SS: The Hair Incident (Leagende)

This is a precursor short to Unwanted.  It gives away nothing in the book besides description and personality of Bludi Illiene, so you can read this before, after, or in the middle of Unwanted. 

[Leagende] [About Cat Hartliebe]

Bludi Illiene can stand up to the normal bullying. He swears he could. Not once he cried in front of his classmates. His last year of schooling has come without too many problems. The worse of the kids have already left.

Twelve years old and in the last year of required schooling. “Not that I learnt anything there,” Bludi stares at the mirror in the hall whispering to himself. If Uncle hears him, he’ll receive another berating, possibly a beating. Uncle decides.

His mother lives in the capital with her closest family. Minus her first son. “And why?” Bludi spits at his image in the mirror. As the liquid drips over the mirror, he can tell why everyone disrespects him. Bludi Illiene, first born of the queen, is a half elf. His father is a human. And every day, Bludi sees more human than elf.

Wiping the spittle off the mirror before Uncle notices has Bludi depressed before the last first day of school. If only he could leave the last first day for last year. It’ll be just another useless session of isolation. School does not teach him anything besides how easy it is to be disrespected. “Which I deserve.”

“What are you muttering about?” Uncle comes over with a hand raised.

“Cleaning a little before class.” Bludi pulls away from the mirror, head bowed. His eyes keep to the ground, his feet together, and shoulders slouched forward. All things Bludi was taught at school. Keep yourself small and others will think you’re too small to bother with.

“You better be.” Uncle grips Bludi’s arm tightly. His mouth forms a snarl. The jerky movement has the young son of the queen outside in no time. “And don’t return until after school let’s out. You are required to go to school. Don’t disappoint me.”

“Yes, Uncle.” Bludi keeps his eyes low, bowing even lower. His uncle turns back inside slamming the door. A quick turn has Bludi walking to the small school in the forest village. This is where his mother put him and who she put him with. Uncle is young for a guardian. Bludi sighs hopeful Mother did right by putting him here.

The walk requires dodging the main roads. If he meets any of the kids on the way to school, it means trouble. Having trouble after school does not matter. His uncle does not care when he gets back. If Bludi is late to school, then there would be trouble. Trouble that will probably leave him in pain and under doctor’s care. Uncle takes no acceptance of that sort of mischief.

The shadows walk with Bludi to school. The sun has its midmorning glow and would be deemed perfect if a day could be deemed perfect. Bludi shakes that idea off. Six years of school has taught him no day can be perfect.

“I just barely remember the castle’s kid room. I could do anything there and no one disrespected me. Ignored me, but I cannot stop being something I am. I am a half elf. I…” Bludi shakes off the idea of wanting to not be a half elf. That is something that can never happen. “If only they would let me fit in. Just a little.”

The school entrance has several students loitering. Children he couldn’t care less about. Children that if he still lived in the castle he wouldn’t even know. Bludi sneaks past them and into the building. His room is the Sixth Grade classroom. It’s about a twenty by twenty room with desks and chairs to fit everyone of his age. There aren’t too many: Nana, Suean, Oliver, Jacquien, Kiuloun, and Silver.

The group is a nice group of elves. If you are an elf, that is. They all find Bludi to be the blunt of jokes. Jokes he can ignore. Light bullying is fine. Not like the teachers would protect him. If the information found its way to someone who cares about him, maybe something would be done. Otherwise there is no chance. Not surprisingly, Bludi has no one like that.

With the teacher present, even the bullying decreases. Bludi does not learn anything from her, but she keeps control of her class. During lunch break will be the tough time. An hour for the kids to eat the meal they brought or head home for a quick snack. Bludi can do neither. And the kids make fun of him for it.

“Hopeless.” Jacquien hands the paper to Bludi, but it drops to the ground instead. “Oops. You really are hopeless.” He snickers walking back to the teacher and then his seat.

Jack, as the class calls him, is probably the worse out of the bullyers. Bludi tries his best to ignore the male elf who thinks he’s better than the world. Whether he believes it or not, Bludi is still the first son of the queen. Compared to her, Jacquien cannot pee without allowance. Bludi smiles at the paper he had to pick up. This gets a small eraser to be thrown at him. Bludi hides his smile well aware it’s too late. Responding at all to the bullies will make matters worse.

