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Impressions and Memories - Myxie Tryxle

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(( Note: Myxie Tryxle's tribal name growing up was Mikhi Trikhel. She modified it later to be more pronounceable and sound more marketable. In case it isn't clear, she is eight years old in this story. ))


Mikhi sat with her back to a large maple tree next to a foot path through the shroud. She held a bottle in her hand. Turning it around to look down the neck, she sniffed it inquisitively. It smelled like rainwater and mud where she had found it lying next to the road. As she rotated it in her hands and wondered what wondrous elixir it must have contained, the rainwater leaked out through a crack in the side, dripping onto her tail. She gasped at how cold it was, leaping into the air and shaking her hind end furiously to dry off her fur. It was then she noticed a stifled laugh behind her. She whirled around, one hand going to the knife on her belt.


Peeking around the base of the tree she had just been lounging upon was a large, male Miqo’te. He wore rugged leathers and worn boots, but his hair was clean and combed back. The soft moonlight reflected from his eyes, and his chuckle turned into a full-fledged laugh complete with a slap to the knee.


The intense look on Mikhi’s face gave way to a look of confusion as she examined her stalker. After a moment, she relaxed.


“Uncle Ori’to?” She stared at his clean and trimmed hair.


The man took a deep breath and composed himself, stepping away from the tree. “You looked like a regular wild cat, Mikhi. Ferocious!”


“Uncle Ori’to!” Mikhi squeeled with glee and ran forward, wrapping her arms around his legs. Suddenly, something dawned on her, and she let go. Looking directly up at his face, she slapped him across the knee.


“You missed my birthday!” she accused.


Ori’to stared back at her with an apologetic grin. “Three months late eight years in a row! I’m such a terrible Uncle.”


As he said it, he reached back to a pouch on the side of his knapsack and pulled out a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. He held it out to her, and Mikhi’s frown immediately gave way to a wide grin. She took the gift in one hand and grabbed Ori’to’s hand in the other.


“You’re my favorite Uncle!” Mikhi beamed as she led him back through the woods to the Trikhel homestead.


A small cluster of rough-hewn log cabins sat against the towering backdrop of a stone cliff in the forest. Mikhi let go of the man’s hand and bounded over the log bridge spanning a small creek. As Ori’to followed, Mikhi’s cousin Sondar’a noticed them and ran up to give their Uncle a hug.


Turning to Mikhi, Sondar’a leaned in close and whispered. “The Grinder’s been lookin’ for ya.”


Mikhi blanched for a moment but tried to look calm as she rounded the corner of the matriarch’s cabin. Her grandmother sat on an old wooden rocking chair, slowly rocking back and forth while punching holes into a piece of leather she was working. As their eyes met, Mikhi could see a look of sympathy on the old matriarch’s face even as she heard her sister Rhassal’s voice from the window of their cabin.


“Ma! Mikhi comin’ home.”


Mikhi glared at Rhassal through the window, but Rhassal just smirked back.




Mikhi’s tail curled down between her legs and her ears folded back as a shudder ran down her spine. Her mother’s tirade began before she could even be seen through the doorway of the cabin, but she could certainly be heard throughout the camp.


“Mikhi I told ya to get those dishes washed up before ya went off wastin’ time in the woods!”


Grendar Trikhel appeared in the doorway, a wooden spoon clenched in her fist like a club. For a moment she stopped to stare at Ori’to, but quickly advanced to where Mikhi was standing.


“Raise yer tail,” the older woman demanded.


“But, momma…” Mikhi protested, turning back to look at Ori’to. He gave her a sympathetic smile but didn’t interfere.


“Raise. Your. Tail!”


Mikhi did as she was told. A loud crack echoed around the common area three times as Grendar slapped her three times across the buttocks with the wooden spoon. Tears streaked down Mikhi’s face with each blow.


“Now get inside and do yer chores,” ordered Grendar. “Uncle Ori’to and I need to talk.”


Mikhi trudged to the cabin crying. Behind her, she could hear her mother turning attention to the male Miqo’te.


“Yer late,” she said, pointing the spoon at Ori’to’s face. “We need yer help up on the cliff. Some of them boulders are comin’ loose from the big freeze last winter. I don’t wanna wake up this winter with a hundred pound rock on my head.”


Ori’to chuckled and leaned in to give Grendar a peck on the cheek. For a moment, she blushed.


“It’s good to see you as well, Grendar.”



Mikhi lifted the package in her hand. She hadn’t realized before how heavy it was for something so small. Most everyone was gathered around the fire pit in the common area to see what she had. Even Momma was there smiling. Mikhi wished Uncle Ori’to would visit more often, if for no other reason than that it put Momma in a good mood. Finally her aunt appeared around the fire and nodded to her.


