To many having being cursed with reoccurring nightmares would be a problem, but Laurena relished every opportunity that presented itself. It was the same one over and over, of her mother Elenanor. Even awake she can clearly remember the day her mother died, as clearly as if it just happened the day prior. She was on quest of vengeance over the the death of both her parents and no one could stop her, the nightmare would only perpetuate the hate that boiled inside her.
…the panic in the twelve year old was quite clearly evident to her by the thumping of her heart even if she knew nothing of the reason. It was about to explode out of her chest. Along with her mother, they had reached their home in the poorest district in Umbran.
“Common hunny…quickly!” Elenaor was much faster and agile than her teenager and done her best to keep her at the same pace.
“Mum your hurting.” Laurena tied running running through the streets as fast as her mother but could have not kept up. Her hand was held tightly, which felt like her arm almost about to be yanked out of the socket…
A Day prior Laurena’s father Raenes attempted a kill contract assigned by the Shadehunter guild, he had failed. It was meant to be a simple run, no different than the ones before. A rather disgusting vocation to some – the basis for the negative notoriety of the Shadehunters, to those outside Umbran that is. To the Umbrani it was little more than a job, one that brought home the standard going rate. A few hundred aurams for a life, that was just enough to keep their family going for awhile. Death was apart of their culture, one where only the strong survive and the weak are culled…or those who could afford to have another killed.
…with out trying even explain the situation to her child Elenanor rushed through their home without stopping. Dashed up the creaky wooden steps into Laurena’s bedroom, her mother prised open a secret wooden panel of the wall towards the back room. It used to be for storage but when their daughter was born it was converted into the only bedroom. Elenanor shoved her child into the tight space as much as possible, to the point that a bare supporting frame dug into the side of her, the adrenaline would stemmed the pain.
“…you must hid here my dear…and don’t make a sound!” Elenanor was panting from the terror that had beset her.
“But….mother?” asked Laurena as she tucked her knees to her chest even though it hurt to breathe.
“…No honey! Be quiet…and don’t move…promise me you won’t say anything…regardless of what you hear!” Elenaror knew time was short.
“Mother…what’s happening?” Laurena still confused in her inquiry.
“…Promise me!” Elenanor pleaded as she draped her necklace of the Goddess Noxia around her daughters neck. Laurena nodded as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I love you!” Elenanor whispered. The loud crash of the front door had indicated to her that time had now ran out. She closed the wooden panel in front of her child.
“BITCH! Where are you?!” Bellowed a low rumbling voice in the next room.
Elenanor had unsheathed her sword and stood ready in the centre of the room as the door was almost smashed off it’s hinges.
“There you are you whore! You think you and you husband would get away with it?!” The large brute had found out who she was from one of the locals, undoubtedly sold out by a neighbour.
“Where’s my husband?” Elenanor asked even though she didn’t want to know.
The brute chuckled. “You mean that worthless skinny fuck. Who’s neck I snapped like a twig.” A deep sense of remorse flooded Elenanors entire body as she knew he had not lied or exaggerated .
“Nooo! You bastard!” Elenanor didn’t even try to contain herself. The rage over her spouses death built up and she lunged at the tall brute hoping to avenge her husband.
Her quick feints and deft attacks would have been enough for most, even without all the years of training and being a member of the most ruthless guild of mercenaries. The larger built up body of of the overbearing man-statue had far more experience as a fighter, proving to be too much for her.
Without even drawing his greatsword that was firmly sheathed on his back, he had knocked the blade from her hand and grabbed her by the neck with the other. Eleanor struggled to free herself from his grasp, trying to pry his hand away for one minute gasp of air.
A shallow gargling sound poured from her mouth and with one tight grip of his hand, a distinct crack echoed through out the house. Her hands dropped to her sides as he let go and Elenanor’s lifeless body fell into a motionless slump. He looked down at her corpse with a side worn smirk.
“Humpf, not worth my time…but no one fucks with Lugo.” He scoffs and walked out.
It’s at this point that Laurena wakes from her nightmare, something that used to be accompanied by a scream of terror, but after some months it fell silent. The same one that wanted to escape on the actual day of her mother’s death.
She still remembers covering her mouth with both hands, in an attempted to not scream out in pain, hoping to not attract Lugo to her location. Laurena had unfortunately bore witness to the whole event through the crack in the wooden panel. Paralysed with grief knowing how badly she wanted to help but couldn’t.
To see her very own mother, killed so effortlessly was unbearable. Specially from the woman who taught Laurena how to hunt and kill just as soon as she was old enough. It was the Umbrian way. Taking the life of another way often key to survival and it was the responsibility of the parents to ingrain it on their offspring as soon as possible. How could she even contemplate avenging her parents if they was meant to be the best hunters Laurena knew, let alone ever have the strength to do so.
She just caught glimpse of her mothers killer – who she at least now knew by name and one she would never forget. She could see he wasn’t human, a “Stonekin” in fact, remembered from one of her parents stories. His wide broad face was clear to see even through the slimness of the cracked panel. She done her best to remember his appearance as best she could. He was the first she had seen so up close and the tales of the Khryosians would allow her to recognise their appearance with little effort.
…for several hours Laurena sat their in her hideaway. Crying into her arms hoping that at any moment her mother was going to pull her out and hug her and say everything was alright. She never did. Her body remained in the same position, drained of all life and had turned paler than her Umbrian skin was already. No amount of wishing or praying would change it. Laurena knew now that she was now alone, from now on she would be on her own to fend for herself.
After she built up the courage to venture forth, she prized open the panel. She could see her mother so much more clearly. The deathly stare of her face with the her eyes still wide open was still worn. For a moment Laurena could have thought that her mother was still alive and merely jesting, but the realization would soon sink in that her mother would no longer be able tell Laurena just how much she loved her…
She awoke and sat up. She caressingly rubbed the Noxia pendent around her neck. The last parting gift from her mother brought some comfort from her dreams but it would quell them. As disregarding of passed on loved ones the Umbrians were, Laurena couldn’t help but feel nostalgia.
Even looking onto the side of her cabinet sat a painful reminder. Her training sword she had as a child. On her twelft birthday, the “coming of age” day that all Umbrani go through is to be presented with their first proper weapon. Training had been done with dull toy-like imitation and used just as a child would. It couldn’t cut through bone or flesh but sharp enough to cause pain from a lack of concentration.
Her parents trained her well in survival but not how to cope with their untimely departure, that was never in their nature as good Umbrian parents. Every new day was perpetuated with the searing pain of losing her parents, renewing her vigour to find her parents killer. She knew it was only a matter of time the Lugo would return to Umbran, as she could never afford to travel beyond the furthest edges of the continent Mortister.
She wouldn’t stop to avenge her parents, it was just a matter of time.
Laura Steel © 2014