Idella the Incandescent

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story from a world I created called Santelia. It follows a slave named Calloway that falls in love with a new slave named Idella, from a foreign country.

Submitted: December 19, 2017

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Submitted: December 19, 2017

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On the 12th day of the month of Orgalwan, in the year 919, I met Idella Rantz. The sun was like her own personal torch, guiding her through the wheat fields where we both worked. Where the sun barraged and burnt the rest of us in the field, it did nothing but accentuate Idella’s already pristine features. I had worked in Lord Frantan’s fields for most of my life along with about thirty other… I didn’t like to call myself a ‘slave’, but I guess that’s what we were.
Lord Frantan was expanding his fields into former Lord Dorring’s land because the former lord had recently been stripped of his land, his house and his head. The former lord had made a trade deal with a foreign nation to whom the King of Harthe; Garrick Rose II, was warring with and by such, committed treason. With Lord Frantan expanding his lands, he required more slaves. Apparently slaves from within our country were extremely overpriced due to our complete understanding of the common language and our ‘willingness to serve’. Lord Frantan inherited the thirty Harthean workers he already had and was not willing to pay for more, so this forced him to look elsewhere. Prisoners of war were in no short supply and cost very little gold in comparison. Idella was one such slave. I had never travelled to the other countries in the world so I never knew what the other races looked like but she didn’t look very different to me. People would tell tales of other races having wings and 4 eyes or look like ravenous dogs. She looked like any other girl. Well, that wasn’t strictly true – she was the most gorgeous woman I’d ever seen. She had long, blonde hair that would bounce of her shoulders as if it had a mind of its’ own, piercing green eyes that would shine with the glow of a night’s sky, and a figure that reminded me of the rolling hills and plains I’d work on all day. She wore an unflattering, torn and weary dress that looked like it once rivaled her beauty. Daisy, one of the slaves I’d had lived with all my life, had to nudge me to bring me back to reality and continue working when I first saw Idella. Daisy was probably my best friend at the time as I’d known her the longest. Her family had been bought by Lord Frantan the same time as mine when we were both very young.
Idella came to Lord Frantan’s ownership with about 40 new workers to toil their way through the new fields, most of which assimilated to their new lives quite harmoniously, but not Idella. Her soft and serene features quickly turned wild and ferocious when the hired swords of Lord Frantan tried clamping her in chains. She squirmed and threw punches. Scratched and bit. But was inevitably over-powered and beaten. Slaves who showed this sort of effrontery never lasted long and I was not willing to see the hired swords snuff out this beautiful fire of a woman. I didn’t have the boldness to interrupt a beating, but I’d do my best to convince her out of another outburst.

That was the first time I saw Idella but it was many days later until I worked up the courage to speak to her. How many days, I couldn’t say; days tend to blur together in the fields. I’d often work long into the night, sleep whenever I could and work myself to the bone the rest of the time. Bruises shadowed her eyes and her dress exhibited new tears but she didn’t look less radiant. Not daring to stop working, I spent the best part of the day inching closer to her until she was within earshot. Then more waiting until hired swords left the area to patrol elsewhere. Finally, I got my moment,
“Hey. What’s your name?” I whispered.
She replied with a stare. An untrusting stare.
“My name is Calloway, where are you from?” I asked nicely, still in a hushed voice.
Idella did not answer. But then in struck me; she is from a different country. She may not understand me at all! What if in her country they don’t speak common? Hell, it’s probably not called ‘common’ where they are from.
“Do you understand me?” I questioned one last time to the same reply. Her green eyes shimmered in aggressive silence. I sighed. Looked to my work, and back to her.
“Calloway.” I said as I pointed to myself. After a few seconds of silence, I continued, “Guards, hurt you.” I said gesturing to the guards and a punching into my hand. “Do work. And no hurt.” I slashed some wheat with my sickle and shook my head as I punched my hand.
If Idella understood anything I said, she gave no indication. Although, her face did change from a scowl to more of a quizzical look which I thought was positive. I later learnt she did understand everything I was saying and took great pleasure in me making a fool of myself. But I’m jumping ahead.

