Baiyne (Chapter 3 and 4)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Safra was abandoned as a baby, but something about the reasons have never really rung true with her, and when she is adopted, she finally begins to unravel the mystery of her mother, a mystery that will take her to places she had only ever imagined. (As I said before, I am doing this book's chapters as short stories as I have not finished it yet, but look out of the other chapters)

Submitted: June 25, 2017

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Submitted: June 25, 2017

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Chapter 3 - Skills

 

“Again!”Aetha shrieked nearly a year later. Safra was now almost completely at home, and whilst she wasn’t familiar with all of the servants, knew enough to get by. Similarly, she had been introduced to a few children of Emilia’s friends, but not many; mostly, they were on holiday or visiting others. Most of the girls and boys were pleasant enough, but none she could really call her friends, although there was one girl who she went riding with usually once a week. On the whole though, she found herself much more comfortable with the servants and their children, although even they couldn’t match Aetha for fun.

It had only taken a few weeks for her and her reckless demon to explore the house and grounds, finding all the best places to stay hidden. This was one such place. They were perched on a small, thickly wooded hill that was tucked away in a corner of the estate that people generally thought too far away from the house to visit. This had become their training ground for many things that Safra had hinted to Aetha, probably would not be acceptable to learn for a lady.

  Today it was swordplay, and Safra was failing miserably at the new step that she had been taught. Despite this, Aetha was persistent, if nothing else. She had just knocked Safra over for the millionth time, and now held out a hand for the mud covered girl to take. “Honestly, I never had this much trouble from your mother!” She sighed as Safra brushed herself off. She had bunched up her dress so that she was only wearing her stockings from about her thighs down, but they were caked in mud from falling over so many times. Safra opened her mouth to ask a question, but Aetha silenced her with a wave of a hand. After a moment, she settled for a complaint instead.  

“It doesn’t help that I’ve only got you to practice with; and yu’re twice my size! And anyway, you said yourself people have different habits, and ways of fighting that you can use against them. Besides, you probably know what I’m going to do before I even do it!” She gasped, then tutted, glancing down at herself. “Now just how am I going to explain all this mud to Emilia?

“You’re clever, I’m sure you’ll think of something.” Aetha replied, twirling her sword around. “And you’re not doing too badly; you are right, and if you weren’t facing me, you would probably beat them. Now, if you’d like to quit your whining, you can learn some real skill.”

As they swung at each other again, Safra gritted her teeth. “I don’t get why I have to learn this here. They have fencing classes down at the manor, and although I told you that ladies didn’t learn fencing, I’m sure that if I asked, Ethan would give me a few lessons.”

“Well,” Began Aetha, spinning around in her usual sassy way to block Safra’s up-cut, “There are several reasons why. First, fencing is fancy, it will not keep you alive, and it definitely will never teach you to fight dirty. There are always rules in fencing, and there are no rules in real life. Second, even if Ethan did teach you, he wouldn’t be able to spend too much time training you, I can. And last, if you ever want to put a man in his place, you don't want them knowing that you learned your skill-that-you're-not-supposed-to-have from another man; that would just defeat the point." A few seconds after this statement, Safra had disarmed Aetha, and was grinning down at her. “Excellent!” Aetha smirked back. “I think it’s time we got going. Your French teacher might want you.”

 

 When they had trundled back to the house, and Safra had stopped giggling at Aetha, composing herself ready to face a setting where she had to pretend that she didn’t have a demon making comments in her ear, Jane greeted her, a little flustered. “I wonder what’s up with Jolly Jane?” Aetha asked. Safra wanted to scold her right there and then for calling everyone names all the time, but she couldn’t whilst Jane was watching.

“Hello Jane.” Safra smiled sweetly.

“M’Lady,” Jane offered a slight bob “There’s a friend of your mother’s and her son stopping over. I tried to find you to get you to greet them, but you were nowhere to be found. If you hurry up to your room, Catherine shall help you change quickly, and I’ll inform them that you’re on your way.”

  Safra scurried up the flight of stairs and vaulted into her room in a vain effort to be able to dress herself. Catherine, her lady’s maid, had grown too fast for Safra to get away with it. Barely minutes after Safra had entered the room, Catherine came clattering in. “Don’t think you’ll get away with that this time young lady.” She teased. “His Lord and Ladyship said to make sure that you wear something suitable. Come on girl, trust me, have I ever trussed you up like a turkey and thrown you to the wolves.” The maid nattered as she endeavoured to dress Safra. She smiled to Safra as a final touch. “There, I think that should please both parties, what do you think?” Safra pretended to look in the mirror at her dress, whilst actually looking to receive a nod of approval from Aetha, who was as ever, at her shoulder.

