The Plague

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by The Writing Owl, Jan 1, 2014.

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  1. It was a dark night when the king had ordered the decree. All in Marae were to be checked over for signs of being a shapeshifter. If the person had a birthmark in the shape of a star on the back of their neck, they were a shapeshifter. If not, they were human. Hundreds with the birthmark were slain, killed just because they were shapeshifters. The race had merged to be one with the humans in the last decade, losing their own home to the animals of the forest. So they became human, one of the many different forms they could take.

    Public killings and executions were a daily thing, women and children were not spared if sporting the mark. The streets stunk of the horrible disease that was death. The graveyard was full of unmarked graves for the shapeshifters in the soldiers minds, deserved no proper burial. So instead they piled them up in a hole and moved onto the next batch. It was a vicious cycle of death that plagued the town.

    A young girl, an orphan taken in by an old couple, was at every single execution, giving the victim a flower before death. Her guardians ran a flower shop and had allowed her to give flowers to the people dying. It was almost a game for the guards to see how many they could kill a day.

    That day was one of the less death filled days, the guards having only found three shapeshifters throughout the day. The young girl, a girl by the name of Asylsa, was glad about this. There would be no more blood spilled unless someone else was turned in. Though her hair was as red as the blood, she hated the color, preferring the softer and brighter colors of the grass and trees. She ran through the streets, blue eyes looking for her childhood friend. He might be at the forge with his parents, or maybe he was at the lake. Who knew? That was why the tan girl searched for the boy, unsure of where he would pop up this time.
  2. The decree of murdering of every shapeshifter had frightened him and everyone in his family. He didn't know what to do, the guards could come up to him one day, look at his neck and that would be the end of everything for him. He thought about convincing his parents to run for it, pack their things and just leave using the excuse that all the deaths were getting a little sickening. However, the only thing stopping him was the fact his childhood friend was still in the city and he couldn't just up and leave. Why not? He asked himself as he threw a pebble into the lake and watched it skip. He shrugged and turned around, his high-collar coat snapping in the wind as he climbed the small hill back towards the forge. What would she think of him, a person she assumes is a normal human running away?

    Pushing the thought from his mind, he began wondering why the king would do such a heinous crime against his race; Roan truly couldn't understand the reasoning the king had for killing all of his kind. They did nothing to harm him nor this kingdom, and if they were doing anything it was helping the kingdom's economy. Sometimes humans could be so frustratingly stupid, he realized running a hand through his light brown hair.

    Adding to the stress was the fact that the past couple of days had been complete terror for him, his father made him leave the house and work with him at the forge to avoid suspicion, and although he could understand, he didn't want to. He didn't want to see his dead people being dragged like animals through the street only to be tossed into a ditch with others of his kind. It was disgraceful and humiliating. Roan wanted to punch something, vent all of his anger onto a wall, or a tree with force and a scream but let the idea die away when he realized the nearest structure was a good walk away.

    He was making his way towards the forge when he bumped into Asylsa and immediately changed his frustrated, angry face into a cheerful one. Last thing he wanted was his best friend finding out about him being a shifter. It's not that he didn't trust her, he told himself, the reason was only to be a little extra cautious. Besides, his father told him not to tell anyone so he wasn't doing anything wrong, just following his father's orders. "Asylsa," he greeted her cheerfully. "Funny bumping into you like this."
  3. "Oh! Roan! There you are! I was looking all over for you!" Asylsa smiled and took his hand. "Come on, I found something that you might like." The young girl started to lead the shifter down the hill toward the edge of town. "I know Ma and Pa told me not to leave town because the guards might think I'm smuggling the shapeshifters, but we were running out of flowers!" Asylsa smiled as she pulled the poor boy along, her grip strong. Her dress was already covered in mud and beer stains, the girl working in the local tavern to help support her guardians, but whenever she had time off, she would immediately go out searching for her friend.

