Monday, 29 February 2016

Leap Day - An Occurrence of Note

Leap day. It only happens every four years, so I couldn't help it. I had to do a post.

Now, I wasn't actually planning on doing this, I was going to do a completely different post but then, since I don't have any photos yet, and it's Leap Day today, I thought I'd put it off for another week. Sorry if you were looking forward to it. It is still coming.

But on to Leap Day!


What can I say about Leap Day? It is the day in which we all should temporarily give up walking and leap around the house/town just for randomness sake. I imagine it would be quite good exercise...

Leap Day is an extra twenty-four hours, a whole day more than we normally get in a year, so maybe we should make it worth it. Here are some ways (hopefully not too late) I've thought up that we could use our extra day for:


Take the time to say an encouraging word to a younger sibling 
(or any family member)
Little siblings look up to us, and even just saying a kind word will put a smile on their face.
Any other family member - be it an older sibling, a parent or more distantly related - will feel special and loved if you slow down for a couple of minutes and do something for them, or even just smile.

Write a letter or email to a missionary
It's amazing how much they appreciate a short update on how things are 'back home.'

Pray for people you know are struggling or unwell
Naturally you could do this every day but with an extra day on hand...

Read the Bible
What better way to spend a day than delving into God's Word?

Do your chores and work diligently without complaining
This can be a great way to make your parents' day better.

Ask a friend how they're going
I know this one sounds a little strange, but honestly, I can think of so many times when I've made the conversation about me when I should be thinking of their needs.

Laugh at yourself
If you do something silly, don't feel embarrassed or angry. Laugh. It makes everyone else feel bad if you do, and it is that kind of thing that makes me want to forget a memory. If you laugh everyone will too, and you'll all be the more cheerful for it.

Keep a smile on your face
A frown will make people awkward and careful around you, and it's immensely hard to cheer someone up when you're not happy yourself. Look outside, see God's wonderful creation and Smile. Think of the last time your crazy friend told a hilarious joke, and Smile!


Can you think of any simple acts of kindness to make someone's Leap Day better? Test yourself and see how many people you can make laugh today.


Friday, 26 February 2016

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Nineteen

Why are the most interesting options unfailingly the hardest ones to write?

Maybe I should just adjust my level of 'hard' so that every week is really easy (I started at nine and actually finished at twelve! Can you believe how fast that was?!). At the moment 'hard' is after one o'clock. Buuut, at the same time, hard can be fun too. I get to procrastinate on Pintrest until I eventually convince myself to stop, I can sit listening to epic music for ages, and I'm writing, which, despite all appearances, I do actually enjoy doing. I like that I can create whole worlds from just my imagination. I mean, how cool is that?

Option three got double the votes against option one, and boring, old option two got none. :) So there wasn't any close ties this time. 

I better not forget to mention that I have some news for you...which I'll hopefully impart on Monday maybe...or sometime as soon as I can. But only if you survive in suspense for that long!


The door closed again. Silence.

I felt the blood drain from my face, no sound of footsteps approached, no sound of breathing. Either no one had actually come in, or the person who had was being very careful about not being heard.

I glanced sideways at Maree. She stood rigid, eyes fixed on the doorway. With barely a rustle of movement, Leonora rose from the floor, her hand resting lightly on the hilt of her sword.

Striving to keep my breath silent, I watched the door, waiting to see what new horror would appear.

A shadow stepped out, a dark hood obscuring his face.

Maree leapt forward, tackling the figure to the ground. A shout came and I blinked trying to remember where I’d heard that voice. Suddenly remembering, I started forward.

“Stop!”

Maree and her assailant froze.

“Get off him,” I grabbed Maree’s arm and pulled her away, kneeling beside the man. “Are you okay?” I asked.

A shaking hand reached out to mine. “I weren’t goin’ to hurt ye,” the old man said, grasping my fingers.

“Of course you weren’t, we just didn’t realise who you were,” I said, helping him to his feet.

Turning, I saw the eyes of all in the room were fixed on me. I shrugged. “This is a man who helped me get away from the soldiers earlier,” I explained.

Maree was staring at him, her head on one side and a curious expression on her face. Leonora stepped forward, bowing her head slightly. “I’m very sorry, sir, if I had known…” she held out a hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

He shook the offered hand, looking around at the watching faces. “I’d not realised there were this many of ye,” he said.

I smiled. “Well, now you know. I’m Louise, by the way,” I introduced myself.

He nodded. “I saw the hermit leavin’ so I knew y’ were in here,” he spoke urgently. “I came t’ warn you. The soldiers are surrounding the town, it won’t be possible t’ leave soon. It’ll be hard enough now, with so many o’ ye.”

Eumin rose. “We’ll have to leave now then. Is there some way out other than the front gates?”

“Aye, there’s the old gate, that’s niver guarded, but don’t count on it at the moment.”

Eumin and Leonora’s eyes met and a silent message seemed to pass between them. “I’m for leaving now,” Leonora said.

I nodded. “Same here. We’ve got to get to the king.”

Maree nodded vaguely, her brows lowered in thought. Everyone turned to Jack. He waved a hand. “I can’t really stay behind while all my bodyguard leaves, can I?” he said, standing. “I’m with you.”

The old man nodded and turned to the door. “I’ll show you the way.”

We walked through the back streets with heads lowered, avoiding other people whenever possible. Some saw and recognised us, but they just moved on, pretending not to have noticed. One of these passed me a grin as he moved away. But it was Maree who drew the most glances, she was walking behind with the two horses that she’d refused to leave behind.

Our guide stopped us a building away from the old gate. He pressed a finger to my lips as I went to ask a question. “Sorry lass, there’s soldiers a plenty here, no way ye’ll be able t’ get out.” He gestured for us to take a look.

I glanced around the corner quickly, pulling back almost as soon as I did. The image was clear in my mind. Soldiers. All alert, all ready. All with orders to catch us and bring us back to Hacaz, and if we resist, to kill us.

A shiver ran down my spine.

“What’re we going t’ do now?” Jack asked after a quick survey of our situation.

“Nothing,” Eumin replied heavily. “What else can we do? If this gate is that heavily guarded what are the main ones going to be like?”

“Less,” I said.

Everyone turned a confused stare on me.

“It makes sense, don’t you see?” I continued, undaunted by their incredulity. “They would expect us to try for the old gate, or some small insignificant way of escape. What if we just walked out through the biggest gate there was? The soldiers wouldn’t expect that.”

Leonora began nodding slowly. “Yeees,” she drew out the word. “That does make sense.” She looked around at the others. “I don’t see that we’d have less chance, if anything it’d be easier. Here there’s a dozen soldiers for a meter wide gap. Say they have a dozen soldiers for a three meter wide gap. That would make it much harder for them to keep track of everyone.”

The old man looked consideringly at me. “Yer obviously no novice a’ this game,” he remarked. “If you’re all decided I’ll show ye the way.”