Over the weeks Idella continued to be obdurate and would fight against the oppression of the guards. The constant beatings were obviously not working to break Idella’s spirit and I knew the dull guards didn’t really have many other ideas on how to motivate slaves besides violence, and if it continued it would eventually lead to something far worse. Although Idella’s attitude didn’t help, the guards really seemed to have even less patience for Idella and her kind. They would often treat them even worse than animals, making them sleep in mud or denying them water when they were dying of thirst. I could never understand why they treated them different to us. Was it as simple as breaking in the new guys? It seemed like more than that because even the most obsequious of her kind would get beatings they didn’t deserve.
One night I was lining up with Daisy to be fed, it was never anything more than stale bread or flavorless water they disguised as soup. But it still kept us alive, so we couldn’t complain. I was looking down at my feet (the guards preferred us not to make eye contact with them), inspecting the awful rings scarred around my ankles from the shackles when a fiery scuffle at the front of the line broke out. I didn’t see what it was about, I just heard a lot of shouting and saw the end result; Idella was chained to a tree and was forbidden to eat.
I waited until most of the guards were asleep or too drunk to know any better and I crept to her tree. I had never been so bold to break the rules like this before, but Idella always had a way of stirring something up inside me. Earlier I had told Daisy of my plan and she thought it was so nice that she shared her food with me so I was able to give all mine to Idella. Idella looked down skeptically at the food. I didn’t bother trying to say anything, because by this point I didn’t think she understood anything I said. I had tried many times in the field or around the camps and never had a reply. But that day, I had another first with Idella; the first time I had heard voice. “Thank you.” She whispered. My face flushed a vibrant shade of red I assume. I was worried that it would illuminate the area around us, the guards would come investigate and see me breaking the rules. I tried to reply but only muttered series of croaks before stumbling away. Not my finest moment, but I got better, believe me. And she learnt to trust me.

It’s funny the things that make you fall in love with another person. It’s not always the grand gestures they have in books or plays; for me at least, it’s the small things. A smile that makes you smile. A brush of the hand on yours that you wonder if it was intentional or not. Or even an inside joke. We had an inside joke about one of the guards. His name was Mavik and he was deathly afraid of birds. There was a bird native to the area that had a very distinct cry; a ‘hoohoo’ sound directly followed by a ‘heehee’ sound. I don’t know it’s exact name but we always called it ‘the laughing bird’. Idella and I would work the field in a way that we were on opposite sides of Mavik then one of us would imitate the bird saying “Hoohoo” and the other would reply “Heehee”. It would never fail to startle Mavik or entertain us to no end. Daisy would always joke she’d tell the guards on us.
At this point I’d known Idella about a year and had countless conversations with her. One such conversation was a night we both couldn’t sleep. We climbed to the top of the barn where the slaves slept and watched the stars together.
“Do you ever think you’re meant for something more than just harvesting crops for some lord?” Idella asked.
“I have always said I wanted to live by the ocean. I’ve never seen water except small rivers. But this life is all I’ve ever known. What else is there?” I said as I looked at the seemingly infinite stars.
She sat up, “Everything. Dances. Plays. Feasts. Games. Tournaments. Don’t you want to experience them?”
“You’ve seen me dance, you know it’s not a realistic possibility for me to go to a dance” I said with a smile.
“God wouldn’t have put us on this world just for this.” Idella remarked.
“Your race believes in a different God to mine. My God is pretty content with me staying here I think. She’s never done much for me.” I said solemnly.
“Well I’m not content with it.” Idella was kneeling now, looking at me with her powerful eyes. “Break out with me. Come back to my homeland with me. You’ll experience things beyond your wildest dreams.” Idella had previously told me of her home country of Scykaz and how she used to be a sort of Noble lady.
“I have pretty tame dreams to be honest. I haven’t experienced these things Idella. I don’t know what I’m missing out on, so it’s not hard to miss out on them. I can see this is what you want, and if I could make it happen, I’d do anything in my power to make it happen. But I just can’t see it happening.” I tried making her see reason.
“I have a plan.” Idella said.
This was not the first conversation I had had in regards to breaking out with someone, others had tried. The land was surround by giant walls and gates that were patrolled all day and night making it impossible to just run. Although some had succeeded, but that was mainly due to the guards. Some of the women had seduced them, one or two just befriended, but the easiest way was paying them off. Lord Frantan was notoriously cheap and didn’t pay the guards well, so 10 gold per person was always a quick way for a guard to help you escape. Although how a slave comes across 10 gold is even harder. In all my years I had amassed a horde of 4 gold. Two I happened upon in the field, one I got from a guard who found our scaring Mavik particularly funny and the last I was given by my father before he died. For every one that succeeded in escaping though, there was always many, many more that didn’t. And when you didn’t succeed, that meant your death. And it was never a fast or dignified death; the last person was dragged around naked by horses all day. At nightfall, they crushed his head with a rock in front of all the slaves. Lord Frantan really liked making a spectacle of it to deter other slaves.
“What’s your plan?”
“We pay off the guards.” Idella said as if her idea was revolutionary.
“Do you have 10 gold?” I asked impatiently.
“How’d you know it would be 10 gold?” She asked confusedly.
“Because you’re not the first to try this, nor will you be the last. And you can’t possibly-“
“I have 17 gold.” Idella cut me off.
“Where’d you get 17 gold?!” I was in disbelief.
“Daisy gave it to me. To us. I told her I wanted to get out of here and show you the world and she insisted I take it. We knew you have 4, well, 3 plus the coin your father gave you. That will be enough for both of us! She said that she accepted her life here and has had the ability to leave for years now but never took it.” Idella explained, before adding, “Sounds like something you’d say.”
Which wasn’t untrue at all, even if I did have 10 gold, I don’t think I’d leave by myself. But with Idella… I thought it might be possible, however dangerous. I still wasn’t sure until she gave her most compelling argument to date; a kiss. Time seemed to stand still as her lips caressed mine. It awoke something inside me. From then on, I knew we had to try it.
“Okay, let’s do it.” I asserted.
A sound from below interrupted us just as we were about to kiss again.
“What was that?” I asked.
“Probably just someone stirring in their sleep. We should go, a lot of planning to do tomorrow.” Idella chirped with a smile. She grabbed my face, a fire burning in her eyes, and planted one final kiss on my face and we rushed back to our beds.

