1. An unwanted girl
2. A small village next to a continuous high wall [it divides the land, Here and There]
3. Finding a tunnel
4. A talking Book
For those that are new to my blog, I issued the readers of The Dragons' Geas blog a challenge to see if they could stump me in story creation. They have taken longer than intended to write due to a struggle with metastasized colon cancer. However, I am still working on them and will issue a new challenge when they are all done. Some are better than others and as these are live writes, are not edited. Here is Linda Thompson's challenge
Mila ran her fingers over the gray coarse wall. It had been there for generations and whenever she asked about it, she was told the wall is to keep there from here. It was an answer that didn't answer anything and in fact, made her want to ask more questions. She did know not to climb it. She had seen a boy climb it once, he had been shot by the men in the village and fell over the wall to there. No one ever heard from him again.
The problem was, people didn't like it if you asked questions. Mila had been scolded for her many 'why' and 'why not's' as long as she had been old enough to ask them. Her parents had died when a dragon had flown over and dropped a log it was carrying. Mila didn't know if she believed this. In all her times of staring at this wall and sky, she had not seen a single scale or heard a roar, nevertheless, it was the story her aunt had told consistently.
Now fifteen, Mila would be expected to marry this year. It seemed hardly fair, she would be sent off to another village and given to what ever man needed a mate. She had seen many such marriages as she had been growing up. They never seemed a happy occasion for the woman or girl. No female was left unattached as to do so would be a burden on the village. Everyone was expected to support the hearth that they lay down before at night.
That was actually what Mila was supposed to be doing right now, picking berries for her aunt. She had told herself the best berries were by the wall where the stream ducked beneath it. You would think it would slowly open there, but the villagers ensured that new rocks were placed beneath the wall after every spring flood. Every time she thought the stream low enough to peek between it, there were new rocks to prevent such things.
She found the spot where the water forced beneath the wall. It was so pure and beautiful in this place. Birds sang, the water added to the melody, the frogs added a beat, and the wind whispered the soft under-beats. It was a song she loved more than any that she had heard performed in the village.
Carefully, hiking up her skirts with shoes in hand, she crossed the small stream. The berries were largest on the east side of the stream. Leaving her shoes off, she began to pick the delicious dark blue berries. They had a sweet taste with a tart after flavor. It was great for wines and pies. Most of the children thought it was good for just eating as well. Not any different then her village kin, she was popping every fourth berry into her mouth.
She dug deeper into the berry patch, being sure of where she put her bare feet. Just beyond, she kept seeing more and when she looked around, she found herself deep in the patch. She wasn't worried, the stream was on one side, the wall on the other. She could follow the sound or the form to work her way out. She stepped into a little warm clearing surrounded by vines laden with perfectly ripe berries. She excitedly began to pick them all.
About half way around the little circle, she made it to the wall, the berries were less there but there were still quite a few to take. Her bucket would be full soon. She felt a rush of cold air across her feet. Looking down, she was a bit puzzled. It was a warm fall day so the cold air was unusual. She peered behind the bushes and saw an opening in the wall. A real opening. It was dark making her question how deep the wall really was.
Mila sat down the bucket and crawled to the entrance. The air coming out the cave was fresh and she could see a dim light. Had she just found a way under the wall? She quickly looked about but she was as alone as she had been when she started out. Leaving her bucket there, she carefully edged into the opening. It was almost tall enough to stand in but not quite. The floor was sandy so she decided to crawl and feel her way through the darkest part.
When Mila came out the other side, she sat in amazement. On this side, the cave was not hidden. A vast plain stretched out. As she looked down the wall, she realized that there was a city exactly opposite of her own. It was like the wall had cut the town in half. She carefully made her way down the wall towards the city. She was trying not to be seen as she didn't want to be shot like the boy on the wall.
Suddenly a boy sprang out from behind a rock. He was holding an old book and he had a smile. Even though she screeched and jumped backwards, she tripped over her long skirt and landed on her behind. She sat there looking up at him in alarm. He looked strange. His face was very angular and his ears stuck out into rounded points.
"You right Jem, it is a walling. I never seen a walling," his accent making the words almost sound foreign. The boy seemed to be babbling to the book.
To Mila's greater amazement, the book talked back. "Yes, well it has taken long enough for one to come. Prophecies can be so slow at times." The book sounded...cranky?
Mila turned over and was running for the cave before she had barely got her feet beneath her. "Wait!" cried the boy with his strange accent. "I won't hurt you!"
Mila could hear him right behind her. She didn't want to show him the hole in the wall if he didn't already know about it. She stopped and turned as he ran up to her.
