Hello everyone! So I’m going to post something I’ve been working on for a while. It really is a work in progress, but as I work on it and begin to edit it I will keep this updated as well. I hope to hear what you think.
Crossing the Black Sea
All her life Dana had known war. She had been born during the first threats of a world war she knew nothing about. As she grew older, talks of war were commonplace in her home, her school, even on the streets. However, as a small child, even when you grow up with it all around you, war is a difficult thing to grasp. The only thing she knew was that it frightened everyone.
Life had been hard as she grew, living in a town that seemed to be under attack-or at least under the threat of attack- for years. Rolling blackouts, having to give rooms and food to foreign and hometown soldiers alike, having to scrounge for every scrap of food and clothing. As the war raged on, civilians suffered the most.
When Dana reached the age of five, strange men had arrived at their home in search of capable fighters. So far, her father had been able to avoid the fight. Travis Massie had been a healer in the town for nearly ten years. His talents had been the only thing keeping him from being drafted into war, however, there were always needs for more men, and the demand finally reached their town.
Dana remembers her mother, Mollie, pleading not to take her father. Dana stood in the kitchen and watched the scene from a distance, tears rolling down her round cheeks as her chin quivered. She struggled not to make a sound and kept making the softest whimpers going unheard by the adults. That was the last time she ever saw her father, and over time, his face would fade from memory, like the town she was born in.
Less than a year later, Dana found her mother at the kitchen table, her head on the folded arms, weeping. It would take her Mollie two days to gather the strength to tell Dana that her father had been killed trying to save a soldier who had been shot in the field. That he died a hero.
Over the next few years, the war would slowly move closer to the town, making it extremely dangerous to live in. Dana and her mother had evacuated, fleeing to the SvalvÍk coast as many others did to take the next ship across the Turbul Ocean to Awica. The war had not reached the cotenant yet and seemed a safe refuge to so many. When the ship finally came to take the refugees overseas, the mass of people had doubled.
On the ship, Dana and Mollie had been crowded in below deck with no fresh air or sunlight. The trip was long and terrifying. Dana was sick for the first few days, barely able to eat or even keep water down. After a week, she had become used to the way the ship swayed, but the dark cabin still felt unsafe and crowded.
Great leviathans would come recklessly close to the massive ship, rubbing their powerful bodies against the haul of the ship. Wood and metal would whine at the pressure, causing moments of terror for the whole of the ship. Some moments Dana would hear fearful whispers of submarines that could destroy the whole ship. She did not know what was more terrifying. The monsters of the seas or the manmade monsters hunting the innocent.
Dana had even glimpsed airplanes flying through a gray sky, at first believing them to be dragons. She had never seen one so close before. She was flabbergasted at the speed and ferocious roar of the engines as they passed the ship. They seemed to cut through the clouds like hot knives through butter. The blue painted metal was a brilliant contrast against a colorless world.
As the journey turned from days to weeks, passengers grew sick. They would always start with a cough that never stopped. It would grow worst as their throats grew raw and blood began to choke them. Bile and blood-filled buckets, as the coughing grew worse. Refugees and sailors alike began to die, choking on their own blood, dehydrated and weak. Their bodies and belonging were then wrapped in pale sheets and dumped into the blackness of the Turbul Sea.
Dana would not fully understand how sick her mother was until she was past the point of being helped. Slowly she would stop eating, her skin grew hot to the touch, and yet she could never be warm enough. Her cough had stopped on the last night and her breath sounded gurgled. Her mother shivered violently for the whole night while Dana sat at her side, holding her hand. She woke to find her mother still and cold as a statue. That morning, Mollie was wrapped in her bedsheet, her belonging put into a brown woven sack and filled with heavy scraps of metal, and carried to the railing of the ship only to be thrown into the black ocean water.
Dana wept the rest of the voyage. She felt broken and alone and terrified that she would be in a strange land alone. With no one to care for her, she was likely to die alone. When she found herself on the shores of the strange new world, she was relieved that she spoke the same language, if not without a different accent with the soft bur of her homeland, SvalvÍk.
