The Road to Aurea, prologue and chpt. one

Fiction By Arya Animarus // 12/3/2011

There is a legend I have heard about a land far away that has been seen time and time again of old, that no one has ever actually been to. In that other land, there is a garden, and in that garden are many things, but the most precious of all these are three trees. One is made of all types of beautiful and precious metals, the second is made of every type of rare and expensive jewel, the third is just a simple tree that produces only once a year. It bears an apple that will grant the eater one wish. The passage into this glorious land is unknown, though many have seen it from afar. Of all who have seen it, none know how to get there. However, there is a prophesy, that in time of need, one will step forth who is chosen to enter that land and save the world from great peril. This one will be the first in the line of the Chosen Ones.

Ariya skipped through the streets of her town, coming home from the market, feeling happy to be alive on a beautiful day like this. When she finished her chores, maybe Mami  would let her go play with Mirya. Ariya grinned and waved as she passed her neighbor's house, and the man who lived there, Mr. Gudzinas, waved back.
"Good day at market, Ariya?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Gudzinas! It was a wonderful day!"
Mr. Gudzinas smiled and went back to his work. Ariya came to her house and stepped through the door. She set the basket on the floor next to the kitchen table and sniffed the air.
"Ooh! Mami! That smells wonderful! What are you making?"
Mrs. Nyaturn smiled at her fourteen-year-old daughter.
"Soup for tonight's meal. And is you wash your hands, you can help me with the bread."
Ariya's face lit up.
"Oh, Mami!"
She hurried to wash her hands and cover them with flour. She loved making bread, mixing the ingredients, kneading it, pushing and pulling it with her hands, punching it, and especially eating it. She loved the sweet taste of the warm bread after it came out of the oven. It was heaven! She kneaded the bread with her hands, pushing it and pulling it and punching it and rolling it. Then she washed her hands as her mother put the bread on a paddle and slid it into the oven.
"Mami, may I go play with Mirya?"
"Have you done your chores?"
"All but the kitchen floor."
"That can wait until I'm done cooking. I'll do it and you go have a good time."
"Thank you Mami!"
Mrs. Nyaturn stopped her daughter before she rushed out the door.
"Be home before supper. Pablo's coming home today, and you need to get ready before he arrives."
"Yes Mami!" Ariya called back as she ran out. She raced down the street to her friend Mirya's house. Barging in, she tackled her friend off her chair and they commenced in a wrestling match. Mirya's brother, Aaron, glanced down at them.
"These entrances get weirder and weirder."
Ariya and Mirya sat up.
"Was that an insult?" one of them asked. then they both knocked him out of his seat and all three were enjoying a good old row when Mrs. Battrick walked in.
"Enough!" she shouted, and the three teens froze. She picked up the two chairs and glared at the young culprits.
"You can roughouse outside. Not in here where you can break something."
The two girls wandered outside while Aaron cleaned up the mess they had made. The girls sat on a swing in the yard and swung back and forth, talking and laughing. Then Ariya looked up and said,
"I'd better get home. Pablo's coming home, and I've got to get ready."
"Ok. See you tomorrow!"
Ariya rushed back home and up to her room.
"There you are, Ariya. What took you so long?" her mother called after her.
"I didn't realize the time, Mami," she shouted down. she closed her bedroom door and pulled off her dirty clothes. She threw them in a heap in one corner and washed her face and arms with water from a basin on the table in the room. She pulled a fresh blouse and skirt out of her wardrobe and pulled them on, tying a sash around her waist and pulling her hair back in a ponytail. She hurried downstairs and her mother set her to work fixing up the table. Ariya wiped it off with a cloth, then pulled out a tablecloth and spread it on the table. She set out dishes, napkins and silverware, then swept up the floor, put out candles, and cleaned up a bit. Mami came in and looked around.
"Good job, Ariya! Now go watch at the window with Antony for Pablo."
"Yes Mami ."
Ariya hurried out to the front window and stood next to Antony, her six-year-old brother. Pablo was their older brother, who had gone off to fight in the war. Ariya turned to Antony.
"Are you excited to see Pablo, Antony?"
"Yes! Today is a good day Ariya!"
Ariya picked up her brother and spun him around.
"No, Antony, today is the best day ever!"
Antony scrambled out of his sister's grasp and pointed out the window.
"Look! Look! It's Pablo!"
The young boy ran to the door. His older sister followed him. Their mother called from the kitchen,
"Is Pablo here?"
"Yes! Oh yes Mami !" Antony yelled. Mrs. Nyaturn ran into the room. Ariya opened the door and the two children ran out calling,
"Pablo! You're home!"
Antony attached himself to Pablo's leg, and Ariya jumped into his arms. But best of all was when Mrs. Nyaturn ran out and folded Pablo up in her motherly embrace and cried on his shoulder.
"Pablo," she cried, "Oh Pablo! My son is home!"
Pablo hugged her back and smiled.
"Come on, Mami, let's go inside. I can't wait to taste your good home-cooked food!"
"Ah, si. And Ariya helped me today."
"Oh! Big Ariya!" Pablo teased.
Ariya grinned and punched him playfully. The whole family walked into the house and enjoyed a good meal and Pablo told of good news and bad from the war. He told news that was worse than bad. He said the troops were starving, most of them, and there was not enough clothing. There was not enough wealth in all the kingdom to suuport them, and the might have to surrender eventually. Ariya sat, pondering these things late into the night. This war was not with just another country. Invaders from another planet in their solar system had come to take over Kadaur and destroy it. This hostile planet saw Kadaur as a blight in the majestic fabric of the universe and sought to wipe it out. Not enough food and clothes might mean the defeat of their planet. That was not an option at this point. It was win or die. And Ariya wanted to make sure they didn't die. She drifted off to sleep thinking of these things...

