First Draft Nearly Done

I’ve finished the first edition of chapters one through sixteen, only one final chapter to go before it is finished. I will seek to finish the final chapter before the end of December, and spend most of that month knocking out the edits for the second draft before publishing it on Amazon.

The Proudhill Line Book Two: Squire (First Chapter)

This chapter is susceptible to change:

Chapter One

                Light gleamed in through stained glass, the beautiful pieces of artwork depicting battles that the Ascean Knighthood had taken part in throughout the ages.  Many construed with pieces of them fighting with Lusus, or during the Rebellion of the Five Houses over forty years ago.  It lent the place a heavenly look, not too much different from one of the places of worship that Craeft was used to frequent.

Unlike those places however, there was no calm to be had where he.  The blonde boy glanced around the room he was standing in, emerald eyes watching as his peers were called.  Rows upon rows of initiates stood shoulder to shoulder, lending him little room to move, but Craeft found that he couldn’t care much about that.  The day was finally close, the day he would finally be joining the Ascean Knighthood, even if it was only to become the lowest of the knights, a mere squire.

Still, it was meant to be a joyous occasion.

Yet, he didn’t feel happy.

If anything, he felt nervous and distracted, his hands clammy underneath the dugnir-steel armor that encased them, along with much of the rest of his body.  His mouth was dry, and his tongue licked his lips, feeling his breath hitch as the man at the front of the room, full of other similarly dressed squires, rung out another name.

He was an older man.  A scar ran across his face that depicted his years of service, and white hair that hung from a loose ponytail.  His armor was golden, skintight as the mithril armor protected him as best it could, yet he could still see the nicks and tears that showed with years of battle.  Knight Master Berwyn let out a cough as his eyes ran over the page in front of him, his voice echoing throughout the great hall of the Ascean Knight Academy.

“Cenwalch Dalworthy, Irial O’ Coluim, and Yuopio of Clan Carnak, come forward.” 

The three stepped forward, their boots clanking across the stone floor, like many of the previous squires from centuries past.  Two of them were human, with the fair-skin so common in the Ascean Empire, while the last was a Piun, a human-like race found in the northernmost reaches of the Marliana Archipelago, their body covered in feathers and large wings capable of flight popping out of their back.

He wondered how even the non-human could stand tall and proud, yet he, a human could not.  They kneeled and the master laid his swerdan on their shoulders, a short-sword that had seen much battle over its years of service.  Its blade was silver in color, with the hilt a simple yet elegant dark green.

 “You will be assigned to Sir Lambert, who will teach you and help you grow into the protectors that the empire needs.  May Miion smile down upon you,” He laid his swerdan on their shoulders, one at a time, the blade clinking slightly against their armor, “And if you fall in battle, may you enjoy the fruits of the Eternal Fields of Elemii.” 

“Thank you, Master Berwyn.”  They bowed before leaving the room and following a knight, clad in a similar armor to the knight master, if only with a different color and with far less nicks and scratches. It left Craeft with no doubt that the man was probably a newer addition to the knights.

His voice rang out again, selecting another trio of squires who walked forward. 

“Baltabeva Stanislavovna, Samarin Danilovich, Brican O’ Neill, come forward.”

Time passed by slowly as the groups of three were led away by their respective knights, the herd of over a thousand squires slowly thinning.  Craeft’s legs ached as he stood, but disrespect would not be tolerated, and he refused to allow shame to fall upon his family for his weakness.

He tried to hold back a scowl as he spotted another student looking back at him, with the same sunny blonde hair and piercing green eyes.  Even the same tall height granted by having the ol’ Ornok blood running through his veins.

Not a real Proudhill are you?  The cruel voice of his cousin rang throughout his mind.  ‘Why do you stand like you have no training?  Surely, aunt Aethel would have been kind enough to you to allow that.’

‘Shut up.’  Craeft had growled out.  ‘My mother taught me many things.’

