When the Darkness Comes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

A woman with a secret...

Ashira Okrane has always been the outcast. Shunned from the only society she has never known, she lives with a crazed woman at the edge of the village, dreaming of getting away from the everyday hatred. Academy, home, and over again; that is the sole life she has known. But when a group of strangers come to her village, her life is turned upside down.

***This is a snippet of something I was working on. It has been discontinued for now.

The forest is quiet, knowing a hunter is present.  Still, the deer eats the tender grass of spring, its ears flicking back and forth to catch the tiniest of sounds.  Crouched beneath the brush, her eyes don’t leave her target.  With skill, she draws back her arm, lining up the shot.  A wind blows, bringing the scent of the doe and rain with it.  She breathes easily, patiently until the right shot is aligned.  One breath in, another out, she continues in this slow pattern.

Ready, she draws the bow back more, the wood creaking in protest.  The doe lifts her head, knowing danger is near, searching for it.  Her regal face turns, spots the woman, and braces to run.  The fingers loosen, the arrow getting ready to rocket forward, when a new sound echoes through the forest.

Loud and uneven, it carries a tone of frustration and annoyance.  “Ashira!”

The arrow goes wide, missing its target and imbedding itself into the tree beyond.  The deer leaps away, crashing through the underbrush loudly, glad to have escaped.  Her name continues to be yelled, loud enough to wake the dead.  Frustrated, Ashira stomps across the clearing and uses both hands and a foot to yank the shaft out of the oak.  Arrow in hand, she shouts a response, green eyes flashing with anger. 

“I almost had it, Granny,” she says when she stalks onto the porch.  The older woman stands in the doorway of the house, hands on hips, apron stained.  A wrinkled, aged face scowls at her young charge, her half blind eyes pinning the young woman in spot on the steps.

“You’re supposed to be in school.”  Wiping her hands on her apron, she returns inside, knowing Ashira would follow.  The scent of baking bread fills the tiny house, mingling with the stew that has been simmering since the night before.  Curious, the younger female steps towards the pot on the stove, before yanking her hand back.

While her hands still stings from the impact, the wooden spoon is waved back and forth.  “Get to school, or it’ll be no rabbit stew for you tonight.”

With a groan, Ashira heads towards her room, stopping halfway there to check herself in the mirror.  She frowns at the reflection in the mirror.  With vigorous snatches, she yanks the comb through the straight tresses, leaves and twigs blended in with the earthen brown. 

“You look beautiful, as always.”  Appearing behind her, Granny begins pulling leaves and twigs out, snickering all the while before taking over the brush.  “If you’d put your hair up like I taught you, and line your eyes with a little make-up, you’d think so too.”

Rolling her eyes, Ashira shouldered her way out of the bathroom.  In the comfort of her room, she slams the door and throws herself on her bed.  Staring up at the plain ceiling, she listened to her granny puttering around in the kitchen, talking to herself.  Pots and pans bang together, an uneven song breaking through in quiet spots.  With a heavy sigh, Ashira pushes herself up from the bed and steps towards her closet. 

Inside, rack after rack of colorful, rainbow arrayed clothes take up the majority of her shelves.  Blues, pinks, purples; all of them unworn, with the tags still attached.  On the top shelf, where she knows Granny cannot reach, she pulls down the stack and picks up what falls to the floor.  Black pants, loose-fitting and made of soft, but durable material get thrown onto the bed first, followed by a long-sleeved shirt of the same cloth.  She contemplates between two tank tops, both in dark gray, before pulling out her bra and socks.  She takes her time getting dressed, tucking in the tank snuggly before belting the black utility belt as far as it would go.  She throws her hair up in a sloppy, no nonsense ponytail before pulling on the only splash of color she wears.

The dark red coat was a gift from Granny a couple years ago.  Made of the same material as her pants, its back is embroidered with the image of a white wolf with red eyes.  Drawn instantly to the image, the clothing item as become Ashira’s favorite, and most worn.