On the morrow, she visited me in the field to say two weeks from now a guard named Booker is going meet us at the west gate, let us through and help us escape. Idella also told me a time we’d meet him; an hour after night guard changeover. We both were so excited the pain of working seemed non-existent. Our excitement ended when we called to speak to the chief of the guards. I immediately thought to that damned sound the night before; someone had heard us and informed on us to the guards. My breath quickened and my fingers began to tingle. I had never been so frightened than in that moment, but when turning to Idella she looked completely unperturbed. She mouthed ‘It will be okay’ and touched me hand.  Her warm hands and comforting eyes soothed my nerves temporarily. They shoved us to the ground at the foot of the chief guard who didn’t say a word. He just nodded at a guard behind us and it began. I saw stars, not unlike the ones from last night. But I did not feel the same bliss I did last night. Now I felt pain. I did not taste Idella’s sweet lips. Now I tasted blood. Between blackening blows, I saw Idella being pummeled with clubs and fists. I tried to cry out and urge them to hit me and not her, but my mouth was filled with blood. After screaming her lungs out, she lay motionless, but the guards did not relent. My last memory of that day was of Idella’s limp body. I prayed she was still alive.

I woke up to the sight of Daisy’s face. I have no idea how many days later it was. “Cal! You’re awake!” She gasped and hugged me. I groaned in pain and she jumped back.
My first thoughts went to Idella, “Is Idella okay?”
Daisy looked down, “I think you need to get some sleep. We can talk when you’re all better.”
Daisy got up and left the room. I yelled after her but she didn’t return. I was getting extremely anxious until I saw Idella walk into the room and say “Hoohoo”
I couldn’t help but smile and finish the call, “Heehee”
She looked fantastic for someone who received the beating I saw. Sure, she had some bruises and cuts, but for the most part looked healthy. I thought she really must be super human.
“What happened? Why do you look so good all the time!” I exclaimed, feeling like I was 100 years old.
“Someone found out about our plan. But don’t worry, Booker still said he’d help us. And it’s been nearly a week. I was up on my feet a few days ago. I guess my race just heals better than you weaklings.” She said with a wry smile, “But get some rest. Daisy and I are covering your work in the field so they are okay for you to rest up as long as we don’t fall behind.”