*Crack! Splash! Boom!*
Waters were thrown into a torrent. Wind whipped around, bending trees as lightning flashed overhead. Thunder boomed and cracked and rain poured down upon the soils of Kadaur. A boy of sixteen sought shelter under a huge oak as he clutched a tattered cloak about himself. Staring out into the raging elements, he shivered and tried to pull the cloak tighter about him. It ripped in half, tattered as it was, and fell from his shoulders, revealing a gaunt, thin form with rags hanging from him. He muttered a few juicy oaths and tried to patch it back together. Finally giving up, he wrapped himself up in the scraps and lay down under the tree. He was awakened by a loud, sharp bark nearby. He sat up and looked about. Three wolves were standing, crouched, little more than ten feet away. The boy shoved his back against the tree and stared in terror at the wild menaces. At the sight of movement, one of the wolves pounced! The boy whipped out a rusty sword and stabbed the beast just as it reached him. He flung it off of himself, unhurt, as the other two wolves circled him, hungry glares fixed on him. Then they leapt at him! He slashed at one, wounding it, but the other was behind him, and swiped a claw across his back. he shouted and spun around, chopping the head off the offending beast, but the other wolf came back in, jumping on him, and sinking its teeth into his shoulder. The boy yelled again, and stabbed the wolf with his blade. The sword snapped, and the wolf fell beside him. He lay there, breathing heavily. He pushed himself up, casting away the ruined sword. The attack made him realize something. This was wolf country, and the wolves' cries would not have gone unnoticed. There would be other wolves here soon, just as hungry and dangerous, if not more so, as the other three. He had to move from here. Now. He struggled to his feet and began staggering off into the night, trying to stay upright in the weather. How long and far he wandered, he knew not, but the storm was slackening off now, and he was dead tired and bone weary. He was utterly exhausted from a night of fighting off wild beasts and walking for miles. Not only was it wet, but it had snowed, as well, and there was well over a foot of snow on the ground. The boy saw a light in the distance, and tried to make for it, but tripped over a log hidden in the snow and fell, hitting his head against a rock. He blacked out.

