The Return and The Gift
| It wasn't too long ago that we moved to the capital city known as Harbinger. It was a three day walk from our previous home, and there were some days I'd wish we could go back. Our previous life was so much quieter and the house we grew up in was warm and comforting. I just couldn't seem to adjust to the bustling streets of the city where the people were always busy and the buildings were so overwhelmingly tall. The other children were the worst of the city, cruel and unforgiving. Most of them were raised with money and royalties, so they acted untouchable and powerful. My sister and I were raised to care for our own animals and catch our own dinners, so we could never relate.
Of all of us, mother seemed to fit in just fine. She ran a stand out in the market selling fine goods and wines that she would trade with other traveling merchants. She seemed to enjoy the hustling and bustling of the towns people, and honesty the town surroundings seemed to suit her. She was the most confident merchant of all in Harbinger, sweet and kind at home, but loud and commanding in the streets. She could convince anyone into buying anything, Father used to call her master of the silver tongue. My sister and I tried our best to get along with other children for our mothers sake but neither of us knew how to behave with them. They would look down at us for the clothes we wore or the fact that our Father was never around and our mother had to work like a poor mans wife. We knew we weren't poor, we owned the second largest house in Harbinger, next to the Silver Palace. Our mother just loved to work and we loved to move around comfortably in our farming clothes, but the other children didn't care much for comfort, its all about appearance.
It had been over a month since father had left. I never knew what he did or where he went but as time went on I didn't really care. I couldn't stand the fact that he had moved us to a new place and left us to adjust to it while he went on whatever it was that he did. Frankly, I had asked mother what it was he did some time ago, but she would never give me a straight answer. She would just smile and say "he's a very important political figure." Unfortunately, the children of the city didn't believe that and slowly convinced me and my sister that he was probably a traveling bard from the nearby college; which would explain why he would always come home and report to it. Sophie found that funny and amazing, but I couldn't help but feel ashamed and angry.
Our home eventually became our sanctuary. It was big and spacious, with many rooms and so much stuff to fill it. There was a library, an armory, and even a room that stored herbs and ingredients that my father would pick up on his journeys. My mother forbid us from entering these rooms but I knew they were there. On the very top floor of our home were our rooms. I had my own room, as did Sophie, and we would secretly spend our time in there if we weren't caught by Jorris, the house guard. She would patrol the rooms at all hours of the day and night to make sure it was safe from any threats. Jorris, however wasn't the first house guard that ever worked for us. Back at our old home we had Argis, who taught us how to fish and hunt. Jorris, unlike Argis, was cold and strict. She would make us play outside with the other children or help do house chores. I would prefer the abuse from my peers than pick up a broom any day.
One evening as Sophie and I played in our rooms waiting for dinner we heard the front door open. Sophie immediately sat at attention waiting to hear who it was. Then we heard Jorris quietly greet them "Welcome home Lord Tristan." We both jumped up from our seats and ran down stairs to greet our father.
"PAPA! PAPA!" Sophie and I yelled in excitement as we jumped into his arms, both in sync. He had already heard us running down, so he had knelt down with his arms wide open and braced for impact. His arms were big enough to hug the both of us as we both wrung his neck tightly. No matter how angry I was with him for being gone for so long I would always forgive him the moment he walked through the door. His booming laugh bounced off the walls as he jumped up still holding us and spun around. I could tell that no matter what it was he did, he still loved us dearly and missed us just as much as we missed him.
He put us down and measured us with his eyes, "Look at you two. You've both grown some more while I was away."
"I didn't know you were coming home so soon," I said with an uncontrollable excitement in my voice.
"Well I wouldn't want to miss my only son's eleventh birthday."
I can feel a smile overtake the bottom half of my face as I tried to hold back tears. I hadn't even remembered my birthday, yet here he is trying not to miss it. He then looked up , dismissing us, and slowly made his way to the other side of the room were mother had patiently been waiting for him. He gently brushed his fingers through her auburn hair as her arms stretched up and wrapped around his neck. They slowly embraced for a kiss but I looked away in embarrassment. My parents loved each other so much it was almost admirable.
Suddenly they were interrupted by Sophie, "Papa, did you get me anything while you were away?!"
"Sophie, you shouldn't expect things to be given to you," I said in my scolding voice, "it's not like you've done anything to earn them."
"I have too Papa, I help Mama clean and cook, and I help her carry things to and from the market." She then turned to me and stuck out her tongue.
"Now, now you two settle down. I wont have any bickering in this home." He turned to Jorris and reached out for his sack that she had taken from his when he walked in. It seemed full and heavy, if father was a bard, then must be the strongest of them all. He swung the sack over his shoulder and let it hit the ground, making a loud bang. He reached in and shuffled a few things around before he looked up at us. "First things first. Some Giants Tears for my beloved." Mother slowly stepped up and gave him a gentle kiss before removing the jar of liquids from him and hugging it tightly. " Thank you Love." She said quietly.
"For Sophie, I've got," he reached in deeper before pulling out some books and a little rag doll that had a little flower on her head and a little emerald dress. "These stories were given to you by the lord of the Flameveil and the Doll is a little something that I made."
"Wow Papa! Shes so cute. Ill cherish her, will you read to me tonight?" She asked as she jumped back into his arms for another embrace. Father nodded his head before placing her hack on the ground and digging back into his sack.
"For the birthday boy I have something very special for you," he said as he slowly pulled out a small onyx case with little rubys on it. He handed it to me and proudly waited for me to open it.
I turned it around inspecting it, trying to guess what it was before I opened it. The onyx case had tiny little engravings on it, but I couldn't read yet. I also noticed a little marking in the front that was lightly tinted with gold. There was a lock on it that was meant for a small key. I brushed my fingers over the lock before opening it, only to reveal a small dark dagger. I can feel the tears welling up again before I stubbornly held them back. I looked back up at him and smiled.
"Is this really for me Papa?"
He nodded before reaching in and pulling it out of its case. The hilt was hand carved to look like it was wrapped in black vines that warped into the sharpened, wavy, Ivory blade. It had a big ruby at the bottom of the hilt that seemed to glow with a strange light.
"I figured it was about time you learned to handle a blade, but I wanted to start with something small first. I enchanted it myself. It's supposed to help the user sense danger and also let you know where it is if you loose it. With time the enchantment will evolve on its own and it will learn to do other things, depending on its user. Of course, you must be very careful with this Samuel, its not a toy."
He then handed it back to me so I can hold it.
"Honestly Tristan, is that really safe to give him at this age?" Mother asked.
"No need to worry Ysolda. I will train him how to use it and show him all the things he needs to know in order to handle it safely; and when I'm not around I'm sure Jorris here wouldn't mind showing him a thing or two."
I carefully placed it back in its case and closed it before running to hug my father and whispering in his ear, "Thank you papa."