‘I also taught her many things as well, yet she refused them and brought a bastard into this world.’  The titan of a man looked down upon him with nothing but utter contempt and loathing in those green eyes of his.  ‘You’re a disgrace to our family name.’  His grandfather’s sneer as he looked down at him made him flinch slightly, the memory hurting far more than any of the jeers and insults he had felt throughout his childhood years.

His cousin must have seen his face, Cenric Proudhill smirking viciously before he turned back towards the front as Master Berwyn continued on.  That look reminded him of the same ones back home, both in Athsbane and in Rubrary, the ones he had seen no matter where he went when people discovered that he was fatherless.

Worthless.

Nothing.

Lesser.

Unwanted.

Rejected.

He hated it.  Oh how he hated it, the feeling burning inside his veins.  But there was little he could do besides bear it and shove the feelings deep down.

He just hoped that after all this time training, and going from strength to strength, that he would finally be accepted.  Though, judging by how little his supposed comrades seemed to notice his existence, he wondered if that would ever actually come to pass.

“Cenric Proudhill, Fedor Victorovich, Deroma Ni’ Scurra, come forward.”

The room slowly grew emptier and emptier, sweat building upon Craeft’s brow.  He desperately wanted to wipe it off, hating the feeling as it slowly slid down his face, but he did not want to garner any unwanted attention to himself by moving.  He would be the perfect Squire, standing in place until his name was called.

“Ryabov Antonovich, Yonwin Merewald, Gilyov Illyich, come forward.”

Another trio walked forward and Craeft began to worry.  The room was growing less and less crowded, yet his name still had not been called.  His hands twitched, his breath hitching as he saw more and more students walk forward, yet his name had still not been called.

Had he failed?  Did he unknowingly spur one of the knight masters, earning their ire?  Or maybe…something else, something more malicious?  Perhaps his grandfather had pulled some strings so he couldn’t become a squire, another humiliation to lay at the feet of the daughter that had failed him?

His breathing began to quicken, his eyes widening in fear.

Would he have to go home and tell his mother that he had failed?  He didn’t think he could do that.  Didn’t think he could look her in the eyes and see the disappointment on her face.

“-Proudhill…Craeft Proudhill!”

The blonde quickly seized, straightening up immediately as he looked up at Master Berwyn, meeting his eyes.  His cold brown eyes narrowed in displeasure at repeating himself, and Craeft could practically feel the temperature drop in the room.

“Miion help me.”  Craeft muttered a prayer to the God of the Harvest, but he was sure no deity would be able to save him from the knight master’s wrath.

“If you would stop daydreaming, can you come forward?”  His teeth were bared in a facsimile of a smile, a few golden ones glinting in the light that came through the stained-glass windows.  The gleam lent him a menacing edge despite the calm tone he spoke with, and Craeft privately wondered how many of his enemy’s must have seen that before they died at the end of his Swerdan.

Nevertheless, he walked forward.

“What should we expect from his kind?”

“Country retard…”

“How did he even get in here?”

You are a disgrace to our family name

He could hear his fellow’s derision as he walked past them, each one feeling like daggers as he approached the knight master, along with his grandfather’s venomous words.  He could not focus on that though, choosing to take glances at the artwork that were along the walls of the Great Hall, letting the pleasant sights drown out the ridicule of his peers. 

The painting’s practically glowed, whether from the lighting from the inside or the sunlight peeking in, Craeft did not know, but it was enough to distract him from the harsh words of his comrades.  While the stain-glass depicted battles that the knights had participated in, the paintings were of a different sort, seeming to focus on the different aspects of a knight.

Some were of knights exaggeratedly warding off a literal figure of death, while others had them doing charity work.  Most had religious depictions of Miion, whether it be with his traditional scythe or with his gardening tools, readying the new year for another bountiful harvest.  He could not focus on the artwork forever though, as he grew closer and closer to Master Berwyn.

