Cas of The Moon: Part 2

Days slowly began to fade into months and then years, with no word from Cassie’s father. This fact, and her mother nagging her to quit, only made Cassie train harder. She was older now, 13 year old, which means she had more responsibilities than just training.

Her mother was unable to pay for Cassie to keep up school, but made an agreement, Cassie could continue her training if she read one book every few months, depending on the merchants who passed through her small town. This week’s book was titled, “Glorify the Kingdom: A Woman’s Duties.” Which droned on about marriage, children and fidelity to the Kingdom. She knew this was another way for her mother to nudge her towards marriage but Cassie didn’t care nor did she want it.

Her mother glanced over at Cassie and shook her head as Cassie was twirling her red locks around her finger. This was the universal sign that she was just pretending to read, but today of all days her mother was going to give her some slack.

“Cas, would you like to come the sewing shop with me today?” Her mother asked standing in the frame of the front door. Cassie threw the book down and ran over to her mother excited.

“Is my costume done?!” Cassie asked hoping from one foot to the other in anticipation. She didn’t notice her mother’s furrowed brow as she gazed at the book sitting pages down with a crease now down the spine.

“Cassie! You need to be careful with these books they lose their value when damaged.” Her mother scolded her as she stomped over picking the book off the floor and placing it on the small wooden table in the kitchen.

Cassie looked unfazed by her mother’s dramatics, “No girl or woman should have to read that garbage.”

Her mother shot her a steeled-eyed gaze, “If you want to get your costume and go to the festival tonight, you will take care of your things! Other kids would love to be able to read a book than work long hours in a field!”

Cassie sighed, walked over to the table and picked up the book. She dramatically wiped the book cover on her long brown skirt. “I am sorry.” She mumbled as she set it down. Her mother nodded in acceptance of her apology and off the two women went to the sewing shop.

She sat in the only chair in the small sewing shop as her mother and the shopkeep were talking. Cassie could tell something was wrong because of the upset expression on her mother’s face as she was talking to the shopkeep. The conversation ended with a nod from her mother as she grabbed a black garment and made her way to Cassie.

“As requested.” Her mom handed her the items, “A top, head ban and pants, all black of course.” Cassie rocketed from the chair grabbing the black garments from her mother and smiling happily.

“Most people put some white or yellow on the festival costumes.” The shopkeep said looking at Cassie in bewilderment.

“No need.” Cassie responded, “Tonight, at my first moon festival, my hands, neck and face will be the stars and this garment the night sky.” She continued, “And my mother will be my lovely moon.”

The shopkeep scoffed as her mother looked to the dirt floor, “No, love. I am needed here for work. A duke is getting married and we have to get all their wedding wear just right.”

“Does that mean I can’t go tonight, Ma?” Cassie’s said with a defeated tone in her voice. Her mother smiled faintly, “You my go, but only with Agric as your companion.”

“I’ll go ask him now. Thanks, Ma!” Cassie yelled as she ran out the door to find Agric.

It didn’t take Cassie long to find Agric, he was in his normal hiding place, the alley behind the pub. “Hey Cas!” He waved her over.

“Are you going to the Moon Festival tonight?” She blurted out. He gave her an awkward smile, “Of course, it’s my first one too.”

“Can I go with you?” She asked excitedly. Agric’s green eye’s sparkled at the question, “Your Ma okay with that?”

“Yes! She has some garments to sow and you are my best friend after all.” She said poking him in the shoulder with her finger.

“Fine by me.” Agric shrugged squatting down he grabbed a stick that was by his feet and began to draw in the dirt.

“What are you doing?” Cassie asked squatting down next to him.

“I’m drawing out battle plans.” He drew a line far away from his other drawings.

“What is that?” She pointed to it.

“Oh. That’s you. You know you can’t compete in the local sword and battle competition.”

Cassie stood up quickly and kicked the dirt pictures away, “You know I am better than all those other boys!”

As she huffed away as Argic called to her, “See you tonight Cas!”

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Cas of The Moon: Part 1

Peeking out her small window she saw the moon was high in the clear night sky. She began to count the stars, only getting to 10 before her mother came into her room.

“My little one, it’s time for bed.” Her mother sung to her as she sat on the edge of her straw bedding. Pulling her covers back she motioned for Cassie to get under them.

Making a huffing nose in protest, Cassie tossed her long, fire red locks in front of her face. She was hoping the adage, “I can’t see you, you can’t see me”, would work. She felt her mother’s soft hand brush her thick hair out of her face.

“You’re going to say that adage one to many times and the fairy king will grant it. What will you do then?” Her mother’s voice, full of false concern made Cassie open her eyes and smile wide.

“I know EXACTLY what I would do, Ma!” a wicked smile plastered her face. Her mother raised an eyebrow in question, though she already knew the answer.

“I will wish to disappear, so I can run and frolic in the moonlight!” Excitement started to run through her veins. She quickly glanced to the window again just willing herself to be out in the moonlight.

Her mother let out a sweet laugh as she covered Cassie. “Nights only carry the worst of characters. There is no reason for a young girl or woman to be out amongst the thieves, mercenaries and drunks.”

A confused look plastered Cassie’s face as she pulled the covers up to her nose. “What about the demimondes?” Her mother shot her a narrow glance and she knew she shouldn’t have asked.

“Where did you hear that word?!” Her mother snapped at Cassie. Her tone of shocked matching the expression on her face.

