The Ring of Avoir

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Her eyes fluttered to remove the particles of sand from her vision. It was dark but she could still move her fingertips and blink her eyes. She was still alive? She coughed out into the open air dust floating from her lips. Her chest was too weak to move and so she lowered her head back to the ground and closed her eyes.

The jingle of the bells around his ankles sounded into the silence. His wide blue eyes examined the creature from afar from behind the scattered brush. Behind him, the brown landscape melted into city scape and lush greenery. However, in the center, the girl had fallen from seemingly nowhere and smashed upon the ground before him while he was hunting. His spear clung anxiously within his hand and palms began to sweat the more he stared toward the newcomer. She was a female from what he could tell. Her curved body seemed to shift quietly in her slumber with each heaved breath of air that struggled to re-enter into her lungs. He nearly had stabbed this woman accidentally, a doe earlier upon his radar for tonight’s feast. He glanced left and then right before stepping over a sharp inclination of rock sheath to approach her stilled body.

The closer he grew to the being the more curious he became. Her attire sporadically lay about her body in the scattered sand; but her face remained covered beneath the cloth that draped over her nose. He raised a brow. Why would a woman cover her face as such? Was she hideous beneath, or so beautiful she could blind a man? With the tip of the dulled side of his spear he pushed aside the cloth to reveal her pale lips. His mouth lay slightly ajar as he observed her appearance. She was beautiful, but hardly seemed old enough to be without guidance.

“Where has she come from?” He whispered to himself out loud and pushed the cloth completely from her face. The jingle of another noise caught his attention and he glanced downwards to the chain that lay looped around her throat. His long fingers caught the chain to bring it up to his eyes; but as soon as he saw what was around the chain- he drew backwards in fear. With a shaking movement of a blessing across his stomach he grew near yet again.

“She’s been blessed with Avoir.” He murmured and undecidedly shook her shoulder. Her eyes refused to move for a few moments; but soon she woke up to a brilliant pair of green ones. Her mind was slow but she took the time to slowly sit up and examine her surroundings. She stared blankly at the boy without a single question before lowering her head back down into the sand.

“Where am I?” She questioned quietly, a small bust of sand erupting near her face from the wind. The boy rolled backwards on his heels in surprise at her awakening. Though he handled it quite well,

“Avoir.” he answered simply and tapped his fingertips together in a simple rhythm.

“Was I knocked unconscious and brought into a slave ring?” She laughed and opened one eye to stare toward the younger boy. He cocked his head to the side as though asking slave ring? He appeared as though he was around the age of sixteen perhaps more than that. His blond hair was shaggy around his childish features and he offered a faint smile to her. Loose black clothing hung about his toned lean figure and they stared at each other in silence blankly.

“My name is Rein.” He nodded his head to her, his voice was smooth but quiet. “Rein of the City of Nomer.” Vivian looked at him before she narrowed her eyes in confusion. . “What is Nomer. . .Avoir?” She questioned but soon shook her head in disbelief.

“I must have hit my head harder than I thought.” She whispered to herself and slowly rose to her feet. She straightened her shirt free of some of the dust and stared around at the scenery.

Last she remembered. .. she was falling into the sand.

But now she was suddenly submerged in some type of forest area.

“How did I get here, Rein?” She asked slowly, bending down to scoop up one of her earrings from within the pile of sand that lay within the forest’s bed of grass.

Rein seemed a little confused himself and drew nearer to her side to examine the sand. He kept his distance from her and seemed less than trusting. “My city does not tamper with such matters.” He glanced toward her again with those curious blue eyes.

“But around your neck you hold the token to the Gods of Avoir.” His eyes never left the ring but Vivian hardly noticed.

“My neck?” Vivian questioned and reached within her blouse to withdraw the ring. There was not enough light to show the symbols that encased the beautiful metal. “Where is the light?” She whispered and peered upwards through the trees. A dark brown hovered above the trees and Vivian slowly wandered away from Rein’s side.

“The light is on the opposite side of these trees.” He answered her. “We’re standing below a cave, these trees are independent of the sun.”

“How is this here?” She wondered out loud to herself and she stared at the sand pile a while longer. It seemed virtually impossible to her.

“Where exactly is this?” She ran her fingertips across the cave’s wall. It was not even the same consistency as the sand she had awoke in.

Rein seemed to grow more comfortable at Vivian’s side, averting his eyes whenever she glanced his way.

“As much as I would like to tell you otherwise.. .” Rein trailed off as Vivian held his gaze. Her expression held insecurity and fear. A little twinge of his heart told him that that look did not suit her.

