Friday, 18 December 2015

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Ten

Today marks the day we come to the last 'If Adventure Comes Your Way' for this year. I think it's kinda interesting that we finish with Fragment Ten, it almost looks like I planned it. How fascinating. Sorry to say, I'm taking the day off next Friday as we're not around for Christmas. We'll be leaving for my cousin's place on Tuesday. I'm really excited about it! I hope you don't mind that I purposefully finished with an extra big cliffhanger this time...Mwah ha ha, I am so evil sometimes. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.

Option three won the votes by a long shot (Now I'd better check back to make sure I didn't word it quite that way last time...ok, cool, I didn't, we can continue now) which is very nice of you all, 'cause that was also my favourite. Authors are so unfailingly cruel to their characters...

Ahem, anyway, here is your dreadfully-cliffhanger-ended-last-post-of-the-year-story. Read on!

Half a dozen men had appeared from behind the trees. “Surrender, or take the consequences,” one of the soldiers commanded sharply. My heart sank into the ground.

Four of the soldiers held crossbows and they were all pointed at us. The commander took a step forward. “Surrender!” he barked.

I raised my hands slowly, knowing resistance was pointless. Jack followed my lead.

The soldier gestured at us with his sword. “Take them,” he said shortly.

Three of the men stepped forward, one grabbed my arms roughly, twisting them behind my back, the other two went for Jack. He started struggling, but two grown men were too strong. 

“Just go with them, Jack,” I said, hopelessness filling my heart.

The leader of the soldiers regarded me with interest. “What is your name?” he asked. 

I raised my chin defiantly. “Lady Louise De Corlette,” I said.

Jack jerked backwards but the soldiers prevented any more movement. His wide brown eyes fixed on me were filled with shock. My mouth formed and ‘o’ as I remembered that to Jack I was supposedly Louise Conwell, some nobody of no importance. I shrugged inwardly, he was going to find out sometime.

“I see,” the soldier murmured, rubbing his chin. “Very interesting.”

“Shall we take them to the castle, Captain?” the man holding me asked.

The Captain nodded briskly. “Yes,” he sheathed his sword. “You two go behind in case one of these kids try make a break for it,” he instructed the remaining soldiers, then glanced at me. “I recommend they don’t try anything silly.”

My mind dulled with despair as we were marched through the ancient trees, the ground sloping upwards as we climbed the hills. Everything was going wrong, Adventures weren’t supposed to work like this. I sighed. 

Before we moved off the soldiers had bound my hands tightly with a thin cord, and I could barely feel my fingers. I wiggled them just to make sure they were still there.

After tramping through the forest for what seemed like hours the Captain of the soldiers paused and turned back to us. “I’ll go first,” he said. “Send the girl next, then you—” he gestured to the man behind me. “Then the boy can come, followed by the rest of you.”

The soldiers saluted and the Captain disappeared through a narrow gap. I was shoved forward and I gasped as I realised just how narrow the passage was. It was basically a crack between two massive boulders, only just wide enough for a man to pass through without his shoulders touching either side. 

I calmed my heart, trying to blank my mind. Forget the fear, my thoughts became a mantra, keep going, forget the fear. I stumbled out the other side, almost tripping as my foot caught on a stone. A hand grabbed my arm and steadied me. I looked up into the deep eyes of the Captain. Then I looked past him and caught my breath sharply.

A castle loomed ahead, seeming to glare down on everyone in the hidden vale. It was even bigger than the De Corlette Manor, and that was saying something, as far as I’d been aware only the King’s palace could claim that.

“Welcome to the Stronghold of Hacaz,” the Captain said.

I looked up at the distaste in his voice, but his expression revealed nothing.

Soon all the other soldiers and Jack had entered the valley, and the Captain formed us up again and led the way to the castle gates.

I shivered as the gates swung open for us, revealing the dark courtyard inside. Keep going, forget the fear, my mind chanted. The Captain halted us with a wave of his hand.

“Inform the Garrison Commander that we have two new prisoners,’ he commanded three of the soldiers. 

They saluted and turned away, jogging to a low building to the side. The Captain nodded at the remaining men. “Let’s get these kids into the prison.”

I stumbled along behind the Captain, wishing Maree was here. She’d know what to do to escape. I crashed right into the leading soldier when he stopped suddenly.

He steadied me and drew his knife. I cringed back but he gripped my arm firmly, turning me around. The knife sliced through the rope around my wrists. I looked up, dazed, what was going on?

The Captain gestured at the other two soldiers and they grinned, releasing Jack likewise.

“Listen,” the Captain said. “I have a daughter at home, about your age, and a son. I’m not going to be responsible for your capture.”

I stared. “You’’re going to let us escape?”

The Captain shook his head. “No,” he said, and the small hope I felt instantly flickered out. “You are going to be rescued by a giant of a man and he is going to knock out us soldiers and we’ll never stand a chance.”

A smile crept onto my lips. “So when is this giant going to come?” I asked.

“Any time now,” the Captain said.

One of the soldiers behind Jack coughed. “Captain, we will be punished.”

“That is inevitable, Felix,” he replied. “What would you say to your wife if you had just locked up two young children? Or more, what would she say to you?”

The guard, Felix, shook his head. “I agree. I can already feel the folds of unconsciousness approaching.” With that the two soldiers collapsed to the floor.

Jack looked down and nudged one with his toe. “Wow, they’re good,” he murmured.

“You have to get away, there’s a door just down this corridor, first on the left. Hide in there until sundown and then leave through the servant’s staircase,” the Captain said, pointing the way. “Now go!”

The steady, even footsteps of a soldier echoed along the corridor behind us and Jack jumped into action, running down the hall. I sprinted after him, ducking into the side room right behind him. He closed the door quickly, leaning against it heavily.

“Phew,” he gasped. “That was interesting.”

“We’ve got to hide,” I panted, looking around the room desperately. “So they don’t find us before nightfall.”

“The bed!” Jack exclaimed, scrambling over to it. He glanced under it then looked up grimacing, “There’s only room for one, you hide there.”

I hesitated, but a commotion out in the corridor decided me, I ran lightly to the bed, dropping to my stomach and squeezing under it. I saw Jack’s feet disappear as he stepped into a large wardrobe.

The voices and shouting outside continued, and I hugged my arms around me, trying to stop my heart from jumping right out of my chest.

The door was thrown open, and a pair of gleaming boots came into view followed by several more. “We need to search the whole castle,” a voice said. “We can’t afford to lose prisoners, especially just before Lord Hacaz comes back.”

The boots came closer to my hiding place. I bit my lip and held my breath, forcing myself to remain dead still. The rustle of fabric sounded and I found myself staring into the eyes of a soldier. 

My heart froze, and our gaze locked. Then the soldier straightened. “I don’t think anyone’s in here, Sir,” his voice came from right above me. 

