This is in response to a post by Chuck Wendig on his Terrible Minds blog. He requested a thousand word of a work in progress. Well, this isn’t even a thousand, and it isn’t very good. Why post it? To make myself start working on it.
Oh! There she is! Hunter held his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun and concentrating on the distant figure. The form moved further from the trees, into the path cutting through the field and paused.. She must be looking back!
Hunter waved his arms to make himself visible. Seeing no movement from the valley, he climbed onto a boulder, waving as wildly as possible without falling off. Seeing the statuesque figure down in the valley, he paused in thought.
Bigger, she needs something bigger to see. Hunter took off his worn brown dusty outer cloak. Then waving it like a flag above his head counting, one, two, three, four, five. Hunter stopped and looked down to Aimee.. There was movement! At first a small speck growing into a larger fluid shape; something white flowing out and then down. Her shawl! Aimee was waving the white shawl her betrothed, True, gave her on the day of his leaving.
Then it disappeared, soon Aimee was moving along the path beyond the hills to his left, toward the walled city. Hunter watched until Aimee disappeared into the first valley out of his sight. It would be late tomorrow before she would reach the wall after spending the night camping off the well worn dirt route. The trail to King’s House, the seat of the kingdom behind the wall, came and went from view appearing only on the highest of hills and sparsest of forest.
Hunter wouldn’t be able to sit and wait to see her for those brief moments again. As the only male left at home Hunter had work to do. Wandering back through Lone Oak, a village that had seen better days, he made a stop at his aunt’s to check on his mum. He would do his cousin Aimee’s chores before heading home on the outside of the village.
A promise made to his cousin to continue his studies with the Englanders’ scribe meant tonight would be a late night. Aimee, left Hunter her papers, marks and books. Last night she had even brought him a packet of letters to keep safe for her until she returned.
Aimee somberly instructed him when placing the packet of letters tied with a blue ribbon, “If you run out of reading material or Scribe quits you, read these.”
There were few in the village who could read. Before Noble, Hunter’s father, had left to fight, he was Lone Oak’s reader of letters and laws that arrived. Under King Lorrie’s command Hunter’s three older brothers’ enlistment had been successive and quick. After Valen, third eldest, was taken Noble knew he had little time left to school Hunter before his own deployment. In the next and last village before the cliff, Endlanders, Noble negotiated a mentor and teacher for his youngest son. Hunter came to know that man as Scribe.
When word arrived about the annihilation of True and Valen’s contingent, Aimee had begun taking the monthly walks to Endlanders with Hunter. Together the two cousins studied history, marks, and religion. Scribe was True’s uncle and Hunter understood why it had taken no bribing despite Aimee’s gender.
Hunter knew his time at home with his mother would come to an end. Like Aimee today, he too would be called to serve the King–either he would be old enough, or the age would be lowered again to begin formal training. The closer that moment seemed to be, the more he was inclined to do as his mother requested. The last memory he wanted to have was arguing with Mum. He wanted her to remember him as an honorable son. After arriving at his aunt’s, Hunter rushed to his mother’s bidding.
“This is going to be harder than when your father or the boys left. Stop by your sister’s on the way home; see if she can send one of the girls over to stay with your Aunt Meah,” Mum hugged him before sending him on his way.
“Should I walk them here before going home?”Hunter hoped his mother would say no so that he could get home and get to his studies.
“No, just ask her to send them in the morning after their chores, I will stop by on my way home after settling them in.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” nodding his head.
“And use some oil light and get your marks and letters done before bed.”
“But the waste— “
“Studying isn’t a waste.,” Mum cajoled.
“Yes, Mum, I will.”
Running from his aunts to home, so his evening chores could be done by end of daylight and maybe some of his studies, too. It would be a waste his father had said for him to be using the oil light for anything other than studies, but chores always came first was his fathers rule.