He peered down at him, and he couldn’t help but gulp as his eyes held a small bit of scorn in them.  He couldn’t tell whether it was from his status or for his foolishness in letting his nervousness get a grip on him, but truly, he couldn’t find it in himself to care.

Not when Berwyn looked at him much like a Tyrant Hawk ready to swoop down and devour its prey.

He kneeled, and he heard a clank next to him as another figure kneeled beside him.  He startled slightly, having been so caught up in his own thoughts that he hadn’t noticed the other initiate’s name being called.

She had straight black hair with a slight curl in it, definitely straightened if the memory of her with curlier hair was correct, that traveled down to her cheeks.  A hot pink scarf hung around her neck, contrasting against her dark complexion.  She was darker than any native Ascean that he had seen, most likely coming from the south western islands of the Marliana Archipelego, or perhaps from the continent of Aesir, though he knew of no country over there that had citizens that wore pink cloth like she did.  That was certainly something that was more common among the few islanders he had seen. 

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes, violet meeting emerald, before she went back to looking at the ground.

He had been in classes with the girl before, he knew that.  Her different looks made her stand out from much of the class, making it just that much more difficult to ignore her.  Craeft wracked his mind trying to think of who she was, only coming up with a few memories of her quietly sitting at the back of the class with a book in her hand, always reading away while the teacher lectured them.

He didn’t think he’d ever heard her so much as utter a sentence.

Now what was her name again…started with a v.  Veleene?  Venee?  It felt a bit awkward being paired up with someone who was a total stranger to him. 

Then again, he had no friends, so no matter who he was working with, he doubted he’d know more than their names and maybe a few oddities. 

He felt the blade of Master Berwyn on his shoulder, seizing up slightly as the magical sword pinged slightly as it touched his armored limb.  He kept his eyes on the ground as she spoke, pushing any thoughts away as he listened to her words.

“It is not every day that we assign two-squires to a single master, but there was an odd number of you this year.”  Berwyn said aloud, Craeft relaxing slightly as his blade moved onto the shoulder of his companion.  “Still, you are squires through and through, and you shall serve the Empire to your full capacity.”  He could feel Berwyn’s eyes boring into his skull, as if daring him to screw up again, to give him a chance to bloody his blade.  “You will be assigned to Sir Finguine, who will teach you and help you grow into the protectors that the Empire needs.  May Miion smile down upon you and if you fall in battle, may you enjoy the fruits of the Eternal Fields of Elemii.” 

“Thank you Master Berwyn.”  Craeft kept his voice down, hoping not to embarrass himself.  Though even then, he still seemed louder than the mysterious girl next to him, her voice so low that he could barely even believe she said anything at all.  His steps were a bit lighter than before, a weight on his chest lifting as he finally did it.

He had finally become a squire, the first step on his path to Knighthood.

He quickly walked to the right, spotting a knight standing there with his arms crossed, looking rather bored with the proceedings.  A large jagged scar ran down his cheek, looking like he had been slashed by the claw of some beast.  Or more likely, some Lusus, Craeft reminded himself.

As they approached, he merely motioned for them to follow him, his black armored form walking away, boots clicking and clacking against the stone floor the whole way. 

Craeft quickly followed, seeing no reason to stick around and possibly make a fool out of himself.  His comrade, whatever her name was, did the same.    

They wandered the halls, Craeft only a few steps in front of the girl, as they followed the knight.  She trailed behind him, out of view of the blonde man with hair several shades lighter than Craeft’s own, as if she was Craeft’s shadow.

After a minute of walking, Knight Finguine opened a door to a room on the side of the hall.  He ushered them inside, revealing the small room to be composed of a few desks and chairs, most likely some sort of storage room. 

“So, Craeft Proudhill and…Vel…Vely…”  The man attempted to pronounce her name, floundering several times as the sounds left his lips.  “Velee…”

“Veliane Tishan.”  She uttered the words, her voice softer than he expected.  It had a bit of a hard edge to it though.  Must not have been the first time someone struggled with her name.  Then again, Craeft hadn’t even remembered her name, so he knew he had no right to say anything about it.

