This life is not what I wanted.
My father was a scholar that worked many late nights in his study. Every day, the door would be closed and the light would seep out from under that heavy door. I used to look at it, waiting for my father to appear. I know every part of that door. I used to love the way the big steel handle seemd so graceful, how it curved and dissapeared into the door. The hinges were works of beauty. They had gracefull arms, that gently held the wood behind it. The metal was a dull silver color that contrasted with the darkness of the door. The bolts were hand carved. Someone had given great detail and love to this work of art. I always wondered how we could afford such a lovely door, something that surely did not belong to a commoner.
We were never hungry, and never went without anything. Except my father. We were a family of 4, but to the world, we were three. My mother was a stunning woman with piercing green eyes, flawless skin and gracefulness to her walk that everyone noticed. My brother was very protective of her when were were out. She never left the house without him. He was a tall boy for his age, lean muscles and a distrust for anyone that looked our way. He had taken the roll that my father should have. My mother loved the market. She loved the hustle and bustle of the city. The different people always interested her, their actions, their dress, and mostly the way they interacted with one another. She would barter with the merchants every day, and normally got her way. There was an eloquence to her speech that seemed to render men useless, though she was never unfair. There were days when she would buy extra bread and fruits, and give them to the street folk. They always looked so ashamed, and so broken. She would gaze at them with a look I’ve never seen given to anyone but them, a look like she knew their pain and their struggle. They would smile at her, thank her kindly and quickly before eating the food they had just been given. Sometimes when it was very cold outside, she would take in “the strays” as she called them, and kept them warm. It was almost like they were her children, her meaning to life. She had tended to an elderly lady for a shortt time right after my father started retreating behind the door. She was dirty, sick and dying. My mother had laid with her night after night, wipping her brow and bringing her water. When she had the strength, she would talk about her life. Things she had seen, people she had loved, people she had lost. It was like she was living again, in the face of death. One day, she spoke of how the one man she had loved the most, had never loved her back, and how the pain had never left her. She had tried to go on with her life, but food had no taste, and wine was no longer intoxicating. My mother’s eyes filled with tears, but she quickly wiped them away. They talked for many hours that night, and the soft glow of the candle lit the room as I fell asleep listening to her talk. It would be Anna’s last night. I saw her the next morning, with the sun cascading in the window. She finally looked at peace, like all the pain of her years had been lifted and she was free from her burden.
Mother arranged for her burial. She had told my father that Anna deserved more than what her late life had given her. He knew he could not disagree with her, but told her he was very busy and couldn’t assist. She found Anna a beautiful resting place, outside of the city on a hill that overlooked the green pasture and blue stream. She said she could be free there and fly with the spirit of her youth. Instead of going to the market, Mother contacted a priest to do a ceremony for Anna, he said he would send men with us to get her body so they could prepare her for the burial. As we walked the men back to the house, the feeling was heavy with mother. She had queitly sobbed most of the way, my brother held her close trying to console her. When we arrived at the door, she paused as she touched the handle of the door. She took a deep breath, opened it and walked in. The men went to Anna, picked her up gently and started to carry her out of the room. My father’s door opened, and a man holding something that appeared to be a book wrapped in plain cloth appeared. He lowered his head and quickly exited the house. My father looked at my mother and then shut the door. The pain was visable in her face. Why wasn’t my father capable of showing Mother any emotion. The men had left, and the door was shut. My mother asked to be alone for a bit, and went to the room where Anna had stayed. We could hear her sob and knew there was nothing that we could do to help her. She cried herself to sleep that night, alone.
The next morning, Mother woke us to go to bury Anna. She had already gotten dresssed, and laid out our clothes for us. We got dressed and the three of us made our way to the church. We were to meet there and travel with the priest to the burial site. Mother had brought a small boquet of flowers that she placed on the plain wooden box. I couldn’t belive how hard this was for her. She had only known Anna for a short period of time, she had taken her in because she felt sorry for her. But some how, there was a bond with Anna that my brother and I would never have with Mother. We were there for her whenever she needed us, and she just looked at us with the same eyes we’d always seen. The ceremony was short, and seemed rehearsed and cold. My mother didn’t seem to notice. The priest had finished, offered my mother his condolences and left. We sat with Mother while they lowered the box into the earth. The first shovel of dirt, thudded on the top making Mother flinch. After a few minutes, you could no longer tell that there was anything else in the hole but dirt. Mother had asked if we could go to the market for her, and that she would stay here for a while. My brother told me to stay with her, and that he would return to take us back to the house after he was done. After a while, Mother seemed to close this chapter of her life’s book, stood up, wiped away her tears and asked me to walk her home.
