Friday, June 19, 2009
“I demand to know who you are before we go one step further!” insisted Gwen, defiantly ignoring the obvious fact that she was captive to this man’s every inclination.
“Philani” was his curt reply.
Before Gwen knew what was happening, she was shrouded in darkness, and Philani had tightly tied her hands together in front of her. But as she began to protest, the man eased the horse into a quick trot.
“What are you doing?!” she cried out.
“Can’t have you running off and finding your way back, now can we?” Gwen could hear the smirk in his voice.
He urged the horse into a slow canter, gradually picking up speed.
“Are you taking us across the border?” she cried.
He ignored her, and pressed the mare faster.
Kasane was surrounded by an invisible border, marked by 13 posts made of èrythrite, an elven material. Èrythrite is designed to transmit information occurring between itself back to Kasane’s gatekeepers. This meant that anyone exiting the borders, at any time, was known. It was the system they had set up when Tau had been vanquished, to safeguard Kasane. Lesedi had also placed an elven sanction on the town, which guarded anyone from entering, except through the Premier Gateway and the western minor gate.
Gwen had spent many of her childhood days sitting at the main gate watching the comings and goings of strangers and friends alike. Other than that, however, she had never ventured far from the town’s center and the settlements of dwellings scattered throughout the hills of Kasane. Now, as she darted on horseback around the trees of the Northern Forest, she wondered what would happen as they crossed the border.
“We’re about to find out…” murmured Philani, whether from reading her mind or from his own musings, Gwen wasn’t sure.
Gwen knew the implications of this decision. Lesedi and the rest of the gatekeepers would know immediately when the border had been breached. Not only that, they would know their exact coordinates.
“HYAH!” yelled Philani, and the horse fought to gallop harder than she already was.
The quiet hum of the èrythrite grew louder and louder, and all at once Gwen’s darkness became darker and she slumped down in the arms of Philani. They had passed the border, and she had passed out.
Kgose, the warrior captain, was reclining in his chamber, intent on a map of Kasane, when someone hurriedly entered the front vestibule.
“Kgose, my lord!” It was one of the gatekeepers.
What does he want? “Yes?”
“The border has been breached, my lord.”
“The border? Where?”
“From the Northern Forest,” the gatekeeper replied.
“Thank you; I shall consult Lesedi about it,” said Kgose.
The gatekeeper bowed slightly at the waist, their sign of respect, and hurried back to the Gateway. Kgose rose immediately to locate Lesedi. He was halfway to Lesedi’s dwelling place, when he spotted him heading toward the center of town.
“Lesedi! I need to speak with you!”
“And I you,” he replied. “The border?”
“Yes, what news?”
“Someone on horseback. Just now. Exiting through the Northern Forest.”
“Who would be leaving Kasane through the Northern Forest?” mused Kgose aloud.
“Probably just some lovesick elf running away to find his bride,” joked Lesedi.
“Or an agent of Tau,” came the muttered reply.
“I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, but if you want to go on a wild goose chase, I won’t stop you. That is, assuming you can spare any soldiers right now.”
“I can’t,” Kgose grumbled. “But what if I’m right and it is a spy? Kasane could be compromised!”
“Well, my lord, my advice is to focus on what we know—Tau’s forces are lined up ready to advance on our minor gate at the western end of Kasane. We have no choice but to defend ourselves there. However, if you are convinced you can spare the soldiers, send someone to track this lovesick elf. I will support whatever decision you make.”
Does Kgose go after Gwen and Philani, or take Lesedi’s advice and chalk it up to a lovesick elf?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
“Why wouldn’t Papa send to
Putting aside her strong commitment to her father, Gwen decided to go to
Kgose the warrior captain had employed a trusted advisor since he gained his rank after the village was established. But Lesedi was more than just an employee; he was a dear friend, and had been close with the entire family for years. As Gwen came upon his dwelling, she could barely hear the quiet hum of his clear baritone voice coming from the back. She slid around the outside of the house to find him busy with something in his garden.
