The War of the Clans | Teen Ink

The War of the Clans

July 1, 2011
By NormalNorrie, Los Angeles, California
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NormalNorrie, Los Angeles, California
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Favorite Quote:
"People wore kilts so they could take a dump during battle."

“Aari!” The girl looked up from her readings, searching for the source of the voice that called her. She found that her candle had nearly melted down into nonexistence, with drippings of molten wax pooling on her desk.
“Yes?” She called back, blowing out the candle before it disappeared entirely.
“I can come in?” The voice said, this time closer and quieter.
“Yes,” She said, watching as her Keeper came into the room. Aari stepped closer to her desk, trying to hide the melted wax, but not before the stern woman cast a condescending glance at it. Her frown deepened, the lines around her mouth and eyes growing longer and deeper as she did so. Merriam did not like messes, of any way, shape, or form.
“I assume you have yet to prepare for bed,” She sniffed, making a facial expression that would have been far more effective on a more graceful looking woman.
“Well…I do have a few more minutes,” Aari smiled a small smile at her, although Merrian seemed not to notice.
“’Tis better to do now what might be done later,” She said, using her most frequently used expression. She had many expressions, so many that a large tome would not have been sufficient for holding them. Many of them were about work ethics and how everyone else’s was incorrect. Some of them were about how much pain she had been put through since accepting Aari as her charge.
“I was reading, though,” Aari protested.
“I would be able to read a great lot more if you would follow through on your duties,” She shook her head, a remorseful expression on her face.
“I will get ready,” Aari promised, but the older woman did not look convinced.
The girl pulled out her nightgown, laying it over the bed. She slipped off her slippers, walking in her stocking-feet.
Merriam was still frowning, but as soon as she had gotten her assurances that Aari was indeed getting ready for bed, she left.
There was hardly enough light for her to get ready, but the lanterns in the hall gave off some flickering beams that helped Aari see enough to be able to change.
She went over to the outward-facing building, the one that gave a clear view of the whole Flittere city, as well as the wall and surrounding forest. She had never been in the forest, but she didn’t know many who had, so what lay outside the safety of the city was of no importance to her. All around her were buildings, some with lights that hadn’t been extinguished yet. Her best friend lived in the Green Building, where the lights were already off. In the White Building, where Aari lived, the lamp-lighters were going through the corridors, putting out the lanterns in the whole building.
Aari crossed through her room, absently untying the small leather string that tied the end of her braid. Around her mirror, with one corner stuck under the white, wooden frame, were small drawings of things: friends, items, and her dreams. She was almost afraid to look at the drawings of her dreams, for although those horrible nightmares never went very far away from her, the fear grew stronger as she was reminded of them.
She crawled into bed, letting her fear of sleep freeze her for a moment. She never knew the dream by heart, and yet was always caught off guard by the suddenness of it all. But one thing she felt certain of: she would never get to finish that awful dream, no matter what.
Aari ran, as quickly as the wind, through the trees, trying to avoid the monster coming after her. She knew that place, like you know a half-remembered dream, like you remember memories from long, long ago, even before you could possibly remember them. She didn’t know what she was running from, or how she had even gotten there, but she kept running, her primal instincts pushing her to move forward, even though her legs were like rocks, and her eyes were watering from twigs hitting her face. Suddenly, the trees stopped, and Aari was in a clearing. She kept running, though. She was just about to collapse in exhaustion when a woman stepped out of the trees. She was glowing, but not brightly, more in a shimmering light, like a sheen of gossamer. She came up to Aari, held her hand, and walked me over to the end of the clearing, where the earth stopped short and gave way to a gaping abyss. They both turned and stared as the monster came closer, crashing through the underbrush. The woman pushed her to a fallen log, indicating that she should hide behind it. She did, just as the monster thudded into the clearing. Aari never got to look at the monster, however, for the woman was opening her mouth to speak, seeming to draw all of the air in the clearing as she took a single breath. Then the monster lunged, grabbing her in it’s shapeless form and dropping over the cliff in a single moment.
Aari snapped up, her hair plastered to her head in a cold sweat that drenched her entire body. She stayed in bed for a moment before getting up and going over to her washbasin, doing so in more of a rhythm than a conscious action. As she splashed her face with icy water, she promised herself that she would tell Merriam everything when she woke up the next morning.

