Astelbania Chronicles: Nothing is Easy

Falina stood, one hand on her back as she straightened up and pushed the hair from her sweat-slicked face with her other hand.

Taking a deep breath of fresh air, she eyed the berries hanging in the bushes surrounding the glen in the vale that they were in. Reaching up to scratch her head, she wondered why that thought made her want to write a children's story. Shaking her head, she pushed the thought away from her conscious thought and reached out to pick from the heavy branches again.

In the last two months that they had been here her training had been going well. At least Bahl had said it was going fairly well. She no longer ached with every movement, her staff work was getting better and her running would be getting better if Bahl would stop adding stones to her pack every time she made a small improvement.

All in all the days had fallen into routine. Rise before dawn, train, cook, eat, train, hunt, cook, eat, train, etc. Bahl keeping a tight rein on her the whole time.

This morning's training had been over for some time and it was Bahl's turn to cook. He  had, however, sent her out to pick berries to add to the porridge that was bubbling on the hearth.

She had long stopped pestering Bahl for information on exactly what he had meant when talking about her being the El'Cairn's heir. After the announcement he had clammed up tight and she had not been able to pry one thing more from him. Eventually she had given up in disgust and let it lie. He would tell her in his own good time. She just hoped that time came before she was on her death bed.

A snort behind her broke into her thoughts and she turned quickly still bent over to see a pair of black, beady eyes staring at her. Following the natural line of sight, she saw two sharp, pointed tusks resting just above a slavering, dripping mouth.

For a long moment the two looked at each other before the spell was broken. In that next instant, the boar charged and Falina threw herself to the side, rolling over and into the bushes she had been picking berries from.

Scrambling to her hands and knees, she looked over her shoulder to where the boar had skidded to a stop and was turning around for another try at her.

Falina sprung from a kneeling position to a running sprint like a wound coil, the coppery tang of fear in her mouth.

She could hear the boar behind her and knew he was already right behind her. The cabin was off in the distance but still far enough away that she knew she would never make it. Not in time.

Refusing to look back, imagining it's hot, fetid breath on the back of her heels, she searched wildly in her mind for something to do. Something that would get her out of a fatal goring. Before it could light on any idea, she felt the ground beneath her feet give way and saw it rise up to greet her.

With an oomph of pain, she fell and rolled her training kicking in without her even realizing it. Looking up from her position flat on her back, she saw that the wild boar was almost on her.

Her hand lashed out for anything close at hand and wrapped around a thick branch that was just a little thicker than her training staff.

Whipping it up and around in front of her, she braced her arms just in time to meet the fury of the animal who had chased  her this whole way. Instinctively her legs came up, catching the bottom half of the boar and lifting him up and over her, then continuing their upward arc until she was once again on her feet.

Hunched, one hand on the ground and the other on her make-shift staff, Falina turned to look at her opponent who was laying by a large boulder, not moving.

Breathing  hard, she didn't dare move from the spot she was in, her body tense as she waited for the animal to scramble up and try another charge.

Bahl and Axym were sitting out back of the cabin, both with pipes in hand watching the sun get higher in the sky.

"She's a bit late." Axym commented blowing rings of smoke into the air.

"Aye," Bahl chased his smoke rings after Axym's

"Do ya think she's come to any trouble?"

"Probably. It tends to follow her no matter where she goes."

"Do ya think we ought not to go see if she's okay?"

"She's got to learn sometime. Better now than later."

All talk stopped as a figure wandered into view at the edge of the clearing the cabin was seated in.

In silence both men watched as Falina's shape went from dim outline to clear solid, female form.

She was ragged, her hair in wild disarray with leaves and sticks sticking out of it everywhere.

Purple berry splotches covered her face, neck, arms and clothing and one leg of her tunic was ripped from ankle to mid thigh a gash showing along the opening with crusting blood matting both material and skin.

She grunted as she dragged something behind her and it was a little bit before they could see that it was a large wild boar.

Falina stopped in front of them and dropped her burden. One look and Bahl could tell that the boar had had it's neck broken. He looked from it to Falina with mild curiosity.

"I thought you were told to bring berries for breakfast."

"Change of plans." Her eyes dared him to ask her to go back for the berries."


Falina turned to go into the cabin.

"Where are you going?"


"And who, exactly is supposed to gut and clean this?"

His only answer was the slamming of the cabin door.

The End

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