Fog…my mind feels clouded, my memory…gone? I’m alone, isolated, numb, or I guess this fog just gives off that feeling. Who am I? Oh I know that, I’m Adrael. How old am I? Hmm…oh yes.
I brought my hand up to eye level and put up four fingers, my short arm trembled in the cold.
Wait, I'm cold? Huh? How did I end up outside? Where did I come from? That, I don’t know.
I stopped walking, then looked left and right. I was standing on an empty dirt path with green grass in all directions, as far as the eye can see. Some sort of plains, there’s trees or maybe bushes? They’re too far to tell. I turned to look behind me and flinched when the sunrise caught my eye.
My voice was raspy and raw, for the first time I realized I was thirsty. Very thirsty. I must’ve been walking for quite some time. As soon as I thought that my ankles throbbed with pain and I fell to my knees.
“W-Wh—ahem—What’s going on?”
I felt very dizzy suddenly, that fog in my mind still very strong.
I have to find help. I thought.
I slowly climbed to my aching feet, almost stumbling backwards but I caught myself.
“Are you alright young one?”
Standing in front of me was a young woman, she had long silky brown hair and green eyes that reminded me of the plains we were standing in. Her skin had a smooth glow to it from the sunrise. Or the sun that was now right above us?
When did it become noon? How long was I sitting here after my legs gave out?
“Maybe you should come with us? We can get you cleaned up and fed. Then we’ll help you find your parents.” She said with a warm smile.
Not knowing what other options I really had I just decided to accept her offer. It was either that or keep flashing in and out of consciousness due to severe dehydration and the accursed fog that held its firm grip tightly on my mind.
She offered me her hand, after I grabbed it she quickly but gently led me to a lightly decorated carriage I only noticed just now. An old skinny man with a curly gray mustache and flat black hat was sitting in the driver seat. He was looking at me with pity in his eyes. The reins he was holding were harnessed on a powerful looking beast, a horse I think it’s called. It was dark brown with a blond hairy tail and it looked very healthy.
Once the lady helped me into the carriage and got in herself. A grouchy deep voice from in front of me grumbled out.
“Now let’s get to the manor quickly, Titus. We’ve had enough delays.”
“Right away, Lord.” The old driver seat replied.
Again, as was the trend of my current woozy mind I didn’t even notice the man until he spoke. It might have been my eyes not having adjusted to the darkness of the carriage yet after just being in the bright sun but either way I didn’t seem to be able to take in my surroundings at all. Anything I focused on gave me a sort of tunnel vision, the fog blocking all else.
I squinted my eyes to get a good look at the man. He had a well toned body and was dressed in nice clothes much like the driver, but instead of a hat he let show his parted blond hair above his brown eyes, small ears, and strong jaw.
“Find something else to stare at, boy. Your gaze irritates me.” He said annoyed.
Without responding I just turned my head towards the woman again, she met me with a smile and placed a soft hand on my head rubbing gently. My head began pounding, it started slow and quiet then sped up and became so loud I could hear nothing but it. The fog overtook my vision.
Then suddenly I woke up, laying on a big soft bed inside a small brown wooden room. I tried to sit up but my arms felt like they had pins bouncing around inside them, I couldn’t even lift them they were so numb. My head wasn’t pounding anymore but it was spinning like I just rolled down a thousand foot hill.
“Finally you wake, gray one.”
Slowly, so as not to throw up. I turned my head to the left. An old woman with a light brown, almost white dress and small glasses was sitting in a rocking chair reading a book with her right leg over her left. Her white hair was short just above her shoulders, and she had bangs peeking out from a small white hat sporting a solid pink feather.
Trying to respond to her I took a breath, but once I did I turned into a fit of coughs.
The old woman set her book down and walked up next to me. I only heard her footsteps since my eyes were now closed from the coughing.
“O’ Water, grant nourishment for the parched body.”
After she muttered this a mouthful of water spilled onto my dry tongue. It was cold but not to the point that it made my teeth hurt, very refreshing.
I wiped my mouth and face with my hand.
“Thank you.” I said after a deep breath.