Without waiting for an answer, he trotted off along another narrow alley. I followed, the rest coming behind, Maree taking up the rear. The horses’ hooves clopped softly on the ground.

Not softly enough.

The soldiers were almost upon us before we realised. Maree yelled the alarm and started running, the horses following suit.

The old man ducked into an alley, and then another one that came of it, and yet another. He led us to a dark corner and when the soldiers ran into the street they stopped, spreading out immediately to scour the area.

“We should split up,” I hissed. “Each take one horse.”

Leonora nodded. “Good plan,” she said. “Any more coming?”

“If we ride the horses through the gate then the soldiers might be less likely to notice us because it makes sense that we would try to hide,” I added after a moment.

“Is that your motto?” Leonora asked in an amused voice. 

“What?” 

“To think of what would make sense and then do the opposite?” 

I grinned wryly, “Maybe.”

“We’d best become scarce soon,” Jack said. He nodded to the soldiers, “They’ll see us if we don’t move, and if we do. I’d prefer to be caught moving, personally.”

“Let’s go then,” I said, grabbing the reins of a horse. “Get up,” I said to the old man. “You’re coming with me. I’ve been lost once today already. Jack, you’re probably the next lightest, so you can ride with him. I’m the best for running.”

“We’ll be meetin’ y’ on the heell on the oother side o’ toown,” Maree said.

I was about step into the open when Leonora grabbed my arm. “Which way are going? Left or right? We’ll go the other way.”

“You go straight for the gate. I’m going the way they won’t be expecting,” I said with a smile. Shaking off her arm, I ran out, sprinting directly at the soldiers.

They yelled in triumph and ran toward us, I released my hold on the reins, slapping the horse’s side. It jolted forward, moving at a canter. The soldiers realised that the horses wasn’t planning to stop, or move from its course and they scattered, diving out of the way.

I ran as fast as I could, right through the staggering men, following the horse as best I could. Our old guide knew the backstreets perfectly and it was just as well for me that the soldiers were less accomplished. But it was still a fair amount of time before they had completely lost us in the maze.

The old man smiled down at me. “We’ve lost ‘em now,” he declared. “And the main gate’s just over there.” He waved a hand in the general direction, joining me on the ground, “You get up now, an’ I’ll lead you the rest o’ the way.”

I mounted the horse with a bit of difficulty, since Jack was already. I held the reins loosely in one hand, remembering the feel of riding my prim mare under Governess Kathryn’s hawk-like eye. Those days seemed like years ago.

I followed the hunched figure of the man as he led us out onto the busy main street. People were coming in and out of the town just as usual, if not more than ordinary, and I could see the soldiers at the gates had their hands full.

The people around ignored our presence, except to move out of the way of the horse. I resisted the urge to hunch down in the saddle, but sat straight, keeping my eyes on the far line of trees as we neared the gate.

Surely they would hear my heart beating even from here. They’d recognise me or Jack and then we’d be lost for sure. I steadied myself, blanking my mind from thoughts of that kind.

I directed the horse through the gate with a last tense smile at the old man. “Thanks for the help,” Jack said.

“Yes, thanks,” I agreed emphatically, my voice quavering ever so slightly.

Receiving an acknowledging smile and nod, I returned my eyes to the trees. The soldiers paid only a passing attention to us as we rode out of the town.

My breath came easier as we drew away. I caught sight of the others on the hilltop, Maree waved from the horse. Apparently they’d gotten out alright. I urged the horse faster, eager to reach the safety of the trees.

“Hang on a moment,” Jack said, gripping my sleeve. “Something’s going on.”

At the sounds of commotion behind us, I pulled up the horse, half turning to see. The soldiers that had chased us through the back streets had finally caught up and were almost at a gate.

One had a bow in his hands and he paused, drawing it back. At first I was surprised that he would expect to hit one of us from such a distance, and then I realised that he wasn’t aiming for us.

The arrow bounded from the string, flying true to its aim. The tip thudded into the old man’s back.

He tottered for a moment and then fell face forward on the ground.


***

1. Up ahead, Maree jerked the head of her horse around, her eyes alight with an inner flame. She dug her heels into the horse’s sides and it took off at a gallop. Back toward the soldiers

2. I stared at the still body. It was all my fault, if only I hadn’t suggested to try this gate. Then a red hot pain ripped up my shoulder, seeming to tear through my whole body.

3. From the street beside him, a young girl flew out, her mouth open in a wordless scream. She scrambled to reach the old man but a soldier kicked her down to the filthy cobbles.



***

Hmm, this is getting gloomy. More people are dying now. More people will be dying later. We must be getting closer to the climax. I'm interested to see which option you guys all like this week. Sometimes I'm glad you get to decide, 'cause I dunno which I'd choose. :)

Fare Thee Well!


Monday, 22 February 2016

Of Two Sorts of Bows and Several Other Matters

Last Sunday my friend, Sarah, and I were sitting in a tree after church. We were discussing stories, and other such things, until I mentioned the fact that it was getting boiling hot. And I said that it would be so nice to just fall in a dam or something.

The idea grew more than I expected.

Soon we'd gotten hot enough to try our luck and see if this dream could become reality. And, low and behold, the parents agreed. Yay!
So that afternoon our family went out to Sarah's place and the excitement began.



To start off with, Sarah was asked to play her violin which she's been learning. Aaand since I want to learn too, she let me have a go. Surprisingly, everyone put up with my screeching for quite a while, and I had a ton of fun. I even managed to play most of 'The Last Goodbye,' and it almost sounded recognisable. Then I was dragged off the violin, or rather, the violin was dragged off me, and we headed out to the dam (it wasn't as hard to get me out there as it sounds, it just sounds better that way).

From then we had a great time tipping each other off surf skis and splashing, and chasing, and no drowning, which is always a good thing!

Eventually it was getting late-ish and we had to get out. Then since Zach had just gotten a new bow, we naturally had to do some archery (hence the 'two kinds of bows'). I'd brought my bow (under orders) and we had a nice new hay target -- just set up -- to shoot at, with a paper target in the middle. I wasn't told until the very end that the piece of paper was for aiming at, so I didn't hit it *grins innocently.* But no one else did, anyway. I even had the brains to bring the new arm guard I'd recently made from real leather. It actually worked, except I still got a nasty/good (depending on your view on bruises) one on my left arm. But it was from being pushed off the surf ski that I'd been standing on. Well, technically I wasn't pushed, Zach was about to try and tip me off, but I'd gotten a little distracted by his approach and "purposefully jumped off" before he could. I kind of whacked my arm on the surf ski as I fell jumped into the water.
After a fun I-don't-know-how-long, time of archery we had to go home. But in all it was a really fun day.

It also led to a search.

A search that could cost a high price if we found what we sought. A search that is not to be taken lightly. A search that would lead to unknown places...

