[story] The Journey Home

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[story] The Journey Home

Post by Meralynn / Ashla on Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:59 am

Despite being such a darling and sweetheart Ashla has had quite a terrible childhood. Her faith is probably not unique among farm girls from poor families, though her ability to put most of it behind her and embrace life might be. She just can't sit around and cry when the sun is shining and there are things to be done. Maybe one day her phasade will burst and she will turn completely insane, who knows. The future is yet to come.

Here is the story of how she visits her home.


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As Ashla reached Westfall and saw the yellow grass wave in the wind she leaned down as far as she dared and happily let her hand stroke it.
“Home...” she whispered and smiled, ripping a handful of grass and smelling it with her eyes closed. She sat up in the saddle again and eagerly continued her journey deep into the burnt grasslands.

She halted on top of the hill for a moment and looked at her home. It was a small gathering of three houses and their fields and a shared barn. Children were playing near the little creek and a handful of cows dozed in the shadow of a big apple tree.
Ashla stood up in the saddle and spotted the ocean behind the other of the two hills that surrounded the buildings. She slowly shook her head, amazed by how different this place seemed to her, seeing and appreciating things she never cared for before, like the smell of hay and the sound of the wind. A young girl of thirteen or fourteen years looked up from the hand-mill and her eyes widened.
“Ashla!” she said and stood up, brushing the dust off her hands. “Is tha' realleh you!?” Ashla laughed and hopped down from her horse and ran up to her little sister and hugged her. They laughed and Ashla put her hands on the girl's cheeks and studied her.
“Madeleine! Look at you, you're beautiful!” Ashla stroked the girl over the blonde, curly hair and kissed her on the forehead.
Madeleine giggled and blushed, though it was obvious that it was all an act. Madeleine had never been modest or shy. Just like Ashla when she was a child Madeleine had quickly proven her worth among the other children and, after a countless number of fights, she had made herself their leader. Now she was old enough to count as a woman and had duties that hindered her from playing all days long and the leadership had most likely passed down to someone else. Ashla looked at her fondly. Madeleine and her had always been close, ever since Madeleine was born and Ashla, only ten years old but already well aware of the hard and brutal world and the pain women had to suffer, took the baby under her wings and decided to protect her from any harm.

Ashla swallowed as she thought of her childhood and all the young siblings that had not made it through the winters. The small ones and the oldest were always the one who died first when starvation and cold ravaged and the three houses had had their share of grief. Ma Ericson next doors, who was never a frail woman, had walked out into the blistering cold when her fourth child had been found dead in his bed, a three year old boy called Adam with white hair. The mother was never to be found again.

Madeleine took Ashla's hand and pulled her with her to the yard in front of their house and the playing children stopped for a few seconds, staring at her, before they screamed with joy and rushed up to her, wrestling her down and hugging her. Ashla laughed and tickled the ones she could reach.
Once they had all calmed down Ashla looked at them all and sat up with a wrinkle between her brows.
“Where is Camille?” she stood up and looked around for her youngest sister, praying that she was still alive.
“Millie is with her 'tupid hen,” said a boy. “Millie never plays with us.” Ashla smiled and ruffled the hair at his small head.
“She's not like you,” she replied and walked towards the hen house where she found Camille with a brown-speckled hen in her knee. The little girl looked up at Ashla with her big, brown eyes. Ashla kneeled next to her and gently stroke her red hair.
“Hi there, sweetie.”
Camille snorted and hugged the hen.
“Maple is ill.” Camille simply said. Ashla smiled and pulled the child closer.
“Ahm sure Maple will be well again when she has you taking care of her.” she murmured against Camille's hair and stroked her back, her eyes filling with tears as she felt the girl's bones through her dirty dress. Camille closed her eyes and leaned to Ashla.

When Camille was born, four years earlier, no one thought she would survive. Ashla and her sisters had desperately rubbed her purple little body until she started to breathe and looked at them with those big, brown eyes but never made a sound. Since that day the sisters had looked after her, fed her and kept her between them in the bed, always sleeping lightly and waking up at any sound or movement. Their mother gave up on Camille from the very start and soon let the sisters take care of her entirely, turning her attention to the rest of the household and the hard work of the farm. Not because she lacked love for the baby, Camille was the kind of child that would touch the heart of the roughest soldier and make him smile and stroke her cheek gently with his fingertip, but because she thought that it was pointless – the weak little girl would most certainly be the sixth child she would have to dig a grave for in the frozen ground.
But Camille survived her first winters to everyone's surprise and joy. She was a quiet and serious child, and could never be tickled or chased like the other small ones but rather spent her time with the hens, looking at them and gently stroking them. Maple, the brown hen, and Camille had been together since the first time Camille carefully held the little chicken in her hand and kissed it's little head a couple of years earlier. The hen would follow Camille anywhere and even slept beside her in bed with it's head buried by the little girl's neck.