It did confirm her status as an islander though, certainly from the Marliana Archipelago, as her name certainly sounded like one from there. 

Having been around his mother as she sold runes to customers that traveled through Athsbane had provided him with a wide berth of information on peoples, something that he knew no school could teach.  However, he didn’t have that much information on the archipelago, as it was farther to the west than Fleabar was, and not many merchants came from there.

“Ah, an islander.”  The man said with recognition in his voice.  “Definitely a southern one since you’re human.  Which one is it?  Finiw, Jaque, or Yuiq?  Or maybe one of the smaller ones?” 

“Iquizon.”  She ground out, Craeft having to strain his ears just to hear her.  The Knight seemed to suffer no inconvenience, replying with a boisterous tone.

“One of the smaller ones eh?” Sir Finguine said.  “Bet it has that nice beach weather.  Shame I haven’t been able to head that far west in a couple years, but,” He sighed, running his hands through his long blonde hair that was tied in a ponytail, the longest part reaching the middle of his back.  “Duty calls.  A concept you both will become intimately familiar with soon enough.”

“Speaking of duty, Sir Finguine,” Craeft asked, “Where will you be taking us?”  His tone was colored with a bit of excitement, even with the bit of fear and doubt lingering in his heart.  He would finally be able to prove himself, to prove that he was worth far more than just some unwanted child from a noble family, and make his mother proud.

And after a lifetime of poverty, the pay certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

“Well, we’ve need to be assigned a mission first.  Probably be heading east though, as that’s usually where the more fortified locations of the Empire are, perfect for training new squires like you.”  He said.  “But we’ll just have to wait till tomorrow when we get our assignments.”

Craeft was a bit excited.  He had never been to the eastern parts of the empire, nor did many of the merchants that came through Athsbane on their way to the ascean mainland ever talk much about it.  Mostly people vacationing or heading towards the larger areas of Fleabar, but it was still mostly an unknown to him.

It would be quite the new opportunity, and at the very least, it would distract him from the nervousness he felt in his heart.  If he did this mission right, he could prove to himself that he was a good squire and worth the position.

You are a disgrace to our family name.

Craeft resisted shaking his head as his grandfather’s words rang through his head, like a monster trying to remind him of his doubts, pushing the thought deep down where it could no longer worry him.  He knew that, much like a serpent, it would creep its way back out, but for the next few minutes, it would be silent.

“Neither of you are sick or have to grab any medicine before we go?”  Sir Finguine asked, his words causing both of the squires to shake their heads.  “Good.  Then, I’ll need you both to pack all your belongings and meet me down in the cafeteria around nine in the morning tomorrow.  We’ll be heading out then and I don’t want to hear any complaints that something was left behind.  Got it?”

“Yes sir.”  Craeft saluted, putting his hand over his heart as he pounded it against his chest.  Veliane mimicked the action, though with far less enthusiasm.

“Good.  I’ll see both of you tomorrow.”

The knight left quickly, his footsteps echoing throughout the halls, and a moment after he left, so did Veliane.  Last to leave was Craeft, the blonde having a slight spring in his step despite the doubt and nervousness weighing down on him.

He finally had the chance to prove himself.

And he would take that chance with both hands.

The Proudhill Line Book One: A New life (Chapter One)

The first chapter from The Proudhill Line Book One: A New Life, is available to view. (Slight edits may be made between this time and final release).

Chapter One

(1083 After Veil)

     The steady tap tap of the chisel against rock filled the shop.  It was the favorite sound of the woman who molded stone like it was clay, creating beautiful works of art.  Not the stone though, for it remained solid and blocky and heavy.

      But the magic she filled into the etchings and runes she carved into it made it look like a work of art to the young woman, every cut making a new image to behold.

