Ardranath- Part 1

Fiction By Anna // 7/27/2009

 Part One: "You Don’t Know Who You’re Dealing With"

   Ardranath stormed out of the room, fuming. But even after he slammed the door, he could hear his mother- his stepmother- weeping. The sound of her tears caused his to hesitate and ask himself why he hated her so much.

No, he didn’t hate her. That was a word reserved just for Noorsaah, his father. He only resented his stepmother- which was likely his father’s fault. He had brought her there, all too soon after what had happened. His son’s wounds hadn’t healed, and now he was sworn to resent that woman forever.

She was too soft for Noorsaah. She was too soft even for Ardranath himself. She didn’t belong and never would- something Ardranath took care to remind her of constantly.

-----

  Ardranath flew on wings of anger. Anger is always a fleet messenger, and hard to recall once it has been sent.

His horse’s hoof beats rang in the night. It was likely that his family would soon notice he was missing- perhaps they would hear something or see something. Or maybe what would tell them he was gone was what they didn’t see and hear. Hard to know quite yet. He could only wish they wouldn’t find out until he had enough of a head start…

As the wind whipped his face and his black cloak out streamed out behind him, the sixteen-year-old felt a little fear. He knew they’d try to bring him back, and his father wouldn’t waste time on gentleness. But he couldn’t stand it anymore; he had to try to get away. Had to.

The ride was a nightmare. Were they onto him? Would they catch him?

The only place Ardranath would truly be safe was the DragonsTeeth, a range of mountains to the far east. More than a month of hard riding would still leave him short of the full distance. But if he could get there- he would be free! His father wouldn’t seek him there. Ardranath imagined what might happen then. Noorsaah would conceal his son’s disappearance as long as possible, and when it was no longer possible, he would either tell the truth- "Ardranath has run away!"- or make up a different end. Either way, Ardranath would be long gone, and free at last!

He tried to search his mind for something at home he would miss leaving behind. The sad fact that he could devise only one thing showed how little he knew about life in the open, on his own, on the run.

 

Two weeks later, at dawn, Ardranath decided to ride into a town. He felt secure now in his lead, and thought the sores on his body from riding and the emptiness in his stomach were to be well worth it.

He went immediately to the market- immediately, that is, after cutting his hair short, rubbing dirt on his face, and pulling his hood over his eyes. Not being recognized was going to be a big problem, even if Noorsaah didn’t go this far for him.

Ardranath stopped at the first stand he saw. A woman was managing it, and a small boy stood beside it. "I need fodder for my horse and a loaf of bread," he demanded. "Money is no object."

The woman nodded busily and waved the towel in her hand to shoo him off. "Yes, I can have it ready for you by-"

"Now," interrupted Ardranath. As an afterthought, he added an almost threatening "Please."

Taken aback by the tone of the sixteen-year-old, the woman dropped her towel.

"And, if you would be so kind as to point me to a place I can refill my water skin…" Ardranath left the question hanging, enjoying the feeling of being able to do whatever he pleased.

The woman pointed wordlessly to what might have been a well in the distance, her eyes narrowing. She obviously disapproves of me, thought Ardranath.

He didn’t care, only putting his horse’s reins in the boy’s hand. The lad could have been the woman’s son, a servant, or a customer. It was just another thing Ardranath didn’t bother to care about. "Hold this," he said, walking off toward the well. He could hear the woman’s voice behind him, strained with vexation: "Well, I never! Who does he think he is?!"

Ardranath smiled, amused. The only question that could truly trouble him was this: Who did they think he was?

 

He hadn’t been caught. He hadn’t been caught.

That’s the only thing going through his mind as he looked up at the DragonsTeeth. It was almost two months since he had first set out (he had only barely kept track of the days in his mind)- and his father hadn’t caught him!

He dismounted his horse and stroked its neck. "You up for it?" he asked. Looking back at the mountain again and shading his eyes, he tried to see the top. (He couldn’t, no matter how hard he searched. It was buried in sky.)

