#31DaysOfWriting: Rewriting Destiny
The Healer & The Warrior
“Tell me about him,” Willow said. “About Heyrah.”
Poppy stared into the fire and thought a moment. “He is gentle, almost like a grandfather, and, despite his older age, he is nothing like an Elder.” Here Poppy scrunched up her face. Neither Willow nor Poppy were fond of the Elders and avoided them unless there was a mandatory ceremony that required them to be in close proximity to the Elders. “He is witty and extremely wise.”
“In what way is he wise?”
“He holds much knowledge of the histories of the villages and of our people, but he also has a wider knowledge, of the realms beyond our villages. He has been there and he has seen some of the lore that we have only heard about through the Elders and in our learning.”
“What kind of things has he seen?” Willow found herself deeply curious. “Places? People? Creatures?”
“Yes, all of them and more. I would bet he has stories to share that would keep our heads spinning and our minds whirling for quite some time,” Poppy told her. “Far more than the tired tales that the Elders repeat year after year.” She paused and sighed. “That is why I so desperately want to be a teller of tales. That is why I am determined to rewrite my destiny.”
Willow nodded knowingly. She had heard many stories woven by her dear friend and marveled at the twists of turns and the way she created such magic with her words. But, during her Ceremony of the Fates, Poppy’s destiny had little to do with words or stories or anything that breathed life into her. Willow could still see her friend’s face, deeply saddened and her eyes so filled with joylessness when the two girls snuck out of their villages to meet by their favorite willow tree whose branches formed the perfect cave away from Elders and Fates and Festivals and families. Poppy could barely speak the word to her friend. “Healer,” she’s said. “I’m to be a healer.” And then her eyes had filled with tears and the two of them had sat together under the weeping branches of the old willow tree for many hours. When at last she’d composed herself, Poppy had turned to Willow and finally asked her what her fate was to be. Willow puffed out her chest and stuck out her chin, trying to look as ridiculous as possible as she spoke her destiny: Warrior.
“I as well remain equally determined to rewrite mine,” Willow said. “As I can assuredly attest, I am indeed no warrior.”
“And yet you have a sword and a shield,” Poppy said.
“Indeed I do,” said Willow. The two girls grew quiet, each lost to their own thoughts and to the glowing flames that waved and shimmied about in front of them. “What does Heyrah say about your desire to change your fate?” Willow asked after a while.
“Heyrah says that such information is between he and the young Poppy,” Heyrah said from behind them. He smiled when Willow turned to look up at him.
“Is she not allowed at least to say whether she continues this journey or returns to the village?” Willow asked.
“There is only one option where the journey is concerned,” said Heyrah. “As you know and as I reminded you the other night, once you leave the villages, you cannot return. The continuation of the journey is not contingent on the young Poppy’s destiny. The journey is decided.”
Willow nodded and turned to look at Poppy, her face lit with the warm glow of the fire. There seemed a serenity to her friend’s face and very presence and curiosity burned inside Willow to know if that meant that she would be a teller of tales after all. Poppy reached for Willow’s hand and squeezed it beneath the blanket and smiled. On the other side of the fire, Belac was back to work tending the fire, adding wood and shifting around the piles of wood to make them handy during the night.
“I suggest that we get some sleep as the day’s journey tomorrow will at times be difficult for you both,” Heyrah said.
Willow wondered what that could mean. This day’s journey had been more difficult than she’d anticipated and she’d rather hoped that once they’d met with Heyrah that their journey would be easier rather than more challenging.
“Belac has arranged blankets for comfort and proximity to the fire, but you are welcome to shift yourselves according to your needs.”
Poppy squeezed Willow’s hand again and the two girls leaned their heads back against the log and closed their eyes and Willow willed herself not to dream but to sleep only.
Willow felt someone nudging her leg and roused suddenly. Opening her eyes, she saw Poppy propped up against the log with a wide smile on her face. “Tis time, my friend, for the story of the sword and the shield,” she told Willow. Willow groaned and rolled away from her friend, squeezing her eyes shut and seeking to sleep a little longer. Behind her Poppy hummed a soft tune before nudging Willow a little harder. “Tis the first light of the dawn just as you promised and I will hear my story now.”
Willow pushed herself up and leaned against the log, her eyes still heavy with sleep. She was relieved that she’d had not dreamed last night and for that she was willing to relax and tell her friend the story of how she discovered the sword. As she thought the word, she instinctively reached beside her to check that it and the shield were still safe, but her hand touched only dirt. She stood and looked around the ground where she’d been sleeping, searching behind the log and by the blankets Belac had set up for them last night.
“It is gone,” Willow said.
“The sword. It is gone,” Willow repeated. She looked around for Heyrah and Belac and found that they, too, were gone and that the fire was pretty much dead and the piles of wood that Belac had collected and carefully stacked around the fire were untouched. “It seems my sword is not the only thing that disappeared during the night.”
Where have Heyrah and Belac gone? Where is Willow’s sword? I’d love to hear your reader perspective on this. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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