The reply came as a grunt and the soldiers walked out of the room. I released a shaking breath, there was another soldier who had some conscience, if this truly was the stronghold of Hacaz he obviously didn’t realise just how ‘loyal’ his troops were.

Hours passed slowly, soldiers hurried along the corridor, and loud voices called all through the castle, but no one came into the room again. Eventually the light began to grow dimmer and a door creaked softly. Jack’s shoes appeared, and I figured I could come out.

My cramped muscles protested to the movement and it was all I could do to keep silent as I struggled to my feet. Jack smiled tightly, his face showing the strain. I wondered if I looked as bad.

“C’mon,” he whispered, padding over to a nondescript door on the far side of the room. “Servants door.”

I nodded, slipping through the open door. Jack closed it behind him and then frowned at the dark corridor. “What way?”

I pointed. “That way,” I said, glad to know something useful. “There’ll be stairs going down to a kitchen just along there somewhere.”

“Well, lead on, m’lady,” Jack said, bowing slightly.

I sighed. “Just call me Louise,” I told him. “It doesn’t really matter.”

He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug and I headed off down the hall, listening carefully for any sign of other people.

The cold night air blew my hair back as we slipped out of the hot kitchen. There’d been so many servants, maids and cooks inside that no one had noticed our presence.

“Let’s get to the stables,” Jack breathed into my ear. 

I nodded and we shadowed along the wall, reaching the stables after a few minutes of tense sneaking. Jack pointed silently at the window and knelt, gesturing for me to use his leg as a step to climb inside.

I heaved myself into the musty dark of the stable, dropping onto the soft hay. Jack was beside me in a moment, peering into the darkness.

I caught sight of a ladder. “We could try,” I said quietly, remembering the correct word just in time.

Jack nodded. “Ladies first,” his whispered, holding the ladder steady. 

I mounted up the rungs, feeling the rough wood under my hands. Hay dust stirred as I reached the top, stepping from the ladder to the wooden boards of the loft floor. Jack coughed below me and I heard the nervous whicker of a horse somewhere in the stables.

The ladder quivered as Jack started climbing and I collapsed onto a pile of hay, instantly it ceased being so soft and turned scratchy. I was so tired I hardly cared. I was asleep before Jack reached the top of the ladder.

Sunlight streamed through a crack in the roof, right into my eyes. I blinked and sat up, wondering where I was. Memory returned and I almost slumped right back down again. A loud sound stopped me. Hammering and yelling came from just outside the stable.

Jack’s face appeared from the other side of a stack of hay. “Morning!” he said, his voice low but cheerful.

“Why so happy?” I asked, scratching my neck.

He shrugged. “I just have a feeling that today is going to be a good day,” he replied.

“What is that sound?” I asked as more shouts came to my ears.

Jack frowned. “I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t want to climb down a look until you were up to agree that it was a good idea.”

‘Well, it’s not a good idea, but we’ll do it anyway,” I said, now thoroughly awake.

Jack peered carefully over the side of the ladder while I tried to get the hay out of my tangled hair. “I think it’s all clear,” he called softly before starting his descent.

I jumped down the last few rungs of the ladder, landing lightly on the hard floor. The nearest horse snorted curiously, tossing its head. I rubbed my hand along her neck, twisting my fingers in the flaxen mane. “You’re a pretty girl, aren’t you?” I murmured.

“Louise,” Jack’s voice was very different from the tone he’d used to say ‘good morning’. I spun around.

“What?” I asked, my heart quickening nervously.

He waved me to the window, his face grim. “I don’t think you’re going to like this,” he said.

I took a tentative look out the window and my eyes caught on the object in the middle of the courtyard that hadn’t been there the day before. A gallows. Crowds of soldiers and the castle’s inhabitants were milling around it, talking in loud voices.

A scuffle in the door of the castle caught my attention and I glanced that way. A group of soldiers were dragging someone towards the scaffold. As they drew closer I could see that the unfortunate person was struggling and kicking but to no avail.

I watching in horror as the prisoner was forced up the steps and onto the platform. A dark robed executioner stepped forward, but I wasn’t paying him much attention. 

Now that the prisoner was standing still and raise above all the soldiers I could see them clearly. And what I saw was a small figure, dressed in a muddy wool tunic and pants. Even from that distance and without the oversized leather jacket I recognised her.


My friend was about to die.


1. “Okay,” I said numbly, my eyes still fixed on Maree. “You got a plan?”

2. A second figure climbed the stairs onto the platform, a taste of loathing rose to my mouth as I saw Hacaz again. Dead or given up, am I? I thought, you’re about to find out just how wrong you are. 

3. Maree raised her bound hands, and waved them above her head. “I beleeve I have the preevilege of last words?”


I hope I haven't caused any deaths by ending there. It was kinda mean, but I did already admit to that. Looking forward to seeing your votes and opinion on the story! It was another long one...2,191 words...I think I'm starting to make them longer because I've been writing these paragraph sum-up of the fragment (so I know what's happening and don't have to moan and groan so much) and I keep including too much in them. :) Oh well, I don't think any of you mind. See you in two weeks and...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 11 December 2015

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Nine

It's getting closer and closer to Christmas, guys! Are you all excited to celebrate our saviour's birth? I am. 
Technically we're having our 'Christmas' on the 20th because we're going away for the 25th. So we have a Christmas at home and then we don't have to lug all the presents around on holidays. It works quite well.

I feel like I really need to come up with a different way of saying this, but option three won. Thanks to all who voted and read my post. I hope you aren't disappointed by your choice. To all those who think my fragments are too short, today's is an extra long one. 2,101 words including the options. I think that might be a record!

“Let her go!” another voice called from inside the house, a voice I’d heard before.

My attacker paused and the voice came again, “Let her go, this instant or I’ll have words for you later.”

The silhouette coughed. “Ahem, well, would you come inside?” he asked.

“Get inside this minute,” a second figure appeared beside the first. I stared in shock, finally realising where I knew the voice from.

Governess Kathryn,” I gasped, and promptly collapsed.

I was roused by the sharp smell of one of Governess Kathryn’s herbal teas. A blanket lay over me and I felt wonderfully warm. I opened my eyes reluctantly. 

“Ah, she awakes,” Governess Kathryn said. She sat by the bed, her needlework in hand.

“Why are you here?” I asked haltingly.

My governess clicked her tongue disapprovingly. “What a way to begin a conversation,” she shook her head. “Always begin by asking the other person how they are feeling.”

I sighed. “I don’t think now is the right time for language lessons, Governess,” I replied.

“You are right,” she agreed. “Drink this.” She thrust a cup at me containing a watery brown liquid.

I wrinkled my nose; I had experienced most of Kathryn’s teas and I didn’t like any of them. “Do I have to?”

“Yes,” she said firmly.

