Hey again, readers!
This week’s post is part two of Finding Fire, a short story set in the world I introduced in my novel The War for Yokendale. You don’t need to have read The War for Yokendale to enjoy this short story, but if you want more context for the world, click here to get yourself a copy today.
If you haven’t read Finding Fire – Part One yet, click here to do so. Otherwise, please enjoy!
– TALES FROM YOKENDALE –
Ayana woke up in a wet cave. A flickering light pierced her eyes from the far corner; her arm leaped up to block it from her sight. Her bed was a stuffed animal hide, still covered with short, coarse fur. She knew her territory, and whatever this beast had been, it wasn’t from the Hoarfrost Territory.
“Your wounds are almost healed. Those hounds nearly got you,” said a voice from across the cave. Ayana’s eyes snapped up to find the man who had fought the wild hounds off her, the man who had released the light of the sun from his bare hands. He had hair nearly to his waist and a beard nearly as long, and he sat on a rock in front of a small chest of bottled liquids, each a different color, each uniquely attractive to her eye. She gently searched her waist for her dagger. It was still in its sheath.
“Your people left you to die,” the man added, distantly.
Ayana kept her fingers lightly on her weapon’s hilt. “You called yourself Tobias?” she asked.
“That’s what they used to call me, anyway,” he answered.
“Who used to?”
Tobias ran his fingers through his hair, took a lengthy breath. “My family,” he answered. “What are you called?”
“Ayana.” She paused, considering. “That’s what they used to call me, anyway.”
Tobias smiled. “Any pain?”
“My whole body is burning.”
Tobias ran his index finger across the tops of the bottles in the chest, stopping on a purple-blue one that he lifted up to his eyes. He nodded and tossed to across the cave to Ayana. She let go of her dagger and caught the bottle, just barely. “What is it?”
“An elixir. Should finish the healing process and relieve the pain.”
“Magic?” she asked, her hazel eyes widening.
Tobias squinted at her. “Did you not see fire shoot out of my hands?”
“Fire?” Ayana held the elixir away from her, looking at the torch in the corner of the cave. She finally realized what it was.
“The Frostlanders have fire, don’t they?” Tobias muttered, and then shook his head. “I’m sure they do.”
“Not me,” said Ayana. “My father kept me out of site, away from the others.”
Ayana didn’t answer. She sniffed the purple-blue liquid, but didn’t drink it. “I’ve never seen fire before,” she said. “I never even left my village before this journey… And then only because my father died.”
“Oh.” Tobias cast his face towards the ground. “I’m sorry. How did he die?”
“The war. I was told he died as a hero, fighting the Yokendalers.” Ayana paused. “He followed in his own father’s footsteps.”
Tobias, from what Ayana could tell, seemed to be studying the chest of alchemy. “They were taking you to the palace, for a funeral?” he asked.
“No. Women are not allowed at funerals.”
The man looked at her again, his eyes angled and angry. “How could that be? The Hoarfrost Territory is a terrible place to live.”
Ayana shrugged. It was all she ever knew. “How could you not know these things before now?” she asked. Her stomach tightened. A realization dawned on her. “Are you…?”
“A Yokendaler,” he said. “Yes.”
Ayana brandished her dagger and aimed it at Tobias. He didn’t flinch. “You’re the enemy,” she spat.
“The war doesn’t involve us,” he said coolly. “There are no enemies here.”
“For somebody who doesn’t know what fire is, you’ve sure got a lot of it in you.”
“Prove yourself. Or I will kill you, wizard.”
Tobias flashed a soft smile and nodded his head. His hair moved gracefully over his shoulders. “Go ahead,” he said after a moment. “If Death beckons, I shall go to it.”
“You will not defend yourself?” Ayana’s weapon wavered. Her resolve to kill this man was somehow melting into sympathy. Tobias closed and locked the chest of elixirs, but he didn’t answer Ayana. She swallowed a breath of icy air. “What do you intend to do with me, wizard?”
“If you lower the dagger, I can help get you back home.” Tobias crossed his arms and leaned against the cavern wall. “But you’ll have to lead the way. I’m just a visitor.”
Ayana held her posture for a long moment, and then she lowered the dagger. “No.”
Ayana held her breath, as though she were carefully balanced on a thought. “Will you help me get to Yokendale?”
The End of Part Two
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Describe fire through the eyes of someone who has never seen it.