A Word to Readers

Dear Readers,
I am going away for some time and I will come back sometime in the middle of JANUARY. When I do, I will notify you.

I posted again on The Light.

Hi, I will post every Saturday from now on, but there might be a few exceptions. If so, I will notify you. The new post I have posted today will be continued every week on the same post. Notice that I have put the date on the top left hand corner. I will do so every week so that you know where you have left off.

At the same time, I would like to thank all of you faithful readers for encouraging me. Your encouragement has motivated me to publish a book. In fact, Dawn is going to be my first book. The prologue I posted on this blog is a rough draft of the book's prologue. I'll keep you posted on my progress, but I cannot reveal the details --Book Progress: Chapter 14

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Father's Secret

This writing was entered in the "Sandra's Writers Workshop Hop"  --http://sandrasfiberworks.blogspot.com/2012/05/having-taught-fiction-writing-for-years.html

            My name is Lady Anebella Rose Loter. I am a nobleman’s daughter. No, I am Sir Albert Loter’s daughter. My father was a very wealthy man back then, in the medieval times. He was the most trustworthy lord in the kingdom. King William entrusted his deepest secrets with my father, with only my father. Now, looking back, I still cannot believe that he actually betrayed those secrets to the enemy, but no matter what he did, he is still my father. I still would go through it to save my father. I would go through it a hundred times if that is what it took to save him. It happened a long time ago, in my early days when I was 17…
            I honed my sword, sharpening it for the upcoming hunt. It was a beautiful sword with a long, polished blade and an ivory hilt adorned with jewels. My father had specially ordered it from the blacksmith for my birthday. Even though women were supposed to oversee the manor house, he made an exception for me. I was allowed to take part in the outdoor activities that only men could participate in and leave all the weaving and raising children to my older sisters. As you can see, my father loved me very much. He got me everything I wanted, from an ivory bow to the prettiest dress in town. I recalled one time when I had torn my favorite doll. My father had searched the whole of Europe for another, just because he had promised me. I had never known him to go back on his word.
            Just then, as I was smiling fondly at the memory, a shadow fell across the armory. I glanced up to see my father, walking quickly toward the back door of the manor house. I stood up, about to call out to him when I noticed that something was wrong. His eyes darted around as if any moment his worst fear would come true and as he walked on, I noticed that he kept on looking behind him to make sure no one was following him. Curious, I grabbed my bow and strapped a quiver of arrows to my back. I cautiously followed him, ducking behind a barrel of ale to keep out of sight. I was pretty sure that he would not see me. All the men I trained with said I was as stealthy as a cat and light and agile on my feet. If it had all been empty praise, I would be in big trouble, but I had to see what was wrong. Ever since my mother died giving birth to me, my father and I were very close. He would confide in me all his secrets and troubles, knowing they would not be let out. Why had he not told me about this? I wondered. I suddenly stopped in my tracks. My father had realized that something was wrong and was glancing around suspiciously. Seeing nothing, he continued on, once in a while abruptly stopping to see if anyone was following him. Finally we reached the back door of the manor house. He stepped through and carried on, now striding through the crowd of peasants bustling around. I narrowed my eyes, pondering about why he did not ride a horse and bring guards. My father turned left into an alleyway and I slowly crept after him. I stepped into the cold, stone alleyway, taking a quick glimpse. 
                The damp alleyway was made of roughly cut pieces of stone, carved and stacked on top of each other. There were huge gaps between each block and cracks running alongside most. As I passed through, I noted the scurrying of furry feet in the small crevices. Rats. I sniffed in disgust.Whoever had built it had done a horrible job. Two dilapidated houses towered above it, one leaning toward the other, giving the look that it was about to collapse.
I hurried on. My father turned again, this time entering a busy street filled with peasants performing their daily duties. In the distance, I heard a trumpet announcing that a miracle play was about to begin and spotted peasants, dressed in rags, gathering to watch. Pushing through the crowd, I tried to get closer to my father, but a peasant holding a pile of hay and a pitchfork blocked my view. Frustrated,  I waited impatiently as the old man slowly walked away. When the peasant had finally passed, I had lost sight of my father. I bit my lip in vexation, trying to relocate him. How could I have lost him so easily? I frantically looked around, searching for his brown coat and feathered hat, but everyone was wearing brown. The thought crossed my mind that he was wearing brown for that very purpose: to blend in. 
Anger erupted from me, cold and bitter. Anger at my father's behavior, at the fact that he had not trusted me enough to confide in me, and anger at the fact that I had failed. I blindly shoved through the crowd, ignoring the yells and cries of the peasants who got pushed. I looked around again, brushing my glistening black hair out of my blue eyes. In my desperation, I tripped on my green cloak and navy blue dress. I fell on the ground, winded. For a few moments I just lay there, despair threatening to take hold of me. The run had tired me out, and I was no nearer to whatever was causing my father to act like this than in the beginning. Failure, like a vulture's wings, enveloped me in its embrace. But, I could not give up so easily. I was Lady Anebella Rose Loter. I would not lay on the ground and give in to despair. Pulling myself together, I stood up and brushed off the dirt on my dress.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted my father step into another alleyway. This one was narrower than the one before. I made my way through the throng of people and entered the alleyway, careful to keep out of sight. He turned yet again. I walked past a lone dog tied to a chain and continued following him. This time I noticed he bent down and looked at something. Then he clandestinely moved on. I waited until he could not see me. Then I went over and knelt down to see what it was. A couple pebbles were clustered together on the dusty ground. To a normal person, they would look as if they were in no particular pattern, but I knew better. I had been trained to recognize symbols; my father had insisted on it. And this one, I identified almost instantly. It was the insignia of our enemy, deliberately put there. I was certain, but why would my father have anything to do with our enemies?
I got up and hastily dashed in the direction my father took. I arrived just in time to see it: an exchange with the enemy.
“So you will give me the position?” my father queried.
“Yes” came the answer.
“If I give you the information, you will give me the position…” my father said, thinking.
“Of course” the man who was talking to my father replied.
“I’ll do it.” my father decided.