I took a deep breath and swallowed a mouthful, struggling to keep my expression free of distaste. “So what are you doing here?” I tried again.

“I was visiting my nephew,” Governess Kathryn said without looking up.

“What does everyone think about my...disappearance?” I asked. 

“I left before anyone had realised,” she replied serenely.

I frowned, she had no idea that I’d been missing, yet here she was, sitting calmly just after I’d appeared in the middle of the night, half a day away from the manor. 

“I have sent a message to them, and there should be an escort on the way soon,” she continued.

What?” my voice cracked. “I can’t go back!”

“Why not?” she looked up this time, her face severe.

“Maree’s a prisoner, Hacaz is going to do something bad, and I’m the only one who can help, because no one else would believe it!” the words poured out in a complete jumble.

Governess Kathryn looked at me steadily. “Nevertheless, I think it would do a great deal of good for you to be back in your bed chambers in the manor. We could send out soldiers to fix everything up.”

I jumped out of bed, angry now. “Exactly!” I cried. “That’s the thing, you don’t believe me that there’s anything wrong, and if you don’t, why should anyone else? I’ll tell you what, they won’t, and Maree will be left helpless, locked up in some fortress until they kill her.”

“Back in bed, Louise De Corlette,” my Governess said sternly, rising to her feet also.

I took a deep breath. “No,” I replied. “Where is the Knight Yerra Hacaz’s castle?”

Kathryn frowned. “I have had enough of this nonsense now,” she said. “Time to—”

“You have called me stubborn before,” I said, struggling to keep my voice steady. “So you know that I will never change my mind. Now tell me, do you know where Yerra Hacaz has his castle?”

Governess Kathryn was silent for a long moment. “I do not know of whom you speak,” she began. “But I can tell you that you will not be going anywhere.”

I turned around to survey the room. “Where’s your nephew?”

“He’s...out,” was the reply.

“And now he’s in!” a cheerful voice called from the door as it opened to admit a tall man.

I turned to him. “Please, sir,” I pleaded. “Do you know where the castle of Yerra Hacaz is?”

He stuck out his bottom lip. “Oh, some say it’s just over the other side of the lake,” he said before Governess Kathryn could stop him. He became aware of her glare and faltered. “Of course,” he continued, “It’s just a myth, really, nothing actually there.”

“Thank you,” I burst out and ran for the door.

“Stop!” Kathryn called after me as I ran through the thin layer of snow.

I paused and looked back. “Goodbye!” I yelled. “Tell father and mother that I’ll be fine!”

Governess Kathryn was silent as I continued on and soon I lost sight of her. I drew in a deep breath of cold morning air, glad that the snow had stopped falling during the night. My stomach grumbled as I jogged on and I wished I’d thought to take some food.

The sound of running water led me to the river and subsequently to the boats. Several men were loading bales of something onto a boat and I called to them as I approached.

“Do you have a boat I could borrow?” I panted.

One man looked me up and down. “Ye’ll have trouble usin’ one I’d say,’ he commented. “Got someone who knows ‘bout boats?”

“Where d’you need to go?” another added.

“I need to get to the other side of the lake,” I explained. “It’s just me.”

The men exchanged a glance. “Ye’ve got no hope, sorry lass,” the first man said. “A full grown man’d struggle to cross the lake solo this time of year.”

“Please, I need to try,” I begged them.

“Well, if you took a sail boat you’d have a touch of chance,” the second man considered. “D’you have any cash?”

My heart fell. “No, I—”

“Listen lass,” the shorter man said. “If you had a companion who knew their way around boats, we’d happily lend one to you, free. But as you are...” he trailed off and shrugged apologetically.

I nodded, my shoulders slumped dejectedly. There it was, I may as well return to Governess Kathryn now, I thought, Maree’s lost. I turned and wandered off down the river a little way and sat on a snow dusted log.

I sighed heavily. One day of adventure and things go impossibly wrong, it just wasn’t fair. Then I smiled wryly, Adventures were never fair, you got what you got and you took it as best you could. If things could go wrong by themselves, maybe they could fix the same way.

Thudding footsteps penetrated my thoughts. I ignored them for a while but as they came closer and closer I turned around.

A lanky boy was sprinting along the road towards the river. I jumped up as I recognised him. He seemed to see me at the same moment and changed his direction so he was headed straight for me.

“Jack!” I exclaimed as he nearly cannoned into me. “Is something wrong?”

“They’re right behind me!” he gasped breathlessly. “We need a boat.”

He turned to the boat loaders and started running to them, yelling loudly and waving his hands. I hurried after him, still confused.

“We need a boat,” he wheezed at the men.

They looked at me and then back to Jack. “You know how to sail?” they asked.

“Yes!” he almost shouted. “I’ve got soldiers right behind me. I’d need the boat even if I didn’t know how to sail!”

The men sprang into action and in a moment they had a small sail boat ready and waiting in the water. One man tossed me a package. “Here miss,” he said. “It’s me lunch. Not much, but it’s something.”

“Thank you,” I called as Jack basically shoved me onto the boat.

They raised a hand in farewell as Jack pushed off and the sail caught the breeze. I settled down in the middle, right next to the mast. Jack sat in the back, holding the steering oar.

“Pull that rope for me?” he called, pointing at one of the many ropes. I hesitantly tugged it and Jack nodded. “Now just tie it up tighter.”

I frowned at the rope, trying to work out how to tie it. No one had ever taught me how to tie knots. Eventually I settled with twisting it around and threading it in and out multiple times until it resembled my hair felt like when I combed it in the morning.

The breeze was steady and Jack seemed to be satisfied with the speed we were making so I guessed we were going reasonably well. My companion obviously had plenty of experience with boats and I just had to adjust random ropes when he asked.

The sun gleamed off the water and the snow on the banks and I had to squint to see anything much. Before midday we passed a small town and entered the wide open lake.

Jack started to get more restless then, peering forward anxiously every few minutes. “Is something wrong?” I asked eventually.

“I don’t want to get lost,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at the lakeside town receding behind. 

“Why were there soldiers after you?” I continued after a moment’s silence.

“I spied on their camp,” he explained a grin coming across his face. “I saw your friend but couldn't find you. Then they saw me and four of the soldiers came after me.”

We continued on in silence. The breeze picked up and I wrapped my arms around myself to stay warm. 

The temperature seemed to get colder as we neared the far side and the wind blew in uneven gusts. Water sloshed over the side and I tried to bail it out with my hands but the blustery wind just blew it right back in again.

Jack struggled to keep us on course, wrestling with the tiller. I reached under the seat, hoping to find a bucket or something of the kind. The clatter of tin came over the wind and I looked up to see a small bucket right next to Jack’s foot.

The wind whipped up more choppy waves that spilled over the boat’s side. I bit my lip and pulled a strand of hair from my mouth. I closed my eyes, whispered a silent prayer and started crawling along the bottom of the boat.

