Wednesday, 29 August 2012
01:36:02 AM (GMT)
For a young girl of fourteen, Azura was working extraordinarily hard. The sun's
heat persistently penetrated the meager shade that the withered trees offered. The
heat seemed to soak into the soil, drying up any water and discouraging any seeds
from sprouting. Azura's village, which consisted of about three-hundred uneducated,
albeit friendly people, was surviving on what the Maesen River provided.
Because the girl's village was only one of many taking refuge in the Maesen
River valley, the river was becoming overfished, and more and more people were
turning to freshwater muscles, roots, and clams. Any trees that were not too rotten
or scrubby had already been harvested, their wood used to build the skeletons of the
clay shelters that lined the riverbank for miles.
Azura's job was to patrol the village for fire hazards. Her father, Kavanta, the
village's appointed leader (who was appointed on account of being the only one in the
village to have received a formal education) had assigned her the task, for he
believed that the drought they were experiencing demanded extra caution. What little
vegetation grew in the river valley was dry and course, save for the reeds and rushes
that grew directly on the water's edge.
When the bombs hit, the masses of farmers and ranchers that inhabited the grasslands
in the east of New Haden fled toward the river valley, hoping to take shelter in the
shallow caves that peppered the river banks. Kavanta had organized and led the
largest group. However, as more and more people came, they began to harvest trees
for building material and fire wood, and soon, without the trees, the caves began to
collapse, the clay sinking back into the muddy river.
The people quickly learned how to build shelters made of clay, for they had no other
choice. Once they were settled in, they still regarded Kavanta as a leader, but were
not yet interested in establishing any form of a makeshift government, especially
since their wounds were still fresh, and for some, the deaths of loved ones were
still replaying in their minds.
Without a government, regulations, or laws, Kavanta was fighting an uphill battle,
trying to keep things in order. He assured Azura that her job was all-important; and
so, here she was, lugging around large buckets full of muddy water, searching for the
remains of abandoned campfires.
Azura's younger sister, Lilla, a beautiful and shy girl with as many freckles as
stars in the sky, was her silent shadow. However, Lilla's mother, who was her
namesake, had died the night Lilla was born. Lilla was born with a twisted leg,
which could not support much weight; she leaned on a walking stick wherever she
"Lilla," Azura sighed, "Do you think you could find me some cleaner water?" The
river water, unless it was strained and boiled, tasted very much like mud and fish,
and could cause an upset stomach.
"Daddy says the word Maesen comes from an old word meaning silent."
"Lilla," Azura groaned, "don't ignore my question. Please, can you find me
some water? Then maybe we can take a quick break to go swimming."
Her sister's eyes lit up. The water was Lilla's true home, Asura thought. No one
loved swimming as much as she did.
Without a word, she was gone, in search of fresh water.
Last edited: 6 September 2012