This story deals with some violent themes. Content warnings are posted at the end of the preceding chapters.
In a Meadow, In a Forest, In a Valley, In the Mountains, In the Autumn...
A breeze stirred the yellowed tips of autumn grass, raising a gentle rustling and rolling dewdrops along the tall blades. At the meadow's edges, overhanging boughs swayed, their fluttering leaves dappling the crepuscular light over beds of clover and dandelion. Birdsong and the busy rustling of little creatures formed a tapestry of sound against an expectant, ever-lightening sky. The waking forest stirred and sang in this watery prelude to dawn. The sun seemed slow to rise, as though hesitant to end its rest. A soft sound rustled in the underbrush, and a doe stepped delicately from the western perimeter of the meadow, lowering her head to eat.
The air snapped and boomed, pressure rising violently then falling to emptiness in an instant. At the center of the meadow grass flattened outward, then righted itself, the sudden absence of dew the only lingering sign of disturbance. The event was without true impact, soundless, formless, leaving no scars on the life or the land, but it cut through all matutinal noise and movement to leave only emptiness. As time returned, seconds moving sluggishly back to life, a new rustling broke out as birds and woodland creatures fled, the doe stumbling as she turned and ran. As the sounds of flight faded, the sun finally broke open the day. Golden light flooded warmly over the now-silent meadow, gilding fading leaves and grass, gleaming on a drop of blood as that beaded on a cloverleaf and then fell to the ground. At the center of the impactless crash, a body lay unmoving, the brilliant dawn painting it in the vicious colors of sunset. Scarlet and crimson seeped into the soil, rusted orange and pink flashed off copper hair, and gold reflected on rusted iron bands at the body's wrists, all shockingly loud in the silent green.
Too quietly, the heart beat and breaths rattled. Uncaring, the dawn passed into day, clouds gathered and dispersed, and the noon sun moved westward. The soil stayed red with fresh blood, but the scent tempted no carnivores, all still too wary to enter the meadow. As the day passed, no birdsong sounded. The occasional breeze was the only movement, breaking the silence into gentle rustling and the stillness into a quiet play of shadows over the grass.
Next chapter CW: Allusion to self-directed assassination.
And Valla arrives in the Witch's valley! There is a big time skip between this and the next chapters. Every chapter except the prologues will be written from the perspective of one of the the main characters.
Valla can't remember who or what she is. She woke broken and never healed, and chose to seek revenge without knowing her enemy's identity.
Doren was disgraced from the Order of the Promised, a class of knights sworn to keep all oaths to the Empire and the weak who ask them for help. Now he wanders as a Shamed, aimless and honorless. His love of music guides him to Valla through the loneliness and humiliation of his excommunication.
When Valla demands Doren work as her assassin to keep her goal of vengeance, she has no reason to expect they will succeed, and Doren has no reason to agree. They start their shared journey against all logic, both desperate for healing but not knowing where to find it.
*New update schedule: Weekly on Sundays*
CW: This series follows two characters seeking healing and deals with some heavier themes as they reclaim their sense of self-worth and fight to survive in a dangerous world.