Story of Faith
by Nightshade

A young woman sat down with a sigh of relief. She had travelled for many days and nights, wishing that her journey wouldn't be in vain. At last she had reached her destination and goal.

She was allowed an audience with Storyteller.

Smiling, the young woman idly ran a finger through her tangled brown hair. Everyone, with the exception of a select few, had told of her journey was useless. Why do you wish to see her? they had asked, Storyteller? You're insane. You should wish to see the High Queen, or even Valencia! Who cares about a hermit who writes stories all day? The young woman cared, and still did.

The door opened from the adjacent room, and in walked a woman. Her rainbow hair and porcelain face belied her age - she was older than Mana. She carried a tray of tea and cookies, bringing a smile to the young woman's face. Storyteller had been kind to her from the moment they met. The Ancient woman had lived up to all of the young woman's hopes - caring, considerate, quick-witted, cared about the helpless...

"How is your back feeling, child?" Storyteller asked.

"Feeling better, thank you."

"I see... " she smiled. "Many who come here 'feel better'" The Ancient one sat down, and the young woman had to remind herself that she was here for a story. The truth of her heritage. "Many people come here, seeking the truth. To understand and learn. For time flows like a river, and history repeats. Mistakes of the ancestors will repeat in their descendants." Storyteller looked at the young woman, a calm and pleasant smile.

The young woman bowed her head. She is too kind... I hope I won't waste her time. "I don't wish to know the future. I... " she looked for the words, but they had left her.

"Take your time. Here, there is no rush. You tell me you come from Ratyna?" her voice was invitingly kind.

Nodding, the young woman continued. "As long as I can remember, I was a slave. All my life I had been told I was no good, subhuman, would never amount to anything." Taking a deep breath she continued, "One day, I was given the job of serving my master's guests at the dinner. One of the guests kept staring at me, as though he couldn't believe I was there. Later on that night, he caught up with me." she laughed, "Actually, it was more of a confrontation."

Storyteller smiled. "Confrontation?" She looked the young woman over, settling her eyes on a pendant that hung around the young woman's slender neck. "That pendant would cause such a circumstance." The Ancient poured some tea as the young woman continued her tale.

"Yeah, this started it all..." she touched the pendant reverently, a obsidian disk covered by a curved silver X. "I've always had it. I was told I was found with it. Anyway, the man asked me who I was, and I replied, 'My name is Faith, m'lord'."

"Faith?" Storyteller studied the young woman even more. "Faith, slave of Ratyna?" Faith waited hopefully for the Ancient to continue. She even believed, if she looked hard enough, she could see the woman tremble in thought. I hope I didn't do anything wrong...

"No, you've done nothing wrong child." The Ancient smiled, "In fact, I have a story for you. Willing to hear?"

Faith nodded eagerly, "Yes! I've always loved stories... they always calmed me somewhat."

Storyteller nodded. "Hmm... well, a few years ago there was a married couple. They lived in peace far away from the society they both loathed. The husband knew he would have to go back to his duties in the army he served, but kept putting the day off. You see, his wife was very pregnant, and he didn't want to leave her alone." There was a pause while tea was drunk, "To make a very long story short, the couple soon had a beautiful baby girl. They sincerely believed that their world was perfect, and never to be shattered.

"But, like the River of Time, their peace was soon shattered. You see the husband had made some enemies, and those enemies had found the couple's location. In the dead of night, past midnight they broke into the couple's mountain home. Not touching a possession, they searched the house. They had planned on killing the couple, but instead believed that faking their daughter's death would do more harm.

"It did."

The young woman was in awe. Sipping her tea, she watched the Ancient intently. "Ma'am, I must confess," Faith started, "That sounds like what Ratyna nobles would do."

Storyteller looked weary. Yet smiled with joy. "Ratyna is not the only place in Mana that occurs. It is everywhere, in people's hearts." She placed her hand over her own heart and closed her eyes.

"What happened? Did they ever find their daughter?" Faith was very intrigued by the tale. It was one of the scenarios she had imagined to explain her past as she journeyed to see Storyteller.

The Ancient smiled. "The husband was furious. He left his wife, promising to kill those who had murdered his eldest. As you may know, in most of the Tribes it is the eldest that is the most precious, since it signifies the parent's fertility. At any rate, he spent the next two years searching, and finding, the guilty. Before he returned to the army, he informed his wife of what he learned from the last murderer - they had sold the daughter for some money to buy whores."

"Did they ever find the daughter?"

"Yes. The father searched in vain for her. The daughter searched for the truth as she grew, and eventually found her mother." Storyteller paused and smiled at Faith. It took Faith only a few seconds to realize what she had been told.

"Mom?" she rushed over and hugged the Ancient tightly.

Storyteller's eyes watered over. "Welcome home Faith."

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