Woot, second post for the day (so now I’m sort of caught up)!
This one is for the “serially lost” challenge on the Daily Post. I’m not sure if I really want to write a series of posts discussing the theme of loss (much besides, I think I already wrote about loss before), but I do think it’s worth a shot.
So instead of personal stuff, I think I’ll try my hand at fiction again. I hope it doesn’t turn out too bad (I’m free-writing this).
Please tell me what you think!
When Sage was a 5-year-old Poynte and not a 25-year-old Keye, she had an older brother. He was a giant, as far as she could tell, and he would often carry her on one broad shoulder so she could see over crowds. “You’re better at describing things, G,” he used to say, his gray eyes glowing with warmth. “Might as well let you watch and tell Papa all about it.”
She couldn’t remember what age he had been at the time, but she remembered that his name was Harbinger and that she worshiped him. He was the type of boy who would have been a king to his peers – the benevolent kind, not the tyrannical kind – and never seemed to realize it. Harry was smart and strong and nice to everyone he meets, and no one seemed to be jealous of him because everyone agreed that he is the best at everything; there was simply no point in competing.
But when Sage turned 6, he disappeared. Her father refused to speak about it, sometimes denying that he ever had a son. He pleaded with her to let it go, and after a year, she stopped asking him about it. The mystery in her mind, however, crouched like a feral cat waiting to pounce at any prey of a clue that it may find. There are days when she would think of nothing else, causing her to turn in less-than-stellar work at the Academy. Looking back, she marveled that she had even passed with honors.
It wasn’t until she was 22 that she realized what had happened to Harry.
She was working as a teacher’s assistant, escorting a lab class in a field trip to The Forge. The place was massive and sweltering and smelled of dissolved metal and steam. It’s where the Blood Ore Weapons – which can only be used by Bloodsmith – are decommissioned and re-purposed once their owners are taken out of action. It was her first time in there, she was exhilarated.
They had just completed the tour of the soldering floor when the shouting started. She saw four people crowding around a serious-looking man hurriedly pushing a cart, pulling up pieces of metal with their gloved hands. At first, she thought they were simply dealing with a full set of armor.
Until she saw flesh.
It was a Bloodsmith who had been taken out of action.
She snapped at the students to head back to the bus and wait for her. There was a fair bit of grumbling and complaining over how things were JUST starting to get interesting, but they nonetheless obeyed. Once they were gone, Sage straightened her blouse and jogged over to the growing crowd of D-com personnel. She wanted to see the Bloodsmith, give him proper respect for his heroism.
She walked on her toes – she had gotten quite tall herself – to try and get a look at him over the worker’s shoulders. She couldn’t get a glimpse of him until a croak broke through the commotion.
The D-com boys stopped looked over their shoulders at her, giving her a better view of the Bloodsmith as a result. Her own blood chilled.
“Harry?” she asked in a small voice. She couldn’t move; she could only stare at those warm gray eyes.
“It’s Serval Rook now,” the man responded with a grin that turned into a wince. “But I’m still Harbinger Poynte too. Didn’t think you’d remember me. You were so little.”
And Sage thought he looked so old. “Of course I remember you,” she said shakily. “You were my mountain and my king.”
He laughed, then coughed. The man who had been pushing the trolley knelt next to him, unfastening a chest plate in an attempt to help him breathe. Harry – no, it’s Serval now – gave him a grateful smile before turning back to her. “I missed your descriptions, G.”
Suddenly, she could move. She ran to him unsteadily, legs shaking from shock. She managed to stop herself from trying to climb his shoulders, but couldn’t stop her arms from wrapping around him. “Papa said you didn’t exist,” she said before she burst into tears. “He was telling the truth, wasn’t he?”
Harry began to stroke her hair – he was ruining it, but she didn’t care. “It’s the way things are, little sis. Bloodsmith born outside of the Clans have to either stop using the ability or leave their lives behind to be adopted by a Clan.”
She knew that, should have thought of it; and the knowledge made things hurt even more. “You could have chosen to stay,” she said as she looked up at him.
He closed his eyes. “Yes. But I wouldn’t have been able to protect you with everything I had if I did.”
The D-com man who helped her brother touched her shoulder. “We need to move him now, miss. I’m sorry.”
Harry – he’ll always be Harry to her – held her hand, squeezed it, and let go. “I’m glad I saw you today, G,” he said. “I’m glad to know that I kept you safe.”
It was the last time she saw him. Just a few hours later, she got a message from the man who pushed the trolley. Her brother had died bleeding in the hospital.
When Sage Keye went into labor, she almost suffocated from terror. The Clans had, over the last few years, developed a means of discovering new Bloodsmith upon birth. Having had a brother who showed talent, she could feel their eyes on her and her progeny.
Of course, she could refuse to hand over her child and simply register him as a latent smith. As long as she raises him to be a normal child, keep him away from anything that would make him even WANT to be a Bloodsmith, he will be safe. He will live to be 88 years old and have at least 40 great-grandchildren. She’s sure she can do it.
Except…she couldn’t take the choice away from her son. Could she?
She felt her husband’s hand on hers, and she looked up. His lips quirked up at the corners, out of place on his rather serious face. “I will support you, no matter what you choose to do.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she tried to say nonchalantly through a contraction. “And stop smiling, love, it’s creepy.”
It earned her a grin, and she learned how to breathe again.
Several hours later, her son – her first child – was born. He was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. She didn’t want to watch as the doctor pricked him, but forced herself to do it. She needed to know, too.
The results were inconclusive – the test couldn’t show if the boy was Bloodsmith or not. Sage didn’t know what to feel.
But she knew what to do.
Harbinger Keye was 5 years old when he picked up an old piece of Blood Ore that his father had kept as a souvenir from his old job in the city, from before he became a blacksmith in the country. It shone bright and hardened in his little palm.
His mother had just come back from getting the hammers fixed, and he beamed proudly at this newfound talent. Unsmiling, she ruffled his stringy hair, and took the metal from him. It dulled in her hand. “You know that you shouldn’t touch Papa’s stuff.”
He never saw Papa’s blood ore again.