Walking to Tharda
Vilija al Aábel
The eldest sister, Vilija seeks to keep her family safe and strong.
The early days were hard and my parents made every effort to make sure we children did not suffer the same hardships as they themselves did. I see that now, of course, but my true memories of those days are golden, full of love and care-free days.
For seven years it was just Bjôrn and myself. We were inseparable, following each other through mischief and childish adventures. And then my sister Rajavia came into the world. And our family fortunes suddenly improved. Father found new trade routes that brought wealth into the family clan. And we were able to move to a lovely house at the edge of the city with a beautiful garden. It was then that I began my training in the service of our god Sarajin. The old priest saw in me a true believer and began to teach me personally, in the hopes that one day I would journey to Kyriheim and join the sisterhood in the Cult of the Elkyri. The idea both excited and frightened me for the burden of such a role was staggering to a young woman of my age. At the same time my brother Bjôrn was being groomed to take over the family business, especially here at home since father was now spending a great deal of time solidifying our trade connections with the Island of Harn.
But sadness was soon to be our lot. Four years after Rajavia was born our sister Rella came into this world. And in her birth our mother passed. My father was devastated. He shut himself from the world and grieved long and hard for her. If it were not for Ledan, the house manager, and his guidance to Bjorn, we might have lost everything. Within the year that followed my mother’s death, my father did re-marry for Raella was in need of a mother. Dafyl is a good and gentle woman and she helped much to bring my father out of his despair.
But perhaps the deep grief never left him, for my father spent more and more time on the island of Harn. He would send trinkets, letters and we would see him several times a year for short visits. But thought I missed him dearly, a sense of normalcy began to settle in.
The day was quickly approaching for my journey to Kyriheim. Bjorn’s business acumen was growing the family fortune and Raella was thriving under the tutelage of Aunt Arien, one of the Skârtkvýnè, a shield maiden of Sarajin. Of Rajavia I saw little. I knew that the loss of our mother was a sharp blow to her. And try as she may, Dayfl was unable to break through the walls Raj put up.
Two weeks before I was to leave home we got the news that Bjôrn’s ship was lost at sea and all crew were presumed dead. Father returned home and we held a proper funeral fire for my brother. And while I understood intellectually that he was gone, in my heart I refused to believe him dead. I still do to this day. Maybe it is our bond as twins. Or maybe just because he was always the closest companion and confidante that I ever had. As I watched the fire burn the effigy we had placed on the pyre, I knew that my future in service to Sarajin would not now happen. That suddenly it was thrust on my shoulders to take my brother’s place and serve the family’s interest.
That was three years ago. I have come a very far way and learned a great deal. It seems I have an aptitude for business. But all things are in a constant state of flux so why should my life ever settle into something permanent.
Today I got a letter from father. He has summoned myself and my sisters to Tharda on Hârn. Ledan is busy trying to arrange a passage for us on the first boat leaving for the island. Dayfl is helping us pack and arrange for the trip. Raella is petulant as she does not wish to leave her studies with Aunt Arien. I don’t know what Rajavia is thinking. We’ve never left home before, none of us. Why does father summon us now? And why do we go to Harn and he not come home?
Through all the trials life has put before me I have always felt a certain sense of safety, of familiarity. Of home. Standing here on the dock, looking out over the grey sea that stretches to the horizon, I smell a chill in the salt air. Unfamiliar and dark. I don’t know that world. This scares me more than anything that’s happened thus far in my life.
Sarajin. Holy Father. Lord of the Perilous Quest. Let your breathe carry us like the wind across the dark water. In your strength may we find our strength. In your courage may we find our courage.