As the bell by the door rang, the muscular blonde woman looked up from her craft, her eyes narrowed in hatred at her newest visitor.  The new arrival was rich, if her clothes were anything to go by, purple cloth and frills, with a golden chain attaching her amulet glove to her wrist, and the foci gleamed a bloody red against her pale skin.  A small smile was etched onto her face, much like how the blonde etched her work onto stone, and her blue eyes were filled up with a hint of delight, though the worker didn’t know why.

“Hello Aethel,” The woman said as she strode forth, every step like she was gliding across the floor.  “I see the new life is treating you well.”

“As well as can be in these trying times, especially after the stunt you pulled.”  The worker, Aethel, ground out.  “So, what brings you here Marissa?  My store is almost closed, and you don’t pick me as the type that leaves your dainty mansion to come talk to old friends.”  The last words left her mouth with a sneer, a hint of mirth showing in Marissa’s eyes, as if her contempt was worthy of laughter.

Then again, when someone was so far lower than the aristocrat’s status, it was almost hilarious how Aethel thought it would even affect her.

“It’s a business proposal mostly.  Surely you know about those, though with your mixed heritage, one can never be too sure.  You were never exactly a mental giant.”  The woman spoke to the blonde like she had nothing to fear, and in truth she didn’t.  Aethel’s fall from aristocrat to craftsmen had not been a pleasant one. 

“And yet, I had better grades then you in school, and at the very least, I am going to be more than some rich man’s arm candy.”  Aethel spoke, her green eyes filled with delight as she saw the miniscule twitch of the woman’s mouth.  Just the fact that she got through the woman’s mask of indifference made her heart jump with joy.  It had been so long since she had gotten one of the noble. 

Marissa smirked. “Says the woman who was dumb enough to get pregnant at sixteen.”

Aethel let the insult flow over her, even if it hurt slightly coming from her former friend.  Yet, even then she knew that it was useless to let it get to her.  Her friendship with the woman had died years ago after her naivety had gotten her banished from her family. 

“Whatever you say Marissa.”  Aethel shrugged, a twitch of the eye revealing the noble’s disappointment that her jab had little effect.  “But enough about who’s arm you’ll be on.  I’d rather not think of you laying with someone old enough to be your father.” 

Ah, the smile lessened slightly.  A good thing in Aethel’s eyes. 

“Why are you here?”

“Because I’d like to purchase the shop.”  Aethel eyes widened in confusion. 

“But it’s not for sale.”

“It’s not now, but I’m sure I can come up with a more convenient offer for you.”  Her hand descended into one of the pockets of her dress, pulling out a large golden card, her crown card.  “I will pay you ten thousand bronze crowns to sell me this store.”

Aethel’s emerald green eyes were filled with confusion.  Surely, she thought, there must be some reason for this.  No one would pay her ten thousand bronze crowns to move.  “I don’t understand.  If you wished to taunt me, there are less expensive ways.  Hiring a few thugs maybe, a few desperate dregs of society who’d do anything for a quick crown.”

The noblewoman rolled her eyes, as if she expected such a simple reply from an, in her eyes, simple woman.  “Your business is competing with mine, hence, if I buy this one, I will have little competition in the eastern part of Rubrary.”

Aethel couldn’t help but let out a snort.  Of course it was greed that motivated the woman.  Why would she think it would be anything different?  “And if I don’t sell?”

“Then I simply cannot guarantee the safety of you or your child,” Her eyes glanced towards the back of the store, a young boy peeking out from behind the counter.  Aethel’s fists clenched as the want to turn the woman’s face to mush with her bare hands nearly overrode her self-control, but she took a few deep breaths.

In.

Out.

“No.  I’ve worked hard to make it this far, and I’m not going to sell my store just because some egomaniac like you can’t handle a little competition.”  The noble’s eye twitched as she heard that.  For a woman who was by all means a commoner to speak to a noble such as her like that was the height of rudeness, and Aethel knew it.

Which was what made it all the better.

