Recently I was digging through the files on my flashdrive (It’s extremely cluttered – almost as cluttered my brain, and that’s saying something…but then you can’t see how cluttered my brain is, can you?) and I rediscovered a short (Definition: 29 pages) story I wrote a year ago. It’s basically unedited, and admittedly not very good, but I thought I’d share a chapter (Don’t worry, they’re… fairly short… Not the previous definition of short, mind. More like two or three pages.) or two every now and then and see if ya’ll think it’s worth reviving and expanding. (Hey! It has dragons later on, if that gives you some incentive to read it.)
Gimel sat in the doorway, feeling the sun on his face. Ah, it was a lovely, sleepy day! He was almost asleep, when his drowsiness was dispelled by a hand shoving him over onto his back.
“Hey, what was that about?” Gimel demanded. His friend Teth grinned.
“Wake up, sleeper! Didn’t you hear about the contests?”
“What contests?” Gimel asked, feeling like he’d forgotten something important.
“THE contests!” Teth emphasized, “How could you possibly forget about them? Everybody’s been talking about them for weeks!”
“Yes! Now, come on, or you’ll be late!”
Gimel leaped up as Teth dashed off, and followed his friend.
They came to a clearing, where numerous boys were already wrestling on the ground. Gimel didn’t recognize most of them. They must have come from out of town.
“I have found him, sir!” Teth announced to a tall, lithe man with a red scarf and mask, “This is the one I told you about! He’s very strong.”
The man in red felt Gimel’s arms and legs, “Indeed, it would seem.” He assented, “Boy, show me how you can wrestle.”
Slightly confused, Gimel threw Teth to the ground pinned him easily. The man in red applauded enthusiastically.
“Excellent!” he exclaimed, “You have much potential, lad. Please wrestle with the larger boys – I want to see how well you do with them.”
Still confused, Gimel joined the boys who were rolling and pinning each other on the ground, and launched himself against the biggest one. The two grappled and rolled here and there, disrupting the general scrimmage that had been going on. The contest continued, and soon all the other boys had stopped to watch. Some cheered for Gimel, some for the other boy, but at last the contest was over – with Gimel on top.
“Ah, fantastic! Amazing!” the man in red cried, “My lad, you must come with me.”
“But-but what for?” Gimel asked, his mind still muddled. What could he possibly be forgetting?? The man didn’t seem to hear him. He was speaking to a companion of his, dressed similarly, save in yellow. The blue man nodded, and apparently took over the overseeing of the contest, while his friend kept going. Gimel hesitantly followed.
“Where are we going?” He asked, finally.
“I will take you to Kaph, Master in Arms. He will teach you how to use weapons.”
“But what for?” Gimel asked in exasperation. The man in red looked surprised.
“What, you do not know why we tested you?” He asked. Gimel shook his head sheepishly.
“I’ve tried and tried to remember what all this is, but I can’t. It’s just gone.”
“Pity, but no matter.” The man in red continued, “It did not affect your performance, and you still qualify. You, my little friend, have been chosen to train for the Aleph Yod which will be held in four years. Kaph will raise you and train you in everything you need to know for the competition.”
With a gasp, Gimel realized who the man in red was, “You’re one of the Krachack!” he exclaimed in awe.
“I am.” The man said, and there was a note of pride in his voice, and someday you might be too. Work hard under Kaph, and you may very well earn your place as the Emperor’s new son’s guard.”
This new piece of news came as little surprise to Gimel – he had always longed for such a prestigious position – but having the reality presented to his face was something else. He glowed with excitement as he thought it over.
“How far away is Kaph’s School of Arms?” he asked presently, “My mother will be Needing me to come home and help her every night.”
The man in red looked surprised, “Kaph’s School of Arms is a half-day’s journey away.” He said, “And why should your mother expect you home? She knows that one who trains for Aleph Yod devotes all his time to the training. You cannot half-heartedly train and then do housework.”
Gimel was dismayed. What would happen to his mother if he were not there to take care of her? An unwarranted tear slipped down his cheek. He hurriedly wiped it away before the man in red could see it.
