I am now posting my second short story from the Seers Series. The main character of this story is the main character of the second book in the series, Talwyn Sevi. It is much shorter than the first short story I posted, but gives a glimpse into her childhood, and thus into her psyche.
LIGHT TO DARKNESS: A SEERS SHORT STORY
By Sherry Leclerc
“Tali! Try to catch me, Tali!” Sorcha called.
“Stop calling me that!” Talwyn replied. “I’m not a baby anymore. Use my grown-up name.”
“Oh, but honey, you are a baby. You are to me, anyway. You’ll be my baby for a long time yet.”
“I am eight years old, Sorcha! If I was a human, I’d be learning to hunt and fight by now.”
“But you aren’t human, a stór,” her big sister said. “And you should be grateful. Humans only let their males learn to hunt and fight.
“Then again, Edan did say that the last time he was in Westgate, the King had started training his daughter. So, there may be hope yet. Would you like me to bring you there so we can ask the king to adopt you?”
“You know what, you’re right. You are too small to be an eight-year-old human, so they will treat you even more like a baby. You would hate that. I guess adoption by the human king is out for you after all, Tali-wali.”
“Stop teasing, Sorcha! Call me Talwyn!”
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll start calling you Talwyn when you can catch me.”
Talwyn only had to think about that for one very short moment before her lips turned up in a grin, and she launched herself towards her sister. Sorcha laughed brightly as she ran around the clearing, shifting left and right to escape Talwyn’s reach as she chased her. Then she ran in and around the trees as Talwyn followed closely on her heels.
It didn’t take very long for Talwyn to catch up, however. She was one of the fastest of her age in the village. When she got to Sorcha, she tackled her, and they both tumbled to the ground in a fit of laughter.
Talwyn looked at her sister in awe as she laughed. “I wish my smile was magic like yours,” she said.
“Magic?” Sorcha asked. “What do you mean?”
“When you smile,” Talwyn explained, “it’s like sunshine. It shines so bright it lights up everything around.”
Sorcha’s smile changed at that, turning warm and sentimental rather than the merry smile of a moment ago.
“You are such a sweetheart, a stór. Never change.”
Her sister and mother often called her a stór – my treasure – as did many others in the village. She liked it. It made her feel cared for and protected.
At this appraisal and approval from her big sister, who she really looked up to, her own face broke out in a huge smile. She didn’t know if it shined as bright as Sorcha’s or not, but it sure felt like it did.
“Sorcha! Talwyn!” they heard their mother’s voice calling from the direction of their hut.
Talwyn grabbed her sister’s hand and they headed home, swinging their arms between them. When they reached their cozy little hut, their mother greeted them with a smile.
“Come,” she said. “It is time to head to the gathering place for our midday meal.”
Talwyn loved going to the gathering place for meals. It was a chance to see many of the people from the village, to get news and hear stories. It also didn’t hurt that seers considered children to be precious, so she always got a lot of attention.
“When will father be home, mama?” Talwyn asked as they walked.
Talwyn’s mother and older sister exchanged a look, and Talwyn thought she saw a flash of worry on her mother’s face before she covered it with a smile. Talwyn may be young, but she was still a seer. She usually saw the emotions that the adults tried to hide from her.
“I’m not sure when he will be back, a stór,” her mother replied. “It depends on how things go with the humans.”
Her father had gone to the human village not too far from their own to speak with the leaders there. He was one of several emissaries sent out to try to bring back peace between their peoples.
“Why don’t the humans like us, mother?” she asked.
“It’s not that they don’t like us, Tali,” her mother said. “They have been turned against us and taught to fear us by evil beings who would like to see us gone from the realm.”
“But we’re not scary at all,” Talwyn said.
“I know that, a stór, as do you and the rest of our people. But we are stronger than the humans are and have abilities that they do not. We live centuries when they live decades.”
“But that’s because we protect the realm. We have to be strong to protect the realm, right?”
“That’s true,” Sorcha said. She was walking on the other side of Talwyn. “However, the humans don’t really understand that. They did at one time, but their life spans are short, so it is not uncommon for the humans to forget what their people once knew as truth.”
“Yes, they are a young species,” her mother added. “That also makes them vulnerable to lies and manipulation, unfortunately. What we see happening now isn’t really their fault. They are being manipulated, honed into weapons by dark forces that don’t really care if they live or die, as long as they serve their purpose first.”
