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Iris and the Silver Mage 1

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Iris and the Silver Mage 1

Postby SerinitysChild » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:43 am

Chapter 1

Silver-maple leaves whisper excitedly in the morning breeze, rustling with joy at the sight of mother and daughter foraging beneath over reaching oak branches laden by pale green acorns with tan caps. Deeper in the forest, ancient hemlock trees wait patiently for their turn to present this years harvest. Day flowers open early and close late in the hopes that their beauty will be seen and enjoyed.

“Iris? Iris Ironforge, stop dilly dallying with those sprites and bring your basket here.” Morningsong Ironforge, Iris’ mother calls to her daughter as she looks up from her herb gathering to see her daughter deep in conversation with a tiny pulsating spark of light.

“Coming mother,” calls the young girl and then returns her attention to the sprite queen who’s been instructing her in the rudiments of sprite magic.
“Best do as your mother says Iris. There’ll always be another day to learn the Petal Song.” Yellow Rose watches as the child gathers the fresh herbs she’s collected and places them carefully in her basket. With a final wave, the girl rushes to her mother’s side and shows her the various plants she’s gathered.
Morningsong smiles down on her daughter as the child places various stems and leaves in her mother’s basket after correctly naming them. With each bundle of plants Iris explains the various medicinal properties of the plant and how they can be combined with other plants.

From the age of three summers to her current age of seven summers, Iris wandered the forests and meadows beside her mother, gathering the plants needed to cure the ills of their village. With each passing year Iris’ knowledge of plants expands dramatically. Her mother is constantly amazed at her daughter’s ability to diagnose an illness and then correctly recommend a combination of herbs to cure it. In a few more years the child’s abilities with herbal medicines will exceed those of her mother. When that time comes Morningsong knows it will be time to apprentice her daughter to someone who is better qualified to teach her. Until then she’ll enjoy the moments they share, even if it does mean sharing some of those moments with sprites.

“Now Iris, can you tell me what Meadow Tuft is used for?” Morningsong waits for her daughter’s answer as she’s never explained the herb’s usage to her.
Iris wrinkles her brow and then says, “Meadow Tuft is mashed into a pulp and used to cover wounds keeping the bad things out. It’s also boiled with Elf Tassel and Feather Weed, cooked until it’s a paste and used as a soap to wash the clothes of a sick person and the hands of those who’ve handled that person’s clothes.”

“Very good,” Morningsong says. “Now, tell me who told you?”

Looking bashfully at her hands which are clasped tightly in her lap, Iris replies, “Yellow Rose.”

“Well,” the girl’s mother says with a smile touching her eyes. “It seems your sprite friends are of more use than I’d have imagined. Tell me, are they the reason you’ve learned so quickly about plants and their uses?”

“Yes ma’am,” Iris says as a deep blush touches her cheeks. “Usually, after you’ve told me about a plant, one of them will tell me about other uses for it. It’s like Briar Bane. You told me it is used for a skin rash and Little Gooseberry told me it’s also used as a ward against the fuzz that grows in darkness. She called it mold. Is that the right name, mold?”

“While I’ve never heard of it being used for that purpose, I suppose it could be. I know that if Briar Bane is placed in a well box with food, the food doesn’t spoil as quickly. Now, what can you tell me about Fox Glow?” Morningsong listens with half an ear as Iris explains the many uses of the poison while the other half hears a tiny voice wondering just how the art of healing could be advanced with the help of the forest sprites.

When Iris is done with her explanation, Morningsong nods her head and smiles, saying, “Well done. Now, let’s get home and hang our herbs to dry. Once that’s done it’ll be time to fix supper for your father and brothers.”

Bright sunlight casts dark shadows around their feet as they move from forest to field and then on to hard packed dirt that makes up the road leading to their village. As mother and daughter walk barefooted down the road, Morningsong’s mind wanders down other lanes. In her mind’s eye she can still see the first time she’d gone further than the edge of the forest.


