The Faerie Blade: Chapter 10

Printer-friendly version
Faerie Blade.png

 

Chapter 10: Kaelyn and the Troupe

Kaelyn was just trying to fill her belly, but she got a lot more than she bargained for when she decided to save the life of a Faerie.

 

“Do I not get a choice in the matter?” I thought back as I worried my lip in thought.

 


 
Author's Note: Here's chapter 10 of The Faerie Blade. Further chapters are available on Patreon.~Amethyst.
 


 Chapter 10: Kaelyn and the Troupe

For the next little while, Vesha told me everything that she knew about the kirgens and driving a wagon while I watched and listened carefully. Then, she had me get some practical experience by taking the reins myself. It was a new experience for me since I did not have much experience working with animals. Since we were following behind the wagon in front of us though, and the kirgens were more experienced than I was in this, I did not have to do all that much and it was an easy way to get some experience in the driver’s seat.

It also allowed me to get used to driving while being distracted, in a not-so-dangerous way. The Kirgens pulling the wagon knew to follow the wagon ahead of us, so I only needed to make sure that they were giving the wagon ahead of us enough space in case we needed to stop and that they did not drift off course. The distraction was in the form of the Dragonkin girl sitting beside me. I often found myself taking quick glances in her direction as she talked to me and every time that I did, my heart fluttered for some inexplicable reason.

Maybe it was because I had never seen a Dragonkin before, but I quickly dismissed that thought. I had never seen a Ravieri before either, and Nirlyn was not eliciting this type of reaction. I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on what Vesha was saying. “…usually don’t travel at night, but we’re trying to put as much space between us and the Demons in the capital as we can. Kirgens have a lot more stamina than horses and can keep up a grueling pace for a lot longer, but it’s still going to be at least a good three or four days before we reach the Kalidar border. I imagine that we’ll only be stopping long enough to rest ourselves and the kirgens for a while before moving on, at least until we reach the border.”

“We are going through Kalidar? I thought that we needed to go to… umm… Derevik?” I asked, turning toward her and making my heart flutter nervously once again.

Vesha nodded and then explained, “Evalis is a big country, the biggest on the continent, and the closest border to us is the one shared with Kalidar. That route has the best road too. Once we get to Kalidar we should be safe enough to travel as usual and then we’ll turn east and pass through Nalean to get to Haydin. Derevik is Haydin’s capital, on the coast of the Sea of Storms. Once we’ve finished our business there, we’ll make our way back to Kalidar and toward the city-state of Zhahimel at the northern edge of the Skyreach Mountains. Then we’ll have to convince them to let us through the gates to the pass and the Fellwoods beyond.”

-That should not be difficult,- Sharai told me. -Many of the Daughters of Zhahime are Fae or the children of Fae. The current High Priestess is an Elf. You are obviously a Faerie and if one of your troupe can demonstrate their shapeshifting ability to show that your people are the lost Changelings, she will surely allow the caravan to pass through the gates.-

I quickly passed that on to Vesha and she nodded thoughtfully. “That is a possibility. We’ll have to mention it to Master Nirlyn. Speaking of Master Nirlyn, we should talk about your apprenticeship, Kaelyn.”

With that, the Dragonkin began to tell me what my apprenticeship to Nirlyn would entail. Basically, my duties were to listen and learn, practice what I was taught, and do any tasks that she asked of me, within reason. Nirlyn on the other hand was to provide her apprentices with shelter and food, to teach us to the best of her abilities, to protect us, and to help us to pursue our talents and goals within and outside of our craft as she thought necessary for our development.

The caravan kept moving until dawn lit the sky and we found a small clearing to set up a quick camp to let the kirgens graze and rest while the troupe got a bit of sleep. It wasn’t a proper camp since we would be taking off again as soon as everyone was awake, but my grandmother did set up a Seeming to keep us from being noticed. I was stretching my legs a bit after the long ride when Nirlyn decided that I needed to meet everyone in the troupe officially before we all went for a short sleep.