In plainer words: we went searching (in a manner of speaking) for a violin. For me. Whenever the topic comes up, I do my best to keep my face reasonably neutral because I'm trying not to get too excited. If people could see what I really felt like inside...that could get amusing. When I think about the possibility of getting a violin I feel like jumping up and down squealing, with a grin wide enough to split my face, but that's too undignified for someone like me. (Ha ha ha...very funny, Jane, everyone knows just how dignified you are.)

But, we've found something. It's an ancient violin (old violins are actually better than new ones, generally speaking) and it just needs a few repairs.
Clare, being the photographer that she is, is also looking forward to all the photos she can take of me with it, I think my parents are both looking forward to when I can play nice songs on it, but I'm totally more excited than them. I know.
The violin is still 'maybe/hopefully,' not certain yet, we've still got to find out how much it will be to repair it and everything. 

I've been listening to quite a bit of Lindsey Stirling's songs, since Sarah introduced me to them last Sunday. Actually, the story is quite funny: I couldn't remember who had played the song Sarah showed me, and I could only remember that the name had something to do with 'Sky.' I believe the exact words I googled were: "Epic violin playing girl Sky." And it actually came up with exactly what I wanted! At the moment my favourites are definitely 'Lord of the Rings Medley' (surprise!) and 'Skyrim.' They're really epic. (It you had a 'Jane's inner thoughts detector' that sentence could be translated as: "AGHHH, I can't wait until I can play like that. But probably I'll never be that good. *Depressed sniffs* ooooh, but I want to..." But since no one has invented such a detector you'll never know) In fact, I'm listening to them both alternately as I write this!

So, it just goes to show that if you step out and do something, there is more possibility of it happening than if you sit in a tree dreaming about it. Even if it's just something like an afternoon with friends!
And that's all for now, have a great week and see you on Friday.

Fare Thee Well!


Friday, 19 February 2016

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Eighteen

We are slowly drawing ever closer to the conclusion of the story...I feel it in my bones. But there'll still be at least a month's worth of story before the end as far as I know at the moment. Aaaand there's still the sequel. Why do I get the feeling that I'll be the death of myself?

As you may have gathered from my replies to several comments, I was almost panicking at the amount of no-idea-ness that was in my head for option one:
Yeah...I don't often do that many capital letters in a row...

But, since I'm actually doing a post today, you can safely assume that I thought up something reasonable, and didn't die with splitting my head open on the desk. (I didn't even have to get rushed to hospital as there was some reviving pizza handy.) (Actually it was reasonably good after I worked out what was going to happen.)



The hermit laughed. “Sure an’ go ahead. I’ve got a couple of fugitives in the back o’ this cart.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, the hermit was meant to be a friend! And now he was giving us away?

The soldiers’ horses snorted and pawed the ground restlessly, and the soldiers seemed unsure what to say.

“But first, is the market open t’day?” the hermit asked in a conversational tone.

I racked my brains, trying to think of some way out. If I could just get out somehow then maybe the others could get away while the men were chasing me. Except they’d probably catch me, and that was the last thing I wanted.

But what other option did we have?

On the other side of the cart the soldiers continued to converse with the hermit, I moved my arm slowly to the edge of the wagon. My fingers curled around the rim and I shifted my body closer. No warning came from the soldiers.

A hand gripped m ankle, Maree’s dark eyes met mine. She shook her head frantically, but I pulled my foot away. It was the only way. I pulled back the cover slightly, peering out.

“Ye know, I’ve gotten quite a likin’ to these here donkeys, named ‘em both, and even taught ‘em some tricks,” the hermit was saying.

He whistled sharply in a series of high and low notes. The donkeys leapt straight up in the air, legs flailing madly. The cart jolted wildly and I lurched forward. On the spur of the moment I flung myself out of the cart, hoping against hope that the soldiers would be busy watching the donkeys as they came to earth.

I landed on the ground in an ungraceful heap, freezing in place instantly.

“What was that for?” one soldier bellowed. “You could’ve killed us!”

“Nah, me donkeys are far too wise for that sort of thing, they know the penalty for harassing soldiers is certain death,” the hermit said.

I closed my eyes, already wishing I’d stayed in the cart. In a moment the soldiers would remember their duty and search the cart, and then Maree and Jack’d be caught, and who knows what would happen to Leonora and Eumin. I had to move, and it was now or never.

I crawled away from the cart, lying as low to the ground as I could. From behind I heard the dreaded words. “We’ve got to search your cart anyway. It’s orders.”

I stood up. The soldiers had dismounted and were moving toward the skins, one had started to lift the corner. “Watch out! Soldiers!” I yelled, and as their heads snapped up, I turned and ran.

“It’s the fugitive!”

“After her!”

I sprinted down the street, trying to get my bearings. The thudding footsteps and yells of the soldiers spurred my legs ever faster. In the surprise of seeing me they’d forgotten to remount their horses and where chasing me on foot, one up for me, but they were still faster, and gained on me steadily.

My heart pounded as fast as my legs and I skidded around a corner, ducking into a side alley. I burst through the door of a house, dodging around the shocked owners, and squeezed out the tiny back window into another alley. The soldiers would have to find a different way out and any delay would do me good.

Entering a main street, I slowed my pace, looking around for the first time. People were on their way to the markets or back from them having made an early start. In a moment the peace was interrupted by the appearance of the soldiers, they spotted me again, and resumed their yells. I ran forward, the crowd clearing a way.

Surprised and curious stares followed me, but I felt no hostility. In fact, the people moved unobtrusively to block the soldiers. I dashed out of the open street and down another side road.

The soldiers were close behind, and wound my way deeper still into the complex of the town’s back streets and alleys. I shouldered open a door to an old looking building, closing it behind me. The soldiers would catch me soon, I couldn’t keep running for very much longer.

I turned to find a startled old man looking at me. “Sorry, don’t tell the soldiers,” I gasped. I’d hoped that the house was abandoned. Footsteps thundered closer.

“Is there anywhere t’ hide in here?” I asked. “Any other way out?”

The man shook his head silently.

I looked around in an agony of despair. The cold fireplace caught my eye, in a moment I was beside it, peering up into the sooty depths.

“We’ll check the houses!” The yell was all that stopped me from changing my mind then and there. I scrambled up into the chimney. To my relief I found a ledge on which I could stand. In the room beneath, the door burst open.

“You there! Did a girl come it here?”

Silence greeted the question and I covered my mouth with a shaking hand, stifling the strong need to cough. The darkness seemed to press in on me, closing around me. My breath came tight in my chest.

“Alright then, we’ll look in the others,” another voice spoke.

The door slammed shut.

I dropped down, stumbling into the clear. I gasped for air, looking to the old man in gratitude. He was staring at me with the same surprise on his face as before.

“Thanks,” I said.

He shook his head. “You go find some’ere safe t’ hide,” he said.

“Granda? What’s go’n’ oon?” a young girl poked her head around a door.

