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Fool Heart

Novel By: Werewulf14
Fantasy


Kaela lives in a futuristic world on the edge of social collapse, where the wealthy rule and the rest of the people try to scrape up a living and not get in there way. After her fathers' untimely death, Kael travels to Krysov to find her estranged mother, and meets Arawn, a low-class street rat on the wrong side of the sectarian law and it's ruthless hounds; and Neva, a ruthless guard who has lost her purpose. Together the three unlikely companions must find a spark of hope and humanity in a bleak and unforgiving future.
"...Three things remain: Faith, Hope, and Love, and the greatest of these is Love." -Corithians View table of contents...


Chapters:

1 2 3 4

Submitted:Apr 1, 2010    Reads: 112    Comments: 2    Likes: 0   


Love is the closest thing we have to magic

-unknown

"When all the world goes dark and all things fail, three things will remain: Faith, Hope and Love, and the Greatest of these is love"

-Paraphrasing the Corithians

Kael wandered the streets, hungry and alone. It was snowing, but not the fluffy beautiful snow she remembered from the picture books her father used to read to her. It was wet, mushy snow that was quick to soak into clothes and hair and wick away every degree of heat from your body, the kind that was sharp and cold and bit at your exposed face, going over it like icy sandpaper.

Kael could not remember ever being this cold.