She walked back towards her chair and grabbed the book. Then began heading for the opened door to the room. Right before she walked out she said,
“Get into the clothes on the desk there and come downstairs for lunch.” Without even looking back.
My body felt a bit better, enough so I could get up and do as she said. When I emerged from the small room I was surprised to see a stone balcony that stretched both left and right about 60 feet, with wooden doors on the decorated brown wall leading to what I assume is other bedrooms. It overlooked a wide living space with comfortable looking benches, chairs, and leg rests.
The stone balcony ended to my right but to my left it turned into a set of curved stairs which I took. It led me to a stone tiled kitchen. Titus, the old driver I saw back on the dirt road, was cutting vegetables and throwing them in a stew pot. The young woman that helped me into the carriage and the old lady that gave me water were sitting across from each other on a long brown table. With an expensive looking chandelier hanging above them, giving the room a smooth orange glow.
The young woman looked at me with another bright smile and motioned for me to join them. I did as she said and sat next to her.
“Are you feeling any better?” She asked politely. “I washed you up and healed your body for you. I have to wonder how you ended up like that? And why were you alone in the middle of nowhere?”
As I thought about what she was saying the fog got a bit more intense, it was still lurking but not as bad now that I’ve had a bit of water and been healed as she said.
“Thank you for helping me. Unfortunately I can’t answer your questions. I don’t remember.”
She opened her mouth to probably ask another question but the old woman spoke first.
“Don’t remember? Or won’t tell us?” She said curiously rather than speculatively.
“Don’t remember. I’m not even sure how I ended up on that road, where I came from, where I was going or why I was going there, it’s all as much a mystery to me as it is to you.”
The old woman smiled slightly, the young woman had a troubled look before saying.
“Well, is there anything you remember at all? You seem pretty coherent so that tells us someone must’ve taught you to speak, right?”
“I don’t remember. I have common knowledge at least, but there is some sort of fog clouding my mind and memory. The only thing I can remember about myself is that my name is Adrael, and I’m four years old.”
This time instead of a smile the old woman’s face scrunched as she thought deeply about my words. The young woman brightened up a bit after hearing that I had at least a bit of recollection.
“Such an elegant name! Well Adrael, I’m Eleeza Garnier, wife of Lord Robertus Garnier, Head of House Garnier. In the kitchen is our lovely butler, Titus.”
“You honor me, Lady.” Titus said with a slight bow before he resumed his cooking. Eleeza nodded with a smile then continued.
“And this is my-“ before she could finish introductions the old woman cut her off by speaking her thoughts aloud.
“Some sort of spell clearly, but I’ve never heard of such a magic type capable of memory erasure. Maybe an enchanted item? An Enigma? Couldn’t be, most likely it’s…”
She quickly stood up and walked over to me, pulling out my chair to get better access to my body. Then she began running her hands and fingers through my hair and clothes, searching for something. At least I hope she was, otherwise this would be stranger than it already was.
“M-Mother?! What in Lalyira’s name are you doing?” Eleeza shouted, almost jumping from her chair.
The elder didn’t reply, just continuing her search until Eleeza tried to pull her away. Once they made contact the old woman spun around to look Eleeza in her eyes.
“When you washed the gray one yesterday, did you see any rune spellforms on him?”
“Uh, n-no. He was quite dirty but there was nothing like that on him anywhere. Did you see any when we washed Adrael, Titus?”
“I am sure I did not, Lady.” The butler replied while looking at the pot intently.
I know they are speaking of magic, but I’m not really sure what a rune spellform is and right now I don’t feel well enough to ask for a full explanation. I’ll just have to learn some other time.
The old woman once again spun around, now she was bent down looking me in the eyes, probing intensely. Her face only inches from mine as she rapidly tapped her chin with her finger.
“I thought maybe it would be on his head, due to his strange hair color. But his eyes are strange too. I've never seen someone with such a color. Or this kind of combination. It makes me wonder whether he’s actually human.” The elder said.
“Well, maybe we can put off the investigation until after lunch, Elder Elancy?” Titus suggested as he carried a tray of silver soup bowls and bread towards the dining table.