Not that he had any idea of how he’d manage to drag his horse up the mountain, much less survive there himself. His horse was of light build, and Ardranath had chosen it for speed, not durability under harsh conditions. Good thing it was near summertime. At least the horse wouldn’t die of cold. Probably.

After a short rest and replenishing of his supplies, he headed on.

 

There were paths on the mountain- meandering ones, overgrown with underbrush. With all the bracken and tree branches and cliffs and rocks and steep slopes, Ardranath had to lead his horse rather than ride it. He questioned the wisdom of bringing it with him, but it was far too late to do anything about that.

He was weary and even dizzy by early evening. He tethered the horse to a tree and tried to fashion some temporary dwelling under a tree.

That’s when something unexpected happened.

A young girl with longish blonde hair leapt out of the tree, in her a hand a bow notched with an arrow. She couldn’t have been any older than Ardranath, according to his judgment; but still, the arrow gave him pause.

The girl frowned in disappointment as she lowered the bow. "Oh. I thought you were an animal," she sighed.

Ardranath’s worry dissipated. "Some markswoman you are. Can’t tell an animal from a man!" he said, scorn giving an edge to his voice.

The girl’s eyes narrowed, just as the woman’s in the town had, and she brought the bow back up. "Who are you? Why are you on our mountain?" she demanded, anger keen on her features.

Ardranath drew his dagger defensively, wishing for a sword. He had rashly supposed no one would dare touch him, but then… He kept forgetting they weren’t supposed to know who he was. "Your mountain?" he said, doing his best to sound formidable. "No one owns the DragonsTeeth! It’s free land!"

For a moment, sadness softened the girl’s face. "Why do you suppose we’re here?"

Ardranath didn’t have time for this. "Out of my way," he commanded imperiously.

She looked just as angry as ever now. "Who do you think you are?" she cried. (As it had in the town, the question only made him smile.) "Wait, I know-" she said, not waiting for a response. He started with surprise as she hurled abuse at him. "You’re an arrogant, bullying, unkind, disrespectful-"

He cut her off sharply. "Hey, girl, you don’t know who you’re dealing with! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay away from me! I’ve spent the months running from the King, trying to get here, and…" He paused at the look on the girl’s face.

Her mouth had turned into a round O of surprise. "I’m so sorry!" she said immediately. "I didn’t suppose you were- what I mean to say is, I never thought- well- that one of us could be so much like- pardon me- a King’s Man! No offense intended." She dropped the bow, grabbed his hand without the dagger in it, and pumped it enthusiastically up and down. "Mam and Da will be thrilled!" she cried, releasing his hand.

"Where are my manners? Flown south again, I’m afraid," she laughed. "You must be tired and hungry after your journey- and your poor horse! Horses like that aren’t made for these rough mountain paths, you know- we don’t have any- You must join my family for our evening meal! What did you say your name was, friend?"

"I didn’t say," said Ardranath, utterly bewildered. Obviously this girl had mistaken him for someone else- Who knows who!- and was making every effort to be friendly and welcoming. Who was she, anyway? Oh well. At least she had discarded her weapon. And if he played along a little, maybe it could work out to his advantage.

So, as the blonde girl babbled on, Ardranath followed her to her home, leading his tired steed.

 

After they had taken care of the horse, the girl burst through the door of the cottage she had led him to. "Mam! Da!" she called, her voice ringing like a bell. "A new arrival!"

Sitting around a very long table were a man, a woman, and seven children- one a babe in its mother’s arms. By the looks of it, she was expecting another. How do they all fit in such a small house? thought Ardranath.

The man at the head of the table stood. He was tall, with hair the same pale shade as his daughter’s. Most striking about him were his eyes. One was green, the other grey.

"Welcome!" boomed the man. "What’s your name, boy?"

Okay. Now the game was over. "My name is Ardranath," Ardranath said. Surely now they’ll know who I am, even if I wasn’t recognized, he thought. He ignored his knot of fear.