“Here...” Ashla put her hand in her pocket and took out a bun. She gave it to Camille who slowly nibbled at it with her head against Ashla's chest. She broke off a small piece and fed it to the hen.
“You have ta eat, Camille.” Ashla kissed Camille on the forehead. Camille leaned her head back and looked up at Ashla.
“Why did you leave, Ashla?” she whispered and Ashla felt a tear running down her cheek and bit her lip.
“Ah had ta, sweetie. When you grow up ah'll tell you why.” The other children stood at the door and looked at them in silence. “...but then you have ta eat, promise meh that.”
Camille nodded weakly and took a bite of the bun, as if she wanted to show Ashla how she could be a good girl. Ashla smiled and leaned down to kiss the child gently on the nose.
Ashla looked up at the other children and smiled at them.
“Ahm so glad ta see you all again. Ah've realleh missed you.” she kissed Camille again and stood up. “Where are all the grown-ups?”
“At the north-most field, takin' care of the hay.” another sister replied, a red-haired girl of nine with two big gaps where her front teeth had been. She ran up to Ashla and pulled at her arm. “Come play with us!” Ashla laughed and held her hand out for Camille.
“Yes! Come, Camille, join us!”

They spent most of the day by the creek, Camille resting in the shade of a tree with Maple at her lap, smiling faintly as she watched the others play. Ashla and all the children splashed water at each other, wrestled and laughed, talked about everything and nothing until the grown-ups returned.
Ashla laughed and danced around with her grown sisters, kissed her brother on the cheek and gave her father a tight hug. Ma Johnson gave her a look, snorted and went into the house without a word. Ashla's father leaned back and looked down at his daughter. He cupped her chin in his hand and studied her, trailing a finger along her headband and quickly touching the scars by her neck.
“Mah little girl...” he mumbled. “Wha's happened ta you?”
Ashla shook her head and put her hand at his bearded cheek, smiling at him.
“It doesn't matter, Pa, ahm just fine. Don't worreh about meh, ah found a man and a house and ahm doing well.” They smiled at eachother and her father kissed her cheek.
“Ahm glad for you, Ashla, remember that. All ah ever want is for you ta be happeh...” he lowered his voice. “...and you could never be that 'round here. You have mah blessing, girl.” He smiled and stroked her hair. Ashla kissed his cheek and turned her face to the house.
“...but she isn't glad.”
“Is she ever?” Pa Johnson shrugged lightly and looked at the house over his shoulder. “Be strong, honey, don't let her bring you down.” He absently patted her back twice and walked away towards the barn.

Ashla took a deep breath and walked inside the house. Her mother stood at the bench, chopping carrots. She turned around, put the knife down and stared at Ashla as she came in.
“So you're back.”
Ashla shook her head. “No Ma, ahm not stayin'.” Her mother came closer, wiping her hands at her apron. Ashla swallowed and forced herself to meet the stare and tried not to back as the old woman came closer. Ma stayed right in front of her daughter. Suddenly she hit Ashla across the face with the back of her hand and once more with her palm. Ashla staggered backwards and put her arm up, her eyes filling with tears and her cheeks burning.
“No, Ma! Please!” she cried.
“You dirteh little whore.” her mother snarled and walked after Ashla, hitting her again. Ashla stumbled into the wall and fell to her knees with her arms covering her face. Ma peered at her and reached down to rip Ashla's dress open in the front, displaying her scars. Ashla cried and covered herself with her arms and her mother tore the headband from her forehead, exposing what's underneath.
“Filth!” she gasped. “Look at you! Ruined, worthless!” she kicked Ashla in the stomach and threw the headband on Ashla as she curled up on the floor, sobbing like a child. Ma went back to the bench and leaned against it, looking down at Ashla with her arms crossed.
“Ah always knew somethin' like this'd happen ta you. You were always a whore an' a trouble-maker.” she spit at the floor. “You abandoned your own famileh, you broke a promise, Ashla! A promise!”
“...no! ...please, Ma...” Ashla begged. Ma ran at her and pulled her up by the hair, spit flying out of her mouth as she screamed into Ashla's face.
“Ahm not your Ma anymore! You're dead ta meh! Hear meh!? Dead!” She released Ashla's hair and hit her twice in the face again. Ashla fell to the floor once more and turned her face against the wall, crying in her palms. Her mother spat at her and returned to the bench.
“Brandon was generous ta you.” she muttered as she furiously chopped the carrots. “He'd take you as his wife even after you ashamed us all with your whorin'. Filth, hah!” she wiped the sweat off her brow with the back of her hand. “Ah see someone else figured out what you are an' marked you. Ah couldn' have done it better mahself!”
Ashla swallowed and closed her eyes.
“...he tried ta kill meh, Ma...” she whispered. Ma Johnson turned around and laughed shortly.
“An' why didn' he!? Good riddance it'd been! Onleh a true slut would seduce her own brothers and ashame us all!”
Ashla narrowed her eyes and turned her head to stare at her mother. “No....” she shook her head in disbelief and wiped the tears and blood from her face. “You know it wasn't like that.”
Ma turned her back against her daughter and swiped the carrots into a bowl.
“It was them, an' you know it! You know it, Ma!” Ashla screamed with a broken voice and new tears ran down her cheeks. “You know what 'em did and you never stopped 'em!” Ashla got up on her knees. “You're the one who's worthless! You let 'em use meh for years an' all you did was shrug an' turn your back an' pretend not ta see it! Ah needed you, but YOU abandoned MEH!”
Ma shook her head lightly and looked out the window.
“Don' say tha' about your brothers, everyone knows 'em were fine young men, fightin' in Northrend ta protect us all from tha' horrible scourge...”
Ashla stared at her mother's stiff back.
“Don't speak ill of the dead, it was your own fault.” Ma paused for a few seconds, almost hesitating before she continued, speaking slowly. “You're lost, Ashla, no one will ever love you.”