Mikhi pulled on the string and tore the paper open. Several of her cousins leaned in to see what it was. In her lap was a small tin box. She opened it and pulled out a small mechanical toy. It was a brightly painted bird with large legs and a pronounced beak. Grendar gave Ori’to a scowl when she saw what it was, but Mikhi stared at it in wonder.


“What is it?” she asked, looking to Ori’to with wide eyes.


“It’s a chocobo,” he answered, ignoring the older woman’s disapproving glance.


Mikhi whistled and turned back to examine the toy. “So this is what those city folks ride. I never seen one before. They don’t ride ‘em down our little trails.”


“There’s more,” said Ori’to as he reached for the toy.


He gently picked it up and turned the tail feathers in a circle several times before placing the toy on the ground. It jolted to life, taking a few steps away from the campfire and making a chirping sound while opening and closing its beak. Mikhi stared in wonder as several of the other children squealed in delight.


Mikhi grabbed the toy and threw her arms around Ori’to’s neck, the bird still chirping in his ear.


“Thank you, Uncle. I love it!”


“You’re welcome, Mikhi,” he responded, returning her hug and smiling. “Happy Birthday.”



The next evening, as the others were rousing from their slumber, Mikhi was already awake and sitting at the table. Strewn in front of her was a collection of small mechanical parts along with several yellow panels that made up the sides of the chocobo toy. She could see that the sun was going down and began concentrating on how to put the toy back together when she suddenly heard her sisters stirring in their cots nearby. Looking up, she could see Rhassal staring at her in the dwindling light.


“What’re ya doin’?” asked Rhassal with a yawn.


Mikhi began quickly picking up the pieces and dropping them into the toy’s tin container. It made a terrible racket, rousing their youngest sister Aylee who began whining about the noise. Rhassal got up and walked towards the table.


“I’m not doin’ anything,” Mikhi responded, though she already knew she’d been caught.


“Ma’s gonna pitch a fit when she sees this,” taunted Rhassal.


Mikhi froze when she heard the door to her mother’s room open. It was a small cabin, with only one private room attached to the larger living area. The girls slept on cots they set out every morning in the larger main room. Mikhi turned to see her mother staring at the table.


“Mikhi, did you break your toy?” Momma didn’t sound as mad as Mikhi might have expected.


“N-no,” Mikhi stuttered. “I just wanted to see how it worked. I can put it back together.”


Grendar frowned as if thinking. In the silence, Aylee got up from her cot and walked over to the table.


“They woke me up, and I’m hungry!” whined the child, hitting the table.


The small tin box shifted as the table shook and fell to the floor. Small metal and wood toy parts flew in every direction. Mikhi watched in horror, trying to keep track of where they all went, but there were too many for her to count. She fell to the floor and started picking them up when she heard a sickening crunching sound followed by a loud yelp of pain.


Uncle Ori’to leaned down to pick a broken toy part out of his foot.


“What’s going on out here?”


“Mikhi broke the fancy toy you bought her,” said Grendar as she continued to frown.


Mikhi was aghast. She looked from her mother to Aylee and back again.


“Aylee broke it!” Mikhi protested. “I had all the parts and could put them back together!”


“If ya hadn’t taken it apart, it wouldn’t be broken.” Grendar turned and disappeared back into her bedroom.


Mikhi stared in disbelief. Rhassal just smirked and set to getting dressed for the night. Aylee sat down at the table and played with her tail, occasionally looking up to see if anyone was fixing her something to eat. Only Ori’to stood as shocked as Mikhi, then bent down to start collecting the toy parts as tears welled up in Mikhi’s eyes.


“It’s okay, dear,” he comforted. “We’ll get all the parts together in the box, and I’ll see if I can fix it.”


Mikhi and Ori’to spent fifteen minutes trying to find all the parts strewn around the room while the rest went about starting their night. They found most of the parts, and while the toy still looked like a chocobo, the tail had been crushed, and it never walked or chirped again.



Several weeks later, Mikhi heard something outside and walked out into the common area between the cabins. A cool autumn wind was blowing, rustling piles of fallen leaves. Uncle Ori’to stood next to the fire pit, with Mikhi’s mother, aunt, and grandmother crowding around him. Mother seemed to be upset about something, and the other children were coming out to see what the commotion was about.


“Ya can’t leave now, Ori’to,” Grendar declared. “Winter’s comin’ early, and we could use yer help with provisions.”


Ori’to frowned, obviously torn.


“That’s the reason I have to go. I can’t risk being snowbound here. I have a promise to keep.”


