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TotTSM – Part 13

  Rude Awakenings.

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    Phena didn’t realize how extensively in shock she was until jolts of pain radiated up her hands, causing her to look down and realize that she was digging her fingers into the soft wet sand of the river bank. Pulling them free, she let a muffled sob escape her as she stood up on shaky, trembling legs. A quick survey of the area did little to illuminate where she was or just how far away from Voren she had been swept. Drawing a deep breath, Phena clamped her eyes shut and  pressed her hands over them as she attempted to get a handle on her breathing over the thunderous cacophony of her heart pounding away in her chest.

  Where am I now?! Why do they do this to me? I finally found someone who is nice to me and doesn’t think I’m totally insane and is willing to help me some how, and then I’m just  plucked away again like some damn feather off a birds arse? This isn’t fair… None of this is, I didn’t ask to be uprooted from everything and everyone..

  That moment of self-pity was cut short by that little voice in the back of her mind that reminded her that she was, in fact, somewhat miserable back home and could never have stayed there and fallen into the life people expected of her because she was labeled as ‘too’ independent and too willful. They weren’t mean or overly cruel to her really, but Phena knew she was talked about and laughed at; that her family was labeled as a breeder or problem children because her brother had defied his family to marry the women he loved and then moved away, and now their eldest surviving daughter was touting around town, making friends with other problem persons..

  Her town prided themselves on their families and their livelihoods of course, and to have an overly willful child was seen as a bit of a black sheep and all of that nonsense. As if having a brain was really that horrible. Perhaps it was because they thought of such independence as a breaking up of their unity or some such nonsense. Phena didn’t know, nor did she really care in the end.

  She liked most of them. Treated them with kindness and respect, did  most of the duties and chores she was expected to, mostly out of consideration for her siblings than anyone else, but Phena would have eventually been expected to marry whomever her family had chosen for her. A ‘respectable’ girl, even around these parts didn’t stay single and unmarried for any good reason.. If she had someone found someone that she fancied enough to even think about marrying, her family would have over ridden her wishes if the person THEY  had in mind balanced her better than him. Even if they loved her and respected her opinions as their child, as a person seen as rebellious, they would’ve no doubt saddled her with the first lame, brain-dead clod they would have found.

   Somehow Phena knew she would have moved away from that town, perhaps headed towards the capitol to pursue a life there, even if she didn’t have any exceptional skills with which to market herself other than her body, of course. As desperate as the situation could have become, there was nothing Phena thought was bad enough to push her into a life of prostitution.. Then again, how many girls had  said that same thing? Made solemn vows to their deities only to find themselves lifting their skirts for the first paying man when hunger drove them their breaking point.

   And it wasn’t so much that she didn’t want to have a family some day. Phena merely objected to the idea that she should have blindly followed along to with what everyone ELSE thought was best for HER and her alone. The goddesses gave them brains for a reason so why shouldn’t they use them? It wasn’t as though she incited riots in the city square every chance she got Phena was more the type to sit in on a philosophical discussion at the only library in town, rather than head off with the local gang of girls to sit by the river who passed the time braiding each others hair and gossip about the kind of men they hoped they could marry and what they would one day name their children if they had them.

  Of course that was all easy said and done, but one the reality of their positions sank in, the time for day dreaming and pretending was gone. Before long each of them were to be saddled with a husband and impregnated as soon as they could be. Perhaps that was an overly critical judgement of her home life and her town, it truly wasn’t as black or white as that all of the time. But more often than not, that was how Phena felt and it was difficult to, even now, cleanse her mind from what she had been so accustomed to back home. The older she got, the more Phena felt like the collective sore thumb of her town.. Which was unfortunate because there aspects of it she really liked.

 Enough thinking about home, Phena.. The time to worry about home; to dwell on the past and how much of an oddball you are is not right now. It’s when you finally know where you are and the direction home is IN.. Maybe getting married to Theoxin  S’iltol  doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.. does it?

Rubbing her upper arms, the girl from Harphollow forced herself to take several deep breaths and cam down. If racing through that tunnel and then a joint marathon through the forest wasn’t time to panic, then this certainly wasn’t either. The morning air was cool, and as she drank deep of it, Phena could feel the relaxing chill slowly encompassing her body from head to foot. Judging by the line of trees several yards away, she had to assume she was at least close to where they had fallen asleep. The trees certainly looked roughly similar to how they had before. As did the surrounding vegetation..

   Swallowing hard, Phena glanced around again, finally settling her eyes on the river flowing beside her. The water was clear and not terribly fast moving, but it wasn’t flowing at a snails pace either. Perhaps there were some small rapids down further. But all of that wouldn’t have mattered if she didn’t figure out where Voren was..

  “Voren?” she shouted into the emptiness. On hindsight, with the Palace guards and so forth possibly after them, perhaps that wasn’t the best of ideas, but right now she didn’t give a rats rear end. She’d fight them tooth and nail if she had to. At this stage she’d fight a pack of wild boars bare-handed and not care. That was where she found herself when all the layers of worry and fear were piled on. “VOREN! VORRREEENNNNNN!!” Shouting that name a handful of times later, she quieted to listen.

  Minutes turned to hours. Hope into desperation. Waiting for any kind of response was truly one of the worst forms of agony she had ever experienced. And that was after all the dream transportation’s and crawling blind through a cramped, freezing cold tunnel.. Just when she was about to open her mouth and shout his name again when she heard a very faint, but very pronounced:

  “PHENA?! Phena where are you?”

  Thank you! cheered Phena, practically bouncing in place.

  “HERE! VOREN!!! Keep coming!! I think you’re almost here! This way! Follow–” she glanced to the sky and noted the position of the sun. “The sun is rising right behind me! I’m at the river!! Are you coming?”

  “Alright! Stay there! I’m coming, I hear you!”

  “Good!” Phena cheered, eagerly

  A few minutes of pacing later, with Phena hugging herself tightly, almost sick with worry, finally saw Vorens face through the woods and she quickly ran to meet him. Never had she been more glad to see a familiar face before. Even if that familiar face was still somewhat of a stranger to her. However far she had been moved from home, Voren was the only kind person she knew at the moment, and with him she felt safer than were he not.

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Stay tuned for part 14

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