When we arrived, Mother went to rest as she was drained from the past two days. I sat at the kitchen table wondering what to do. I started to look that door, the barrier it formed made Father seem so distant. Not just in space, but emotionally. How long had it been that he’d held my mother. How long had it been since he’d shown her any love or comfort. How long had she struggled to love a man that was so far from her. Then I understood what she had seen in Anna. My mother had never had a love like Anna had, now she longed for it more than ever. I walked over to the door, I touched that steel handle. It was cold like my father. I opened the door and felt a rush of adrenaline. I had expected my father to yell at me to close the door, but he was just sat in the highback chair I’d seen only a couple times before. I walked around the chair, and knew he was dead. His head was slumped to the side, his eyes were rolled back in his head, and there wad blood that ran down his shirt from his neck. I felt like I should have cried, but there were no tears. There was no real love for this man I called my father. He was just a presence in our house, but he was never a member of our family. I touched his hand, for the first time since I had been a little girl. The cold feeling was the same as I’d remembered. Then I noticed that I was numb to his death, there was no feeling at all. I stayed in the room, looking at my father, trying to remember every detail of his face. I left the room, closed the door and sat back down at the table. I can remember this door, but not my father’s face.
My brother had returned from the market, and I took him into the room. He stared at him the same way I did, and with the same numbness. How would we tell Mother? What will she do? Just then she peered into the doorway. She walked around the chair, and looked at him with a smile. I looked at Mother and she looked right at me and said “I did this.” I was shocked!! We had been with her all day. How could she have done this? She sat down and told us the story of how they were once in love, and how things had changed. How her life had not given her joy for many years, and how empty it had been. Anna had reminded her that true love is out there and she would never find it until she was set free from her burden. While she was planning Anna’s burial, she was thinking of Father’s death. She knew that when she awoke, she would kill him. He had spent many nights in the room, asleep in his chair. He’d been so busy that it would be easy, his sleep would be heavy and the blade would be fast. Mother looked at him one last time, and said ” this was just a formality, you’ve been dead to me for a long time.” She turned and walked out of the door. We ended up going to bed that night not saying another word in the house.
The next day I stayed home instead of going to the market. My mother and brother had left shortly after breakfast. There was a knock at the door. I went to answer it and it was the same man that came from Father’s door. I told him that I was so happy to see him. He looked puzzled. I told him how we had buried Anna the day after he was here, and when we returned my Father was dead. I walked him into the room, he looked at my father and shook his head. “I had hoped it wouldn’t turn out this way. There are many risks to his job. He was employed by one of the High Houses as a scribe. This door was supposed to protect him, but he never used the bolt.” He said he was a messenger and that was all he could really tell me. I was assured that his House would take care of the body, and make sure that we had food and shelter. He would return in an hour to “clean out” the room. He was a young man, with bright blue eyes and what seemed to be dark hair peeking out of the hood he had drawn up over his head. My Mother, Meldrath and my brother Galrin, returned from the market shortly after the man left. I told them what he had said and that he’d return soon.
He knocked once again on the door. Galrin opened the door and the messenger and his men went swiftly into father’s room. He came out and spoke with my mother and told her that anything we needed would indeed be taken care of. That she would be protected and that if anything were to go wrong, there was a hidden room under father’s room. We were to go there and hide. The House would check on us and if any threats came to us, farther measures would be taken to protect us. After a short time, father’s room had been cleansed and everyone was gone. We were left with the family of 3 that we had started with, and we were allowed to live.
Mother still does her trips to market, and feeds the strays. Galrin is always at her side. He knows they are watched, but he feels it’s his duty ro take care of Mother. She is in love with her life again. I have still not found my place, but I’ve found that toying with the “watchers” is quite fun.
To Vergwild!During those long, important years as Syrzan was coming of age and did not really have a father to turn to, she fell in with a ‘questionable’ group. At first, she thought they were just carefree and irreverent, and helped her forget about her unsatisfying life at home.
However, as time went on and they began to try to recruit her, she learned the truth: they were actually a Rogue’s Guild. They did smash-and-grab, cat burglary, fraud, blackmail and everything in between. It was just the sort of opportunity for rebellion that Syrzan was looking for. It thrilled her and she was good at it.
One Rogue in this Guild, the human Douven Staul, was an adventurer through and through, and taught her everything she knew about the Rogue’s trade. For a time, he was the father Syrzan never really had. Her talent bloomed under his mentorship.
Then one day he disappeared. Syrzan tracked down and contacted his family, whom she had never met before. Douven’s wife said he had left very suddenly, saying he wanted to map a Dragon’s Tomb near the town of Vergwild in the Borderlands (his cover was that he was a historian of old ruins and an ‘antique’ dealer). His wife was worried because he seemed so nervous and left so suddenly. She seemed to know nothing of his secret career as a Rogue.
Although Syrzan has many great memories of her time in the Rogue’s Guild, she always kept in mind the old adage that “there is no honor among thieves”. She suspects that Douven was not making this journey willingly, and that he may need her help but did not ask her because he did not want to endanger her. Her involvement might also endanger her own family, if Douven was supposed to be operating alone and she was helping him.
To catch up with him, she would have to leave quickly. To protect her family, she would have to leave quietly to escape the vigilance of the watchers. Vergwild was at least a week’s travel on foot. Upon arrival, she will need to learn everything she can about dragon’s tombs or any other ruins in and around Vergwild.