He cleared his voice and kicked some of the sand with his beaten shoe. There were a few holes along the sides of the worn material; and no laces.

“It seems as though you have fallen out of the sky, Miss Vivian.”

Her mouth went ajar, but it was true as she could not come up with any explanation. She grabbed the ring within her fingertips and glanced upwards again above the sand pile. Suddenly, her legs collapsed from underneath her and Rein reached out to steady her just before she fell.

“Careful!” He scolded and his face softened when he noticed the ring once more. He debated on telling her to abandon the ring and come with him. Only Miraya's fury would await such an oblivious girl. She would hunt this woman to no return. Rein stood her upright and paused for a moment in thought.

A blaring noise sounded through the forest soon after. An odd mixed sound that seemed to represent a clarinet and a French horn. Rein shot to attention and reached up to pull his hood over his head.

“You’d be better off to not be caught with me.” He whispered quickly to her with a faint smile.

“Wait, Rein!” She stood shakily to her feet as he sprinted away from her side and off into the heavy brush in the woods.

The sound of footsteps through the brush caught her attention and she stood her ground. She had no weapon or anything to protect herself and so she would rely upon her words. Figures began to erupt from the woods one after another. Their faces were masked by heavy hoods that cast shadows over their features.

There were about four of them, standing sturdy a good twenty feet away from her; as though she was a foreign object. Rein had not treated her like she was different, had he?

She stared back at them till the tallest figure spoke up.

“From where do you come from?”

The voice was powerful but at the same time gentle. Vivian narrowed her eyes to stare toward the group. The clutched the ring in her fingertips as though it would protect her, but she knew otherwise. She remained silent and the man approached her with swift heavy steps. The closer he grew, the taller he became. Vivian lowered her shoulders but kept her gaze upwards until he was just a few feet from her.

“From Bornea we saw a light from here. It was bright and vibrant like lightening. And now we find you here, girl. From where do you come?” His voice was sharp and she drew her eyes away from him.

“I come from America.” She answered blankly. And no response was given from him, just silence.

Immediately, he reached out to snatch her arm within his grasp, Vivian yelped in response as he drew her hand above her head, nearly pulling her feet from the ground. She winced and turned her head away, having caught sight of malicious blue eyes.

He had begun to reach out for a knife upon his belt. But then, the ring jingled against her clothing and he froze. The stranger dropped her hand and Vivian quickly drew away from him to rub her wrist.

“Forgive me.” He stuttered and fell upon one knee in front of her. “Forgive me Milady.” Vivian raised a brow and noticed that the other three men had also knelt before her.

“What is this?” She questioned and rubbed the ring within her forefinger.

“The ring.” He spoke and reached up to brush his hood from his face. His skin was barren of any marks and his blue eyes seemed to pierce her. His jawline was sharp and his brown locks stood on end in all different directions. Two bells hung from his left ear and his cheeks were flushed in slight embarrassment.

“What is the ring to you?” She stated and stood more powerfully now, displaying her 'ringly' side in order to protect herself in case they decided to snatch at her again.

“The ring will determine the next leader of Avoir.” He whispered quickly and reached up to meet her eyes. He rose to his feet before her and lowered his head once more.

“You will choose the leader from the selected. The ring chose you.” He turned his back to her but motioned with his head for her to follow him. She followed reluctantly, refusing to meet his eyes after his aggressive behavior.

“My name is Liam.” He introduced himself after a few moments of silence. The three other men whose faces had been covered had begun to show themselves to her.

“We are the elected of Avoir.” Liam told her as the other three stared toward her curiously. “Amist decided the light was important enough to send us here to investigate.”

“I am Dustin, knight of Amair.” The tall dark haired man with green eyes nearest to her introduced himself with a brilliant smile. “Such a pleasure to know that the chosen is a flower such as you.” He chuckled to himself and reached out his hand to shake hers- but instead rose it to his lips. Vivian immediately flushed in embarrassment. "A pity Liam had to be so rough with you, his chance is surely lost." Liam hissed under his breath and looked away.

The other man beside him, who looked so similar in appearance, bowed his head to her respectably.

“My name is Thomas of Amair.” The only difference Vivian could see was the tone of voice and attitude, where Dustin was very flirtatious, Thomas seemed proper and strict. The smaller of the three stood further back, he shifted his glasses to the bridge of his nose before studying her. “Zane.” His voice was short and curt and he glanced away from her in annoyance. A few freckles and scars lined certain areas of his face. But his dark brown eyes were what interested Vivian and she stared at him a little longer before returning her gaze to Liam.

