To celebrate the completion of Leagende as a series, I will post the openings to all the books.
All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2015, 2019 Cat Hartliebe
The big day has finally come. Bludi Illiene will become an adult after twenty years of living under someone else’s thumb. On his twentieth birthday, he must go into the center of town to the main stage to declare his adult name and make his decision. Will he stay, or will he leave elven lands forever?
Uncle lives with him, or technically, Bludi lives with his uncle. His mother could not keep him or it would threaten the stability of the kingdom. How could a half-elf do that? Bludi cannot be considered a normal half-elf, if half-elves can be called normal in any sense. His father may be human, but his mother? That’s the queen.
Queen Alaenia gave birth to Bludi before becoming queen. That makes Bludi extremely special. He carries the dark green eyes of royal blood. The half-elf can be called good looking if one ignores the smaller ears and somewhat bulkier build. He can even sing in Elven which is unheard of among half-elves. Most elves cannot sing the intricacies found in elven song and half-elves have trouble speaking it.
But, alas, Bludi is still a half-elf. Half-elves are not well respected. Not disrespected like other races tend to be, but still not respected. Top jobs for Bludi are nanny or laborer. Marriage is possible. Most well named elves are married before their naming day. Half-elves have been known to stay unmarried or if marry become the stay at home parent.
For the naming day ceremony, Bludi dresses his best, which is not really much better than his worst with the exception of being clean. Considering he is the son of a queen and lives with a prince, one would think he dresses like nobles. No, it is impossible. If he tried dressing as his parentage would allow, the elves would be more likely to act out against him. The only thing that Bludi has to mark his position is his long golden brown hair braided down his back. It is elven code to keep it long. Half-elf or not, he will keep his hair as elven standards request.
At the doorway out, Bludi greets his uncle. His uncle spits on the soon to be adult. The prince has just over a decade on Bludi and has hated every moment the younger elf has been within his domain. “Leave. No one wants you in Leagende. You should just disappear.”
Bludi offers him his normal good bye. The expected words and actions from his guardian have become routine. A little spit can be washed off. Hateful words come from most who care to speak to him. Those hateful words are better than the ignorance others offer.
The long walk to the center of town brings a level of hope to Bludi. His heart readies to jump ship. So poorly treated in Leagende, especially in his hometown within the Tourmaline Forest, shouldn’t Bludi choose to leave? Perhaps seek out his father? Live among humans or some other type of non-elf? Bludi shakes his head staring at the stage before him.
No one bothers him during the trip there. He has heard of large escorts to the stage by family and friends. Bludi can count on one hand how many friends he has: one. And she probably does not even remember him after all these years away. As for family, as far as Bludi knows, only his mother cares about his life. He should have been born Crown Prince, instead he was born a half-elf mistake.
Ignoring the heart jumping out of his chest, Bludi closes his eyes. The three steps to the stage stand before him. He does not need to see to know where they are. The lack of sight grants him courage. Bludi tries to remember the castle where he started his life, but bits and pieces show little of the life he lived before Tourmaline Forest. For the last fifteen years, he has been with his uncle.
Silence comes from his crowd. A light giggling can be heard from a distance as if kids are playing, but before Bludi is only silence. He clears his throat. Nothing would make this better. He can finally tell everyone how he truly feels about Leagende. “My name is Bludi Illiene, and I choose to stay.”
A smirk reaches the half-elf’s lips as his eyes slowly open. No one stands there. The slight fall to his smile does not stop him from being confident over his decision. Leagende is where he is meant to be.
Bludi stands there thinking of his new desires as an adult. Adult elves can get real jobs, and a place to live on their own. Bludi’s main focus is seeing his mother. He will need to figure out a way to reach her. Which direction is the capital? Who can he trust to help him? Uncle has denied him help left, right, and center.
“Hey, Uncle!” The high pitch call comes from one of the kids playing ball just beyond the stage zone. She waves sending her wild golden copper curls everywhere. Her skin looks aqua, a sign of a Tropical Elf. Bludi is glad to have the light green skin of a Forest Elf. Actually, as Bludi looks back at the two males playing with her, one is tan, marking him a Savannah Elf. Tropical and Savannah Elves are considered a rarity in Leagende. Compast, to Leagende’s south, holds most of the Savannah Elves. Tropical Elves are normally from Dereksean. Bludi gives the third elf a once over. He does not look too out of place being a slighter darker Forest Elf than himself. “Uncle?”
Bludi gives the youngest of the trio his attention. Upon closer inspection, Bludi notices how close in age she is, a mere four or five younger. “Yes?”
