Papa and Mama... they meant well, I guess. They could have put their skills to better use though, you have to admit that. Pureblood metamorphmagi... They could have done anything with their ever changing appearances.

Instead they settled in that shack out in the middle of nowhere.

Yes, the one with the crackling shingles hanging off the rusty gutters, ready to crash onto the heads of the children at any moment. The one with the rotten steps up to the crooked front door that you had to lift off of its hinges if you wanted it to open. 

Maybe they didn't want to attract attention with their appearance. After all... there was so much prejudice from where they came from. The last thing they wanted was for people to judge them.

That might have been the reason or it mightn't. No matter, the thing is they raised Fredrick, Amber, myself, and Richard in that small thing in the middle of a wheat field. Middle of nowhere, nowhere or anywhere.

All we had to grow up on were those stupid pieces of wood that came from the forest miles and miles away. Papa would have them hauled in on our horses and with his own arm strength. Fredrick came of age pretty quickly to help, whether he wanted to or not. Richard knew that he would have to bring in wood one day too.

At 5, Papa said we were ready to handle the saw. We'd learn how to use that blade, nicking our fingers and quickly understanding why he said "Be careful! It's sharp!" Mama would cook our meals... always bread, wild mushrooms, things like that. When Papa went to market, 2 days away, he'd bring back slabs of salted pork jerky and powder for lemonade, and in the winter he'd even bring some chocolate. He couldn't in the summer... Too hot.

At least we had the well, which Papa and Mama dug together to get water for themselves. Papa finished the hard final details when Mama's belly began to swell with Fredrick, all those years ago.

Then came Amber, then closely followed yours truly. 5 years before Richard came out. I remember peeking over the scratchy sheets of Mama's bed to peek at the ugly bundle in her arms. "Awien. Ish an awien!" Of course it could have been.... whenever he was hungry he'd make his skin green.

I started carving at around 4... making little figures to sand and polish. That's what Papa would sell of mine. The youngest made carvings... The older two helped with the furniture making. Yep, we were carpenters.

That was the life I knew until I turned 8 or 9... For a treat, Papa decided to take me down to market with him. 2 days in the cart, two days back. Feed the horses, rest in open. Not much, but to me it was everything. The market, where the chocolate came from!

While Papa sold his wares, I listened to some street musicians with awe. The only music I had ever heard before in my life was Mama's lullabies, which were gruff compared to the sweet satin sounds of the harp, the mandolin, the flute... I abandoned Papa's cart when he wasn't looking to start dancing in front of the musicians.

I had never danced before, but somehow, my feet knew what to do. And I sang. No words, just the little girl's "La... la la la..."

The group encouraged me by playing more and more, and when they finally stopped, they produced for me... my beauty.

Shiny, glossy, wooden... I didn't know you could make such beautiful things out of wood! And the strings with the nylon... What a sweet sound rang with each pluck. 

This was everything. This is what I wanted. I wanted to play the guitar and make music... not be stuck in the shack and wood shed carving figures and furniture...

I snuck the guitar into the cart and brought it back with us. At night, after work was done, I'd sneak off into the night and run about half a mile away from the house... it might have been more or less, but I couldn't tell the distance. Everything was so large back then, except the shack. The shack was always small.

Out in the grasses and wheat, I hid and silently taught myself to play.

When Papa finally found my guitar under my bed one day, he was frustrated. He and Mama started insisting that my future was in carpentry, not out in the open where I might attract attention.

Had my hair ever been as red as flames before? I don't believe so... but I refused to give in. They wouldn't listen... they took my beauty away.

Papa wouldn't take me to the market anymore. He'd make me do extra carvings to try to keep my mind off of music. However, I couldn't stop humming as I carved little mandolins, flutes, treble clefs... He only sold them because he needed to make the money.

On the Eve of my 10th birthday, they granted me the gift of 30 gold coins in a small satchel and the reminder that I'd start working on furniture... 

I granted my own birthday wish that night. Sneaking into my parents room, I silently slipped away my guitar from the corner. With a prepacked satchel of rations and clothing, I mounted our smaller horse... and I bade goodbye.

So many things I left behind that night... the shack, my parents, my siblings... all I knew I threw away for music... even my own name. I started calling myself "Bardia," my spin on the word "bard."

Never again would I be Katlyn Silence Risarden...

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