“Zane is from the city of Rellin, in charge of restoring, science, and architect. Most from Rellin are like that.” He tried to explain but then smiled slightly as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m sure Amist would love to meet you.” Dustin interrupted and snatched at her hand to pull her in the direction of where they had come. Vivian tried to yank her hand from him and glanced back to Liam. He shrugged in response to her less than pleased look.

“Who is Amist?” She asked eagerly turning her head as the others followed behind her. “He is the leader of Avoir.” Zane answered curtly, studying her as though she was an ant beneath a magnifying glass. Vivian nodded her head in understanding, and her eyes widened when she came into contact with the sun. It was so bright without the trees shielding her face. The group began to pull their hoods over their heads once more; to protect their eyes she assumed. Dustin reached into his side pocket to withdraw a black cover and placed it upon her head. She was grateful as she was able to see once more.

And the sight was beautiful. From the trees hung colorful ivy and blooming green flowers with purple centers. Beneath her feet the grass melted into a light greenish blue, and the weeds around her were littered with multicolored beads of sparkling dew. A whistling sound cut through the air, and she could only assume it was an animal of some sort because Thomas raised the horn to his lips again and the whistling ceased.

“Terrible little things. . .” Dustin chuckled. “Without that horn they would rip us to pieces.”

Vivian felt a chill run down her spin.

"what things?" She uttered quickly, glancing over her shoulder again.

"The Baneits." He replied and grew silent again.

The closer they grew to the city, Vivian could see how vast it really was.

Steeples stood high into the sky with ragged flags whipping about within the wind. Strange birds hovered about within the air, with long twirling feathers and strangely crooked necks. It was warm but chilly at the same time, and the winds were incredibly powerful. She was nearly knocked off her feet by a few of the blasts.

In all her years of studying, Vivian never would have imagined a place like this existed on earth.Was she still on earth? She wanted to ask so terribly, but she felt like they would stare at her. Vivian remained silent as they approached the opening of a gigantic city. The stone of the walls were soaked in moss that climbed up and over the giant gate. But once inside she could not help but stare. The people were all basked in black clothing that hung over their faces as they ran too and fro. It was too bright to be without them. She had left her sunglasses in the truck, but she wondered how they would have reacted to such a magical earthly thing.

She felt as though she had been transported back in time. With the old stone pots and cobblestone houses. They stopped to stare at her even when her face was covered. The ring bouncing against her chest with every movement, she could have sworn some of them lowered their heads to her presence.

She felt like a God.

Like they would bend down upon their knees and ask for salvation.

Untouchable, almost.

They stepped through the dirt path until finally the gates to a beautiful building was opened for them. It was not large like a castle. But just a pleasant home about three stories high and wide enough for a few rooms.

Vivian glanced at Liam in question but with his eyes he motioned her forwards. An elderly man stood near the windows on the opposite side, staring toward the tremendous fields of green and the small pool of water outside. The water, surprisingly to Vivian, was tinted purple. He turned his head slowly, his eyes discolored. And face so weathered, Vivian wanted to question his age. He seemed like he could hardly stand upon his own, let alone walk to her side. But she felt drawn to his man. And so she lowered her hood and approached him slowly. The ring jingled in the silence. She noticed that her four companions had knelt upon one knee as Amist looked toward them. Liam shook his head to her as though telling her not to approach so familiarly.

“Liam, Dustin, Zane, and Thomas; who is this you bring me?” His voice crept out old and gravely; but wise.

Liam cleared his throat and announced.

“Vivian of America.” The other three chuckled in response.

“America?”Amist laughed and searched blindly for the woman.

“Who is this Vivian, this woman with such interesting humor. What is an America?”

“A country.” she spoke confidently. Near his side now. “I am not from here si-”

“How dare you talk back unasked to me!” He chorused and narrowed his eyes, and rose a hand to smack Vivian in her disrespect.

Liam rose to his feet quickly to stop the conflict.

“Sir, Vivian is-!” He started to say but Amist had fallen quiet. Liam stared eagerly toward Amist waiting for his response.

He stretched out his wandering hands to rest them upon either side of her face. Vivian’s heart skipped with adrenaline and she stood still as he studied her. The smell of some type of herb and strawberries heavy within the air. His fingertips traced the bridge of her brows, her nose, and finally the rims of her eyes before he stepped away.

“She bares the ring.” His voice trembled and he lowered his head in apology to her.

“Forgive me, Vivian of Americah.” She stated that all was well, since he could not see her nod her head.

