Adalina, born Adalina Drallfus in the small village of Nultulk. She was from a lower class family who grew up working in the fields with little education. Her family consisted of her parents, two sisters and a younger brother. She was the second eldest of the siblings.
When her sister turned 16, her sister was married off to a lumberjack’s son from a nearby village. Adalina had delusions of one day leaving home and marrying a handsome merchant who she would travel the seven continents with. Alas, such fancies were not to be and even before she was old enough to marry, she had caught the eyes of a local innkeeper. When asked for, her parents refused her to him due to the fact that the village knew he was not a decent man, with two prior wives who already left him.
One day as she was gathering water from the river, bandits had attempted to kidnap her. A young soldier that was passing by had seen the incident and made a ruckus and interfered, resulting in the kidnappers running away. Seeing that the kidnappers were actually people affiliated with the innkeeper, she begged for the young man to take her with him. That was how she met Troyle.
On their travels, she disclosed to him why she wanted to run away, and what he had saved her from. The young soldier also told her of how he was one of the few mercenaries that were hired by her village to solve the amber fox infestation in the nearby forest. He had finished talking to the village elder and was on his way back to report to his company head when he saw the kidnapping. After the rendezvous with the mercenary band, she decided to stay with them, learning various things from the older females there.
The mercenary band did a lot of traveling due to the nature of their work, and she would follow them. Helping to cook, cleaning, and washing dirty laundry. When she had time, using what little knowledge that was taught to her by her father and various trials and errors, she would scavenge for edible plants, berries, nuts, and roots during the travel. She had only planned to follow the band to the nearest highly populated town where she could find work and try to live on her own, but after getting to know the people in the mercenary company, and Troyle, she had decided to stay with them.
She eventually fell in love with Troyle, and after four years with the mercenary band, they got married. During a job, Troyle injured his left shoulder and was not able to able to work as a mercenary anymore, so they bought a small house with the money they had saved up and settled down in the village of Hilthu, on the southern edge of the Darsus continent.
Being outsiders, the villagers were indifferent to them which was just fine. After recovering to an extent, Troyle was conscripted to join the village guards and sent to the outskirts of the village, only to come home once every five days.
As the days went by and Adalina became pregnant, she felt the weight of loneliness disappear. She spent her days doing what little work she could in her pregnant state, and talking to the life that was growing inside her.
It was a horrible birth and even though she thought she would never make it, the child was birthed safely. As if stillborn, the baby made no sound after entering the world. The midwife slowly lowered her ears to his chest and mouth to listen for any indication of breathing, but upon closer examination, the child had ash gray hair, and two birth marks on his chest that looked like scars.
Seeing his hair and birthmarks, “Demon! It’s a demon!” the woman had screamed as she moved to crush his tiny neck with her hands.
Yet fortunately before the midwife could, a sword had leveled itself at her neck. Luckily that day, a replacement had been sent to call Troyle back when she had gone into labor.
Seeing the fury in his eyes, the midwife relented and gave him the newborn then briskly left the room and the house altogether.
Troyle looked at the newborn inquisitively with a face full of confusion and doubt, then at Adalina. He had dull red hair and Adalina had sleek black hair, yet the color of the child’s hair was gray. Doubt and confusion were the only things occupying his mind.
“Is this what you do when I am out there protecting the village?!” In his anger, he had forgotten her faithfulness as suspicion clouded his thoughts.
“Whose it is?!”
“Y-yours.” She replied, panicked and exhausted. “Please…” She pleaded, begging for him to believe that the child was truly his.
“Adalina! The truth!” Holding the child in his arm, Troyle’s thoughts manifested themselves in his eyes.
Seeing the murderous look of his mercenary days, Adalina slowly rose up from the bed. Strengthened by willpower alone, she rushed toward Troyle and with a speed unlike that of one who had just given birth, she quickly snatched her child away. Clutching him to her breast, she begged and pleaded again for Troyle to believe her.
Outraged and perplexed, Troyle promptly exited the room before he could do anything unforgivable.
Left in the dim lights of flickering candles, Adalina gently caressed the newborn in her arms as she fell to the floor. Fearing the worst, she silently waited while holding onto the child. Bringing his tiny body up to her ears, she could hear a low breathing sound, and could see his tiny little chest rising up and down with each subsequent breath. Yet her relief was short-lived as the child’s breathing began slowing. Not sure what to do and with what looked like impending doom hovering over her child, Adalina cried. All the happiness when she found out that she would be a mother came crashing down, and nothing but grief remained. Clinging onto the babe, she let out her despair.
“NGHGAAAAAAAAAA! NGHAAAAA!” As if telling her he was there, the child started crying with all his might.
Like a ray of light piercing the darkness, her sorrows disappeared. As if a child’s adorable trick had gotten the best of her, a light laughter could be heard mixed with her diminishing sobs. As she watched the tiny bundle of life in front of her quiet down and fall asleep, she decided to name him Kaidus, with Reilt as his middle name meaning ‘Silent one’.
After calming down and thinking things through, Troyle dared not return to the house that day. Instead, he went around the village, asking for information and looking for clues on anyone who came through the village with gray or white hair. No one had any information, and those who did, were old people telling him of legends with people with gray silver and white hair. No one in the town had white hair. Most of the villager’s hair color was predominantly brown. There were only three people with blue hair, seven families with blonde, a few of those with red like his own, and two other families with black like Adalina.
