The Journal of James A Holt
09/08/2006 04:00 a.m.
This is a short story I wrote many years ago for a creative writiing class. The requirements were that it was at the most eight pages long. I got some good reviews and I was hoping to get a few more. Enjoy.
For the past fifteen years he has been trying to prove his love to her and for fifteen years she has rejected him. Even at the ripe young age of twenty there is nothing he hasn’t tried that she hasn’t ignored. Yet time and again Raeton continues his attempt to win her love.
But let’s not think that he is ugly or unpopular. To the contrary, with a sturdy height of six foot three, two hundred and eighty pounds of muscle, with dark black curls and piercing green eyes, there is no available lass in the whole town who hasn’t tried to gain his interest, and fail.
But still, there is only one lone woman to rest within his lonely heart and that is Jaena. Beautiful to say the least, she stands at only five foot six, with dark blond tresses to the shoulders, and a set of eyes that could only be mildly compared to a clear crystal blue spring and a voice that makes even the red leafed tree, with it’s songs of love, jealous.
But as he loves her, she does not. Why? For many a reason let us keep it to just one for the moment: she is an elf and he is human.
Among other noticeable traits such as the pointed ears, the soft, lilting voice and the long delicate hands, the elves are known best for their great longevity. Even at the age of seventy-five an elf would appear to be only fifteen or sixteen. Jaena is ninety-eight.
Regardless of the age difference Raeton still loves her and is willing to do just about anything to show it.
* * *
On the first day of spring three years ago, Raeton decided to surprise Jaena with a special bouquet of rainbow roses. Looking through the patch, he found one particularly exquisite set and plucked them and presented them to her.
“Good morning, Jaena.”
“Good morning Raeton.”
“How are you this fine day?”
“Very well, thank you.”
“I brought something for you.”
“Oh really? And what would that be?”
“I brought you - rainbow roses.”
“Why Raeton they are beautiful. The hues and fragrances are just lovely. W- wait a moment. The roots are bare and still wet, like they were just unearthed. Did you just take these from someone?”
“Mistress Bandwin won’t miss these. I left the seeds in the soil so that they could grow back next season. Hey wait! Where are you going? Hey, don't forget the roses. I did get them for you!”
Even with such a fault as total disregard for the belongings of others Raeton still continues his never ending quest to gain her affection.
* * *
Late one night last year after Prat Nomic’s birthday party Raeton got the idea to sing a love ballad from a red leaf tree. He said that the music from the tree could accompany his lyrics. He also said that he was quite thirsty and drank nearly a whole quart of the taverns best ale before going up.
“Hey Jaena. Guess what I’m going to dooooooo.”
“Get down from there if you're smart enough.”
“No, I’m goin’ tooo siiing to you.”
“You are going to break your fool neck if you don’t get down here now.”
“Ha! I knew it. You du care fer me. A-admit it.”
“Nonsense. I’m more concerned for the tree than for you.”
“Whatever, let me just sing and then you’ll beee mine.”
“Huh? Wuh was dat?”
“Raeton! Get down quickly!”
“Sure, as soon as you say that you lov...”
“You are such a fool.”
Needless to say Raeton was in bed with a broken leg for three months.
* * * * * *
His last stunt proved to be the most far-fetched he had thought of yet and still, it was the fact that he actually did it that shocked everybody- he became a knight. He actually thought that by becoming a soldier, he could present himself more as an mature individual. Everyone in the whole town was at the going away party, except for Jaena, and here she was the whole reason he was doing this! All the same, his name was still on the sign up sheet and he left, not even getting the chance to say goodbye.
That was all but fifteen years ago and now Raeton, a man of thirty-five, was a seasoned warrior, a man of the land. His days of jokes and folly were at an end and he was ready to return to his home. Joining the army happened to be the best thing he ever did.
After fifteen years of blood, sweat, and tears many things would have changed in a person and Raeton was no different. But one thing stayed the same....he loved Jaena. This time he was ready to prove it like a man.
Walking down the dirt trail road, he was prepared to see many things changed of his home, but what he saw made him sick.
Most of the houses were destroyed, torn apart or blown away by a great force, including his own, to be replaced with tents and makeshift shelters as if in a battlefield.
But this wasn’t possible, not of Sington! His battles were over. Nothing like death and famine and disease should be here. Looking around the blood soaked fields he frantically searches for a hospital or medical center. Not too far off from where the red leafed trees stood was now a shabby shelter used for what seemed to be for the wounded.
Rushing over to see if there are any survivors he encounters a lone woman of thirty years tending to the sick and dying. She appears to be praying as a white glow is emanating from her hands and the wound on an injured man is slowly disappearing. He approaches her warily, his hand rests upon his sword as by reflex. “Excuse me m‘lady.”
Startled, she quickly spins around, and flashes a knife from her sleeve aimed straight at his heart hissing, “I will not die so easily!”
Grabbing her arm and jerking the knife out of her hand he quickly replies, “Save your blade. I am not here to harm you. Why is my homeland a burning waste?
Clutching her arm with her free hand she replies, ”T’was the wizards desire for the red leaf sap and the men here who wished it for their own. The sap is known for its healing properties. The wizards wanted to make a potion to live longer and they believed that the sap was key to the formulae. When the town’s people heard of how many trees were to be cut down they took up arms.”