She wore her father's old trench coat, with layers of worn sweaters underneath. She wore long underwear with sweatpants and grey workers' jeans on top, with a long scarf wound many times around her face and neck in a futile attempt to stave off the cold. She wore a Russian Ushanka on her head that had also been her fathers', although she used the ear flapped hat to hide her long hair and feminine features more so than to protect herself from the cold.
She had stuffed her long honey blonde hair beneath the cap and pulled the ear flaps down and the scarf up to hide any trace of feminine features that might give her away. The heavy layers of old sweaters and her fathers' too-big trench coat hid her willowy body type, and she had pulled her fathers heavy rough leather work gloves over her slender hands and wrists. Just to be safe, she had smeared dirt over her nose and cheeks. She took so much care to disguise her gender because it was forbidden for lower-class women to travel alone. The train rails that criss-crossed the country were for the wealthy, and the thin spread middle class. If a lower class person was fortunate enough to be able to afford an expensive passport, they were allowed to travel.
The lower classes on the train were always checked for passes, since they were the most likely to travel without ones or with forged ones. There must have been at least six urchins with fake passes thrown off on her long ride here. Kael's own pass was forged, but it was one of the better fakes, made by she guessed a master forger. The train guards had checked her pass four times, once getting on, twice on the train and once getting off, but her faux passport had passed every machine test thrown at it, from the little hand-helds the guards carried to the fancier ones at the train stations.
The pass was not Kael's. It had belonged to her father, along with most of the things she carried with her.
The whole reason Kael was here was because her father was dead.
Kael's father had been middle class once, maybe even one of the poorest of the wealthy, but that had been a long time ago. The mechanical watch shop he ran had doubled as a home for them. Her father had been a master watch-maker. His mechanics were always exactly on time, down to the second. He had also been a tinker, building mechanical toys and inventions. Her father had always said electronics would never replace old fashioned mechanics. Every once and a while he would even get a rich customer to buy one of his masterpieces, simply for the novelty of it.
Kael had been singly raised by her father since birth. Her father had told her that her mother had died when she was little.
It was only very recently she had found he had lied to her.
Her mother had left her and her father when she had been a baby, though Kael did not know why. The only thing she knew about the woman was that her name was Sonya, there was a picture of her in her fathers locket Kael carried with her, and that she lived in this city.
The reason Kael had come here was so she could find her mother.
And so she had packed up her things and taken her fathers clothing, fake passport and a few of his gadgets, shortening her name Kaela to the masculine Kael, disguised herself as a boy and use what little money she had to buy a ticket to Krysеnkov. And now she walked the streets, cold, hungry, lost and very near broke.
Kael looked up at the tall buildings that seemed to tower over the street, utilitarian brick buildings indifferent to her suffering, with graffiti in the alleyways as there only adornment. There was a black asphalted road, and thin, narrow cracked side walks, missing entire chunks in some places. The wrought iron fences around the trees were bent and warped, looking like cages. The trees were bare except for a few straggling leaves clinging to the claw-like branches, which was somehow even sadder than if the trees had been completely stripped.
It looked like a city of broken dreams.
The bitter, sharp, wet wind tore through her clothes like an icy razor, and Kael wondered if she should start getting numb. But it seemed she was so cold it was impossible to be numb, she only felt sharp and aching cold. She knew she needed to find shelter before she froze to death, but she had very little money left, and even if she spent it all she didn't think she had enough for lodgings. She wiggled her toes, which ached with cold. She felt so tired. Maybe if she sat down for a minute...
"Privet, Friend!" Kael looked up, startled. A boy roughly her age and dressed just as scrappily (Although his threadbare clothes seemed much more adapted to keeping out the wet and cold than hers) walked toward her. Kael eyed the boy distrustfully. His face was smeared with dirt like hers, although she doubted his was on purpose. He had wiry black hair that was just as sooty as his face, and a mussed, sooty, threadbare barré, thrown carelessly over it. He had a thick scarf wound around his neck, and a beat-up duster made of some kind of worn leather that the moisture just slid right off, along with a pair of workmen's boots that looked far more adapted to puddles of slush than her own pair. Despite his ragamuffin appearance, he was relatively handsome, with sharp green eyes and pale cream colored skin under the layers of soot. He had a quick, agile build, like an alley cat, and the same manner as one too; friendly, but watchful and cautious. She had not been looking at him for five seconds and he had already looked over his shoulder twice, discreetly.
He grinned and extended a hand by way of greeting. She took it and started to shake it, then remembered northerners did not shake hands, but grasp forearms. Her mistake seemed to amuse the boy more than offend him. He chuckled softly. "From the south, are you?" He asked. She looked sheepishly at him. "Gave it away, huh?" she asked. The boys grin widened. "Not really," He said, "I knew you were a southern the minute I saw you." Kael frowned slightly. She had been trying hard to blend in, although it seemed now that her efforts had been far from convincing. "How?" She asked. The northern boy snorted. "Cause that is the poorest excuse for winter clothing I have ever seen. You're wearing thick denim and cotton, not oilskin and wool. You look exactly like what you are: a southern Coney dressed for a trip up north." Kael scowled at a puddle of slush at her feet. "Never been up north before." She muttered.
"Don't feel bad. I haven't ever seen a southern get it right the first time, not even the rich ones. You did pretty all right, except for the cotton. I don't know why some southern Coney's just can't get it into their head that cotton doesn't work like wool." the northern boy said.
"Wool's itchy," Kael said, defending southern logic.
The northern boy chuckled again, "Yeah, but it's warm even after it gets wet, unlike cotton."
Kael snorted in dismissal.
"Name's Arawn," The boy said.
"Kael," she replied.
"Got anywhere to go, Kael?" Arawn asked. Kael shook her head.
"Got a passport?" Arawn asked. Kael was immediately on guard. "Yeah," she said.
"Can I see it?"