“Why is he at home instead of with Papa and the warriors?” thought Gwen. But Lesedi was intent on his task and had not noticed Gwen. She quietly crept over to the side door and eased it open slowly. Moving quickly, she leapt inside and began to fill her pockets with the necessary staples: cheese, cheese, and more cheese. If cheese were a liquid, it would be the nectar of the gods. Just for good measure, she grabbed a cloth out of the kitchen and wrapped up some more cheese in it. Double-checking that Lesedi was still occupied with his mysterious task in the garden, she took a huge bite out of a cheese block on the counter and squeezed her slender body out the door, gingerly picking her way to the edge of the forest.
It would be no easy feat to get across the forest border of Kasane, but Gwen knew there was no way she’d get through the main gate without a lot of questions, much less without detection. And even if she could make up a story that would allow her no resistance at the gate, once the gatekeepers discovered the truth they’d be after her like an elf after cheese.
As Gwen came closer and closer to the forest’s edge, she thought harder and harder to come up with a plan to get her across the border. She was so immersed in her thoughts she didn’t even noticed the young man who had emerged from the trees.
“And just what’s a young miss like you doing so close to the border when everyone else seems to be gathered especially close to the village center?”
“Young miss? I’m older than you think,” Gwen said with an annoyed and haughty air and kept walking, quickening her pace.
The man stepped directly in front of her, stopping her abruptly. His voice lowered as he looked piercingly into her eyes, “You didn’t answer my question.”
“Who are you?” Gwen demanded, ignoring his query.
“There are more important things you should be concerned about.”
“Such as…?” Gwen’s guard was up. She had never seen this man in Kasane and was sure she shouldn’t trust him. He spoke in such a cryptic manner… what could he be hiding?
“Such as the fate of your family.” He produced a delicate necklace with a large amber stone and began fingering it.
“What do you know about my family?” Gwen was now very nervous, and the sight of her mother’s necklace did not help. This man was up to no good, and she had the feeling that she was in grave danger.
“If you want them to live, you will come with me.” The man let out a shrill whistle and a beautiful, strong horse cantered into view. “I wish no harm on your family, but if you resist, you will leave me no choice. Come willingly and I can guarantee their safety… and yours.”
Does Gwen resist the man and flee for her life, or go willingly with him in hopes of saving her family?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The brilliant blue wings of the butterfly fluttered subtly as Gwen gently cupped her hand around it. The butterfly came to rest in her delicate elven hand as she gazed serenely at the intricate creation within her grasp. Gwen had a penchant for the finer details in life and the invisible
Almost imperceptibly, a deep rumbling came from the heart of the green earth. The butterfly’s peaceful perch began to shake, and it darted away. Curious, Gwen rested her fair head softly against the ground listening… listening… The rumbling grew louder and louder, until it seemed that the pounding originated within her chest.
A huge smile spread across her face as the source of the poundings came into view over the hill: the entire Kasane army marching in unison. Gwen leapt up from the ground and gazed intently at the warriors as they passed by. Since she was a little girl Gwen’s father had captained the warriors of Kasane. There were many memories of the early mornings when she would watch with pride as the warriors passed through the village.
But something was different today. The battle-hardened faces of the elven army held a measure of intensity not usually present. Gwen bounded gracefully down the hillside towards the line of warriors, but was halted by her father’s sudden presence at her side.
“Gweniliere, you mustn’t follow us today. Go home to your mother and help her watch after your brothers and sisters. They need you.”
“Papa, what’s happening? Where are the troops moving to?”
“Tau has returned. Go home, Gwen.”
“Tau? He’s back? But that’s impossible! Lesedi placed a guard over the gates after Tau was vanquished. He would have no way of locating Kasane… how can he be back?!”
“Let us worry about that. He’s back, and there’s no time to lose. Return home and keep the peace as best you can.”
But the peace of the morning had been shattered, and Gwen’s heart plummeted. If Tau had located the city, he may already be within the borders!
“Will you be taking the warriors to meet him outside the city? Do Mahalapye and Chobe know of his return? You’re going to send someone to
“We can’t spare any of our warriors with Tau at our door!” The captain’s face softened as he held his oldest daughter’s gaze. “And right now I need you to be strong for me. Can you do that, mudiwa?”
Gwen felt uneasy at his response, but melted at the sound of her father’s name for her, “beloved.” “You know I’m strong enough, Papa.”
“That’s my girl. This will be over before you know it.” And with that, the warrior captain was gone.
YOU CHOOSE:Does Gwen follow her father’s instructions and go home to help her family, or follow her instincts and go to