    So the two reached the end of town and walked into the surrounding plains. There were a few forest patches here and there, but Asylsa was looking toward the one that was closest to the small town. She smiled as she found it before leading Roan toward the center. As they walked toward their destination, Asylsa started to ask questions. "So how has your father's forge been? Is he making any good business with all of the guards running around for freak inspections?"
  4. "What? No wai-" was all Roan managed to say before being dragged towards wherever Asylsa planned on taking them. Probably to pick up more flowers for the dead shifters like she did every day. However, he really did need to go to his father since he asked for his help earlier, but now that he was in Aslylsa's grasp he really couldn't do much about it; he was sure his father would understand. Hopefully.

    After a while of being lead through the rotten-smelling city, they made it towards the small forest patches beyond the city gates where he assumed Asylsa would pick her flowers. How she stayed resilient and picked them up everyday he didn't know, and he really couldn't explain why she did what she did, her kindness however did not go unappreciated. After the order, most humans would eagerly point out and hiss at the shifters, as if they were something vile and evil. They would throw things at them while they waited for the guards or even sometimes kill them themselves. Seeing a human acting kindly towards the shifters caused something of a shock at first for him, he even wondered if Asylsa mocked them from behind their backs but knew that if she did she would have shared a joke or two with him. Her kindness, although she stood alone in it, had earned a great deal of respect from him, it was among the reasons why he didn't just up and leave to his father's forge at that moment and instead decided to help his friend.

    It took him a while to process the questions Asylsa asked him since his mind wondered through the events that were going on and instead gave her a blank stare for a couple of moments. "Oh, right," he said, realizing the question she asked. "He's been making it alright, the guards haven't harassed him lately as they used to and his customers are going down since everyone's trying to stay away from the stench and all, but he's managing. How's the tavern, I see you've been working hard - your dress is filthy."
  5. "The tavern has been getting so many customers that I might have been bumped into a fair share of times. I just hope Ma doesn't kill me when she sees how dirty my dress is." Asylsa sighed before smiling. "Ah! Here we are!" There was a small patch of flowers in front of them and a strange staff to their left. The flowers were a pure white with three bell shaped bulbs on each stem, making a sort of ladder shape. Asylsa smiled as she let go of Roan's hand. "Aren't they just beautiful? They're called 'Jacob's Ladders'. They are extremely rare so it's amazing that there are some growing so close to the city."

    The red head moved to the staff. "Also, I found this. From what I saw in that old book your mother let me borrow, this is an old wizard's staff, witch's if it was a girl who used it. Legends say that wizards and witches were actually just humans fed milk from the moon and stars. Cool huh?" She held the staff out to Roan, smiling as she showed off the details. Different swirls traveled around the staff, twisting around star and moon shapes until it ended with the large sickle moon on the top of the staff. Asylsa waited to hear what her friend would say about it, obviously excited herself.
  6. Roan twisted his wrist when Asylsa let go of his arm, she probably didn't know it, be she had an iron grip so tight that at times he was afraid she would actually break a bone. Glad that she hadn't done so this time, he came in close as she pointed out a flower and looked at them, raising an eyebrow as he examined the white petals and the bulbs on the stem of the flower. Being honest with himself, he didn't know much nor did he really care for flowers, but he put on a show for his red-headed friend feigning interesting by touching the flower with a delicate finger. "That's a fascinating flower," he responded. "It's beautiful, no wonder such a thing is rare."

    "Also, I found this," Asylsa said drawing his attention from the flower. "From what I saw in that old book your mother let me borrow, this is an old wizard's staff, witch's if it was a girl who used it. Legends say that wizards and witches were actually just humans fed milk from the moon and stars. Cool huh?" Roan looked at the staff Asylsa held before him and was drawn towards its intricate swirls and twists. He began wondering where the staff came from, why would someone leave something like that lying around, forgotten. It was such an amazing thing, if it were in his possession he would never have left it carelessly lying around where anyone could pick it up.

