their house again. Myquenna rested her head hard against the doorpost and felt the heat of the sun in her face. She had always loved the power of the sunlight but now it was only bothering her.  Subconsciously, the girl touched the locket that was hanging around her neck with her hand.


A sudden wave of sadness splashed over her, threatening to suffocate her. She gasped for air, the pressure on her tear glands was close to making them burst but not a drop would come. For a moment, she thought she would be better off being dead. Almost an entire year had past since then but there was no making sense of what had happened to her parents or the fact that she would never see them again. Over and over again, she was asking herself: Had there been anything more she could have done to save them? And why had she not woken up earlier to the screams and calls from her parents' room? The screams that must have sliced the night in two but that she had never heard. Even so, they had etched themselves into her memory like a scar and stung like an incurable phantom pain. Survivor's guilt was nagging at her conscience. Although Loar, in an attempt to sooth the worst of the pain, had assured his sister that he was grateful she hadn't woken up any earlier lest she'd been killed by the assassins, too. It was a miracle in itself that she had been able to escape the devouring flames that had burnt their house to the ground while Loar had been hunting down the murderer. Dworne who had been frantically trying to find his sister in the fire and had been extinguishing the flames together with the guards and neighbors had almost given up all hope when they found the scorched bodies of his stabbed parents. But then someone heard Myquenna's moaning under the remains of the mattress. Although unconscious, she was miraculously saved unscathed, holding onto the locket that her mother had given her as a last gift. Her parents had been buried and mourned by her brothers, the villagers and all their followers, before she had woken up from her delirium almost a week later. The first thing her blurry gaze had fallen upon when she had opened her eyes was the bent and twisted piece of golden metal. She never let it out of her reach since then. Dworne always teased her by telling her that the magical powers of the strange, ornamented metal object had surely saved her from perishing under her parents' bed that night. At first, Myquenna had found some kind of consolation in that thought and it had rooted itself in her mind. But as her rationality caught up with her feelings, she felt foolish for believing in such magic. Once, in the beginning, she had inspected the locket somewhat closer but there was only an indecipherable inscription with letters or hieroglyphs written around the peripheral of its backside and a half-destroyed depiction of a mythical animal on, what once must have been, the inside of the locket. The lid was missing, probably lost to the flames. The only value the locket now had lay in the memories that it reinforced in Myquenna's mind.


By now, Myquenna had witnessed many of war's facets: pain, fear, screams, helplessness, desperation, death, wounds and blood, hunger, thirst, senselessness, bravery, evil, cowardice, good, innocence, tears, exhaustion, hope, relief, disillusionment. It seemed that one could take nothing for granted. Anything could change. Sometimes she thought it would be easier not to become too attached to anything or anybody in particular. There had been nights, too many endless nights, of waiting for Loar to return from a battle, risking his life. She couldn't fall asleep, dreading the possibility that he might never return or only as a corpse. One night, she tried to pretend that it didn't matter, that her love for her brother had subsided for some reason. Myquenna tried so hard that she became numb and finally could fall asleep. Next day, when her brother did return victoriously, and everyone around her erupted in jubilation and happiness, she felt nothing. Dworne tried to cheer her up and convince her that the tide had turned, that Zylbersdyne's army was on the retreat and they would win the war for sure. It didn't matter to her, she had turned apathetic. For months, she had been wrapped in her cocoon that no one could open. She only seemed to react when somebody was going to separate her from her locket. Then she would become a fury and lash out trying to hold onto it, and screaming for her parents.


One day, it ended as quickly as it had begun. But Myquenna feared that she could fall back into that abyss again, as self pity was throbbing in every vein and capillary of her body once more. She knew that others had lost friends and relatives in this war, too. But wasn't she suffering most, her loss the greatest? She saw the boys Tuuborn and Meikaal goofing around outside, laughing in their play. Their fathers were warlords of the Council of the Alliance and their mothers were living in the camp, so that they had a family to rely on. The same was true for Maakthield and Teereez, her closest friends, and their siblings. All of them were playing outside and no clouds seemed to be bothering their skies.


The hardship of giving up their homes must be more like an adventure to them, Myquenna thought bitterly. One day, when this war was over and the evil king was dead, they would settle in peace, perhaps even return to the countryside that they had come from. Not so for Myquenna and her brothers. Their village had been burnt down shortly after her parents had been killed that dreadful  night.


Suddenly, the girl felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned her head. It was Suusuara, Maakthield's mother.


“Don't you want to go and join the other kids on the yard?” She suggested. Myquenna sighed. Suusuara nodded, “You feel restless, right?”


The woman rubbed the girl's back,


“This won't last forever, you know. Your brother is a formidable leader and we all place the utmost trust in him. Don't worry so much!”


“I know... if there was only something I could do to help him... or at least do some school work like before. To let my mind deal with something else.”


Myquenna should have gone her eighth and last year of school now but there was no way of keeping up classes on a regular schedule in these restless times.  Suusuara had given the kids home lessons on the side but the past weeks had been filled with other chores around camp life.


“You're right. Now that things have calmed down a bit I could give you kids a few hours of lessons a day. Let's start tomorrow after sunrise.”


Myquenna smiled at that prospect and nodded eagerly at Suusuara who had become somewhat of a surrogate mother to her. In fact, she had been the one who had taken care of her in her apathetic cocoon state. Myquenna remembered that. It meant more to her than she could express. Suusuara smiled back and stroked over Myquenna's beautiful hair before going back inside.


Myquenna was feeling better now. She let her gaze scan the palisade. It was made of strong brown logs that were neatly bound together, driven into a trench in the ground and supported by a base of rocks and rubble. The wood had been painted with a brown, smelly liquid to make them more difficult to set afire, Loar had explained to his sister, and guards were pacing the walkway day and night, making her feel safe from attacks. But it also made her feel trapped like inside a jail. She looked over to one of the outlook posts in one of the corners of the palisade. From their the view must be beautiful, Myquenna thought. The camp wasn't built very far from the rim of the deep canyon and she was curious what one would be able to see of it from up there. But children weren't allowed up there.


Then Myquenna heard a noise as if someone had opened a door vehemently. She turned her head and saw Dworne emerging from the headquarter building on the opposite side of the yard dressed like a warrior.


What's he up to now? Myquenna wondered. Then one of the guards from the top of the outlook tower called him urgently. She watched her brother head over to the tower with his typical, enormous strides and climb up the ladders of the tower.


In the mean while, more people were exiting the headquarters. Myquenna recognized that they belonged to the Council  that Loar called in from time to time. In contrast to Dworne, they were walking leisurely together, chatting with each other. Loar came out last, quietly discussing with Jewd.  Myquenna felt relieved to see them like this because she knew that this man had been one of her parents' most trusted people. He had a calm and sensible demeanor and radiated a tranquility and confidence that only few were capable of. It was positive that also Loar now was on good terms with him, Myquenna thought. Together, they will figure out a way to win over Zylbersdyne. They had obviously settled their quarrel about who should take over the lead of the Alliance after her parents' demise. Jewd had always found that her brother was still too young and inexperienced for such a burdening task but Loar had maintained his right to inherit this position and proven himself worthy. Myquenna respected Jewd's magnanimity when he had accepted that he had misjudged Loar's abilities and instead turned to support his lead in the quest of defeating their common enemy.


Then Dworne shouted down from the tower,


“Loar! They're coming!”



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