“That’s horrible,” Talwyn said. “Maybe we should move them into our village so we can take care of them and protect them from the evil people.”
“That’s a nice thought, Tali,” Sorcha said, “but we try not to interfere in their lives too much. We let them make their own decisions and find their own way. I just hope they choose the right path this time.”
“But the bad guys interfere,” Talwyn said, “and they don’t even care about the humans.”
“Yes, but the humans don’t realize they are being interfered with. That’s what manipulation is. The dark forces whisper in the ears of any who will listen, building on the humans’ fears and insecurities until they have them where they want them, until the humans think they came to these conclusions on their own.”
“It is so horrible,” Talwyn said just as they were arriving at the gathering place.
“Yes, it really is,” her mother agreed. “But this is not something you need to worry yourself about. Let’s go get some food and sit and eat with the others.”
Everyone had their place in seer society. There were hunters who caught or gathered the food they ate. There were those that prepared it for the whole village, there were those who made the more difficult items of clothing for the people, there were protectors who watched over them all, and there were champions who watched over the realm. Talwyn wondered what role she would take when she became an adult. She was young, yes, but she liked the idea of contributing to the whole and knowing you added something vital to the people. She looked forward to it. Sorcha would be able to choose her role soon.
They were part way through their meal, surrounded by their fellow seers, talking to those near them, when it happened.
Flann, one of the seer protectors, burst forth from the tree-line, running towards the gathering place.
“There is a large group of humans headed this way,” he said as soon as he reached them.
Many of the adults around them stood up. Concerned voices drifted over each other in the large space.
After a moment of shock, someone asked, “What do they want?”
“Well,” Flann said, “they are armed, and they look determined, perhaps angry.”
“I don’t understand why none of us foresaw the humans coming to our village,” Sorcha said.
“Maybe they only recently made that decision,” Flann suggested.
“Then why didn’t we see the possibility?” Sorcha asked.
“If the idea to come here was only thought of recently, and none of us has slept since,” her mother said, “then we wouldn’t have seen it.”
“What do we do?” another voice asked. “our elders are all out acting as emissaries, trying to bring peace back to the realm.”
“We’ll do what we do what we always said we would do,” a female voice said. “We will try to talk to them.”
“And if that doesn’t work?”
“Then we will run.”
“Why not stand and fight back?” another male voice asked.
“Because it isn’t fair to them, Conn,” the female voice responded. “We have so many advantages over them.”
Talwyn’s mother now joined in. “Let’s not forget, they are innocent in this evil plotting. They have been turned into weapons. What do you seek to destroy in a fight? The sword, or the one who wields it?”
“Well right now,” the first male said, “those who wield these weapons hide in the shadows while the humans do the dirty work. How can we strike at what we can’t see?”
“Then, as Bríd said,” her mother replied, “we will run. Even the slowest among us could outrun the fastest human with little effort.”
“Fine,” Conn said after a moment. “But all the mothers with children will stand behind us. At the first sign of trouble, you run. We will delay them as much as we can.”
“Agreed,” Bríd said.
Talwyn’s mother ushered her and her sister to the back of the crowd. Then a silence fell over them as they waited for the humans to arrive.
When they finally saw the large group coming through the trees, there was a collective gasp.
“Mommy, those big ugly things with the humans, are they demonkin?” Talwyn asked quietly.
“Yes, a stór, they are.”
“I don’t understand,” Talwyn said. “Why would humans be with demonkin?”
“Do you see that mist drifting around that demonkin’s form, Tali?” her mother asked.
“Well that means they are hiding behind an illusion,” her mother explained. “The humans don’t have true sight as we do. They don’t know they are demonkin. They look just like other humans to them.”
They stopped talking, as the humans were now close enough to speak.
“Why have you come here?” Bríd asked from the front of the crowd.
“We have come here to rid the realm of the blight that is the seers,” the large demonkin in front said.
“I see,” Bríd said. “And do your human companions know that you are an evil demonkin in disguise?”
“Lies!” another demonkin hissed from further back in the crowd.
“You see that?” the lead demonkin said, addressing the humans. “Their deceit and manipulations have begun already.”
“They are trying to divide us!” Yet another demonkin called. “Don’t listen to them!”
