In Thread Slivers Ticca is a strong young woman, highly trained in combat and tactics. She didn’t start off like that, she was born a farmer’s daughter in Rhini Wood far away from the dangers and excitements of the great cities. One of the questions often asked by numerous characters throughout the Golden Threads Trilogy is “Who is Ticca?” Many of the power player characters have something to say on this topic. For example:
“Ticca! Stop killing people I want to torture to death!” — Duke
“[Ticca] is not what she appeared to be.” — Urio-Larne
“Who is Ticca really?” — Elades
“This must be Ticca. She really is as young and inexperienced a Dagger as the reports initially suggested. She must have enormous natural talent and be a born leader too. … Damn she is strong-willed! … could she really be older than she looks? … Who is this woman?” — Warlord Maru-Ashua
“….that is the silk sword style of Yalthum blade masters! How could a farming girl raised in the far southern Rhini woods learn that technique?” — Ditani
“New standing orders: if Ticca comes back, do not oppose her in anything.” — Duke
This is a small peek into Ticca’s childhood before she started training as a Dagger answering part of the interesting question, “Who is Ticca?”
“The Best Day, Until Tomorrow.” (A Ticca of Rhini Wood short story, 1893 words)
The world was crushing me. I was being ground into the dirt I was tilling. I felt the weight of the world as it spun in the void of space. The heat made it hard to breathe; while each breath dried my throat and stole precious water from me as I exhaled. My loose cotton shirt, once white now a dull cream from the dust was stained with sweat and dirt. Sweat ran down my back leaving trails that itched worse than insect bites. I wiggled to make my shirt unstick itself from my back for a moment.
Looking down at my chest, I could see the shirt was sticking to my breasts. Well I called them breasts. I kept wishing I didn’t have them or that they’d get off their lazy butts and finish growing out. If I was a boy, my dad might let me hunt instead of till the fields, and if I had proper breasts, my dad would probably treat me more like a girl and let me work in the house where there was at least some shade and plenty of water.
Dad’s voice surprised me. “Come on, Ticca. Do you have to stop at every turn? I swear if you just plowed through you’d be nearly done.”
The fields stretched out before me. On my left were the freshly tilled furrows of the rich brown earth, and on my right, the remaining weed-filled uneven field that had been left fallow the last season. I only had a quarter of the field left to do. I figured if I timed this right I could make this all I had to do today.
Sighing loudly, I looked at my Dad who had stopped but not put down the wheelbarrow full of fertilizer. “Dad, Ruli is tired. I’m just giving him a break.”
As if to scold me for the exaggeration, Ruli neighed loudly, looked back at me, and then leaned into his harness, pulling the four blade plow a little.
“Ruli doesn’t seem to agree with you. Ticca, we need to get this field prepared for the planting today.” Dad looked at me for a moment and then shook his head. “You know your mother loved working the land.”
“I’m not Mom. I’m sorry, Dad, really I am, but I don’t want to be a farmer. I like the work a little, but this isn’t me.”
Dad looked at me sadly. I hated it when he looked at me like that, like he was never going to see me again, like Mom. Damn it! I’m not Mom! I’m stronger. I survived the illness that killed her four years ago. Tears started coming to my eyes as I remembered lying in the sick room with her, both of us coughing and choking. We had just celebrated my seventh birthday when Mom had found the dying man in the woods. We thought he had been poisoned by one of the many snakes or spiders in the area. Little did we know, it was far worse.
Mom and Dad brought him to our house where he died, as Mom administered to him. One week later, Mom started coughing. Not long after that, I passed out fetching eggs. Time blurred after that.
After what seemed like weeks of coughing and fevered dreams, it happened. I dreamed my mother had stepped over to me and kissed me on the forehead with the saddest look I have ever seen. She said, “You be strong; he is almost here. Hold on my little flower. Fight, never stop fighting. Be strong and fight; you can do so much. I’m sorry I failed you. I love you.” Mom walked away looking back at me with a sad, longing look in her eyes. I screamed at her to come back. I begged the gods; I pleaded for her to fight too.
I woke up; people were carrying Mom’s body out of the room while Dad kneeled next to me crying into my blankets. I screamed again and cried with Dad.
My coughing got worse after that, but, I fought it. Mom told me to fight, and I fought hard. I tried to move a little, lift a leg or arm. I was so weak, and the coughing seemed to never end, wracking my whole body until I didn’t have the energy to cough anymore. It took all I had to fight to keep gasping for breath at that point because it was like drowning.
Two days later, Uncle Faltla rushed into my room with Dad. They propped me up and forced me to drink some water that Uncle Faltla had in a glass lined canteen. I remember Dad looking so happy, as I drank the water. It didn’t make any sense. It was just water; it had no taste at all. I still don’t understand it. After I had drank all I could manage, they laid me back down, and I closed my eyes.
I know they thought I was asleep because they talked softly. My Dad refused to leave me when uncle asked him to, so they had stayed in the room. I remember every word of that conversation. I still don’t know what many of the words were. I keep looking for them. One day I’ll find out, and then I’ll know even more. I’ll never forget it because it changed me forever.
“I killed two horses making the trip. I had to run the last few miles. I’m so sorry I wasn’t fast enough for Lanni.”
“You were fast enough for Ticca. I’m thankful enough for that. She is stronger; she shares our blood.”