********



Years before Morningsong had married, she’d left her village with her mother and brothers making the ten day pilgrimage to the west and the city by the lake. Tradition and law dictated that every child must make that pilgrimage to be counted by the king’s taxmen in Westbend. Once their names had been entered onto the tax rolls Morningsong’s mother rented a room at an inn and had then taken her children to explore the city.

Shops with fancy cloth stood next to other shops with shiny metal cutlery. Across the street bakers displayed their breads on one side of their doorway and their pies on the other side of the doorway. While her brothers gazed longingly at metal spades and heavy iron hoes, Morningsong stands before the window of an apothecary, nearly drooling over the sight of unknown herbs and poultice. Her mother watches as her daughter touches the glass above first one bit of leaves and then spies another bundle of a different kind of leaf unknown to her.

The shop keeper steps out of his door and looks down on the young girl and asks if she knows the names of the plants she’s staring at. Morningsong hated to admit her ignorance of their names. Taking a deep breath she lets it out and then admits she doesn’t know the plants names.

Chuckling, the store owner kneels beside the girl and points to the various medicinal herbs, giving each its name and usage. When he’s done he asks her to repeat their names and usage to him which Morningsong does. Impressed with the girl’s ability to remember so many names and uses, he calls her mother over and has a quiet conversation with her.

After a week of sightseeing, Morningsong and her siblings followed their mother home to the village of Birchwood. Since then she’d been no further than the heart of the forest north of the village. However, when spring’s warmth brought bright flowers to the fruit trees a traveling herbalist visited the village staying until fall’s harvest was safely stored.

For the next six years the herbalist stayed in the village from the first of spring until late in the fall. When Morningsong reached the age of marriage, the herbalist pronounced her apprenticeship over and that she was now a fully trained herbalist.

Morningsong’s education of herbs and poultices was augmented by the occasional passing healer taking the time to instruct her in the various arts of healing. Many of the villagers and their livestock owed the young woman more than just their livelihoods. They owed her their lives.

When she married the blacksmith’s son, the newlyweds moved into the old abandon healer’s house, fixing the leaking roof and re tamping the floor. Gifts from grateful neighbors furnished the house and as time passed, the healer and her blacksmith husband expanded the house by adding new rooms for their four children.

Morningsong and her husband Skyrock know that eventually they’ll have to make the pilgrimage to add their children to the tax rolls.

********

Soft yellow light falls from the windows of the village houses as the sun slips behind the foothills. From out of the forest a whippoorwill calls liltingly into the gathering darkness. A final call from a mother quail to her young settles them for the night. On the limbs of the old forest giants, sprites gather in small family groups and share stories of their day while they dine on fresh berries. Above them, the smallest of Tandor’s three moons sails across a starlit sky, shedding its yellow light across the land.

Skyrock turns to his wife Morningsong and says, “I think it’s time to make the pilgrimage my love. Iris is old enough for the journey. The boys are nearly man-sized grown and will soon be finding wives of their own.”

Morningsong looks across the sturdy hickory table at her husband and then slowly nods her head. “I agree. We also need to see if there’s a journeyman herbalist that can be persuaded to visit our village and train Iris. She’s learned most of what I can teach her and even the sprites are hard pressed to teach her more.”

Frown lines crease Skyrock’s forehead while he stirs tiny bits of bread crust missed when the table was cleared of the dinner dishes. Finally he sighs and looks back up at his wife asking her, “You don’t think her learning so quickly is a cause for alarm?”

Morningsong grins at him and shakes her head saying, “Ironfist learned to forge metal before he was a handful of years old. Oakbreaker could chop and clear a tree bigger than he could wrap his arms around before he was old enough for his head to clear the table’s top. Even our little Runningmoss could find and bring home stray herd animals before he was old enough to be away from the village by himself.”

Smiling fondly at memories of their children, healer and blacksmith reach across their table and hold hands, enjoying the same warmth of hearth and home they felt when they married.