  Before she had known Aetha was there, she never really had anyone one that she was solely friends with, but now she found herself doing pretty much everything with her. Given, it wasn’t a hard thing to do because Aetha was attached to Safra, but she felt like they didn’t just do things together because they were connected, after all, Aetha was an adult, and could’ve quite easily pretended that Safra didn’t exist. No, it felt like they were actually friends; something that Safra hadn’t had any of before Aetha.

 

They descended into the drawing room, and Safra beheld for the first time in her new home, someone that she immediately didn’t like. It wasn’t the parents, they seemed kind and loving, and radiated a sort of warmth that Aetha had taught her to recognise as at least a partially good soul.

  Their son, was a different story. “Well, just look at him.” Aetha whispered in her ear with disdain. Safra found herself feeling a very similar way about the scrawny, multicolour-clothed boy standing pompously by himself, obviously waiting for Safra to approach him. But Safra had learned a little of what it meant to be a lady, and so approached him with all of the dignity and friendliness that she could muster, despite the completely icy aura that she was sensing from him.

 

“Good afternoon, I am Safra, I don’t believe that I know your name.” She said elegantly.

“I am Albert. I believe that you were dumped on a church doorstep, tell me, how you managed to rise to such a position unbefitting of someone from your background?” He was a few years older than Safra, but she was pretty sure that didn’t mean that he could speak to her like that. This was confirmed moments after he had posed the question, by the way his parents gasped in shock and berated him about it, explaining that Safra was adopted.

“I beg your pardon, Safra, I did not mean to put it like that, I honestly meant no offence by it. My apologies.”Safra bobbed her head, trying to keep the scowl from off of her face. “Perhaps, father, I might make up the difference by showing Safra my finesse with the sword.”

Aetha’s earlier words popped into her head, and she saw the demon’s eyes flicker with mischief. Safra’s own twinkled, and she cooed as politely as she could. “Oh, I’d very much like to see that.”

  Albert, ever eager to show off, and prove himself above her, strutted off in his sickly red and green waistcoat, gesturing for Safra to follow. As they walked, he just kept on testing her, and Aetha’s patience. Once or twice, she threatened to set him alight, but Safra insisted that revenge could wait until they got to the swords. Safra decided that proof that the boy loved himself was that he didn’t notice when Safra was talking to Aetha, he just kept babbling away.

As they reached the stable yard, he clicked his fingers at a stable boy who was clearing out the stable; he looked about thirteen. The boy looked surprised to see them, and as they came nearer, she recognised him as Joseph, the son of a local mason. Albert clicked his fingers again, and turned his nose up at Joseph, who smiled warmly to Safra as he in turn recognised her. He towered above Albert, although he was probably only a few months older. “How can I help you sir?” Joseph asked helpfully.

Albert snorted, and Safra could feel her fists clenching, and saw Aetha make strangling gestures behind him. “You will call me ‘My Lord’. As for what you will do, you will fetch Andrew, the man who is charged with keeping an eye on the stable and house. Go, fetch him now.”

Safra immediately cut in. “He won’t be fetching anything. He’s not a dog, and he has work to do. I’ll get Andrew; I know where he is at this time of day.” And she hurried off, dragging Albert with her.

“Nicely handled.”A voice behind her chirped.

She found Andrew checking up on his favourite mare. She was pregnant, and Andrew was vigilant, and determined that nothing go wrong with the birth. Before Safra had a chance to explain what was going on, Albert said haughtily, “I want a sword, and then I will duel with you, to show Safra what a marvellous swordsman I have become after only two years of basic training. Meet me in the yard with two swords.” And then he sauntered off again.

Safra gave Andrew an apologetic look, but he shrugged, and muttered to her: “It’s not my place to say anything my lady.” But as he was making a move to get the swords, she tugged at his tunic.

“Could you bring three swords, please. Thank you.” After Albert’s display, she was careful to use her manners. Andrew raised his eyebrows, but nodded nevertheless.

 

Safra proceeded back into the yard and heard a snide voice next to her. “Play nice.” Safra smirked slightly, and then quickly resumed her vacant expression when Andrew came into view, hauling three swords. At this point, Safra could see what Aetha had meant about fencing. She had been given a small, well balanced broad-sword sort of weapon by Aetha that the demon took back after each session. These weapons were long and thin, seeming as though they would break if you applied any real force behind them.