Bludi holds out without a problem until lunch time. Then he sits there watching the teacher organize her desk. As long as he stays in the room with the teacher nothing too bad can happen. Bludi stares at her desk mentally begging her to stay the entire length of lunch.

The trio of bad walks over to his desk: Jacquien, Silver, and Kiuloun. Bludi has to take it. He sits there as if nothing is wrong with being surrounded by the enemy. That’s his life as a half elf.

“This hair you grow is too pretty for you,” Silver begins. The fact Silver has prettier hair than Bludi is not lost on the half elf. This is meant to hurt Bludi. And they will be focused on his hair.

The length of hair is the pride of an elf. The longer, the better. Well kept and controlled hair is a sign of privilege. But even the poor keep long hair. Bludi follows the elfin tradition of long, beautiful hair. That with his royal green eyes, he could pass as a royal elf, at least from a distance.

“Half elves cut their hair for a reason, Ugly.” Jack uses such a poor nickname.

Weak, Stupid, and Ugly are Jack’s go to insults. Not that Bludi will let his enemies know, but half elves are innately stronger than an elf. Bludi is not weak. As for stupid, well, Bludi could get so much more colorful with his insults, but then those he is talking to would not even know they were insulted. Everyone agrees on the ugliness of a half elf, so even Bludi cannot complain there.

“We can help.” Kiuloun holds up scissors.

The teacher stands at her desk. “You three. Go back to your desks and eat. This is lunch not recess.” When the trio of bad tries to disobey, the teacher walks over to Bludi. The trio flees and the teacher still comes. When she reaches Bludi’s desk, Bludi gets spit on. Yup, the teacher is not protecting the half elf, but the sanctity of her classroom.

The rest of the class day leaves the half elf bored and exhausted. Every moment Bludi could, he keeps his head down. Bludi stays focused in class enough to handle any of the work required, which could be called easy compared to the tutoring session he had before at home. It’s nonsense. Bludi just needs to learn how to behave. As a half elf; as the dirge of society; as the lowest of the low.

The walk home starts off as it normally would, however half depressed over why Bludi is going to class in the first place, he takes a main road. Bludi realizes the mistake too late. Looking menacing, the trio of bad stands before the half elf. Here Bludi can do battle; he can fight. That is if he didn’t think something bad would happen if his uncle catches the battle. The half elf has to weigh his options. Then again, if they get control of a scissor, Bludi doesn’t care if others come or not. No one will cut his hair. It’s all Bludi has to mark him as a proper elf.

Silver holds up the scissor. Yup, Bludi saw that coming. Bludi bolts glad to have stronger legs than them. The real problem, though, would be Jack has wings. Wings will let him catch up. There is nothing Bludi can do to stop him from doing so.

Jacquien reaches the half elf as Bludi ducks into an alley. He didn’t have the scissors, so Bludi just has to survive long enough to flee. If Silver reaches them, Bludi is done for. He’ll lose his hair and…

“Ugly.” Jack does not reach out for the first son of the queen. The winged elf spits on the lowly half elf. Bludi realizes seconds later why it could be called just as bad. Jacquien had gum. That sticky substance will be impossible to get out of hair. Bludi stares at the winged elf, shock shaking the bullied child. Tears drip down Bludi’s face as his hand touches the mess in his hair. It’s so high. Bludi’ll be bald. The elfin hair… This only pride as an elf ruined.

Pushing his will forward, Bludi runs home. The trio of bad has been bad before, but this is… It’s beyond acceptable. Crying in the living room is where Bludi is found. By Uncle.

“What is this?” He turns on a light and looks down at Bludi. His feet stop, his eyes focused on the mess of the hair. “Bludi… What happened to your hair?”

Between hiccups, Bludi says, “Jacquien did it. He spit gum in my hair. I don’t want to lose my hair.”

Uncle walks over accepting for once this nephew’s hands on him without the normal abuse. “Hair grows back. We cannot leave gum in your hair.” He looks up at whoever walked into the room. Bludi is not sure who, but soon they are after scissors. “This is a mess. Sit still.”

