The Ivy

Emerald Leaves

”Alys, you never listen! I told you you, can wear that! ”

e always telling me what to do, Tornac! I may be your wife, but Im human, too! Ive just about had enough! ”

Kasis ground, rolled over in his bed, and covered his head with his thin pillow. What are they fighting about this time? he thought grumpily.

The pillow failed to block out his parents screaming, unsurprisingly. He peeked out and saw his sister in the bed next to his own, sitting reading a book, unperturbed.

”How long have they been at it? ” Kasis asked her, his annoyance leaking into his tone.

”Maybe an hour? Im surprised you haven given up on sleep yet. The whole clearing can hear them bickering, ” she groaned.

”No surprise. Im going back to sleep. ”

His sister rolled her eyes. ”No you
e not. ”


Kasis sat up, throwing his threadbare blankets aside, swung his long, thin legs over the side of the bed, and stood, all in a split second, as if it was a reflex.

”Told ya, ” his sister laughed, her hands resting on her petite, bony waist.

Kasis ran around the partition separating the one-room home, almost stubbing his toe on the filthy chamber pot in the process. His mother, Alysel, was laying on the ground, rubbing her head, a big red welt already flaring up where Tornac, his father, had hit her. Kasis stood between them, pushing Tornac back.

”Out of the way, son. Its not your place to interfere, ” Tornac growled, his teeth clenched, his fist still balled up from when he had hit his wife.

”Kasis, dear, can you go to the market for me? ” Alysel asked her son.

He turned around and helped Alysel to her feet. ”are you sure you
e okay? If you need help Ill be too far away– ”

”Ill be fine, ” Alysel said, putting a thin hand on his shoulder. ”We need eggs. ”

”What happened to the chicken? ” Kasis asked.

Alysel glanced at her husband accusingly. ”Tornac and his drinking buddies. Don tell Rie, shell be devastated. ”

”Tell me what? ” asked Rie, Kasiss sister, from behind the shabby partition.

”Don worry, sis, Im just going to the market. Keep these two from killing each other while Im gone. ”

”Okay, Kasey. Stay safe. ”

”You too. Bye, mom! Bye, Rie! ” Kasis waved, grabbed his worn cloak, checked the pocket for the little gold his family had, and closed the flimsy door, careful not to break it.

It was a short walk to the market from Kasiss cheap home, just east along the shore of the lake where the people of the Clearing got their water. He swam in the lake often, but avoided the far side at all costs. The opposite shore was completely overgrown with man-eating, continent stealing Ivy.

Kasis furrowed his brow at it as he entered the market, following hastily-made street signs to the section reserved for edibles.

Whilst on his way, he glanced between two buildings and saw a pair of men standing at the edge of the Ivy, pinching the bridges of their noses at the plant, trying to muster up the courage to trim it, subject to the common punishment for troublemakers in the Clearing.

Kasis shuddered at even the thought of the plant that destroyed the old kingdoms. If only that wretched gardener from the story had done what he was supposed to, Kasis would have been born in the old kingdoms and maybe his dad wouldn be drowning the pain in ale all the time.

He, and many other youths within the Clearing, were born here and taught to avoid the Ivy at all costs.

Sometimes, though, children stumbled too close when their parents weren looking and were devoured by it. These days, it was almost certain what had happened when a person went missing, and the only course of action was to wait for the bones to show up a few days later and have a proper funeral for the victim.

Kasis shook his head as he entered the building where produce and animal goods were sold. A bell chimed as he opened the door. A young woman with skin the color of caramel and a mane of dark hair that framed her angular face stood at the counter, assisting a customer with their purchase.

”Have a nice day, dearie! ” she said with a wave before turning to her next customer.

”Oh, good morning, Kasis! what can I help you with this morning? ” she asked with a grin.

”H-hi, Alitza! ” he stuttered, his face red as a beet as he stepped up to the counter. ”I need some eggs, please. Dad ate the chicken you sold us. ”

She sighed theatrically, hiding a chuckle behind her hand. ”How many do you need? ”

Kasis grew even redder, full of shame. ”Well, we don have much money. How many can we get with this? ” He put a few gold coins on the counter, avoiding her eyes.

She frowned. ”Is this all you have? ” she asked, her voice full of pity.

He furrowed his brow. ”Just get me what I can afford, please. ”

Alitza sighed and disappeared out the back door. She returned a moment later with four large, round eggs nestled tenderly in a hand-woven basket. ”Here you go, Kasey. Just bring back the basket. ”

”I know. Thank you, Alitza. Have a nice day. ”

He stepped out, the bell ringing as he closed the door.

”Well, that was a disaster, ” someone said.

”Ah! ” Kasis jumped, holding the basket to his chest.

”Relax, its just me, ” said the voice as its owner popped out from behind a barrel.

”Geez, Soli! Don do that! ” Kasis shook his head at his friend. ”You scared me out of my skin! ”

”Psht, calm down, Kasey. If you want to win Alitzas heart, you
e going to have to be more manly than that. ”

Kasis blushed. ”Shut up. ”

”Uh, no can do, my friend. You
e a lost cause around women, but I, your most bestest friend, the great Ladies man Soli, shall save you from your fate. ”

”Ladies man? When was the last time you had a girlfriend? ”

”Thats my choice. all the girls here suck except Rie, and I belive shes off limits– ”

”Damn right she is, ” Kasis laughed.

”Say, you ever feel like youve been reincarnated? coulda sworn Ive said that before– ”

”No? You
e weird, dude. Cmon, I gotta bring these eggs home to Mom. ”

So the two friends headed back to Kasiss house, talking about who knows what and insulting each other every other sentence. They were nearly there when suddenly–

”Tornac, don ! ” someone screamed from the direction of Kasiss house, their voice full of fear and distress. Kasis was off before the second scream came, splitting the calm air, Soli on his tail, eggs and basket laying forgotten on the path.

They burst through the door a second layer, Kasiss fists clenched in anger at the sight of his dad standing over his mom, bleeding out onto the ground. Tornac held a bloody kitchen knife in one hand, raised against Rie, who stood between him and Alysel, who hung on by a few shallow breaths.

”Rie! ” Kasis yelled as Tornac lashed out at his sisters throat, her limp body falling to the ground. He lunged for his father, fists raised. He pushed Tornac to the ground, punching as hard as he could through his tears.

”Get help! ” he screamed, turning to Soli just long enough for Tornac to get his knife hand free. Soli ran off as fast as he could, yelling for help.

”Get off of me, you pathetic boy! ” Tornac yelled as he slashed with his knife while Kasis was distracted. Sharp pain shot through half of Kasiss face as the knife slid from his cheekbone to his eyebrow in one cut, his eye sliced open, hot blood dripping onto his attackers face. Tornac wiped it off with the back of his hand as Kasis reached up to cradle his ruined eye. Tornac pushed him off, stood, and kicked his son as hard as he could. Kasis crashed into the wall, his head pounding and his vision swimming, trying and failing to stand. Tornac shoved his foot into Kasiss back, pushing him back down with a grunt.

through his fathers legs, Kasis saw a figure burst through the doorway and grab Tornacs shoulders. The knife seemed to clatter to the floor in slow motion as Soli ran to Kasiss aid, yelling his name.

”Its okay buddy, its gonna be okay, help is on the way… ”

Just like a house of cards, the world seemed to crumble around him as his vision faded to black.

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