In my creative writing class, our teacher gave us a list of ways to get started writing a story. I choose the alphabet option, where each sentence begins with the next letter of the alphabet. If you watch closely, you can probably see it. The story isn’t finished, I want to turn it into a book later, but this is what I ended up writing.
“Another day like this one and I might go crazy,” Aasia said, tiredly, rubbing her emerald-colored eyes. It had been long and trying, and she was ready for bed. She used her scarf to pull her curly, red hair back and out of her face.
“It’s better not to dwell on it,” the old witch, Beccalynn, told her. Her grayed hair was mostly hidden by a brown, hooded cloak. Her back hunched over so much that her head only reached Aasia’s waist and she relied on a crooked, wooden cane to help her walk.
“Could we take a break tomorrow?” Aasia asked her, hopefully. She may have agreed to train with the old witch, but she didn’t realize it would be so challenging and it took all of her strength to keep going through with it.
The old witch was silent for a few long moments. She finally said, “Garrett would not be pleased.”
“He’s not here for us to please or displease!” Asia protested. “I promise, after one day’s break, I won’t complain again.”
“Just one day, then,” the old witch said, sighing.
“Thank you, Beccalynn. Thank you so much!” Aasia said. She wanted to hug her, but knew it would only cause the old witch more pain.
“Light the fire,” Beccalynn told her.
“Kiro!” Aasia said, pointing both hands toward the branches and sticks they had piled in the middle of their camp. Instantly they ignited in a warm blaze.
Aasia pointed her hands at the fire again. After a moment, the fire burned much hotter, the branches crackling loudly in the silence of the night. The light danced off of Aasia’s pale, milky white skin.
“Better,” Beccalynn said, absentmindedly. Her gnarled hands worked quickly at a knot in the rope they had stolen from the old man earlier that day. “Move on to dinner, please.”
Now that the sun had set below the horizon, they thought that they were in no danger of being caught. The first moon was already high in the sky; the second would soon rise above the mountains, opposite where the sun had set. Only the owls that could fly away were brave enough to move around in the open at night. Beccalyn had already walked around their camp putting charms on the brush that surrounded their camp.
Aasia moved the large, black pot onto the fire and began preparing the porridge. It was all they had to eat. Quietly and without complaint, Aasia spooned the porridge into their bowls and handed one to Beccalynn. They each sat down on a log and began to eat. “We should try to catch a rabbit or something,” she said.
“Snakes make delicious stew,” Beccalynn replied. “That’s only if you have other things to put in with them, though.”
“You can find carrots and potatoes in the ground in the forest,” Aasia said, looking toward the blackness of the trees.
“Very unlikely around here.”
“We could at least try to find some,” Aasia pushed.
“Codroots are more likely,” Beccalynn continued as though Aasia hadn’t interrupted. “You could find those add them instead of carrots, since they taste similar.”
They fell silent, listening to the sounds of the night. Aasia wasn’t entirely comfortable with the silence. She had grown up in a family of eight, constantly surrounded by chaos and noise. She may not have been with Beccalynn for long, but Aasia knew not to disturb her when lost in thought. This was when Beccalynn planned for the next day. Things like pushing with her mind, forcing the elements to bend to her will, or the never-ending list of charms she must memorize, or transforming large boulders into tiny animals. No two days were the same, but each was equally exhausting.
After a moment, Aasia realized she heard the thumping of horses’ hooves. She stood, dropping her bowl to the ground and spilling the remainder of the porridge. Sending her thoughts out into the night, she finally sensed the one thing she hoped she wouldn’t. “Zola is near,” she said, panicked.
A sharp screech echoed throughout the quietness of the night. After a moment, Zola came thundering past them on her horse. The charms were working. She didn’t react to them or their fire. However, she must have known they were near. The horse stopped running and slowly paced back and forth.
“Come!” Zola shouted, her white teeth nearly luminescent against her dark skin. “Don’t hide from me any longer!”
“Get out your bow,” Beccalynn told Aasia. “Follow carefully and shoot her. Do not injure her. You must kill her.”
Aasia pulled back on the bow and aimed the arrow at Zola. “Higher,” Beccalynn told her. “Remember, it will curve back.” This bow was a special one, built only to work for Aasia.
Just as she released the arrow, Zola yelled, “Kiro!” The arrow ignited in flames and fell to the ground in ash. “Let’s not play games, anymore. Magic can’t hide you for long.”
Never in her two-hundred and sixty-three years had Beccalynn seen anything be able to penetrate her magic. Of course, Zola was special and Beccalynn had trained her herself. Zola was now moving her horse slowly toward them, although she still wasn’t looking at them.
“Push!” Beccalynn shouted to Aasia.
Aasia pushed with her mind, convincing the animal he was supposed to be elsewhere, causing him to turn and run, taking Zola with him. She could feel Zola fighting the horse, trying to get him to turn back, but Aasia’s talent to communicate with animals was strong. This horse would not stop until sunrise.
“What do we do now?” Aasia asked.
“We need to move,” Beccalynn said. “Clearly she figured a way past some of the charms meant to keep her away. It helps that she knows my magic. She will be back as soon as she is able.”
“Now? But night has fallen,” Aasia said, looking at the stars that were starting to shine.
“We will move to the shelter of the forest,” Beccalynn told her. “The trees will protect us from any dangers, including Zola.”
“How?” Aasia asked.
“The trees will hold my charms better than anything else,” was the reply. With a wave of her hand, Beccalynn had their camp packed and they moved on.
“How do you find codroots?” Aasia asked, continuing their conversation from earlier as they walked toward the trees.
“You know them by the shape of the root that comes out of the ground. I will help you find them,” Beccalynn told her.
The old witch used her cane as support as they walked. Aasia carried the pack that held all of their belongings, including the large black pot and all of their sleeping gear. Beccalynn had enchanted it so it wasn’t too heavy for her to carry. Aasia wondered why she couldn’t enchant it so it wouldn’t have to be carried, but Beccalynn told her it was so she wouldn’t get lazy. Not sure what that meant, she chose not to argue.
Aasia knew now that there would be no break tomorrow. There probably wouldn’t be one for weeks to come. They walked into the forest for most of the night before Beccalynn was satisfied and they stopped to make camp. She walked around in a large circle, disappearing out of view numerous times, muttering under her breath the whole time.
When she came back, Aasia had a fire lit and the sleeping bags laid out. “Let’s get some sleep,” Beccalynn said. “In the morning we’ll find codroot and continue to the ruins.”
Aasia lied in her sleeping back on her back. There was just enough of a break in the trees above her that she could see the stars. She fell asleep with hope in her heart that they would find what they were looking for at the ruins.