Never Forget--Chapter Four

Fiction By Ariel // 8/4/2009

Gerhard drew in a deep breath and listened to the soft thudding of Alcander’s large feathered hooves on the heather and the chirping of the songbirds around them. He reached down and ran his hand over the horses’ smooth hide. His father’s plow horse wasn’t exactly as elegant as his prancing stallion, but the broad horse was just as trustworthy as the magnificent Thunder. They had been going steadily since just before sunup and the forest was just reaching its peak morning activities. He lifted his face to the blue sky and felt the rays of the rising sun warm his forehead. He reached down and adjusted several of the saddle bags the bounced against his knees. A bee buzzed across the path that they were following landed on a bright flower. Butterflies that were just starting to emerge fluttered around each other in the slight breeze. The sounds of a tumbling brook reached his ears and he pulled up on Alcander’s head.

The sudden stop jerked the figure sitting behind him and he felt his sister’s head started to slip from were it had rested of the last hour. He craned his neck around to look at her peacefully sleeping face. Her long dark hair was braided tightly in a crown around her head, her pink lips were slightly parted and she breathed easily in her sleep. Her dark blue cloak hood had fallen back and the morning sun reflected off her raven hair. He reached down and covered the slim hands that were wrapped around his waist. The horse shifted his weight underneath the brother and sister. Gerhard turned Alcander’s head toward the sound of water and urged him onward.

----

“What time do you think we’ll get there?” Donawyn rested her chin on Alcander’s saddle and looked down at Gerhard who was checking the horse’s hoof. The boy straightened and glanced at the position of the sun behind the thick tree boughs.

“It’s hard to say. Koen said that it usually takes him four hours on a fresh horse. There are two of us and all of our supplies so it’ll take a wee bit longer,” Donawyn blew a string of hair out of her face and pushed back from the horses back. Gerhard laughed at her melancholy expression and came around the horse to tighten a pack. “It’ll be soon, I promise. We’ll be there long before dark.

----

            The street market was buzzing with people, men haggling over tools; women bartering over fruits; children running after a ball. The people seemed to be out of place under the grey sky, as if they belonged in a bright world with flowers and sunshine instead of this cold place. Their faces were indeed sad and grey like the rest of the city, but their eyes were alive with hidden laughter. Though they were governed by a tyrant, every man still carried himself with an air of leadership. The stories of warmth and brightness were a reality only to the older folk; they were distant memories to the young men and maidens, but the children could only listen with beating hearts to the stories and wonder what it would have been like to live under a cloudless sky. The hope and joy on their faces were hidden only when the royal guards entered the area and they were once again transformed into miserable peasants, shadows of the people they had once been.

            So even with their stark surroundings, the people had not let laughter fade as the sun had. Somewhere pipe played and a man laughed heartily from midst of the marketplace crowd. A figure dressed in a long cloak moved through the throng, sidestepping a couple goats being led by a young girl and ducking his head swiftly to avoid being hit full in the face by a fishmonger’s basket. The swift action caused the hood of his cape to slide off his head, revealing a fair, aristocratic face with deep brown eyes and a strong chin. He reached up and jerked the cloth back into place and slipped into a nearby alley. He leaned up against the wall and peered out past the bricks to see if anyone had followed him. Satisfied, he loosened the string that held his cloak tightly closed and a deep brown tunic peeped out as well as the polished hilt of long sword.

            He had not stood there long before another man turned down the small street. He was a tall, somewhat angular man dressed in the garb of a superior manservant. He had sharp eyes and a hawk-like nose. Crossing slowly to the hooded young man, he looked both ways then extended his hand saying softly,

            “A bear is most dangerous when threatened,” The young man threw back his head covering and grasped the older man’s hand,

            “But it can be defeated if the hunter is a wise man,” he finished the password. The two men shook hands heartily,

            “Is all going according to plan?” the servant asked. The young warrior nodded his head and pulled a roll of parchment from under his mantle and passed it over,

            “The army is even now being assembled. Within two weeks time we should be able to march on this stronghold successfully,” the old man nodded, his eyes glued to the battle plans that were laid out on the paper in his hand.

            “Your father is indeed a wise hunter, as are you. I will continue to listen to the rumors that float through that castle,”

            “As will I,” the young man agreed. He pulled the covering around his face once more and turned to go, the folds swirling around him. “Remember to destroy the plans as soon as possible,” He called back softly just as he was about to exit the alleyway, then he threw up his arm in salute and was gone. The other man remained for a few minutes longer, staring after the youth with a slight smile creasing his weathered face. He gazed at the lighted match in his hand,

            “If only we knew what became of the little hunter,” he whispered as the flame began licking over the document.

----

Gerhard gazed up at the stark castle that rose up against the grey sky, tall and imposing. He reined in Alcander to avoid running into a vender’s cart. The strong dank smell of poverty and animals smote up at him and he longingly thought back to the fields around his mountain home. An old man stumbled on an uneven cobblestone a few feet in front of them. The basket of fish clasped in his arthritic arms flew out of his grasp and skittered to a stop at the feet of a royal guard. The soldier wrinkled his nose in distain and brushed at imaginary dirt specks on his rich brown tunic. The old man bowed shakily and held out his hands entreatingly toward the basket resting on the edge of the man’s boot. Gerhard stiffened as with one mocking laugh, the guard sent it and its contents flying.

The boy’s jaw tightened and he heard his sister gasp from were she sat behind him. He swung his leg over the pommel of the saddle and jumped to the ground. No one could mistake his intentions, he was going to right an injustice no matter what it took. Before he could reach the place were the man stood snickering at the old man on the ground, a knot of serfs stood around him. Donawyn’s voice floated through his senses vaguely,

“Gerhard, don’t!” but he pushed in away and fought through the crowd around him. His black eyes snapped and his hands were clenched tightly by his sides. The man around him pushed harder and he lost sight of the old man on the cobblestones. He opened his mouth to shout at the leering guard but suddenly a large hand descended onto his shoulder. Looking over his shoulder, he found himself face to face with a bearded merchant. Not releasing his hold on Gerhard’s cloak, the man began steering him toward the nearest vegetable booth.