“Please don’t cut my hair. Mother said I should always keep my hair neat and long. It’s my sign of my heritage as an elf. I…”

“I’ll hit you if you don’t shut up.”

Bludi shudders stopping himself from crying or talking. Uncle seems calmer than normal, but that will not last. Bludi has to accept the calm attitude. Soon Uncle has the scissors and the worse possible thing in his life is done. Bludi tries his best to stop the tears, but with every drop of hair to the ground, his tears fall alongside.

“Stop moving.” Uncle snips again. “If you don’t like it, then go find your father.” Bludi calms himself to stop the shuddering at every snip, but the tears refuse to end. His lap, shirt, and face are wet before Uncle stands up. “There. No one will question you about it anyway. Stay away from that kid.” He mutters walking off.

Bludi finds a mirror, but closes his eyes before seeing his own head. His hand touches the short cut. It’s almost all gone. Humans have no trouble wearing it short, but Bludi cannot think it looks good. Hair length is a privilege. One Bludi has lost. What will he do tomorrow?

Opening his eyes, the sight of his head without the flowing locks has him bawling. Nothing stops his wails. No one stops him, which is rare in itself. He cries there all night. Falling asleep in that position leaves him in poor states for the next day of school. He readies himself trying to find his pride somewhere. He never had pride. Bludi gulps down his urge to cry.

Uncle stares at Bludi standing before a mirror. “Stay home sick today. I’ll send in a note.”

Bludi stares at his uncle. When did that prince become nice? “Can I?”

“Yeah, yeah. Even I can feel sorry for you. Although I suggest you get yourself organized to leave the kingdom for good. You’ll feel better around humans.” He waves it off as Bludi slinks into his room.

For the entire day, Bludi gets used to being bald. He has to get used to it. One day of kindness is more than enough to expect from his uncle. By the morning, he has to go to school.

The next morning, Bludi has his life hidden behind the mask again. He has control. Facing off against the creatures from school will be possible now. He looks at the ugly disfigured form his hair became. There is no hope with that, but with time his hair will grow.

The walk through the back routes keeps Bludi holding himself together. The loiters before school are not there yet. Bludi is early, so he finds his classroom and his chair. The teacher already sits at her desk. Her half smile is enough to give Bludi a lesson in hope. Not everyone hates the half elf. No one accepts him, but not everyone hates him.

The class is slow to show. As the other students arrive, Bludi receives glares and glances. Did something happen? Bludi keeps his eyes open, but down. The class starts and Bludi notices the difference soon after: Jack is missing.

How could the winged elf be missing? Bludi keeps his ears peeled, but no one says anything about the missing elf. During lunch, the teacher keeps a close eye on the class and no one bothers Bludi. Bludi finds his lack of attention odd.

Soon enough the answer comes in the door: Jack. His hair is cut shorter than Bludi, as in he has none left. The scars of a poor butchering are still visible. He glares at Bludi, but instead of doing something, Jacquien sits down.

Bludi listens to the trio make comments and soon he realizes who and why his space was granted: the queen. So, she is aware of his life here. His eyes well up with tears. Mother cares. With the hope from the event, Bludi can believe his mother will see him. When Bludi reaches adulthood at twenty that will be the one main goal: see Mother. Because if she protects his hair, his pride, then she can protect him.

Bludi blinks back the mask into place. Even with the queen’s protection, he is still a half elf. Soon the fear of the queen will be forgotten, and he’ll be back as the prime source of scapegoat. Bludi will not even milk this special time. Mother would be disrespected if he milks her influence. But he will write a note. Maybe he can get it to her.

Bludi looks at the teacher closely. When he finishes school, he will get a job as a laborer. All he needs is a little bit of money to send a letter to the queen. Hopefully she gets it and reads it. Otherwise, she’ll have to wait for Bludi to reach her in eight years. In eight years, Bludi will see his mother. It will come quickly and feel like forever.

If you wish to read the story of Bludi seeking his mother, please buy a copy of Unwanted. Amazon Barnes and Noble Smashwords

The Hair Incident is found in the Leagende Series ebook and Leagende Bonus paperback.

[About Cat Hartliebe] [Leagende] [Cat Hartliebe’s Books]

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