Grendar growled a little, then turned to see the children approaching.


“What promise could be more important to you than family?” she demanded, motioning towards the gathering children.


Ori’to’s ears lowered, and for a split second he averted his eyes. Mother’s eyes went wide for a moment but soon her scowl returned with renewed zeal.


“So that’s it, is it? You’d choose him over us?” She stared at Ori’to accusingly.


Mikhi had never seen Ori’to angry before. His ears stood straight up, his teeth were bared, and his voice was harsh.


“Don’t you dare make me choose. I made him a promise!”


Mikhi turned to Sondar’a who had crept up next to her to see what was happening in the clearing.


“Who are they talking about?” Mikhi whispered.


Sondar’a considered Mikhi for a moment, trying to decide what to say. In the end, he just spoke the name.




Mikhi’s ears shot straight up. She turned back to the adults, and despite the tense situation looked directly at Ori’to and shouted.


“You’re going to see Grendar’a? Take me with you!”


Everyone in the clearing froze when they heard her words. Aylee and Rhassal also perked up, until they saw their mother’s posture. Grendar’s right ear twitched, then both ears slowly swiveled to point backwards at Mikhi. Her tail was rigid and upright, and her hands were clenched into fists. Mikhi was oblivious to this as her attention was focused on Ori’to.


He sighed as his eyes turned to look at her. Mikhi was surprised by how quickly the anger drained from his face. In its place was a profound look of sadness.


“Mikhi, you know I’d love to –“


Ori’to was cut short by a terrible growl from Grendar. “Don’t. You. Dare!”


Without turning away from Ori’to, she yelled back at Mikhi.


“Mikhi, go in the cabin.”


Mikhi now recognized her mother’s anger, but her desire to see her brother after two years apart made her bold.


“I want to go with Uncle Ori’to and see Grendar’a.”


A deep, guttural growl issued forth from Grendar’s lips. It was filled with anger that mixed with anguish as the pitch rose. Her voice cracked once as she screamed, in the middle of the word cabin.


“Mikhi! Go in the cabin! And you, Ori’to. If you don’t wanna be here then just get the hell out!”


Mikhi’s lip began to quiver. She turned back to Ori’to and pleaded one last time.


“Uncle Ori’to?”


Ori’to’s eyes were locked on Grendar. He tried to look back at Mikhi, but the best he could manage was to stare at her feet. He took a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh.


“Mikhi. Mind your mother.”


Mikhi began crying. Aunt Sondar came forward to take her hand and lead her back to the cabin while assuring her that everything would be just fine. As they walked through the door, Mikhi turned back to see Ori’to break his gaze from her mother and turn to her grandmother. The matriarch simply nodded. As Aunt Sondar closed the door of the cabin in front of her, Mikhi watched Ori’to walk out of the clearing towards the foot path, with Grendar glaring at him as he went.

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(( For the purposes of this story, Mikhi (Myxie) is fourteen years old. ))


Mikhi stared for a moment at the object in her hand. It was a white, long-stemmed rose, clenched tightly between her fingers. She turned the bloom upwards and filled her nose with its sweet scent. In the other hand was a leather strap. Following it as it weaved through a background of yellow feathers, she suddenly realized she was riding a chocobo. She leaned forward to wrap her arms around the creature, aware of its strong muscles and the occasional rumbling of its throat as it let out a chirp. Looking past the neck of the bird, Mikhi could see many flowers and small, brightly colored strips of paper landing on the cobblestones below her.


Mikhi sat up straight and blinked her eyes. The midday sun was blinding ahead of her, so she squinted and glanced around. To one side rose a line of stone buildings reaching towards the sky. On the other side stood a towering wall with many market stands leaning against it. Though Mikhi had never been there, she could tell from the hot, dry wind blowing on her cheek that this must be Ul’dah.


A strange sound from behind her caught Mikhi’s attention. She turned in her saddle to see a large procession following behind her. There was a small carriage being pulled by two chocobos directly behind her. Behind that, a giant creature with long, flailing arms strained against the magical bonds that caged it. After a sickening groan the bonds gave way with a loud snapping sound that echoed through the streets. Bystanders screamed and ran in horror as the lumbering creature lurched into the carriage in front of it, sending a spray of splintered wood in all directions. Mikhi grasped desperately for the neck of the chocobo as it reared, trying to cover her head from the wave of debris.


Mikhi sat up again and squinted into the sun, though it wasn’t as bright filtering through the canopy of the forest. Her head jerked around in confusion, taking in the trees of the Shroud. In her lap was a book on Ul’dah that Uncle Ori’to had brought the previous autumn for her to read. Mikhi blinked for a moment and sighed, realizing the parade had been a dream. She raised her hands to the horizon, placing one over the other to gauge the height of the sun.