“Don’t worry, m’ girl,” the old man said, patting her hair idly. He turned back to me, “You’d best leave now afore them men come back.”

I nodded, and opened the door carefully, peeking out. The door of a nearby house banged, and I caught the glimpse of one of the men. I crept out into the alley, slipping down another narrow gap.

I started when I came face to face with a boy of around fourteen. He jerked back, his light hair falling into his eyes, and then flattened himself to one wall so I could pass.

I nodded a greeting and continued on, glancing back once. The boy had disappeared.

I had become dreadfully lost among the labyrinth of streets and alleys, and now I wandered around in confusion. I decided to head uphill, that way I’d at least have some aim.

My legs ached and now the adrenaline had faded I realised how tired I was. It was with feet dragging that I emerged into a bright sunlit area crowded with people. I looked up in surprise. Before my gaze had been on the ground, and I hadn’t noticed the wide street ahead.

Stalls and tables were set up around the place and...there, right in the middle, was the hermit in his cart. I ran forward, forgetting my weariness. The hermit turned quickly in his seat when I jumped up. “Yer alright!” he cried joyfully. “My, your friends were ready t’ kill me, but now they’ll ‘ave no excuse, though I think they’ll still want to.”

I remembered his words at the edge of the town. “Why did you say that?” I asked, suddenly angry.

“I can’t lie, girl, I’ve taken m’ vows and shan’t break ‘em for even the likes o’ you,” he said kindly.

He drove from the market quickly, commanding me to keep down until we were safely away, lest someone recognise me. We rumbled along the streets until the donkeys drew to a stop in front of a house.

The hermit ushered me inside. Closing the door he led me along a long hallway and into a dark room. “Don’t worry, ‘tis just me an’ yer straying friend,” he said before entering.

Maree stepped out from beside the door, sheathing a knife. “Looise! Ye’re okay?” her face broke into a crooked smile, grasping my hand in a death grip.

I smiled back, entering the darkened room. “So, this is our quarters for the rest of the day?”
Maree nodded, gesturing to the wall along which everyone else was sitting. “Take a seet an’ ye can teell us what ‘appened.”

The hermit rubbed his hands together. “I’ve got to get back. You’ll have enough food for a couple of days at least, and ye’ve got the horses from them kind soldiers that’ll help ye git wherever y’re goin’ faster.” He turned to the hall, “I wish ye all luck.” Then he disappeared.

His footsteps scraped down the hall and the door opened and then shut. Jack sighed softly, and everyone relaxed just that little bit.

A few seconds later the door opened again.


***

1. “I forgot to tell you somethin’.” The hermit’s voice rang down the hall. 

2. The even steps of marching soldiers came through the door, it sounded like there were dozens of them. 

3. The door closed again. Silence.

***

Phew! I actually worked out what was going to happen! It's always nice when that happens. Hope you enjoyed it. :)

Fare Thee Well!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Cinder & Scarlet – Marissa Meyer – Book Reviews

Recently I read the first two books in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and, boy, are they good. This is just a post of my reviews for both, so if you skip it I won't be terribly insulted (not that I'm even going to know). I admit, I often do that with the blogs I follow -- unless I know they're particularly interesting books that I have read, or want to read.
I also wrote quite a long review for Scarlet...sorry. If you've got enough time or need help with some procrastination, read on! And if you don't, then just go buy a copy of this series. Trust me, you probably won't regret it.



Cinder - Book One

Really, really cool. I enjoyed this heaps and would seriously recommend it to anyone looking for page-turning YA fiction. Cinder has high stakes, fast pacing and that distinctive un-put-down-able aspect. An epic story. Five star.
I can't think of any bad content at all. There’s a bit of romance but what Cinderella retelling couldn’t have some of that? I didn’t mind it at all.


I really liked all the characters - except for the evil ones, which I didn't like at all -and they're all really well written. Cinder is so real, and she goes through unfairness and struggles and just pulled me into the story. I really experienced the whole thing. I also just have this thing for mechanics.

Prince Kai is cool, and I’m not afraid to admit that I reckon he and Cinder were so perfect together. If only Cinder could have just said yes! Kai’s situation is just as bad, if not worse, than Cinder’s and he has the weight of an empire resting on him, how he rises to that just made me like him even more. I just loved his character.


The wit in the book is just my style, and Cinder is by far one of the most unique retelling of Cinderella ever (drawing on a close tie with A Wish Made of Glass). This is the kind of series I want to see on my bookshelf. I’m really wanting to read the next book now.



Scarlet - Book Two


A great, amazingly written sequel to Cinder. I'm only giving this four stars (rather than five) because of two reasons.


The Wolf-Scarlet relationship

I mean seriously, one day? They met, they ran, they fell in love. There’s only one or two kisses and it doesn’t go into much detail though, so that side isn’t too bad – too bad, as in, I still love the book.

The Violence/Blood-and-Gutsy Stuff

Violence and fighting and doesn’t bother me to a certain level, but those wolf-warrior-villain dudes had some interesting (‘interesting’ = ehh) methods of killing (to put it nicely), and it was almost worse because they still looked mostly human. So the ‘gross level’ went up since Cinder.


Now that I’ve gotten the bad stuff over with, I can head over to the good stuff!


Naturally, as the sequel, it wasn’t quite as good as Cinder but I still enjoyed it. The stakes are raised, the deadline draws closer and basically the whole world is at stake. Page-turning and full of tension, Scarlet follows on directly from where Cinder left off. The villains are wonderfully villainous and totally freaky. I’d better not forget the important twists that I was to engrossed in the story to notice until they were right in front of my eyes. Hey, give me a break, I’m short-sighted after all. :)


The characters, new and old, were all interesting (‘interesting’ = cool/amazing/these guys totally rock/eeeviilll/well written in general), but Cinder remains my favourite. Her struggles with how to use her power drew me in, and although I’m not pleased about some of the things she did, I can’t help root for her even more than before.

Captain/cadet Thorne is strange. I kept switching between not liking him, to thinking he wasn’t so bad. He considers himself a ‘ladies man’ and voices it often enough, and he’s got some funny things to say a lot of the time. I can’t really think what exactly it is that puts me off him, but there’s something that banishes him from the ‘coolest characters’ bench. I’ll allot him a spot in the ‘still working on me’ section.

I must admit, the Kai chapters frustrated me, ‘CAUSE HE STILL DOESN’T KNOW!!! But I still like him heaps anyways. :)

Oh, I forgot to mention: Adri Linh is eeeviilll.

Wolf. Now there is a complex character. He’s good…He’s bad…He’s good…Okay, what side is he on? He kept me guessing, and fulfilled my darkest suspicions near the end. But he’s intriguing, and incredibly so. He seemed so capable and yet afraid. I really wanted to learn more about him.

Scarlet (the character, not the book) is rather impulsive and quick to anger. She has her sweet moments, and I liked getting to know a new character.

