“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?