It came; the seasons of life and prosperity. When all around blossomed into their beauty and all had stared, drifting off into the symbolism of why they lived, each and every day. It came around this certain year where life had seemed to grow dim, boring, and old. Not once had the youth given the affect of knowing what growing old to die was for. The youth that swiftly crafted anything with bear hands into something untouched with the loss of innocence.
Cradled in a basket with petals decorated around her tiny body, sat an infant known as Jade. The scent of wildflowers and expensive taste drifted around the secrecy of an unknown soul- the soul of innocence. It had come here that an elderly lady carried this woven basket with flowers, her leg limping with the weight of an infant and living necessities. A crooked nose, green eyes, and white hair had showered the physical traits, her physic molded with the time of age and disparity of holding on to an unfound youth.
As the woman’s hunched back tapped the corners of every thick tree, turning away from what she was hobbling from, the woods had swallowed her into their shade- their darkness, their, depths. It had come from the sense that the old woman could hear the soft snores of the infant soothed the woman until she reached her destination from a patch of green field bearing the mountainous view.
There sat, across a creek-and-bridge, an old stone cottage, two stories and with quarters of large rooms that massed this expectation of beauty and secrecy. From the porch of a known-lit torch stood a figure- a middle aged man smoking a pipe, the scent reaching the nose of the old maid as she crossed the bridge with ease.
“It’s been delivered my lord.” The old woman smiled, the dim light of a smile as the man sat on a bench, offering her a seat next to him. In a pleasant drift the man couldn’t help but smile in satisfaction- the fatherly figure caressing his broad shoulders and well-built figure. His brow arched looking over the woven basket with flowers and silk blankets that decorated the unmasked infant. “The mother?” The man gently asked, taking a thumb and finger to clasp the edge of the silk blanket to uncover the infants face. The torch light that was given off had now cast a shadow over the round face of the child, the small thumb inside the mouth of the child, eyes closed, and the soft wave of snoring enchanting.
The man sat back after he covered the child, waiting for the old woman to speak of an answer. Her eyes had watched the man look at the child- the attention of a well educated man with the respect of having the paternal love and responsibilities the child would be yearning for. “Dead.” The words came plain and simple after the man bowed his head in gratitude and loss. The next question would be the hardest. “How?” The man said, regaining the broken tone in his voice, his face directed towards the opposite side of the old woman’s as well as the sleeping bundle- towards the darkness.
“Murder. I ran, my lord.”
Again the solemn speech of the old woman had given much of this man to think of. The old woman bowed her head looking over and checking the warmth of the child. “Sire, it is getting cold.” The woman again protested her manners, leaving the note of sire to be quite bitter to the middle-aged, and much younger man. His head bowed as he lifted the woven basket from the cobblestone porch, open to the view of the forest, and finally turned to the woman.
“Yula, your services have been more than any could ask for. I thank you for this and will pay you with a free night in my home, well prepared meals from my servants, and money that will help you live your life peacefully.” The old woman smiled, the tears glinted off her cheek as she looked at the basket, hearing the soft snoring of the babe. “Take care of your daughter, is all I ask for.” The man hugged the craned woman, offering his her hand to guide her inside the well-lit abode of his home and the preparations of raising his own flesh-and-blood, alone.
Time came as fast as time would allow, the middle-aged man turning into his early-late-age of time. The infant, who now reached the age of becoming a woman, turned gladly down the familiar path on a chestnut horse that also, had become the familiar for near eighteen years. The path in the spring time had generated the beginnings of a life that lived much ahead of hers. The greens from the floors of the forest to the canopies of tress gleamed off the sun with each movement from the wind- the simple elegance of the flowers that decorated the emerald beauty of spring.
As the trail came to a brook the life bubbled with newborns by the hundreds. From fish to tadpoles to the simple tales that the brook dribbled with, spring time was clearly the time that Jade had grown to love and favor above all else. The soft clump of the chestnut horse, Diamond, for there had been a white diamond-shaped patch in the middle of her forehead, stopped at flat brook to drink the crisp water of spring until the young woman atop gathered the reigns in agreement.
