by Ruth Davis Hays 2011
This story is a prequel to the first Translations from Jorthus book, THE DAWNSTONE TALE. It pertains to one of the main characters from that series and will possibly answer some questions about him.
Faerlins are a race of Jorthian fae, like elves though stronger, taller, and hardier than the elves of this world. They stay within the areas known as the Fae Wood and generally avoid other people. Once a faerlin, or faerl folk, is sent out of the Wood, they can never return.
Ammarron was one such faerlin. She was a young maiden when her comfortable life with a rich family was stolen from her by her son ‘Khiall. He is NOT a faerlin, and this is part of his life’s tale:
Part 1–A FLUSH OF YOUTH
She was a vision of youthful beauty. Her lustrous hair cascading down her shoulders in a dark waterfall of curls. Her skin, supple and porcelain, rounding out each angle in girlish softness. Her cornflower eyes, calling out to the young men of the town with curious fascination, transfixed more than a few before she passed into the lane heading for her father’s estates.
She liked walking. The summer air, warm and fresh, was sheer joy. Going to market by foot was the only true freedom she felt these days. Her father, Solomen Khnyghtsyde, was the physician of the area; a very rich and powerful man. He had sent her off to a boarding school, which had been wretched and stuffy, at the tender age of ten. But, now, she was a blossoming woman, returned from her graduation to live with her family on their estates. Though, it was proving to be almost as intolerable as the school.
Solomen did not allow her to visit with the young people of the town, nor attend any parties. He made her study each morning in his cramped, smelly libraries while the boys– her brothers and stepbrother– learned more interesting things such as hunting and archery. She detested being a girl sometimes.
Longing to ride on a fast horse, climb tall, sturdy trees, or run with abandon across heather cliffs that overhung the river to the west of their property; she wanted to go new places, meet new people. She did not see the fairness in her life at all. The only chore allowed to her outside the house was accompanying the servants to and from the market once or twice a week. So, Lauralei took full advantage of this time.
She refused to ride in the open wagon that hauled the barrels of spices, wine, large sacks of flour, and grains. Instead insisting on walking. This allowed her to have more time outside, and she got to pretend that she was an adventurer wandering lonely and dangerous country roads, armed with nothing but her strength and a stick.
Today, the wagon had gotten far ahead of her, for the housekeeper had warned of bad weather predicted by an old injury in her rickety knee. The other servants had pleaded with Lauralei to climb aboard. Weather on the river could change in an instant, and old Kora’s knee was rarely wrong. Laughing, Lauralei refused and went on at her chosen pace, occasionally running up into the feathery meadows along the road to fight her imagined foes.
The winds blew up from the west, tossing her silken skirts about her ankles and pulling her hair around her head playfully. Clouds high above raced across the bright afternoon sun, making moving pools of shadow on the lands below. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. This was wonderful. She could not think how these few precious hours could get better.
A burring noise startled her. An arrow had struck the ground at her feet. Her heart jumped and she looked around to find her assailant. There was nothing for miles, but a small copse of trees deeper in the meadow. She looked down at the arrow again. Relief passed through her as she recognized the fletching. It had been made by her stepbrother.
With bravado, she laughed for his benefit and plucked the arrow out of the ground like a long stemmed weed. “Very funny, ‘Khiall!” she shouted to the seemingly empty land. “If father saw you try that stunt, he’d box your ears, you know. And I have half a mind to tell him of it, just to see you get punished!”
Her threat was an idle one. She never enjoyed seeing her stepbrother punished. Which, according to her snide and gossiping brothers, twins Galian and Corian, happened frequently when she was away at school. They were younger than herself and took great delight in getting their strange fae-breed, stepsibling into trouble.
She saw movement beneath the distant trees. It was he indeed.
A smile of delight lit her lips. Lauralei had always enjoyed playing with her stepbrother. Growing up together as children, they would wrestle and run for hours. He was older than her in years, but being a fae he aged slower. She had not seen him since returning home. Solomen had either kept him busy or in his room. Her heart raced with gladness at being able to see him again. She had so much to share with him.