Ariya sat bolt upright in bed. What a nightmare! She tried to remember it, but couldn't. She took a deep breath and jumped out of bed. She pulled on thick woolen socks and her skirt and blouse over her shift. She grabbed her sarape off a hook on the wall and ran off downstairs. Her morning chores consisted of setting the table for breakfast, sweeping out the fireplace and the ashes of last night's fire, and milking their one goat, Rita. Then she swept out the kitchen and pulled on her shoes. She walked out the door looking around at the snow that blanketed the ground of her small town. She suddenly became very excited, and joined in a snowball fight with a few other kids from the nearby houses. She had just hurled a rather large snowball at one of the kids, but he ducked and it whizzed past him and knocked into a rather bumbling elderly man. Ariya ran over to him, apologizing profusely. The man picked himself up with her help and dusted himself off.
"S'quite alright, m'dear. Quite alright. Children rarely have a chance at good clean fun these days, so it's good you're enjoying yourself."
Ariya picked up a pair of glasses and wiped the snow off them.
"These must be yours, sir."
She handed them to him. He unfolded them and pulled them on.
"Yes, thank you. Ah! You must be Ariya!"
"Yes sir," she said politely, "But how did you know?"
"Ah!" said the man, tapping his nose, "I've been looking for you."
Ariya was confused.
"Looking for me?"
"Yes. Did you have a nightmare about wind and rain last night? Did you see Kadaur barren and lifeless?"
"Yes! How did you know?"
"I am a prophet for the Infinite One. He has sent me to prepare you for a journey. You must be brave and ready. The fate of our planet rests in your decision. Will you go?"
"Am I to save my planet?"
"Along with help from certain others, yes."
"Then I will go!"
"Take these."
He handed her a parchment, a pouch and a staff.
"You may need them. Now do as I say and go northwest until you feel you should stop. Trust what you feel. Your intuition will not guide you wrong. Now I have other stops to make. A prophet is busy, no matter what they say. Farewell!"
And with a pop and a flash, he was gone.

The boy opened his eyes. It was dark. He rolled onto his back and looked up. Leaning over him was a kind old man.
"Where am I?" the boy asked. The man smiled.
"Wait for the girl. She will lead you. Wait for the girl."
Then he vanished. The boy was thrown again into utter darkness as the dream came and left.

Ariya smiled broadly at the prospect of an adventure. She quivered with excitment and opened the pouch. In it was some money, a small knife and a compass. Holding the compass out, she determined northwest and sped offf, trailing her new staff behind her. She tied the poush to her sash and giggled like a baby. Running so hard, she tired after half an hour. She had made good time, and covered lots of ground. Gasping for breath she plunked down under a large oak then instantly shot up again. Hidden under the snow was a broken sword, on the hilt of which she had sat. She picked it up and looked at it closely. She dug through the snow and unearthed the top half of the sword. she dug some more and found two halves of a tattered cloak. She grabbed her staff and stuffed the parchment through her sash next to the pouch. Running off again, she scanned the ground before her. Hours later she skidded to a halt behind a fallen log. Looking down, she saw a lump under the snow. She stepped over the log and brushed snow of the mound. Scraps of fabric came into view under the white powder. She thrust her arms into the snow and lifted a rather heavy bundle of cloth and flesh. the boy was unconscious and very cold. Looking forward, she saw a house through the trees. She lifted the boy with trouble and began hauling him toward the house. She made it to the door breathing heavily and knocked. It opened to a kindly-looking old woman in an apron. She smiled at the girl.
"Yes dear? What can I do for you?"
Ariya gestured to the boy she had been carrying.
"Help for him, rest for me. A meal and a warm bed."
"Oh my! Come in! Come in!"
She ushered Ariya in, carrying the boy. She set the boy down on a cot near the fire and motioned for Ariya to come near.
"Come, come, my child! You need warmth! Come sit by the fire. It will warm you up. I'll be back with some hot tea for you."
She disappeared into the kitchen and emerged again with a cup and saucer.
"Here, young 'un. Drink up."
She bustled around the room, gathering things. Bandages, a medicine bottle, and a rag. She came back and cleaned out the cut on the boy's forehead. Pouring some liquid out of the bottle, she rubbed it on the rag and spread it into the wound.
"To fight infection," she said. She then wrapped the bandage around the wound and went back into the kitchen. She soon came out with two bowls and a couldron of soup. She poured out one bowl and handed it to Ariya.
"Here. Eat. You need nurishing. When he wakes, give him some too. I will be in the back room if you need me."
Ariya smiled at the old woman. As the woman left, Ariya looked into the fire and smiled.
"My feelings were right. Today is a very good day."


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