I’d better stop rambling before this review becomes a complete novel in itself. To summarise: I want to read Cress!



As you can tell, I really liked these books. I think it's cool how they're all retellings of different fairy tales. I'm quite amazed at how long my review for Scarlet was...the longest I've ever written I think! Anyway, I'd better actually do some schoolwork now. Just for a change. :)

Fare Thee Well!

Friday, 12 February 2016

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Seventeen

One of these days I feel sure I'm accidentally going to skip a number...go from seventeen to nineteen or something crazy like that, without even trying. 

I had slight difficulties this week. I obviously made all the options too good and some people couldn't decide *cough cough*. So we ended up with three votes for both option 1 and 3. But as my mum is better at deciding these things than my sister *cough cough* is (apparently) she voted (or rather, told me her 'vote') for option three, so I'm going with that.
(But, having said that, some people are also very nice to be reading their dear sister's writing and even commenting. So I'd like to say thanks to some people and also to everyone else who reads this. You guys are great. :D)


Jack pulled me to my feet. “Don’t say anything,” he breathed in my ear. “Just stand still and don’t yell, or scream. Don’t say anything.”

I froze, not daring to move. I almost asked what was wrong until I realised that that would be doing exactly what Jack’d just told me not to do. A small hut crouched before us, the windows dimly lit by a single candle flickering on the sill.

I couldn’t see what the problem was.

Jack’s eyes darted around the brush surrounding us, the bushes to the far right shook a little, and he dragged me into the bush behind us. I stared at the shaking bushes, something was there, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what it was. I could stand it no longer.

“What is it?” I hissed to Jack.

He winced at the sound of my voice. “Shh,” he returned. “No noise.”

“What if the others come through?” I asked.

His eyes widened and he bit his lip. “Forgot ‘bout them. You stay here. I’ll warn ‘em,” Jack replied in a low whisper.

He slipped out of the bush slowly, creeping toward the slightly visible gap. A snarl stopped him in his tracks. I covered my mouth in horror as wet nose and a pair of glinting eyes emerged from the leaves, followed closely by the rest of the wolf.

Jack stayed perfectly still in his crouched position, eyes fixed on the brown wolf. It snarled again, showing a mouthful of sharp teeth. I tried to shrink back further into the shelter of the bushes, but found I couldn't move. My heart beat faster.

The wolf stepped closer to Jack.

Any moment now and it would attack. It just needed a reason.

“Oi, Jack or whatever your name was! You ready for us to come through?” Ana’s voice came from the other side of the shrubs.

With a growl the wolf leapt.

Jack made a desperate movement to get out of the way, but the animal moved like lightning. He fell as the wolf slammed into him.

A scream tore from my throat as the white teeth clamped down on Jack’s upraised arm. His yell of pain joined my cry of terror.

I scrambled backward, away from the fight, falling over a dead branch on the ground. My thoughts steadied and I gripped the branch. I had to do this. Standing, I took a shaking breath.

Refusing to think about my actions, I charged forward, and swung the stick as hard as I could at the wolf’s head. It hit with a hard crack and the dead stick snapped in half, leaving me with a small stump as the other part spun away to land in a pile of dead leaves.

The wolf released Jack’s arm and turned on me before I could make a move to run. My back met the ground with a thud that drove the air from my lungs. I gasped for breath, staring up at the blood-smeared mouth above my face. The wolf’s forelegs were planted on either side of my head and its bared teeth were but centimeters from my eyes. 

A piercing whistle came from somewhere to the left, and a voice followed it. “Git off ‘er! Off, ye crazed brute!” 

The wolf looked up and I was suddenly able to breathe again.

Off, I said!” the voice came again.

With obvious reluctance, the wolf stepped away, slinking backwards from the owner of the voice.

A clean shaven, middle-aged man came into view, bending down to offer me a hand. I stood a little shakily, taking deep breaths to slow my heart rate.

Ana appeared from the bushes, charging out with her sword in hand. “What is it? What’s wrong?” she bust out, her gaze scanning the clearing.

A low moan stopped me from answering. The man turned away and hurried to Jack. I took one glance at his white face and the red coating his shirt and felt my stomach heave. I looked away hastily, barely stopping myself from throwing up.

Ana took my arm to steady me. “The wolf over there. Did it…?”

I nodded, blinking to clear my vision. “The man only just stopped it,” I said unsteadily.

Ana turned as Maree emerged from the path, James appearing just after her. “It’s okay,” then she glanced at Jack and grimaced. “Kind of.”

Maree pressed her lips together and went to Jack. She looked at the man bending over him. “Do he be alreeght?” she asked.

“He’ll be okay after a little treatment,” came the reply.

I sighed with relief. A foggy wave swept over me and I shook my head, my vision was fading. My legs crumpled beneath me and I fainted.


I woke to a sense of warmth and safety that I hadn’t felt for what seemed like ages. People were moving about around me, and a wonderful smell wafted through the air.

I opened my eyes.

Ana was waving a bowl below my nose. She grinned when I looked up at her. “I figured that’s wake you up. Maree told us you hadn’t eaten for days,” she said.

I took the bowl from her, sitting up and taking in my surroundings while eating the warm soup. I was sitting on a low divan against the wall, and everyone else was scattered around the room, each with their own bowls.

The man and Jack were nowhere to be seen.

The food helped to clear my mind and I felt better than I had for days. I suddenly realised that the man must be Jack’s hermit. I blushed inwardly, glad no one knew that it’d taken me so long to work it out.

At that moment the hermit entered. He looked around. “Well, I’m sure you’re all eager to hear about me,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “We didn’t really get much time for introductions, sorry.”

He nodded at the door. “The wolf used to be a pet, but went wild. I should have driven it away, but…” he trailed off and shrugged. “I am, as you probably know, the Hermit of the forest. Jack has been a friend of mine for some time.”

“How is he?” I asked, unable to contain myself.

The hermit turned to me smiling. “Quite well, he wanted to get up, but I wouldn’t let him. I guess you’ll all be wanting to get on your way soon enough, what with all the soldiers around the place.”

“How did ye be knowin’?” Maree asked swiftly.

“A hermit sees more ‘an many ordinary people,” he chuckled. “I’ve a cart that will be quite suited to bringing you lot into the town. I’m also in need of my monthly supplies so it’s perfect timing.” He tapped his chin thoughtfully, “I’m runnin’ out of me grapes y’ see,” he explained. “They’ve got some wonderf’ly big ‘uns down in the markets.” He shook himself, “But never mind about that, what are yours names?”

“I be Maree,” Maree spoke up first.

“I’m Louise Conwell,” I put in.

James and Ana exchanged a glance, then Ana cleared her throat. “Well, since it seems we’ve got our lot thrown in with you, I guess it’s just right that you know our names,” she hesitated a moment.

I sat up straight, I’d almost forgotten that James and Ana were merely cover names.