No one had ever seen anyone with anything close to gray hair not to even mention white, ever since times immemorial.
Looking at the evidence before him, Troyle had no choice but to accept the facts that the child was undoubtedly his.
Yet with the midwife’s incessant gossip and his own inquiries, the rumor that his wife had giving birth to a white-haired demon quickly became known throughout the village.
With the rumors, Adalina could do nothing but take their jeers while bringing up her child. The indifferent attitude toward their family when they first moved in was now full of contempt. After much investigation and deliberation, Troyle had apologized to her and believed that Kaidus was his child, but when he is off on patrol, he could not protect her from the glares of the villagers nor their scorn. Her previous abundant jobs of helping out around the village slowly declined, and the previous payments drastically dropped to barely a fraction of their prior pay. Always having to bring her child along when she is working, she can feel the disdain from those she passes, yet the majority of the gazes were not even focused on her, but at the child whose only sin was being born into the world. She hated herself for it. She hated how due to her love, she had brought him into this world, and because of that love, unable to set him free from a fate of hate and loneliness.
The only ones whom she did not feel such gazes from, were her husband, children too young to understand, and those who has known such scrutiny and contempt.
Then there was the child. As if sticking to his middle name, Kaidus grew up in silence. There were times when she feared that his eerie silence helped to reinforce the rumors, but such thoughts were quickly extinguished by her maternal instincts. Kaidus always remained quiet, but whenever hungry, he would cry at the top of his lungs just like when he was born. As he grew and his vision became apparent, she would sometimes notice eyes filled with intelligence, quietly observing and examining his surroundings. Occasionally when looking at him, she would notice him staring back at her. Love and fear would war inside her. Upon staring at such a small and inquisitive face, she would recall how happy she felt when she gave birth to him, but adversely how unfortunate he is to have been born with such traits. This regret would overwhelm her often causing her to break down in tears.
By the beginning of Grunei, Kaidus had already started to crawl, and the silence became more prevalent. Instead of crying, he just tugged on her for her milk whenever he was hungry. At home, setting him down while she cooked, he would often disappear but would always be found in the backyard sitting on the grass, just staring into the distance.
As his curiosity grew and as if he can understand what she says, she would often speak to him and tell him stories. She would spend hours just talking to him while she worked. She talked about insignificant things such as having pets, what she liked to eat, who wanted what to be washed, how sharp her kitchen knife was, and so on. Other times, about life, how to farm, how she grew up, what kind of plants she used to pick in the forest when she still lived with her parents, and other useful tips of life. Catching him looking at something, she would pick him up and name it for him while pointing it out.
By the end of Grunei, the boy had already started toddling around and started to refuse her milk whenever she tried to feed him.
As usual he would tug on her signifying his hunger, but instead of taking breast milk, he would push toward her own meals. Knowing that a few of his baby teeth had come out, she had spooned him a small piece of mashed derilt root from her bowl a while back, and ever since then, he only eaten solid food and would always refuse her milk.
After a hard day’s work on the field helping to weed the newly planted furuce, her pay was 5 erns. The usual pay was 15 erns per day, but since less and less people had started employing her, she had begged for the job to help with the farm, and was reluctantly accepted at the measly pay of 5 erns.
Walking home from the field, she would take detours along paths less traveled and used her talents from her old life to scavenge and scrounge for edible herbs roots and plants to supplement the need to shop for such things. She met a hunter on the way back to the village and had procured a small piece of a scaly hare for 2 erns. Meat was expensive, but since today was a special day, she decided to surrender the money.
Kaidus had watched her patiently as she cooked the piece of scaly hare into a stew—with plenty of derilt root and dry ciscut leaves chopped into fine pieces. Dried herbs were also added with salt to season the stew. After the stew was ready, she scooped most of the nutritious scaly hare into a bowl, and blew on it to cool it down before giving it to Kaidus.
Meat was not a rare treat in the house due to the fact that Troyle would bring some home whenever he comes back, but scaly hares were extremely rare within the village. They were also very delicious and rich in fat while the meat were filled with unfathomable flavors, coupled with the fact that they spent their lives underground only appearing nearing the end of Alivai to breed, she was quite lucky to have procured some.
As she finished what little scaly hare she got in her stew and began sip the broth, she lifted her head up to watch Kaidus eat, only to see him staring back at her. With his cute adorable face looking at her curiously, she smile at him. “Happy name day.” she voiced, trying to look strong for the child.
The boy had never troubled her ever since he was born. He never made a sound even when people were yelling around him, never cries out besides when he is hungry, and even when the pressure of life and the village has gotten too much to bear and she would cry, he would just stare at her as if unsure of what to do. He was quiet most of time and she could never figure him out. Yet his actions never bothered her nor caused her to worry, instead, she would talk to him about various subjects even if he never made a sound back.
‘Such a wonderful child, and all I can do for him is to try and shield him from the hate. Even for his name day, I could do nothing but give him something to eat. How I wish I had more to give him.’ The thoughts trickled in as she watched him, and tears began to swell out of her eyes.
Staring back at her, the boy slowly opened his mouth twice as if to speak, then, “Why do you cry?” A small voice came out of his tiny mouth with crisp clarity.
Her tears immediately stopped. Surprised and at a loss for words, she could only stare back at the boy.