“Will you hurry up!” Hafwen seethed as Aliene fell behind. Hafwen had pulled her from their home after Aliene had been told to wait there.
“What’s going on?” Aliene begged but Hafwen didn’t turn around. “Hafwen!”
“Just shut up” – Hafwen had turned to her abruptly – “and come on.”
Aliene didn’t respond. She followed her mentor towards the healers’ hut catching the last rays of sunlight as it was swallowed by the clouds above. The building was lit from within, becoming more and more visible as the two approached. Something twisted in Aliene’s stomach, fear and emotions welling up from uncertainty. Hafwen led her through the door, catching the end of their guard captain questioning the stranger.
“Tell me again, how did you find us?” The guard captain was trying not to yell.
“I just did, I was wandering the southern countries for a few years until being lead here.” Jacobus was sitting on the bed gripping its edges as the guard captain inched closer and closer to him.
As Aliene entered the room a bright flash made everyone flinch until the light faded back into the satchel Jacobus had brought. The guard captain lunged to the pack, dumping its contents onto the floor, with items bouncing away until a set of rocks thumped hard into the wood.
The captain went to pick them up before Jacobus could stop him. The guard captain cried out as a loud hiss filled the air. The captain looked to his hands that were now blistered and pink; he tried to focus on pulling magic into his hands. The action made him scream louder than before, dropping the man to his knees.
“What are those?” Celestaon questioned as Hafwen wrenched Jacobus to the ground in an instant.
Jacobus looked up from the ground, fighting off Hafwen’s hold on him. “The pieces of the falling star, what gave me the revelation.”
Celestaon inhaled through her nose as if she had been holding her breath. “Child, show him the star.”
A moment passed as Aliene finally understood what she had been told and unlaced the top of her shirt revealing her stained outline of an eight-pointed star. The monk stared at Aline longer than anyone had before. “What?” was all she could say before Jacobus finally stopped and stood, Hafwen having to step back as he rose.
“If you would let me go, please.” The monk wasn’t asking, as he slipped from Hafwen’s hands, leaving her with a scowl on her face. “I am Jacobus, and with this gift, I pledge to serve you in your purpose.” The monk had gathered up the stones barehanded, presenting them to Aliene while kneeling.
Aliene reached out to take them unconsciously, her fingers flinching slightly as they brushed the warm rough surfaces. When she pulled them back to her the pieces trembled and pulled into one another forming a clean-cut brick in her palms. “I, how did they do that?” Aliene looked to Hafwen, then Celestaon. Both women wore wide disbelieving expressions.
Celestaon swallowed hard, looking at the mass of rock from the sky, pulling her hand back from the piece in fear. “I don’t know, nothing like this has ever been recorded for our tribes, my child. You two must leave, now.” The Elder looked at Hafwen and nodded, signaling her to leave. She spoke to the guard captain as he stood: “Go out front and calm the people. They need but a moment.”
The large man grunted and left stomping as he went to the front. Celestaon motioned to the healer as she went to open the back. “Quietly now, come with me.” The old woman’s voice was soft and shaky. The three went out the back door and through the wall marking the edge of the village. The exit was more a small hole each had to squeeze through before pushing into a bush of thorny leaves.
“Aliene,” the old woman’s voice came out in an exhale before she grabbed Aliene’s arm. “I need to say this; you have something none of us do, the strength to leave.” Aliene looked wide-eyed, taking in the face of her elder as she continued to speak. “You, dear child, have been made to endure our rejection; few gave you the acceptance you rightly deserved. I asked Hafwen often how you were doing. She watched you grow, and you never wavered against a path you didn’t choose.” Celestaon gripped Aliene with a strength that betrayed her age, and Aliene had nothing to say. “I have held my tongue long enough; how, how do you not hate us?”
Aliene clenched her jaw for a moment until she tasted metal. “I did, for a long time; it made me better. I thought one day they will have to accept me.” Aliene had only said this once before to Hafwen, years ago. “One day I just couldn’t be angry anymore; I couldn’t.” Tears welled in her eyes, blurring the old woman till Aliene blinked them away. “Hafwen explained it over and over until I just stopped asking. If I ignored it maybe the hurt would fade.”
Hafwen had returned suddenly beside them, making the kneeling Jacobus flinch when he realized she was there. Hafwen handed him a pack and the bag he came with, then she looked at Aliene. “The world is large, and the monsters are sized to fit it.” Hafwen griped Aliene’s shoulder while pushing the pack into her chest. “Fair is something life is not, but you have the strength to carve your own path.” Aliene slipped the pack onto her back as Hafwen gripped her arms, fixing her stare on Aliene’s eyes. “Now my sister, child of starlight, run.”