Part 1: A Goldenfinch
A wisp of dark clouds pecked through the clear blue sky. Giana knew that it was going to rain tonight. Most of the time, she only received short dreamlike images she could never truly make out, but she always knew when it would rain. She stepped into any alley way as soon as she heard the heavy steel footfalls pounding down the cobblestone street. Walk normal. She told herself. They won’t suspect anything if you don’t act up.
The plate and mail armored soldiers with yellow surcoats that had the roaring black wyvern of Wyndlok emblazoned on it, marched in a double column of six. Their great helms kept anyone from seeing their true face. Giana assumed that it was disgust. They were far from home, and in much warmer weather than they are used to, and she did not doubt that they were boiling in their armor.
Giana left the alley and walked as calmly as she could to her home. It was a small place, at the edge of the city. It was one of the older homes, made of wood and shingles, with a few rectangular front windows, and a small circular window near the roof. Giana stepped inside, to the sound of more soldiers marching down her street. She closed the door with the hint of a held back SLAM, and locked it.
“How many times are they going to walk up this street?” said Nadeen who was sitting on their mother’s lonely rocking chair that their father made when he was young.
Her twin wore a long yellow white stitched gown, that Nadeen weaved into the dress. They looked like leaves, that went up and down the gown like columns. Her face had the same oblong shape as Giana, with the same smooth black hair, and caramel colored skin. Giana knew Nadeen wasn’t really looking for an answer, she only wanted to express her frustration at the change. “They seem to be everywhere at once,” said Giana.
“I guess they think that walking around is enough to keep us tame. Hmph, no one here wants them around, and there’s already talk of killing the -.”
“Quiet Nadeen!” Giana whispered. “We cannot talk like that with them in the city.”
Nadeen frowned, leaned forward, and looked like she was about to say something. Giana already knew that it was going to be about joining whatever resistance that was made up by the petty merchants, and fighting back. Nadeen looked into her twin’s eyes and seemed to notice what Giana knew. She shrugged, and sat back in the chair, sending a chilling creak into the room, and let the topic die as she kept reading the small book in her lap.
Giana went up the slightly curved in steps at the back of the living room, to her room on the second floor. The air was hot, almost hotter than outside. She wanted to open the window and let the air flow in. She loved the small warm breezes rolling over her curtains and onto her sheets. They reminded her of the Summer Shore to the east, which she could visit every month or two before the occupation. Giana sat on her bed, and looked out the glass, at the plains beyond the city walls.
She needed to cross those plains. They were so close, but too far for her to reach alone. It wouldn’t be long before the Oracles were after her. She knew that they would either seek her out, and bring her to wherever they were hiding, or throw her before their new ruler, Lord Manson, for ‘witchcraft’, and she could not think of what would happen next. She kept trying to forget what they had done to the High Oracle when they caught her.
Unable to stand the heat, Giana went back down the steps, and out the door. Nadeen tried to ask where she was going now, but the door closed before Nadeen could finish her sentence. Across streets of vendors – who were too disheartened to yell at the top of their lungs- inns, and soldiers, she found her way to the Fountain Gardens. Most of the time, Alekio Malin, the Broker of the city, would let anyone come into the gardens to walk and talk with him, or anyone they saw. Now the white stone fountains stood with no one sitting on their flat walls, and flower beds had no wandering travelers, or lovers walking through the grass paths. Even the bees seemed to be few in number.
Giana thought she heard the quick chatter of a Goldenfinch, as she waded through the flower beds, but it was only the wind playing some trick on her.
“What are you doing here?” said a disembodied voice.
Giana jumped, scraping her heels on stone as she spun. It was one of the soldiers. Giana tried to hold her balance while keeping her face as calm as she could. “I-I just wanted to-”
“You are not allowed to be here, you have to leave.”
The soldier was not wearing a helmet. His fair amber hair was loosely spread across his forehead, and he did not have a hand on the hilt of his longsword. Giana found that odd. Whenever she saw soldiers around the city, they always had their swords ready, or at least had their hand on the pommel.
“Typical, I find the one girl who doesn’t have any wits,” he said.
“I have more sense than you! At least I’m where I belong. You Wyndlokians shouldn’t even be here.”
Giana took a step back, after her outburst. The man’s placid expression gave no indication of what he’d do next, but talking like that to one of Lord Mason’s guards… she thought it would be the headsman’s axe next.