Her flat soled boots tap against the wooden floor, the knee length hem of the coat flaring out behind her.  On her way through the kitchen, she snags a roll from the bowl, kissing her granny on the cheek before stepping out.


The streets are lined with red, the color everywhere.  Flower arrangements of crimson and white rest in pots wrapped in burgundy ribbon.  Massive bows adorn the light posts, the blood-colored hue garish against the light of the day.  Everywhere she looks, she sees the color, shades lighter than her own coat.

The shops and market square has been closed up tight, word spreading quicker than wildfire.  Eyes peer out from behind cracked doors and peeled back curtains, watching to see when the coast is clear.  Some slam the doors as she passes, locking them audibly.  Mothers who were caught up in their shopping quickly turn their children away, shielding them from Ashira’s line of sight.  Keeping her eyes downcast, she slinks down the road in silences, hands in her pockets, trying hard to ignore the sounds of life that suddenly flare back to life behind her.

Ahead, the four stories of the Academy loom above her, the brick building boasting its name on the wall.  On one side of the academy the court yard can be seen, white clad trainees moving with grace and agility as their go about their practices.  As she nears, some stop to stare and whisper, pointing at her and sneering.  Their sensei’s yell at them to continue, and they do, but their eyes never leave Ashira’s form, even as they punch and kick at their invisible opponents. 

Inside, the building shows nothing of its plain, drab appearance outside.  The walls, painted in a creamy off white, are adorned with framed photographs of preview classes.  It rises all the way up to the ceiling, four stories high, a tribute to the students that have wondered the halls before.

“Miss Rishi, you are late.”  The stern woman sitting at the desk inside the office glares over the tops of her wing tipped eyeglasses.  She stacks the papers she was filing to the side, and begins typing words into the computer.  “This is your fourth time this month, and your eighteenth time this year, and we’re not even half way into the semester.  Young lady, if you don’t tighten up, your hopes of becoming a cook will be less than none…”

Ashira tunes out the chatter, watching out the window as a sensei patiently teach a younger charge how to punch right.She imagines that it is her, feeling her muscles bunch and move as she learns the proper techniques of fighting.  Instinctively, her breathing slows, her mind already forming the movements in her psyche.  Her body tenses for the rush of adrenaline, the power that would come from the sudden thrust of power.  Her fists bunch, drawn, ready to throw the hit, and-

“Here you go, Miss Rishi.”  She jumps back as the slip of paper if practically shoved beneath her nose. The yellow paper and sloppy writing laugh at her as she feels her dreams slip back into their lock box.  “Try not to be late again.”

As she turns to walk away, she can’t help but hear the last part of the secretary’s words.  “Though I wish you’d just stay gone.”

Having hardened herself against such claims, Ashira walks up two flights of stairs, thankful that classes are in.  Halfway down the hall, she spies a young couple tangled together in an alcove, their passion heated in the shadows.  As she nears, they unlock, thinking she’s a teacher, before catching the sight of her jacket.  Their lips curl up in disgust, their eyes holding a strange light of hate within their depths as she passes by.  She feels the sting of their eyes on her back long after she turns the corner.

It has always been that way, the people of Kuna showing one degree or another of loathing towards her.  For as long as she can remember, parents would turn their children away from her as she and Granny walk through the market, and in turn, the children grew up learning to fear and hate her as much as their parents.  Why, Ashira never knew.  As a young child, she tried to be kind and smart, making straight As all through class and always being the one to help out when volunteer work was needed.  But as she grew older, things changed.  Teachers no longer began to hold her high in their eyes.  Students shunned her, often bullying her and calling her names.  As the years bore on, Ashira grew immune to their taunts, even as a few of the teachers looked on in pity.  No one ever helped, or came to her aid.  Except…

“Good morning, Ashira,” the calm, male voice spoke from a darkened room across from her own class.  Abandoning the door, she walked across the linoleum, stepping into the doorway.  “You do know you are late, right?”