“Two handspans? Momma’s gonna kill me!”


“Ah knew ah ‘eard somethin’ makin’ noise up ‘ere,” came a deep voice from behind her.


Mikhi’s head jerked up and turned to look over the fallen log she was seated against. Moving up the hill towards her was the largest Hyur she had ever seen or even heard of. She stood up and backed away from him, backing up the ridge towards the cliff that hung over her family homestead. The Hyur made easy, long strides up the hill, angling up the hill to the cliff face before moving straight in Mikhi’s direction. The terrible grin he displayed with several missing teeth and one broken at a sharp angle made her feel sick. His eyes traveled up and down her body, then he spoke again.


“Imagine my surprise ta find a purty young wench like you ‘ere. The mistress o’ the wharf’ll give me a purty purse for a fresh fish like you. If’n me an’ the boys don’t spoil ya first, that is.”


Mikhi’s heart sank as the Highlander finished his threat by teasing the lone, triangular tooth at the front of his mouth with his tongue. She looked down over the cliff to the family stead. With all her strength, she hurled the book in her hands towards the nearest house. It fell softly in the brush at the edge of the clearing, and no one stirred below.


“That’s my family’s house,” Mikhi said, trying to muster her courage. “They’ll come looking for me.”


“Issat so?” asked the Hyur. He stopped for a moment and laughed at her. “An’ are you gonna fly down there ta them, or are they gonna fly up ‘ere ta rescue ya?”


Panic overtook Mikhi, and she started running. Behind her, she could hear the Hyur whooping in delight as he made chase. Mikhi could hear him gaining on her, his long Highlander legs beating more confident strides. She glanced about desperately, looking for any advantage. The cliff was suicide, sheer, tall, and rocky. The hill declined in a steep angle, but it was her best chance. The Hyur was tall and lanky without a tail. He’d have to take the hill slower than her or risk tumbling down it and cracking his skull on a tree trunk or loose boulder. Mikhi plunged headlong down the hill, her feet barely keeping up with gravity as she descended at a breakneck pace.


Her tension eased a little as she heard the Hyur stop above her and slowly start making his way down the steep embankment. Mikhi skidded to a halt against a tree to look back at her pursuer. Much to her dismay, he still had a broad smile on his face, despite his slow descent and losing ground on her.


“Stop running downhill. His mates are waiting there for him to drive you out,” a high-pitched voice whispered into Mikhi’s ear.


Mikhi looked around frantically, but couldn’t find the source of the warning. Straining to look down the hill, she spied what might have been a strip of red cloth, barely visible and clinging to the bark on the side of a tree. The man chasing her had a bright red strip of cloth for a sash as well, from which hung a short, heavy, curved sword. Mikhi looked around frantically again, trying to find somewhere in the middle that she could hide.


“That large boulder, a hundred yards away along the ridge. Run for it!” The voice in her ear was insistent.


Mikhi pushed off from the tree and made a break for the boulder. Above her she could hear the Hyur running nearly parallel to her own track, angling to intercept her path.


Mikhi reached the boulder first. As she turned the corner around the boulder to look for a hiding spot, she ran headlong into the flank of an enormous stag. It reared in surprise, knocking Mikhi to the ground. She rolled to the side into a crevice underneath the boulder as its hooves stomped to the ground. The creature was the largest stag she had ever seen and displayed an unbelievable rack of sharp horns as it leaned down to stare at her where she hid underneath the rock. Mikhi and the stag stared at each other for a moment before both heard a loud stomping of boots against rock. Mikhi could feel the Hyur moving along the top of the rock through the stone pressed against her back.


“Gotcha!!” yelled the Hyur as he took two large steps then leaped off with both feet, turning around with his feet apart and his arms spread wide and hands open to catch the girl.


Mikhi watched in slow motion as the confident smirk on the Hyur’s face collapsed into a mixture of confusion and terror. As his feet plummeted towards the ground, the stag’s feet reared. The great beast brought its antlers to bear, and as the Hyur’s feet landed in the muddy ground, the stag plunged one of its horns into his unprotected chest.


With a cough that sprayed a fine mist of blood into the air, the Hyur fell backwards and raised his arms. The stag reared again, kicking at the pirate with heavy hooves. Mikhi rolled out of her hiding place behind the stag and crouched against the boulder. Looking past the battle, she could see two more men, not as large as her assailant but still larger than Mikhi, scrambling up the hill.


“Now’s your chance! Run!”