But to his great surprise, they only greeted him.

How is it they don’t know who I am? Ardranath thought, more befuddled than ever. He almost asked, but at least some of his wits were intact, telling him how disastrous it would be.

"I am Rhys," announced the man. "This is my wife-"

"-Brey," said the woman. She had dark hair, hazel eyes, and a friendly smile. "You’ve met our oldest child, Waverly."

The blonde girl smiled at him, cheeks turning rosy. Her hazel eyes looked just like her mother’s. "I’m fifteen," she said.

Waverly. So that was her name.

"This is our second oldest, our fourteen-year-old," said Rhys, motioning to the boy directly to his left. Ardranath noticed Rhys’s left arm was scarred, as though by fire.

"Jared," said the boy, brushing black hair out of grey eyes.

Across from Jared sat Arlen, who was twelve and had light brown hair and dark brown eyes, and next to Jared sat Sandre, a ten-year-old who looked much like Waverly, but with green eyes.

Next was Darren, seven years old, with the same hair color as Arlen’s, but curly, and azure eyes he got from neither parent.

After that came the four-year-old twins, Deirdre and Eden, who giggled when Rhys tapped their heads but never looked directly at Ardranath for shyness. They weren’t identical, as Deirdre had coal-black hair and cool blue eyes and Eden had golden hair and warm amber eyes.

The youngest child was the baby, Micah, who was only a year old.

Ardranath was somewhat overwhelmed. He had never met such a large family. All the same, he still had questions on his mind. "How long have you lived here? In the DragonsTeeth?" he asked.

"Around twenty years," said Rhys.

In that case, thought Ardranath with some relief, they wouldn’t have known me! But have they ever left? "Do you ever go out?  

Brey spoke. "At one time, nine years ago, I believe, I was living in Erazel."

"What news of the kingdom did you have?" he asked.

"I got little news," she admitted, smiling. "I was more interested in this and that and the other thing, and had little time for gossip. I heard one rumor, however, that I never bothered to verify. But now it troubles me." She frowned. "Is it true the King remarried?"

Suddenly, Ardranath’s words stuck in his throat. "Yes," he said thickly, fighting to sound normal. Without quite knowing why, he added, "It was almost just after Queen Sylena died of the Red Blindness."

There was a collective shudder in the room. Even the youngest kids, who had begun chattering, fell silent.

The Red Blindness was a sickness that, in the shelter of the mountains, seemed only a nightmare. But not in the country.

The outbreaks had only started a year or so before Ardranath’s own birth, but everyone had learned to fear them. No one knew how the Red Blindness was communicated, or how to cure it- perhaps Magicians could have done it, but as far as most people knew, Magicians no longer existed!

The sickness behaved this way. It started unlike most illnesses or plagues, for those generally start with fatigue and weariness that seems unfounded. The Red Blindness started with increased energy. Then the eyes of the infected person would begin to grow unnaturally wide and bright. It was called a Blindness, but it wasn’t that one couldn’t see; what the saw was twisted beyond recognition. They saw friends as enemies, dangerous things as harmless, dark sky as sunlight, pits in the ground as plains, and much more. But at the worst stage of the disease, their eyes would go completely crimson- like blood. Then they would turn on everyone around them and try to kill them with whatever they could find. That stage would last as long as the person lived- or was allowed to live.

It was said that someone with the Red Blindness only died when someone else had caught it in their place, but no one knew the truth of the saying. What they did know that often one person- and only one- near the sick man or woman would contract the illness as well. Not always, but often.

No one knew when the Red Blindness would break out. Or when it did, how long it would last. Sometimes it spread like wildfire, person to person. Sometimes- as in the case of Queen Sylena, where she was the only one- few would catch it, and few would die. Regardless, people panicked whenever rumors of it reached their ears (which was why few people knew the former Queen had died of it at all- it had been kept very secret so as not to spread fear).

