Looking at her currently, no one would guess her anything other than a lowly gutter rat. Although she was weak she would not have wanted it any other way. Her dress was tattered and stained and dirt and mud covered not only her dress but upon her whole person as well. Her feet were bare and slightly bleeding but she knew that she had to press onward. She could not let the ones that were after her, catch up to her. She had to make it to Centauria if it was the last thing she did. After all the ones that had given up either their freedom or their very lives to make sure she stayed safe.
With that being said, once upon a time…. she had had the best of childhoods, she never wanted for anything. She had two parents whom loved her with all their being and she never fully questioned the rules that they had set for her.
1. Always stay close to the house.
2. Always be sharp and listen to ones surroundings.
3. If a stranger comes near the house, to always hide is her special place that her parents built just for her.
4. If she was not able to get there safely, than she should remain in the thick bush near the house.
And lastly and the most important rule of them all.
5. Never let anyone see what she really was.
The last rule was the one that she questioned the most because she had a hard time trying to understand just why her parents would make that a rule. She was still at such a young age but there was foreshadowing within that last rule. That same foreshadowing that had come to pass when she was just 7 summers old.
Like most days she was enlisted to help her mother with the chores. This particular day it was bright and sunny, there was even fresh dew upon the grass. She and her mother went about the chores but once done she, under close watch of her mother, was allowed to play in the meadow. To her, this was the best part of the day – well that and meal times – but mostly feeling like she could be anywhere or anything while she played.
In the mist of play she had looked back to see her mother and saw that her ears like her’s picked up the sound of thundering hooves in the distance. She even till this day remembers the look of pure dread upon her mother’s face in place of an always cheerful one. She could also recall the tremble emanate in her mother’s voice when she had told her to get to her special place. She did not question her mother and started to head to where he mother had instructed.
Once from sight though, she had turned out of curiosity and want to know why her mother was acting so strangely. She had made sure to stay back so that she did not alert her mother but it took forever to catch up considering her legs were still very small. She had found her mother near the lake and decided to take shelter within the cover of the thick brush nearby. It was not long after that she had seen her father racing toward and stopping at her mothers side. From her hiding spot, she did not have to strain hard to hear what her parents were talking about.
She could see that both her parents held the same look of fear but her father seemed to have more of it etched through out his features and for just cause. She continued to listen and watch and heard her father talk of a group of people that had wished to do harm to not only her family but to others just for being different. The thundering sound of hooves kept getting closer and closer and it made her heart almost start to thump in time of the hoof falls.
From the line of the trees there were several armor clad centaurs that made their way toward her parents. The one that looked to be the leader stepped up and clasped hands with her father as if they knew one another. She could hear him start to speak. “Hail old friends, sorry to come unannounced but the matter is of grave importance. You both are needed to take up arms for a great danger is coming and your peaceful grove is the target.”
Her parents looked at one another and then back to the large male centaur before them and nodded. Her father was the one to speak next “Thank you for the warning and we will both go with you once we have things settled here. We will meet you by the old bride where we used to play as children.” The centaurian male agreed and clasped hands once more before heading out.
She had been about to move when her father looked right at the place she was hiding and spoke softly but with command as well “Come here little one, you should have gone to your safe place but since you are here it is best you come out and talk.” She nibbled on her lower lip and felt bad for not following the rules but she just had wished to see what was going on. She looked around her before making sure it was alright to move and exited the brush.
She hoped that her parents were not too cross with her and once before them she was in her parents arms. Her mother spoke then. “You had us worried with you being here but we are glad you are safe.” Her mother had pressed her forehead to hers and her father held them both. It felt like the moment could go on forever and it was her father that pulled back first and then her mother had set there upon her hooves. Both her parents settled upon the ground so that they were at her height when her father began to speak. “Little one, we know that this is all strange but your mother and I have been summoned to help with a threat that could be coming. We can not take you with us because not may even know about you. We would like for you to stay with Miss Starella while we are away.”
She did not know why this was happening but she had always wanted to be strong like her mother and father and even as tears welled within her eyes she nodded and spoke with a child’s soft voice “Ok Daddy I understand. Will you and mommy be gone long?” She had seen the strained look her father gave her mother before talking. “That is not determined little one.” He reached out to cup her cheek and to wipe a tear that had fallen from her eyes. “We will be home before you know it alright little one? Also remember with us away you need to remember all the rules we set and follow them alright. Do not give Miss Starella a hard time alright?”