“I am Leonora Maysdaughter. Lieutenant of the Royal Outriders of Eirerandil, in the service of King Azruen,” she turned to her brother. “And this is Eumin Quest, tactical advisor to the king and…” she shrugged and then finished, “My brother.”

The hermit was the first to break the silence. “I am honoured t' become acquainted with you,” he said. “Am I right to guess that your reason to be 'n FeĆ¢ Sirih is confidential information?”

Leonora lifted a shoulder. “Aye, we’re just looking for someone.” She glanced at Maree, “Same someone as two years ago, in fact. We know a bit more now though.”

I could tell from her face that nothing more would be said on the topic and I refrained from asking questions. I returned to my emptying bowl, spooning the last bit into my mouth.

“Am I allowed out yet?” A yell from the small room off to the side caught everyone’s attention.

The hermit sighed. “I guess so. If you must.”

“It’s only my arm,” Jack called back. “It surely can’t hurt to walk.” He entered a few seconds later, looking a little pale still, but smiling. He was wearing different clothes that looked like they were made for someone much older, but at least were clean, and his arm was wrapped in a bandage.

The hermit shook his head and went outside for some water for more soup. He returned sooner than expected and closed the door quickly behind him. “There’re soldiers scouting around,” he said. “I’m going to have to get you into the town now, before they start looking harder.”

My heart quickened as he led the way to a shelter behind the hut, out of the safety of the concealing walls. I immediately felt exposed, sure that a soldier would jump out from the bushes any second.

The hermit beckoned to us, jerking his head at the cart under the rough shelter. “Git in,” he hissed. He turned to the side, going toward a narrow track that led out of the clearing.

Leonora vaulted on board and I scrambled up behind her, using the wheel as a step. Maree scrambled up behind me, catching her foot on the edge and crashing into me as she tried to stop herself from falling. I staggered but kept my balance.

Jack tried to climb up but fell back, his face contorting in pain. Eumin hoisted him up deftly and followed. The Hermit reappeared, leading two donkeys. These he harnessed to the cart and then turned to us.

“Y’re going to have to lie down an’ I’ll cover you with these,” he kicked a bundle of animal skins on the ground.

An awkward scrambling ensued as we proceeded to do as he asked, lying down among the couple of boxes already on the cart. The hermit tossed the thick skins over us, fussing around for several minutes.

Jack’s face was close to mine and I could see him wincing every time he moved. “There!” the hermit said at last. “All set to go to town.”

The cart began to move. My shoulder jolted into a crate and I pulled my legs up to avoid kicking Leonora in the head. The cart rumbled on, the sound of donkey’s hooves clopping on the damp ground.

A particularly big jolt dragged a groan from between Jack’s lips. He lay with his eyes closed and I could see a trickle of sweat run down his forehead.

The road seemed endless, full of roots and potholes. The donkey cart just kept on going.

When I could hardly bear the stifling heat under the skins anymore a man hailed the hermit from the side of the road, calling for him to halt. I felt the cart slowly rumble to a stop.

Two trotting horses approached and I hardly dared to breathe.

“Were looking for three fugitives,” a gruff voice spoke. “Were having to search every cart that comes in or out of the town. Yours included.”

***

1. The hermit laughed. “Sure an’ go ahead. I’ve got a couple of fugitives in the back o’ this cart.”

2. “Aww, there’s not going t’ be anything in the hermit’s cart. He not right enough in the head to smuggle anythin’,” the voice of another soldier replied with a touch of scorn.

3. “Oh, ye’d better not look under the skins. I’m takin’ a sacred relic t’ the chapel, I am. Any man as touches it – or looks at it –’ll be fried like a steak. Unless, o’ course, they’re religious men, an’ that’s somethin’ you ain’t,” the hermit warned.

***

I must say, this fragment was slightly unexpected for me. I didn't really have any plan, but I just started writing. After all:

“At the worst times, the best plan was often no plan. And Ky excelled at coming up with no plan.” Orphan's Song by Gillian Bronte Adams

On that note I'll leave you to decided which option/alternate future is your favourite.

Fare Thee Well!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Infinity Dreams Award

Lydia S, my top instructor in the ways of that strange breed called Americans (not mentioning that she's the kind of cool person who doesn't mind being called that), has deemed me worthy of this Infinity Dreams Award. For that, I thank you with the deepest fulsomeness of heart.

One day I'm gonna do a blog post that doesn't involve showing the world my crazy humour...

Here be rules:

1. Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture
2. Thank the blogger who tagged you
3. Tell us 11 facts about yourself
4. Answer the 11 questions
5. Tag 11 bloggers


(Thanks greatly to Clare for the picture, I couldn't of made something anywhere near as cool)

Why? Why do these things tell you to tag so many other blogs? Why? Meh...just another rule for me to break I guess. So...I've followed the first two rules, now for the third!

1. I like listening to The Hobbit soundtracks. Even while going to sleep...Apparently that's weird because they sound creepy. I like 'em though, along with a heap of other soundtracks.

2. I am actually fairly rule abiding, whatever it looks like when I do a tag/award and break all the rules.

3. I have a TARDIS brain/imagination. It's bigger on the inside and never runs out of room and ideas.

4. I have a large collection of dead pens that I'm yet to discover a use for but I'm sure they'll come in handy sometime.

5. Now this is a really important one: When I take of my glasses I don't turn completely blind. Everything is slightly blurry, but I'm not blind and can still count how many fingers someone is waving in front of my face. Amazing, I know!

6. I haven't given up on my Chemistry yet...I'm just wading through it, understanding a reasonable amount and pretending I understand the other parts. :) So far, so good.

7. I have a habit of randomly tapping my fingers on stuff, be it my legs, the table, bench, book...basically whatever happens to be under my hands at the time. I don't even think about it, it just happens by itself!

8. I don't like chocolate. I've said this a lot of times before, but it's still true. It's amazing how many people forget! I might have known them forever but if I just happen to mention my dislike of the stuff they'll be utterly horror-struck. For example, my aunt gave me some chocolate for Christmas...

9. I have only had my first name spelled wrong once, and that was with a 'y' in it (Jayne). I didn't actually mind because it looked kind of cool. Besides, we were good friends with the person who did it, and they'd only known us for half a year.

10. I have an aversion to talking on the phone. I just don't like the awkward silences, the mind blanks of what to say, the lack of being able to use facial expressions. It's just...egh. It's not like I'm afraid of answering the phone...it's just I don't like to.

11. I once half dislocated my cousin's wrist while doing an arm wrestle. She spent the next few minutes muttering over her wrist while trying to fix it.


Phew, eleven facts done. Here comes the questions, not to mention their answers...


1. What is your biggest hobby?
I was going to say something like archery but I've decided that my writing is a much bigger hobby. Much harder too. But it's so rewarding when someone says they liked it and it affected them. It's really encouraging to have people like that.

