The Time of Green and Berries
The child was beautiful for a halfbreed, Nalla had to admit. It had clear green eyes, and delicate seafoam wings that resembled fairie wings. It almost looked human, or fae-ish, except for the fact that its skin was dark green, with gold stars dotting its arms and face. It looked nothing like its mother, a young nymph with ash blonde hair and green eyes, so Nalla assumed she took after her father, whatever her father was.
The nymph, Talia, trembled along with the leaves on the trees of the olive grove, as she handed her daughter over to Nalla. “Her name is Jaswyn.” She whispered timidly. Nalla nodded, looking down at the gurgling halfbreed in her arms, suddenly feeling very, very tired. She was too old for this.
“And what is her father?” Nalla asked, peering closely at the child. It was rare, for her skin to be dotted this way. If Nalla squinted, the stars seemed to make little constellations on the surface of Jaswyns juniper skin. She matched the color of the trees in the grove around her, Nalla observed, smiling slightly.
“A Drus, of the Juniper tree.”
“And how long shall I care for her?” Nalla looked up through the black hair that had fallen over her face, the way Talia blinked away tears not going unnoticed.
“Until the Ban is over, and Win is back.”
Surprised, Nalla blurted out. “Your husband was also captured? Apologies, maiden.”
Talia shook her head. Rocking back and forth, she seemed as jumpy as a rabbit, ready to go, to hide.
“Thank you, Nalla.” She bent down to kiss Jaswyn on the head, and then stepped back, into an olive tree, and disappeared.
Nalla, now with a child, sighed deeply and stared at the mossy ground. Then she held the halfbreed to her chest, and started back towards home.
The Time of Warmth and Harvest
One month later, Nalla heard from the witches in the village that the Altwidus Grove had been burned as the Ban expanded its rules. No juniper trees, for they contributed to the making of gin, and alcohol was Banned.
She sat in the Dragon Blood, a popular pub run by Jun, a Dwarf, listening to the witches cackle and shout as they traded their own versions of the story.
Gullveig, a fire witch raised her mug as she stood up, signalling it was her turn to talk. The pub quietened, and Nalla watched on from the bar.
“Aye, ye witches have such blunt and tiring stories!” She yelled, her eyes twinkling.
“Me, I was there, picking juniper berries for Jun, when a horde of horses come stampeding past me. On each one, a man sat, but they weren't actually men. They looked evil, I tell you!” She paused, her chest heaving with breaths. No longer did she seem jubilant and bright. The morbid story seemed to be taking a toll on her, reminding her that this was not a game to play with, this was a dark and sad tale.
“Me and Cherry, the assistant I got, stood up, and looked after them. They had another one of me, a fire witch, on one of the horses, and she was pointing at all them Juniper trees and bushes, and everything burned.”
Gullveig stopped with a start, seeming lost, and she sat down.
A young satyr, Qeet, spoke up. “My dearest friend, Oenone, is gone. She was with an ash tree, and yet they still killed her.”
The pub raised in volume, voices clamoring, people sobbing, people shouting angrily, people trying to get their voices to be heard.
Nalla thought back of Talia, and the exchange they had a month ago. She had stepped into an olive tree, but still. That olive tree was in the Altwidus Grove. She thought of Jaswyn, still an infant, sleeping at home while Yanus, her satyr assistant looked after her. Upset, Nalla pulled a young fae to her side, and whispered a question into his ear. “Do you know of Talia, of an olive tree?”
Puzzled, he looked up at her. Nalla was a short lady, but compared to the fae who were only about seven heads tall, tiny compared to Nalla who was eleven.
“Of course I know of Talia. She had a halfbreed child, but before that, she would care for the fae children.”
Nalla shook her head. She could care for fae children, but not her own?
“And do you know what is of her now?”
“Nay, but if she was in the Grove during the fire, then I s’pose she’s gone. A pity too, she was a fair lady.”
The fae turned away, and so Nalla shut her mouth.
This had never happened before. Nalla had never cared for an orphan before.
The Time of Grey and Frost
Nalla had now cared for Jaswyn for two months. The child did not seem to miss its mother, and seemed to latch onto Yanus and Nalla, without a care in the world. Nalla wanted nothing more than to take her outside, to the creek, when it was warm, for Jaswyn to feel the sun on her skin and the mud on her tiny feet. But this was wishful thinking, for the child was a halfbreed, and that was Banned.