First, she took us to where a man, a woman, and a boy of roughly fourteen summers were tending to the kirgens. I almost didn’t see them in the herd of massive white beasts until we were nearly upon them. The man was larger and more muscular than most of the Voyagers I had seen in the camp, and he looked up at our approach and nodded. “Bringin’ Kalara’s daughter to meet everyone, Nirlyn?”

“Aye, seemed like a good time, afore we’re all in dreamland,” the Master Bard agreed with a nod. “This is Kaelyn, as ya might’ve guessed. Kaelyn, this is Joak; his wife, Glimma; an’ their son, Sten. Joak is our Beastmaster, an’ Glimma and Sten ‘elp ‘im with the animals.”

“It is nice to meet you all,” I offered, shuffling my feet nervously.

“Welcome home,” Sten offered with a friendly grin. Like his father, he was probably going to be big when fully grown and he wore a similar style of black leather vest, pants, and boots as his father with a dark green tunic underneath, a brightly colored sash about his waist, and a headscarf to match the sash. It seemed to be what most of the men of the troupe wore, though the color of tunics, sashes, and scarves varied.

“Aye, welcome home, lass,” Joak agreed with a grin that matched his son’s. “I’m glad we finally found you. Bryden and I are spirit brothers, and your mother was like a little sister to me, Nirlyn too once we found her.”

“You take care of the kirgens right? That must be a lot of work,” I said as I looked around at the three dozen or so massive white beasts of burden.

“It’s a labor of love, lass. The kirgens are fine strong beasts, and as smart and loyal as a good horse if you treat them right. To be fair, Sten and I take care of the kirgens, Glimma is our Owl-keeper.”

“Owl-keeper?” I asked with a look at Glimma. She was very pretty in the way of most Voyagers with dusky unblemished skin, bright near-amber eyes, a curvy but slight figure, and long wavy black hair tied back with a bright gold scarf that matched the hoops she wore in her ears. She was dressed much like the other adult women of the troupe with a tight leather bodice with an inner lining that looked soft like silk. She wore no chemise underneath, so it left her shoulders bare and a rainbow of brightly colored ribbons were woven around her bare arms before being tied in a series of bows around her wrists. Plain sandals peeked out from beneath the hem of an ankle-length skirt that was dyed in a rainbow of colorful patterns.

Vesha had told me that she and Nirlyn usually dressed similarly. Niryln had toned it down while in Majair though since she did not want the king or the Church of One to know of her connection to a Voyager troupe. The only sign of her allegiance to the troupe was the colorful ribbons that she had tied off her braids with and it was not exactly an obvious one. Vesha had chosen simple clothes that would allow her to blend in atop the buildings and that she would not care about getting damaged or dirty.

“Aye,” Glimma said with a gentle smile. “We Voyagers use owls for many purposes. We train them to carry messages to drop points in various cities, to search for injured or sickly animals that we can put out of their misery rather than hunting healthy ones, and to keep watch at night and wake us by ringing the bell if danger approaches too close to the Seeming. After breakfast, come to our wagon and I’ll introduce you to our flock. We just had some hatch the other day.”

“We could use owls to send a message to Derevik,” Nirlyn explained, “but this is the kind o’ news that needs to be delivered directly to the Council. We’ll be sendin’ a message lettin’ them know that we found ya an’ are on our way to Derevik though.”

Next, we went on to meet Daivin and his family. Daivin had become an apprentice Bard not long after my mother and Nirlyn, and they used to practice together. He was not a Voyager himself, but he had met his future wife, who was, through my mother and Nirlyn. He was a human man in his mid to late thirties with long dark blond hair and hazel eyes but if it were not for that, you would have thought he was born a Voyager from the way he talked and dressed.

You could tell from looking that he and his wife, Selice, were very much in love and they had two children together, Torin and Korine. Like me, before my transformation, they were half-bloods who took after the Voyager side of the family in appearance. Torin had been one of the boys picking pockets in the city along with the other pre-teen kids. Korine was fifteen though, and her father’s apprentice, so she would probably be practicing with Vesha and me often.