 

 She watched the first few duels, taking note of how Albert moved, how he countered and which sides he favoured, just as Aetha had shown her. She was so intent on finding the flaws in his fighting, that she didn’t even hear Joseph sneak up on her and ask quietly what Andrew had done to anger the young lord. Aetha tapped her on the shoulder and drew her attention to it just as Andrew beat Albert again and he complained that he couldn’t fight Andrew because the size difference was too great.

She turned to Joseph and grinned. “I’ve absolutely no idea what he did, but Albert is about to get a duelling partner his own size.” And before Albert could click his fingers at the stable boy, she swooped in, sweeping up the third sword and said calmly. “Well...’ she said presenting her most innocent face, “I’m just about your size, would you be willing to fence with me?  I would be grateful for the instruction.”

Albert did his trademark snort, “You do realise that Ladies are not supposed to fence, or are you so new to this upper-class life that you believe you can do anything?”

“I’m going to roast him with my own sword in a second.”Hissed Aetha irritably.

Safra shook her head furiously, in reply to both Aetha and Albert. She kept focused on Albert, ignoring Aetha, and said. “I don’t believe I can do anything, but you did say that you’d make up the difference of your...rudeness before. I would very much like to learn even a few basic steps, and for someone so...accomplished, it should be easy to teach a simpleton like me, who’s only good for sewing and shopping.” Then as an afterthought, she added, “And I’m sure that my parents would be thrilled that you have taught me something new. It is only one small duel.”

Albert pulled himself up, trying to look important after so much apparent flattery to live up to.

“Very well, we shall begin then. First I will see what your natural talent is.” Without warning, he swiped at her.

Fortunately, her abilities were sharp enough that she deflected it easily, knocking it aside as if his attack had been an irritating fly. She still hadn’t moved her feet when he came at her again, this time jabbing. It would’ve been a great time to use the disarming move that she had just learned, but she decided that she could take the humiliation further, and merely shuffled to one side.

She managed to keep it up effortlessly for a few minutes, watching his feet and using Aetha’s guides as well, but she began to tire, and decided to put an end to it. He did indeed have a rather good degree of finesse, but Aetha had taught Safra well, and she didn’t need elegance or finesse to look sassy. She had been on defensive since the beginning, and now surprised him by attacking. It was a quick, simple lunge, but it came too swiftly for him after his own attack, meaning he was already unbalanced. The jab made him loose his balance completely, and he tumbled to the floor, dropping his sword and flailing as if he were drowning on land.

Safra smirked, satisfied. She had won.

Aetha was grinning too, as was everyone who had seen it in the yard. Safra guessed that Albert was regularly unkind to most of the people on the estate. Oddly enough, after that day, Albert was a little angel, as were all of the children who had heard of Safra’s triumph.

 

Chapter 4 - The Gift

 

None of the young lords and ladies ever really liked Safra, although they were all very civil with her. But she did find favour with lots of the maids, and her skill with sword won her the friendship of Andrew, who often sparred with her father. Her wit and love of mischief allowed her to gain the companionship of Joseph as well, the newest stable hand, who had witnessed her battle with Albert. He was also to be a witness to the stranger things about the newly made lady.

After another blissful year of living with Emilia and Ethan Bencamore, who both loved her more dearly every day, Safra found that despite having a demon attached to her, there was still more to the mystery of her life than she could imagine.

 It was a clear day, and perfect for riding. She was a bit too small to ride a full sized horse by herself, so Joseph always led the horse along the tracks that Safra directed.

  They had just tethered up the horse- a fine dappled white stallion- to the huge oak tree under which they sat. Joseph talked to her about his father’s business, and why he wasn’t taking over, and Safra told him stories of trees that came to life, and the dark creatures that lived inside them. She nearly scared the life out of him with these, and winked at Aetha when she snapped a few twigs in the forest to add to the effect. She was just about to tell him her own version of little red riding hood, when they heard a horse braying.

 

 At first, Safra thought that it was the stallion that they had brought with them, but it sounded different, much younger.

“Do you think it is Andrew’s foal?” Asked Safra. She couldn’t think of any other foal that they had in the stables.

Joseph shook his head, and peered curiously in the direction of the noise. “He’s too young, not me or the stable master would let him out without his mother, and then we’d hear her whinnying for him.” He stood up, craning his neck. “Let’s go have a look.” Safra nodded, so they skirted around the edge of the small forest, until they came to the source of the sound. Joseph whistled in admiration of the jet black coat that enveloped the young horse. “He’ll be a fine stallion when he’s fully grown, mind you, he’s not too far off it now, give him what, a year or two until he’s an adult. Even then,he’ll have a good few years in his prime...” He turned to Safra. “You didn’t tell me that your posh friends were over?”