“The ball.” She reaches the stage during this time, but it is too high for her to climb up. Unlike many elves, she lacks wings. “Can you get it?”
Bludi nods walking back to get their red ball with golden flecks. He finds it a high class ball; a clear sign one of the trio has a real name. Perhaps not much of a name, given the hick town they live in, but a name nonetheless. Hopping off the stage, he hands over the ball to the Tropical Elf youth.
She holds the ball close to her body as the other two run over. The green skinned one pushes back his black hair. He looks the oldest; if Bludi has any judge of age among children who are more his peers. “Ball, Mari.”
The girl sticks her tongue out at the older male. The slight interaction screams siblings to Bludi, but he does not see how two so completely different could be siblings. “Daddy is thinking of moving us to the capital of Kee.” Mari tucks the ball under her arm distracting the pair of males with her words.
Bludi would consider this the cue to leave, however he finds himself trapped against the stage. He, too, does not have a pair of wings. So, he has no choice but to wait until the trio walk off.
“Mother does not think you can be trusted in the capital,” the eldest comments coldly. “I heard her too.”
“Wait.” The Savannah Elf holds up his hands terrified. “You are leaving me? Who will I play with?”
“You can come too!” Mari jumps up and down. Bludi tries to back up, but again the stage keeps him trapped like a mouse. “Mother loves you.”
The green male chortles, forcing the ball from Mari’s hands. “You act like that wasn’t the plan, Gold.” He holds the ball out of his ‘sister’s’ reach. “Perhaps we should choose a different spot to talk. The half-elf has been listening.” He turns off readying to ignore it all. “I won. Back to chores I go.” He saunters off leaving the half-elf with Mari and Gold.
“Slow as a human as always!” Mari calls after the older elf.
He turns back terror dripping from his eyes. “Don’t even joke!” Off he runs leaving those behind without a ball. Bludi begs for something to change. Forcing his way past children would be deemed an offense. All he wants is freedom.
“Why not ask the half-elf to be your nanny?” Gold motions to Bludi trapped by them. It is not a question to Bludi or even at him, but about him. As if the half-elf is more a statue than person.
Mari looks Bludi up and down. Bludi cannot help staring back at such a memorizing elf. She will have a fan group as she breaks into the later teens. Her parents should marry her off soon. “Come on, Half. Let’s go meet Mother.” Mari grabs Bludi’s arm and drags him off.
The action, so swift and unassuming, takes Bludi a full block before realizing what just happened. “Where are we going?”
Mari rolls her eyes not letting him stop. Bludi does not want to hurt the child, thus ends up only slowing things down slightly. “Home, dummy.”
The Savannah Elf chimes in, “35, 95 Courts Road. The big OuBlaik’s house.” Gold makes a motion to reference huge, but Bludi knows the house. There is no bigger house on that road. The only bigger house in town is his uncle’s.
“So we are just going to go around?” Bludi stops this time secure in his action. The shock of being overpowered has Mari give in this time. “Follow me.” Bludi motions to a side street. Although not as well kept as the main roads, side streets can make for easy travel when one does not have wings.
After a few twists and turns, Bludi enters Courts Road across from the OuBlaik’s place. Pride swells in Bludi. He has never been useful before, and the other two seem ecstatic over the shorter route. It may be one of the few things he knows about the town that others do not. It means safer travels without the concern of spit-ers or kickers.
“You will become my watchdog.” Mari gives such a strong conviction, Bludi gulps as a response. Gold chuckles as they walk up to the door ready to greet the heads of the household. Nothing could make the half-elf excited over this. It may work out all things considered, or it could turn horribly wrong.
Bludi knocks soundly on the door as they reach it. As he is about to make a comment about not following the little girl, the older boy comes up. “How did you get here so fast?” he huffs out motioning behind him. “I even ran half the distance.”
“Half knows a short cut,” Mari blurts out. She taps Bludi like the half-elf cannot explain himself.
“Half?” the two males question. Gold continues, “I thought he claimed his name as Bludi.”
Mari tilts her head. “Really?” After a shrug, she turns to the door. “Father talks about Bludi all the time. The bastard prince.”
Bludi grinds his teeth with the association. “Thank you for reminding me.” One hand goes to his ear. “I did not choose my parents, you know.”
As Mari goes to open the door, it opens for her. A fully formed adult Tropical Elf stands there. Her eyes blink at the collection standing on her doorstep.
Mari offers a deep curtsey. “Hello, Mother.”