Mikhi didn’t even look around to see where the voice was coming from. She pushed off the rock and ran at full speed along the ridge. The two Hyur saw Mikhi and changed course. Behind her, she heard the Highlander curse at them in a wheezing voice.


“Help me... ya bleedin’... fools!”


Reluctantly they drew their swords and turned back towards their comrade in battle. Mikhi kept running for a long time. She reached the end of the ridge where it declined down to the forest floor. She turned back and ran along the front of the cliff face until she was exhausted. There was a small cave that she knew nearby, so Mikhi crawled inside to hide and catch her breath. It felt like it took an hour to regain her breath, but she eventually calmed down and listened. No one appeared to be following nearby. She took a deep breath and began to relax.


Suddenly, she was keenly aware of a light coming from the back of her small cave. She turned and could see standing there at the back of the cave a small person with softly glowing skin and delicate, moth-like wings. The creature studied Mikhi for a moment then scowled.


“It’s not polite to stare, you know,” admonished the tiny woman in a high-pitched voice.


Mikhi closed her mouth then gaped again for a moment, trying to say something. Finally she managed to blurt the words out.


“Who are you?”


The winged creature cocked an eyebrow while shaking her head.


“Has our influence dwindled so much?” mused the small woman. “Don’t you know it’s poor form to ask for names? Names hold power, little one!”


“Little one?” Mikhi scoffed. “You’re one to talk.”


The light coming from the creature’s skin flared in a brilliant flash, and its voice echoed cavernously throughout the small cave.


“I mean small in life! Small in experience! I saved your hide today, mortal, and you will show me respect!”


Mikhi cringed as the words reverberated in her ears. “Sorry! I’m sorry! I meant no disrespect.”


The creature calmed and moved closer. For a moment the two examined each other.


“As for what I am,” continued the tiny woman, “a country bumpkin like yourself would be well served to know. I am one of the goodly folk. For many an age mortal kind has respected and feared our dominion over nature.”


“A fairy?” asked Mikhi, leaning forward and examining the creature.


The fairy cringed and leaned away from Mikhi’s face.


“We prefer the term fae, if you must. Fairy is a scholar’s label, and a little bit rude, I might add.” The fae wagged her finger in Mikhi’s direction.


“Oh, alright,” responded Mikhi. “I’ll keep that in mind.”


For a long moment, the two stared at one another. The fae had an expectant look on her face. Mikhi continued to examine the creature, then realized she was staring and looked away.


“Well, I really do appreciate your help today,” began Mikhi as she stood up and angled towards the entrance to the cave.


“HALT!” declared the fae in an authoritative voice.


Mikhi turned her head towards the tiny woman and realized that she couldn’t move her feet. They stuck as if frozen to the cavern floor. She glared at the fae.


“What is this?” Mikhi demanded.


The fairy sighed as she flew to the entrance of the cave to hover in front of Mikhi.


“Mothers these days must care nothing for their children. In days past, an outburst like that would have warranted a lightning bolt or transformation for a year or some other fitting punishment.”


Mikhi continued to glare defiantly. The fae studied her for a moment before laughing and continuing.


“But I can see that you’ve got spirit, so I’ll let it slide this time. You, however, owe me a favor.”


“A favor?” Mikhi looked a little surprised.


“Yes,” continued the tiny woman. “You owe me a favor. Do you think that stag did as I requested out of the kindness of his heart? He’s fine, by the way. Escaped after holding those men at bay for a few minutes while you ran, thanks for asking. He did it because I called in a favor. He was a scrawny, stub-horn when I first met him, and now he’s lord of the herd!”


The fae leaned her head forward and placed her index fingers pointing up on each side of her head before splaying out all her fingers and strutting in a circle. Mikhi couldn’t help but laugh at the spectacle, which drew a glare from the fae.


“Where do you think you’d be right now if I hadn’t intervened?” asked the tiny woman.


Mikhi’s tail lowered and her ears fell flat against her head. As she thought about the question, her skin started to go pale.


“I... I don’t know.”


“Exactly!” said the fae. “I expended my own resources and put me and mine in harm’s way to rescue you, so you owe me a favor.”


“Alright, I get it,” responded Mikhi, slightly annoyed. “What do you want?”


The fairy drifted to the ground and brought the palm of its left hand up to its cheek. While it thought for a moment, it drummed the fingers of its hand against the side of its face.


“A bowl of honey and a bowl of cream.”


Mikhi stared in astonishment. “That’s it?”


“I’m not finished!” protested the fae. “Every equinox, spring and fall, in this cave, for the next five years.”


“That seems fair,” said Mikhi as she extended her hand.


