Through the Eyes Of a Thief
This is Joe Marder
's early childhood, and could go onwards. It will go up on elfwood at some point.
I give you Seeds of hate.
The man sat in front of the fire. The light flickered over his face, jumping over cheeks that could have been rounder, could have been attractive once. The light danced around his frame, tall enough to be someone lanky, yet solid enough to be called normal, a reasonably thin normal.
Most of all the fire’s light played over his face, the expression blank, with a slight underpinning of thoughts of places long gone, shown in the dark brown eyes reflecting
the flames. Somehow he managed to get by with no weapon, and only a pouch at his waist, his pack on the floor nearby. Something about his thin but tall shape, his dark gaze and general air told someone looking closely enough that he was either a mage or a thief. To be accurate, he was both.
He looked up at the person who had sat across from him, then away, avoiding the gaze of the stranger, which was too piercing for his liking. He observed that the stranger was dressed in brown cloth that rippled in the semi-desert’s wind. The man didn’t question the stranger sharing his fire in this barren landscape, and knew immediately they had power, a desert seer most likely.
“Your heart is heavy, wanderer.” He didn’t question the voice to be talking thus and remained silent.
“Memories are strange things, are they not?” Again the man was silent.
“You cannot keep ignoring the past forever you know.”
“I know,” he finally said, still looking intently at the fire, his voice was light for a man.
“Then why not look at your past?” Now the man truly was uncomfortable, his head turned away from the fire to stare at the blackness, before returning to his hands.
Suddenly the fire roared upwards, becoming a twisting pillar of flame spiralling to an end about a foot above his head. The mage’s eyes jerked upwards to meet those of the seer’s at last, a spark of anger flaring in him.
“Do you dare
to remember,” the seer hissed. The man’s face stilled, showing emotion for once, questioning himself, before the air rippled as his mind’s eye spread out...
A bird soared high overhead, wheeling and soaring on the columns of hot air rising from the land beneath it. It had come far from the west, flying from it’s home in the forests
south to the plains and east, over bush, and more bush. Okay, so it hadn’t flown that far at all, according to the landscape.
But it was a difference.
The bird glided down towards a village nestled in a plain of scrubland where a group of small children ran around a dusty space between simple houses under the watchful eye of a child’s mum.
A little girl looked up as the bird lowered and pointed, “Look mummy! It’s a big bird.”
“It’s an eagle little one, you don’t usually see them round here, they’re very rare,” the woman sounded awestruck as the eagle landed in the dust. The little girl called out, “Brother! It’s an eagle!”
“I can see that Marianne. I wonder why it landed here? We don’t have any food.”
“None to spare anyway.” The boy’s mother walked over to look at the eagle along with the rest of the children, who were all boys. “It doesn’t seem at all afraid of us.” The eagle even let the little girl stroke his handsome head once before its mighty wings spread and it leapt into the air to continue exploring.
Marianne watched it long after it was a shadow wheeling up above, a coarse shout brought her back to the game and she resumed her running and shouting. It seemed a variation on tag, or rather the boys were keeping a ribbon from the girl.
Eventually the girl managed to retrieve it from her brother by tripping him and jumping on him, where her hair tie was duly given back to her.
“Mari, that hurt,” grumbled her brother.
“Tough, it was my ribbon anyway.” She got off her brother and ran to her parent, who retied her hair as their fathers came home and were greeted by the other women of their small village.
All the children ran to their respective fathers, apart from Marianne’s brother, who was glaring at his, “Dad, where did you put it?” The combined effect of glare and reproachful remark didn’t have the planned result.
With a roar of laughter he was swept up onto the broad shoulder and carried in state to his house, little more than a partitioned hut. As soon as they entered the boy immediately saw his possession on the highest shelf, and was soon given it back.
He was replaced on the floor, still holding his pouch, which he quickly replaced on his belt and smiled. His parents laughed at the speed at which this happened and shooed him to eat and sleep, the warm candlelight illuminating the house as laughter rang and brothers gently teased sisters. Neither child could remember a happier time in their life, but that was expected as they were only 6 and 9, the boy being older.
Slowly the boy’s eyes closed as he laid in his bed, smiling as he watched his mother kiss him goodnight and walk out. The boy drifted into slumber, perfectly content...
Screams ripped the air as the boy’s eyes opened and he leapt out of bed. The night sky was streaked with fire leaping through the small village. His doorway itself was blindingly
bright and hot as he stumbled backwards away from it, straw seeming to melt with the intense heat as screams rent the air.
The boy crouched against the muddy wall as he put hands over his head in a sort of shield a flimsy barrier of power appeared without him realising he was doing it, but soon faded away when faced by the flames.
He was jerked back abruptly to reality when he heard the wall blowing out behind him.
He spun as he rose to sprint outside when he was grabbed by an invisible power and lifted from the ground. With a yell the boy struggled until he heard a voice say, “Don’t sorry sonny, you’re fine, look, I’m putting you down.” The boy stared at his benefactor as he landed back on solid ground.
He was a curious mix of black and red billowing around him in the wind that fanned the flames to roaring infernos, his long cape black against fire roaring around the pair. The actual robes themselves were more like a long dress in most respects, but on this man was plainly robes of black and dark red. The boy blinked at how unmistakeably stylish the clothes looked, the red in long triangles down his arms and sides, with the rest black as his cape, bar a symbol on his front like a stylised fire.
However much attention his attire brought, the boy’s eyes were drawn to the dark red power flying and tangling around his palms. It spiked and flared like a living thing, reaching out to do whatever the mage wished. The 9-year old was fascinated until a scream ripped the air behind him and he spun, mouth paper-dry.
“Want to see more boy?” came the mage’s deep, almost gleeful chuckle as raised his hands and the house, his house, shot into the sky, dark red magic buoying the flaming wreck to land on another house, a single large shriek coming as whoever
inside was crushed in flames. The boy didn’t look at that, but stared through where his house had been.
The floor was left, flames writhing across the wood as he watched. His mother was in the centre, crying silently as she held something black and burnt to her, bigger than she was... Her son gasped in horror as he realised his father was lying there, that pile of scorched flesh.
The woman only stared at what was her love and the fire closing in on her. With a last look upwards the woman jumped into the flames, writhing in pain as they hungrily fed on her, ending her life with one last convulsion.
There was still worse to be seen. The tiny daughter trapped in her room had been screaming, terrified, for her mother, even after she died she screamed for her, terror blinding her. But she couldn’t even get to her, trapped in what had been her room, the bed turning black as the flames crept closer to the petrified girl.
The boy lurched forwards, “MARIAAANE!!!!!” his tears blurring the image in front of him as she spun to see him, seeing him move to try and save her. “HEEELP!!!!” Her brown eyes were wide in panic as she stared hopelessly. A jerk backwards stopped the boy moving, who struggled to get to his sister, not turning to try and rip the hand off his clothes.
His back arched as pain filled him, the mage’s power was touching him, burning him... Suddenly he saw as clearly as if he was standing in front of her, image etching his memory as everything else quietened and faded. There was only him and his sister, separated by a few feet if his eyes were to be believed. Tears streaked the soot on her face as she screamed to him. No matter how he struggled he got no closer.
There are no possible human words that could accurately describe the next sound she made, a feral, no, an animal scream as flames touched her bare skin, searing her delicate skin as clothes blackened and fell away from her. It was the
scream of something in more pain than they could stand.
He couldn’t tear his eyes away as she went down, like a melting plastic doll, flames framing her face as she let out scream after scream after scream. The boy’s own throat was sore from screaming for her. His sister’s brown eyes were desperate, red- rimmed and sore as she took her last breath.