Kael debated the safety of handing her false passport to this stranger, but fished it out and gave it to him. If four scanners couldn't catch it, she doubted this boys' eyes could. She was completely baffled when he ignored the registration number and ID info and turned the card on its back, inspecting it. He whistled low after a second, seemingly impressed. "A Zmey original. I've only ever seen knock-offs of Zmeys', never an original. I'm impressed; I've only got a Koshka. Tell me, where'd you get this?"
"What are you talking about? As far as I know, a pass is a pass. Don't they all come from a factory or mint or something?"
Arawn smiled slyly. "That's true... but a regular month's travel pass is over a grand. This is a permanent pass."
"So?" Kael asked uneasily. She didn't like where this conversation was heading.
"Kael," Arawn said, leaning forward and lowering his voice. "Do you know who Zmey and Koshka are?" Kael shook her head.
"Forgers," Arawn said. "Master Forgers, at that. I tell you, you can't get a better fake than Zmey, although Koshka's have never failed me."
Kael shook her head violently, "No! No! It's a real pass, it's real!" she knew her high pitched protests were as good as a confession. She tried to snatch her passport back, and Arawn didn't stop her.
"You misunderstand," Arawn said with amusement. "My pass is false as well. I'm not going to rat on you, Kael. I was actually hoping your pass was fake. Come with me, I've got someplace you won't freeze to death." Kael was confused.
"But..."
"A shoddy fake pass will only get you to jail," Arawn said. "And a real pass will only get you banks, shops and train rails. But a good fake pass can get you to so many other places."
Kael just looked at him.
"Me and my friends are all part of the Krys Dyra," he said by way of explanation. "Most of us have Horeks, but a handful including myself have Koshkas, and a few more have genuine Krys." Kael looked at Arawn. "What do those words mean? Are they names?" Arawn started laughing. "So sorry. I forgot, you don't know the old north tongue, do you? They are more of nicknames than the forgers' actual name. Call it... an alias. Koshka means Cat, Krys is Rat, Horek is Ferret, and Zmey means something like cunning Snake."
"Oh."
There was a temporary lull in the conversation, while Arawn led Kael through the alleyways. Kael went over what he had said. He had said he was part of the Krys Dyra, which was a fancy way of saying he was a criminal who knew plenty of other skilled criminals. Kael knew she probably shouldn't go with him, but she would freeze to death otherwise. Truth be told, it didn't really bother her that Arawn was a criminal. He seemed nice, and she wasn't used to being on the good side of the law. Although she had never seen her father do anything illegal, she knew for a fact he had been far from good as gold, counterfeit passport considered. And she highly doubted her mother was as white as the driven snow either, and Kael herself had every once in awhile committed petty thievery and pick pocketing for money for food and essentials. There were many shades of good and bad, and being on the wrong side of the partisan law were a lot of good people trying to make their living.
"So where did you get a Zmey original?" Arawn asked.
"It was my fathers," Kael answered.
"Won't he mind you using his Zmey? They aren't exactly easy to get if you lose them."
"I highly doubt he'll mind. And even if he did, there's nothing he can do about it."
"How do you figure?" Arawn asked.
"He's dead."
"Oh." Arawn said awkwardly, realizing he'd brought up something uncomfortable. "Sorry," he ventured.
"It's fine," Kael said, looking away. The sharp wet snow cut into her face as she tried hard not to think of her father. Not wanting to think about it, she tried changing the subject.
"I imagined snow would be fluffier," She said.
"Huh?" Arawn said, confused.
"Snow. In all the pictures I've ever seen, it's all white and fluffy and soft looking. But this snow is so sharp and wet."
"That's 'cause it's not snow," Arawn said, "its sleet."
"Oh," Kael said, feeling ignorant.
"'S okay," Arawn said. "Easy mistake to make. 'Specially for a southerner."
"I'm glad."
"You're glad it's sleeting?" Arawn asked, looking at her like there was something wrong with her.
"No, I mean I'm glad this isn't snow. When I got off the train and thought this muck was snow, I was disappointed."
"Don't worry, snow here won't disappoint you. You should see this place after a blizzard, before people walk in it. One of the coolest things you'll ever see."
Arawn stopped in front of low door settled comfortably in it's frame, knocking briskly. A peephole slid open an eye going over the two of them before the door opened to let them in. A sly looking older woman with a headscarf and a shawl greeted them. "Arawn! What're ya doin' bringin' a southling here, ya little chimn'y rat!"
"Good to see you again too, Koshechka," Arawn said. Koshechka scowled at him, then looked Kael up and down with sharp, cunning eyes. She sighed huffily. "Well, we better get your new friend out of those ridiculous southling clothes before he catches his death!" She turned her attention toward Kael. "What's your name, Coney?" She asked.
"Kael," She replied
"Well, Kael, I suggest you take off your cap and coat before you catch phenomia. You can go dry by the fireplace."
Kael gratefully took off her sopping wet coat and three layers of sweaters, taking off her slacks and boots and socks, all soaked like towels. Her fathers' hat had fared better, keeping the moisture off her head at least. She tried to put it all in a neat pile, which was difficult considering how sopping wet and dirty it all was. (she had been wearing the same stuff for four days)
When she looked up they were all staring at her, standing there in a soaked cotton sweater and pants. It took her a minute to realize she hadn't told them she was a girl.
"Oh, um..." She said, "Forgot to tell you." She finnished sheepishly.
Arawn blinked then snorted. "I'll say you did," He said, shaking his head
Koshecka look like she was trying very hard not to burst out laughing. "Kael?" She asked.
Kael cleared her throat, a little embarrassed. "Well,actually it's Kael-a."
Koshecka's lips twisted as she tried valiently not to laugh out of politeness.
"Oh, have your fun." Kael snapped. Given permission to laugh, Koshecka immediatley burst into torrents of cackling laughter.
"KAHAHAHAHA!"
Arawn grinned at Kael then rolled his eyes. "Old bat." but Koshecka was too busy rolling with laughter to scold him.
"Kael-a huh?" he asked, chuckling.
"I still go by Kael," Kael replied, "My father never called me Kaela, nor any of my friends. Only person every to call me Kaela was my school teacher."
"Couldn't you have mentioned this a bit earlier?"
"Well, I forgot. You know how it is, low class women aren't allowed to travel alone."
Arawn Chuckled. "It was a good disguise." he said.
Kael sat in front of the fire, the heat radiating through her frozen bones. It was heaven to be warm after nearly freezing to death. She watched the other people look at her with mild interest before turning back to whatever they were doing. Many didn't even pay her the slightlest attention. Quite a few people were fast asleep in the strangest places; under tables and tucked into corners and curled up on rugs, the heat and safe atmosphere lulling them to sleep in the little hideaway. One person was curled up on a patched red velvet couch, near the fire. It seemed to be a safe house for thieves and rogues.