Nalla stood in her kitchen, watching Jaswyn play with her toes. Yanus sat at the table, sorting herbs, and Ziv, her apprentice, chopped up carrots. The kitchen was warm, and cozy, but Nalla could not shake the feeling of dread. Jaswyn as so carefree, happy. But what if in the future, when Jaswyn was older? Would she blame Nalla for the Ban? For Talia being killed, and her father (was it Win?) being captured? And this was a halfbreed, meaning that she could have magic that no one knew of. Jaswyn could possibly be dangerous.
The Time of Ice and Snow
Grey. Grey, grey, grey.
Everything was grey and white, and cold and desolate. Though Nalla was used to the grey and cold and quiet, Jaswyn was not. Screams from the small child filled Nalla’s home at night, and when Nalla would run to the child’s bed to see what was the matter, she discovered that nothing was wrong; the child was screaming for a reason only she knew. Jaswyn was miserable, and no amount of Yanus singing to her, and Ziv cuddling her could bring her out of that sad state.
Ziv was a xana, a water spirit who had been separated from her home, a small stream far, far away when dwarves chased her out. She had a talent for manipulating water, and so she would call the water over, manipulating the orbs into spinning around, forming shapes and sprinkling dew on Jaswyns forehead. `
But Jaswyn was still inconsolable.
So one night, Nalla crept into her kitchen and began to brew an elixir.
Nalla was a witch, with a type of magic in her veins that gave her the power to brew magic. Her kind were called the Eclectic witches. All witches could make magic, based on her kind. Eclectic witches were herbal witches, making magic out of plants and earth and helping others. Specializing in children, Nalla looked after children when their parents were called to help others.
And so Nalla brewed the elixir, with Valerian so the child could sleep well, Ashwaga for happiness, Feverfew for good health. She added a bit of Draíochta (dragon talon) for magic health, and just a tiny, tiny bit of Belladonna, for her to have beautiful dreams.
The Time of the Bleak and Unknown
Janus. The month where cold was no longer cold, it was frigid and piercing. The cold found its way into the warmest parts of Nalla’s home, where the fire was in the sitting area, and the stove in the kitchen. The cold crept into Nalla’s cloak when she journeyed outside for food, and into Jaswyn’s body.
The poor child would lie in her bed, swaddled in wool blankets that Ziv had placed in the oven and cough weakly. At times, her body would be wracked with coughs, and at other times, she would barely be able to breath. Nalla had tried every potion and elixir and cure she could think of, but nothing worked.
Worried, one day Nalla went into the village, to visit another Eclectic, Alizon, the most powerful healer for guidance. She brought Jaswyn with her, despite knowing the risk of bringing such a sick child into such awful weather.
Nalla arrived at the witch's home just as the sun went down, cursing herself for not leaving earlier. It was dangerous for anyone but the Banners to be out in the dark. She raised one long, brown arm out to knock on Alizon’s door, Jaswyn’s body squirming as she coughed.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!
Nalla waited, and finally, the door swung open. Alizone was part elf, so she towered over many of the women in the village, Nalla included. She had long light brown hair, dark olive eyes and pale skin, which she covered in long robes, markings from when she was a Scribe in the Towers curling from under her sleeves and on her cheeks.
She stood in the doorframe, glaring outside. Her glare disappeared when she noticed Nalla, her face breaking out into a smile.
“Nalla Hawthorne?” She asked, disbelief creeping into her voice. “What are you here for? Is it the child?”
Nalla nodded, and pushed her way into the doorway. Alizone let her.
“Nalla, what is wrong that even the greatest healer can not even solve?” Alizone questioned, shutting the door and barring it with a stick. Nalla looked up from Jasywn’s face, smiling slightly.
“Alizone, please, do not humble yourself. It is well known that you are truly one of a kind when it comes to healing.” Shaking her head, Nalla went to the fire, holding Jasywn close. Alizone followed, puzzled. Quickly and quietly, Nalla unwrapped Jaswyn from the wool blankets; removed the fur hat off of her head.
Alizone knelt next to the smaller woman, gathering the garments off the rug. And then she noticed the baby. At ten months old, she was still a baby, but she had been large for her age. Now, Jaswyn was thin and weak, and grey and sad. Alizone gasped.
“Scribes Holy!” She cried, a popular term for former scribes to utter when they were surprised. Nalla’s head snapped up, surprised.
“What is it? Tell me, woman!” She demanded, the fear in voice surprised her. She hadn't realised how much she cared for the child.
“Nalla… The child is dying. She’s been poisoned!”
Author Notes: I wrote this for school and my teacher gave me a D, so i wanted to see what others think of it, because I honestly dont think its worthy of a D, right?