 

“They’re not. Why would they be?”

 

“You don’t find foals like that just wandering wild, besides, he’s all saddled up, and he’s got some saddlebags on him. That’s something only your daft friends would do; pack up a fine young foal like a donkey. Honestly, he’s far too young, no wonder he was braying!”Joseph exclaimed.

“They’re not my friends, how many times do I have to tell you that! If they were, I’d be telling you off for the way you just spoke to me.” She snapped. Joseph hung his head slightly. “Anyway, I think that you’re right. Someone must own him, and I don’t think that we should leave him all packed up like that, it looks awful. Come on, held me unload him.” They moved toward the foal cautiously. It backed away at first, but after a few steps, started plodding slowly towards them. Well, it started to plod towards Safra. She hadn’t liked to say to Joseph, but something about the horse felt unusually familiar. This feeling got stronger as it nuzzled her softly, breathing heavily, but contented for the moment.

 

As they began to unload the poor creature, Joseph cried out. “Safra, there’s a note in this bag, it’s addressed to you!” She rushed to his side, and snatched the note up, anxious to see who had sent it, but all it said was:

Safra.

Long gone.

His name is Kaison.

I hope you make better use of these things and him  than I did. Xx

 

Safra’s brow wrinkled. Then she realised what she was staring at. Joseph was still gazing at the paper, puzzled.

“What is it, what does it mean, is the horse yours?” He queried.

“I know this hand!”Safra began in excitement, waving the piece of paper at him and totally ignoring how calm the adolescent horse was being despite all of her flapping. “It’s my mother’s writing! I could never forget it! I guess that it means she’s , at least from this place. It means she’s not dead either! She managed to send this, so she can’t be. And I should think that Kaison, and the things he’s carrying are mine now!” She nearly squealed in delight, but Aetha gave her a burning glare just as the noise was coming out of her.

  “Let’s finish unloading this anyway, and then we can take him back to the stables, say we found him and his owner had abandoned him. I doubt that they’d say no to having such a beauty on the estate.”

Joseph agreed. “But I’ll go get Speckles from the oak tree, he can help us carry some of the stuff, you follow with, what’s his name again, Kaison? Lead him gently though. I’ll help you take that saddle off him as well- It’s way too big, and he doesn’t look comfortable in it. I’m sorry Safra, but who ever your mother was, she clearly either didn’t have him for long, or just didn’t take care of him.”

  The foal rose up on his hind legs at this last expression, but Safra tugged him down, and he was still after that.

 

  When they were unpacking, Safra made a mental inventory of everything that was on the foal. She knew that the journal would also take note, but she liked to be sure that she could recall most things without the aid of a magic book. There was a long black cloak that fastened with a red-gemmed broach in the shape of a flame, which Safra flung around her shoulders, Joseph laughing at the folds of dark linen that gathered at her feet; way too big for her.

There was a whole suit of black armour which fascinated Safra for a while. It was the same scale-style as Aetha’s, covering from the wrists, (which fastened with hard leather cuffs) all the way to the ankles. After a few minutes, this is what Joseph and Safra had discovered by trying to piece it together, with a little of Aetha’s help. They also found some rather vicious looking leather heeled boots. Safra could almost picture the woman that had worn this ensemble; a head strong unstoppable force who swept through dark alleys and narrow streets of a city in search of work. A woman who fought hard to stay alive in the dark murky corners of the world, but one who clicked confidently down cobbled streets, loving passionately, and glaring coldly; a woman much like Safra was growing up to be.

To Safra’s delight, and wonderment they discovered a sword, which put another twist on her perception of her biological parent, with three metallic skulls at the base of the sword, and another at the end of the hilt. Safra noticed some unusual, but she guessed less scrupulous weapons in the bags, and decided it best to keep these from Joseph, who was wide eyed throughout all of the discoveries, constantly questioning Safra.

“Who was your mother Safra?”

She shrugged, “Someone incredible, apparently.”

 

  They led Kaison back to the stables, along with the dappled mare, who was now carrying most of what the young horse had been. Joseph tried guiding him into a stall, to which he clearly objected. He remained firm where he was, and no amount of tugging could budge him.

“I don’t understand why he won’t go in!” Joseph grunted in frustration as even the stable master couldn’t coax him in with oats, apples, and even sugar cubes. Safra had been watching for a while, and quietly stood up, and spoke to him in a lowered tone.

