Chapter 2 gives background on Nyla
Wahaland was where she was born.
A place surround by mountains and hard to find. Not many outside the clan knew where it was except the traders who came twice a year to trade their goods for much need supplies, and they never came into the village. When someone did stumbled upon it; they were amazed by what they saw. They would describe it as a land of giants, some called them the shining giants.
“The people all have white hair and it shines with its own light. The men are at least eight feet tall, all muscle. They’re like mountains….” And so the stories went. There was much folklore surrounding Wahaland.
The men were not eight feet tall but some did manage to make it to seven. Their hair didn’t have its own light, but reflected the sun. They were a well muscled, big people, as they were descendants of Norsemen, the Vikings, the conquerors
Every now and again a ‘Dark One’ was born to the clan of shining giants, a baby with dark hair and smaller then the big robust Wahaland babies. The family that housed such a one was often ostracized from the rest of the village. The child was thought to bring bad luck. Nyla was such a child.
Her father was one of the elders, a village leader and member of the village council. His having a dark child had shaken the confidence of the people in his right to continue to lead. Didn’t this birth of a Dark One mean he had been cursed? Other members of the council spoke for him and the clan grudgingly let him keep his position.
As was the custom, Nyla was sent outside the village to live with a caregiver, one who looked after the dark ones. The caregiver was never allowed in the village, their needs being met by the family of the child they cared for. They were chosen by casting lots.
Nyla’s childhood could have been miserable and lonely if not for the fact that her caretaker was devoted to her. Most resented having to care for such a child, but Nyla’s came to love the little dark haired girl.
Nyla had twin brothers, Drake and Erik, eight years her senior. They were good to the caregiver and made sure she was good to Nyla. The twins cared nothing for the superstitions of the village people, and as Nyla grew they became instructor and friend, secretly teaching her to use a bow and arrow, and a sword like every good Wahaland warrior. She was an excellent student and became lethal with a sword, and could kill a deer at fifty yards with bow and arrow.
As Nyla grew older her hair became raven black and her smoky blue eyes turned violet, causing more speculation that she was cursed. She would have been considered beautiful in most cultures, but not in Wahaland.
When Nyla reached the age of seventeen, her father took her far beyond her village borders and brought her to a cottage her brothers built for her. The council was concerned that since she was getting closer to an age to marry, the young men of the clan could be ensnared by her. Nyla’s father was told she would have to be moved far from the village.
Her brothers raged over the decision and had many heated arguments about it with their father. Hulking whited haired giants, the twins rarely lost an argument, but their father always had the final word. The brothers made sure the cottage was comfortable and well built for their baby sister. They traded well for the goods to build it, and located it on the outskirts of a small village. The brothers wanted her to have access to people should a need arise.
Nyla had never known fear and would never admit that her first night alone found her awake most of the night, sword close at hand. She would not have spent the night so if she had known her two brothers took turns guarding the cottage all nigh,t just as they had when she had been put out of the village as a child. She eventually grew used to being on her own but her brothers still checked on her often.
Nyla was self reliant and independent. She’d planted a vegetable garden and hunted for her own meat so rarely needed to go into the local village. She was a curiosity to the villagers and her beauty attracted the men. But her height and confident demeanor made her intimidating, and none pursued her.
One day her brothers appeared at her door with two Siberian Huskies. “Happy day of your birth,” they said and handed her the pups. They had been part of a payment for a boat the brothers had built. Dogs were greatly valued by the Wahalands, and the brothers thought the pups would make good companions for their sister.
Nyla was overjoyed and named them Arrow and Wolf. Her brothers helped her train them to be fearsome guard dogs. She in turn, spoiled them by giving them the best cuts of meat from whatever she had hunted, much to her brothers’ disapproval.
“You are spoiling them. They will get fat. Dogs need to be lean and tough,” they would tell her.
Arrow and Wolf grew to be excellent guard dogs, another reason the men stayed away, and good companions. They did not get fat, but instead grew to be much larger than what was normal for their breed. They were rarely far from Nyla’s side.
One afternoon Nyla heard the dogs barking and it wasn’t the bark of seeing a rabbit, it was urgent. When Nyla went to check on them, she found the source of their irritation standing in front of her cottage.
When she went out to confront the man, he pulled back his hood and his stark white hair and great height gave him away as a Wahalander.
He looked familiar and Nyla realized he had visited the cottage a few times with her brothers. She could not imagine why he was there alone. Fear ran down her spine as she thought he brought bad news of her brothers.
“Good morn Dak. What brings you here so early?” She asked with a dry mouth, rubbing her arms against the cold. It had snowed all night and there was a least six inches on the ground.
“I come to bring you news. Your brothers are off to Quest. They must be gone six months. I agreed to keep watch over you until they return.”
© 2018, Roxanna Andrews. All rights reserved.
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