Presently they came to a carriage sitting beside the road. Four great black stallions stood hitched before it, prancing with impatience. A man dressed in blue sat at the front, trying to keep the animals in check.
“Waw, this is the last of these ones. I’ll bring the next carriage myself.” The man in red called, and then helped Gimel up into the carriage where about ten other boys were already waiting. As soon as the Krachack man was out of the way, Waw snapped the reins and they set off at a canter. Gimel sat down violently with the force of the carriage and gazed anxiously at those who were around him. He knew none of them.
Gimel tried to smile at the other boys, but only two or three responded. They were too preoccupied with other things – their hands, their thoughts, and the scenery passing them – and didn’t care to talk. Gimel felt very alone. His thoughts returned to the dear old little house he had known and loved from birth. What would happen to his mother? Surely she would wait for him to come home, but he would never arrive.
Another tear forced its way out, and Gimel turned hurriedly away from the other boys. They couldn’t see him crying. He wiped the tear away impatiently, but another stubbornly came and dribbled down in its place.
“You’re nothing but a sissy to cry like this!” he muttered fiercely to himself, “Stop it, because it’s no use. I’ll never see my mother agaaaaaaaain!” Inadvertently, the last words turned into a wail, and once it came, he couldn’t stop it. The other boys were aroused out of their various activities long enough to stare at him in scorn. Gimel snuffled and tried to quiet his crying, but it wasn’t much use. He didn’t know what had come over himself – he had never cried that much before. Was it because he had never left his mother before? Oh, what must the other boys think of him?
Ashamed, he gazed out the window for the remainder of the trip, and when they climbed out, carefully did not look at his companions.
Waw, the man in blue, led them up to a gilded gate and rang the bell. A few minutes passed by, and then an old man came.
“Good day, my son.” the old man greeted, obviously pleased to see Waw, “I see you have brought the new trainees. Please come in.” He unlatched the gate and swung it slowly open. Waw led the way, and they all trooped in onto the polished stone path. It led into a wide courtyard, in the middle of which were the training houses and dormitories. The rest of the courtyard was devoted to gardens, and beautiful fountains played their streams of water gently here and there.
The scene was quite soothing, on the whole, and helped to stop the occasional sobs that still stubbornly lingered in Gimel’s throat. As his breathing returned to its accustomed manner, he was able to study those around him.
The old man who was talking to Waw was tall and fit, quite unlike Gimel’s grandfather who was frail and small and could not care for himself. Gimel admired how well this man had kept himself in shape, and guessed he was quite a serious opponent in battle yet.
This, thought he, must be the great trainer in arms, Kaph himself!
Next his gaze swept over the boys who had accompanied him. Those that caught him looking at him responded with looks of contempt at his recent weakness in the carriage. Surely they would forgive him in time? Gimel wondered what their names were.
At this moment, Kaph and Waw finished talking, and Kaph turned to the group of boys in front of him. He smiled in a fatherly way, and bowed ceremoniously.
“Greetings, my sons.” he began, and his voice was low and gentle, “My name is Kaph, and I am glad you have come, for I have been quite lonely since my last students left me. This establishment you see here is to be your new home. I hope that you will find your companions who have already arrived pleasant, but I also expect you to be pleasant to them. We will train together, and live together, therefore there must be unity.
I hope I will be able to impart much skill in arms to you, for the Aleph Yod which will be held four years from now. By then some of you will have distinguished yourselves above your comrades, and the best will then continue to the Aleph Yod. Please, follow me to your new quarters. They have been prepared for your arrival.”
As he said this, Kaph bowed politely to Waw, and thanked him for conveying the boys thither, after which, the two parted ways, Waw back to the carriage, and Kaph onward to the dormitories. The small troop of boys followed eagerly, save one. Gimel lingered, glancing longingly after the disappearing carriage. Oh, if only he hadn’t followed Teth! He couldn’t help but wish he hadn’t been chosen, and the aching in his heart came back full force. Would he ever see his mother again? The tears threatened to return, so he hastened after Kaph.