The little half-elven girl bounced on the floor, watching her mother stitching on a shirt. “Tell me the story again, Mama?” The human woman laughed. She set a stitch and then smiled down at her daughter. “It was years ago, my little Sherri, that I met a wandering bard. He was the most beautiful elf I had ever seen.” Sherri hugged her small flute tightly, eyes wide as she listened to the story. It was her favorite, had always been her favorite. She liked to imagine that one day this great and glorious bard would stride back into their small home and be a part of their family. That he would take her under his wing and teach her to tease out the bardic magic she’d already begun to play with. She loved the way the music shaped in her mind, loved the feeling of an instrument in her hands. But she had no teacher. No one who could show her how to control what she had and learn more.
“Mama, tell me the story again?” Sherri clung to her mother’s hand, trying anything now to get her fading mother to speak. The woman was sick and it was ripping the young half-elf’s heart into pieces. There was nothing she could do, even with the fledgling magic she felt stirring inside her, it was doing nothing. Her mother coughed and smiled. “Don’t you know the story by heart, my little one? I’ve told it enough.” “I want to hear you tell it, Mama.” The woman smiled and squeezed her daughter’s hand, beginning the tale again.
Sherri ran, trying to ignore the pain in her throbbing shoulder. She had been stupid. Stupid and slow. The merchant had caught her trying to knick a bit of food and all she’d gotten for it was a beating. Now she was still hungry and she was in pain. Then her foot suddenly connected with something and she sprawled on the cobbles. Rolling to her back, she looked up into the eyes of an older half-elf boy.
“You’ve got the makings, girl. You just need some lessoning. Come on, girl, and I’ll teach you how to get fed and not get thrashed.”
She hesitated for a moment and then took the offered hand. It was a chance, and that was more than she had right now on her own.
This was the second time she’d had to climb out a window in the middle of the night. It was easier than the first time. At least this time, she wasn’t trying to leave her gang. But it was for the same reason, she supposed. She slung her battered lute over her shoulder and started to scale down the side of the building. It was a damn good thing she had no fear of heights, or she would be having problems. She regretted having to leave. This place had been good to her. She had been fed, she had been safe. But once again, another man had wanted more than she was willing to give. She checked her pack and her blades as her feet touched the ground and then headed for the woods. A few miles that way, and soon enough, she’d find a road. There were other places, she supposed. She would just have to find one.