At reader request, this is Mesiande's story. Please note that while I am proofing, this blog version of Outcast has not gone through much in the way of editing. Enjoy the following tale after the jump.
Mesiande dusted off her hands as she stood up. The mining team had paused to share a meal and as usual, Alador had wandered off by himself. She looked around for him and finally spotted him above them. She sighed softly and began working her way up. He was one of her best friends and she wished that he didn't always hang off by himself. He was of mixed blood and heritage and though many held such people in disdain, she felt that a person couldn't help who their parents were. Besides, he had these eyes that were like silver metal and she found them mesmerizing.
The climb up to get close enough to call him took her a few minutes. They were up on a rock face splattered with scrub brush and weeds. She had to be careful as snakes often came out to sun on such days. Finally she got close enough to call out to him. "Alador, quit the wool gathering, time to get back to it." Mesiande called up to him. She watched as he looked at her and then up and the sky. He nodded and gathered up his things. She frowned when he took the time to pick up a rock and throw it over the edge. As he came towards her she teased him. "Always daydreaming. One day, you will fall off, being so deep in thought." She tucked a stray brown hair out of her face, it was always escaping the tight braid she kept it in when mining.
"Well, would save you the bother of always having to seek me out." Alador said.
Mesiande felt her heart flutter as he flashed her a wink and that crooked grin of his. Lately she had began noticing little things about Alador that made her smile. He was always looking out for her. He was always kind to everyone even if he was shy. He was a bit inept at many things that came natural to Daezun but some reason that just endeared him to her. She shook her head to clear her thoughts.
"Come now, you know you would not miss that." He teased.
Mesiande hands went to her hips as she felt a bit of irritation. It was not uncommon for her to have to fetch him. "I would not miss losing daylight and a potential find." She pointed out, her tone of voice firm and scolding. She turned on her heel and headed back down to the ledge they had been digging.
Alador hurried moved up quickly. "I am sorry, Mesi, I will watch the light better tomorrow." When Mesiande didn't answer him and kept working her way down the hill, he offered quickly. "I will make it up to you." He pressed a small bloodstone into her hand.
Mesiande stopped and turned to him. She pressed the stone back to him. "No, I cannot take that. I know that this is how you earn your keep Alador." She shook her head in firm denial. "Just remember it is how I make mine as well." She had taught him how to bloodmine and he was fairly good at it. However, the findings had been poor the last two years so most of the stones found were small and of little value.
Bloodstones were only found beneath the body of long dead dragons. Some said that the magic of the dragon leeched into the ground, and that is what formed the stones. Mages from Lerdenia paid well for the stones as they had the power to pull the magic from the stones to add to their own. But dragon remains were getting harder to find and the only compensation for that was the fact that it had driven the price of the stones up in value.
Mesiande picked up her mining tools after flashing Alador an encouraging smile and headed off to where she was working a section of the tail. She had found very little. Usually such a large dragon skeleton such as the one they were unearthing would have many stones but there had only been small jewelry sized pieces all day. She had been working the hole for a time when she heard Alador give a scream so piercing that fear shot through her. She dropped everything and ran to him.
He was laying sprawled back against a rib bone that had been tossed aside. She knelt down to check him, he was breathing. At first she thought he had been bitten and swiftly checked his hands for wounds. Snakes sometimes wound their way into the crevices and cracks in the rocks. She found no wounds anywhere and yet he was out cold. The other miners had also swiftly gathered around. Potre picked up something and she turned to look at his sharp intake of breath.
"Well look what the boy brought out." The greed on Potre's face created instant alarm on Mesiande's face.
"You are not taking his stone, Potre." She jumped up, her hands on her hips in challenge. Her eyes flashing angrily. "You have taken his better stones every trip but not this one."
"He is a half-breed. What use is slips to such as him? Maybe he will die and do us all a favor. With a stone this large we could split the slips and be set for the year." Potre licked his lips hungrily.
"I will not allow it." Mesiande hissed.
"You are a middlin. You will do as your told and keep your trap shut." Potre fired back at her.
Termet, a large and usually quiet Daezun, stepped up beside Mesiande and put a hand of reassurance on her shoulder. "I am not a middlin and I agree with the girl. You will not take this boy's find. I also will not keep quiet this time."
The tension built in the silence as Potre and Termet stared at each other. The other miners all slowly stepped back. Fights over bloodstones were rare but the few times they had happened, they were usually bloody. Mesiande glanced between the two frantically for Termet had a firm grip on her shoulder.
"Fine! Fools the both of you." Potre thrust the stone at Mesiande.
Mesiande took the stone in wonder. It was clear and glossy as she dusted the dirt off of it. It was the size of a small melon. She had never seen one like it or as large. She turned back to Alador and began tapping his cheek. "Alador... Alador."
It took a minute but finally he groaned and put a hand to his head. Mesiande let out a small sigh of relief. He was very reddened and he felt hot to her touch. She knelt over him, now that he was okay, the excitement of his find started coursing through her.
"What happened." Alador clutched his head but did not move.
"You made the find of the turn, Alador, that's what happened. Oh and well you hit your head pulling it out." Words gushed from her and she held the stone forward a little when Alador's eyes opened. She could see the frantic fear. So many times she had stood silent as Potre had bullied larger stones out of Alador's hands, replacing them with smaller stones. Seeing his fear, she hurriedly added. "Such a large find! I am sure that you will be sharing a drink for all at the inn tomorrow, hey Alador?" Her tone held a hint that he had best go along but also it was a firm reminder to Potre that she would not be keeping quiet.
She let out a soft sigh of relief when Alador picked up the hint. "Oh yes, the drink will be on me." He glanced around and Mesiande stood up. Termet stepped forward and offered Alador a hand up.
Mesiande watched with concern. He still didn't look well. His face was bright red and he wasn't steady on his feet when Termet released him. She watched, biting her lip as he pulled up his shirt to look at something. She didn't see anything. She stepped forward and offered him the bloodstone with a soft smile. She looked about, the other miners were already hurrying off. Such a large stone had brought new enthusiasm to the team. She returned her attention to Alador when he spoke.
"Mesi, I am still not feeling well. If you want to finish my claim, I think I have enough for today." He gave her an encouraging smile.
Mesiande returned the grin. However, she was not leaving him just sitting in sun. He truly did not look well. "Here, let me gt you some shade first." She hurried over to her own supplies and grabbed her cloak. She had discarded it after the morning chill had faced. She carefully spread it over some discarded bones to create a small triangle of shade. Once satisfied, she helped him into the cooler space. Only once he was settled did she hurry off to move her tools to his claim.
Mesiande began digging with the same enthusiasm as the others. It was not long before she began to find small pieces scattered beneath where the large stone had clearly been lodged. Despite her enthusiasm for the mining, she remained concerned for Alador. Once, when she glanced over, she could see he was sleeping. She got up and carefully moved the cloak as not to disturb him. The sun had moved and therefore he had been no longer shaded. She watched him sleep for a long moment. He seemed restless and he was still very red. She reached down and gently touched his forehead. He was very hot to the touch. He probably would need to see the healder. She glanced over to where Potre was digging. The adult would never agree to end the day early. Mesiande sighed softly and returned to the dig. The rest of the day was filled with frantic digging and occasionally moving the cloak to keep the sun off Alador. It was the best she could do for him till they headed home.
(Please note: All stories set in the World of Vesta have been copyrighted - 2013.)