“They grow up so fast,” Skyrock says as he releases Morningsong’s hands and gathers the crumbs into his calloused right hand. Standing and walking across the kitchen floor he opens the window above the sink and tosses the crumbs out for any wandering animal to find and eat. Closing the window again he holds out his hand for his wife to take.

“Very well, we’ll look for a journeyman herbalist while we’re in the city. But until then, she’ll just have to put up with your aging memory.”
“You’ll pay for the crack,” Morningsong says as she jumps up from her chair and chases him out of her kitchen and into their bedroom, laughing at his mock fear of her retaliation.

Two weeks later, when the three moons of Tandor play tag in the night’s sky, Iris and her brothers find sleep difficult. Tomorrow the family is making the pilgrimage to Westbend along with half a dozen other families.

Iris stands at her window, looking out on a sleeping village. Yellow, silver and pale white light from the various moons create a kaleidoscope of shifting shadows.

Looking up at the larger of the moons, the one that cast silver light over the world, the girl wonders aloud, “Will Westbend be as exciting as mother says it was when she was a girl, or will it just be a larger version of Birchwood? Oh moons, I wish I could see it now. Waiting a whole week to get there is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Near midnight Iris finally falls asleep and dreams of great castles that float in the air and mighty winged beasts that fly from one castle to another. Below the castles she can see great armies gathered for war. As she tosses and turns in her bed a ghostly hand reaches through the wall and touches her forehead, soothing her dreams and allowing her peaceful sleep.

Withdrawing her hand from the child’s head, the goddess of forests and meadows frowns and turning says to her mate, “Such a young child shouldn’t be dreaming of future events. See if you can find the one who sent those dreams and teach them some manners.”

Morning’s light brings excited chatter from both children and parents as they gather to make the pilgrimage. Before the families leave on their journey, a cloud of sprites descends on them. Flower petals and small fruits are stuffed into open pockets as the sprites bid them ‘safe journey’.

Never in the memory of the villagers have the sprites ever gifted those who are about to make the pilgrimage. Morningsong looks at her daughter and knows why this time the sprites have broken their silence. On Iris’ right shoulder the sprite she calls Yellow Rose sits regally, no longer a spark of light, but a fully formed female. The sprite is no taller than Morningsong’s extended hand from the tip of her middle finger to her wrist.

Blushing a bit and looking longingly at her mother, Iris asks her, “Yellow Rose wants to know if it’s all right for her and a few other sprites to accompany us on our journey.”

Morningsong looks at Skyrock who shrugs his wide shoulders, as if to say, ‘why not’.

“Very well,” Morningsong says. “Maybe they’ll keep you and the other children entertained.” Suddenly she laughs and adds, “Besides, I’d be mightily surprised if the city people of Westbend have ever seen sprites before.”
More rampant silliness.
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Re: Iris and the Silver Mage 1

Postby Ariel » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:59 pm

What a lovely story. Have you written more? :)
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Re: Iris and the Silver Mage 1

Postby waytanblee » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:57 am

I like their names and the sprites, I think it is a fresh perspective on a story idea. :D Well done, you write well enough to be read. Keep going!
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Re: Iris and the Silver Mage 1

Postby LoganC. » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:23 pm

Good job. I like your ideas and the way you seem to be already foreshadowing important events, and the difference between the main character and the normal people.

I do have a few question for you, though. Is the present tense a stylistic choice for this story, or just your preffered method of writing? I personally find the 3rd person past tense easier for me to write in. If this is an intentional choice, I would recommend moving the flashback scene a bit further in, maybe to morningsong daydreaming during their trip. It takes a bit to get used to reading in present tense, and switching to the more familiar past tense for the flashback, then back to present for the rest may be a bit too jarring until the readers settle into your style.

I however have starnge tastes, and am just getting started in critiquing others' work and having mine critiqued in return. This is all just my personal opinion.

Thanks for sharing your story,
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