“I would not challenge the man if I were you,” He muttered subtly from the corner of his mouth. Gerhard wrenched his shoulder away and spoke for the first time,

“How can you let such injustice go without dispute?” His voice rose and the man shushed him violently.

“I don’t know who you,” The man stood back and looked at Gerhard’s traveling clothes and worn cloak, “You are from the highlands by the look of you,” His eyes grew distant and he spoke softly, “Many great men have stood against the Bear, but few have lived to tell of it,” Gerhard felt his rage fall away and he looked at the cobblestones beneath his feet,

“I must admit to being a bit hot-headed,” The older man snorted and turned to his vegetables. Gerhard straightened his shoulders and extended his hand, “Gerhard Minstraely,” the vendor turned again and looked him over, boot to forehead.

“Aymen, Paine Aymen. Pleased to make your acquaintance,” the two men gripped each other’s arms just above the wrist in the customary greeting. Gerhard jerked his eyes away from the other’s frank hazel eyes as a shout reached his ears.

“Gerhard, where are you?” Donawyn’s cry sounded small and lost. Her brother headed back to were she stood clutching Alcander’s bridle and trembling. Her grey eyes were wide and her breath came in short gasps. When Gerhard was within reaching distance she reached out and gripped his forearm, her knuckles going white.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared,” She whispered. Gerhard grinned,

“Well, it turned out alright didn’t it?” She let out a whoosh of air and smiled,

“You need to learn to control your temper if we’re going to be safe here,” He laughed good naturedly and took Alcander’s bridle from her.

“At least we’ve made a new friend already,” He led his sister back to the stall were Paine was haggling over the price of a squash with a woman. When he had finished, Gerhard introduced him, “Donawyn, Paine Ayman. Paine, my sister Donawyn,” The big man took the girl’s slender fingers in his rough hardened ones and bowed low.

“A pleasure, my lady,” Donawyn blushed and curtsied low,

“An honor as well, sir,” Paine looked closely at her soft grey eyes and delicate features,

“I cannot help but ask, have you ever been to Falkerharb before?” the girl knit her brows together and stepped back,

“Not that I recall. Why?” The shopkeeper straightened and shook himself,

“Och, it was nothing really. You just reminded me of someone,” He laughed, a booming, jolly laugh, “Your brother here tells me that you have just arrived in our fair city, what do you think of it so far?” Donawyn looked around at the tall stone walls surrounding her and at the grey sky; the muddy stream sluggishly moving down the gutter in the cobblestones; the brown standard flying high above them on a flagpole, a bear’s shaggy head with open jaws and the words, “Never Forget” rippling in the breeze. She shivered and pulled her mantle tighter.

“It’s so grey,” she whispered finally. Paine sighed,

“Ah yes, grey. It seems as if it has always been like that, but,” He leaned in closer and winked a sparkling eye, “Like the banner says, we’ll ‘never forget’ what it used to look like,” Gerhard and Donawyn smiled back at the row of sparkling teeth that showed through the man’s thick beard and remembered.

 

Comments

I love your story, OFG! I

I love your story, OFG! I wonder what that man meant when he said, 'If only we knew what had become of the little hunter.'

Just one suggestion: Sometimes it's hard to tell who's talking, like when it says this, 'Not that I recall. Why?' The shopkeeper straightened himself.

It kind of makes it read like the shopkeeper says it, and not Donawyn. Other than that, I have no complaints. Keep it up!

Laura Elizabeth | Mon, 08/17/2009

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The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Cool!

I'm really liking this story, OFG. The only fixes I would suggest would be making sure that the action matches with the person speaking...like Laura Elizabeth suggested. Other than that, good going! I'm curious to see where you go with this...and off to read the next chapter!

Heather | Wed, 08/19/2009

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Thanks girls! I seem to be

Thanks girls! I seem to be getting the same opinion as far as the dialog goes. I'll try to go through and fix some of that stuff :-) I still have to finish chapter, but it should be finished pretty soon. Thanks for commenting...it makes me HAPPY :D

Ariel | Thu, 08/20/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Sorry Leira, I must agree

Sorry Leira, I must agree with the others. You did great in the last chapture, but if the talking was in a fast paced part of the story I would have been so lost. Other then that pretty good.

P.S. Later in the story you must have some voilent parts. Not now of course, but I will be put out if there isn't some action.

I am Nate-Dude | Wed, 09/02/2009

Nate-Dude

Violence...Me?...NEVER!!! JK

Violence...Me?...NEVER!!! JK I'm actually planning a quite brutal murder. Does that make you happy?

Ariel | Wed, 09/02/2009

*****************************************
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

NO, how can death make me

NO, how can death make me happy! :o) Anyway, great chapter, Leira, sorry I haven't commented on this story before!  

Kendra | Sat, 09/19/2009

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"Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me! But what about bacteria?"--Tantor the elephant from Tarzan.

I was thinking more along the

I was thinking more along the lines of having a guts-'n-glory kind of battle. (Less guts, more glory. I don't think you can write guts. JK.) I agree with Kenny G. But it's better then nothing I guess.

I am Nate-Dude | Tue, 09/22/2009

Nate-Dude

You may be right...I might be

You may be right...I might be incapible of writing "guts" that come close to your standards, but I SHALL TRY! Guts and glory I will try, most fervently, to deliver! Guts and glory...ewww...try saying that ten times fast! lol

Ariel | Tue, 09/22/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

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