Within a few days I was out doing a little bit of work each day but it wasn’t near Idella. She claimed that to cover for me she needed to do a shift on one of the other fields. She wasn’t quite the same person in that week leading up to our breakout attempt. Idella said it was nerves, which I guess was understandable, but she didn’t eat anything and never spoke to Daisy. I thought they may have had a fight or something because every time I spoke to Daisy about Idella she would change the subject. But they both spoke to me like nothing was wrong.
One night, Idella and I sat out in the field after work after everyone had left and we made sure we were alone.
“What is the first thing you’re going to do when you’re free?” Idella asked.
“I’ve always wanted to try fresh bread. I’ve seen the guards eat it before and it just looks magnificent.”
Idella laughed, “So small minded.”
“Alright ‘my lady’” I said in a mocking tone, “what are you going to do?”
Idella looked around as if searching for something and finally pointed at a nearby hill, “See that?”
“Yeah.”
“I’m going to stand on it with you and yell at the top of my lungs.”
I shook my head confusedly, “Why would you want to do that?”
“What better way to convey your freedom than yell out as loud as you can, just because you can?”

The day of our escape attempt arrived and the Daisy and Idella situation hadn’t gotten any better. So I went to say my final goodbye to Daisy without Idella.
“Tonight is the night.” I said.
“Oh you’re still going?” Daisy asked.
“Of course, why wouldn’t I?”
“I don’t know, after everything that happened with you and…”
“Idella. We still want to go.”
“We?” Daisy asked confusedly.
“I want to go also. This wasn’t just her decision. She may have been the catalyst, but in the end this is what I want too.” I explained.
“But without her…” Daisy started before I interrupted.
“Without her I’d be doing the same thing every day until I die. I thought you were okay with this. Isn’t that why you gave us the gold?” I asked, frustrated that she wasn’t happy for us.
“Yes of course. I’m sorry. I’ll just miss you.” Daisy said softly.
I saw Idella at the doorway gesturing me that we need to go, “I’ll miss you too. But Idella and I really must be going.” I said in a rush.
I began making my way out when Daisy asked me to wait but I really needed to be moving so I yelled back at her, “I’ll see you again one day, don’t worry!”
I met up with Idella and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to say goodbye to her?”
“It’s fine. I don’t think she’d hear me even if I tried.” Idella said bluntly.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
“Absolutely, we are about to be free.” She said as she held my hand.