She arrived in the massive city of Wellingstone, which was thrown into turmoil. Abled-bodied men had been sent over the Turbul Sea to fight and die in a futile attempt to stop the spread of the Arcane Order’s forces. Within her first week, her struggles grew when she began to hear people talking about the people known as the Transcendents. She had only learned so much about these types of people from school. She knew them to be a special kind of people, born with special talents that made them different than other people. The most well-known being people with super strength and those who could live longer, but they were not the only kind.
As she listened to the people on the streets talk, she realized there had been a group of Transcendents fighting against The Arcane Order in an effort to try to end the war. The only problem was that The Arcane Order had their own Transcendents. The Arcane Order’s Transcendents had the advantage in the war, as the Order found ways to enhance the abilities of the ones they recruited. Dana listened in horror as she heard the panic in the voices of so many passing her by, the Transcendents who fought against the Arcane Order were all killed in a last resort effort to stop the war. The Arcane Order had won the war.
Over the next few months, soldiers would return home defeated, followed by The Arcane Order’s forces. The slow takeover of Awica would thus begin, throwing the surviving citizens further into chaos and an even deeper hell.
Dana sat alone on the cold street as the rain came down like a gentle trickle. She had been trying to find a warm place to hide, but hopelessness took the warmth from her heart and she finally sat down, leaning into a cold, damp brick wall as she watched strangers rush through the gray. She pulled her legs up to her chest to try to stay warm. Her jacket had grown tattered and offered little warmth anymore.
She looked at the holes in the pants she stole from a clothesline, belonging to a boy not much bigger than her, she figured. She abandoned all her clothes, all the pretty dresses her mother had made for her. She even managed to trade some belonging for food. Now, however, she had nothing left to trade.
Dana chewed at her cheek, feeling the scars inside her mouth from chewing hungrily in her sleep. Tasting blood, she remembered that she dreamed of food again. Not just food, she dreamed of being home in her little town, in the kitchen of her little house, listening to her mother hum a sweet tune as she baked a savory bread with sweet onions, spicy sausage, and creamy cheese into a beautiful loaf of bread. She would cut off a steaming slice for little Dana and spread creamy goat cheese on it, topping it off with a sweet berry jam.
Just remembering made Dana’s stomach hurt, from starvation and loss. While she wanted to cry, she did not have the strength to do so anymore. She realized that she would die in this street today. She had no room left to fight and only felt relief at the thought of not feeling hungry all the time. Not being afraid and lost in a strange land. Perhaps she would even join her mother and father again.
Dana closed her eyes and let her head rest in her cold, wet arms. She seemed so tired now. She was not sure when she actually slept for more than a few hours at a time. She felt herself begin to slip into darkness, and a soft voice stirred her.
“Oh, sweet child. What’re you doing in the rain?” The voice was soft, shaky, with a gentle masculine tone.
Dana raised her head to see a dark-skinned elder looking at her, kneeling down on the wet sidewalk. His short hair was a dark gray, his eyebrows bushy and bunched in concern. Kind, round onyx eyes looked into her dark blue eyes. He used a cane carved from a dark wood in one hand, supporting himself as he got down to Dana’s level.
“Where’d be your parents, sweetheart?” The man asked, with a sad smile that sparked the warmth in Dana’s cold body.
She began to sob, throwing herself into the man without thinking. The man righted himself, hugging Dana tightly and laughing. “Oh, sweet child! You poor thing.” He gently moved her arms from around his neck and stood slowly with a chuckling groan. He put an arm around Dana and hugged her again, reaching to her head and stroking her dark blonde hair. He was so warm in his thick wool jacket, only slightly dampened by the rain.
The man gently took Dana’s chin to look at her. “You must be starved, all skin and bone, you are. Come with me, sweet child, I have soup ready at home.” The man held out a slightly arthritic hand to the strange little girl. Feeling no ill intent from the man, she took it and walked with him to a large brick building only four blocks away.