I kept my body low and spread my weight to try to avoid capsizing the craft. It had seemed small seconds ago but now the length of the boat looked hopelessly long. Water splashed onto my back and I reached out to grasp the handle of the bucket. The metal touched my hand and I gripped it tightly, sliding back along the deck to my seat.

I filled the bucket and tossed the water over the side. This movement was just too violent and I squeaked in terror as I nearly went over with it. The sailboat rocked ominously but I was still inside it and I steadied myself with a deep breath. 

I carefully emptied the next bucketful and after that I worked out the best way of balancing as I emptied out the bottom of the boat. 

A faint noise from Jack’s direction made me look up, his mouth was moving but I couldn’t hear anything. He pointed ahead. “We’re nearly there!” he shouted over the wind.

I twisted around on my seat and looked out over the water. The far side was getting closer and I could just make out a small cove dead ahead. Dark tree covered mountains rose up above, white patches of snow visible even from here.

Jack started yelling directions to me to loosen that rope and tighten the other one. I dropped the bucket and my fingers set to work on the knots. I was grateful for all the needlework practice I’d had in my life, I was an expert at untying knots.

The wind died when we entered the cove and everything fell suddenly silent. I looked around as the nose of the boat slid into the gravelly edge. Scrambling ashore, I pulled the boat up higher to stop if from drifting away.

When I straightened I looked up at the ancient trees around us. No sounds of birds stirred the quiet and the air weighed like a burden on my back.

Jack disembarked and stood beside me, looking through the trees and vines. He froze, his eyes fixed ahead. I followed his gaze and my heart fell to my shoes...


1. A gap between the trees revealed a heavy stone wall, half covered in ivy. 

2. The trees were thick, but not quite thick enough to hide our view of a massive iron gate, on either side of which, two well-armed guards stood sentry.

3. Half a dozen men had appeared from behind the trees. “Surrender, or take the consequences,” one of the soldiers commanded sharply. My heart sank into the ground.


If it felt too long, don't worry, it'll be back to the normal 1,500 next week. And if you like it longer, don't worry, I may raise my word-count-aim-thing sometime later in the story. 
Don't forget to comment your favourite option, and tell me how you liked the story. :)

Fare Thee Well!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Cool books and Giveaways

No, sadly this is not a giveaway that I am doing. I may do one someday, but I don't know yet...
Anyway, this is about a giveaway from Kingdom Pen!

You may remember that my half-done novel, The Bridge of Anskar, was/is being written using the 'One Year Adventure Novel Curriculum'. Daniel Schwabauer (I dare you to try pronounce his name) invented that. I've also read two of his novels: "Runt the Brave" and "Runt the Hunted" and liked 'em both heaps. Naturally I really, really want to read "The Curse of the Seer" as it's the next book in the series.

So, since I follow the Kingdom Pen place, I came across this giveaway! Yay! And since I'm such a terribly nice person (and because it gets me more points) I decided to do a blog post about it. That way, all of you can find it and enter as well. Just to tempt you, here's the synopsis:

Everyone thinks Eli is afraid of the dark, and they’re right. But it’s not because he can’t see in the dark; it’s because he can. After his father is murdered by kingsguard mice, Eli is tortured and condemned to death.

With the help of Tira-Nor’s old seer, AlBaer, Eli escapes his executioners and discovers that his mother, who was sold into slavery in Cadrid years before, may still be alive. Finding and saving her becomes his passion, but can he survive slavery, cruel taskmasters, foreign armies, the hatred of his own people, and even death itself? AlBaer can’t—or won’t—protect him from the supernatural evil that stalks him, and Eli must try to unravel the seer’s curse alone.

Cool? I reckon it is. Mr. S (what we one year adventure novel-ists call Daniel Schwabauer, probably because we don't know how to pronounce his last name) also did an interview thing. If you click on the picture, or right here you can go to the Kingdom Pen site and read it. All writers should also follow it, because they have some really good posts.

Giveaways are always fun...maybe I should think about doing one...But for now, just go, have some fun and enter into the Kingdom Pen Giveaway!

Fare Thee Well!

Friday, 4 December 2015

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Eight

I have this feeling inside me...The feeling that this Fragment is heralding a plot twist of major qualities...I dunno what it is, but I'm feeling it coming...

It didn't take very long to write today's Fragment. The last part was reluctant, but it wasn't terribly bad. 
Option three won (just) and that was slightly unexpected. It looked like 1 was going to get it. But then, surprise, surprise! Three more votes for option 3! So, yeah, here is the next Fragment of 'If Adventure Comes Your Way'!

The huge man turned to me with a guttural sound and, club upraised, he charged.

The fact that I didn’t stop to think showed that, even then, I had already learnt something from my adventures. Sometimes there wasn’t time for thinking. I dived for Maree’s bow.

I snatched it up, dragging an arrow from the quiver at Maree’s side. The giant of a man lumbered around, growling menacingly, his eyes fixed on me.

I fitted the arrow to the string with surprising swiftness considering I’d never been taught how. Governess Kathryn did not believe that noble ladies should be able to use weapons. I raised the bow, trying to pull the string back but finding it much too hard.

“Don’t come any closer,” I said loudly to the approaching man.

He stared at the arrowhead, his small eyes darting from it to me, as if gauging whether he could thump me before I shot. He definitely could have.

“Drop your club, or I’ll shoot,” I commanded, doing my best to keep my voice from shaking.

The man hesitated and I waited breathlessly; if he didn’t believe me and tried to attack, I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry out my threat. My attacker grunted and dropped his club.

I heaved a silent sigh of relief. “Right, so now just walk away slowly,” I instructed him sternly.

To my amazement he took a step backwards and then turned around and disappeared into the trees. I gaped after him. “Wow,” I murmured. “That went better than I expected.” Then I remembered Maree.

The falling snow was beginning to settle on her still form and I dropped to my knees beside her. I pressed my fingers to her neck, desperately hoping for a pulse. I felt a faint but steady throbbing under my fingers and a sob of relief caught in my throat. She was alive at least.

I stood up and looked around, I needed to get her out of the snow. Reaching down, I brushed the snowflakes off Maree and spread her mud splattered jacket over her. “Don’t you move,” I whispered. “I’m just going to scout around.”

I pushed through the fir trees, ignoring the branches slapping my face. Surely somewhere I could find some shelter. I pressed on, anxious for Maree. I wished I didn’t have to leave her but it was the only way. I stumbled and fell over a large branch on the ground. Looking up, I stared into a small cave, shrouded in deep darkness. I crept forward, cautiously watching out for any sign of occupation.

I crawled to the back of the cave and, finding nothing, I smiled. “Perfect,” I said aloud, scrambling out into the open, “Now I’ve just got to get back to Maree, and get her here somehow.”

