Legacy of the Azure Torch
Cliffton's childhood friend and introduction to poetry
Claire Faireblood was a village girl born in the city of Garenheim, a remote place outside the Vale. The Fairebloods were a humble family, not terribly impoverished nor boasting in wealth. Claire was the third child born in the Faireblood family, and the youngest at that. She had two older brothers whom she would squabble with constantly, as siblings do, and was protected by two loving parents. She was particularly close to her father, who adored her with all his heart. As families went, the Fairebloods were rather average. They had their troubles, both internal and external, though the bonds of family kept them close and strong.
As a child, Claire was free-spirited and full of energy. She would run barefoot through Garenheim, climb trees and chase animals, and often preferred the rougher games of boys than the more dainty activities of her fellow girls. She was a vibrant and carefree soul; the definition of youth’s innocence. However, it would not last. When she was around the age of seven, her father fell gravely ill with an unknown disease. Many healers were called to his bedside, though to no avail. His health continued to wither and deteriorate, and after many long and painful months on his sickbed, Claire’s father met his death. Claire was horribly saddened by the loss of her father, and it damaged her mien severely, taking away much of her vibrancy and spirit. She would recover, though the hole left in her heart would be night impossible to patch.
The death of Claire’s father was the beginning of a great and uncomfortable change in the life of the Fairebloods. The disposition of her mother turned greatly. She was angry often, and much more tense in her demeanor. She began to take greater control of the lives of her children. She frantically pushed her two sons into finding work, preferably as farm hands or such. This in of itself was not a bad thing, and the boys complained little of it. Though there were even greater plans for Claire. Her mother began to do all she could to shape Claire into an ideal maiden: prim, proper, submissive, and skilled in cooking and mending. She hammered these values into Claire greatly, and furiously scolded her when she fell short.
Already under great distress from her father’s death, Claire met this “training” with protest, and the relationship between mother and daughter was strained nearly to the point of breaking. Claire knew her mother meant well, though she was less than appreciative of her efforts. She eventually found a place to hide away from her, an old windmill on the edge of Garenheim, with a secret chamber filled with books, mostly of poetry. Claire would spend hours there in solitude, reading and learning, doing everything she could to distract herself from her familial troubles. However, solitude could often be an even worse alternative. She was angry with her mother, angry with her brothers who would often bully her, but above all else, she was lonely, and this loneliness ached painfully.
Three years after her father’s death, Claire met a young boy named Cliffton. During another one of her brothers’ sessions of tormenting her, the youth rashly chased them off with a broomstick, despite the fact they were much older and twice his size. Claire was grateful of the help, though found Cliffton’s odd, melodramatic poise and ramblings of heroism to be somewhat annoying. Still, she would continue to see him, and the two would form a close companionship. Though Claire would often bristle and roll her eyes at Cliffton’s overprotective attitude towards her, she enjoyed his company more than anything, and in secret, harbored feelings towards him.
Five years passed. Claire was arranged to marry a wealthy young lad named Harold Gouldsworth, much to her silent dismay, though there was little she could do of it, and she was forced to feign love for him. Cliffton shared in her opposition, deeming the situation to be unjust, though his hands were also tied, but Claire never wished for him to become too involved in the first place. It seemed the rest of Claire’s existence had been authored for her, and she greatly desired reprieve, freedom from this fate. She would find it, though it would be exchanged for something for worse.
Garenheim was attacked suddenly by a gathering of dark warriors, the most notable of these a large red dragon. The serenity of the city was quickly turned to chaos. Claire, worried for her friend, desperately went to seek out Cliffton midst the chaos. She found him, though quickly afterwards found herself throwing her body in front of the blow of a sword, shielding Cliffton from the attack and sustaining a very severe wound. Weak and in excruciating pain, Cliffton carried her off to safety into the old windmill which they had spent much time together.
In the safety of the windmill, Claire rested limply in the arms of her dear friend, his voice begging her to stay alive. However, Claire’s strength was fading quickly, and her wound bled rivers of life from her veins. Knowing she was to die then and there, she confessed her love for Cliffton, and planted her first and final kiss upon his lips. Claire breathed her last gusts of air, and died that night with a calm and satisfied smile on her face…