    "How would one even get milk from the moon and stars?" He asked with a small chuckle. "I don't even think they have milk. And even if they did why would they give it away?" Although he heard the same thing about magic and wizards, he never truly understood how they managed to get their "milk" and if they only needed it once or constantly drank it. "More importantly. Who would leave their staff lying around like that? How long do you think it's been there?"
  7. "I'm not sure who left it here, but I know its been here a while, It was buried under the ground when I found it." Asylsa said, putting the staff down. "It's weird since there hasn't been a witch or wizard anywhere near the kingdom for the past decade. Why would someone want to bury it though?" She looked over at Roan. "As for the whole moon and stars milk, you get it by magic, duh! The baby inherits the magic through the milk then they grow up to be wizards and witches!" She knew that her friend wasn't at all interested in flowers, but the staff should have gotten his attention.

    Asylsa looked up at the sky before realizing something. "Oh wait, did I pull you away from helping your father? Shit! I'm sorry! We'll head back right away! If he starts to yell, I'll tell him its completely my fault that you weren't on time to whatever you were doing." Asylsa quickly hid the staff in the hole she had dug it out of and covered it with dirt and tree branches before moving to take Roan back to the town.
  8. Roan watched as his friend dug the staff back into the earth and covered it with leaves and branches and stood up to walk back to town; although he knew he had to go back, he wanted to stay out of the city. The fear of being caught by the guards as a shapeshifter and the possible look of betrayal Asylsa would give him gnawed at his stomach, pulling it's strings hard enough that he wanted to collapse. Maybe he could make an excuse to go answer the call of nature and run away to never return, but then surely the guards would look for him and what if they found out then that he was a shifter, his parents would be killed and all of his friends would be under scrutiny. Bearing that weight on his shoulders, being the cause of his parent's death would destroy him, so he followed behind Asylsa back to town while holding his tongue.

    "Maybe we could get a drink from the tavern before we go to the forge. I'm already late, being a little more late wouldn't really change anything," he said after a while, catching up to his friend. He really needed a drink to get his mind off of the hell that had been his life for the past few days and even though he kept a smile on his face through it all, his eyes were carefully looking for guards and every time he passed by them he would become stiff, like a frightened hare before a lion. A drink would loosen things up without a doubt and maybe even brighten his mood.
  9. "Are you sure? I don't think going to the tavern right now would be good... How about I just bring you a drink to the forge, yeah? It's better than being in the tavern." Asylsa sounded a bit more nervous then she should have when talking about the tavern. It was like she was afraid of him going to her work place, which she never really was. She loved it when he visited her and gave her a bit of comfort among all of the drunken men and possible criminals.

    The truth of the matter was that the guards were doing inspections on anyone who was going into the tavern. So far there hadn't been any shifters, but the guards hadn't left, making the tavern a lot fuller than it usually was. Asylsa rubbed the back of her neck, a gesture she often did when either nervous or embarrassed. She always wore a ribbon around her neck, though those around her never understood why.
  10. Roan gave Asylsa a sideways glance and raised and eyebrow. "Why so hesitant?" He asked making his way towards her workplace. It was one of the only places outside of his home he felt truly secure, and ever since the execution of the shifters started he hadn't once visited the place, not to mention hadn't had a drink for a while and the time was good as any. "You've always loved it when I came by. I'll just grab an apple cider and we can head to the forge from there." A few meters from the tavern, however, he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed a pair of guards go in and quickly made to turn back the other way and head for the forge.

    "You there," a gruff voice said behind him and a pit suddenly dropped in his stomach. He looked back and found a guard making his way toward him, his hand casually resting on his sheathed blade. Roan looked at the guard, frozen with fear. If he came and checked his neck that was it, his life, his family, his friends, everything would suddenly stop existing to him. He wanted to turn and run, he screamed at his body to do so, but the fear he felt was like a thousand pound anchor holding him in place; he couldn't speak nor move. Just stare.
  11. Asysla froze as soon as she heard the guard. Why was she so worried? It wasn't like he was a shifter, right? She smiled at the knight and asked, "What is it sir? Do you need us for something?" Be helpful and positive, she thought. If you're helpful and positive, then they won't suspect a thing. She glanced over at Roan, hoping he was alright. He always got nervous around the knights. It often made Asylsa wonder why.

