Well, maybe 4000 words would be all right … if her hair is really that lovely. 🙂 In any case, it’s time for critiquing this week’s new submission. Let’s have a hair-raising good time.
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Mt. Shachar by Alyssa
Meryl lifted her sword from its resting place at the foot of her sleeping mat. She lifted the curtain that stood for her hut’s door and walked to where her older brother, Devin, was. He stood swiping at an imaginary foe with his sword. It was a miracle that they had gotten two swords since their family was poor.
“Any word on mother and father?” Meryl asked.
“No,” Devin said letting his sword droop.
Their parents had left in hope to find more business a few hours west. They especially needed money now since Devin was sixteen, meaning it was almost time for him to become an apprentice. He was hoping to be apprenticed by a protector, the warriors who looked after the kingdom when the knights left for battle.
Meryl stood next to Devin. He taught her defense with a sword for nearly an hour. By the time they were done both were drenched in sweat and exhausted. It was a warm, sunny day so they dried quickly.
“Want supper?” Meryl asked. Devin nodded.
She went inside and got out barley bread and beans, they had no meat because they were running low and wanted to save it for a celebration on Devin’s choosing day.
After supper they did their only source of entertainment, Meryl playing the flute while Devin sang with his amazing singing voice.
“Devin?” Meryl asked.
“Do you think mother and father are ever… are they ever going to come back? It’s already been two months,” Meryl said, her chin quivering.
“Of course they will,” Devin said, though when Meryl looked into his eyes she saw layers of worry and doubt.
The two laid on their sleeping mats. It wasn’t too late yet.
“Could you tell me the story of the Rescuer?” Meryl asked. Even though she was fifteen she still liked Devin to tell her stories, it was her way out of the worry filled reality.
“Certainly my fair lady. The Rescuer is a man of honor, but not of nobility. In fact, he was a commoner. He saves people in their darkest hour with his sword, Deliverer. Some say he’s an angel,” Devin said in a storyteller voice. He continued the story until Meryl fell asleep.
A sharp knock on the hut’s exterior woke Meryl from her sleep. Since all the peasants didn’t bother to knock she figured it was some messenger for Devin about his choosing day. Devin was a heavy sleeper so she figured he wasn’t awake and she might as well see what they wanted.
“Yes?” Meryl called rubbing her eyes from sleep. She stood up and combed her fingers through her frazzled hair.
“Are you the son of Clive?” the male messenger called.
“I’m his daughter. Why?” she asked as she walked over and pulled away the curtain and tied it to a hook.
“Okay, is his son, your brother, also here?” the man asked. He was tall and appeared very strong.
“Yes,” Meryl responded warily.”Why?”
“I have a message.”
Meryl nodded. “One moment.” She walked and knelt to where Devin lay asleep. She called his name a couple of times and shook him a little until he awoke.
“What?” Devin asked sleepily.
Meryl nodded in the direction of the door where the man stood. Devin peered around her to see. He quickly rose and became wide awake. In a single stride he was at the door. Meryl followed him.
“The son of Clive, I presume?”
Devin nodded pulling his sister close.
“I have news regarding your parents.”
A sliver of hope entered Meryl until she saw his expression. Devin squeezed her tighter, but she didn’t mind.
“I’m sorry to tell you your parents have died,” the man said.
Meryl squeezed her eyes shut. They couldn’t be dead! she thought.
She managed to squeeze out one word from her ever closing throat. “H-how?”
“By me,” the man said.
To late she realized what was happening.
He lunged at the two. Meryl and Devin were the same height and almost the same strength, but the two combined would be no match for the taller and stronger man. He over took them easily. The teens had no idea how to use their muscles other then swordplay and a little self defense. The man bound the two together at their wrists with a strong rope.
Outside he had a horse pulling an empty cart that neither sibling had noticed earlier. The man led them to the cart, picked them up, and dumped them in. The sky was still dark so it wasn’t even dawn yet, the perfect time for a kidnapping.
Both kept their mouths shut in hopes of not reminding the kidnapper that they could scream for help at any time. They had no such luck. He pulled two gags out of a leather pouch around his waist and tied one around Devin’s mouth.
Before he put the gag on Meryl, she asked the question floating around her head. “Why? We’re no one important.”
The kidnapper laughed as he tied the gag around Meryl’s head. He climbed up onto the horse, bare back. “You know what the downfall of all so called villains is? They always talk about their plans because the so called heroes get them thinking all high and mighty about themselves. Not me.” He kicked the horse with an unnecessary force. “I will say that your parents knew something, and that something got them killed. That same something is going to get you killed too.”
Meryl glared at the back of the man’s head. From what she’d seen of him she had noticed that he was young and stereo typically handsome. She hated him.
After his little speech he clammed up and didn’t say another word. Meryl fell asleep, hoping to dream of Devin, her father and mother, and herself being together for Devin’s choosing day.
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