“May I try please.” The stable master agreed, although he said he didn’t really see what she could do to make him move that they hadn’t already tried.

Safra stood in the stall and looked the young stallion as straight in the eye as she could. “Come into the stall please Kiason.” She commanded him, her tone suggesting that there was not another option.

And just like that, he trotted in, and stood there, nuzzling her gently until she slipped his reins off and edged around him as he tucked into the oats.

Astounded, Joseph and the stable master stared at her. They bombarded her with questions, to all of which she answered, “It has been an awfully long day, I think I need to go to bed.” She gathered up the items that had come with Kiason, and skipped back to the house wondering why the horse was only, and so obedient to her; could it tell that she was the intended owner after her mother; were they so alike it couldn't tell the difference? She quizzed Aetha about the things, but for the most part, she said that she couldn’t tell her anything about them, because of her Binding to secrecy of most things about her mother.

  However, she also told Safra not to sleep when the maid and Emilia left her that night, because there was one more surprise left for that day.

She did as she was commanded, and after she had kissed Emilia on the cheek and said goodnight, Aetha beckoned Safra to follow her to the stables.

 

They reached the stall that Kaison was in, and found him awake, and apparently angry. “Quietly, Kaison, quietly.”Aetha whispered to him, although there was really no point for her to. Thus, Safra gasped as the horse bowed its head a few times in what was clearly a nod.

“He can see you?” She asked, enthralled. “Do you know him?”

Aetha put a finger to her lips. “Yes, he can see me, because he is connected to me. I don’t know him, but he’s a spitting image of his father, who... well, I’m sure you can figure that one out.”

“My mother’s horse was his father? ”She motioned excitedly.

“You bet.” Said a male voice somewhere in the stall. Safra jumped nearly causing the oil lamp in her hand to fall. For a minute, she thought that it was one of the older stable hands, but then she slowly turned to Kaison, feeling the colour drain from her face.

“That was you, wasn’t it?” Safra stated.

“Yep.” The black horse retorted. “And it was so hard not to say anything when that boy was around! Thanks for taking the reins off by the way, they hurt like hell!”

“He has one more thing that you need to worry about as well, although I’m sure that this will come as a shock to him too. He seems a little young to have been taught to use it himself yet, but that will come.” Aetha babbled, kicking the horse on one of his hooves.

There was a twirl of black smoke, and a small snapping sound. The smoke was waved away to reveal a young man who looked maybe twenty. He was clothed in armour the same colour as the horse’s coat had been, and which was made so delicately, that it all seemed to be made of one sleek piece of metal. His hair was also black, and his skin had a slight tan to it.

“Well, that’s an improvement.”Aetha commented at both of the open-mouthed people. “I remember his father’s skin was always as white as bone. It used to freak me out to no end.” Then she chuckled, “I know, I’m a demon, I can’t exactly talk. Anyway, this is what I came to show you, along with a little advice.” Aetha nearly glared down at Safra. “Now that you also have Kaison to watch over you, I’m able to take a break from guardianship every once in a while – there are some wicked cocktail parties back home that I’ve been dying to go to for the past twelve years - should you need someone to help you and I have decided to take a spontaneous trip to the demon realm, you need merely repeat what I have just done whilst picturing a man, although I’m sure that Kaison could be more than sufficient in horse form. Of course, I hope that before that time, he will be able to make the change from horse to human on his own.”

Aetha’s gaze lapsed back to Kaison, and she continued in her hurried manner. “I take it that you have never had a rider?”-a nod from Kaison- “Right, and Safra has never ridden a shaman horse before.” She nudged Kaison’s human foot, and in the same swirl of smoke, he was a horse once more.

“You should warn me when you’re going to do something like that!” The horse exclaimed, shaking his mane.

Aetha ignored him, and so did Safra.

"Guess what's next on our 'other lessons' list." Aetha rolled her eyes, "I swear, I'm never doing anything like this ever again, or raising children; honestly, it's like your mother presumed that I have no life of my own (well, technically I don't seeing as how I rely on you to survive, but that's besides the point)! Anyway, you'll have to learn to ride Kaison properly, whether you want to or not; it will be useful in the future."

“Is it really that different, riding a horse like him?” Safra questioned, puzzled as to how it could be different.

“Yes.” Aetha retorted sharply. “He moves much quicker, and with practice, can be a part of you, and if you want to get that, we’ll have to train at night.” Safra paused only momentarily thinking about her already sleep deprived nights.

“OK. Let’s do it.”


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