That was perhaps the worst of the entire thing. There was so little known about the Red Blindness, not even when it would be a great threat. And thus, no precautions could be taken.

"But enough of that," said Rhys finally. "A new arrival calls for mirth, not fear."

Jared had, by this time, squeezed another chair and place setting onto the table.

"Sit, Ardranath, please," said Brey.

He did so.

"Where are you from?" asked Sandre, his green eyes blinking curiously.

Uncomfortably, Ardranath named the general area.

"I didn’t know any Magicians lived that far west!" Brey exclaimed. "It’s so close to the King!"

"Magicians?" repeated Ardranath, too surprised to be careful. "Wait- you think I’m a Magician?"

Everyone looked shocked, right down to Micah (if a baby can look shocked). Rhys and Brey turned their heads to Waverly, who sat open-mouthed and looked almost frightened. "He’s not… a Magician?" asked Rhys. He let the end of his sentence dangle.

"I- I-" started Waverly, "He said he had run from the King to the- the DragonsTeeth, and I- I just assumed-"

Ardranath wasn’t really listening. He was actually digesting their words. So they had thought he was a Magician. That meant they were probably Magicians. Therefore, it stood to reason that there were even more Magicians on the mountain.

A firm hand on his shoulder brought him from his reverie. "Who are you, then?" asked Rhys, holding him still. The man sounding threatening. "A criminal? A spy?"

"Some spy he would be, Rhys!" cried Brey. It sounded like an attempt to keep Ardranath safe, and the boy wondered why. "If he were really a spy, he would have played along, not given himself away as not one of us."

"I’m not a spy," said Ardranath, his mind racing. "And I’m not a criminal." He looked around at the family. They were different than how he’d imagined Magicians. He hadn’t pictured mothers and babies and little children. He had even thought of their demeanor and attitudes as being different- sneaky, wicked, conniving, greedy. Maybe they were really that way. But how could he be sure?

He began again. "I just- I wanted to get away from the King. That’s all. I just didn’t like him. And I’m not going back. I won’t betray you."

Rhys’s grip relaxed, and the man stepped back. "If you are telling the truth, then you are welcome to stay."

Was he telling the truth? Yes. He wouldn’t betray them. Not unless it was going to be really, really worth going home.

 

Somehow, he rather doubted it. 

 

Comments

Mmm... :)

 Sounds interesting!  I'm curious to see how this comes along!

(I need to go back and read SOL, actually - you were already into it when I joined and I never got around to reading the back story)

So far you're doing an excellent job with character personality. Keep it up!

Mary | Mon, 07/27/2009

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

Hurrah! You've started the

Hurrah! You've started the sequel!

It sounds like it is going to be interesting. I love big families, and this one seems charming--I especially like their names.

Annabel | Mon, 07/27/2009

Yes!!!!

I've been looking forward to this!!

Ardranath is the King's son, isn't he?

Sarah | Mon, 07/27/2009

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

*Dances in a happy circle*

*Dances in a happy circle* Hurray, hurray for Rhys and Brey!!!! Hey, did you get the name Waverly from "Buttercup's Baby"? Just wondering...I love, LOVE it anyway!!!

Ariel | Mon, 07/27/2009

*****************************************
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

I knew they would get

I knew they would get married!  I KNEW it!!!  Yayyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!  This is really alive in a way.  I love it!  Keep going!!!

Bridget | Mon, 07/27/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

*Happy Dance*

YAY, I'm so glad you posted the sequel to Brey. It's neat how it's also named after the main character. I like Ardranath, he sounds cool. And the Red Blindness, that's just creepy!!

One suggestion though. This chapter covers over two months of time. That's a lot to just skip over. Eventually you might put Ardranath's flight as a prologue of some sort, and expand the first chapter to mostly when he meets Waverly and everyone. For expansion, try describing the DragonsTeeth--I want to see these mountains pop off the page! :0)

Oops, you didn't ask for critique, did you? Sorry, going off on my "writing teacher" mode again. But this is cool, now we have two stories to look forward to from you, YES!!!!! I'm so glad you did a sequel to Brey, btw. :0)

Heather | Tue, 07/28/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Interesting

I like it.