She just nodded and both her parents stood and they all walked the few miles to where Miss Starella had her home seeming to be magically hidden from those whom knew nothing of it. To the naked eye one would see a rock face with a waterfall and lake. By the time they had reached there, it was starting to get dark and she was getting very hungry as well as sleepy. Once fed and laid down she had fallen fast asleep. Her parents had little time to explain what they could about what was going on but Miss Starella told them that she would watch their daughter as if she were her own. Her parents had both kissed the top of her head and left off into the night.
That was going on 14 summers ago. Starella had kept her word and raised her as if she were her own and as days turned to weeks and weeks to months and finally to years, the memory of her parents faded. Now she could hardly recall their voices, let alone their faces. Starella was all she knew. She mostly took after her mother in looks, She had a coat that was shiny and silken to the touch, beautiful wings spanned out of her back and a golden horn adorned her forehead. The one feature she gained from her father were his satyr horns. She had added flowers and vines to them now and again but it was almost like having a bit of them with her.
She had always followed the rules and did not leave far from Starella’s house because she did not want anything to happen. It was a spring day though when that all changed.
She had been making some breakfast when she heard a blood curdling scream. It was Starella’s she just knew it and had raced from the house and down the path to find Starella being bound by the hooves and hands by humans. Her whole being was telling her to run, to hide, but something also pushed her forward. She could not let these humans harm the last one she cared about. She did not care if they seen her, she charged and rammed into the one that had bound Starella’s hooves and felt a blast of pain where her body had hit the man. She did not know why it hurt so much but she was going to turn around and go again when she seen Starella use her now free hooves to kick the other man. Starella turned to her with pain and anger on her face.
“What are you doing here, you know you are not supposed to be out here.” Starella huffed and offered her hands out so that the binding could be taken off. “Starella had i not, then you might have been taken or worse! I did not wish you to be taken or lost like my parents or worse to be killed.” Starella could not help but smile and just shook her head. “Child i am the one that is supposed to keep you safe.”
No sooner did they turn to head back home did an arrow pierce Starella’s left flank, causing her to go down. Looking back she saw there were more men and knew they had seen her and knew what that meant. They would not stop till they captured her but with Starella hurt she did not care. She tried to pull Starella up and she just shoved at her. “No you have to run, I will keep them distracted young one. you need to get to Centauria. You will be safe there. Maybe your parents are there as well.” She was stunned and shook her head. “No I can not go I can not leave you here, I can not lose you. Please come with me.” Starella looked at her and smileed “You are my pride and joy and know i go with you no matter where it is that you go. You will find a map at the house among my things on my desk but you have to go before they get to close to see where you go. Also stay at the house till night fall but once you leave, turn yourself into a human. One that looks dirty and not one anyone would bother with.”
This was all news to her she never knew that she could do that. Starella kept talking. “This will be the first time you change but know that until you learn more, the change will make you weak and you will not be able to change to your normal for until you regain your strength. I know you can do this. Now go!” Starella pushed her and she took off faster than she thought she could and tried to not turn around to see what was to befall the woman that raised her.
She made it to the house and shut herself in. She tried to regain her breath and her legs tried to collapse under her while she leaned on the door. Her heart was racing as she made her way farther into the house. She came across Starella’s desk and did not take long to locate the map she had spoken of. It looked like a bit of a trek but she would have to do it. She gathered what she thought she might need into a small satchel and waited till darkness fell. She remembered the words Starella said about becoming human and was not sure she could do it but, Starella thought she could. Closing her eyes she called forth an image of herself looking like a human. One that could blend in and no one would be the wiser. She just hoped that this so called magic would last long enough to get her to Centauria.
In the mist of her thoughts she could start to feel her body shift. It hurt but knew this had to be done. She was so used to her four legs that when she now stood upon two, she felt like a new born again. She wobbled about till she got the hang of it and soon was walking a bit better. She also came to see that she also was as naked as a new born babe would have been too. She searched through a few of the trunks and found a brown linen dress that would work as a good covering. She also saw where her hooves had been, were now two dainty feet. She tried to find coverings for them too but sadly could not find any. She could not waste time in looking farther and grabbed the satchel to start on her journey.
It was not what she expected, she was hungry most of the time when she could not find berries or nuts and when she did they were not as filling as they once were. The weather was another issue. She never in all her life dealt with anything like this. It felt like a lifetime that she had been walking and there were times that she felt like giving up but she knew she could not. Her body was battered and her feet bleeding as she came to a part on the map that looked like she should be in Centauria but could not be sure. All she knew is she could not go any farther. Her body crumbled under her and she just laid there upon the forest floor.
Hoping she was at long last safe and able to figure out if her family was still alive or long ago passed. She also hoped that this was to be a forever home for her as well.