Jade, who was now a woman of eighteen, easily slid down the horse from the side, lifting the pink hems of her dress and feeling the fertile soil underneath her soft leather shoes, had made way to opening a flask from the side of the horse and from a pack she had gathered from home, and waited as the water filled the cool flask as she drank, feeling the cool reach her throat. With a petite frame and a solid build, Jade placed the heavy flask back in the pack of the horse and cupped the water with the two palms of her hands and splashed the refreshing water across her face, the ends of her ebony strands dancing the top of the rushing water.
With the simple joys of spring time that had come to pass from the same, familiar joys, had come to the end of her morning adventures as Jade could make out the lines of her home from the trees and the same figure of her father, smoking a pipe on the front porch…
…It had been the same porch that had brought her here to him. The death of a murdered mother from an infant of not but a day old, had given him the broken heart and the able body to bring it back together with a small grab of joy, laughter, and love. It had been the green eyes that looked identical to his that had stolen his tender weakness and retirement from the country, living with the only love he could ever desire, his simple treasure…
Jade had crossed the bridge and neared home, a smile across her face, her dimples high as she waved to her father, her green eyes of his with the ebony hair but the slender frame, crème skin, and curls like that of her mother. “Ready?” Her voice reached the porch as the father rose from the bench whistled, moments later a black stallion reached view of his master and when finally, both were ready to adventure out to the city- crossing the forest into an unexpected ambush.
It had been here, halfway been the base of the mountains to the village of Winder, through the forest of Berande’ that the ambush occurred- the same path that both daughter and father had taken to get to Winder through Open-Man’s Path. The carriage that was tipped and the four bodies of steel with armored plates had been openly wounded as Edgar Ellingworth, Jade’s father, spoke in a deep manner, “Get home, Jade.”
The voice came as the curiosity and disgust wrinkled her nose and frightened the horse. Jade, her green eyes set to the scene of death and murder, held calm as turned to hear her father usher her to safety. “But the market?” Jade protested since the annual market came with cheap rarities and worldly products. Now, the time of death and circumstances, Edgar grunted, turning his horse for a look at other alternatives- for any living soul.
“Not now, Jade, I’m asking you, I know you look forward every year to be here, but understand this, I don’t want you dead.”
The paternal instinct to save his only daughter came in the time of desperate need. “I’m going to the village to inquire what this carriage was for. If anything happens to me, you will know by your birthday.” Jade could feel the unread protection from her father as he darted out towards the direction of the village, north. Headed south, the feeling of total abandonment had come to a sudden shock as the wave of an arrow whistled by from the top of the tree. The figure moved, the horse whined, and the decision fell on her shoulders.
Jade blinked, moving a large curl from her hair as she looked up towards the trees, seeing the quick movement of someone rushing by. Another whistle of an arrow lurched towards the tree, creating a thud against the bark. This time, the horse jumped, Jade tumbling towards the fertile ground next to the dead body. The chestnut horse quickly scampered off towards the darkness, her whining loud as ever. Jade rose as she caught her breath, on her knees, holding her arm that landed against the root of a tree as she clenched her teeth. In another whistle the torment of death calling life was clearly shown. What had she done?
The answer came, if she wasn’t to do anything they were to kill her- if she were to run quickly, ignoring the pain with silent tears, she would be able to find her horse and quickly settle to safety. Jade rose, feeling her limbs yearn to crash, and quickly embraced herself to jog towards the screaming horse…
His reputation had meant something in his former years. The tyrant of Edgar Ellingworth, the former Duke, and cousin, of the dead Queen, Yula from Admund; a two-day travel northeast of their home near The Rocky Mountains, gathered quickly by horse to the nearest village. The horse that carried him darted the forest gatherings and was quickly towards an open field only a half-hour journey by quick-speed to the village.
OOC: You can enter from the village, traveling, bandit, savor, whichever.