I carefully retraced my steps. My footprints were just visible in the thin layer of snow that speckled the ground. I had almost reached the path once more when a sound alerted me to the danger.

I dropped on my stomach and wriggled forward. At first I didn’t see anything but then dark shapes came into view, and soon I could recognise them as soldiers. I caught my breath sharply as I saw the manticore symbol on the tunic of the nearest man. Hacaz’s men.

I crawled along the tree line, my heart in my throat, hoping against hope that they hadn’t found Maree yet.

All hope faded when I reached the place where Maree lay, only to see Hacaz standing over her, a huge sneer on his face. I strained to hear what he was saying. This wasn’t as hard as I expected as his was the only voice and he certainly wasn’t making any effort to speak quietly.

“...Whoever did it mustn’t have realised what a favour he was doing us,” Hacaz was saying. “I’ve wanted to thump her head ever since she slipped away the first time.” He turned to the Captain of the unit and bared his teeth in a ruthless grin.

The Captain rested his hand on his sword. “What better opportunity than now?” he suggested. He nudged Maree with his toe, “I don’t think you’ll get much resistance.”

Anger tugged in my gut, but I forced it down with a desperate effort.

Hacaz narrowed his eyes and looked down at Maree thoughtfully. “Yes, that's almost a pity,” he paused then shot a glance at the Captain. “We’ll take her with us,” he decided. “She’ll find it hard to escape from our dungeons.”

The Captain nodded and gestured to two of the soldiers. “Brett and Landrin, tie up the prisoner and get her to the horses,” he barked.

The two soldiers complied with practiced ease, dragging Maree away to ‘the horses’. I bit my lip, but there was nothing I could do against all these soldiers.

Hacaz glanced around and I dared not breathe lest he notice me. “The other girl, Louise De Corlette, seems to have disappeared,” he said, almost disappointedly. “I did expect more of her. Maybe she was taken away by the Head Thumper,’ he said these last words with a cruel smile.

With a last study of the area, Hacaz clapped his hands. “Well, we’ve got half the prize we were looking for, and probably the other half is either dead already or will give up. I doubt that they had enough time for explanations so we can risk having her roaming around. Freespirit, on the other hand, knows too much.” He turned back down the track and all the soldiers formed up behind him, setting off after the other two men with Maree.

Soon the forest was silent once more. I stifled a sob, what could I do? Maree was the only reason I was here, and there was no way I could rescue her, so I may as well go home. 

You’re wrong, a voice whispered deep inside me, and I knew it spoke the truth. I couldn’t turn back, not now. Hacaz expected me to, and I’d spent half my life doing things people expected me to do. Maybe it’s time for that to change, I thought.

I stood up, realising just how cold it was, lying on the snow. I looked down the track where the soldiers went and then at the other side, in the direction of the lakeside village. I headed that way. Chances were, if I followed Hacaz I’d either freeze to death or be caught. This way I might meet some friends and surely someone would know the way to his castle.

I walked as fast as I dared, without risk of losing the faint path. Time seemed to slow as I stumbled along, my fingers turning blue with cold. The falling snow deadened all sound and slowly got heavier and heavier so that I could only see a few meters in front of me.

‘Approximately two hours,’ Maree had said, I shivered; I didn’t have much chance. But she wasn’t sure and maybe she’d been wrong. I squinted at the ground, trying to make out the track. I couldn’t see it and there was no hope of turning back so I just continued forwards, hoping I was going the right way.

It seemed hours later when the trees around me started thinning and the unfrozen part of my head told me that I was nearly there. I staggered on, numb with cold. 

A glint of light caught my eye and I stumbled toward it. I lost sight of it and the frozen half of me was too slow in listening to the unfrozen half saying, it’s the wall of a house, so I crashed right into the door.

I blinked, waiting for the stars to stop zinging around my vision. I raised my hand to knock on the door but it flung open and I only just managed to jump back in time to avoid being knocked flying.

A tall dark silhouette emerged before me, and hands shot out and grabbed my shoulders with a grip like steel.

I fought against my capturer, tugging back urgently, twisting and struggling. “Oh no you don’t,” a voice growled, pulling me towards the door.

“Please, I’m a friend!” I shouted desperately, hoping I was right.


1. “That’ll be for me to decide,” the figure said.

2. “Oh,” I was released suddenly. “Sorry, I thought you were my cousin.”

3. “Let her go!” another voice called from inside the house, a voice I’d heard before.


Thanks for reading, I'm looking forward to all your comments.
And now I'd better go do my week's worth of maths. (I kinda forgot it...that happens when you homeschool...)


Friday, 27 November 2015

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Seven

Started writing: 8:30
Finished Fragment (including procrastination): 12:00
Inward Attitude Towards The Writing: Pretty Cool (as usual)
Outward Signs: Deathlike Groaning (also as usual)
Amount Of Words: 1,791
Amount of Characters (with spaces): 9,297
Number Of Times That One Song Was Repeated: Unknown

Okay...So there's this one song (I don't feel like revealing its name just yet)  that I think really goes with Maree. I've been wondering just how many times I've played this 'one certain song'. I listen to it over and over every time I'm writing these Fragments, so the number would be quite large (especially now that I've worked out how to put it on repeat so it literally plays constantly). It's a really cool song though, so I like it when it gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day. And it's been quite inspirational at times, and I'm still using snatches of words or lines from the song in the stories. Maybe one day I'll tell you what it is...probably once I've revealed more about Maree's past. (Dunno when that's gonna happen.)

Yeah, anyway, option two won (was that a surprise?). Sadly that option was the one that I had the least idea about. Option one and three I had 0 idea, but for option two I had -1. But once I actually began I discovered that, buried deep in the darkest depths of my mind I did have an idea. After a bit of head-to-desk contact I was convinced to come forward onto paper (or rather, a Word Document). So here you go, the completed and finished Fragment Seven.

Jack burst through the door and stumbled into the room. “Something wrong?” his father asked, grabbing the boy’s shoulders. 

Before he could say anything Maree jumped at him, clamping her hand over his mouth.

“Now, whateever ‘e seys, jest beleeve me. Eef them soldiers find oot as ye’ve hid us, they’ll noot spare you. Eef ye hand us oover to ‘em they’ll be back an’ they won’t be coomin’ ter thank ye,” she said quickly. Then, very slowly, she removed her hand from the boy’s mouth.

He heaved in a shuddering breath and looked at his father. “They saw me,” he said, his eyes wide. “An’ they asked me if I’d seen a pair of girls around. The Captain told me as if I did, they’d pay me in gold if I told ‘em.”

I glanced toward Maree, licking my suddenly dry lips. “What did you say?” I asked, nervously.

Jack looked at me. “I didn’t say anything,” he said stoutly. “I just shook my head and ran. Luckily they didn’t see your horses.”

