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Odd (Wo)man Out

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When Belgarion, King of Riva, had been given the momentary view of a sea of tiny red-headed little girls by the Voice of the Prophecy, he hadn’t really thought it through. He ended up knee deep in tiny Dryads who were frighteningly like their mother. However, he both loved all of the little girls, and their Geran, fully and completely.

His sixth daughter was born just like the rest. She had blue eyes and no hair like the others, and was given a fairly Alorn name like her sisters. In her case, Amalia.

However, when she turned 6 weeks old, she took a turn in a totally different direction. Instead of her eyes darkening to an emerald green and her hair beginning to grow in that deep coppery auburn that all of his daughters shared with his wife, she was different. Her eyes only slightly darkened to a soft grey, and her hair grew in dark with a small white patch.

In truth, Amalia looked shockingly like his Aunt Pol. From what he’d heard from her, their bloodline had been fairly saturated with Alorns, but not really any variety in particular. Many of the mothers/ grandmothers had dark hair but the sandy blonde seemed to be dominant in the boys. The only time that one of the descendants of Riva Iron-Grip had more than one child was when they married Cherek women. They often ended up with several extra daughters. Clearly, even forces as titanic as Prophecies couldn’t stem their fertility.

Garion, however, had broken the cycle that the world had been stuck in until that cosmic accident. In his situation, Ce’Nedra’s dominant Dryad blood had overpowered everything else once Geran was born. Until Amalia. It seemed like all of the blood of the many dark haired women he was descended from had decided to show up in his little girl.

One of the many particularities of Dryads was that they were hierarchical. They were willful, occasionally whiny, and quite clever, but every one of his daughters deferred to Ce’Nedra. It was somewhat frightening to watch how dominant Ce’Nedra was over their little clutch of daughters, but when he brought it up to her she just shrugged it off as a Dryad thing. The one time she attempted to explain it, she compared it to wolf pack dynamics. Garion didn’t want to think about that too much.

This little girl, however, wouldn’t be dominated.

Amalia had all of those willful Dryad traits, but she refused to accept his wife as any kind of ultimate authority. She rather reminded Garion of his friends’ children. Geran had been exceptionally good natured and well behaved, partially because he had some very disturbing memories of his year and a half away from his parents. Amalia didn’t have anything to sober her, and she was part Dryad.

This frustrated Ce’Nedra to no end.

While she didn’t dominate over her daughters to any degree more than she did her husband and son, it did help control the more.. Difficult traits her daughters had inherited from her. But Amalia wouldn’t listen. She refused to do anything she didn’t deem ‘necessary.’ That definition varied from day to day, unfortunately. Some days that meant that she ran around in her cotton shift. Some days that meant she refused to sit and learn things with her sisters. It all came to a head very soon after her twelfth birthday.

By this point, Ce’Nedra was choosing her battles. She was highly frustrated and slightly embittered by the whole thing, choosing to spend most of her time with the other girls. Amalia, being very young, got jealous about the whole business. She lashed out, becoming more disobedient. Garion, however, had continued to reach out to her after Ce’Nedra seemed to have given up. As a result, Amalia was more likely to listen to him than any of the other adults.

After this long, obviously, Aunt Pol had been summoned. Neither Garion nor Ce’Nedra wanted to admit defeat, that they couldn’t raise their daughter properly, but they were out of options. The hope was to send her home with Aunt Pol for a while, let her get away from the Citadel, her mother, and her life as a Princess so that she might calm down a little bit and grow up.

Amalia wasn’t a cruel child, nor was she stupid. She was simply stubborn and refused to be taught. Truthfully, she loved her family dearly. She just didn’t understand why her mother expected unquestioning obedience, or why her older sisters gave it. “Because she’s Mother,” wasn’t a good enough reason. The older she got, the more she wanted to push and question, as pre-teens were apt to do. And Ce’Nedra didn’t know what to do without her Dryad dominance to help curb her daughters enough to teach them to harness their literally inhuman stubbornness and flightiness.

Today, Ce’Nedra was out of patience. She and her constantly disheveled pre-teen were arguing about Amalia’s hair. She never liked to brush it or do much of anything to it. Ce’Nedra, on the other hand, wanted all of her children to be at least somewhat neat and tidy at all points. Geran had learned this the hard way with washing of ears. However, Geran was a bit more mellow than his sisters, more likely to give in to his mother if it avoided a session with her very penetrating voice scolding him. Amalia was too stubborn to give in.