Peering around the adults in front of her, Talwyn noticed that there were several demonkin randomly positioned throughout the group of humans.
“We have done nothing to you,” Conn said to the humans. “We have done nothing but protect our realm.”
“Nothing but look into people’s minds, invading their privacy, you mean,” said the lead demonkin. “Nothing but play with their lives for your own amusement. We all know what you have done.”
The other demonkin yelled out their agreement, and Talwyn noticed that, this time, many of the humans joined in as well.
“Let’s just sit and discuss what you have heard,” Bríd suggested. “Maybe we can figure out where all of these stories come from.”
“We have heard enough of your lies,” the instigator said. “The time for talk is over. Now it’s time for action.
“Get them!” he yelled. The other demonkin gave an answering battle cry as they charged forward. The humans were caught up in the frenzy as well, and charged forward with the disguised demonkin.
“Run!” Talwyn’s mother yelled. She grabbed her daughters’ hands and pulled them into the forest behind them.
“Mother!” Talwyn yelled. “They’re everywhere!”
The woods all around them were peppered with demonkin and human, waiting for any runners.
“The humans we can outrun,” Sorcha said. “I’m not so sure about the demonkin.”
Talwyn’s mother picked her up and held her close to her chest. They took off through the woods together, the sounds of enemy footfalls not far behind. They weaved around trees and bushes, heading deeper and deeper into the forest.
“We can’t shake them,” Sorcha said, glancing over her shoulder. “Mother, take Talwyn. Run as fast as you can. Hide her somewhere. I will try to divert them.”
“No, Sorcha!” Talwyn cried, reaching for her sister. Sorcha grabbed her hand and kissed it quickly. “I love you, a stór,” she said, and then she was gone.
Talwyn and her mother ran through the woods, her mother holding onto her tightly. Tree branches and leaves took turns flashing by in a blur or hitting them as her mother ran as fast as she could. After some time, her mother placed her on the ground and started digging underneath an outcropping of rock.
“Here Talwyn,” her mother said, taking her by the hand. “I want you to hide in here. No matter what you hear, don’t move. Don’t make a sound. Do you understand.?”
Talwyn was scared. She didn’t understand what was happening. She didn’t want to leave her mother. Why were those people chasing them? They didn’t do anything wrong! Tears streaked down her cheeks.
“Do you understand?” her mother asked again.
She nodded at her mother, who then placed her underneath the outcropping and started placing rocks and twigs in front of her hiding place. It got darker and darker as her mother gave her more cover. When there was nothing left but a little sliver of light, her mother leaned in and looked her in the eye. “I love you Tali. Never forget.” Then everything went dark.
She heard the sound of her mother’s footfalls as she ran away, and the sound of more footfalls pursuing her. Her mother managed to lead them a short distance away from her hiding place, but Talwyn’s people had excellent senses. So, even though her hands were clamped tightly down over her ears, Talwyn could still hear the sounds of weapons striking, of people screaming. Could still feel the fear that maybe their attackers would be able to see her in her hiding spot.
“Stop, please! Don’t hurt her. Please, I will do whatever you want, just don’t hurt her!” It was her mother’s voice. Talwyn was very young, but she still understood that her mother was pleading for her sister’s life.
Why are those people hurting them? She thought. Why won’t they stop?
Talwyn wanted so desperately to go to her family. She didn’t dare move, however, because her mother had hidden her here, her sister had sacrificed herself to draw the humans away from her. She needed to honor their sacrifices.
It seemed like such a long time until the screams and sounds of violence stopped. Even then she waited, afraid to come out too soon from her hiding place. She was afraid the humans might still be there, ready to grab her and hurt her too.
Once, she dared to open her eyes to peek out around the rocks and greenery that hid her, trying to see if the coast was clear. What she saw, however, across the clearing, was blood, splattered on the ground, and the lifeless forms of the people she loved. So, she squeezed her eyes tight again and stayed like that, shivering, as night fell.
Eventually, she heard footsteps, and she huddled closer to the back of her hiding place. Then, a familiar voice called out to her.
“Talwyn Sevi, come here, child,” the kind male voice said. There was some noise as the man moved the items that had kept her hidden and reached in for her. “You are safe now. Come, I will take you home.”
Home, she thought. My home is my family, and they are gone. I have no home.