Chapter 2 - Loomie - Part 1

Loomie had lost track of time. The Tronun sun had risen to mid-morning before she was lulled back to reality. Getting up before sunrise, she had often come to this cliff overlooking the valley. It was quiet, serene, and far away from the chaos that was the small village she called home. Chaos was relative though. As the only daughter of Simeon “Silas” Canning, she was mostly protected from the day-to-day workings of the clan. She was kept out of any fighting or physical work that other members of the clan did, so the only “chaos” that Loomie had was what she brought on herself.

Silas also had a son. Amiel was his name, and younger than Loomie by nearly two years. Like most of the boys who grew up in the clan, he worked hard and grew to be solid and strong. He became a particularly good marksman.

When Amiel was old enough to handle a weapon, Silas made sure he had the best teachers. Amiel learned quickly, and as the years went on, he continued to get better and better until he had surpassed nearly every other person in the clan.

Nearly.

The only ones better than Amiel were Silas, who was born with a gun in his hand, and Loomie, who Amiel readily admitted was better. He was also, unfortunately, the only one who knew she was better, a fact he was sworn to keep secret.

Silas refused to let Loomie anywhere near a weapon of any kind. Not because of a male superiority complex, but because Loomie was his “Mariposa.” His desert lily. The flower grew only in the desert and was bright orange, the color of Loomie’s hair when she was little. Her hair had grown a darker shade as she grew older, but to her father, she was still his desert flower.

Loomie refused, however, to be left out. So with her brothers help, she too learned to shoot. Secretly, far from the village. She would wander out, away from seeing eyes to practice, at first with Amiel, as he would teach her all that he knew as he learned it himself. He would walk her through the same drills and teach her the same tricks. But Loomie needed her brother’s aid less and less. She would wander off on her own, and before they knew it, Loomie was teaching him things she had taught herself.

This was the reason Amiel kept her secret. If their father had found out that Amiel had helped Loomie get her hands on the guns, he would be furious.

With one last glance at the valley, Loomie stood and slung the rifle she carried over her shoulder and began running back toward her village.

The path wound through a small forest. As Loomie hurried on, she slowed at a familiar tree with a hole in the trunk that had once been the home of some animal, long since abandoned. Making sure nobody was watching, she pulled the rifle from her shoulder and placed it inside the hole along with the box of shells she had stowed in her pocket. Glancing around again, just to be sure, she continued down the path towards the village.

Not much had been told about the history of her clan beyond what her father had told her growing up. It was made up of refugees that fled persecution or punishment from various cities in the region. What started as several small groups of people quickly became a large caravan that wandered the wilderness between Cermon City and Manst. Eventually, the crowd of deserters took refuge in the remnants of a long-forgotten village abandoned many years before.

Loomie’s parents were two such escapees. Shortly after the group arrived at the abandoned village, Silas emerged as a leader. Not because he asserted himself as such, but because the people respected and looked up to him. He led many of the initiatives to rebuild and establish much of the infrastructure of the village, including the water and electrical systems. Silas made sure that able-bodied men and women were put to work based on their skills. For those who were not able-bodied, Silas showed great compassion in caring for them.

His natural-born leadership, however, was put to the test less than a year after their arrival at the village, when a large task force from Lanjamin City set upon the small village. Their goal was to round up the refugees, to either enslave them or put them to death for their desertion.

Many died in the aftermath, both from Lanjamin and from the clan. Loomie assumed that this is where her mother too had died, because her father started clamming up at this point in the story.

Her father refused to talk much about her mother or the details of her death. As she grew older, she gave up on trying to learn these details. Each time she pressed for answers he reminded her of how blessed they were. “The preservation of our future is far too important to be looking back,” he would say. It was a classic deflection. The response maddened her.

As she approached the outer gate of the village, a scene began to replay in her mind. The last time she and her father talked about her mother.

“But father, our past is what makes us who we are. Those experiences shape us whether we like it or not, and some of them are good to remember from time to time.”

As always, he scoffed at her and turned away, heading for the door. This made her angry. Angry enough to say something she wished she could take back, even after all this time.

“Did you not love mother? Do you not want me to know her or where you came from? Do you just want to forget?’

He stopped suddenly. Visibly shaken from a blow Loomie would only begin to realize later. She could see his head fall, his shoulders slump. Silence hung in the room for what seemed like forever, before she walked around to face him. For the first time in her entire life, she saw tears on his face. They left streaks down his cheeks and disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt.

He looked up at her. In his eyes she saw a grief she had never seen before. She began to speak but was cut off.

“I loved her more than anything on Tronun, and I pray to the Refulgent that I will never forget her face,” he reached up and placed his large rough hands on her cheeks as he continued, “and so long as you are here with me, I can never forget.”

Loomie’s eyes filled with tears as she heard the uncharacteristic weakness in his voice. Her father began to wipe those tears away as he continued to speak. “Someday, when I am strong enough, I will tell you of her. I will tell you of how we came to be here. I will speak of the tragedy that took her from me.” He stopped wiping her tears and pulled her head into his chest, “But that is not today. Please forgive me. I am not strong enough yet.”

He lifted her head, wiped more tears away, and kissed her forehead before letting go.

It had been three years, and her father had still not talked to her. Loomie was so ashamed that she had never again pressed him for answers.

Chpt. 2 Pt. 1- Written by Matt Henderson, Created by Micah Metz, Edited by Alex Gergely

Matt Henderson