Frey (The Frey Saga, #1)

Frey (The Frey Saga, #1)

Melissa Wright

Chapter One


"Crap!" I stubbed my toe on a root, one of the pitfalls of living in a tree. It throbbed and I slammed the door.

It only took a moment to realize what I'd done.

"Stupid, loud monster! Slam my door, should have left you for the rats... brain dead... ugly..." Aunt Fannie cursed and mumbled as I hurried away from the tree. She'd never forgiven me for burdening her with my presence after my mother's accident so long ago.

I took my preferred "hiding from Fannie" route, running down the path to the little outcropping of rock on the west side of the village, and then slowed to make my way through the brush in back of Junnie's house.

I rounded the front and rapped two quick and then one loud knock on the small wooden door, our special code for as long as I could remember. A wisp of bright blond hair swirled around Junnie's shining eyes as the door swung open. I must have caught her working; she looked flustered.

Junnie was older than I, but still petite and stunning, just as the rest of the village elves were. All bore the same thin features, the same blue eyes that twinkled like gemstones, sunny blond hair, often with a perfectly positioned wave or curl, a button nose, and flushed cheeks, usually from dancing around.

“There you are, my Fredora!” Junnie was always trying out new nicknames for me. She knew I despised my given name: Elfreda Georgiana Suzetta Glaforia. Gah. My father must have been an imp. I couldn't actually remember him, but I could definitely blame him because the father was always responsible for naming the first born. I mean, how could you get more unoriginal than to be named for the ancient word meaning "elf"? And as if that wasn't bad enough, it was followed by two ridiculous middle names and ended in a flourish with my surname.

“Hey, Junnie. What’s on the schedule for today? Please don't say sciences.”

“No, I’ve been working on something else. How do you feel about studying the lineages?” she asked. She knew I hated trying to memorize the endless pages of names and dates.

I groaned.

“Well, let’s get to it then.” She led me through the tiny living area toward the back room.

She didn’t have or need a great deal of space. Much like me, Junnie was practically alone. Her family had all received the calling, “a higher purpose to serve elfkind.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, only that the elf usually left with fanfare and seldom returned in less than a hundred years. It was apparently a very honorable thing, though she never seemed proud.

Just off the living area was the study, larger than the front room, stuffed full of documents and lit dimly by two lanterns. Dark as it was, I could still see dust covering all the decrepit scrolls and books. I could never understand why elves were so clean and bright until it came to their studies. Those rooms were always sprinkled with age and whenever the elf pulled out a volume, their eyes gleamed and they dramatically blew away the dust.

I settled onto a stool and then leaned forward, putting my elbows on the table…

I didn't know how long I sat so, looking down on a huge volume entitled The Great Elves of Varkenshire, pretending to read. I stared at a small thistle lying on the table among some other potion ingredients, and I realized it had begun to extend its leaves. I was certainly startled; Junnie was wrapped up in a lengthy scroll across the room and couldn’t have possibly been the source, and I had never seen anything grow on my account. I concentrated on the thistle then, eyeing each tiny spike. I knew the magic, though it had never worked for me before. The leaves turned up and the head began to turn green… the stem reached out new roots and new buds began to form. I gasped.

Junnie swirled around. “What? What did you find?”

"No, I was just… there was a thistle here…” It was all that had developed, the bulbs and seedlings were undisturbed, and I couldn't help but think, oh sure, the weed grows.

Junnie was across the room in a flash. She glanced at the changed thistle and then, I thought, at me, but when I looked back she was eyeing the wall of books. “Well, good for you, Frey. Your efforts are finally paying off.”

I stared blankly at her.

“What do you say we wrap it up for today? I’ve got some business with Council.”

“Uh, okay,” I stuttered, “see you.” I stumbled off the stool, half numb from being still so long, and made my way outside into the bright sun. I nearly lingered in town but thought better of it, picking an ambling, rarely used path out of the village, in no hurry to get home.

Once outside of town, I found myself wandering idly through the trees and, eventually, into an abandoned, overgrown garden where I plopped down until I could work out what to do with my now empty afternoon. I sat surrounded by the various weeds, contemplating naming the species. I decided that idea sucked about as much as going home and resolved to repeat the process I'd used on the thistle in Junnie's study. I concentrated on one weed, and then on each of the others, spinning my charms in an attempt to develop them. Though I had no luck with the wild flowers and renegade vegetable plants, I was surprised to find a small thorn tree and a couple of noxious strains mature in response. Huh, I guess Junnie was right. Maybe I should practice more.

“Well, well, what do we have here? Is Frey making magic?” Evelyn spoke with such sarcastic sourness it seemed to burn right through me.

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