    Maybe the knights had killed someone Roan knew. That was definitely a huge possibility. Maybe a distant relative of his was a shifter and he was scared his family might be turned in for being related to a shifter. Maybe he was just scared of the knights. She knew she was. They seemed almost heartless as she smiled at them.
  12. Roan's neck snapped to Asylsa as she spoke in a courteous manner to the knight. Why on earth was she being courteous, these monsters were the cause of an ongoing genocide of his people. He needed to distract the knight, he thought to himself as his mind raced a thousand miles per second. But how would he do that? If he tried anything cheap it would only increase the man's suspicion and if they stayed that would be it. "My father," Roan croaked, his throat dryer than a desert. "He's at the forge and needs my help making a plate armour for a noble going to an upcoming tourney. I can't be late."

    "Show us your necks and you can be on you way," the knight said speaking in a bored tone. He felt his whole world collapsing upon itself, he knew this day would eventually come, that the guards would find out about him and his family, but why did it have to be now, and why here in front of Asylsa? He wanted to punch the knight, but he also wanted to punch himself more. Why hadn't he listened when Asylsa told him to go to the forge instead? Now he mucked up and is most likely going to pay with his life.

    All the rage suddenly came piling out of him at once and he lashed at the unsuspecting knight. Realizing that he'd just sealed his own fate, he turned and ran before the knight could get a hold of him, he didn't even look to see of Asylsa was behind him, though he hoped she was. If she was caught because of his stupid, stupid choice of action he wouldn't know how to live with himself.
  13. As soon as he ran, Asylsa knew she had to create a distraction. "That's right, human! Run! Run from the shapeshifter!" She took off her ribbon, revealing a mark on her neck. It wasn't the nice brown star but a strange moon like shape. The guards didn't care either way. They just saw a mark and assumed she was a shapeshifter.

    Asylsa hoped that Roan knew what he was doing as she was harshly taken by her arms to the execution sight in the middle of town. She knew she wasn't a shapeshifter, she would have run like Roan if she was, but she wasn't going to let any more people die if she could stop it. She felt herself start to cry, a pitiful thing in her mind, as the guards pulled her through the streets. She could hear her Ma and Pa shouting as they saw their little girl being taken to the stocks to be hanged. She hoped that Roan and his family took the chance to run.
  14. Roan ran as far as he could, taking alleyways and turning through strange corners and using old streets within the town, and once he thought he was a good distance away he stopped to take a breather. "You think the knights -" he began when he noticed Asylsa wasn't behind him. Where was she? He asked himself frantically and began retracing his steps, hoping that she was only lost due to his frantic running. "Asylsa?" He called out as a pang of pain started forming in his chest. He couldn't believe it, what if she was caught by the knights and thrown in the dungeons, or worse; sent to be executed.

    Cursing his luck he began retracing his steps when he came in front of a tailor's shop known for making high end clothes affordable only to the extremely wealthy and the nobles. A sudden idea sparked into his mind and he shifted into the form of a young nobleman, stripped off his clothes, and walked into the tavern pretending to be hung over. "Tailor," Roan said, steadying himself with a wall. "I implore you, I'm in desperate need of clothes. I've had prank pulled on me and if I were to go home in this state it would be the talk of court. I don't think I would be able to handle the shame."

    "Lord Trevor?! Of course, of course. You smell... wretched. What happened?"