“Father told me when he was last in town Ma…” Cassie trailed off as her mother sighed.

“Those women have no choice but to sell their bodies to survive. It is not a life for us but most have no choice.” Her mother stood patting down her dress, “I will talk to you Father about this next time he is home. Good night love.” Her mother said as she walked towards the door.

Before her mother made it all the way through Cassie blurted out the question that has been on her mind for months, “When will father be home again?” This caused her mother’s back to stiffen as she stopped dead in her tracks.

Without turning to face her daughter she took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, “Your father is a solider, he must travel with the King’s army. You know this, but he should be home in a few more months.” Before any more questions could be asked her Mother quickly shut Cassie’s door.

Staring at the ceiling Cassie pictured the last time her father was home. He was teaching her how to use a sword. Her mother did not believe any girl who wanted to be a lady should pick up a sword. Her father ignored her mother’s protests and showed young Cassie anyway.

“You should know how to defend yourself. What if no one was around to help you, then what?” His deep voice bellowed over her mother’s huffs. Cassie thought for a moment than shrugged, “Shouldn’t the King’s army be there to protect the people?”

Letting out a deep laugh her father shook his head. “Am I around all the time Cas?” She thought on the question for a moment then shook her head no. “You can’t count on a man to be there always and definitely not an army.”

He handed her the small metal sword he had forged for her at the blacksmith’s down the road. A stern look crossed his face as he looked the young girl directly in her eyes, “You must learn to defend yourself at all cost Cas.” From that point on their lessons began. She had a month of sword training every day before her dad had to leave again.

“You’re a natural, kiddo.” He told her on the last day they were together. A smile crossed her lips as she fell to sleep to the thought of her dad’s words, still hearing his voice echoing in her mind.

Dream: The Beginnings

She had her eyes closed but could still feel the radiance of the sun. The sun was more enjoyable with her eyes closed. No pain, no strain just welcoming warmth. She felt a smile slowly crease her lips, it has been awhile since she smiled, such a deeply felt smile. A finger slowly trace her lips. She giggled, turned on her side and slowly opened her eyes staring into the face of Jaden. ‘Why must you always interrupt my happy place?” She asked jokingly.

“There is no happy place without me, love.” He smirked his reply.  She laughed and poked his nose watching his eyes cross. “I have something for you.” He said. She hadn’t noticed the hand behind his back.

‘Oh. Really now?” She pulled her finger away and slowly reached around him, heading for the hidden gift.

“You think I wouldn’t notice that?” He laughed.

“I thought you got lost in my eyes?” She said gazing into Jaden’s deep blue eyes.

“Not when I have something you want.” He said sitting up quickly. She lay there a minute then smiled sitting up too.

She looked around her. There was a wide-open field with a lone weeping willow in the distance. She felt the slight cool breeze brush against her face and hair. She loved the warm weather and the slight breeze was just a bonus. She turned to him and smirked. “I bet it’s not that great or you wouldn’t be hiding it for such a long time.” Jaden laughed.

“Those tricks only work on guys who don’t know you.” She ignored his remark.

“So. Gift or not?” He looked up in the sky as if he had to contemplate his choices.

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“Well I guess I could….” But there was a sound. A sound that sent shivers down her spine into her core.

That sound wasn’t right. Not in this place. Not with him.

She stood straight up and was looking around like a hawk scanning for its prey.

There wasn’t anything in sight. Jaden stood up next to her and put his hand on her shoulder softly. “What is it Lena?” He whispered even though he wasn’t sure why.

“You didn’t hear that?” She said taking her eyes off of her screening of the area.

Jaden looked at her confused. “What sound?”

Her body tightened as she heard it again. Only closer. Her eyes shot around the field again scanning, straining to see as much in the distance as she could.  Jaden’s grip tightened on her shoulder, enough to pull her gaze back to him.

“What are you hea…” She cut him off before he could finish.

“This isn’t right. Not here. We have to go.” She grabbed him pulling him as she ran in the direction of the tree, the only safe place.

Jaden was stumbling behind her all confused, she could feel him starring his questions at the back of her head.

“The tree is the only safe place. We have to get there.” She answered his unsaid question. The tree didn’t seem this far. They were still running. The sound was getting closer. It started to echo. She couldn’t place the direction or the source. She grabbed Jaden’s hand and squeezed it tight, they both picked up speed.

The tree was getting closer now she knew the only choice was to make it or… No, the only choice was the tree.

The sound was almost on top of them but for some reason Jaden didn’t hear it. She didn’t care he would see soon enough.

“We have to climb that willow.” She had to force out. Her lungs were on fire from running what seemed miles. She could feel him breathing hard and could tell they were both pushing off the ground harder with every step but only slowing down.

“I.. have… to .. Stop.” He managed to get out as he slowed down, not letting go of her hand he stopped her dead in her tracks.

“NO!” She screamed, pulling his hand but without success. “We can’t stay here. The tree…” She trailed off as his hand went limp in hers. She didn’t notice before but his head was down. “Jaden… We can’t stop now… We’re so close….”

That’s when she heard it.

The sound, not coming from around them but from in front of her…. From him.

Her eyes widened at the realization and she let go of his hand stumbling backwards. “ No… No… No…” Was all she could manage to get out.

His head slowly started to lift up to look her in the face, the sound growing louder. He reached for her grabbing on to her arm with a steel grip.  She let out a blood curdling scream…

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