The older child passes in with a nod. The female grabs his arm before he could leave. He offers a low, “Hello Mother,” before being released. The mother sanctions everyone inside, all the while questioning Bludi’s presence.
“No, Mother.” Mari motions to Bludi at her mother’s confusion. “Bludi will become our new nanny.”
“Oh.” A hand goes to her cheek as she looks over the half-elf in question. “I was expecting a visitor.” Even without wings, she manages to float about the room seeking the best place for attention. “If I must, I will seduce your father, but he gets much of what he needs at work.”
Mari jumps gripping her mother’s arm tightly. “Will he be as respected at the capital? We shall go now, right? Can Gold come with us? All you need is to ask his uncle.” Her hair swings wildly with her head shaking. The certainty of the voice is the reason Bludi stands inside the house in the first place. “I find nothing wrong with it. Bludi can be our nanny and watch the three of us.”
Bludi holds a hand up stopping things before they tumble further down the rabbit hole. “Wait.” He waves his hand. “I never agreed to…”
Mari yells, “Daddy!” as the door opens to reveal a part Savannah Elf. Bludi finds this entire family more confusing than ever. How did he manage to get caught up in this mess?
The golden hued elf opens his arms for a big hug with the young teen. “Mari! My beautiful baby girl.” The sandy hair next to the coppery curls has Bludi conclude these two are not related. But in elven society, the father of the child is the mother’s husband. Biology only matters when it comes to future children.
The mother leans down to kiss his hair. “Later, I must speak.”
“Yes, later.” He nods standing up still holding his daughter close to him. “Tell the cook to prepare dinner.” Then, he finally notices the pink elephant in the room. “Who is the guest?” He looks to his wife first. “Yours?”
Bludi is used to standing out, not hiding in plain sight. Not only does he hide in plain sight, but the first thought from the adult male’s lips is to bed his wife. He is too confused to answer. Mari whispers loud enough for the father to pick up in seconds, though.
“The new nanny? Welcome! Name?”
Bludi holds up his hand. The other rubs his forehead; this chaos is abnormal to him. His life is normally very straight forward. “Bludi Illiene, sir, but I think…”
“Bludi!” The brightness to the name has Bludi shiver inside. No one speaks his name in such a high manner in all the years since he came to Tourmaline Forest. “The bastard prince in my house? What luck! I have been trying to seek your acquaintance for years. Since we moved in actually.” He motions everyone further into the house.
Gold holds back with the fish mouthed Bludi. The confusion stops Bludi from leaving or entering further. He should just leave before the chaos captures him. Given the father and daughter scooted in further, he needs to make a real decision. The mother half walks off until Gold says, “I need to tell my uncle first.”
“I’ll go!” The quick action of the female has Bludi back off. A final kiss blown to the room has the front door closed.
Gold exhales glad to be staying. “I heard you live with your uncle, too.” He shakes his head thinking. “My uncle has put females before me every second he can. I am only seventeen, not sexually mature, and not seeking a marriage contract. What good is it? I cannot very well leave yet.”
“If…” Bludi sucks in a breath. “I was a full elf, I would be crown prince. As a half, I am a piece of dirt. I wish I was not sexually mature. I am a virgin, an adult, and unmarried.” The comment ends with a snarl. He can legally enter a haven. Everyone have denied him among his own age. Or his uncle denied him meeting the right ones. Whichever; the why does not matter.
“No one? Not a single one was willing?” Gold pulls back shocked by the words. “But even half-elves tend to lose their virginity before they claim a name.”
Arms crossed, Bludi fails to shrug off the annoyance of it. His life could not be called normal in any sense. He should leave. This will only lead him further from his goals. Children? Nannying? “Not me.”
Gold’s eyes drop to the ground. His action look disciplined. “Most elven children of half-elves are so elven no one notices the little things.”
Bludi growls out, “Tell that to this town.” He drops to a whisper for the next comment, “Especially my uncle.”
Gold looks up at Bludi, almost in awe. “And with who your mother is, your children could rank higher. Especially if those eyes go to them. That dark green screams royal blood.” Gold blinks cutting the conversation like he is doing wrong by having it. “I need to tell Mr. OuBlaik that his wife is visiting my uncle.”
This leaves Bludi alone in the entrance hall. The fact he does not leave comes down to the idea he has no where to go. His uncle likes the house to himself. His next work shift is not for another twelve hours. A pinprick in the back of his mind reminds him of his goal. Could this help him succeed in reaching his mother? They did say the capital after all.