“But we must speak.” He ushered her shakily toward the window once more.

“Leave us!” He commanded once he reached the side of the window. With a shut of the doors, her familiars left her alone with him.

“My eyes haven’t seen anything in over a year.” He uttered and twisted the ring upon his middle finger. It resembled the one that hung around her neck, but with more symbols.

“Often, once a man of royalty becomes blind, the next ruler is to be chosen for the king is weakened and easily fooled.”

Vivian listened to him silently. The multicolored glass of the windows sent patterns swirling around her feet. She stared out toward the window herself and took in the scenery.

“Why do you chose to look out the window though you cannot see?” She asked quietly. A soft breeze tiptoed in from the outside to caress her hair and loose clothing.

“I can still see it.” Amist smiled, revealing a few rotten teeth alongside many missing.

“Just as the ring allowed me to see you.”

Vivian glanced down at the ring once more laying against her chest before looking up to him yet again. His beard hung down his chest in a messy knotted braid, obviously done himself from his pride. A rope of beaded jewels hung around the crown of his head and intermingled with the loose white stray hairs. His ears were long and christened with the same bells she had noticed upon Liam’s ears. Except Amist had many, four or five upon each ear she counted.

“Amist, I have no idea where I am.” She confessed and rubbed the ring between her fingertips.

“America is far more different than here. Last I remember, I found this ring before a sandstorm hit. I tried to escape but fell into quicksand...” She trailed off and cleared her throat.

“I should be dead, but here I am.”

A bird cooed off in the distance as it landed upon a nearby tree branch. Its long feathers hanging around the tree like some type of disfigured flower. It’s deep maroon color was the same as the rich rugs that dressed the floor around her and the color of the curtains swaying within the breeze.

“The ring represents the God’s choosing.” Amist shifted his stance and reached his hand out the window. A small bird that almost resembled a pink pigeon fluttered onto his hand and jumped twice before staring blankly at Vivian.

“Just as the appointed are blessed by the Gods.”

“Obviously you were significant enough for the God to spare you, and bring you to us.”

Vivian lowered her eyes from the birds. It seemed to be peering into her soul with those ominous black orbs. She did not even believe in a religious God let alone their God saving her. There had to be some scientific evidence.

“Are you certain there is no other explanation?” She pried Amist searching for a realistic answer.

“Vivian .. .do you doubt the Gods?” He questioned after a few moments of thought. She stayed silent in response and he sighed.

“You must believe in something had you been chosen. The barer that chose me still is alive in this city.” He tilted his head curiously as the bird fluttered from his fingertips.

“Perhaps you should dress and venture to see her, she may answer your questions.”

“Amist, I have questions for you.” She pleaded and rested her hands in frustration against the pane of the window.

“What am I to do with this ring?”

He pressed his lips together.

“Vivian.” He reached out slowly to bring her hands into his. He cupped them gently like a beautiful jewel within his palms. Cold but gentle at the same time.

“I will die soon. And you must appoint the next leader from the chosen. I cannot favor, but there are some from a different city that will threaten your safety to secure the throne. We are a peaceful people, but power can drive any humans to dangerous acts. You must be careful. Chose a guard from my selected. If you are to die, the kingdom will collapse in violence over who shall rule. Seek out Yamei from Rellin and she will help you from there.”

He wheezed heavily and it seemed to steal all the oxygen from his lungs.

“You have not much time to decide Vivian from Americaneh.” She nodded her head gently and squeezed his shoulder comfortingly. “Amist. . . I will choose the next leader.” She whispered quietly. He bobbed his head and slapped his fist down upon the pane a few times. A woman came to his side and with a look at Vivian she took Amist’s arms to guide him elsewhere. Vivian stared after him and glanced at the ring once more. All this was incredibly baffling. A loose tear trailed down her cheek and she brushed it away in surprise. She was scared of the unknown and wondered if the other ring bearer was still here; would she ever go home to Sam and Brit?

With a final glance at the luxurious home of Amist, she turned her body toward the old engraved wooden doors. She ran in the danger of being killed by people who desired the throne. But exactly who was it she was seeking to avoid.

She pulled the door open and meet Liam, Dustin, Thomas, and Zane’s curious gazes before faintly smiling.

“I need to seek out Yamei from Rellin to learn more. But I would like a guard to accompany me.”

Liam opened his mouth to volunteer but Zane soon overpowered him.

“I will guide of course, since it is my home.” Vivian had been hoping he would not volunteer, but instead followed him without complaint.

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