Monthly Archives: February 2013

Krachack, Chapter Two

KRACHACK!

Chapter Two

Gimel sat against a low wall, resting from his latest endeavors with a kadari stick. His opponent, Tau, stood before him, smirking.

“You’ll never learn to fight like a man, if you’re not a man to begin with!” he jeered, and walked off with a swagger.

Gimel was cast down. Wasn’t he a man? No, he told himself, he was what all the boys called him – a silly little Mother’s Pet. None of them had let him forget that awful time nearly four years ago when he had cried in the carriage. None of them had offered to be his friends either.

Gimel threw himself full length on the ground, ready to cry from frustration and loneliness. What was the use trying anymore? There was no one to try for. No one to care whether he failed or not. In the back of his mind, he knew that this was not true.

Kaph cares. Gimel knew this was true. He had seen the hurt and disappointment in Kaph’s eyes when – and it was often – he failed in his training. Kaph doesn’t count! He’s not my father. Oh, how I wish I could just go home! A momentary pang seized his heart, and he struggled to keep from crying.

Fortunately for him, at this moment a gong was sounded, signifying that it was time for training to stop, as the evening meal was served.

Gimel took his portion and sat at the end of a long bench, a wide space between him and the next boy over. He knew the other boy didn’t care. He raised a handful of rice to his mouth, and was chewing it when Kaph stood up at the head of the room. This was his custom, to stand and announce the latest challenge which they were to train for. Gimel was tempted to ignore him. Why listen anyway, if he wouldn’t succeed?

“My sons,” Kaph began, and Gimel half tuned out, “I am happy to see how far most of you have come.” Gimel painfully knew what the ‘most of you’ meant – him. “I believe wholeheartedly that you are ready for the most difficult assignment of all, “Kaph continued, and paused dramatically, “Dragon Fire!”

Several boys gasped, but it was a gasp of delight. A fire of eagerness kindled abruptly in Gimel’s breast, and he sat up and listened carefully as Kaph went on.

“You wonder, of course, what this name means. Ah, my sons, it is an honorable assignment indeed, for you all know that a dragon is not to be tamed lightly. They are reserved for the Krachack, and those who train for that position. Therefore, this coming week, I will hold contests between you to see who is fit to undertake it. Four will be chosen, those capable, and like to the four elements which they represent.”

A murmur erupted at this, and Kaph held up his hand to silence them before continuing, “Yes, that is why you have been out into categories. When you first came I evaluated you to see which element best suited you. It was preparation for this very assignment. This is a tradition elicited in part by the fact that there are four elements which your dragons represent: Fire, Water, Sky, and Earth. In order to fully be able to control such a beast, one must be suited to the element which one represents. You know which element you have been categorized as, therefore you will know what to expect when the winners are chosen.

Now, this tradition which I explained, is where our opponent, Daleth, has erred greatly. This is where we may catch him, if you learn to control your respective dragon well, for undoubtedly his students will not be suited to the element they represent. I once berated him for this error, but he has ceased to listen to my reasoning, and will doubtless continue in his folly.”

The students looked at each other and grinned. They knew by now, that Kaph’s School of Arms had supplied the last Krachack as a result of Daleth’s slip.

Kaph nodded soberly. Gimel couldn’t understand why Kaph was always concerned for Daleth’s school. Why be concerned about your enemy?

“Master Kaph,” a student stood up, “May I be permitted to speak?” Gimel saw with anxiety that it was Tau, and his heart sank in foreboding. Tau was ever pushing to hurt him.

“You may, my son.” Kaph assented.

“Thank you.” The boy bowed briefly, then turned to his companions, “Brothers, this assignment, Dragon Fire, is an enormous honor to compete for. We all deserve it. All but one.” Here he looked pointedly at Gimel, who shrunk back at his gaze, “Why should we be dishonored by his competing against us for the appointment to Dragon Fire? You all know as well as I do, that he is not fit to undertake it – why should we bear the pain of watching him train more?”

The room buzzed with conversation, as the other students commented to each other. Gimel had never felt more alone! He could see that they all agreed he was not fit. Why wasn’t he, anyway? It was their fault! They had not wanted to train against him. He had often not gotten the practice he supposed Kaph thought he needed. His face flushed with anger, and he stood up for the first time during a meal.

A hush fell over the room, and the other boys stared at him in astonishment. What? Gimel putting himself forward? They nudged each other and grinned.

“Master Kaph, may I speak please?” Gimel asked, his voice plastered with all the dignity he could collect.

Kaph smiled at Gimel, “Yes, my son, speak.”

“Brothers,” Gimel began, sweeping his hurt gaze over the group, “I am almost ashamed to call you such. For the years we have stayed with Master Kaph, he has always taught us to work together, to build each other up, for that is how we will defeat Daleth’s students. He has taught us to accept each other’s faults, and to make up for them in our own behavior. But,” Here he paused, and then continued again, no longer trying to hide the anger he felt, “I haven’t seen his wise teachings being manifested in your behavior at all this evening. When did Kaph teach us to put down a comrade? When were we told to criticize or persecute a brother?