2.Who is your biggest inspiration?
Aside from the obvious Jesus, I'm not really sure. But following on that style of inspiration...The pastor we used to have at our church had a really lovely wife and she really inspired me in many ways. Same goes for our current pastor's wife.
But I can't mention them without giving a short word about my mum. She's truly a wonderful person, and I wouldn't be the person I am without her.

3. What is your favourite piece of music (can be either classical or modern)?
I really don't know. I'm a musical person so I have a lot of songs that I like. As I mentioned earlier I like soundtracks. I have a large stack of soundtrack music books in my music drawer including: The Man from Snowy River, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Tangled, Brave, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit (three books, one for each movie), Pirates of the Caribbean and one of a random bunch of tunes from different movies.
There are a few songs that we sing at church which I quite like: No Other Name (Trevor Hodge) and Man of Sorrows. Also, just yesterday we listened to 'The Simple Gospel' during communion and I really liked it. Playjerise ain't bad either.
To tell the truth I don't think I have a specific favourite, I like too many.

4. What is something you wish you knew more about?
Umm, quite a few things. Martial arts could be a cool subject of knowledge and it would be useful in story writing.

5. What is your favourite quote?
This is the hardest question in my life. I have a huge arsenal of quotes, memorized from the hundreds of books I've read in my lifetime. I use them all in random conversation quite frequently. But choosing a favourite!? Could I actually do that? I doubt it, I seriously doubt it.

6. What is something you look forward to doing each day?
I dunno...Eating lunch?

7. What is your favourite way to get exercise?
Archery. Or Badminton. Both are fun, in different ways. In badminton I'm the one who does the crazy dives that don't actually work, and gets the grass stains on the knees of my jeans. I'm certain that everyone else agrees to play just so they can watch me running around after the shuttlecock and lying on the ground after a particularly epic dive. But it's good fun. :)

8. Describe yourself in three sentences:

Describe my personality or my looks? I'll presume personality because I've got a picture or two of me around my blog. 
I'm amusing, sarcastic, and joking, for strangers I'm quiet and shy/awkward (the one sitting at the back of the room with a notebook, deep in thoughts of stories), but my good friends barely see that half of me. :D If a friend dares me to do something hilariously crazy or dangerous I'll probably do it, just for the laughs. I can be sensible at rare times, I like playing cool music (on both flute and guitar) and if you sneak into my room when I'm there alone you may just catch me acting out a scene from a story idea -- plus I'll be super embarrassed if you see me.
Sooo, there's a three sentence description of me. I have several other things I could add to that but I've used up my stock of full stops/periods. (I dunno why I bothered to mention that I was sarcastic and funny, you've just got to read this blog to find that out.)

9. What has been your biggest life achievement so far?
Living to the impressive age of fourteen-and-a-half.

10. What is something you learned recently?
I am extremely bad at answering serious questions in a serious way.

11. Where is the most interesting place you have ever gone?
Worlds away, in my imagination and that of others of my race. The race of writers. I can travel as far, and live as many lives as I wish.
Back to reality...It may not be the most interesting, but it is reasonably: I actually might say the sea. When we last went to the sea for a holiday (last year in May) I was really struck my the power of the sea. Nothing could stop it, nothing could ever tame it. It was wild, just the way God created it. I could just sit there staring out over the breaking waves and think. My thoughts weren't confined to any certain topic, I thought about a lot of different things, and never ran out of stuff to think about.
So, I'll say that the sea is greatly interesting


Looking back to the rules, I've got to tag/award some people and...Ooh, it doesn't say that I have to think up questions! I guess I'll do it anyway...just think up a couple tricky questions, what could go wrong? (Famous last words...)

I'll award my cousin Jessica from Inspiration. Jessica, this is in return for the Riddle Answering Prize that you gave me. :D

Now, since I've only awarded Jessica, I can think up some impossibly hard questions! Yay! My favourite occupation!

Here be your questions Jessica (I've been terribly nice and avoided the word 'favourite' because it is sooo hard to choose):

1. Are you guilty of hitting anyone uncommonly hard on the head?

2. A calorimeter holds 175.0 grams of water at an initial temperature of 25.3 °C. A 54.3 g piece of metal at 100.0 °C is dropped into the calorimeter, and the final temperature of the water is 27.1 °C. What is the specific heat of the metal? (*Evil laughs*) (How do you like the sound of Chemistry?)

3. What's the most expensive thing you've ever bought/are saving up to buy?

4. Have you ever injured yourself in a really silly way?

5. Do you have some specific aim for the future?

6. What's a movie you really like?

7. What's a book that you've dreamed about?

8. If you woke up in the middle of the night to someone blowing a party blower in your ear, who would you immediately suspect?

9. What would be your revenge?

10. If I allowed you a single trip in my TARDIS ('cause it's a well known fact that I'm secretly a Time Lord), where would you want to go? Or more importantly, when?

11. What's it like to have a crazy cousin like me?

I hope it takes you less than infinity to answer the questions, 'cause I'm amusedly waiting for your blog post! (If it takes too long, you'd better watch out for an extremely loud noise in the middle of the night.) :D

Allons-y!


Friday, 5 February 2016

If Adventure Comes Your Way - Fragment Sixteen

February. The month in which we begin to look forward to the ever nearing coolness of autumn. Or, if you're American (which I'm not), I suppose you guys look forward to the warmth of spring? Meh, I really wouldn't know.

On the topic of the story now:

Number three was voted in...and onto the stage comes a massive plot twist. A plot twist that is going to make this a little longer, and (I honestly don't know why I'm doing this to myself) it will have a sequel. Boy, I think I must be super crazy to do this, but for now it's a cool idea.
You know how I mentioned in the last Fragment how the two random characters, 'Ana' and 'James', wouldn't play a big part and were just totally random...weeeell, about that...Ahem, I think I'll let you read it so you can see for yourself.




I realised what had been shouted and looked at Maree. “Run?”

She was frowning and peering out of the cave entrance. “Jest weet a moment,” she said. “Somethin’ dinna be quoite right.”

I raised my eyebrows. “But they’ll catch us!” I exclaimed. “The soldiers will climb up here and catch us!”

“Thet voice were no soldier,” Maree said slowly.

Jack rose and stuck his head out of the cave. “I don’t see anyone yet,” he said. “Why not hide, just in case?”

Maree hesitated but I dragged her to her feet. “Come on,” I urged, pulling her out into the rain.

Jack dodged behind a large outcrop of rock, looking around. “There is some other way to get down?” he asked Maree, craning his neck to see down to the ground.

Maree nodded. “Ye’ve jest got t’ jump thet gap there, an’ then climb doown on the far soide,” she said.

I gulped as she pointed to the gap between our position and the far outcrop. “Did you say jump?” I asked, hoping that I’d been mistaken.

“Yes,” she returned.

“I’m not doing that,” I said definitely, taking a step backwards. “Nothing could make me jump that.”