My father stepped closer and the man took out a contract from his sleeves. I watched, open mouthed, as my father took the quill and signed it. I had always been proud that my father could read and write, but seeing him use his skills in signing the contract made me feel queasy. I could see clearly from my hiding place behind a few crates of corn the emblem of our enemy on the scroll. Unconsciously, tears started streaming down my face. How could my father do this? How could he? He had always been loyal and the best man I ever knew, always courteous and chivalrous. How could he betray us? More importantly, how could he betray me? Not wanting to see more, I fled, tears dripping down my face and onto the dirt ground. I raced through the twisting alleyway, not caring if my father heard or saw me. As I burst out into the streets, the peasants stared at me, a crying 17-year-old in a cloak trailing past her and a navy blue gown. I must have been an odd sight without my usual dignity and regalia. But now, at that very moment, I didn't care. Not one bit. All I could remember was my father, allying himself with the enemy. I pushed past the crowd blindly and raced back to the manor house. Looking down, I hurried past the guards, ignoring their welcoming words. I rushed into my room and collapsed in bed. I sobbed into my embroidered pillow until exhaustion engulfed me and I fell into a deep slumber.
I woke up the next day as rays of light streamed into my room. I sat up and rubbed my red, swollen eyes. Looking up, I saw my father, the man who had betrayed me, sitting calmly in a chair, waiting for me. I gulped. I knew what would come next.
“You followed me last night.” my father was direct.
Swallowing, I replied, "Yes.”
“Do you think it is right to follow me?” he inquired.
“Do you think it is right to betray your kingdom, to betray me?” I countered.
My father sighed, "Perhaps I should tell you everything.”
I waited for my father to continue.
After what seemed like ages, he began, "These days, lords do not have much power. Many towns make charters with the king. We no longer have any power. We no longer are needed. Sooner or later we will be gotten rid of. I have made an exchange with the enemy. They have promised me power and safety for my family in exchange for a bit of information. Yesterday I-“
“I don’t need to hear anymore.” I interrupted, "I understand.”
With that, I stood up and walked out of the room, trying to ignore the look of pain in my father’s eyes.
In the next few days, I managed to evade my father. Once he had approached me to talk, but I had immediately left, still angry at him. I did not need to hear his excuses. He was not my father. My father was noble and would never do such a thing.This was a man I did not know.
That was when it happened.
There was a knock on the door of our manor house and a moment later, a messenger stormed in. He ordered to have the entire Loter family as his audience. When they all had arrived, the messenger took out a scroll and began to read.
“Loter family has been found guilty of betraying our kingdom. Of giving our secrets to the enemy.” The messenger began.
“But we would never do that!” one of my sisters protested.
Ignoring the gasps of horror around him and the protest, the messenger continued, "Therefore, the entire family will be punished if whoever did it does not confess or no one represents the family in three days. Also, the manor will be closely guarded and no one will be allowed to enter or leave it.”
I could not believe my ears. My father had been found out! What should I do? A mixture of feelings bombarded me, but the fear for my father was the strongest. As I went back to my room, I thought about it. Should I confess to save my father and family? I was in a dilemma. I did not know what to do.
The next day, I made up my mind. Even if my father had betrayed us, he was still my father. He was still the man that had assuaged me fears as a child and the very same man that had tucked me into bed and helped me through the hardships of life. Even if it took my life, I would save him. I owed him my life. I sought out the messenger and said that I would represent my family. The messenger, surprised, did not say anything and took me to somewhere blind-folded. I was told that I would have to fight my accuser and whoever won was innocent. I knew that this was the ordeal by combat. They took me to an armory to pick a weapon. Taking a deep breath, I chose a sword, long in length and sharp at the tip. Then I was pushed into an arena-
-where I stopped dead.
I stared at my accuser. I could not believe it. It was Sir Henry Duncan’s son, the young man who was my sister’s best friend. How could I kill him? Well, maybe I didn’t need to. Maybe I could just knock him out, but it would be hard. I looked at him up and down. He was wearing full armor, which was much better for fighting than a dress, but it would slow him down. If I was nimble enough, I might, just might, win, I thought. But the chances were slim. Very slim.
I would most likely lose.
In the background, the judge started the countdown.
Then he yelled, "Fight!”and it began.
I waited as my opponent ran toward me, trying to assess his speed.   As he swung his sword toward me, I dodged. I could see that he did not expect to be fighting me, but whoever lost was guilty, so he had to. I then slashed at him, but he moved out of range. Circling each other, he was the first to lunge. I pushed my entire body forward in a roll as the blade came down inches from my head. Panting now, I swiped my sword at his arm, catching him where the arm and the shoulder came together. He staggered, off balance, but his armor had done its job well. There wasn’t even a scratch on him. Desperate now, I knew that there was simply no chance to win. He was wearing armor and I was just wearing a plain dress! I mean, how could that compare? The dress I was wearing would not shield me from any of my opponent’s blows. Close to despair, I steadied myself, taking deep breaths. My eyes hardening, I charged, ducking a blow to my chest. I nimbly slashed at his heels, where I knew there was a gap in the armor, and a cry of pain rewarded me. Smiling in satisfaction, I elbowed him in the torso.
“You’re fighting like a sick peasant!” I turned to see Sir Henry Duncan come to encourage his son. At that moment’s lack of attention, my adversary leaned forward and sliced his weapon in me. I glanced down to see crimson red spread from the gash in my waist, pervading in an ugly shape. I gasped in pain, biting my lip in the excruciating and lacerating agony. Taking the opportunity, my rival swiped his sword at me, a cruel smile playing at his lips. I only had time to throw myself down. The blade whooshed pass a couple inches from me. Immediately as I hit the ground, I rolled to the right, jerking my spine. The sword came down again, this time with half an inch to spare. I gritted my teeth as I was slowly pushed against a wall. If I were cornered, I would be done. The fight would have been for nothing. I would have failed.
But then, an old idea came to me. A little trick. I doubted my opponent would fall for it, but it was worth a try. I backed off, closer and closer to the wall. I saw him smile as he thought he was cornering me. He thought the fight would finally be over. He thought that he would win.
But he was wrong.
As my back touched the wall, I darted behind him with amazing speed and banged the hilt of my blade at his neck. I was lucky that his helmet had fallen off during the battle. If not, I might not have been alive today. Bloody and sweaty, I waited for him to get up. I counted to fifty. He still did not get up. He was unconscious! I had won. Exhilaration swept through me. Finally it was done! I could now go back home. My father’s secret would never be found out. Everything was going to be fine. But then I felt a little dizzy. I narrowed my eyes in confusion as a black wave rose up to engulf me. I struggled to resist it, but when it came a second time, I no longer had the strength to refuse to it.  And the world in my vision tilted as I collapsed.
I woke up in the infirmary, a few days later, with my father looking at me worriedly. I told him that I was fine and that I had forgiven him. My father smiled and apologized. He told me that a feast was waiting for me. A banquet to acknowledge my bravery and courage. I got up and unsteadily went to my room, where I changed into a dress the color of onyxes. I walked out and hurried to the feast, looking forward to the music and food. Looking forward to see my family again. And for my old life.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Wise Leaf