the people matched the furniture; shabby and secondhand. Many of them wore patched and threadbare clothes, most all with a worn trench coat like Arawns'. Although they were all varying degrees of shabby, she noticed they all seemed far better equipped for the northern weather than she was. Southerner clothes aside, she seemed to fit into the bunch of misfits and shady characters quite well. She was very near sure Arawn had brought her into a den of thieves and people on the wrong side of the law, but she could hardly complain when she would've frozen to death otherwise.

"So why have you come to Krysov anyway?" Arawn asked.
"Don't you mean Krysenkov?" Kael asked.
Arawn laughed. "It's this places nickname. It means 'rat city'." he explained.
"Ah," Kael said smiling.
"So why did you come to Krysov?"
Kael was suddenly wide awake, remembering the purpose of this mission. "I'm looking for someone, a woman named Sonya," Kael said, "Do you know her?"
"Sonya? Yeah, evr'y body knows Sonya here. How do you know her?" He asked. Kael fumbled with numb fingers, taking the old locket from around her neck an fumbling frantically with the clasp. She finnally managed to open it with great difficulty, thrusting the old picture in Arawns' face. "This Sonya? She looks like this?"
Arawn blinked in surprize at her sudden frantic behavior. he inspected the picture, slightly discolored with age, but none the less clear. "Uh, yeah, that looks like a younger her, I guess. You know her?" He asked. Kael inspected the old photo she had looked at so many times since the start of her journey, as if expecting to find some connection with the young woman in the photograph. "Not personally," Kael replied, lost in thought. The woman in the picture was slight in stature and short, looking a lot like a pocelain doll. Kael had the same fine bones, although she had inherited her fathers' hieght as well, looking more like a willow sapling than a doll. The Sonya in the photo had thick, dark hair that was tied in a very loose ponytail. Her eyes were a bright grey, and her face had a spark of mischeif in it. A headscarf was around her head, much like she had seen other northern women wear. Aside from complextion and bone structure, Kael didn't look like her mother at all. She had her father's amber-brown eyes, and blonde hair that grew in small curly waves just short of ringlets. She didn't know where that gene had come from. Her father had chesnut brown hair that was as straight as straight could be.
Koshecka came over with a bowl of soup and a fresh peice of dark, steaming bread, setting it down in front of Kael. Arawn reached for the peice of bread, but Koshecka slapped his hand smartly with a wooden spoon, causing him to yelp in pain. "Not for you, you theivin' chimney rat!" She scolded. "It's for the person that almost froze to death." Koshecka spoke to Kael. "If he tries to take your food again, I'll tan his tide with this," She held up the long handled wooden spoon. "Alright, Kael?"

"Danke, Frau," She sighed, for a minute forgetting she wasn't at home with her father and this woman didn't speak german. "Thank you, ma'am." She clarified.

Koshecka grinned. "Where did you learn german?"

"You recognize it," Kael said in suprise.

"I've been around." Koshecka said, "It's been awhile since I've heard german though. Where'd you learn it?"

"My father spoke it," Kael answered. "I've known it for as long as I can remember."

"He must be a well travelled man," Koshecka said.

"I expect he was."

"Was?" Koshecka asked.

"He died of sickness a few weeks ago. That's why I've come to Krysenkov." Kael said, trying to surpress the pain of grief she had been surpressing for so long. She tried to distract herself. She showed Koshecka the picture of Sonya Arawn had recognized. "Do you know this woman?" Kael asked, "She goes by the name Sonya."

Koshecka glanced at the picture. "Aye, I know Sonya. What do you want with her?" she asked.

"I need to find her." Kael said. "Do you know where she is?"

"Sonya lives on the other side of town, in the Sobaka district." Koshecka answered. "What do you want with her?"

Kael scrambled to her feet. "Can you take me there now?"She asked urgently. Koshecka just looked at her. "Take you there now? Halfway across town in the middle of a sleet-storm when your clothes are already soaking wet? You'd be mad to even think of that."

"But-"

"Hush. You're not going out in that weather. Whatever buissness you've got with Sonya can wait til morning."

Kael sunk back down toward the floor, realizing Koshecka was right. "Alright," She sighed. Koshecka grunted complacently. "Eat the soup, It'll stop you from gettting a bad cold."She said. Kael obiedently tipped the bowl into her mouth, gulping the hot soup down. It burned the numbness from her body, spreading warmth over her entire being and filling her empty stomach. After she had gulped it all down, she felt very warm, full and sleepy. She munched on the dark colored bread Koshecka had given her; it tasted sweet and nutty, and warmed her mouth pleasently. She was suddenly exhausted. She felt good; her stomach was full and she was warm and as safer than she thought possible in this cold heartless town.

Kael suddenly felt something heavy and soft on her shoulders. Arawn had draped a quilt on her shoulders. "You look near dead to the world," He remarked. "Koshecka's got a spare bed for you, unless you'd rather sleep here on the rug."

Kael sighed with relief. "Bed please."

Koshecka escorted her to a spare room, practically tucking her in, before leaving her to her rest. Kael was asleep before she closed the door.





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