Then, Nirlyn took me to meet our Wagonmaster, Godan, and his family. He was a jovial man who promised to have many stories about my mother as a child. His wife, Zenna, was a kind and outgoing woman who was the seamstress for our troupe. She wove cloth from kirgen wool, dyed it, and made many of the clothes for our troupe that did not require leatherwork. She also wanted me to stop in and visit with her so she could measure me to make me some proper clothes for a Voyager.

The friendly couple had a pair of six-year-old twins, Kegan and Kirla. Those two were a bundle of energy, as I had borne witness to during their picking of pockets in the capital. They were also very outspoken as Kirla proved by asking, “Mama says you’re like us, why haven’t you changed back yet?”

I winced at the feeling of guilt that seemed to bring up in Sharai. I was trying to think of an explanation when Nirlyn squatted down to pat her on the head. “She used a permanent shift, l’il one. She’s like that fer good now, though she can use glamours now to make ‘erself look different. ‘Tis the price fer gaining the abilities an’ form she has now.” She turned to me and then explained further, “Physically, yer a Faerie now, ya gave up yer shiftin’ abilities when ya made a permanent shift. Technically yer still a Changeling though, so it’s a toss-up what yer kids’ll be like.”

I was still trying to reassure Sharai that I did not blame her and that I liked my new form when we made our way to the wagon of Wilden, the troupe Healer. He was a quiet man for the most part and seemed knowledgeable on herb lore and various other healing methods. He had a healing gift, like my father had, though it was not very powerful. Nirlyn told me that most Voyagers have fairly weak gifts, but our shapeshifting is near limitless as long we have some piece of a creature to work with.

Maybe that was why my gift became so much more powerful when I shifted into a Faerie. I only knew of Sharai and the two other Faerie that had wielded Neva’kul, Tamisun and Joarra. All three of them seemed to have powerful gifts compared to what mine had been like before changing, so maybe Faerie just had more powerful gifts in general.

Wilden’s wife was Tanna, the Seer who had predicted where and when Nirlyn would find me. I thought that Seeing was a fairly impressive gift, but it wasn’t something that she could control consciously, and her visions only came rarely. She mostly helped Wilden with his work by gathering herbs and other necessary ingredients found in the wild for his craft. They had an eight-year-old daughter, Jaya, who wanted to be a Healer like her father, though her parents thought that might change when she reached puberty and her gift manifested. As we walked to the next tent, I wondered though why gifts manifested at puberty but even the children could shapeshift once they had been taught how.

Sharai provided the answer, and I was glad that it was able to distract her a bit from her guilt. -The racial abilities that most Fae possess, and the ability to detect magic, are present at birth. Most are taught to use them as children. You did not know that you could shapeshift and your ability to sense magic was very weak before, though it may have strengthened when your gift manifested. Half Fae are unpredictable that way. Gifts are granted to us by Hespira though. We believe that She has a plan for each of us and some of us, like you, may need strong and unusual gifts. Some may need no gifts at all aside from the abilities of their species, though it is extremely rare that a Fae is born with no gift at all.-

“Thank you, Sharai,” I thought to her as we arrived with Nirlyn outside another wagon, this one belonging to Hagen and Mara. The pair acted as scouts and hunters for the troupe and had a five-year-old daughter, Cylia, who was the youngest of the children in the troupe. Mara practically crushed me in a hug when we were introduced and Cylia looked at me in awe, especially my wings.

It seemed that Mara had fond memories of Nirlyn and my mother singing and playing for her and the other children when she was a child and saw them as big sister figures. She had never had the talent or drive to join the Bardic Guild herself, but some of her happiest memories were those spent with my mother and my new Master. I was told that if I needed help with anything at all to come to see ‘big sis Mara’.

I did have one question for her. I thought that the Fae did not hunt, so I was wondering about that. She explained that they usually tried to go after injured or sickly animals but that they also looked for signs of any imbalance in the ecosystem that we were traveling through. Sometimes, if there were not enough predators there could be too much prey, all competing for the same food, and some would starve as a result if it was not taken care of. The same went for predators; they could wipe out the local prey and end up starving. Mara’s gift was actually sensing what type of wildlife was in the area, which was very helpful.