“You’ll have to run,” Sir Creighton said, turning to us. “If they come in here, I’ll be enough to distract them for the time being.”

Judith sprang into action. “Into that room, and hurry,” she cried, pushing me into a small bedroom.

Jack ran in with us, slamming the door shut and running to a tiny window. He jerked the curtains open and glanced out of the glassless opening. “All safe,” he said. “Out you climb.”

I struggled out, thankful that I was no longer wearing a long dress. When my feet touched the ground I looked back through the window. The bedroom door opened and Sir Creighton strode to Maree, passing her a long parcel. “You may need these soon,” he explained. “I wish I had time to tell you how I escaped, but that is the one thing we do not have. Let it suffice for me to say that the stronghold of Hacaz is not so strong as once supposed. There is a weak point—” he broke off at the sound of hammering. “Fare well my friends, I do not think we shall meet again,” he said, and with that, he turned and left the room.

Come on,” I hissed at Maree as she frowned at the door.

She turned and was about to spring out of the window when she hesitated. “Get out,” Jack whispered urgently.

Maree raced to the small wooden chest along the wall, flinging it open. She grabbed something out of it, shut it and vaulted out the window.

“Hey! That’s my favourite...” Jack began but we were already racing for the trees.

I found running much easier without my skirts wrapping around my legs and trying to trip me over. Maree still outran me, but I was pleased with the progress.

We dived into the trees, twisting through them and dodging around the larger trunks. Had I been the leader, we would have doubtless ended up right where we began, but Maree seemed to have some kind of internal compass.

“Where’re we going?” I called to her.

She slowed to allow me to catch up and pointed ahead. “Thet way.”

“What’s ‘that way’?” I asked.

“The eedge o’ the forest an’ a vellage by the river. They ‘ave a treede set oop between ‘em and another toown on the eedge o’ the lake, so they’ll be havin’ a boat we coold borrow,” Maree said.

I looked curiously at the two bundles she held. One long and oddly shaped – from Sir Creighton – and the other which looked strangely like clothes. Maree stopped and passed me the second bundle. “Hold thet, will ye?” she asked, and turned her attention to the one from Sir Creighton.

She unwrapped it and revealed first a bow and then a quiver of arrows. I watched a grin pull the corners of her mouth. “Ah, he’s goot a sense o’ humour after all,” she murmured, tying the belt around her waist so the quiver hung at her right side.

“Huh?” I asked, puckering my brow.

Maree looked up as she strung the bow deftly. “We met, he an’ I, oover a bow. I were tryin’ ter borrow ‘is ye see. Weell, noot borrow, steal really, but I liked t’ call eet borrow ‘cause I deed always plan ter geeve eet back. And eet were only rare occasions as I forgot.”

I tried to imagine how such a meeting would have ended, but I couldn’t decide who would be more likely to win. “What happened?” I asked, when my own imagination failed.

“Sir Creighton gave me a loong steeck, some streeng and a half made arrow – eet deedn’t ‘ave the point yet – an’ he told me ter run oof like a good leetle girl,” Maree laughed aloud.

I considered the bundle of clothes in my hands. Maree took them from me, grinning widely. “D’you theenk they’ll fit?” she asked, shrugging off her own mud coated leather jacket and donning the thick felt coat.

“Well, it fits better than the last one,” I commented. 

Maree’s grin widened. “Hope Jack don’t mind too much. I theenk ‘e were sayin’ somthin’ aboot ‘is favourite somethin’...” she left the sentence hanging, her facing looking like it was about to split in two if she smiled any more. “I’ll be keepin’ the old one though, jest in case.” 

“Are we planning on getting to this village any time soon?” I reminded her.

“Oh, yeah,” Maree said, delving into the bundle again and slipping the leather shooting glove onto her right hand, and a long armguard for her left. “There,” she sighed in satisfaction. “Thet feels much better. And noow...Dúinn aller.”

“What does that mean anyway?” I asked, frowning as she set off at a brisk walk.

“Ye’ll work eet oot sometime,” Maree replied without hesitating in her stride.

I hurried to catch up, my feet crunching on the sticks and leaves on the damp ground. There was a strange feeling in the air, it was not terribly cold, but it certainly was colder than it should be. Maree kept glancing up at the clouds just visible through the leaves of the trees. She quickened her pace, and I noticed that her fingers were clenched tightly around the grip of her bow. Maree seemed to do that when she was worried, so I decided that something must be wrong.

Eventually Maree spoke. “I dinna be likin’ the look of them clouds,” she remarked, her dark eyebrows lowered.

I started fiddling with my unfastened hair – a habit I’d gained when I was unsure about something – and didn’t reply, waiting to see if she continued.

“Eet looks like—”

A slivery white dot landed on my hand. “Snow,” I finished. I released the small plait that I had unconsciously made and brushed the flake off my skin. “I guess that doesn’t make our chances of reaching safety very high?”

Maree shrugged, as another snowflake descended from the heavens. “Beest we can be doin’ es leg eet,” she said. Thus saying she spun around and started to run. 

I started after her, tripped over a rotten stump and only just caught myself on a nearby tree. I scrambled upright again and stumbled after Maree.

The snowflakes drifted down in greater numbers, glinting as they floated and settled on the leaves of trees and began to create a white blanket on the ground. 

Maree’s hair had a dusting of snow in its dark curls and I figured mine wasn’t much better. “How close to that village are we?” I called.

“Hard to sey,” Maree replied. “Thees snow es makin’ eet deeficult.”

“Approximately?” I asked hopefully.

“D’you be wantin’ me to make ye feel better or ter tell ye the true fact?” Maree returned.

I hesitated. “True fact,” I decided, better to know the worst scenario.

“Appox’mately two hours, theen,” Maree said over her shoulder.

I slumped inwardly, and couldn’t help but slow my pace a little. “Two hours? We’ll never make it.”

“Not neever,” Maree assured me. “Jest noot in the next two hours.” She paused for a moment and the only sound was our running footsteps on the snow specked ground. “Thet’s eef it weren’t snowin’,” Maree added.

I stopped, despair defeating me. Maree followed suit and turned to me. “Dinna be loosin’ heart though,” she said, gripping my shoulder, her earnest black eyes on mine. “Have courage. Ye’ve got eet en you, I know ye do.”

I realised that Maree was stronger than I knew, there was something about her past and all this business that I needed to find out about. One piece of a puzzle to make all the other pieces fit together.

Maree sighed. “I’ll expleen when we git ter the village,” she said, as if reading my thoughts. “I guess ye deserve to know.”

“Oh, don’t tell me if you don’t want to,” I answered, although I desperately wanted to find out.

“Nay,” Maree shook her head. “Eet’s time I told someone.” She turned back in the direction we’d been following for what seemed like hours now. This time she didn’t run, just walked, her eyes fixed on the ground. I was unsure whether she was looking for a path or just deep in thought, either way that was doubtless the reason she didn’t see the danger until it was too late.

