NaNoWriMo story still marching on 🙂
It does not take long for the Sparrows to break out of the thicket and explore the forest, finding it mostly uninhabited and the few people they do find quickly flee upon seeing them, scared of death or something worse at the hands of the unknown barbarians. In only a few days the clan has the whole forest from the Blue River to the Ice Creek all to themselves, hunting and eating happily even as the weather grows colder and word of their presence spreads down river to the capital of the country they unintentionally inhabited and began to take over. The waters runs clear and the fish is plentiful, though the frost on the grass is a warning of the winter coming closer and closer. “Da!” Urzoth shoots up and looks around, spotting Lana not to far away holding something with two older boys standing over her “Da don’t let them hurt it!” She holds the bundle closer and steps back, the boys back off upon seeing Urzoth’s near black eyes boring into the them.
“Lana, what is wrong?” He calmly walks over, the boys parents coming close quickly.
“She has our rabbit.” One boy grumbles, his parents pulling him close.
“Is that true Lana?” Urzoth looks at his daughter, her dark eyes looking up at him pleading silently “Lana?” She sighs and looks away before revealing her bundle to be a small white rabbit.
“Yes, da.” Urzoth frowns seeing the little creature, shaking, hurt, bleeding slightly.
“Why did you take the rabbit?”
“They were torturing the poor thing!” She pulls the bundle close again, Urzoth looks to the boys then to their parents.
“Boys,” He kneels down to their level looking them in the eye “How did that little rabbit get so injured?”
“It was his idea! He set the trap and then left it there to bleed!” The smaller of the boys blurts out before looking over his shoulder at his father “I’m sorry, da. I didn’t know what to do.” His father frowns, gripping his boy’s shoulder tightly.
“Urzoth, let me deal with my child.” Urzoth nods and the father and son walk away, heading toward the thicket’s edge.
“Is that what happened, son?” Urzoth looks to the other boy, seriousness and compassion written on his features.
“Its just a rabbit I don’t see what the big deal is.” He grumbles, Urzoth places a heavy hand on his shoulder.
“Son, all things are connected. Torturing this defenseless animal for fun, its cruel and leads to dangerous things.” The boy jerks away.
“Its a rabbit! A stupid rabbit and your stupid daughter took it from me.” Urzoth stands and looks to the boys parents.
“Deal with him as you see fit. If he does it again, I will deal with it.” The father nods.
“Thank you, brother.” Urzoth nods and lets the man direct his son away.
“What about her! She’s the thief!” He protests.
“Urzoth will deal with Lana as he sees fit now shut your mouth.” Urzoth turns to Lana and kneels down, the girl holds the rabbit close.
“Let me see it child.” She nods and opens her arms, the creature is terrified as Urzoth reaches for it, it bites him that does not deter him from taking the rabbit from his daughter. “Theft is bad, but what those boys were doing is worse, do you understand Lana?”
“Yes da.” Urzoth stands and turns “What’s going to happen to the rabbit?”
“It is to weak to released, I will see what the healer thinks but I promise nothing.” She nods sadly and looks down.
“Ok da…” Urzoth looks at the little creature, already so close to death, and sighs. He walks to the healer’s tent and crawls in, doing his best to cradle the rabbit, the healer glances up and arches an eyebrow.
“That is a new one, Urzoth. What brings you and your little friend here?” The chief sighs and hands off the rabbit.
“Two boys tortured the poor thing. What can be done for it?” The healer looks up from the rabbit surprised.
“At this point?” Urzoth nods “Death would be a mercy for the little thing.”
“I was hoping you wouldn’t say that….” Urzoth sighs and closes his eyes.
“Why do you say that, Urzoth?”
“Lana… Has she not seen enough death already? Is there no way to save that little thing?” The healer shakes his head.
“The mercy has already been done, Urzoth.” The chief opens his eyes and looks at the little rabbit.
“So it is gone then…” The healer nods and Urzoth rises slowly before stepping out of the tent.
“What do you want me to do with it?” The healer calls after him, Urzoth pauses a moment, looking across the town to his daughter, playing with other girls her age.
“Bury it, please.” The healer groans and looks at the limp body, still warm.