“We should give Ticca Lanni’s canteen. They will infuse her now, but it will take time. They will be concentrating on fighting this disease. More will help speed things up. Her gene encoding will reprogram them into the family system. In a few weeks ,she’ll be fully resistant and have a complete compliment.”
“You’re right,” Dad sighed. “Oh my brother, what have we done?”
“Nothing that wouldn’t have happened sooner or later. Eventually she would have traveled to one of the cities or gotten some food product with active units here. Don’t worry. I doubt a farmer’s child, or woman from Rhini for that matter, would be invited anywhere that would reveal her.”
“You’re right, but now when she gets near, they will know of her instantly. What if they awaken?”
“They have slept for over five thousand years; at this point, I doubt the Assembly will ever vote to awaken them. In their dormant state, she may travel as anonymously as anyone else. She is strong, and we’ll guide her. You really should let me train her.”
“NO! I’ll not have my daughter put in so much danger. She can be happy and safe here. She’ll grow, marry, and give you and me another generation. Perhaps one of her children will be the next guardian for you to train.”
“Your will, brother. I am no longer in command. But, for the record, I think you’re wrong. She has a powerful spirit, natural grace, and is burning with potential strength. Look how long she held on unaided against the Elraci wasting disease. You and I both know she should have died before Lanni.”
Dad sighed, and I heard him pat Uncle. “You are right. But still I forbid it. I will keep her safe.”
That is the day everything changed. I stopped being a baby and started growing. I listen now. Oh how I listen. I watch. It is amazing how much you can learn by simply observing.
Dad huffed at me. “FINE. I’ll tell you what. You know Faltla is going on that little hunting trip tomorrow for a few days. When you finish the tilling if you also clean all the equipment up, take care of the horses, and feed the animals for me, you can go ask him if you can join him. I can do the planting easy enough with all that taken care of.”
I resisted grinning. That really wasn’t too much extra work, plus it saved me having to ask, and then wear him down into letting me go. I had overheard Uncle planning this trip last week and had already suggested to Dad I might go yesterday just to get the ball rolling. Dad was such an easy target to manipulate. “Well like Uncle says, no one ever drowned in sweat, so dig in.”
Dad groaned at the Dagger idiom. He liked them, but he hated it when I quoted them. At least he stopped looking sad. I really hate sad looks.
With Dad smiling again, I laughed and lightly whipped the reigns. Ruli dug in his hooves and pulled as I controlled the plow. It only took a few more hours to complete the tilling. I worked as fast as I could cleaning and stowing all the gear in the barn. I gave Ruli an extra helping of oats, which he nuzzled my chest and snuffled happily in thanks for. Finally, I fed all the animals before closing the barn doors for the evening with a huge feeling of accomplishment and pride at all the work completed.
I ran as fast as I could across the fields to Uncle’s house. He was there sharpening his knives, and his gear was neatly laid out, cleaned, and ready to be packed for the trip. I skidded to a stop, as I noticed that my gear was also there waiting for my attention. Uncle always made me take care of my own gear.
“Why is my gear here already?”
“Oh your Dad dropped if off this morning when he came by to give me the supplies I needed. We had talked a few days back about letting you go hunting with me.”
“WHAT? I was already going, and he bargained me into all those extra chores? I hate it when he is sneaky.”
Uncle chuckled, “Not as clever as you thought you were hmm. You did get your cleverness from him as well as your mother, you know. No matter. Get your gear ready. We leave at dawn. I’ll be showing you some new traps. Hopefully we’ll get some fine furs for the summer festival. Lord knows we could use some more coin for next winter.”
Sighing, I pulled my gear out. I was tired from all the day’s work; it was already getting late, and I had a few more hours of prep work ahead cleaning, inspecting, and repairing my gear. Uncle would leave me behind if I shirked in taking care of even one leather strap. I know because he did once.
After it got dark, Dad arrived with a huge platter of food, hot arit, and chilled hyly, a sweet malt liquor. Dad sat back, pulling out his guitar while sipping his hyly and played while Uncle and I worked on our gear while eating. I wanted to try the hyly, but neither Uncle nor Dad could be manipulated into that yet. So, I enjoyed my sweet arit while they had the mugs of hyly. While we worked, we sang along with Dad’s playing. I loved singing with my Dad and Uncle.
Laying in my bed and easing sore muscles, I thought the day over. Honestly, I think this was one of the best days I’d ever had. Until tomorrow that is.
Intrigued? Join Ticca in her adventures and find out what happens when she follows her dream to become a Dagger in Thread Slivers
Name: Ticca of Rhini Wood Age: 20 Height: 5’8″ Weight: 8.5 stn Hair: curly dark brown Eye Color: dark brown Birth Date: Aperire 16, 15332 A.F. Born in: Rhini Wood Father: Jorni of Rhini Wood Mother: Lanni of Rhini Wood Nicknames: Little Flower (use not recommended) Bio: Born in Rhini Wood to Jorni and Lanni, local farmers. Ticca’s mother died when she was seven, and her father died when she was eleven. After her father died, Ticca was trained as a Dagger by her Uncle Faltla who is known as the best Dagger of his generation. When she was seventeen, she received three more years of special combat, tactical, and officer training from an unknown master. On her twentieth birthday, she finished her training and moved to Llino to take up the career as a Dagger. She took the work that was available, slowly progressing up the ranks of the Daggers. In six cycles, she had established herself as a competent Dagger and managed to get a permanent Dagger table in the legendary Blue Dolphin Tavern, the first Dagger Home.