Haunted by Memories

Syllea lay in bed looking at the ceiling. She had left the Pony not too long ago to get some rest, but she was having trouble sleeping that night. Every time she closed her eyes her parents and the dreadful night she lost them crept into her mind. Syllea decided to get up and see if Demlemoth was in the larger house. He was not, and Syllea began to panic. The images would not stop coming to her head no matter how much she pushed them away. Syllea dropped to the ground as the memory consumed her, she hugged her knees to her chest and tried to push the memories away, but failed…

Syllea woke to her mother’s voice calling for her softly from the other room. She stretched then placed her small bare feet on the stone floor. “Coming Mama,” Syllea replied in her squeaky ten-year-old voice.

Looking into the small piece of glass her father carved into a mirror shape, Syllea pulled her shoulder-length raven black hair into a messy ponytail before skipping into the other room with a wide smile. “There’s my pretty girl,” Mama said, leaning down to place a kiss on the young girl’s head. 

Syllea smiled at her mother before sitting at the table in the room. It was a small, two-roomed home. The family of three lived happily in their small neighborhood outside of Bree. One room was the bedroom; containing two beds, a dresser, and a small fireplace to keep the family warm. The second room contained another fireplace, a table with four chairs for eating, a cabinet filled with supplies for making bread and dried meat Syllea and her father brought home from their last hunting trip. On the other side of the room was a tall table with a barstool for Syllea to sit at while she learned how to read and write. In the corner was a bookcase overflowing with stories her father had collected over the years.

The young girl watched her mother with bright green eyes, as she sliced some bread and poured a fresh glass of milk, purchased from the farmer’s cows down the road. “Where’s Papa?” Syllea asked as her mother placed the bread and milk in front of her.

“He is already at work my darling,” Mama responded, before brushing her blonde hair out of her eyes. She turned back to the dough placed on the table and began kneading it with her overworked hands.

Syllea nodded and proceeded to finish her breakfast. Wiping her face, Syllea stood up to get dressed for what she was hoping to be an adventurous day. She slipped into her favorite teal play dress, covered with mud and grass stains. “I’m going out to play in the yard Mama,” the girl smiled.

Syllea’s mother nodded and gave the girl a small wink, “Stay out of trouble missy, but go have an adventure for me.”

Syllea giggled and ran outside. A strange man Syllea had never seen before rode past on his shining chestnut steed. Syllea waved at the man and gave him a joyful childish smile. The man only gave Syllea a nervous glance before continuing to ride away. That is odd. I thought we knew everyone in this neighborhood. Syllea thought to herself. She shrugged and continued to climb a tree. 

A few hours later Syllea’s father returned home. He seemed uneasy but opened his arms up for a hug as the young girl ran to him. She threw her arms around his neck and he picked her up, carrying Syllea into the house. Once inside Syllea’s father placed the girl onto the barstool. “How was your day Papa?” she asked. 

“It was as well as could be my flower,” her father replied in his soft, deep voice.

Syllea could tell something was wrong; she had always been one to tell when something was bothering others. She studied her tall father carefully. He was a thin man, with a pair of spectacles always perched on the end of his pointed nose. He ran his fingers through his dark brown windblown hair and laid a kiss on the girl’s forehead. “I am going to rest for a while. Your mama should be home soon. Why don’t you work on that story for me?” Her father said, already heading to the other room to rest.

The girl nodded and turned to pull out a booklet she had been writing in. It was an old tattered book, full of blank parchment that was meant to be filled with Syllea’s writings. The girl was currently working on a story of far-off lands for her father. Syllea turned to the next page in her booklet and got some ink and a quill. She began carefully writing in her cursive lettering as her father slept.

Soon after Syllea’s mother came in, looking more stressed than her father had seemed. “Mama are you alright?” The girl asked fearfully.

“Aye, I am alright, my dear. Just keep working on whatever that is,” her mother replied, rushing into the other room.

Syllea heard her mother wake her father and they spoke in hushed tones. The girl had always been taught not to eavesdrop, so she began to hum one of the Bree-Land lullabies as she continued to write her story. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. 

“Mama! Someone is at the door,” the girl called.

Her mother rushed from the other room and told the girl to go sit on her bed with her father. Syllea was very frightened by the tone in her mother’s voice, which was demanding and shaky, but she did as she was told.

Syllea could hear her mother opening the door and saying, “Good evening sir. May I help-” the woman’s voice was cut off by her screaming.

The girl looked at her father, as he placed an arm around her and watched the doorway fearfully. A man walked in, dressed in black robes with a hood that hid his face. The man was holding Syllea’s mother with a fistful of her blonde hair. He threw her to the floor at Syllea and her father’s feet. “What do you want?” her father asked in a deep, threatening voice. 

The man, if it even was a man, looked towards the two on the bed; Syllea still could not see his face. With a voice that turned her blood to ice, the intruder replied, “You.” 

With that one word, her father began to tremble, “We haven’t done anything.” Syllea’s mother spat and pushed herself from the floor. Her lip was bleeding, but she ignored it. 