Perhaps he would join in her adventure today, she smiled. ‘Khiall always had the best imagination and thought of the most lively games. Seeing his dark shape moving out from the shade, she laughed happily and ran to him. Nearing, her arms outstretched in preparation for a welcoming hug, she was struck by the changes in him. He was not the gangly youth any longer.
She herself was a woman emerging from the layers of childhood with a voluptuous figure and sultry expressions, but the vision that met her eyes stalled her breath. ‘Khiall had grown taller, his shoulders widening to hold a muscular frame that slanted nicely down to narrow hips and strong legs. His ears were recently cropped to the height of an elf’s and she could see the scabs on their tips. But, his face, that was where she saw the most difference. His features were striking, beautifully masculine and culminating in the captivating ocean blue of his almond eyes. The radiance, that burned within them as he looked down at her, flushed beneath her skin.
“Khiall?” she gasped, hugging him, hardly believing that this attractive young man was her adopted sibling.
He seemed to hesitate, but then his eyes brightened with the old irrepressible twinkle and his smooth face broke into a wide smile as he caught her up in a warm embrace. “Laure!” he crowed happily, squeezing her tight to him. “I’m so glad you’re home.”
Lauralei melted into an old familiarity and comfort that was suddenly blended with a new tingle. A beckoning sensation she had felt once before with a stable boy at the boarding school. He had been her introduction into the realm of physical arousal and adolescent infatuation; though, it had not been serious or lasting. She had explored out of curiosity more than affection and he had done the same.
But, now as she felt ‘Khiall’s body hard against hers, smothered by his musky scent, she felt the same flutter inside and this alarmed her. Quickly pulling away, she swallowed hard and smiled.
“What are you doing out here alone?” she asked, trying to separate her feelings of elation and stimulation. She wanted to enjoy his company simply, as once she used to.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” he smirked, making fun of her silly question. His voice was deeper, though he still held a hint of the faerlin accent that she remembered. It was not as prominent as his mother’s, for he had lived among humans for the greater part of his life. “Hunting! And, it looks as though I’ve found a maiden in distress.”
“Hang on!” she laughed, again at ease. “In distress? Don’t you see my sword?”
She held up the thick walking stick that she had carried along the road with her. He bounced back, a grin on his sun-touched face, and bent to snatch up a stick of his own. “Oh, pardon me! I didn’t know you were a warrior.”
“Let this be a lesson to you, so that you will know better next time, you knave!” she giggled. They began to parry and thrust around the trees, laughing and charging each other. Battling out into the meadow until both collapsed breathless and sweating in the summer sun, she sighed in contentment. It was good to hear his laugh again. Now, her day was perfect.
Turning to face him, she found him looking at her, his chest heaving and the dimming sun highlighting his sharp eyeteeth. Her eyes traced his cheeks, chin, and brow. She never wanted to look away. Briefly, she wondered what he felt when he looked at her. Was he maturing at the same rate as she, she pondered. Had he already tasted the delicious fruits of youthful fancy?
“Do you have a girl, ‘Khiall?” she asked, her curiosity burning hot. He looked puzzled and gave an awkward little laugh.
“What do you mean?”
Rolling onto her side, Lauralei decided to pursue this. It was suddenly far more interesting to her than sword fighting. “You know, a love? Do you have one?” she spoke precisely, as if she were speaking to a younger child. He frowned at her tone and turned to stare at the darkening sky above them.
“Why should I?” he huffed, despondently. “How could I? Solomen never lets me off the estate.”
“But you do want one?” Lauralei queried tentatively.
’Khiall shrugged and folded his hands behind his head. “I don’t know. Do you?”
She giggled, “What, want a girlfriend? No.”
He scowled at her silliness. “No. Do you want a love?”