We were approaching Booker to pay when I asked Idella for her 10 gold. She had previously given me my 7 needed so I had 10 plus my father’s coin, but not her 10. “I don’t have another 10. They took it after the beating.” She said quietly.
“What the fuck do you mean?” I said incredulously in a hushed voice, “It is known by everyone. 10 per person. PER PERSON. We are going to die!”
“Trust me, I’ve spoken to Booker, 10 will work. He saw what happened to us and he wants to help.” Idella reassured.
I had never known guards to be compassionate but we were well beyond the point of no return. I was so mad with Idella she hadn’t told me sooner. The guard nodded as when we were within a few feet, “Didn’t think I’d still see you after your beating. But you’re making the right choice getting out of this shit hole.” Booker said in a gruff voice before holding out his hand.
I hesitantly gave him the bag of 10 gold and looked down at my feet. My heart was on the brink of breaking out of my ribcage when he said, “right then, follow me.”
I looked at Idella in adulation. This was really working. We followed him to a river outside the farm where a small raft was waiting for them.
“Use that raft, it’ll take you to a creek. You’ll have to get off the raft at that point. Then you have 3 choices. Follow the creek by foot to the town of Leotan, go down the main road to the capital city of Halonia or go through the forest to Gavern. You won’t be able to raft down the creek because it’ll be too shallow, but going by raft now will make sure any of Lord Frantan’s dogs don’t pick up your trail. Needless to say, don’t tell anyone I did this, firstly because they wouldn’t believe you. Secondly, because I will kill you.” He gestured to the raft, “Good luck.”
Booker returned to his post and I began to observe the raft. “This isn’t big enough for the both of us. He's fucked us.”
“What are you talking about, we can both easily fit.” Idella responded.
“Yeah, we can fit, but the weight will pull us below the water.” I exclaimed.
“And when did you become an expert on water travel? We paid him. This will be fine. Look. You sit closer to the middle, because you weigh more.” Idella explained and I sat down on the raft, “and I’ll sit here.” She got on and the raft seemed to float perfectly fine.
“Sorry, worrying about nothing I guess.” I said shaking my head.
We travelled a few hours, I slept most of it and Idella said she’d keep watch. She woke me once we hit the creek.
“So now we have our 3 choices, where should we go?” I asked.
“What about option 4?” Idella pointed to the other side of the river where the hill she pointed at the other night was. I smiled and agreed.
We climbed to the top just as the sun was rising and the moment was absolutely perfect. Her personal torch had returned to capture her beauty once more as a free woman. Then she started crying, but they didn’t seem like happy tears.
“What’s wrong?” I held her hand but she felt cold.
“You’re free.” She whispered.
I laughed, “But you are too Idella. We can go to the plays. And the tournaments. I might even dance for you.”
She shook her head.
“What do you mean Idella?”
“Cal. You need to move on.” She said in a whisper again as tears streamed down her face.
“What. Wh-what’s going on?” I couldn’t understand what she meant, and then it all hit me.
“I’m dead Cal. I died that day of the beating.” She wouldn’t make eye contact.
“What do you mean?” She wasn’t making any sense.
“The 10 gold per person. The raft. Why Daisy wasn’t seemingly talking to me. I’ve gone Cal, and your mind won’t let me go. Please let me go.” Idella pleaded.
Tears began welling up in my eyes too, “Why are you saying this? You’re there! I can see you. Who am I talking to if you’re not there!?”
“No one.” And just like that, the light of her life was snuffed out by the wind and she disappeared. I looked around frantically but saw no sign of her. What she said was true; she really was never here.
I let out a howl at the top of my lungs and fell to my knees. I sat there for a very long time. How long, I don’t know. But my story doesn’t end there. And that’s the point in the story. I hit my lowest point in my life that morning and the few days that followed. The point of this is, no matter how dark the cave is, there is always an exit. I wanted to end it all after that because of the hollow feeling in my heart. I had no idea where to go or what to do. I decided to go to Leotan because it was by the ocean. I always wanted to go to the ocean. And that got me thinking, I also always wanted to have some fresh bread. I took one step after another, completely devoid of my surroundings. If I’d been attacked by an animal or set upon by bandits I’d have welcomed death as a friend. But If life persisted then I might as well drag myself to Leotan.
It took 3 days. When in the town my senses were overwhelmed by the noises and atmosphere. People yelling trying to sell their wares, scantily dressed women winking and beckoning passing men, and burly soldiers patrolling who were twice the size of the guards at the fields. I went to a bar and sat down at one of their wooden tables. After a few moments a lady came up and croaked, “What do you want today?”
“How much is bread?” I asked.
“One gold.” She replied.
I exhaled quickly from my nose at the irony and put my father’s coin on the table.
“Wait!” An exhausted voice shouted, “that’s your father’s coin. Take this, and make it two bread.”
I could not believe my eyes. Daisy was standing in front of me panting. Least I thought it was Daisy, I couldn’t be sure after what happened with Idella. The bar maid seemed to be interacting with her so she must be real.
“What are you doing here?” I asked disbelievingly.
“You were acting weird in our last conversation, I wanted to make sure you were okay.” Daisy said with a smile. I never noticed how nice her smile was.
“I am now.”
“How did you know I’d come here of the 3 places?” I asked.
“That was easy; you always wanted to live by the ocean. I knew that for sure.”
The bar maid returned with the bread and we both devoured every little crumb. It was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life. In a weird way it made it all worth it.

I didn’t get over Idella that day, nor the next. I also didn’t know what to do with my life, but Daisy made both those things infinitely easier. I realized Daisy was there for me all along and knew me better than anyone else. She was patient and caring and the best thing that had ever happened to my life. I may have met Idella on the 12th day of Orgalwan in 919 but I met my soulmate years before that on Lord Frantan’s farm. A soulmate who provided me with two beautiful children; Etta and Cruz. It wasn’t easy, but we forged a life together; got honest, paying work and a house – by the ocean too. Not all stories have to end happily, but you often get to choose when or how your story ends, so if you aren’t happy with what chapter you are at, don’t make it your last.


 


© Copyright 2018 C.J.I McLachlan. All rights reserved.

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