Aiden jumped to his feet, panting heavily. He looked around franticly, swinging his head from side to side. He then came to his senses and breathed out steadily, trying to calm himself. He slumped back onto the ground between two tree roots and covered his face with his tan hands.
"It was just a dream" he whispered to himself.
A leaf fluttered down from the trees above and landed on Aiden's brown tunic. Aiden ignored it and sighed, the dream was so vivid. The pain in his leg, the solider, and his Mother's dying words. He shook his head, trying to get rid of the memory, but he knew that nothing would get rid of that terrible day 4 years ago. When Aiden was ten, there was a raiding party on his village. Many people died that day, including his own mother, that gave her life for his. The sharp cry of a bird rang out and Aiden quickly stood up, wanting to see the bird that made the noise. He gazed up at the branches above him, and sure enough he saw a Merlin. It is a beautiful bird, with large black wings and blue body. 'Very majestic' Aiden decided, smiling slightly.
The powerful bird lifted its head and let out another sharp call. Farther off Aiden could just make out a faint call of another Merlin. 'Probably a female' he thought, leaning against the elm tree.
Suddenly the Merlin shot off, making the branches quiver. Aiden immediately crouched to the ground, sensing the bird saw something. He hardly breathed as he listened for an approach by an intruder. His hand went down to his leg and removed the dagger he always wore. He steadied it in his hands, which were shaking slightly. The bushes ahead of him rustled and Aiden gripped his handmade dagger tighter. His eyes never left the bushes for a second, and that was his mistake. He listened for a few more moments until realizing that the intruder must have left. He slipped his dagger back into its hidden sheath and turned around, scolding himself for his mistake. Suddenly a loud shout arose and someone fell on him from above. Aiden struggled underneath a man's weight before giving a defeated sigh.
"Alright Roik, you win." He grunted.
The weight lifted off Aiden and a laugh sounded.
"Didn't see that coming, did you Lad?"
Aiden looked up to see his uncle, Roik, smiling down at him. He shook his head and grinned. Roik thrust out a hand and Aiden took it.
"How did you do that?" Aiden asked, brushing off his tunic.
Roik chuckled as he ran a hand through his dark red hair.
"Takes lots of practice" he said, shifting his green cloak on his shoulders.
"Well, you have to teach me!" Aiden eagerly replied.
Roik shook his head.
"Won't have to, you will be taught by someone else."
Aiden glanced at the man in surprise.
"What?" he began, but Roik interrupted.
"Ah never mind, let's go get some lunch."
Aiden cast a suspicious look in the Roik's direction.
"You know something I don't Roik" he said.
Roik avoided Aiden's gaze, and that's when Aiden definitely knew he was hiding something.
"Spit it out Uncle" he demanded, folding his arms.
Roik shook his head.
"I shouldn't have mentioned it. Forget lunch and go talk to your father about it" he confirmed, his blue eyes twinkling.
Aiden let out a frustrated sigh.
"Come on Roik" he begged, making the face that his Uncle could never resist.
His uncle laughed.
"Go see your father."
With those words Roik turned around and started walking to his house at the edge of the forest, his green cloak swaying gently.
Aiden shook his head and walked in the opposite direction. His uncle, Roik, was like a brother to him, even though he was at least thirty years older than himself. He was also Aiden's teacher, in a way. He taught him hunting skills, fighting skills and some tracking skills. This was a great help, for Aiden's father worked at the mill all day, and couldn't be with his family all the time.
Aiden glanced up at the sky and smiled, the sun was shining and it was making the leaves glow gold on the trees above him. A small mountain breeze made Aiden's brown hair sway, and he pushed it out of his eyes. Up ahead was the clearing where he, his father and two sisters lived. The house itself was beautiful, the wood that it was crafted from was cedar, which sent off a sweet smell. The house was surrounded by flowers of all kinds. Poppies, daisies, dandelions you name it. He grinned as he saw his littlest sister, Celia, collecting some of the daisies. For a moment he replaced his sister with himself, remembering long ago when he had found a rock and ran to his mother with it. She had taken it from him and circled it with her fingers.
"Do you know how important this rock is son?" she had asked him.
Aiden remembered that he had shaken his head and said.
"Mommy it's just a little rock!"
Aiden's mother had lifted him on her lap and kissed his cheek.
"There you are mistaken my little rascal. This rock was designed by the King, and the King makes no rock the same. He makes each one special, and with a purpose"
Aiden shook himself, the memory vanishing. He coughed to get rid of the lump forming in his throat.
"Little Blossom" he called out.
Celia looked up with delight as she heard his voice.
"Aiden" she cried, jumping to her feet.
Aiden laughed as she waddled over to him, her little chubby feet barely making a dent in the green grass. He outstretched his arms and she came tumbling into them.
"Well, blossom, what are you doing?" he asked, kissing her blond hair.
The little girl looked up to him with innocent green eyes.
"I am picking flowers for the table. Tristin told me to" she chorused.
"You are a good girl for obeying Tristin" he said, placing her on the ground.
