This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Nina’s first memory was of watching her Aunt Jill crush dried white petals in a mortar, grinding them into dust. She would mix them in a bowl of hot, boiling water, along with ground Silverleaf.
“This, my dear, is how you make a basic healing potion. Just heat it until it is almost to boil and then remove it from the fire, letting it simmer until the juices concentrate in the liquid...”
But Nina was no longer paying any attention. Time had exhausted her attention span and now the little girl squirmed, longing for stimulation. Aunt Jill merely smiled and continued on her work.
“You are only four. It is amazing that I held your attention as long as I did. You will make a great alchemist one day, little one.”
The little girl’s blue eyes wandered outside. A few birds were starting to dip into nearby Stone Carin Lake. They lived on the north shore, wedged between the lake and the hills, in a little blue-tiled cottage hugged by two adjacent trees. It was just her and her “aunt,” who was a little too old to be an aunt, and seemed old enough to be her grandmother.
They rarely ventured out. Once in a while, Nina was set to nearby Eastvale Logging Camp for supplies. Flour, dried fruits, eggs and meats were needed to supplement her vegetable garden. Their lack of basic supplies bothered Auntie Jill, who would look at Nina’s small frame with concern.
“Hopefully, one day we will make enough money so that we can have a proper barn and coop,” she would mutter to herself.
It wasn’t unusual for travelers to stop by. They were usually exotic folk, dwarves, elves of all kinds, and even gnomes. She was a shy girl, and was known for hiding behind her aunt’s skirts when visitors arrived. It was to these travelers that her aunt would sell her collection of potions and other concoctions, which were rumored to be some of the best in the realm.
Two such travelers came by very often, until it occurred to her that they weren’t travelers at all. One was loud, rowdy Dwarf Paladin by the name of Skinflint, who lived in nearby Goldshire. His long, brown beard was tinged with gray. He took a shine to the little foundling, for that is what she was, and would visit often with treats and toys to distract her.
“’ere ya go lassie,” he would bellow, giving her some toy or other. “I got this one from Ironforge. It’s gnome made fare, so ya better be careful but it should be good fer some time before it breaks!”
The other was a tall, imposing Night Elf Druid who went by the name of Denevell. He would sometimes visit with Skinflint, but other times he would come by on his own to discuss herbs and living things.
When Nina was six, their fortunes began to change. At first, it seemed to be for the better. Enough money had been saved to expand their cottage and build a proper farm, complete with a barn for cows and a chicken coop. Workers were hired, land was cleared, and they were ready to begin construction.
But the night before construction was set to occur, disaster struck. It began with a crash. Nina woke with a start to find a hideous beastman grinning at her through a broken window. Its hide was black spotted and golden, its fangs and snout suggested a dog, but his clawed hand that gripped a simple spear reminded her of a man.
She cried out in terror as the creature jumped in the house. With his gnarly, hairy claws he reached for her. Even though she was just a child, she knew she was going to die. But a ball of fire blasted on through the door and caught the knoll in the stomach. He was hurled back against the wall and ceased moving.
“Auntie, Auntie!” Nina cried desperately as the elderly woman walked in.
“You must go, Nina! You cannot stay here. We are being overrun with them. I think they seek to make this their nest.”
“But auntie, I want to go with you,” she cried.
Her little hands clung to the woman’s robes so strongly that her knuckles became white.
Jill pushed her away and then basically tossed her out of the window. With one last command, for her to leave and never turn her head, Nina was chased off from the only home she’d ever known to an uncertain future.
Only when she reached the edge of the woods, next to Eastvale, that she turned around. Through blurred eyes she watched what was once a budding lake-side community alight. Her old house was burning. She could see black shadows darting in and out of the firelight. The woman who’d raised her was nowhere to be seen.
For as long as she lived, Nina would remember the terror of that night, the deep shadows that covered the ground, the hideousness of the face that loomed over her window, and the deep sadness when she realized that she would never see her aunt again.
She was about to scream, when a boy of eleven covered her mouth quickly. He held a sword in his hand. He was not alone. The men from the logging camp, and a few women, were standing beside him, with swords and pitchforks. A few held torches aloft, creating a beacon for which refugees could gravitate.
“Be quiet, or they will come ’ere next,” he hissed.
He was auburn-haired and tanned, with large green eyes. She recognized him as Cyrus, a boy who basically lived in the wild and would visit on occasion.
“What ’appened ’ere? Cyrus, ya better be careful with tha lass!” A familiar voice roared.
It was Skinflint, who appeared with a few Stormwind guards. They got wind of an incoming attack, but had arrived too late.
“Skinflint!” she cried. “Auntie is there. The monsters came and now the house on fire. Why?”
The dwarf held her close as he looked around him, frowning with concern.
“I’m sorry lass, but ya must be strong now...”
The last thing she remembered was being over taken by darkness. Skinflint told her later that she fainted with shock.
After that night, her life changed forever. Nina was now in the care of Skinflint, who moved to a village next to Eastvale Logging camp and she became his ward. As it turned out, Cyrus was also orphaned and stayed with them sometimes, although he generally lived on his own.
Unlike her Aunt, Nina did not see Skinflint as much. He had joined a small, local militia to keep the knolls and other creatures at bay, preventing their expansion. And so Denevell would take care of them in place of Skinflint. But despite his best efforts, he was often away in his own thoughts, in his reverie, or in his work. Days would pass before the children saw either of their caretakers.
And although the other citizens of the village were kindly, and treated her well, they had their own problems. There was only so much they could do for the child. They left her on her own and she raised herself.
And thus was her life until she reached the age of twelve and she moved to Northshire and became apprenticed to Khelden Bremen. But before she traveled to Nortshire, one other event transpired that would remained forever seared in her mind.
Alex Rushmer: Although I don't know the story of the Phantom of the Opera, I really enjoyed this story. The writing was very evocative, and it really put a picture of time and setting in my mind. The voice of the story really added to the character development. The idea of the time travelling -- or whatever re...
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...
LouiseJ2: I enjoyed the detail you went into with regards to the case. It made the UNSUB appear believable. The crisis in the middle of the story was my favorite part, very dramatic but not over the top. I feel like sometimes pairings can be overdone but I liked that some of the relationships were a little...
Prasino45: Hi! I happen to see your updated chapter on FF.NET!It happened to be about you coming onto Inkitt with this story! I've been a fan for a while! I'm a scqualphie writer myself. I ship them HARD! Love this story! I'm gonna do a reread as you said you changed some things! Glad we both made the switc...
Lauren Suzmeyan-Raine: I'm so glad you found a place to post your stories. I was horrified when I saw yours had been taken down, they are definitely the best 'reading' stories I've ever read. And I've made it my business to read every one I can. Well done.Lauren
ga1984: I really enjoyed it! Characters were deep and plot was pretty complex. A bit on the violent side but it doesnt detract from the story. Very dark but situations make sense. Ends kinda abruptly and later chapters will need some editing work. I'm assuming there's more in the works?
Lacey Schmidt: The Trouble with Super is that you can't stop reading it. Mr. Barrett's characters are all to easy to relate to even if you don't have a super quirk of your own, and their plight is both heart-rendingly funny and heart-warmingly sad at the same time. It's a bit like Office Space meets the Matri...
MavisMcQueen: "To Live Again" is a well crafted, highly engaging, heart vibrating tale surrounding our favorite Elven King. The author will keep you engrossed until the very end and by that time you will feel so strongly for Clara and the other characters that you will never want it to end...like ever. Thrandu...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."