Ashla pulled her dagger from her sleeve and growled like an animal as she ran to her feet. Her mother turned around, raised her brows and opened her mouth to say something. Ashla ran at her, shoved her into the wall and grabbed her chin in her palm while pressing the dagger against her throat and staring at her eyes, breathing heavily.
“You're wrong,” she snarled. “Ah could kill you right 'ere.” She pressed the dagger firmer against her mother's throat until a thin, bloody line appeared. Ma Johnson stared at her daughter, shaking with fear.
“...A-Ashla?” a thin voice called from the door and Ashla turned her head. Camille stared at her and her little lip shivered. “Ashla... what're you doing ta Ma?”
Ashla looked back at her mother and snarled.
“Saved by a child.” she whispered between her teeth. “Hurt aneh of mah sisters ever again an' no child can ever save you.” Ashla released her mother and stepped back as the old woman fell to the floor in a puddle of her own piss. Ashla looked down at her.
“You ain't nothing but a bitter ol' cunt. Ah piteh you.” Ashla looked over at Camille and put her dagger back up her sleeve. “Ahm takin' Camille with meh.” She looked back at her mother and leaned down to whisper in her ear. “Consider yourself luckeh if you never see us again.”
Ashla stood up, turned around and walked up to Camille and lifted her. Camille put her thin arms around Ashla's neck and looked down at their mother with her big, brown eyes. Ashla hugged her tightly, kissed her cheek and walked out the door.

Meralynn / Ashla

Posts : 411
Join date : 2010-03-18
Age : 32
Location : Sweden

Character sheet
Name: Meralynn
Title: Sergeant, Blazing Shields

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Re: [story] The Journey Home

Post by Lavian on Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:16 pm

I like it when people don't suger-coat and present a story that can relate to a real situation in a picture such as this. Your obsession with redheads has not gone unnoticed and hope you write more!

_____________________________________________________
"Lavian" - Former Scourge officer, Knight of the Ebon Vigil.

Lavian

Posts : 3525
Join date : 2010-01-28
Age : 28
Location : Bergen, Norway

Character sheet
Name: Lavian
Title: Dread Knight

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Re: [story] The Journey Home

Post by Meralynn / Ashla on Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:27 pm

Red hair runs in the family, damnit! xD

Thank you for liking it! I got a bit nervous when I had over 30 views and no comments. Razz

Meralynn / Ashla

Posts : 411
Join date : 2010-03-18
Age : 32
Location : Sweden

Character sheet
Name: Meralynn
Title: Sergeant, Blazing Shields

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Re: [story] The Journey Home

Post by Jenette / Dagur on Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:10 am

You know I really like this Billiashla; definately adds quite a bit of depth to Ashla's background and it's interesting that you mention Westfall at other times of the year - seems so obvious to me now that it can't be that parched all the time

Jenette / Dagur

Posts : 4
Join date : 2010-05-19

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Re: [story] The Journey Home

Post by Meralynn / Ashla on Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:35 pm

Thanks! Very Happy

And yeah, it's how I imagine the life of poor farmers. If the harvest fails and the winter comes... you know, that should be a true disaster.

Meralynn / Ashla

Posts : 411
Join date : 2010-03-18
Age : 32
Location : Sweden

Character sheet
Name: Meralynn
Title: Sergeant, Blazing Shields

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Re: [story] The Journey Home

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