GENRE: Young Adult Epic Fantasy
Rowl always wondered what it was like to be outside, inhaling fresh air and feeling the wind on his face. Finally those sensations were just a few days away. At least, that's what he thought. The topic was on his mind as he poured water from a golden goblet into another glass. He heard a slight gush as the goblet refilled itself with water.
"Thanks, honey," his mom said as he handed her the glass.
"Sure, Mom." He poured himself a glass of water from the goblet, which again refilled itself. He then looked at his mother, a tiny woman hunched over the table, her hands and arms stiff boards, her bony fingers steel rods clutching her glass.
"How are your joints today?" he said.
"Worse than usual."
Rowl sighed as he stored the goblet in the cupboard. "Mom, I think I'm gonna have to get you help," he said.
"Absolutely not. And never another mention of it!"
"But, Mom, your joints are getting worse by the day - you say so yourself! Soon you won't even be able to move. You may even... "
"I'll be fine. Everything will be fine. The most imperative thing is that you never, ever... "
"I know, I know...
leave the house," Rowl grumbled. He opened the cupboard's lower drawers, revealing a bare chicken on a gold platter. He carried the platter to the simmering cauldron over the fire, and gently laid the chicken inside.
As he did so, he gazed through the kitchen window that overlooked the garden outside. Nothing but a plot of dirt spotted with claws of thorn bushes stared back. It was difficult for anything to grow given the black blanket of smog that perpetually hung about Wharvul. The Black Veil, his mother called it. The blanket obscured the sunlight necessary for most of the world's plants to grow, leaving primarily thorn bushes, mushrooms, and other vegetation that flourished in dimness and even pitch-darkness. The only indication that evening was presently falling upon Wharvul was that it was dimmer outside than it had been during the day, as Wharvul was a land that essentially toggled between dusk and night, due to the all-encompassing Black Veil.
"But what if it gets really bad?" Rowl said at last. "What if it really does get to the point where you can hardly move and are in constant pain? You won't be able to bear it, Mom. And I won't be able to bear it, because you're my mom and I couldn't stand seeing you in that condition!"
"There are worse things, Rowl. One woman dying of arthritis in the world... it has seen worse."
"I couldn't allow it," Rowl said. "I would have to go in search of medical treatment."
"You know very well there is no longer any medical treatment available in Wharvul, let alone on Fogurra. Don't tell me you've forgotten your teachings already!" Nna sighed. "Why do you keep bringing this up? Need I remind you yet again that we live in a very dangerous world, Rowl? There is much more danger out there than in here, than in my own body. And you and I are among the most fortunate of all Fogurra. Just look around you - look at this magnificent house! Most people have nothing to call their own and live in cramped quarters, not to mention are constantly ravaged by thieves. If you were to leave the house... "
"I know, I know...
" His mother never stopped stressing just how lucky they had it. She always made it sound like their home - a large three-wing, two-story manor - was constantly surrounded on all sides by thief gangs, each gang hiding behind a nearby copse of trees, just waiting for Rowl or Nna to open a door so they could pounce and steal all of the house's magifacts, or enchanted objects. And who knows? Maybe she was right.
"Mother, why are we so lucky?" Rowl said bluntly. He was being daring again, as usual. "Why can't you just tell me? Don't you think I'm old enough now?" He asked these particular questions at least once a week.
"Rowl, you know I've told you all there is to know," Nna said in almost a whisper.
"No, you haven't! What about Father? You still haven't told me everything about Father."
"That will come when the time is right," she said, again in a deathly whisper, as though her arthritis had begun to freeze even her vocal chords.