“Yes, Master Misae.”  Flicking on the light, she smiles at the man in the swivel chair.  His black hair tinged with gray, he lights up a cigarette and tosses the match into the ash tray.  “And you were supposed to quit smoking.”

His rough laughter fills the air, “Well what can I say?  It’s a habit.”

He waves his hands away from him, shooing her off kindheartedly.She smiles, returning to class.  The teacher never looks up from her lesson as Ashira walks in, but the students all turn to glower.  Whispers spread across the room, papers rustling and coughs of laughter filtering up.

“Today’s lesson,” the teacher says loudly, “will be on the history of Kuna.  Can someone tell me what happened twenty-one years ago today?”

The students all sit silently, before three hands rise up.  One waves excitedly, as if she just won a grand prize, while another simply sits in the air, patiently, not caring whether or not he is called on.  The third, dirt smudged, peeked out beneath the hem of a red coat.  “Tamari?”

The hyper-active hand slaps down onto the desk.  The blonde haired, blue eyed female gives a triumphant smile to her competitors before facing Mrs. Hann for answering.  “Twenty-one years ago, the Demon Wolf attacked out village.  Hundreds of warriors perished in the battle, before our brave leader, a man known as Richen, sacrificed his own life to save the village.  The demon monster died, and no sign of them was seen since.”

“Very good, as usual, Tamari,” the gray-haired woman smiles widely.  “Today we will not be following our usual lesson plan.  Instead, we will be heading down into the training yard for a presentation by the Historical Society.  You young men and women I believe will learn a great deal from this presentation today, so make sure you pay attention and stay quiet.  Now, out you all go.”

As the class storms out the door in excited chatter, the teacher’s voice leaks out of the clamor of laughter and voices.  “Not you, Ashira.  I need to talk to you.”

Slumping against one of the desks, Ashira watched with dead eyes as the class files out one by one.  Arms crossed, she glares at Mrs. Hann once alone.  “This is your nineteenth tardy this semester, Miss. Rishi.  You realize you’re on the road to failing, right?”

“And?”  Ashira’s attention goes to the outer window, watching the clouds in the distance.

“And, if you fail, you won’t have a job caste to go into.  A chef is the lowest job we offer here.  All you have to do is show up, and cook what is on the recipe card.  It’s not a hard job, compared to most we offer here.”  Walking around the desk, Ashira notices that her teacher’s limp is very clear today.  “Will you pour me some tea, dear, and hand me my medicine?  I’m afraid this leg is throwing quite a fit today.”

Not knowing what else to do, she complies, pouring up the sweet scented liquid, and reaching for the pills on the table beside it.  Distributing them, her gaze is drawn to the skin now showing beneath Mrs. Hann’s tan skirt.  The skin is mottled and uneven, scarred badly.  “What happened?”

“Akasha, happened.”  Throwing back the tea and medicine, the woman rubs at the terrifying memory of that nightmarish night.  “We had her cordoned off, away from the village.  One of our brethren went down, and I went in to help him.  She saw me, and I wasn’t fast enough.  Ripped me up by the leg, she did.  Broke my bone in two places, shattered my ankle, and ripped through my skin as easy as butter.”

Easing into the desk, blue eyes locked on Ashira’s green ones.  Within them, they held a form of light, of knowledge, that scared Ashira, who could only imagine what that night had been like.  “It was Akasha, you know, that took your granny’s husband that night.  Took my brother, too, and my uncle.  Never underestimate a demon, Ashira.  For even when you think she might be beaten, she can still rise up against you.”

The glare in those sapphire eyes had the student backing out the door.  Disturbed, Ashira turned and walked quickly down the hallway.  She didn’t head towards the training field, instead, stepping straight through the exit of the Academy and walking down the road.  She didn’t care where she was going, as long as it was away from the school.


Submitted: August 23, 2013

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