Fifty thousand years ago, a flower bloomed. It was an extremely ordinary looking flower, with dull yellow petals and about the size of a daffodil. The flower swayed gently along the breeze, solitary and unassuming. For two hundred years it stayed like that, six inches from the soil that birthed it, blooming and closing, wilting and growing back into suppleness, quietly living and of course, unseen.
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There is an old folkstory in my homeland. Old men tell of it in the evening, sitting outside on their porches with their grandchildren in their laps. I must have heard it as soon as I was born, but the only memory that remains now is when I was six or seven years old, leaning with my head against my grandfather’s chest, tracing the woven pattern on his worn coat.
“And then what happened?” I would ask, drawing Abbala out of his doze.
“Em?” he would keep his eyes closed, “and then the King saved him! The inner city is holy from the Night Demons and not even the Demon King can do anything to him there!”
“But why does the Demon King want to eat flowers?” I would pull on my grandfathers sleeve, rousing him again, “Abbala!”
Abbala would give a wheeze before finally getting to my favorite part. “Well, that’s because eating Vaevine would make the Demon King grow stronger and taller and bigger!” Then he would make his voice turn gravely and deeper, his bard’s voice. “The flower Vaevine is born from a flower which only grows once every thirty thousand years and only under very special circumstances. ”
“Like if Hawky crowed at night?” I would ask, giggling. Hawky was the village rooster and I thought he looked just the old chief’s son, strutting and puffed out.
“Yes and if Magria didn’t put two buckets of pepper in her stew!” Then he would feign sneezing and I would jump down from his knee, laughing and running to the edge of our yard, looking out. Not tall enough to look over the fence, I would put an eye up to a hole in the fence and peer out, hoping to see the flower that the great angel Vaevine came from.
Every night would pass in some version of this, my Abbala telling some old epic and I would half listen, playing in the mud or on his knees. Then when dusk sets in and fireflies would start their dance, Magria, my grandfather’s second daughter and my aunt, would call us from the house. She would cluck her tongue as she undid my braid and dropped me in the wooden tub. Her face I no longer have memory of, but of her fingers I do. Rough from farm and loomwork, but steady, combing through the twigs and leaves in my hair, rubbing soap on my back with an old washcloth.
“Tsk tsk, too skinny. Your shoulder blades are not growing out evenly, Goblin-girl.” Magria raised me. She acted as both father and mother. During my infancy, my ears were too big and thoughout my childhood, Magria would always say I was too bony with disportionately large head and ears. And so that was her nickname for me, Goblin-girl. Aside from her reproaches and scolding, Magria was not talkative, very different from my grandfather and apparently also from my mother. I had never seen my mother and whenever she was mentioned, Magria would sigh and Abbala wouldg get a far-off look in his face.
“She’s on an adventure, my dear,” Abbala would say gently, tucking a piece of dark hair behind my ear.
“Will she come back to us?” I would ask, looking up. Even at my young age I already knew the answer.
“She will after she finds what she’s looking for,” he would say, a shadow of sadness passing over his wrinkled sun tanned face. And then I would stop asking Abbala about her, perhaps sensing his heart-ache.
“What’s my mother looking for, Magria?” Sneaking over to my aunt, where she was pulling weeds from the garden.
“Only she knows that answer,” Magria would grunt out, not pausing in her work.
And so that was my childhood. Hazy memories of waking up with the birds at dawn, lugging a pail of water on the ground from the cracked stone well to our fields. A breeze, drawing aside the wheat stems, revealing a bent Magria. Heat, heat, and heat. But also laughter. There must have been other children. Braid pulling, making wreaths from wildflowers and calling ourselves Vaevine and Alemogre, pretending to be captains of demon legions, faeries and fey, celestials and dragons, demons and angels. Then lunch, a bowl of fresh wheat noodles, eaten in the clay bowl that I had made with Abbala last winter.
Who else was in our village? The old chief I remember--his beard was long and silvery white, reaching the tips of my head. I would stand behind his beard and hide my face under it, imagining it dropped from the skies, falling the snow of the Northern countries. Yeye I called him. His son, towering over me, making speeches atop the flat boulder in the center of the village, proud and haughty like the colorful birds I saw in the old scrolls from our village library. Peeeee-cock I had read out, clumsily spelling out the letters. Hawky, after the rooster, however I secretly called him. Then the other women, singing now long lost songs about what they loved, warrior princesses of old, the bravery of their husbands in the war, while harvesting and fertilizing the fields. Several millenium later, I watched a shadow puppet show in a country that no longer exists. And so that is how I see my villagers thereafter--colorful and vibrant, moving and dancing, but only of their boundaries, outlines of the real people who lived.
My name is Lleseir of Duromas, taken from the village Duromas, a small, but old settlement between the two mountain ranges of Kazeer and Kolmgrath. I have no father but an Abbala and aunt and I watched when I was age 12 as my village was slaughtered, hiding beneath a dead pig for three days before they took me.
This is my story.
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