Even at twelve, Amalia was taller than her mother by a fair margin. So she did not feel anywhere nearly as intimidated by her mother as her sisters. As her mother yelled at her, detailing her many failings repetitively, she felt her frustration and hurt build and build and build. Finally, it burst out of her in a screamed sentence.

“Leave me alone!”

To the surprise of both, there was a massive crack, and Ce’Nedra disappeared.

Amalia stared at her hands in shock. Had she done that? She started at the sound of running feet. On instinct, she threw herself behind the thick, long window curtains, muffling the sounds of her sobs in the drapery until she fell asleep.

It was a few hours before she woke to the realization that someone had moved the curtain. She flinched back without thinking. She was in so much trouble.

“What happened?” a warm, comforting woman’s voice asked.

“I,” Amalia broke into sobs again. “I was just so frustrated . She’s always trying to make me be like her, but I’m not. I don’t like fussing with my hair or my clothes or anything. And I don’t listen to her as well as my sisters do but I don’t want to when I don’t think she’s right. But I just wanted her to leave me alone, I didn’t want her to be gone !” She looked up into a pair of light grey eyes.

“I’m your Aunt Pol,” the lady said to her. “And your mother is fine, you sent her to her and Garion’s room. She’s not hurt, though she’s angry. Your father is working on calming her down.” Amalia’s lip began to wobble again. “You seem to have completely thwarted the dominance of Dryad blood, young lady.”

“I’ve always been different from my sisters,” she whispered. “I always got along better with Daddy and Geran.”

“Well, for one,” Aunt Pol said. “You’re a sorceress, it looks like. Just like me. Just like your father is a sorcerer.”

“A sorceress?” Amalia’s eyes had changed from a dark, stormy grey to a slightly lighter one.

“A sorceress,” Aunt Pol affirmed. “You can use your Will to make things happen. Just never try to wake the dead, don’t unmake anything, and never do anything impossible. You will die.” Amalia’s eyes were wide as she nodded. “Now, your father had previously asked me to take you home with me. To help you get a little bit of distance from your mother and allow you to become your own person without you two butting heads constantly. If you do, I can help you learn to control your power.”

“Okay,” Amalia said in a scratchy voice.

“Now if you go with me, you have to promise me something. Promise me that you’ll always let me explain why I’m telling you to do something, okay? You are welcome to question me. You are welcome to disagree with me. But you need to listen to me.”

“Why?” Amalia challenged, testing her aunt.

“Not heeding my instruction could kill you,” Aunt Pol said flatly. “You are extremely powerful, it’s true. But you are not limitless. I can show you how to safely test your limits without the danger of death.” Amalia shrunk into herself. Aunt Pol spoke again, speaking more gently this time. “I understand why you have become the person you have become. But you will need to set that aside to be the person that you were obviously meant to be.” Amalia nodded. “Now, I’m going to bring Garion in here, and you two can say your farewells and we can be off. I think it would be prudent to get you off of this island as quickly as possible.” Aunt Pol swept away, leaving Amalia shocked.

Soon enough, Garion strode over to his highly distraught daughter. She looked at him, lower lip trembling, before throwing herself into his arms.
“I’m so sorry, Father!” she wailed.

“I know,” he soothed. “It was an accident, and one no one was prepared for. No one got hurt. That’s what’s important.” He stroked her dark hair for a few moments and let her cry herself out. “Amalia, you need to go let Aunt Pol teach you how to use your power,” he said to her then. “You cannot refuse to train it. It won’t be ignored, it won’t go away. It’ll just burst out of you at random moments and inopportune times such as today. Listen to her. Please, youngling?”

“I will,” Amalia’s voice was thick and scratchy. “I’ll miss you, Father. And Mother. And Geran and my sisters.”

“It’s not forever,” Garion promised his daughter. “One day things will calm down. You will grow into yourself. Your mother will learn to accept that you may be different, but you are still her daughter. Honestly,” he added wryly. “I think this will help because now we understand why.”

“I don’t understand why,” Amalia replied, a note of complete honesty in her voice.

“Someone needs you,” Garion said. “I’m not sure if it’s the Purpose, or Aldur, or even someone else. But someone needs you. For all I know, it could be Eriond. But you’re needed for something, likely something important. Aunt Pol and Grandfather are the ones best equipped to help you figure out what that is.” Amalia nodded. Garion’s lips quirked in a half smile. “I’ll miss you little one,” he said to his youngest daughter. Her lips quivered again.

Without a word, Aunt Pol reappeared, reaching a hand out to Amalia with a smile.

When Amalia took her aunt’s hand, they all heard a dry voice in their heads triumphantly declare And done!