He was panting. "My you can run fast." He bent over and huffed a few breaths.
"What are you?" Mila demanded. "You ain't no Herein."
The boy drew himself up and Mila realized he was taller than her. "I am an elf. My name is Benek." He bowed low as if he were meeting some queen.
Mila eyed him. "So is an elf a Therein?" she asked carefully.
"A Therein? I never heard that term before."
Mila huffed at his stupidity. "I live here." She pointed to the wall. "You live There." She pointed to the town a ways off.
The boy laughed. "Lets make this easier. My name is Benek and I technically live here and you live there." He put out his free hand. "You are?"
Mila took his hand slowly. "Mila," she answered.
"It is my pleasure Mila. Ever since your people forced the king to put up the wall, I have wondered what life was like for you there," said Benek.
"We put up the wall?" She was becoming less fearful. "But..why, why would our people cut off half of a town.
"That is a bit of a story, let us sit down." He pointed to a couple of rocks.
Mila climbed up on one. She really wanted to know and no one would ever tell her. "Well?"
Benek sat down and he looked at her for a long moment. "She really doesn't know Jem," he said to the book.
"What don't I know and why do you talk to the book? Why can it talk back?" The barrage of questions just sort of tumbled out of her.
Benek put a hand up. "Whoa Whoa one at a time." He laughed.
Mila kind of liked the way he laughed and took a breath and tried to keep in the questions that danced in her brain every day silent. "Why does the book talk?"
"That one is easy. It is a magic book." Benek held it up. It seemed to have one eye on the cover, not a real one but yet it still seemed like it could see. "Meet Jem."
"Magic is not real." Mila pointed out. "So what is its trick?"
"Magic isn't...?" Benek looked at her in disbelief. "You really don't know the story of the wall. Let me tell you it." He set the book down carefully and wrapped his arms around his knees and started his tale.
"A long time ago all the people of the land lived in one country. However, half of the people thought that magic was against the laws of the gods, and to cast it was to try to be like a god, and therefore punishable by death." Benek took a breath to check if Mila is listening.
"Go on.." she whispered.
"The King tried very hard to get everyone to see that letting those with magic reside among us would not cause harm. Then one day it happened, one of the non-magics got angry at a dragon and tried to kill him. The dragon was only defending itself when it breathed fire. But... it was all the non-magics needed. Many took up the cry to remove all magical creatures from the realm. The King refused for how did one determine who had magic and who did not. Sometimes it skips a generation.
Benek leaned in. "About this time a man rose to power on the side of the non-magics and promised great things if they overthrew the King and his Queen. It broke out into madness. People had no way to tell magic from non-magic beyond the obvious."
"Like dragons and elves?" Mila whispered.
"Yes, like dragons and elves. People were dying in a war that didn't even make sense. So the King at the time, decreed that the wall would be brought up by the mages to separate the two sides. People moved their things to one side or the other. " Benek stretched slightly. "And then the wall went up."
"That is a sad story," Mila muttered. "Someone should have the King take it down."
"Magic doesn't work that way. The king put a spell in the wall, when the last bigoted heart dies on the other side, the wall will come down." Benek offered. "You know.. when everyone stops hating one group of people or another, only those with magic can even cross it.
Mila realized in that moment, thinking of her village and even her own treatment as an orphan, the wall wasn't coming down anytime soon. The wall was all that kept the North and the South from fighting over something which really was amazing and wonderful.
"Can I stay?" she asked. She knew then that to go back was a life mapped. Hard work, children, grandchildren and no, absolutely, nothing different or colorful beyond what nature provided.
"Yes, you can. We accept everyone in Daven's Crossing. Come, I will introduce you to my mum and dad." He hopped off his rock and offered her his hand.
Mila sat for a long moment, it was a hard decision to leave everyone she knew. Finally, she hopped off the wall and put her hand in Benek's. They chattered all the way to his house.
On the other side of the wall, the sun was setting when a searcher found Mila's shoes. "I got something," he yelled. He made his way through the bushes as others rushed to his location. "Mila?"
Ten minutes later, someone else hollered, "I found the bucket."
Mila's aunt, Dayphe, hurried from the shoes to the place the bucket had been found. There was only one way into the little clearing. Mila's aunt stood there with the bucket, picking it up with a small tear running down her face. Dayphe turned and knelt only then did she see where there were hand and foot marks to the wall. She crawled closer to the solid wall and put her hand against it. Another tear crept down her face. "I hope you find your mom and dad," she whispered.