It was a hot, scorching day as the young dark haired girl trudged through the fields of her family's farm. The thick reeds of the growing wheat slapped against her bare legs roughly as she pushed through them towards the small, ramshackle house. Her small legs pulling her tiny childlike frame on. She was small for her age. Most thirteen-year-olds were at least two and a half rods high by now... she came in just under two. She could hear Darren and Mykara playing off in the woods just west of the house, their laughter floating freely along the light breeze of the wind. Adjusting the hefty burlap sack across her shoulder, Syndl continued on in the humid heat. A thin veil of sweat beaded across her brow and she was slightly out of breath by the time she reached the front porch of the house. She made sure to skirt around the loose and fallen boards of the steps and jumped nimbly over them. Dropping the sack beside the door, she stepped through the vacant doorway and into the house. The door had long since fallen off it's hinges making Syndl's entrance all the easier.
"Momma...?" she called softly.
She could hear sounds of movement from upstairs. She spied someone's overcoat strewn across a chair in the hallway. It seemed her mother had a visitor and she decided to leave them be. Returning back out onto the porch she took up her sack and carried it around the corner into the shade of the house.
Her hand slipped quietly into the burlap sack and pulled out a handful of mushrooms and plant life. Separating them into neat little piles around her she inspected her day's findings. Several herbs and a few unknown weeds surrounded the young girl. There were a few mushrooms of known and unknown variety but mainly an array of healing leaves, stems and flowers that could be sold at market after drying. Syndl smiled, momma would be happy.
She heard loud, heavy footsteps making their way down the stairs inside the house and she quickly tossed her stash back into her sack. Hefting it again onto her shoulders, she ran towards the front of the house eager to show her findings to her mother. As soon as she jumped the steps and leapt into the house, she ran smack into the large frame of a stranger as he took the last step down off the stairs.
With a loud crash, Syndl fell back on her bum, her sack flying out of her hands and spilling out onto the hard wooden floor.
"Sorry--," she started to say rubbing her backside, but as she looked up at the strange face, her smile faded.
"Who are you?" her eyes drifted up towards the next floor and the stairs this man had just come down and then back at him.
"Let's just say a very close and intimate 'friend' of your mother's..." his dark eyes raked over Syndl's body in a way that made her feel extremely uncomfortable.
"Perhaps a few extra coppers next time and you'll be the one warming my bed." A loud roar of laughter echoed out from his mouth and he pushed his way past the girl stumbling down the broken steps and heading back towards town.
Syndl wasn't quite sure what the man had just been talking about, but it hadn't sounded too good. She moved about collecting her dropped herbs and putting them back into her sack. Syndl was almost done when her mother came down the steps closing the last button of her blouse. A dark bruise was just starting to form an ugly shade of blue on her left cheek.
"Momma.... Who was that man I just saw--"
"You didn't see anyone, Syn. It's time you started minding your own business," her mother snapped quickly.
Taken aback quite a bit, Syndl gathered her sack and carried it into the kitchen. That was when she noticed the array of liquor bottles lining the table. She should have guessed. Her mother had been emptying bottles faster than ever the past few weeks and it always left her in a sour mood.
"Make sure Darren and Mykara eat.... I'll be back by dawn." With that, her mother wobbled down the steps of the porch and made her way to town, most likely some local tavern. Thieves Den had their fair share of those and then some.
Her head hanging and shoulders slumped, Syndl began her nightly ritual of cleaning and cooking while her younger siblings played in waning light of dusk.