This is a new segment – I don’t know how far it’ll go
I play D&D about once a fortnight and basically I have a back up character that has a much cooler back story than my current character 😛 The DM said that if she ever gets to join the main party she can join at the same level as the rest of the group so these little bits are the adventures she has before she joins the group
Part One is already up. I intend to post a fiction story once a fortnight on Fridays.
They will tend to be more rough and ready than my “real” writing, as I like to focus the bulk of my creative energies into the book I’m writing. However, that book is now in the editing stage, so I’m writing these to try outlet some of my creative energies occasionally.
Sara pulled Orianna into a warm hug, warmer than she would have allowed if Miri had been nearby, and then held her at arms length for inspection.
“You look older already. How does it feel to be an adult?”
“I’ll tell you in a week. After my birthday.” Orianna scowled as she spoke, pulling herself free of her mother’s grasp.
“Oh. Well then it’ll be a few days before you can open this, then.” Sara held out a small satchel, bulging slightly under the concealed weight of something heavy. Orianna hesitated – a petty voice inside her mind encouraging her to refuse – but after a couple of seconds Sara’s face changed slightly, a glimmer of hurt rising to the surface. Biting her tongue, Orianna took the bag.
“Dad said you were staying for a fortnight.” Orianna began the lead the way as she talked, away from the overcrowded market and in the general direction of home.
“Well, I don’t know if it’ll be that long, but I do have some business to attend to in the city. A couple of other contracts are about to be completed and its time for me to collect.”
“Contracts? Like with my parents?” Orianna didn’t know the details of her adoption, only that it had been problematic for all involved.
“No, just some things I set up the last few times I visited. A bit of a side venture to bring in some extra money.”
“As if you needed it.” Sara had been well paid when she gave Orianna to Miri. She sighed and glanced sideways at Orianna, pursing her lips in annoyance.
“I really hope you grow out of this attitude soon. It was barely acceptable when you were younger, it wont get you far as an adult.” Sara frowned again and she realised she was looking upwards. “Not that you need to do anymore growing. You’ve inherited your father’s height alright.”
“He says I’ve got your mind. Always making deals.” Orianna smiled as she recalled the conversation, with the same half-fond, half-frustrated, tone all their conversations had. She also remembered how it had ended, with her father hinting at another conversation to be had soon, after her birthday. “Does dad have plans for me? Why did he want a child so bad in the first place?”
“I always got the impression that he had a plan, but he never told me what it was.”
“You didn’t ask.” It was typical of Sara – if it didn’t directly affect her, she didn’t care.
“He never tells anyone anything until he’s ready. You know that.” Sara grabbed Orianna’s hand suddenly, pulling her in a different direction. “Come on. There’s something I need to show you.”
“Something” turned out to be one of her mother’s clients. Despite having no magical abilities, Sara had an uncanny knack for being able to help people – for a price. She introduced people to other people, located objects, and traded services. She had connections stretching across the continent – if not further. She had brought missing children home to kings, hidden the secrets of politicians, and brought vital reagents to powerful wizards – and, Orianna had always suspected, agreed to have her father’s child.
This client, however, was much simpler; a shopkeeper had asked for some money to inject life into his failing business. Orianna raised an eyebrow when she heard the level of interest but said nothing. Why is she showing me this? Her mother rarely showed Orianna this aspect of her life; perhaps because of how Orianna herself had been the subject of two of her mother’s deals. If not more. The man seemed to be almost afraid of her, but resentful at the same time – probably because of that interest – covering both emotions up with a thick layer of respect. Sara preened as he bowed repeatedly before her, holding her head up into an almost regal aspect.
“Was there a reason for that?” Orianna asked as soon as the door swung shut behind them.
“Is this not reason enough?” Sara held up a bulging coin purse, then tossed the bag into Orianna’s hands. “Here. It’s yours. Consider it a retainer.”
“A retainer for what?” Orianna weighed the coin purse in her hand for a moment, then slipped it into a hidden pocket of her robes, out of the reach of eagle eyes pickpockets.
“I want you to come work for me. With me, I mean. I want us to work together.” Sara stumbled clumsily over the words. As always, Orianna pretended not to notice.
“What does Dad think of that?”
“Well I don’t see that it is any of his business.” Sara said with false levity.
“Come on – you’ve got to know something. Why did he want a kid – didn’t he tell you anything when you first arranged to have me all those years ago?”
“I didn’t ask. Really.” Sara stressed the last word and glared at her daughter. “You’ll have to ask him yourself. When are you next seeing him?”
“A couple of days after my birthday.”
“Well, good. You can ask him then. Come on, you can see me with the next person as well.”
The portal glowed around her feet as Orianna reappeared in her mum’s workshop. If it had been a wood floor the symbols would have been permanently burned into the planks; luckily, the workshop was on the ground floor and had simple stone tiles instead. Surprisingly, both her mother and her mum were waiting for her in Miri’s workshop. Judging by Miri’s scowl, this was not well received.
“Mum… Sara.” Now they’re both scowling. Orianna sighed in the privacy of her own head. It was impossible to please all of them – especially if none of them were offering anything she wanted. Despite her best intentions, Orianna found herself matching their scowl. The glow dimmed and, now fully materialised, Orianna stepped out into the workshop proper. Miri hastily stepped forward and started scuffing through the lines of the portal, rendering it useless.
“Is everything ok?” Miri asked, glancing up at Orianna.
“Oh, she’s just tired. She’s come a long way, after all,” Sara said breezily, stepping forward to throw an arm around Orianna. Orianna shook it off.
“Actually, it’s not far at all. Dad gave us a special portal that lets me materialise up close. So it’s not far at all, really.”
“Was it your dad?” Her mum asked, jumping to the heart of the matter as always. Orianna pursed her lips in an unconscious imitation of her mother and looked away.
“He wants me to live with him,” Orianna admitted reluctantly. “He wants me to study under him, learn how to do some of what he does, take on more responsibilities among his people.”
“Can you do that?” Sara exclaimed. When the two of them looked at her she added, “I just mean… Well, you’re his kid but you’re not exactly one of his people, are you?”
“They’ll do what he says to do.” Orianna snapped, not wanting to admit she’d made the same argument.
“Was that it then? His grand plan that you were so worried about?” Sara asked after an awkward moment of silence.
“No,” Orianna shook her head. “He said he has other things planned for me as well, but I’m not ‘ready’ yet. Whatever that means.”
“You’re not considering it, are you?” Miri spoke up suddenly. Orianna and Sara both looked at her, surprised at the suppressed vehemence in her voice. Miri flushed and tried to force her voice to steady and remain calm. “I just… I assumed you would want to stay here and become my apprentice officially. Start earning your wage, start your magical studies properly.” Orianna stared at her, frozen in place.
“Orianna?” Sara reached out and touched her arm.
“No!” The rage burst out of Orianna suddenly, jerking free of her mother’s reach. “Couldn’t there be just one of you that doesn’t have a plan for my future?!” She spun round and lunged for the door, tail lashing wildly across the room and knocking objects from tables.
“Orianna!” “Ori!” Her mum and mother were calling after her, she even felt a hand snatch at the hem of her cloak, but she stormed away, slamming the door as she left. The momentum bounced it back out of the doorframe, small cracks radiating across the aging surface.