The fae quickly grasped her hand and shook it vigorously.


“Just so we’re clear, this is now a fae pact,” warned the tiny woman. “If you break our pact there will be dire consequences. Dire consequences!”


Mikhi chuckled as the fae pointed a finger in Mikhi’s face.


“I think I get it now,” Mikhi responded. “Can I bring you treats at other times too?”


The fairy shook her head while waving her hands in front of her chest. “Oh no! You can’t buy favors from a fae. It doesn’t work like that.”


“Nothing like that,” Mikhi said, shaking her head. “Just to say ‘hi’ or something.”


The tiny woman looked genuinely confused. “What? Why?”


“Because you seem like a nice person,” said Mikhi with a smile.


For a moment, the fae just stared at Mikhi. Then she crossed her tiny arms over her stomach and started laughing. She fell backwards onto her butt, laughing while she sat on the ground. She fell further backwards, her wings splayed out on the ground behind her, laughing while her feet kicked wildly in the air. She continued laughing as she rolled back and forth on the ground, first to the left, then to the right. Her laughing turned to gasping as she pushed off the ground onto hands and knees. A tiny hand brushed away a tear. It fell to the ground, a single silver speck, and where it landed a patch of clover immediately grew and bloomed in many tiny flowers. As the fae stood, she released the last few chuckles left in her chest then turned to face Mikhi.


“If you can make me laugh like that again, I just might show up.”


“MIKHI TRIKHEL!” Grendar’s commanding voice echoed through the forest.


Mikhi looked to see which direction her mother was coming from. When she looked back, the fae had vanished. She smiled and found that she could move her feet again, so she started walking back towards the homestead.


At least she’d have a good excuse for why she stayed out late into the morning this time. If Momma believed her....

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  • 2 weeks later...

(( For the purposes of this story, Mikhi is eighteen years old. ))


Mikhi listened for a while until her sisters’ breathing became slow and rhythmic. Convinced that they were asleep, she sat up slowly, grabbed the small bag underneath her cot, and tiptoed to the door. She opened the cabin door excruitiatingly slowly to avoid making any sound and slipped out, closing the door with equal care.


The sun hung low in the morning sky. Clutching her package, Mikhi started walking along the bottom of the cliff face. In the Shroud around her, she could hear the early morning chirping of birds. After a short walk, Mikhi found the cave in the cliff face. Peeking inside, she could see that it was empty. With one last glance around to make sure that no one was watching her, she ducked into the cave.


Mikhi opened her parcel and took out a small pot of honey and small jug of cream as well as two bowls. She filled one bowl with the honey and the other with the cream, putting the empty containers back in the bag and tying it to her belt. Leaning over, she picked up the two bowls off the floor and held them, one in each hand, as she stood upright in the center of the small cave.


For an hour Mikhi stood like a statue, watching the entrance to the small cave. She stretched occasionally as her arms got sore, but she never put down the dishes she held. She rolled several ideas around in her head to keep from becoming sleepy. Finally, she heard a deep, annoyed sigh, and a winged fae appeared at the entrance of the cave with a frown on her face.


“You aren’t going to give up this time, are you?” asked the fae in a high pitched voice.


Mikhi squeeled in delight. “I knew you couldn’t put me to sleep this time!”


“It’s not like you offered me a choice,” replied the fae. “Are you going to give me those? It would be a shame for you to break our arrangement on the last payment.”


“You’ll get them,” answered Mikhi. “I just wanted to talk, since I may not see you again.”


The fae regarded the Miqo’te for a moment. “All right. I suppose there’s no harm in a little bit of gab. What did you want to talk about?”


“I’d like to know your name,” Mikhi declared boldly.


The fairy furrowed her brows. “You should know by now that names hold power. Why should I trust you to keep it safe?”


“Well, for starters I’ve kept up my end of our bargain for the past five years, and I haven’t told anyone about it,” offered Mikhi.


“That’s true, right up until today’s little coup,” the fae retorted.


“The day’s not over,” countered Mikhi.


A grin spread across the fairy’s face. “I think you and I both know which one of us would win if I choose to wait this out until midnight.”


“Maybe you. Maybe neither of us.”


Mikhi yawned as she crossed her legs and sat down on the floor of the cave. She balanced the two bowls precariously on her knees, angling them towards the entrance of the cave. The fairy’s eyes grew wide as she saw her prize at risk of tumbling to the dusty floor.


“Careful. Careful!” The fae held both hands out in a calming gesture.


“I mean it only seems fair, right?” asked Mikhi. “You know my name, I’m sure.”