“Yes, that would be preferred.” Instead of Elancy, it was the man I’d seen in the carriage briefly that answered. I’m assuming he’s Robertus Garnier, the head of this house as Eleeza introduced him.
He was in much more comfortable clothes now compared to when I last saw him but his blond hair was still parted.
Once he stepped into the kitchen it was like someone flipped a switch. Everyone was silent now and Elancy quickly retreated to her seat. Robertus walked confidently to his chair at the head of the table and sat down. Titus passed out the dinnerware but nobody touched their food.
Wow, it smells delicious. I thought.
I hadn’t had anything to eat since arriving here, the only nourishment I received was a ball of water forced into my mouth. It will be good to finally eat something.
I reached for the spoon but stopped myself, then turned my head to look at everyone else. They were all staring at me, I pulled my hand back and sat straighter.
“Hmpf.” Robertus grumbled.
Then he picked up his spoon and took a bite of the soup. “You may eat.” He said after swallowing.
Simultaneously, Eleeza and Elancy picked up their spoons. I followed as they did, and we all began eating in silence.
I’m not sure if that’s some kind of common practice in this area but from the knowledge that isn’t foggy, I don’t think that wherever I used to live had the same custom. The questions I had flew to the back of my mind as the pleasure of finally eating something overtook me.
“I’d rather have spiced fish today, but Eleeza begged to have this peasant meal so that you’d feel better.”
I looked up from the bowl of life that I was scooping from. Robertus was glaring at me condescendingly. I shifted my eyes to Eleeza who had a look of guilt on her face, not as much for herself but for me.
“Oh, well thank you, Lady Eleeza.” I said before moving my spoon back towards the soup bowl. But before it could touch the broth a sharp and scorching sensation filled my face. My vision was filled with white and my ears were ringing.
Instinctively I flinched back but my feet didn’t touch the ground with this large chair so I couldn’t scoot back. There was screaming and shouting around me but I couldn’t fully make it out behind the loud ringing in my ears.
When my vision finally returned I realized the dining table, specifically the spot right in front of me where my lunch was, had been burned away, leaving a charred black half circle hole in its wake.
I turned to look at everyone else. Titus was wetting a cloth, Elancy was standing still behind her chair looking worriedly at me, and Eleeza and Robertus were arguing. The ringing quieted and I was finally able to hear again.
“-e should learn some damn manners before eating at my table!”
“He’s clearly from a low family! You can’t expect him to-!“
Before Eleeza could finish Robertus slapped her across the face sending her to the floor. Elancy seemed like she wanted to help her daughter but ultimately looked towards the ground, deciding to stay where she was.
“You bitch! Remember whose house this is before you start raising your voice!”
Eleeza began crying softly, Titus came over to me with the wet rag but before he could use it on me Robertus stopped him.
“Look at him. He's not even crying. He doesn’t need help with some small burns.”
Robertus stormed towards me, kicking Eleeza as he stepped over her. Then he picked me up by my burned shirt and pulled me to his eye level.
“Tough boy. I think I’ll keep you. Make you into a fine knight.”
After saying so he threw me to the floor so hard that little fireflies filled my vision. He followed that with a hard kick to the stomach knocking the air clean out of me. I rolled onto my back as I struggled to breathe. Minutes passed, my breath came back and everything calmed down. I sat up to see the situation.
Titus and Elancy were tending to Eleeza and Robertus seemed to have left. I slowly stood and dusted myself off. Then I walked over to the three and went to my knees at Eleeza’s side.
“Are you ok, Lady Eleeza?” I asked.
“I’m a-alright, how about you? You’re the one who got the worst of it.” She said sadly.
Elancy slid over to me to check my wounds.
“Hmm, it seems the gray one might have a fire affinity. Even though the fireball didn’t hit you directly, it came awfully close. Luckily your body seems a bit resistant to fire. I’m sure you would have at least ended up with some severe burns had it not been for that. These probably won’t even scar.”
I was glad to hear that I’ll be fine. Still though, Robertus is clearly not a nice guy. But it seems I’ll be stuck with him for now.