    He had no idea what he was doing and the fear of the tailor asking to check his neck at any moment had made want to run and crawl under a rock, but he pressed on. For Asylsa, he reassured himself. "Details I intend not to leave my lips. I assure you, however, it was not pleasant," he said as the tailor handed him a greed and black doublet and black breeches with a black cloak accented with red, he changed quickly into the clothes and sprayed some perfume on himself. "I thank you, Richard, my family will pay you dearly for your help." Roan rushed out of the shop before the tailor could say anything else and ran towards the dungeons when he heard a scream towards his left. There in the centre of the town he saw Asylsa about to be hanged. What're they doing? The didn't even try her, he said to himself, baffled, and quickly made his way to the platform.

    "What's the meaning of this?" He said, his heart pounding in his chest. He felt like he was going to throw up. "Who is she and why is she being hanged?"

    "My lord, she's a shapeshifter. I'm sure you know the king's orders?"

    "Move aside," he said shoving the knight out of the way. I can't believe I just did that. He couldn't help but feel a surge of emotions running through him at their claim; how was she a shifter and how was it that he didn't even know, he realized they could have been far closer than they were initially only if he had the courage to tell her. Maybe that was why she was always throwing flowers at the dead, because she understood them. As the thoughts were coursing through his mind, Roan moved behind her and instead of finding a star, he found a moon. He paused. "Knight!" He called. "Does this look like a star to you? She isn't a shifter, you half wit! You were about to kill an innocent woman."

    "She has a mark on her neck. She is to be hanged."

    "Perhaps I should hang you, knight. You look like a shifter. What's to say you're not hiding your mark under all that armour?"

    "My lord?"

    "Free her this instant."
  15. "My lord," another knight started, "We can not risk her being a shapeshifter. Maybe the shapeshifters also have moon marks. We can't be sure." Asylsa looked up at the man, who happened to be Roan disguised as another man, with fear and hope. Maybe she wouldn't have to die today. Maybe Roan and his family were already on their way out of town and she could keep giving shapeshifters flowers. At least she was distracting the knights.

    She was tempted to talk to the man, ask him why he was sticking up for her. The knights continued to talk before she cleared her throat and quietly asked, "S-sir?" The knights quieted when they heard the girl talk. She hesitated before continuing. "Sir, why would you protect a woman condemned as a shapeshifter? What makes you think I am not like those who have already died?" If she saw herself, she would have groaned in embarrassment. Asylsa was shaking, scared out of her mind as she stared up at the man, supposedly Lord Trevor, with large blue eyes. Tears streaked her face and she was still crying, sniffling a bit as her nose ran. She looked like a complete mess, different from the confident girl most knew.
  16. "No shapeshifter I've ever come across has ever had this mark," Roan replied. "It's always a star. You're free to check the thousands of corpses lying in the graves if you don't believe me. Prove me wrong." He was going to say more when he heard Asylsa speak and turned sharply towards her and noticed tears streaking down her face. He'd never seen her cry before, she'd always been a confident woman, always charging head strong into things and even if she did get into trouble, he'd never seen a single tear, to see her like this hurt him and it also made him feel something of a monster, something he never wanted to feel again, nor ever see again.

    "My lord," he corrected her as a lord once corrected him when he called him a sir. His father had once told him the best way to fool the people was to have an air of confidence and pretend to know what he was doing. If he hadn't corrected her it would have been a slight to his status, and from what he understood, nobles were a vain sort of people. "Too much bloodshed has been going on in the city as of late, and if regulation isn't kept -" he glanced at the knights - "innocent people will be killed. I hate the shapeshifters as much as the king, they're a slight in this world and an abomination, but that doesn't mean that the killings should cross over into our own race." Turning from her he faced the knights once again. "Will you free her or should I call my for my father, let me remind you of his power and influence in the King's realm. I assure you, you will regret the day you crossed me."
  17. The knights were baffled before finally letting the poor girl go, harshly since this embarrassed them in front of all of the people. Asylsa's Ma and Pa were quickly there to hold the girl, comforting her as they looked up at the nobleman. "Thank you so much, my lord. We are indebted to you." Ma said, bowing her head as Pa simply nodded.