The fairy glared at the Miqo’te for a moment before speaking. “Fine, put the bowls safely on the floor, and I’ll give you part of my name.”


Mikhi considered for a moment before answering. “I suppose your first name would be fine enough. Do you promise that if I place these two bowls safely on the floor for you that you’ll tell me your first name?”


The fae shook her head. “You’re getting smarter with age, girl. Yes, I promise I’ll tell you my common name.”


Mikhi eyed the fairy critically. “And a common name is equivalent to a first name?”


The fae sighed. “Yes, a common name is generally how the fae refer to other fae they consider friends or equals.”


Mikhi place the bowls carefully on the ground then clapped her hands in excitement.


The fairy relaxed once her prize was safely placed. “Now understand that even this fraction of my name will draw my attention. You aren’t to use it willy-nilly. I don’t need to hear from you every time your mother yells at you or some boy cat stands you up for a date.”


Mikhi nodded fervently. “I understand.”


“Very well,” continued the fae. “You may call me Farawynn.”


“Farawynn,” Mikhi repeated. “Does that mean we’re friends now?”


Farawynn laughed. “Well, we both seem to have a knack for holding the other hostage.”


Mikhi let out a nervous laugh.


Farawynn smiled. “But that’s a decent place to start in my world. You’re becoming a worthy adversary, Mikhi Trikhel.”


Mikhi continued to laugh nervously. “Well, that’s, uh... good, then. It’s a pleasure to properly meet you, Farawynn.”


The two chatted for an hour while Farawynn enjoyed her final treat of their five year arrangement. The honey and cream lifted the fairy’s spirits, and by the time the fae departed, the two were bantering cordially.



Mikhi crept back onto the homestead quietly. It was afternoon, so everyone should be fast asleep. As she approached, she could hear voices coming from behind the matriarch’s house. It seemed very strange that her grandmother would be out and about in the middle of the day, so Mikhi moved to the side of the matriarch’s cabin to investigate. She could hear the Matriarch speaking to someone.


“Thank ya for these pelts,” said the old woman. “With the roads openin’ for spring and summer, I should be able to make boots out of these and trade ‘em for amenities. I don’t suppose ya need new shoes?”


Mikhi froze when she heard a familiar voice that she hadn’t heard for over ten years.


“It’s alright, Grandma. The boots you gave me last fall have at least another year’s worth of tread in them.”


Mikhi stumbled around the corner, staring in shock at the visitor. “Grendar’a?!”


The two turned in surprise to see Mikhi standing at the corner of the cabin. The Matriarch shook her head, but the young male Miqo’te looked pleasantly surprised.


“Hi, sis,” he said as his mouth formed a smile.


“Grendar’a!” Mikhi exclaimed again, rushing forward to embrace him with tears forming in her eyes.


For a moment they held each other, then he placed his hands on her shoulders and held her at arm’s length to look her over while Mikhi wiped the tears from her eyes.


“You’ve certainly grown, Mikhi,” he finally said. “Are you still the princess of mischief?”


Mikhi frowned and began slapping Grendar’a on the shoulder. “Why haven’t you come back to visit?”


Grendar’a looked as if he’d been punched in the gut. “I wanted to sis, I really did. But mother told me never to come back.”


“Grendar’s too hot-headed for her own good,” scolded the Matriarch as she wagged a finger at no one in particular. “But I can tell ya this much, she misses ya, boy.”


Grendar’a sighed. “If it makes you feel any better, I’ve come back twice a year with pelts and extra goods. Grandma’s kept me up on everything that’s been happening.”


Mikhi stared her brother defiantly in the face. “I’m going with you when you leave today.”


Grendar’a gaped at Mikhi, while their grandmother continued to shake her head.


“Grendar’s gonna throw a fit,” said the Matriarch.


Grendar’a nodded. “Are you sure this is a good idea Mikhi?”


Mikhi stood unwavering. “I’ve lived under her thumb in this hollow for eighteen years now. I want to see the world! Uncle Ori’to’s brought me books, and I know there’s more to life than a log cabin in the woods. Please, take me with you!”


Grendar’a frowned. “I can’t stop you if you want to leave, but you can’t just sneak off like that. She deserves to know, whether it leads to a fight or not.”


Mikhi’s resolve wavered for a moment as she considered the confrontation.


“If you just up and leave without a word, you’ll end up the same as me, with no home to return to.” Grendar’a couldn’t meet Mikhi’s eyes as he pronounced his warning.


Mikhi took a deep breath. “Then I’ll tell her, but she can’t keep me here any longer. I’ve made up my mind.”


A smile grew on Grendar’a’s face even as a tear ran down one of his cheeks. He embraced his sister again.