The intruder let out a blood-curdling and unearthly scream and pulled out a long sword. Its shining blade blinded the girl as the last rays of sunlight through the window hit the sword. With one swift movement, Syllea watched helplessly as the sword was driven into her mother’s heart. “Mama!” she screamed. 

Syllea’s father dropped to the floor beside his wife, tears already streaking his face. “What have you done!” her father screamed at the black-robed creature. Syllea no longer considered this thing, to be a man. 

The creature let out another scream and with a quick step forward, drove the blade into her father’s lungs, then again into his stomach. Syllea watched in horror as her father fell to the floor, frozen in place. She was next; she knew it. Syllea reached beside her to pick up one of her dolls from her bed and hugged it tightly. She wanted to die holding something that she treasured, like a warrior with his sword. Syllea looked up at the man, a trail of tears streaking her face. 

The creature didn’t move for a long while, he seemed to be watching the girl, studying her even. Syllea grew impatient and just when she was beginning to feel the fear of death creep up on her, the creature turned and with a chilling sweep of his robes and left the house. Leaving Syllea’s parents’ bodies at her feet. Shaking, she dropped to the floor and looked into her parent’s lifeless eyes. 

Syllea began to sob, screaming into her mother’s chest. She sat up and looked at her parents. What was she to do? Scared, Syllea fled the house and took shelter in a small cave only a small child, like herself, could fit. The cave provided her with a clear view of the house in case anyone came. Syllea fell asleep late into the night. Her stomach groaned and sleep seemed to be the only way to ignore the gnawing hunger.

Syllea woke up screaming that night, her nightmares were full of death and the creature murdering her parents over and over. She pulled her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth on her heels. Late into the morning one of Mother’s patrons came to the house, looking concerned. The woman saw that the door was open and walked in. A few moments later there was a shriek from inside. Syllea flinched as she heard the scream. The woman ran out of the house and shouted, “Syllea! Syllea, where are you?” The woman had tears in her eyes and was looking for the girl frantically.

Defeated the woman ran off and returned a short while later with a group of guards. The woman and guards spoke before they charged into the house. Syllea watched with terror as her parents’ bodies were hauled out of the house. After their bodies were placed into an enclosed carriage and everyone had left Syllea crept from her cave. She was too scared to return to the house, so Syllea began wandering the streets of the neighborhood. She kept close to the shadows to avoid being noticed. The girl ran into a lonely, dirty, underfed mutt on the road. “Hello puppy,” the girl bent down to the dog’s level. “Are you all alone as well? You can come with me.”

Syllea pet the dog for a bit and then whistled for him to follow her. “I will name you Sidle,” She said, choking on another cry. “After Papa.” At this, the girl began to sob again as she looked for something to eat. 

Syllea spent many nights without food and hid somewhere in the small neighborhood, and since she had Sidle by her side, she seemed to think that all would be well. They would cuddle up close on cold nights, and Sidle would lick her face when the girl began to cry. Every night she woke up screaming from nightmares. Sidle would come to her and allow Syllea to hold onto him for comfort. 

One day, as the two were walking through the neighborhood, they came to and stood at the edge of a cliff; the wind blew her dirty hair behind her. Syllea smiled softly as the scent of roses and earth filled her nostrils. It was the scent of oncoming spring. Sidle was happily chasing a butterfly not far off. Syllea watched, giggling as the dog snapped his teeth shut, but still missing the insect. Sidle crept close to the cliff’s edge as he tried to catch the butterfly, and before Syllea could call him away the dog slipped and tumbled over. Syllea screamed as her only friend dropped to his death, and her own heart shattered. She stood there staring at the body of her friend, his limbs twisted at odd angles. 

Syllea held a small funeral for him that night. Once again, she cried herself to sleep, shivering without the warmth of Sidle. Syllea spent a year alone, hiding from other people and crying. She eventually went back to the old house, which had been abandoned. When she saw the tile where her parents were killed was stained red Syllea almost left, but she stayed strong. She placed a rug over the stained tile and spent many months removing no longer needed furniture and chopping it into wood for the fireplaces and rearranging the house to fit her needs. 

At age thirteen Syllea ventured into the big city of Bree. She was amazed at all the people there, many seemed joyful. She feared being so small in such a big place. “Crying won’t do anything, and neither will be being weak,” the girl whispered to herself.

Syllea raised her head and pulled her shoulders back. She was strong, she was willing, and she was going to live for her parents. Syllea begged for food but never stole. Many nights she went hungry, but she remained strong. She was determined to live her life, live it well, and prove to others that a girl like her would not be intimidated by a man such as that who killed her parents.

As the memory faded Syllea found herself on the floor, tears streaking her face and her breaths coming out heavily. That was so long ago, and yet… Syllea stood up and went to get her guard. “Let’s go back to the Pony. I can’t sleep.”

The guard nodded and followed Syllea into Bree, waiting outside as she entered the Pony. She walked in and saw Dem there along with others around a fire. Dem offered Syllea a snuggle, for which she was grateful. Mister Dem and Sir Egfor were her new family, along with others she met. She couldn’t let the past keep haunting her.