Over the sound of rain I heard a yelp and the crunch of loose stones under feet. Jack grabbed my arm and pulled me behind a large rock hump.

The rain drifted down, making everything blurred and grey. I steadied my heart, keeping my breathing as quiet as possible. And, as so happens when one attempts such a feat, I felt the deep need to cough. First it tickled the back of my throat, making my breath croaky, and then it started to worsen until I feared that I would not be able to breathe.

The sound of more footsteps came from the other side of the rock.

Eventually I couldn’t hold it in. I covered my mouth and did my best to make it quiet, but in the lack of any other noise it came out much louder than I’d meant.

A hand shot around the corner and jerked me forward. A man faced me, his strong hand on my arm. I opened my mouth to scream but his hand clapped over my mouth. “Shut it!” he hissed. “You’ll bring the soldiers.” He turned his head. “It’s a girl,” he said to his companion.

For the first time I noticed another figure a little way off. I couldn’t make out any features in the gloomy light. The grip on my arm didn’t lessen as the man pulled me over to his companion.

A dark shadow flew through the air and Maree landed on the other figure, both falling to the ground in a struggling heap. A second later Jack ran for my captor, leaping at him.

I lost my footing and stumbled, banging my knee on the sharp rock. Everything moved too quickly, but in a moment everything was over.

Jack kicked and struggled against the restraining arms of the man just beside me, his mouth firmly covered with a hand, and Maree lay on the ground perfectly still, the point of a sword at her throat, and I saw the face of the wielder clearly now. A tall young woman, and something about her made me frown, something undeniably familiar.

I stood, limping backwards a few steps, conscious of the steep drop behind.

“Okay,” the man said. “A bunch of kids.” He looked to the woman, “Now what? You got some idea?”

She looked down at Maree and I was again stuck by something familiar about her. “The only thing I’ve got is no clue,” she said. A frown crossed her face as she studied Maree. “I’m certain I’ve seen this one before…” her voice trailed off and then her eyes widened, she clicked her fingers. “That’s it! You’re that…er…Flee…fleesprit or something…Freespirit!” She moved her sword, sheathing it quickly.

I looked on in confusion as she offered a hand and pulled Maree to her feet. “Sorry about that, if I’d known it was you I wouldn’t have hit so hard.”

“A-Ana?” Maree said hesitantly.

The woman frowned, then her face cleared. “Aye, that’s me,” she agreed. “I must say, I’d mostly forgotten about you, it’s been almost two years, right?”

Maree nodded.

I looked at the two strangers, either I was going mad or these were the very same two that had saved Maree from the soldiers all those years ago.

James coughed. “If this one is a friend of yours,” he said to Maree. “Perhaps you could tell him to stop kicking me?”

Maree shot him a look and Jack stopped struggling. “Ye can be puttin’ him down noow,” she said.

Jack dropped to the ground, stepping quickly out of the reach of the strangers. “Thees es Jack Danson,” Maree said. “An’ Looise Conweel.”

I only just stopped myself from dropping a curtsey. Such an action would betray my noble rank to anyone with half a brain.

A crash below cut off the pleasantries. Ana gave her brother a quick glance. “I forgot to mention the fact that we’re being tracked by a dozen soldiers, so it might be a good idea to move out.”

“So are we,” Maree added. She turned to the far side of the massive boulder. “We’ll have to go down the other way.”

I froze, staring at her. We couldn’t. Surely she couldn’t actually be suggesting to jump across that gap.

A small bird fluttered by, swooping close to Ana. She stood, blinking for a moment, then sneezed.

Voices erupted from the ground below, men shouting for their companions and running from all directions.

“Where’s that ‘other way’ you mentioned?” James hissed.

Maree led the way to the wide gap on the other side. I closed my eyes, imagining myself back in my bedroom in the De Corlette manor, wishing the whole thing to be just a dream.

I opened my eyes to see Maree jumping across to the far side. Ana followed and then Jack. I looked up at James and he motioned for me to go first. I winced, I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t.

“Need a hand?” James’ low voice spoke in my ear.

I shook my head, and tried to stop myself from thinking about it. I jumped.

Maree caught my hand as my feet slipped on the far side, her weight pulling me up. For a moment my feet slid down but then I was across, sprawled on the ground beside Maree.

I picked myself up, Maree doing the same, and James jumped across, landing at least a meter further from the edge than he needed to.

Maree pointed a finger. “There be a beet o’ a track jest thet wey, noot too hard t’ climb,” she whispered.

I rubbed my sore knee as I followed he others to the track. Maree scrambled down agilely, her feet quick to find the tiny ledges that could support her weight.

The sounds of soldiers were dim but still near, and we moved slowly, keeping noise at a bare minimum.

When we were all on the ground Maree looked around, uncertain of the way to go. Jack tapped her shoulder. “I know a good place to hide,” he whispered. “I’ve got a friend who lives near here.”

She nodded, and he led the way. He paused often, looking around to get his bearings, but through the rain it was hard to see anything.

I shivered in my wet clothes, wrapping my arms around myself for warmth. My head felt light and I blinked away a wave of weariness.

Jack dropped to his knees in front of a large clump of bushes growing close together. He turned. “Okay, I’ll just warn you that this friend of mine is a little...strange. He’ll be very pleased to see you all,” he said reassuringly as he saw the look on Maree’s face. “He just might show it in an odd way. He’s a hermit,” he added as an afterthought.

I nodded slowly, peering into the bushes. If this friend lived under there, I wasn’t going to be looking forward to a warm bed. Hermits didn’t really have things like that. I’d never seen a hermit before but I’d always been mildly afraid of the ones in pictures – particularly their long, white beards that went down to their knees.

Jack pushed through the bushes. His feet disappeared and the only sign that he was still there was the moving branches. I glanced around, everyone else hesitated, so I shrugged.

I stepped forward, parting the bushes with my hand. A sort of track appeared before me and I crawled in. The bushes were surprisingly soft, and I had no trouble moving onward. In a moment I came into the clear. I looked up, uncertain whether I actually wanted to see the ancient hermit.

I never did.


***

1. A body crashed into me before I could rise and I started to struggle. Then I realised the hermit was hugging me. Awkward.

2. A boy of about fourteen looked at me curiously, his head on one side. “A girl,” he murmured. “So that’s what a girl is like.”


3. Jack pulled me to my feet. “Don’t say anything,” he breathed in my ear. “Just stand still and don’t yell, or scream. Don’t say anything.”

***

Sorry if this Fragment wasn't terribly interesting. More was supposed to happen but somehow it got long when only a short amount of story-time had passed. That just happens sometimes...
I also realised a fatal flaw in the story so far...They haven't eaten anything yet. Oops. I'm hopeless when it comes to writing practical things like that. In 'The Bridge of Anskar' there were a couple whole scenes that I got rid of because they were utterly ridiculous: my attempts at practicality. :D
Thanks for reading.

Fare Thee Well!