     One hot, summer day, Dough was sitting under his little doghouse, thinking about rolling in the damp, cool mud for a reprieve of the warmth. His coat was thick and long, the color of corn in the setting sun. The shade of his doghouse was no help. Just as he was about to get to his paws and trot over to the mud, a dark, shaggy dog with unkempt fur approached him.The dark brown dog, named Dirt, boasted," Hey Doughy. Bet 'cha can't build a smaller doghouse than me. I, Dirt the Emperor, am always the best." Tired of hearing Dirt's boasting, Dough decided to craft a smaller doghouse than Dirt's. Upon finishing it, he strode up to Dirt, declaring," I have the tiniest doghouse in town." The doghouse was indeed small, the size of a beehive. Envious, Dirt made an even smaller one. He painted it the dark green of a pine. "There!" he boasted." Now I have the smallest doghouse in town." Seeing this, Dough created a doghouse the size of a Doberman's paw.
     This continued until Dough and Dirt could not build a smaller doghouse. Dough was exhausted and Dirt was too. Both thought, the match will continue tomorrow.
     The next day, a leaf floated down onto the hot, dusty floor near Dough's home. The sun glinted on it and soon enough, it caught on fire. Slowly but surely, words appeared, singed into the delicate leaf.
     On and on,
     Spinning on a wheel
     It's a real tire.
     Here one day
     And gone the next.
     On and on,
     Spinning, spinning, and spinning-
     Isn't it a real tire?
     Best to stop and take a day's rest,
     Or soon you'll decay.
     Reduced to a pile of ashes.
     The best in town
     is the most unintelligent in town.
     Stop the wheel 
     Before it's too late.
     Spotting the leaf and seeing its wise words, Dough decided to stop competing with Dirt. Dirt soon met his end, when deciding to build a doghouse as big as a bee, went to catch one in a bee hive. The swarm of bees bombarded him and soon after he had passed away from the stings.
     Well, Dough just lived a happy life with his old doghouse and never built another small doghouse again.