Asher’s father peaked out the window worriedly, as her mother frantically helped Asher up into the Attic crawl space. “Be very quiet, no matter what happens.” Her mother told her. Asher stayed motionless as she was left alone in the dark. Light came through the floor of the attic but only slightly. She pressed her face to the floor, able to make out a few things below her. Her father looked back at her mother, saying something just before three men in white barged through their door.
Asher’s father stood protectively in front of her mother. One of the men approached and talked to her father. She could only see the back of her father’s head and the man’s face was covered in a white hood. Next thing she knew her mother was screaming and her father fell back. The man in white stood over her father holding a bloody dagger. He looked up at my mother, approaching slowly.
“Asher! Asher, wake up!” Asher came to, Ava leaning over her with a worried expression. Her body was drenched in sweat. “I am fine.” She said. “Just another nightmare.” Ava insisted she sit up slowly, as she ordered Marcus to get a fire ready to heat up some tea leaves. Asher felt better after the tea, and the three of them started packing up camp. Asher couldn’t fully shake off the dream though, remembering the lifeless face of her father staring up at the ceiling of the attic she was in.
After the camp was packed and they were again moving down the road, Marcus informed them they were only a few miles away from the port city of Havent, whee the guild he kept talking about was located. Asher still wasn’t sure about this whole adventure and the change her life has underwent. Everything was moving so fast. Just four days ago she was waking up in her bed like she did every day. Now she was sleeping in wagons and in the dirt, travel worn. Marcus promises comfortable rooms and warm food when they reach the guild.
As they grew closer to the city the climate changed more and more. Asher could taste the salt in the air as they neared the ocean. She has never been anywhere near to the ocean, and from what Ava and Marcus tell her it is quite beautiful. Though the thought of a large expanse of water stretching out for as far as the eye could see was overwhelming and even a little scary, it was also exciting to Asher.
“This is it!”Marcus yelled out, stirring Asher from her thoughts. “The last hill before we reach Havent.” Marcus quickened his pace, excitement filling his face for the first time. He looked slightly younger and less worn as he reached the top of the hill. Asher hurried her pace behind him, hoping to see the ocean as well as Havent. When she reached the top of the hill her breath caught. The view was astounding. The port city of Havent was built in a valley with mountain ranges on its northern and southern borders, with the ocean to the west. They were coming in from the east, the only way to the city by land, unless you were crazy enough to try and face the natural defense of the mountain peaks.
Even from this distance, Asher could tell how much difference there was from what she was used to. Her town could be swallowed ten times over by Havent with room left. In the center of the town was a large chapel, and canals ran through out the city emptying out in the ocean. Boats and ships alike filled the harbor. Marcus was pointing to the southern edge of the city, along the mountain range where a lone building stood separated from the city by a canal and huge garden. This was the guild headquarters, the end to their journey. Or just the beginning Asher thought. There was more energy in their steps as the walked down the hill toward the city gates.
The guards at the gate barely gave them a glance as they entered the city. People were coming and going, bumping into one another as they went about their errands. The city streets were busy and crowded. Asher felt suffocated. She kept close to Ava, holding her hand tightly so not to get separated. When they neared the guild headquarters the crowd thinned out, and she was able to breath easier. “The general populace of the city doesn’t come near the guild.” Marcus told them. “They much rather keep their distance and pretend its not here. They see us as little more than hired swords, though that is far from what we do.”
The garden outside the guild building was breath taking. There was hedges of all different shapes and several different colors of flowers. Benches were set at different intervals along the pathways. One Asher noticed was right under a tree’s shade, over looking the sea. There was a rose bush right next to the bench. It was a beautiful spot.
"Come, let's get inside." Marcus said. "The common room should be mostly cleared out by now, so we can get a warm meal in relative peace."
Entering the guild building's common room, Asher looked around. There were many tables filling the room, and a bar on the far side. There was a cleared area to the left with targets on the wall. The targets and the wall itself had many holes from things being thrown. The cleared floor was an area for wrestling Asher noted, since two figures were currently fighting with one another on the ground.
Marcus headed quickly across the room and to the bar, ordering two ales and watered wine along with three soups from the bar maid. She greeted Marcus and quickly brought them their drinks and soup. Sitting at the bar Asher ate her food slowly. Few people were in the room, most sitting together drinking and playing some card game. Some would steal stares at the bar but Marcus and Ava paid them no heed. When he finished his ale and food, Marcus told the bar maid they needed to speak with the guild master. She left and headed up stairs, returning a few minutes later followed by a man dressed in the white and black of a butler. "This way sir." He said to Marcus.
The butler lead them to the second story and down a long hallway until they entered a sitting room outside two large wooden doors. Ava asked Asher to wait for them here as they went inside to talk with the guild master. While she waited, the butler brought Asher some fruit. She wasn't really hungry after sipping on the soup earlier, but she thanked the butler and grabbed a piece to nibble on. Biding the time while Marcus and Ava were in the other room, Asher studied the art on the wall. Most depicted some grand adventure, usually with a hero saving the day, but one in the corner was a woman in a field of flowers.
Marcus and Ava came out of the guild master's office. Ava had decided to sign up for a job, and once completed would become an official member of the guild. Marcus was to go with her leaving Asher to stay in the room given to her and Ava while they were gone. "I don't like this." Asher told Ava while they were putting their things up in their room.
"I know, but it is necessary. To be a part of this guild and gain their protection I must complete this job. I should only be gone for a week, two at the most." Ava put her arm Asher, letting her rest her head on her shoulder. "Time will pass quickly and I will be back before you know it. In the meantime I have arranged for you to be taught basic self defense by one of the guild members. It is past time that I should be getting around to that." Ava told Asher how her instructor would meet her outside in the garden at first light in two days. Ava was leaving in the morning so Asher would be left with one entire day with out anything to do.
With all her things put away, and Ava having to discuss plans with Marcus, Asher decided to get familiar with the guild building starting with the outside gardens. She quickly found herself heading to the shade tree over looking the sea. Leaning against the trunk of the tree, Asher stared out toward the ocean.
"I see I'm not the only one to think this is a wonderful spot." A voice said behind her. Asher was startled and turned around quickly. Two boys were approaching her. One was tall and broad, with short brown hair down. He had a friendly smile. The other was short and thin, keeping a straight face. His curly black hair reached down to his chin, cover some of his face in shadow. His dark hazel eyes looked at her and the surroundings with a quiet intelligence.
"I am sorry for startling you." The brown haired boy said as he reached Asher. "I am Loklin, and my friend here is named Malkere." Asher introduced herself in response as the two boys sat down closer to the edge of the cliff over looking the sea. The three of them sat there for a time, Malkere and Loklin talking quietly among themselves and Asher feeling like an awkward third wheel. Loklin kept trying to involve her in conversations, but with her being unfamiliar with people and places in Havent she wasn’t always able to follow.
When the sun was setting Asher excused herself to head back to her room. Before she left the gardens, she looked back at the two young men. Loklin was laughing about something facing toward the city. The setting sun was lighting his goodnatured face. Asher couldn’t help but think he was kind of cute. Blushing she looked away from him and at Malkere, meeting his gaze. His eyes locked on to hers. His stoic face was framed in shadow. Slightly unnerved Asher turned around abruptly breaking the gaze and rushed inside with out looking back a second time. The memory of his quiet eyes stayed in the back of her mind, making sleep difficult.