A huge figure jumped out of the trees, an enormous club raised over his head. Maree barely had time to look up before the club began its journey downwards.

“Careful!” I shouted pointlessly.

The cudgel swept down and landed with a sickening thud on Maree’s head.

Maree’s legs crumpled beneath her from the massive force of the blow and she fell to the ground in a heap.

“No!” I yelled in horror, before I could stop myself.

The huge man turned to me with a guttural sound and, club upraised, he charged.


1. “Help!” I screamed to no one in particular, and ran.

2. “Oh no you don’t,” I said resolutely, grabbing a branch from the ground and holding it in readiness for his incoming blow.

3. The fact that I didn’t stop to think showed that, even then, I had already learnt something from my adventures. Sometimes there wasn’t time for thinking. I dived for Maree’s bow.


So...that last bit was a little unexpected even for me, when I found myself writing the words. Don't worry, she doesn't die but I have forseen some difficulties ahead...after all it is an Adventure. Looking forward to your comments, and thanks for reading. 

Dúinn aller!

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Bedtime Book Tag

I'd like to thank my dear sister Clare for tagging me for the 'Bedtime Book Tag'. I haven't done one of these tag things since September, so I guess it was time for another to come around again. At least this one's about books. So, as far as I know all I have to do is answer questions! Sounds easy, I'll give it my best shot.

Yup, thanks for the cool picture, Clare. :D

1. A book that kept you up all night.
I've never done all night. The latest I've got was 2 in the morning I think. That was when I was reading 'The Emperor of Nihon-Ja' (Book ten in the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan). I believe I've stayed up fairly late for some other books...

2. A book that made you scared to sleep.
Umm, I really don't know that I've ever really been scared to sleep. Except maybe if it's ten pm and I don't want to go to bed because the world's about to explode...but then I just finish the book or something.

3. A book that made you go to sleep.
Once I listened to an audio book of 'Dragon Keeper' by Carole Wilkinson. It didn't literally make me go to sleep but it got rather annoying because the main character was sooooo, er, let's say...silly. It was a rather predictable story.

4. A book that left you tossing and turning all night in anticipation of its release.
Well, I was pretty excited about 'A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis being released. Same with The Ranger's Apprentice Prequel - The Tournament at Gorlan. Oh, let's not forget the Brotherband books...

5. A book that has your favourite boy/girl relationship.
The Billabong series is definitely high on that list. I really love Norah and Wally and how Wally never actually (well, he kinda forgot about it for a while) asked her to marry him, it just got supposed it was happening. :D Also, both 'Heartless' and 'Starflower' by Anne Elisabeth Stengl had that kind of thing in them, and they were pretty cool.

6. A book that would be your worst nightmare to live in.
A book where dreams come true. Okay, maybe that was too random an answer. I don't think I'd like to live in Divergent (I'd most likely die), or A Time To Die (I'd most likely die), or...I can't think of any others really...

7. A book that reminds you of night-time.
'Draven's Light' by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. It's an amazing book. I cried at the end. But it really good. You should seriously read it.

8. A book that had a nightmareish cliffhanger.
Er...I don't know, I try not to read books that Clare has read and says have horrible cliffhanger endings. But, mostly all the 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' and 'The Heroes of Olympus' have ended with a cliffhanger of sorts, and they're really annoying, because I've been borrowing the books from a friend I see every Monday night at band. So I have a whole week to wait after finishing the book on Tuesday or Wednesday. And she doesn't necessarily remember to bring the next one...horrible sometimes.

9. A book you actually dreamed about.
Actually, I dream about a lot of books. Strange, I know. If I fall asleep thinking about the book I generally have something in my dreams about it, and sometimes that can be pretty cool. I've had dreams about Lord Of The Rings/ The Hobbit, Ranger's Apprentice/Brotherband, and other thing like that. I also dream about movies...Once I was was a Time Lord. That was cool.

10. A book monster you wouldn't want to find under your bed. 
Right, can someone tell me someone who actually wants a monster under their bed? Well, I don't really know. Personally I'd rather not wake up and find Smaug hiding under my bed...or any monster actually. I don't know of any monster I would want to find under my bed. (I have a bunk-bed so I could fit some pretty scary things under there quite easily.)

So there we are. That wasn't really, really easy, but I survived! Now...who shall I tag? Aha! I can think of two people, and one of them quite possibly won't do anything about it but I'll tag Zach from Zach's Abode, and while I'm at it I'll tag my cousin Jessica from Inspiration too.
All you have to do is answer the above questions and post 'em on your blog. It ain't hard to do. And I'll be waiting... ;D

Fare Thee Well!

Friday, 20 November 2015

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Six

Here we are, already up to Fragment six. I'm kind of wondering how long this story is going to go on for...and what it'll turn out like in the end. But with things like this, you never know until you get there, so I'll just have to wait and see.

I spent part yesterday morning doing Church Cleaning and when I got home I started on the writing. By the time I'd finally finished (and you see the pain in every letter of that 'finally'?) my school work still hadn't done itself! Can you believe it? That's just plain meannnnn
Today I finished my science for the year. Yay! I'm also quite close to finishing my history and literature/English as well, and technically my maths but I've still got about three weeks or so of that.

So...last week option two got the majority. I wasn't really expecting that, and I had no clue what was meant to come after that option. But I just made it up as I went along. I hope you like what I ended up with!

Sir Creighton was leaning casually on a tree, one foot propped up on the trunk behind him. Or, at least, I thought it was Sir Creighton. His build, hair and even posture was the same, but surely Sir Creighton, Hacaz or whatever, couldn’t have gotten here that fast.

Maree gaped at the man who looked strangely similar to our enemy. “What een all o’ Feâ Sirih be you doin’ here?”

The man straightened. “Come on,” he beckoned to us. “There’s a bridge, just up the river a little.”

I glanced at Maree. “Who’s he? And why does he look so much like Sir...umm Hacaz?”

 “Shh,” Maree hissed. “I’ll expleen later. But whatever ye do, dinna be mentionin’ thet name.” Maree grabbed her horse’s bridle and jogged up-stream in the direction the Sir Creighton guy had pointed.

“How do you know it isn’t a trap?” I asked, literally slipping off my horse and following. “I didn’t think it was a smart idea to do what your enemy asked you to.”

“Generally eet ain’t,” Maree called back. “But ‘e ain’t our enemy.”

I resisted the urge to ask, ‘Then what is he?’ and pushed through the undergrowth behind my companion.

Maree walked tentatively over the rough bridge, testing each step carefully before putting her weight on it. Her black horse followed her example and they both reached the other side safely.

I placed a foot on the uneven planks, following Maree’s muddy footprints. I breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped off the other end.