By now her soft lilting voice had become a ragged cry. All the while Raeton stared at her with a look of confusion and acknowledgment. Her long dark blond hair was raised to a bun, and her eyes were as blue as the summer sky. She looked older but all the same he knew her.
“Jaena,” he whispered.
Her eyes shot up to his, realization beaming upon her face. His face barely changed. Wings of gray touches his temples where he used to have a head of dark curly hair. His eyes were still a deep piercing green but with a few more lines than in his carefree youth. His body no longer held the same broad stature, but possessed a more lean look, more battle wrought. But he was still the same man. “Raeton, she breathed.”
He smiles, “ See, I told you you loved me.”
She smiles back, “never, but it’s good to see a healthy, familiar face.”
Glancing around she says, “Walk with me.”
Moving slowly from patient to patient, she begins again to relate the reason for the battles. “As I said earlier the wizards wanted the sap for their elixir but the town’s people wouldn’t have any of that. The wizards said that they would give the people some time for them to decide, to work things out. While they were gone the people started a militia to guard the trees, and soon had a small army. When the wizards returned and saw the people standing there with arms the wizards took affront. Words were shouted back and forth and soon thereafter there was gestures and then......”
“Who drew first blood?”
“.....We did. Jon Hetter accidentally lost an arrow and killed a magus. Jon was instantly burned a second after. There wasn’t even ashes left.”
“That’s not all. The wizards put a curse upon us making our fields barren and they hired mercenaries to do all the dirty work.
“About three hundred. We took out about fifty or so, but we have lost about two-thirds of the whole town. There is only seventy-five of us left.”
Laughter bubbled up from Raeton’s throat , a cold humorless laugh fill with pain and suffering.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing really. I just find it ironic that with all the fighting that's going on, nobody has noticed that all the red leafed trees have been destroyed.”
“Part of the curse. I guess that the wizards didn’t think that with by making the fields barren that the trees would not be unaffected. Still those mercenaries are out there. I guess they are just there to teach us a lesson.”
Raeton walks away from her deep in thought. Slowly he turns back with a stone cold face, determination set in his eyes. “ I will help you.”
Her face shrinks into a frown, curiosity in her voice, “How?”
“I will set the town up with a defense,” he replied.
* * *
In a matter of weeks Raeton was able to set up a town watch, a small barricade, and an even better medical center. In less than a week after they had a chance to see how well everything worked
They came in the middle of the night, quiet as a summer breeze. If it wasn’t for the watch they would all be dead. Raeton was out walking around reminiscing of his younger days when he noticed that he was where old Mistress Bandwin’s home used to be. Slowly he began to walk around the area and shortly thereafter, much to his surprise he came upon a small outcrop of rainbow roses. This was incredible! If anything could grow here then that must mean that the curse is wearing off. With a smile on his face he decides to take a small clipping (not the whole thing) of rainbow rose and show it to Jaena. That is when the watch cried the alarm. Swearing to himself, he races to the medical center to see that Jaena is alright.
Everywhere he turns, death is there. Raeton kept on running, his battle was elsewhere.
As he neared the medical center he could see a band of five men surrounding the building, three of them with torches, all of them with swords. Raeton’s sword was drawn and cutting down a torchbearer before anyone else noticed.
His first priority was to stop the other two from burning the building, of course, the other two men had something to say first. Taking the two men at the same time, Raeton swung his long sword like the seasoned veteran that he is. The first man fell from a sword through his throat. The second man wasn’t so easy. A high overhead arc meant to take the head was easily deflected that then went to a quick turn behind slash at the calves that took the man down on his knees followed by a slice at the neck that sent an arc of blood five feet away with the head resting at the mans feet.
A little cut up and worn for ware, Raeton rushes into the shelter to see one of the torchbearers trying to set alight the beams overhead. The man doesn’t even get the chance to scream as Raeton’s sword flashes across his throat, drowning him in his own blood. Looking around he frantically searches for Jaena and eventually finds her lying in a corner unconscious. Gently shaking her, she slowly wakens, only to have her face contort into pure horror. Before Raeton can ask, he feels the cold sharp steel of a sword run through his chest. Without looking, with sword in chest, flowers in one hand and his sword in the other, Raeton swings his sword in an upward arc, removing both the man’s sword arm and head, all bloody pieces falling on top of the other. The last of his strength gone, Raeton crumbles to the ground.
Showing her the flowers, “I brought these for you,” he rasps, as blood begins to froth his lips.
She doesn’t get to mutter a single word before his eyes glaze over.
* * *
Over one hundred and fifty years has passed since the destruction of Sington. Much of the remains of the old buildings are no longer recognizable, either completely removed or built over. The red leaf trees have grown back, though their songs are no longer as full of love and sweet repose, more like saddened with regret and pain. Jaena, the oldest and only living survivor remains there and act as the towns doctor, and it seems like about every month or so all the little kids gather around her just to hear the story of how the town was saved by a lone soldier coming home.
Outside of the town there is a rather large cemetery that was blessed by the local clerics just after the last few skirmishes to give the fallen warriors peace. In the center of this cemetery on a slightly beaten trail leading to a small hill rests a grave solitary to all the others. The tombstone has little to say about the person resting there but says this:
Stranger yet as the case may seem, every year on the first day of spring a small patch of rainbow roses lay on the grave, roots bare, a little warm and wet. Just like they were recently unearthed.
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