Kawit sat at the campfire. She poked at it with a long, sharpened stick, urging in to burn brighter, to light up the camp in the hours just after the setting of the sun. She was the only one sitting near the fire, the one who had to make sure it didn’t spread and catch their camp alight.
She preferred solitude to their company, anyway. Although it was sometimes nice to fit in, it wasn’t all that wonderful to try and belong to with a place that wasn’t like you, and in the end she had just given in and let the constant loneliness settle into her bones. She was the keeper of things, the watcher of the children, the one who kept the fire burning all night, the one who sat on the outskirts of cmpfires gatherings, listening to their stories and songs, but never a part of them.
The other Shifters were already finding out who they were, what being that they would turn into on impulse. The little children would sometimes change, when they managed to focus long enough, appearing for a split second as a dog, or a bear, or a bird. The elders would laugh knowingly, remembering the way they all had been so exited to try out their powers when they, too, were young. Kawit was the only person older than seven to not absolutely know her animal. She was excluded from the trainings, the hunts, and the fun, all because she didn’t know who she was.
She sighed, and resumed poking the fire, a fine layer of ash floating into the air and settling on her brown leather moccasins. Where did she belong?
“Kawit?” Her head whirled around, and she found herself facing an unfamiliar, yet remembered face.
“What? Who are you?” She asked, trying to be brave despite the flutters in her stomach.
“You don’t know me very well, but I was sent to retrieve you,” The man said, a small smile forming in the corner of his mouth.
Kawit didn’t fear the man, but the way he spoke to her, it was as if he thought they were old friends. “I need to know who you are, and what you want. I get go get the Chief,” She said, trying to make her voice sound more authoritative, like the elders’ voices did.
“My name is Terrin, and I have been sent to take you with me.” He said, calmly paraphrasing his first remark.
“I can’t go with you!” Kawit said, beginning to feel very much like a trapped animal, like the rabbits that her tribe snared, the ones with the brown eyes that got so wide you could see their whites.
“I have my orders, and I will follow them, no matter if I have to bring you conscious or not.” His eyes lost all humor.
“Help! Help me-” She screamed, just as he clamped a damp cloth over her mouth. She breathed in for a second, letting the herbal scent of the cloth calm her before she closed her eyes and let herself fall into sleep.

When Kawit awoke, the first thing that she noticed was that she was unable to move her hands. She wriggled around, trying to get herself unbound from the tree she was tied to, but to no avail. It didn’t seem to her that she could have bitten through her bindings, as they were thick and tight, maybe leather or rope.
“Anyone?” Kawit called, her voice wavering like a spider web in the breeze. She had been the only one in her clan to be terrified of the woods, always wondering what the shadows held, if every twig snapping was a wild animal itching to rip her to shreds.
No one answered, of course, as there was no one who could have answered her. That led to the obvious question: Where was the man?
Kawit was pleased at having kept a slightly level head, despite her having been kidnapped, tied to a tree, and left on her own in the middle of the forest. When she was a little calmer, she happened to notice the camp setting, including three bedrolls, a fire pit, and a rucksack.
“Ahh, she’s finally awake!” Someone proclaimed. It was the man who she had been taken by, walking into the camp, carrying a dead rabbit in one hand, and a trap in the other.
Kawit looked down at her lap.
“You look upset,” He observed. “Tea will work, I suppose,” He said, pulling small kettle out of his bag. Next to the fire pit, that he had already lit a fire in, was a large metal bucket. The man dipped the kettle in it, filling it to the brim with water, and he hung it over the fire to boil.
“Don’t be angry,” He said, as he sat on the ground and looked at her. “I have to obey orders,” he said, a slight smile toying at his lips.
“Who gave you those orders?”
“I’m not at liberty to say, but I can tell you that it’s all in your best interest…I’m sorry if I scared you before, what with the kidnapping and all.”
Kawit didn’t answer, and the man didn’t say anything else, letting the silence of the forest continue. It was only broken when the tea began to boil, forcing the steam out of the kettle in a screaming noise. The man poured two mugs of the steaming liquid, putting tea bags in each. He poured some sugar into one, and some honey in the other, stirring them before he handed the mug with sugar to Kawit.
“Enjoy.” He said, as she took her first sip. It was enjoyable, perfectly sweetened and minty, and she let the warmth seep into her bones. She had only drunk half of the cup when her eyelids began to droop.
“I’m gonna go now,” The man said, taking her cup out of her hands. She could only gather the strength to nod her head slowly, and she watched as his shadowy figure disappeared into the woods.

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This book has 1 comment.

tealbird said...
on Jul. 6 2011 at 12:45 pm

I first wanted to read this novel because I saw the word Shifters, which was what my recently submitted novel was about. (Trust me, yours seem a lot nicer than mine, though!) Anyway, when I started reading it I loved it and the way it was written. The only thing I saw was that sometimes you would tell what was going on rather than describe, but other than it was a very good piece.

If you were ever wondering about the other side to Shifters (:D), check out my novel, "Scarred".