The strange man was waiting impatiently and beckoned again. “Don’t take so long,” he said. “We’ve got to get to where I’m staying before the soldiers reach the river.”

Maree nodded reassuringly. “I’ll expleen later,” she repeated, and set off after our guide.

The voluminous skirts of my dress were not enthused about a trek through the forest, and they voiced this as well as they could. I walked on, pretending not to notice when the expensive fabric caught on bushes and bracken, reluctant to release their hold. A loud ripping sound and a hard tug stopped me in my tracks. Maree too paused, looking back.

The hem of my dress was jammed between the ground and the hoof of my light brown horse. Sadly – for the dress – Ripper, as I started calling her, had taken a little longer than I had to come to a complete standstill. This explained the ripping sounds. Not to mention the huge tear that reached halfway up the skirt.

For once I was thankful for underskirts as I pushed Ripper back a little and rescued the muddy remains of my hem. I held the reins in one hand and lifted my dress clear of the ground with the other. When I looked up Maree’s expression told me that she’d been grinning widely just seconds before. I rolled my eyes.

“P’raps we shoold find new clothes sooneesh,” she said innocently.

I sniffed. I’d never done that before, but it sounded good when Governess Kathryn did it so I decided to give it a go.

Maree’s eyebrows shot up at the sound, and just for the reaction I sniffed again. “A feegure o’ ledylike deestain,” Maree said. “I’m almoost scared.”  That said she turned away, not waiting for my answer. Which was just as well, because, after all, what could one say back to a remark like that?

In another minute or so we emerged from the dense trees and out into a tiny clearing. A log cabin nestled between the trees, a faint curl of smoke floating from the chimney. “Ye leeve here?” Maree asked the man leading us.

“Not live,” he replied. “I’m just staying temporarily.”

I frowned at his back; I still couldn’t work out who he was. He was even wearing the exact clothes that Hacaz had been back in the manor but somehow he was a different person? Sorry, but I found that hard to understand.

The door opened and a lean man came out. Seeing us, he jerked his head toward the cabin. “Come on in,” he invited, he turned back to the interior of the building. “Jack! Come look after these horses.”

A tall, young boy of about twelve ran out the door and took the reins of our horses. “They aren’t ours,” I said. “We’ll need to return them to the farmer.”

“Jack’ll do that in a day or two, don’t you worry,” his father replied. “Please come in. I’m afraid we weren’t expecting guests, our other visitor did think he heard someone around, but he’s always hearing strange things.” This last was said with a friendly clap on the back for our escort.

I shook hands with our host and thanked him profusely. Maree went to do the same but realised her hand was covered in a thick layer of mud, she wiped it on her trousers but only succeeded in getting it even more filthy. “Sorry about her,” I said, laughing. “She fell in the river.”

“So I see,” the man said, looking over Maree with a half smile. “I’m sure we could find some cleaner clothes to fit you.”

Maree grinned cheerfully. “No need,” she said. “I be fine wi’ theese.”

“Actually, I think there’s a very great need,” a woman appeared in the doorway. “Come in, and we’ll look to getting some food and clothes. For both of you,” she added after a glance at the state of my dress.

The inside of the hut was open and friendly, sunlight trickling through the leaves of the trees eventually made its way through the wide windows, lighting up the room. “I’m Judith,” the smiling woman introduced herself. “And this is Dan, my husband, you’ve already met Jack. And there’s Jayne, Jenny, Jill and Juliana,” she continued, pointing in turn, to each of the four girls around the room.

They each curtseyed and I automatically did the same. Maree, standing beside me, looked awkwardly from them to me and back again, as if wondering if she was supposed to do the same.

“I’m Louise D—” I began, but Maree cut me off.

“She’s Looise Conweell, and I’m Maree Freespirit,” she said quickly, and I realised the wisdom of not revealing my full name.

“Pleasure to meet you,” the four girls replied in unison, dropping another curtsey.

I smiled at Maree’s bemused expression then touched her arm to attract her attention. “You were going to explain?” I prompted meaningfully.

“What? Oh, yees,” she said, frowning as she tried to think how to start.

“Why does he look like...Sir Creighton?” I asked in a low voice, remembering that she’d told me not to mention the name ‘Hacaz’.

“Thees ees Sir Creighton. He’s a reel man, Hacaz deedn’t make the name oop. He deescovered as Sir Creighton were almost identeecal to ‘im and so took over hees identity and...deesposed o’ the true man,” Maree explained quietly.

“What’s he doing here then?” I asked, glancing at the knight out of the corner of my eye.

“I’d like ter be knowin’ the answer to thet as much as ye,” she replied. “But ye canna find a more troost-worthy man. I met ‘im a coupla weeks back.”

‘Excuse me,” Judith approached. She had several items of clothing draped over her arm. She looked through the garments and then tugged out some and passed them to me. “They look like they’d fit you,” she said. “They’ll be better for travelling too.” She glanced at Maree, “I imagine you’ll be doing a bit of that?”

“Aye,” Maree agreed. “We’ve jest goot a whole unit o’ soldiers after us. No hay problema.”

“You can try them on in there,” Judith gestured to a door. “They should fit. They’re Jayne’s and you two look about the same size.”

I nodded, still thinking about this real Sir Creighton, and crossed the room to it, closing the door behind me. I changed quickly, glad to have clean clothes on again. The fabric was much more hardy than that of any of my clothes back where Governess Kathryn decided my wardrobe. And to add to that, it wasn’t exactly a dress, it reached down to my knees and under it I wore the tight leggings Judith had provided. They were made of a dark leaf-green colour which I liked; besides it would be easier for hiding in.

When I emerged our hostess was holding up odd garments to Maree, frowning severely and shaking her head. Maree scowled darkly at the pink shirt that Judith was holding. I grinned at both of their expressions, apparently Maree’s new-clothes-fitting wasn’t going too well.

“Agh,” the mistress of the house exclaimed. “None of these would do. They’re either too big or too small, and the ones that might fit she outright refuses to even hold!” She turned to me in exasperation.

Jack burst through the door and stumbled into the room. “Something wrong?” his father asked, grabbing the boy’s shoulders.


1. “They’re comin’!” Jack gasped, waving a hand toward the door. “Soldiers, heaps o’ them.”

2. Before he could say anything Maree jumped at him, clamping her hand over his mouth.

3. “Nope, everything’s fine,” he gasped. He was terrible liar.


To tell the truth, I have no idea whatsoever of what's going to happen after any of the options. Yeah, not cool. I'll probably forget about that until next Thursday though, and then I'll sit at the computer for a couple of hours, moaning and groaning (yup, I make strange noises when I'm writing this stuff) between moments of inspiration. Yesterday it was after 2 o'clock before I ate lunch...Also not cool. By that stage I was starting to hear the words 'food', 'eat' and other such things in everyone's conversation. I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed my lunch. ;)

Fare Thee Well!