“Huh, and I thought you loved your son more than that.”  Marissa said before she snapped her fingers.  Three large men walked into the store, the Amulet Gloves on their hand glowing with magical power.  “Grab the kid.”

“Wha-“ Aethel was knocked back as one of the thugs simply uttered “Propelium.”.  A wave of magical energy left his amulet glove and slammed her into the counter.   She gasped as pain lanced through her back, the woman having to take a moment to stand up once again.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t even given that chance.

Marissa placed an expensive boot on her chest, the smaller woman looking down at Aethel as if she were nothing but an insect to be crushed.  Aethel punched her in the knee, causing the woman to crumple as she let out a cry of pain. 

Aethel was ready to fight, managing to stand up and deck one of the men in the jaw, knocking him to the floor as she tried to rescue her child.  Unfortunately for her, he had not been as down as she thought, the man grabbing her leg and holding her in place as another one of the thugs punched her in the gut.  The breath rushed out of her lungs, and as she bent over, she was decked in the face before being thrown to the ground. She aimed her amulet glove, a beautiful thing of bronze metal and an emerald jewel, to blast the thug across the room, but the sound of her son Craeft crying out caused her to freeze.

It allowed the thug she had knocked down to stand up and hit her on the back of the head, causing her to crumple to the ground.  Marissa smirked as she walked over towards the fallen women, stepping forward with a slight limp.  Aethel looked up at her with eyes full of hatred.

“Ah, that look in your eye.  Now you understand your situation fully.  You see, I know you’re physically more powerful than me, but I am more powerful than you in other ways.  So, here’s how it’s going to go.  I’m going to get this store Aethel, one way or another.”  She said.  Her eight-year-old son struggled in the thug’s grasp, but the man simple tightened his grip on the child’s neck.  Craeft tried to use his ice magic on the man, but a fist to his ribs stopped that in its tracks.  “Either give me the shop, or I’ll have Jeffron over here strangle him to death.”

Aethel’s green orbs widened in terror as she saw her son’s struggles start to weaken, his small arms tapping at the man’s hands as his face started to turn blue.  “Ok, ok!  Just let him go!” 

The smirk on Marissa’s face was positively vile.  “Drop him.”  The thug dropped Craeft to the ground, the young boy coughing harshly as he gasped for air.  Aethel tried to get up to help him.

A kick from the noblewoman’s boot to her face stopped that.

“Pull out your crown card.”  The tall blonde woman desperately dug into her apron, smudged with dirt and bits and pieces of rock stuck on it, as she pulled out her own crown card.  Marissa yanked it out of her hand, and held her own up to it, a fine gold mist seeping out between the two before they beeped, signaling the end of the transaction.  “There, everything is finalized, and now I legally own the store.”  She smiled down at the blonde woman, before sending another kick her way, straight into her stomach.

Aethel gasped as she felt the breath leave her lungs.  Though she was physically superior to the woman in both height and musculature, a steel toed boot to the ribs still hurt.  Marissa grinned as she saw her former friend breath in gulps of air, and tossed her crown card down onto the poor woman.  “You have a week to get out of MY store.  If you don’t, I’ll make sure to kill your child in front of you, before sending you to the afterlife with him.”  She spit in the woman’s face.  “Have a nice day.”

She left along with her three thugs, slamming the heavy door behind her.  Aethel shakily stood up, grasping her ribs as she walked over to her son.  He laid on the floor, quietly sniffling.  Aethel lifted him up and held him to her chest, the young boy burying his head in her bosom as he cried.

“M-mom, they hurt me.”  He sniffled, clutching his ribs.  “And they hurt you a lot.  I’m sorry, I tried to freeze him but it just hurt so bad and I couldn’t concentrate-”

“Shhhh, Shhhh,” Aethel said as she hugged her son, “You don’t have to apologize.  I should have been the one to protect you in the first place.  If I hadn’t been caught off guard…”  She trailed off, knowing that she would have stood no chance against the three of them, but Aethel wanted to offer her son some comfort.  He shouldn’t have had to go through this, not after she had worked so hard to give him a home and a decent childhood, even if she couldn’t afford much.  “But don’t worry.  Everything’ll be alright.”