She shifted onto her stomach, propping up on her elbows which inadvertently made her full bosom bulge in her neckline, threatening to spill out. “I think on it sometimes.” She sighed. “In fact…”she started, then paused debating on whether to let him in on her feminine secrets.
His face whipped around at the hint. Leaning over eagerly, his body very close to hers, he urged conspiratorially, “What? Tell me, Laure. You know I’ll keep your secrets.”
She smiled slyly, shaking her head until he pleaded again. Her mind made a tiny note that he was glancing down at her chest repeatedly as she began to whisper. “While I was at school… just last month, I indeed had a love.”
“One of the other girls?” he leaned in closer, his eyes sparkling as he smirked. She slapped his arm, hard.
“No, you ass!” She griped at him. “One of the stable hands that worked there. His name was Ethan. He was tall, strong, and rugged. We met a few times in the hayloft after hours. I would sneak out my window, and we…”
She blushed, suddenly shy saying this aloud. Glancing up, she saw his blue eyes inspecting her with a different light in them. A scowl of disapproval emerged on his brow. Kicking her heels in careless irritation, she shrugged off his expression. “You don’t like my secret? I don’t care.” She huffed. “I did it and that’s all there is to it. I’m a woman now. I don’t care if you go running off to tell father either!”
‘Khiall flopped onto his back again and looked away from her, moodily. “I wasn’t going to do that.”
“You’re a big baby’s blouse if you do.” She challenged, hoping to salvage her stepbrother’s affections.
“So, you’re in love with him?” His voice seemed distant. He refused to look at her, but she saw his chest heave unevenly.
A rush of compassion urged her small arms around him. “No,” she said softly. “It was a brief fire. We both knew that I was leaving soon. I’ll never see him again and I don’t really care if I do or not.”
The night-blue eyes returned to hers. “Then why did you lie with him?” he asked.
She cocked her head in shock, blinking at his innocent question. “Why not?” she responded with a small laugh. “I was curious. He was attractive. It was fun. A dangerous adventure to explore. Why do you think? Haven’t you thought about it?”
Sitting up abruptly, ’Khiall wrapped his long arms around his knees and scowled at the windswept landscape. “Don’t laugh at me, Lauralei. It was just a question.” He growled petulantly. The accent was thicker when he was upset.
She moved closer to him and hugged his arm lovingly. “I’m sorry, ‘Khiall. I wasn’t laughing at you. I’m simply wondering if you are interested in love the same as I. That’s all. I won’t pry if you don’t want me to.”
He softened again, leaning his head on hers. They said nothing. Simply sitting and finding comfort in each other’s company. She knew that she would be expected home soon, as would he. This private time together was rare and special; she did not wish to ruin it with harsh arguments.
Amid their reprieve, a light sprinkle began to fall on them. It quickly grew into a downpour. Leaping up, once again laughing together at their dilemma, Lauralei and ‘Khiall ran towards the sheltering trees. Stumbling under the canopy of branches, breathless and wet, she found herself being wrapped in his arms. The nagging tug started inside her once more. His musk was hypnotizing, she wanted to bury her face in his hot chest and taste his flesh on her lips. The thought startled her. Looking up, she caught his beseeching eyes wandering across her face. He was feeling it too, but was unsure.
His heart pounding against her fingertips, he trembled as his face dipped closer to hers. His dark, wet hair hanging about their faces like a curtain, he touched his lips to hers briefly in a curious peck. Crawling deeply into her azure eyes, he searched for approval or chastisement. Also, for what to do next.
Smiling sweetly, her body quivering with thrills, Lauralei took his cheek in one hand and gently pulled his strong, youthful face to her once more. They kissed, a new spark igniting within them both. His arms pulled her tighter, his lips eagerly exploring hers, devouring them in an aimless frenzy.
Thunder cracked nearby. Startled, they broke their embrace. Wide-eyed and flushed, he picked up his few belongings without a word. They hurriedly dashed into the chilling rain for the estate gates hand in hand.