They always said a prayer to Hespira over the animals they killed and tried to make the kill quick and painless. They also used everything that could be used from the animal’s corpse. Hagen was a tanner of sorts and prepared the furs and leather for the use of the troupe or for trade. Sharai seemed thoughtful at Mara’s explanation, but she did not seem to disapprove, as I had feared that she might.

There were only two wagons that we had not visited yet, that of my grandparents and my mother’s brother, Bryden, and his family. Nirlyn took me to the latter first and did not seem surprised to find the troupe Elders there waiting along with their son and his family. My uncle looked a lot like my mother, even with the similarities in coloring that all Voyagers seemed to share, though that was not surprising. Seeing the three of them, I could see the family resemblance and their resemblance to my mother. Even though the skin tone and general coloring were different, my new face still bore some familial similarity to one or the other of my grandparents in things like the shape of the eyes, the high cheekbones, and the delicate nose.

As soon as we approached the wagon my uncle Bryden and his wife, Sivelle, both wrapped me up in a tight hug. It was getting less awkward and more welcome as I began to think of these people less as strangers and more like a family that I had not met until now. “Thank Hespira that we found you,” my uncle said with a choking breath. “You look like your mother, even with those Faerie features.”

They had barely released me when my grandparents had to get their embraces in as well. “You’re here now, Kaelyn. You’re with family and we’re going to take good care of you. Kalara would have wanted that,” my grandmother Vaela, spoke soothingly in my ear.

“Aye, an’ she’d want us to make sure that the bastards that killed her paid in blood too,” my grandfather agreed. “We’ll get this news to the Bardic Guild and the Fae in Tarin’dol, and then we’ll make those Demons wish they’d never returned. And this time, we’ll be sure to make certain there’s nothing left to remember the cursed God that they serve.”

-They are definitely Fae,- Sharai said with a tone somewhere between amused and angry. -We shall get the sweetest of vengeance together. I owe them for my death and the death of my troupe too.-

I passed that on to the family gathered around me once my cousin claimed her hug as well and every one of their faces clouded over with cold fury, even my cousin Shava who was only ten. “Aye, we’ll get vengeance for Sharai and her troupe as well, mark my words,” Sivelle vowed with steely determination. I found out later that Sivelle’s father was an Elf and she and her mother had lived with her father in a village outpost much like Sharai’s during the winters before she had met and married my uncle. It did explain why her ears were slightly longer and more pointed than most Voyagers.

“Aye, but we’ll ‘ave to wait patiently fer that, an’ find out what we’re up ‘gainst,” Nirlyn muttered, her tail and ears twitching anxiously. “Vengeance well-planned is vengeance well-earned. Best we get a good rest, we should be movin’ again soon, an’ each mornin’ we wake gets us closer to our goals.”

© 2022 - 2023 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

up
159 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos

Comments

...

A dish best served cold.

Yup

Amethyst's picture

It's a Fae saying and very appropriate for them.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

The Girl Needs Lots of Training

BarbieLee's picture

Born and raised in a dangerous world where evil people want to kill everyone or enslave them, Kaelyn has a lot to learn. Sharai of course is hidden inside her and offer her advice and training skills. Vesha, a dragonkin seems like a good friend to have at one's side.
Hugs Amethyst, interesting story line
Barb
Feel with one's sixth sense. The other five might be lying.

Oklahoma born and raised cowgirl

Not a kind world

Amethyst's picture

This world isn't kind, or at least this area of it. Kaelyn does have a lot to learn if she's going to fight the Demons though. It seems like she'll have some good support though.

Glad you're enjoying it, Barb :)

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Whatever they do

Wendy Jean's picture

It will be served cold and thorough.

served cold

Amethyst's picture

Yup, the Fae don't skimp on vengeance. They like to make the most of it.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3