“As the chief commands.” The healer stands up slowly and exits, keeping a close eye on chief and daughter as he makes his way into the thicket to bury the little rabbit. Lana glances over and sees the healer, she knows what has happened but she turns back to her game without so much as shedding a single tear.
“Lana,” She turns to her father with a smile “Come here child.” He offers her his hand and she takes it allowing him to pull her up “Sorry, ladies, I’ll bring her back soon.”
“You better, she’s the most important person.” One girl huffs “Who else will lose to me?” They giggle but Lana sticks her tongue out.
“You wish I’d lose to you.” More giggles and friendly face making before Urzoth pulls Lana away.
“Sweetest one, I’m sorry but there was nothing to be done for your little friend.” She nods.
“I know da, I saw the healer sneaking away.”
“Its ok to cry, you know.” She smiles and shakes her head.
“I think I’ve cried enough,” She smiles at him “at least for now.” Urzoth nods and pulls her close, hugging her tightly.
“You’ve been so brave, child.” He pulls away “Go and finish your game now, I will make us dinner.”
“Thank you da.” Lana smiles and takes off, running back to her friends while Urzoth goes to the streams edge and grabs a spear. He jumps in scattering the fish before holding still, spear at the ready, slowly the fish return, swirling around his ankles while he waits. Finally he makes his move spearing two fish at once and pulling them out of water, he smiles to himself and takes them to the garbage pile that the Sparrow had begun to form, he slices them open and removes the guts of each before going back to his tent and setting them to cook on a large flat rock beside a roaring fire. When they are done he calls out, Lana runs back to her tent and sits across from the fire, devouring the fish happily.
“What did you do today?”
“I played frog, and freeze, then we played tag, and I saved the rabbit, then we played tower and I won, da. I won towers.” Lana smiles, very proud of herself.
“Good job, I’m glad you had a good day.” The conversation returns to silence only interrupted by the crickets and frogs outside.
“Hey da, can you tell me a story?” Urzoth thinks for a moment before nodding.
“Of course, do you want to lay down first?” Lana smiles and quickly climbs into her bed roll, Urzoth lays on top of his and waits for her to get comfortable.
“Ready.” She looks at him happily.
“Alright, once upon a time in a land far beyond the stars above there roamed a giant named Malgamor, and he was a fearsome giant, he could devour hole villages in a single day and cities trembled with his heavy foot steps. But for all his reputation Malgamor desired only one thing.”
“Gold.” Lana whispers with a smile.
“Aye, that’s right. Gold. The giant had his eyes on the treasure of Lenlotta but the treasure was guarded by a brave and noble warrior, the gentle Lady of the Lost Lake; she stood watch day in and day out, waiting for Malgamor to show his face but after weeks of waiting she gave up, deciding that he was no longer worth her time if he was going to be a coward. Upon hearing what the lovely lady thought of him Malgamor went into a rage and broke into the vault of Lenlotta, only to meet Lady of the Lost Lake. Her beauty was like nothing he’d ever seen, her hair as brilliant as gold, eyes of sapphire, and skin like moonlight; he was stunned by her, so stunned he scarcely noticed the gold and jewels around him. Malgamor the Bone Breaker, the Pillager, the Destroy was head over heels-”
“In love.” Lana sighs happily, Urzoth smiles.
“In love. So much so that he did not notice the stern words leaving her mouth nor her drawn weapon, as he approached she stepped back and warned him to stay away, but he did not heed her words and so upon his next advance Lady of the Lost Lake charged, cutting out his heart which landed with a dull splat on the vault ground. Malgamor died there within his most desired treasure while Lady of the Lost Lake watched his body crumble to nothing. The End.”
“That’s such a sad story, da.” Lana smiles at her father, eyes beginning to close.
“It is, but it has always put you to sleep.” He smiles back at her. “Sleep child, tomorrow is a new day and a new day means new things.”
“Good night da.”
“Good night Lana.” The fire dies slowly as they sleep, in far away towns word spreads of the outsiders, but nothing can be done about them, a messenger is dispatched but still the people must wait and pray that they are spared from the barbarians sword.