In The Woods-A Healer’s Touch Prequel
Chapter 1 – Loss
Vira was screaming at Grelod. The headmistress had caught the girl and Fjornir kissing. Fjornir hid, and listened. He was frightened of the headmistress, but was worried she would hurt his friend, so he stayed close by. Grelod forbade Vira from ever kissing any boys again so long as she lived at Honorhall. Vira threatened to run away. Fjornir heard a loud smack and then a slamming door.
He stood from his hiding place and peered around the room. Empty. He waited a few more minutes to leave and go check on Vira. Grelod can’t stop me from at least talking to her,he thought. He opened the door and calmly walked across the hall to the girls’ bedroom, but was stopped by Vex.
The young, skinny blonde girl look furious. “Where’s Bryn?”
“Brynjolf? I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since last night,” answered Fjornir.
Vex made that face, the kind she always does when she wants to throttle someone. She was fierce for a nine-year-old. “He was suppose to be back by midday. I thought you were gonna go with him.”
“I was going to, but by the time I woke up, he was gone.” Fjornir began to walk around her toward the girls’ bedroom but Vex grabbed his shoulder. “Hey!” Fjornir shouted at her.
“Shh,” Vex scolded. “Look, I know about you and Vira.” She looked around to make sure no one was listening. “I was talking with Bryn the other day… I think we should all run.” A fierce, scheming nine-year-old.
“Yeah. You, me, Vira, Bryn. Think she’d be up for it? Vira, I mean?”
Fjornir frowned. “Maybe. She’s kinda… She’s not like you, Vex.”
The girl smiled. “Thanks.”
The boy sighed. “I’m gonna go check on her.”
“Alright, just mention it to her, hmm? We could make it, the four of us. Bryn is almost eleven and getting good with daggers.”
“I’ll talk to her,” Fjornir replied, then walked away.
In the dim single-candle lighting, he saw Vira sleeping in her bed. He approached his friend, but slid and fell onto his backside with a loud thud. “Ow!,” he exclaimed.
The young Fjornir was on the floor. He had slipped in something wet. Something dark. He stood and looked at his wet hands. Blood. He looked up at the sleeping Vira again. He finally saw it, the blood dripping from her bed. Fjornir held his breath. He walked closer. He hovered over Vira. Blood pooled around her neck. Her pale neck smiled at him. Her right hand grasped an old, rusty dagger. Blood stained the cuff of her favorite blue dress.
“No,” Fjornir whispered. “No, no…,” he began to cry, “Vira? Vira!” He tore off his old ratty shirt and held it to Vira’s throat. “Wake up,” he sniffled, “please.” He choked on his own sobs. “Help,” he called. “Help!” louder.
Children flocked to the sounds and gasped when they saw the blood. “So much blood!,” someone whispered. “Fjornir killed Vira!” another said.
“Help,” Fjornir cried, “Mara, no…”
“What’s going on!?” Grelod stormed in, shoving the children aside.
“Fjornir killed Vira!” a horrible boy named Lund said.
“I did not!” Fjornir screamed. His face was flowing with tears.
“He didn’t! He was with me!” shouted Vex.
“Horrible Daedra-spawn, the lot of you!” Grelod lurched froward and grabbed Fjornir, jerking him away from Vira’s body.
“No! No! Vira! I won’t leave her! Let me go!” Fjornir screamed and fought against the woman.
“Let him go!” Vex tugged at Grelod’s elbow. As fierce and strong as the girl was, she was no match for a grown woman.
Grelod dragged Fjornir and Vex out of the bedroom and herded the rest of the children away and into the main hall. “Fjornir!” she shouted. “Where did you get a dagger!?”
“I didn’t! I wasn’t there! Vira…,” he sobbed, “she cut…” He gritted his teeth. “It’s your fault! You yelled at her for no reason! She’s dead! Because of you!” Fjornir thrust his body forward, sending Grelod to the ground. He ran for his life, ran as fast as he could out of the orphanage, out of the door and down the wooden steps toward the lower levels of Riften, determined to hide in the Ratway like Brynjolf and Vex often did. He prayed to Mara that Vex was following him, or would follow. If she didn’t run now, Grelod would punish her for defending him and for getting physical with the headmistress.
When Fjornir approached the Ratway entrance, he realized no one was following him. “Damn it, Vex.” He picked the lock of the outer door and shut it behind him. He leaned against the wall, panting, sobbing, willing Vex to come soon. He waited for what felt like an eternity. With nothing better to do than wait, he sobbed, crying Vira’s name over and over, wondering why she would do such a thing to herself. He wondered if Vex hadn’t stopped him in the hallway, if he could have saved Vira. The possibility ate away at his insides.
The clicking sounds of metal-on-metal brought Fjornir out of his daze. He stood. “Vex?” he whispered.
“Let me in!” the girl replied.
Fjornir opened the door. Vex burst in and shoved the door shut. She was panting. Fjornir spied a cut on her cheek. “What’s that?” he asked, grabbing her face and examining the cut.
“Grelod,” she answered, rubbing her wound. “I got away, eventually.” She examined her torn clothes.
“Come on, let’s go to the Warrens,” Fjornir suggested. “We can stay there for a while.”
“Maybe Bryn is still there,” Vex said in a soft voice.
The two children descended the stairs into the Ratway.
“Fjornir?” Vex whispered.
The boy stopped walking and turned to his friend. “Hmm?”
Vex looked up at him and frowned. “I’m sorry. She was a nice girl.”
Another tear rolled down Fjornir’s ruddy cheek. “She was.” He wiped away the tear. “Come on.” He grabbed Vex’s hand and led her deep into the underground hideout.