The door was a soft cream with a hazy glass window at the top. The building was only three stories, but it looked massive from where she stood. As they walked to the door, the old man searched the pocked inside his wool jacket and pulled out a brass key with a small chain on it; attached to it were a plain gold ring and another brass key with a heart-shaped top. He gave a bright smile to the little girl at his side. “This is home; we live on the second floor.”
Dana smiled weakly. “Thank you, sir.”
The man chuckled as he fumbled with the key in the door. “No need to be formal, sweetheart. You call me Papa Joe. What be your name, child?”
“My names Dana, sir.” She dipped her head respectfully.
Joe laughed. “Not from around here, are you sweet Danny?”
“N-no sir, I’m from across the sea.” With a thrill of fear, Dana looked back over her shoulder as though she might see the ocean at her back.
The door finally unlocked and swung open slightly. “Now, Danny, no more calling me sir. It’s Papa Joe. Now let’s get you dry and fed.” He waved her in and gently eased her up the stairs. When they reached the second floor, there was a tan wooden door. Joe used the second brass key with the heart-shaped top to open the door and waved the girl in.
“Thank you… Papa Joe.” Dana said shyly as she walked in.
The apartment was the size of a house. Far larger than it even looked from the outside. Dana gasped quietly and smiled at the warmth of the place. The walls were bright with colorful wallpaper and beautiful paintings and pictures of many people. She slowly walked through the first hall and into the live-in room. There was an old piano and radio against the far wall with so much space, and a couch and two lounge chairs on the opposite wall. When she walked through that room, she turned into a doorway that led to another hall, to her left was a massive kitchen with a huge table at the far end with a white lace cloth and a vase with dry flowers in it. To her right was another long hall with several closed doors.
From behind came Joe, shuffling in slippers with a light sweater on to replace the damp wool jacket. He stopped and looked confused as he looked into the kitchen. “Hm. I thought Abby would be in here.” He turned to the hall and began to shuffle down it. “Abby, darling, we have a guest.”
One of the doors opened abruptly. A young man stepped out, his face scrunched. Dana could feel a wave of sadness and frustration coming from the young man. “Papa. Where have you been?”
“Oh! Joseph, I was just at the store,”
The young man turned Joe around and steered him back to the kitchen. “Papa, let’s have a seat, ok?”
Joe smiled as he walked into the kitchen. “Your Ma’ was making soup. I went to get onions from the shop.”
As Joe took a seat into the wood chair, Joseph stopped and looked at the ragged little stranger in their house. His onyx eyes were just like Joe’s, but they held worry instead of kindness. “Pa? Did you bring home a stray?”
Joe nodded, looking pleased. “This here is Danny. Poor child was sleeping in the rain on the sidewalk.”
Joseph frowned and looked to his father. “Pa, you can’t just bring home strays, it’s hard enough as is…”
Joe held up a hand and gave his son a stern look. “Now, boy, this is my home and if I want to bring a half dead little stray into it, that’s my business. You expect me to leave that poor little girl to die out there like that knowing I can do something? Is that what I taught you, boy?”
Joseph frowned deeply and looked over at Dana with a look that made her shrink back. “No, Pa, but we barely have enough…”
Joe held up a hand to stop his son. “I’ve put my foot down. Now get your Ma’ in here and we can feed this poor girl.”
Joseph looked at his father sadly. “Pa… Mama…She died years ago, remember?”
Joe blinked and looked confused. He looked at the floor for a long moment quietly. Dana felt the house fill with sorrow, like a heavy mist. “Ah,” Joe nodded, frowning. “Yes, forgive me. I remember now.”
While Joe sat quietly at the table, Joseph looked at Dana for a moment. Dana could feel that he was not angry with her, he was just… sad. Joseph knelt down. “Would you like me to make you some food?”
Dana nodded slowly.
Joseph finally smiled, even though it was forced, it still made him look more handsome. “Have a seat. Danny? Right, I’ll take care of you.”
Dana sat beside Joe who still looked at the floor quietly. She felt his pain fully in her heart and wished with all her heart that she could make his pain go away.