Status: active lovelies



Panea, as a whole, wasn’t very kind. The terrain was mostly sand and dust, with very little water to be found. Plants were various, but few, and many dangerous to get at. Either they were very sought after by the large predators which inhabited the planet, or the plants themselves had protections such as thorns or poison. Many of the best plants looked like the most dangerous.

Aspen’s village was small, but sustainable. They’d built their homes around an oasis forever ago, so far back that even Sorrell’s parents weren’t alive then. And as far as they knew, they were the only people alive on the planet. No one dared go into the dessert to look, and sparing more than one person could throw off the village’s entire balance, especially if there was a storm. The great rolling dunes that existed would lose all of their sand in a storm, and this sand would be blown all over. Since storms could last up to three days, it was a very dangerous time.

Therefore, everyone looked out for each other. And it was only worse since Ash’s death.

That was why there were so many eyes on Aspen as she strode down the path into the village. No one else but her received this sort of welcome, but she’d heard the whispers and she knew why. Ash, too, had been a Warrior, and she’d had a strong and vicious spirit. It was said that Aspen was just like her mother. It wasn’t so bad though, or at least it hadn’t been…

Then she’d found Dinte. He’d been a kitten at the time, hardly bigger than her foot. Everyone had believed she was crazy, taking in one of their “enemies”, but he hadn’t attacked her on sight, and he was small enough to learn. He was probably one of the only animals of the planet to have been domesticated, and even then he was still wild. Others blamed it on his nature, and insisted he would attack and kill someone eventually. Aspen blamed it on her influence since she’d raised him.

“I’m back, River,” she called out to her brother as she ducked into the doorway of their family’s house. It was made of a tough, virtually indestructible red stone, like the rest of the village. Unfortunately, because of the shaping of the red stone, there was no uniformity to any structure. Jagged edges would stick out in random places, and all holes would need to be filled with a goopy clay that could only be found under many layers of sand near a place where water came from naturally.

“Really? You’re early you know,” came her brother’s voice from some room. It sounded fairly close though, and after peering around a couple of corners, Aspen found him. She’d almost expected to find him with their baby sister, Song, but instead he was in the main hall, where he had several things set out in front of him. River was working hard to be a Healer.

Aspen headed over, sitting down across from him. “I know, and I’m not home early by choice. Father found out where I’ve been training with Dinte.” She gave her brother a pointed look while her giant cat, who had come inside with her, approached River’s work area, gave it a sniff, snorted, and stalked off to find somewhere warm to sleep. Lazy cat.

River, meanwhile, had yet to reply. He was studiously examining his herbs, his dark hair –which was in need of cutting- spilling over his eyes so that she couldn’t see what he was thinking. River took after Sorrell for the most part. He had the same dark hair, if a little longer, and even the blue eyes. River’s eyes were always animated though, always sparkling with curiosity or excitement or some other happier emotion. His eyes were lifeless, cold, or jaded. He looked like a paler version of Father, but he wasn’t that man. He was kinder, gentler, and he’d gotten along after Ash died. He’d found what he was meant to do.

“River,” Aspen warned her brother, hoping he could hear it in her voice. She didn’t actually think that he had told their father where she’d been off to every time she disappeared since Sorrell could find her well enough on his own, but the fact that he hadn’t answered didn’t bode well.

Apparently, her warning got through. “I’ve been worried about you Aspen,” he said, setting down his things and looking up at her, his blue eyes intense. “You go off, the stars know where, and I have to beg you to tell me just in case there’s an emergency. You don’t even play with Song anymore like you used to. You’re turning into as much of a recluse as Fathe-”

“Don’t you dare compare me to him,” she growled. “Not. Ever. I used to train until I couldn’t keep it up any longer, to please him and be the best daughter I could be. I thought it would help, and I liked training anyway. All he wants from me is more. He’s never satisfied, not since Mother died. He was going to get me killed, River. Song’s too young to understand what’s happened with him, and she thinks its normal. You’ve been too nice, trying to force a bond to grow again, but he severed any bond he had with any of us after Ash died. He isn’t interested any longer. I’m doing what I have to, for myself, to be the best I can be at my own pace, just like you are. You don’t understand though, because you aren’t the Warrior who is going to take his place. You don’t look like her, you don’t act like her, and he can look at you without seeing death.”

Aspen stood, dark eyes hard. She didn’t let herself soften even as she saw the reproach on River’s face, saw the apology and sympathy forming on his lips. “I’m going to make dinner, and then I’m going to bed for the night.” She paused, and damned if she didn’t soften for just a moment. “We’re all dealing with her death in different ways. This training is mine. I thought I was helping Father back then when I was letting him handle my training, but he isn’t trying to deal with her death. He’s trying to pretend it never happened and she’s coming home. That’s why I can’t get along with him, not because I don’t want to.” Then she left, going to make some food for everyone and settling her mask back in place, stronger than before. If Song showed up in the kitchen, she’d need it.
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I would've had this up sooner except we've moved. So this is first chapter from the new house! I'm really hoping you guys like it. I couldn't find what I'd originally written for this... so I just started new. So yeah... I hope it's good :D