“But mom, they’re going to take our home!  We won’t have anywhere to live, and grandpa and grandma don’t like us!”  He said, his watery eyes filled with fear.  She knew what he was speaking of.  Her family had refused to even see the young boy let alone accept him into the Proudhill family, but then again, what had she expected?  They had kicked her out of their house and family, so why should she expect them to accept an innocent boy like Craeft?

Heartless mongrels the lot of them, she thought as she grabbed his hand and took him behind the counter.  “Look Craeft, I’ll find us a new home.  A better one where we don’t have to go through all of this.”  She said.  It was a little white lie of course.  He didn’t need to know that ten thousand bronze crowns would barely allow her to afford a small home.

“R-really?”  He asked.  “Can I even meet some new friends there?”

“Of course.”  She hoped he would.  Being the bastard of a woman like her didn’t lend him much status in ascean society, and as such, he had been shunned by the other children.  “Now go pack your stuff, we’ll be leaving in a couple hours.”

“Ok mom.”  The sheer defeat in his tone broke her heart, but she couldn’t let that get her down, not with their lives on the line.

Aethel sighed as he wandered off, a slightly determined look on his face.  He had always wanted to take care of his mother and make sure she was happy.  She had to give it to her little man, he did indeed care about her and during the dark times in her life, Craeft had been like a beacon of light, drawing her like a moth to a flame to improve herself and give him the life he deserved.

Something she could grab onto and pull her out of the darkness.  She had several close calls, many she wasn’t eager to remember.  Nor was she eager to remember the circumstances of his birth.

But he was hers and hers alone, and in the Ascean Empire where nobles ruled, it was like a life raft in a raging ocean. 

With Craeft occupied grabbing the little number of things he owned, she got to work.  She had no doubt the monster in human skin would make good on her threat, caring little for human lives, and so she had to hurry.

She opened a closet near the back of the store, and pulled out a large brown suitcase.  With a click, it opened, and she levitated and shrunk the items that she would be taking with her.  Anything of value really.  Books, stonework, her runic recipes.  Anything that would provide her with the means to make a new life for her and her son, she would gladly take.

Better for it to be in her hands than that woman’s.

After a few minutes, the store was barren.  Looking at it now, it was difficult for Aethel to take in.  It had taken her years of doing things she wasn’t very proud of, slowly working her way up and educating herself, changing her life for her son and finally owning something that was hers.  It was like closing a chapter in her life, and a few tears escaped her eyes.

But, just like before, she would not let this get in the way.  She had a son to take care of, and she would ensure that his he would have a far better life than she had.

But first, she’d have to find a new place to live.  As beautiful as she found Rubrary, the bright lights and people, the tall buildings that dominated the city and towered over everyone, it could no longer be called home.

Marissa was a cruel noble, and in the Ascean Empire, under the reigning king, Cleosia The Third, she was as far above her as the distance between the heavens and Kiximos.  It would do her no good to stay where she would be in arm’s reach of the cruel and vindictive woman’s affairs.

The nearby island of Fleabar looked particularly well, the crops just starting to come in and fill the fields with delicious fruits and vegetables.  Not to mention, the property prices were far lower.  Unfortunately, she would still be under an Ascean noble’s hand, but better a noble that doesn’t know her than one that is actively against her.

She would have to send a call to a Fleabar noble and arrange a meeting to get a new home.

Strong hands lifted the brown suitcase off the ground, while the other held Craeft’s hand.  She looked down at him, a small smile on her face as her green eyes met his own emerald orbs.

“It looks like it’s just you and me Craeft.”  She took one last look around her store before she walked out the door, the bell ringing behind her.  “Time to move on in our life.”