Celia grabbed his hand in excitement.
"Come, let's go see Tristin" she said, pointing to a house in the middle of the clearing.
"You go ahead, I am coming" he said, patting her head.
Aiden watched as Celia waddled over to the door. Celia was small for her age, but she was extremely bright and quick learning. She had been only three weeks old when their mother died. She wouldn't ever know what it felt like to have her hair stroked by their mother's careful fingers. Aiden blinked, his mother's face flashing before his eyes. He strode over to the log pile located on the side of the house in distraction. He gathered a fair amount of wood and strode over to the door of the house, welcoming the warm smell of apple pie that drifted into his nose. He grinned as he saw his other sister, Tristin as he entered the kitchen.
"Hey, did you miss me?" he called out, placing the wood on the washed planks that served as the ground.
Tristin turned around, her wavy brown hair shifting on her shoulders.
"What! Miss you?" she joked, her blue eyes flashing.
"Whatever you're making sure smells good" he said non-chanetly, putting a hand into his pocket.
"Come over here rascal."
Aiden walked over to his younger sister, hoping to get a bite of whatever she was making. She is an exceptional cook.
"Here, sample this."
His sister handed him a small wooden plate with some pie on it.
"Yum!" exclaimed Aiden, pulling out a handmade chair from the table.
He popped the pie into his mouth
"Delicious!" he declared, his voice muffled.
His sister glared at him clucking her tongue.
"You have terrible table manners!" she said.
Aiden let out a shrug.
"Can't help it" he said, still munching on the pie.
His sister shook her head and turned back to her work. Aiden watched her admiringly. When their mother died, Tristin had to jump into her place. Cooking, cleaning and taking care of them was all she did now. And what Aiden loved about her was that she was always eager to learn, like their mother. He gave his head a little shake to wake up from his thoughts, got up from the table and strode over to the kitchen sink.
"Tristin that was the best pie I ever ate!" he approved, putting the dish in a bucket full of soapy water.
His sister gave him a pleased smile, her eyes shining.
"Do you notice anything different about me?" she asked, stepping back from the counter.
Aiden studied his sister. She was wearing a purple calico dress with a shawl wrapped around her shoulders. Her hair was the same as always, but something was different. He stepped back a pace and then smiled. A small glass Merlin was strapped on a leather string around her neck.
"Ah yes, you are wearing Mum's necklace" he said, giving her a satisfied nod.
Tristin scratched her shoulder.
"I found it in my drawer. Do you think Father put it there?" she asked, fingering the bird longingly.
Aiden shook his head.
"I don't know, but, goodness Tristin, you look just like Mum!"
Tristin lowered her head.
"I know" she said.
Aiden pulled her into a hug, brotherly love flooding off of him in waves.
"Mum would be so proud of you" he whispered.
Tristin sniffed and stepped back.
"I'd better finish supper" she murmured. Glancing up, she gave him a weak smile. "Thanks Aiden"
"Anytime little sister"
He tickled her and she slapped his arm, giggling.
"Its will be about an hour before supper is ready, so don't go far" she ordered, turning back to the sink.
Aiden rapped his knuckles on the table.
"I won't, but I might as well go and get father to save you some time" he proclaimed, turning to walk out of the room.
Tristin gave him a thankful glance.
Aiden poked her in the stomach.
"What? I can't let you do all the work" he joked, chuckling.
Aiden walked out the door and back into the shafts of sunlight, streaming down from the heavens. He sighed in pleasure, and for a moment stood there, letting the sun bathe his skin. He shook his head, making a lock of hair fall into his eyes. He suddenly realized that his hair was so long that it reached the base of his neck. 'I need to get my hair cut' he reminded himself, making a note in his mind. Aiden sprinted to the stable behind the house, his legs pumping with adrenaline. He was met by Seeder, his father's horse, chewing shay. He gripped the horse's mane and swung himself up onto its back. He clutched on tightly to Seeder's black hair and urged him into a trot. By the time that Aiden reached the Mill both he and the horse had worked up quite a sweat. Aiden slipped off the horse and tied him to a nearby post.
"Come here for your father lad?"
Aiden turned to see old Ben, the manager of the Mill.
"Yes sir" he replied politely.
"He's by the wheel" Ben said gruffly, pointing.
Aiden dipped his head respectfully and walked to where he was pointing. He soon found his father. He was crouching beside the large wheel that churned the water in the nearby pond. Aiden rarely saw his father at work, since he was usually watching his sisters or training with Roik, so it felt good to see him there, his face dirty and with his light brown hair sweaty and stuck to his forehead.
"Father" Aiden exclaimed.
Aiden's father looked up immediately, his face breaking into a smile when he saw Aiden standing there.
"Well hello their son! Come to pay your old man a visit eh?"
"It's time for dinner" He replied.
Aiden's father nodded and stood up grabbing his toolbox as he did so. Aiden quietly observed as his father said goodbye to his fellow workers and old Ben, and when his father and himself got on Seeder, Aiden had forgotten about why he had come.