“We’ll travel the roads together, then. Damn it’s good to see you again, sis!”


Mikhi tried to suppress a sniffle as she returned his embrace.


“Ya’d best wait for nightfall then,” grunted the Matriarch. “Grendar’ll be angry enough about the news without ya waking her up in the middle of the day too.”



Mikhi awoke to a gentle shake from Grendar’a’s hand on her shoulder. She sat up slowly, feeling a little bit stiff from where she’d fallen asleep on her grandmother’s couch.


“It’s time,” was all he said as he waited for her by the door.


Mikhi walked outside to see that the last rays of sunlight were fading from the clouds far overhead. She walked to her own home with Grendar’a staying behind. She opened the door and walked in to find Rhassal and Aylee prepping the main room for breakfast.


“There ya are,” said Rhassal as Mikhi entered. “We need ya to gather some wood for the stove.”


Mikhi ignored her sister, moving to where her cot still sat on the floor. She pulled a knapsack off a hook on the wall and began packing her belongings inside. She grabbed a couple changes of clothes, several books, and a small tin box, placing them neatly inside and buckling the knapsack closed. When she turned, her sisters were staring at her. Just then, the door to Grendar’s room opened. Grendar walked out and stared at Mikhi as the girl threw the knapsack over her shoulder.


“What’s this then? Another of your little rebellions?”


“It’s not a rebellion, Momma,” said Mikhi, her voice steady. “I’m eighteen, and it’s time I set off on my own.”


Grendar laughed, but it was a hollow sound. “Do ya honestly think ya can take care of yerself out there, Mikhi? Those books ya been readin’ are fairy tales. The real world’s harsh and terrible. The safest place for ya is right here. Who’s gonna look out for ya out there? No one out there cares about ya.”


Mikhi hesitated and glanced out the door. “There’s a couple who care about me out there.”


Grendar snorted. “Who? Yer uncles? Ya could wander for ten years and never see a one of ‘em.”


“I’ve made up my mind, Momma,” Mikhi protested. “I’m resolved to this path. Please don’t make this harder than it has to be.”


Grendar growled and her nostrils flared. “So that’s how it’s gonna be, is it? Finally worked up the courage, did ya? I’ll tell ya exactly what I told yer brother. If you step through that door, don’t bother-“


“Mother!” Grendar’a’s voice pierced the woman like a spear.


Grendar turned in astonishment to see her son standing in the doorway. For a moment, she stared. Then her rage came back in full force.


“You!” she exclaimed, pointing a finger at Grendar’a. “You talked her into this, didn’t ya!”


Grendar’a met his mother’s gaze and shook his head slowly. “Mikhi made this decision years ago. You know that, and you’ve been fighting it for too long. Don’t make the same mistake twice.”


Grendar glared at her son then at Mikhi. She didn’t look at Grendar’a as he stepped in next to her, just breathed in short, raspy, pained breaths. He moved to wrap his arms around her. She growled in protest, but didn’t move away as he embraced her.


“We’re leaving because of who we are, not because of you.”


Grendar’s raspy breaths turned to shallow sobs. Mikhi walked forward, wrapping her arms around both her mother and brother. Mikhi whispered into her mother’s ear.


“I love you, Momma, but this is something I have to do.”


Grendar’s legs gave out, and the two helped her to a chair at the table. All four children watched in silence as their mother cried, one elbow leaning against the table and a hand shielding her eyes. After a few minutes, Mikhi placed a hand on Grendar’s shoulder.


“Goodbye, Momma. It’s time for me to go.”


For a moment Mikhi stood there with her hand on her mother’s shoulder as Grendar fought to control her sobs. When the sobbing stopped, they all stood in silence. Mikhi looked to Grendar’a. He nodded his head towards the door and stepped outside. Mikhi removed her hand, but Grendar continued to lean against the table and stare at the floor. Mikhi nodded to each of her sisters who watched in stunned silence as Mikhi turned to leave. As Mikhi stepped to the door, Grendar finally spoke.


“Mikhi. Don’t....”


Mikhi turned to look back at her mother. Grendar continued to stare at the floor.


“Don’t... Don’t forget about us. Come back and visit... from time to time.”


“I will, Momma!” Tears began to well up in Mikhi’s eyes. With a whisper, she added “Thank you.”


Stepping outside, Mikhi found Grendar’a silently wiping tears from his eyes, out of view from the women inside. With one hand she wiped away her own tears, grasping his free hand with the other. Grendar’a smiled and looked at her as she dragged him towards the footpath out of the clearing.


“Come on, big brother. You’ve got a lot to teach me.”

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