Julie | Tue, 07/28/2009

Formerly Kestrel

*sigh of rapture*

My cup of happiness is full. :D

Clare Marie | Tue, 07/28/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Mary: Thanks! I'll

Mary: Thanks! I'll try!

Annabel: I had so much fun picking their names. :)

Sarah: Sorry it took so long! And I refuse to answer that. Why do smart people have to read my stories? (JK, i'm not complaining)

OFG: I've heard the name more places than just the Princess Bride, but yeah. I adore the name. I still kind of want to name one of my daughters Arwen Waverly... although I know I won't because that would be weird.

Bridget: I'm glad it's "alive"!

Heather: The Red Blindness is meant to be creepy. *mwahahaha* It comes in in a big way later on. *hint hint*

I really do not mind criticism! Honestly, how else am I to improve? I was going to make the journey longer, but I honestly couldn't think of anything to say. Notta. I'm still working on it, but figured I should post in the meantime.

Mountains popping off the page. Is that a pun? I wish I knew more about mountains, but I don't. Michigan is dismally flat.

You have more than two- I'm working on several other stories right now. One features rather wicked elves. One is called "Slightly Magical" (see what that tells you). One is an extension of "Drawing Beauty"- from Thomas's perspective. :D Oh, I am so busy and it is amazing!

Kestrel: Thanks!

Clare: Glad I could help.

 

Anna | Wed, 07/29/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Google some mountainous

Google some mountainous places. There are really some amazing mountain pics out there!  And no, it wasn't meant to be a pun. :0P Justin's rubbing off...he's always making puns like that! :0)

"wicked elves" oooooh! I enjoy knowing that people besides me can make elves bad. And "Slightly Magical"? That's very intriguing!

Don't you love being busy? Besides Half Blood and my full length novel Roliwyn (which I only have 5,000 more words to go in, btw!), I'm co-authoring a book with Mary and plotting my next book, NightSword (about an elf who is now a good guy but used to be an assassin/sorcerer).

 

Heather | Wed, 07/29/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

HOOORAAAAYYYY!!!!!! *Does

HOOORAAAAYYYY!!!!!! *Does happy dance. Wow, the Red Blindness disturbs me in a deep way *shudders. Those are awesome names! I love the names Waverly, Eden, Arlen and Micah! I'll put Waverly on my Future Children Names List! I know what I'll name my son though--Sirius Remus. People from Harry Potter. Yeah. I have a serious problem :-) lol. Anyway, AWESOME JOB!!!

Erin | Thu, 07/30/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Wait--Hold

Wait--Hold up--WHERE IS THE EXTENSION OF DRAWING BEAUTY AND THE SLIGHTLY MAGICAL STORY THAT SOUNDS REALLY COOL???!!!!! Do you realize that we love your writing, missy??!!! Lol ;-)

Erin | Thu, 07/30/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Heather: Okay, I'll be doing

Heather: Okay, I'll be doing that. ooh! As soon as they're published, you tell me! (Now who can I borrow moolah from??) :D
Erin: Thanks! Glad you like the names, it was fun picking them. I will post the stories eventually, I'm sure, especially Drawing Beauty: Thomas Speaks. Just don't hold your breath. ;)

Anna | Sat, 08/01/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

*Lets out breath.

*Lets out breath. Ok.....Ok.....I can waiiiiittttt *eye twitches and grips desk very hard. LOL :-D

Erin | Sat, 08/01/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

LOL! I'll tell you when I'm

LOL! I'll tell you when I'm published as long as you let me know when you're published. :0) We have a deal?

Heather | Mon, 08/03/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

In accordance with the

In accordance with the prophecy, I make this deal. :)

Anna | Mon, 08/03/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

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