    "Wait, Roan! Oh God, I need to check on Roan! The guards could have hurt him, or, or-" Asylsa was quickly hushed by her Ma and Pa, the former running a hand through her hair to make her calm down just a bit more.

    "He's probably just at the forge with his father, there is nothing to worry about Sweetling..." Pa said, trying to calm the nearly sobbing girl. She had been so scared, afraid that not only was she going to die, but Roan and his family would be taken with her. She buried her head in her ma's chest, shaking like a leaf in the wind.
  18. Roan stood behind the guards as they unfastened the noose from Asylsa's neck and taken to her parent's embrace. He tried his best to hide his relief and his smile and remain indifferent to keep up his 'role' and nodded to her parents' gratitude. He walked down from the platform and started heading towards the place he had left his clothes, some of the people cheering him while other hissed at his passing, thinking he had saved a shifter from being killed. Once he was out of the centre of the city he couldn't help but feel sorry for the real lord Trevor, no doubt the recent events would be the only thing people would be talking about at court for a while.

    Once he found his clothes he quickly shifted back to the form people knew as Roan and changed back into his normal clothes, a simple white tunic tucked under brown breeches and a brown coat, and ran towards his home, the fancy clothing tucked under his arms. Once he was inside he got a curious look from his mother as he rushed towards his room and stuffed the clothing into his chest. He reminded himself that he would have to go back later and fold them neatly in case he ever needed them again. "What was that you were carrying?" His mother asked when he emerged from his room flustered.

    "Just some new clothes I was saving up for," he lied and left the house before his mother could press him more and rushed towards the forge.

    "Where the bloody hell were you?" His father bellowed over the loud steam of the forge, his large, thick arms hammering at a sword.

    "I was, erm, helping Asylsa with something important," he partially lied.

    "Was it so important you had to skip out on helping me?"

    "A little," he shrugged. His father grabbed a fistful of his hair and shoved him towards his station.

    "Ge' to work, and I don't wanna hear a peep ou' o' you or you'll get my fist for dinner."
  19. Later that day there was a knock at the forge's door. "Leo, it's me, Edward. I need you to help me with something." Edward, Asylsa's pa, was fairly pissed as he held a broken sickle in his hand. The couple often used it to help them weed and cut flowers to sell. Having their main tool broken really put an even bigger damper on their mood.

    Edward knew that Leo would be able to tell that his mood was incredibly bad since he was muttering curses under his breath and nearly gripping the sickle hard enough to break it. He was ready to blow with anger and really could have used a drink from the tavern that Asylsa worked at. The girl was cleaning her clothes at home since Martha, Asylsa's ma, had noticed the stains and asked her to clean the dress.
  20. Leo had just finished shaping a plate armour for a knight and had given it to Roan to put in the final touches when a knock came at the door; he saw Edward beyond the threshold holding a broken sickle in his hand and from the way he gripped the tool and the look on his face, Leo knew anger was brewing inside him. "Edward, c'mon in," he said taking the sickle from him and beginning to work on it. "You don't look too happy. My son been bothering you, again?" It was no secret to the two that Roan and Asylsa always went on crazy ventures together which usually ended with either or both families angry in some way. He couldn't remember the number of times he had knock Roan over the head for the trouble he caused, however he was always sure to apologize behind closed doors.

    Being a shapeshifter had it's downsides, one of them being he had to fit into the role of the typical blacksmith and act like nothing more than a hunk of muscle without a hint of a brain. In truth, however, Leo's intelligence could be equated to that of a scholar, and in part it was due to his wisdom that his family was still alive and considered 'normal'. He knew a day would come when the humans would turn on the shapeshifters, they could barely handle anyone of a different colour, much less a shapeshifter. Choosing to be a low class citizen, away from the public eye, but respected enough by those with a little power was his plan, it would be the perfect cover and the perfect hiding place. He made equipment for the knights and his skill had gotten so good they seldom went to any other blacksmith not to mention he lowered the price for them especially so they could turn a blind eye in case such a thing were to ever occur.
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