Tuesday, September 15. 2009
Posted by Johnny Elbows in The Apprentice Mask
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Since I know how much Pete loves stories that don't get finished, I decided to post the beginning of a new story. If you hate stories that don't get finished, you probably shouldn't read any further, because I will not guarantee that this will be finished.
A flutter of wings, a flurry of feathers, and the bird was gone. The mists of early morning still clung to the sides of the hills, despite the sun’s efforts to burn them away. On the beach, I could hear the children calling to each other as they searched for sand dollars and ran from the crashing breakers. I turned from the balcony into the shadows of my kitchen and began preparing my breakfast. First, an egg, hard boiled and leftover from last night’s dinner. A chunk of garlicky bread, some cheese cured with sea salt, and a bit of smoked fish would do. Eating would occupy the time until my master woke.
I sank down onto the cushion beside the table. Picking absently at my food, I stared through the doorway into the daylight, wondering at the surprising twists of Mora’s loom.
The Dina probably would have passed through our village without incident. Those warriors on their giant horses were on their way to the front; peasants meant nothing to them or their war. They barely noticed that we even existed. I didn’t mean to draw their attention. I wasn’t attacking them, protesting their presence, or even insulting them. I was just throwing rocks. In those days, I threw rocks at everything–my brother, our neighbors’ dogs, even the cows that wandered the overgrown streets of our village. When my rock clanged off the heavy shield that one of the warriors carried strapped to his back, though, everything changed. We went from mere insects to dangerous enemies, and the Dina aren’t known for their mercy.
They rounded us up at the point of lances. Anyone who tried to run was quickly spitted. Those who didn’t run soon wished that they had. Our village soon disappeared behind us as we plodded along behind their horses, our hands tied, our heads bowed. When I dared to look back, the only sign of our homes was the black cloud of smoke on the horizon. I knew that somewhere in those burning buildings, my brother’s spirit was cursing me for throwing rocks, and I shivered in spite of the heat of the afternoon sun.
At nightfall, they gave Mikel a javelin, and told him, “hunt, or be hunted. Your people will eat if you catch anything. If you don’t, they won’t eat. If you try to run, we will follow you, and will leave nothing for the earth or the sky to claim.” It wasn’t much, but that night Mikel was able to kill something, so we ate. Most nights, we weren’t so lucky. We tried to satisfy our hunger by grabbing at the berry brambles at the side of the road, but the Dina never slackened their pace, so we were never able to eat our fill. Fortunately for us, it only took six days to reach the front.
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