Alba Chapter 3

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The Book of Dawn

Once, long ago, in a small harbor town called Fiammetta, perched on the edge of the world, there lived a young girl named Alba. With hair as white as the snow on the tips of Dragonback Mountain, eyes as blue as the Great Mermaid Sea that surrounded the town where rainbow fish swam freely, and skin as brown as the earthy trees of Warlock Woodlands, Alba was a unique girl from other townspeople of fair hair, fair skin, and brown eyes.

Alba was an orphan raised by the sisters of Twin Moon Convent. She was found on the doorstep of Fiammeta’s only lighthouse on an early yellow morning with a note instructed not to be opened until Alba met a stranger with white hair, blue eyes, and brown skin like herself.

Because Alba was a bright, lively, and curious girl, the townspeople would often find her running through the streets getting into some mischief and returning to the convent with scrapes and bruises. If she wasn’t in school or chasing other children along the rampart walls surrounding the town from the forest of Dragonback Mountain, she could be found at the lighthouse, climbing the spiral staircase, her eyes always out to sea in search of something from afar to satisfy her curiosity.

The townsfolk were always a bit weary of curiosity after the last Great Science War. They eyed her suspiciously but never took her seriously. After all, because of her height, she was always seen as a child. What harm could a child bring?

One ordinary sunny day, a stranger strolled into town through the gate—from the side of Dragonback Mountain!

This stranger was old but strong looking. He strode through town with confidence, fearless to the adults gawking and gossiping. He was very tall with long white hair and beard and mustache that came down his chest. His dark wrinkly old skin seemed to be made of dried earth. His blue eyes were the sky pierced around until they came upon Alba and softened with a smile.

While the other children ran away from the stranger, Alba remained still, curious to know where and how this old man came into town. He waved. And she waved back.

“Tell me, my pretty child, if you could do anything, what would you do?”

“I am not a child,” Alba responded defiantly. “I am a young adult. And I want to see the world but I hear there are dragons. Are you a dragon slayer?”

He laughed aloud. “Goodness, me. I’m too old to be slaying dragon. Why don’t you take me to your parents?”

“I don’t have any parents. I live with the sisters. I’ll take you to them. They are very nice to strangers. They took me in when I was a child—I was also a stranger to this town.”

The old man let Alba lead him to the Twin Moon Convent. When he entered the convent, the sisters all gasped in surprise. Mother Superior ushered a young nun to the back who returned with a basket and sadly hands it to Alba.

“The note told us that the letter should not be opened until a stranger who looked like you appears in town. And the stranger has appeared.” Mother Superior addressed Alba but her eyes were on the old man. He did not look surprised as Alba unfolded the letter.

“Dearest Alba,

Your parents have passed to another world and left you to my charge. But I am a broken fool who can barely take care of myself. How can I care for a precious baby. So I left you in Fiammetta where I know there are good people who will take care of you. Know you are not alone. Know you are loved. I entrust upon you the knowledge that your uncle is locked up in Warlock Woodlands.

Forgive my cowardice and weak and small heart. I have so little of it left.

Yours unworthingly.”

The letter was unsigned.

Alba closed the letter and cried. “I want to find the person who wrote this. I want to tell them that I was taken very good care of by the sisters of Fiammetta.”

“How will you find this person?” A sister asked.

“I shall find my uncle first,” Alba responded, wiping her eyes, her chest lifted with bravery. “I will get him out myself.”

“But the Warlock Woodland is so far and so scary,” the sisters lamented.

Alba felt her bravery faltered before the old man placed a hand on her shoulder and surprised everyone by saying, “I will take Alba myself. After all, Alba’s uncle is my son. I only received a letter about you while traveling. I came as soon as I could to find you.”

Everyone cried and hugged Alba, joyously and bittersweetly, knowing she had found a family but would leave them. To Alba though, the sisters would always be family even if blood didn’t bind them.

Chapters 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

Author’s Note

This chapter was originally written in Italian. Since I was only beginning to learn the language, I used a lot of nouns, simple verbs, and adjective. This helped to create that “children-book” tone for this story within a story element.

Much of my inspiration came from my visits to Bogliasco, Italy, which is a very Catholic nation. Though the people there are nice, you can tell when you visit, they can pick out an outsider very quickly. But because I’ve visited a handful of time, the local restaurant owner remembers us and always greets us and chit chats, making it feel like a second home.

You’ll also noticed that I named the town, Fiammetta. This is also the name of a main character from Bocaccio’s Decameron. The name means flickering fire, which is coincides with Alba’s name, meaning Dawn, and also coincides with the lighthouse mentioned in this chapter.