I am really excited about this one. Asa is actually a character I created a couple years ago for a friend's DnD campaign. I put him aside when we stopped playing that world, but his story stuck with me. I want to tell it, and one of the Reaper Bones that came with my Kickstarter package really fit who he is.
So, I decided to paint him and work on a story about him. This is a prologue to his greater story. It takes place when he is a kid and sets up who he will be as a young man (and he doesn't end up exactly as you might think!).
I don't want to say more about him just yet, but I do hope you enjoy the prologue to his greater story below. I appreciate any comments you might have. Does it make you interested to know more? Does it fall flat?
This is of course a first draft, with basic proofreading done.
Thank you for reading. Without further ado,
Phenora looked up at the dark sky and grumbled to herself. "We finally get the children out and it rains." She frowned as the clouds thundered an answer from far away.
Standing on the stone steps of the orphanage, Phenora counted the children one more time. They seemed to not mind the slow drizzle of rain that fell about them. Phenora lamented the laundry she had to look forward to that evening.
After accounting for all twelve young ones, including the three already splashing in a nearby puddle, Phenora nodded to Lucy. Lucy, the most recent "graduate" of the orphanage and now youngest caretaker, called to the children to line up as they had practiced, just minutes before, inside the safety of the entrance hall.
The coastal city bustled around them. Carriages passed along the cobbled road. The distant sound of news boys echoed along the buildings from street corners down near the docks. Many on the streets hurried to finish their business before the rain picked up.
"Stay together, now. Everyone in line. We don't want to miss out on our field trip today." Phenora called out over the noise of the city street around them. The children, aged six to nine, shuffled around. Cries of "I was here first" and "He's cutting" rang out as the kids pushed and pulled for their wanted positions in line.
Lucy attempted to straighten the line as Phenora walked to the front. The middle aged caretaker did her best to look regal and proper in her worn dark dress and plain shoes. The children, knowing they risked their rare trip through the city to the temple, quieted as she passed them by. The children did not visit the temple often, but all enjoyed leaving the walls of the orphanage and meeting with the kind priests who provided them clothing and food.
Lucy took her place at the end of the line as the small troop marched on, all smiling.
The children kept the line as straight as could be expected. Lucy called out wanderers by name as various city sites distracted the occasional child. Some bumped into those walking ahead of them, some wandered from the line, and some tried to distract their neighbors by telling jokes and pointing out unfamiliar people and places.
When six year old Henry stepped out of line for the fifth time in the three blocks, Lucy sighed and reminded him of his proper place behind his friend, Asa. Smaller than most of the children, Henry swerved from the line hoping to see around his taller mates. This time, as he turned back to take his place in line, he tripped and fell into the street. The oncoming carriage, led by four large thoroughbreds, did not see the small boy, nor could it stop in time if it had.
"Henry!" Lucy cried out as the right lead horse trampled the boy, kicking him into the gutter of the road. The carriage continued down the road without slowing.
Phenora turned back toward the scene and gasped. Fighting through the shock and terror, she ordered the children back. "Everyone against the wall here, now!"
Many of the children, unaware of what happened behind them began to protest, afraid one of the others somehow ruined the outing. Others began to cry and yell out after seeing their friend lying motionless in the gutter.
Lucy forced herself past the shocked children, pushing two of them back away from the street in the process. She needed to see Henry. She needed to know if there was any hope he might be alive.
A few passers by stopped and began to surround the scene, forcing any other carriages and carts to steer clear of the boy. Lucy forced a path to the boy and she hurried to reach his side.
Asa passed in front of her and reached his younger friend first. Lucy tried to call out to him, but the words stalled, stuck in her throat. The boy's confidence surprised Lucy as he knelt down over Henry's broken body. She remembered Asa to be a timid boy. He always kept himself away from the center of attention. Lucy's heart went out to the boy. She thought of how he must care for his hurt friend.
As Asa knelt down and gently touched Henry, he shined, like the sun sent a special ray of light through the clouds and rain just for these two little boys. She wondered if she was imagining the spectacle, but a glance to Phenora's shocked look confirmed this was no hallucination.
The light brightened around the two boys, causing Lucy and all those looking on to cover their eyes from the blinding flash. Lucy blinked away the spots in her vision for several seconds as the light dimmed back to the dull gray of the rainy day.
Henry's hand reached up and grabbed on as Asa pulled his friend up from the gutter. The two boys stood smiling at one another as all who looked on gaped in amazement.
Shaking her shock, Lucy rushed over and hugged the two boys in a tight embrace. She then held them both at arms' length and looked them over, not realizing the tears streaming down her cheeks.
Growing up in the orphanage, Lucy accepted that miracles of their goddess were possible. She never believed she would witness one. Lucy looked over Asa once again, amazed. This boy was special, chosen. The goddess' paladins needed to know about him.
The young caretaker hugged the boys again and looked at Phenora, assured her teacher felt the same.