A Path to Extinction
A felian from a Loboure homestead, nasty with hatchets
Lake Ignus, 2462
Hoping to escape the rapid industrialization of Loboure, Amira Felihrr’s parents — Teren and Arn’ja Felihrr — had moved inland and built their home on the west shore of Lake Ignus, beginning a profitable freshwater fish business exporting delicacies to the ever-growing city of Letem. The middle of three children, Amira grew up in the cabin with a relatively comfortable life; by eight years, she knew her way well around a hatchet, chopping firewood while her parents and brother fished.
Their existence was by no means safe, however; a prominent group of bandits prowled that area of the mountains, and over the course of several years attempted to extort the family. When it became clear that her parents would give them no money, they came in force to take it.
The first assault came as a surprise to the then-sixteen Amira — but not, evidently, to her parents; while her brother herded the sisters Amira and En’na into the cabin, her mother and father strapped on bows and shortswords. The fighting ended quickly, and that evening her father went out with a spade, not returning until early morning.
Two years and several extortion attempts later, the second assault came. This time, even though her brother joined the fight with the family’s shortbow, it lasted several hours, and the three fighters were forced back into the cabin, firing arrows from the windows. When the fighting finally stopped, it was only because the bandits ran out of arrows and didn’t dare approach, eventually retreating under cover of darkness.
“Why don’t we get help?” Amira finally asked of her father, exhausted and frightened. “One of us can go upriver to Loboure; there’s got to be someone there who’ll help us.”
“No, daughter; no-one in Loboure will be sympathetic to our situation. Even if they were, the mountains are full of them; it would take more than a few policemen to clear them out.” He shook his head, eyes staring into history at the mention of Loboure. They always did; so did her mother’s. She’d learned not to ask.
Another year passed. Winter came. Lumber production dropped. The third attack got ugly; this time it was the family’s arrows that ran out, forcing them into close fighting; the sound of metal clashing reverberated off the lake. Night fell and the fighting continued; finally, hushing En’na, Amira crept outside.
Somehow, incredibly, her parents were fighting four of the armed criminals at once; blades flashing in the firelight, they stood over a body — Ferin. Covered in blood. Eyes closed. For a second, her eyes were stuck on his form, before a clang of steel brought her attention back to the fight. A man standing behind her father had his longsword raised high.
Hatred surged. Unthinking, Amira’s fingers closed around the handle of the hatchet she’d been chopping wood with earlier that day. Twisting it free of the stump, she hurled it overhand. With a gout of crimson, it buried itself in the back of the man’s leg; screaming in pain, he fell forward onto his partner’s blade. Her father ran the woman through while her sword was occupied, then turned to see his wife cutting down one of the men next to her. The fourth fled, only to fall with the same hatchet she’d thrown now buried between his shoulder blades.
It ended. Numb, Amira walked silently towards her parents.
“Take Ferin on the raft down-river to Fuund; there’s got to be a doctor there,” her mother was saying, kneeling over him and tying off his arm and then leg.
“It’ll have to be Letem; Fuund is mostly farmland. And anyway, I can’t leave you and the girls here alone,” he answered. “They’ll send more people soon.”
Glancing up with an exhausted smile, she replied, “You’re worrying about me again. Remember who it was who actually killed—”
“I haven’t forgotten.”
“Look. If they come back, we’ll cross the lake and go into hiding further into the mountains. They can have the blasted mill; we’ll take it back the way we took—” As Amira stepped into the firelight, her father shushed her.
“I’ll go,” Amira declared dizzily, walking past them to the dead bandit. “No, don’t argue. If you’re both here they’d be stupid to attack with anything less than an army.” She wrenched the hatchet from his back, suppressing a shiver as the body gave a final spasm. “I’m better with the raft anyway, and I know the river near here well enough to navigate at night.”
Her parents exchanged glances. “She’s right,” her mother admitted.
“I don’t care if she’s right; it’s dangerous,” her father muttered.
“No more dangerous than staying here with one of us. Danger’s in her blood.” Her mother pulled her into a hug. “You’re being very brave. But don’t take any stupid risks. Raft to Fuund, hire an aeromancer to alert a doctor in Letem to meet you at the docks.”
Sighing, her father rested a hand on her shoulder. “Fine. Ferin hasn’t got time for us to argue this anyway. Take the shortbow.” Glancing down at the bloody hatchet she was holding, he added, “And all the hatchets. Once Ferin’s being cared for, go to Keraulf’s Fletcher shop in the market district. Tell him I’m calling in a favor and that he should give you arrows, re-string the shortbow, and help pay for the medicine.” Smiling, he added, “Nice throw.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I was aiming for his head. Tell En’na I said bye. And mom, dad? When I get back… if we have time, I want to hear the story.” They nodded in silent promise.
An air-mailed letter from Fuund preceded her arrival to Letem, and the doctor met her at the docks, with a group of people to help carry her brother. Once he was being seen to, she left, promising to return with the doctor’s fees.
Teren Felihrr, Father
Arn’ja Felihrr, Mother
Ferin Felihrr, Older Brother
En’na Felihrr, Younger Sister