“Master Kaph, I beseech you not to listen to what my brother has suggested – that I not be permitted to compete for Dragon Fire! You have heard them – you have seen how none but three of them offer to practice with me. You know how you were nearly always obliged to choose someone; they would not volunteer. Master, is it my fault I am ill equipped? But give me a chance – I will do my best, and if I fail when trying my hardest, what dishonor is there?”

The room was silent for several minutes, and Gimel could hear some crickets chirping outside. His comrades looked at each other, shocked that Gimel had stood up for himself, and afraid, for he had exposed their behavior to Kaph. What would he do to them? Their faces had grown a shade paler before Kaph finally stirred.

“What you say is quite true, my son.” he admitted tiredly, “I have done my very best to teach all of you to behave as one – teamwork, my sons! Teamwork! Only by teamwork may you earn the post of Krachack. But ever since your arrival, you have belittled this son, who is certainly not the least of you in strength. Why? Because he displayed regret for leaving his family to an unknown fate! O my sons, tears are not weakness! They are signs of love, and caring! When someone you love is parted from you, are you not sad? This is no reason to persecute your brother, whom, of all people, you should build up!”

The boys hung their heads and slid their feet uneasily on the floor. How could they have been so foolish? Oh, what would Kaph do to them? All but Tau looked ashamed of themselves. The said lad stared sulkily down at the table, brows knit in disrespect.

“For your punishment,” their teacher said slowly, “you are not allowed to speak to each other, unless it be to Gimel, and you must include Gimel in your practices, so that he may feel the brotherhood which I have endeavored to instill in you. Now go to your beds. I have had enough of you today.” Kaph sat down heavily, and for the first time in four years, Gimel remembered that he was an old man. He gazed anxiously up at his teacher, and slowly stood up, supposing that he was to return with the other boys.

“No, Gimel, and you, Tau, please stay with me. I would like to speak with you.” Kaph did not smile. Hesitantly, Gimel watched the other boys leaving, then he and Tau approached Kaph with a respectful bow. Tau bowed stiffly.

Was it something I said? Gimel wondered uneasily, Am I in trouble, then?

“Tau,” Kaph began, his face old and wrinkled, “I have seen you belittle Gimel in front of the other boys. Do you not realize that they look to you for leadership? What you do, they all do. This, my son, is entirely against the code of this School in Arms. You will not train with us any longer, but leave immediately tomorrow morning. Now go.”

Gimel’s eyes widened in horror. Never before had any of the students been dismissed! Tau’s face was black with anger. Who were they to make him leave? He deserved the post of Krachack! Gimel watched those thoughts cross Tau’s mind, for they read in his face like a book. Tau caught Gimel looking at him and glared darkly before stomping out.

 Gimel was a little shaken up. If Tau was dismissed, what was Kaph going to do to him?

“Have no fear, Gimel.” Kaph smiled warmly, and the tired lines vanished from his face. Gimel was astonished at the change. How could this kind man have looked so old and tired a few minutes before?

“I would like you to accompany me to my quarters, if you would.” Kaph explained, “You cannot believe how old one feels when dealing with such quarrelsome students. Ah, I’m not as young as I used to be.” he looked sadly into Gimel’s eyes. “But come, let us walk.”

 

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Contemplations from the Sky

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You should visit him?” Psalm 8:3-4

That’s exactly how I feel when I watch the stars. Out here in the middle of nowhere, the stars glow like… um, really bright stars. (Once again, my analogies fail me…) It is so incredible just to lay on the ground at night, with nothing pressing that you have to get up and do, and just watch the night sky for however long you want. The sky is a deep velvety black, fading to gray at the horizon where some unhappy person has a light turned on outside, and everything is silent. Just lay there and be still, and watch the constellations blaze through the sky. If the night is really clear you can even see the Milky Way, a hazy white strip crossing the stars in a grand arch. If you hold your breath, you can almost hear the stars singing to their Creator.

And you know, when you think about just how huge those twinkling stars really are…how much more so is their Creator? And just think – That black sky, those blazing bright lights disappear and the horizon flames in bright pinks, purples, and oranges just because the sun comes up. God must have done that just because He loves it, don’t you think? When I look at the heavens I have to ask, how could anybody possibly think this is all here by chance? How can anybody see all this and still not believe in its Creator? The beauty of the sky is just too incredible to not have a loving, beautiful, glorious God behind it all.  It’s like God is watching over our shoulder and every time we discover something new and beautiful, He whispers, “See this? Isn’t it beautiful? I made it just for you.

 “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Categories: Opinionations | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair!

As a lot of you may know, for the past year I’ve been working on rewriting the story of Rapunzel into a (hopefully) less girly story. I’m not sure how far I’ve managed to do that, but it has certainly been an experience for me as I learn to actually finish a story. I’ve never fully completed one, editing and all, so this has been exciting! My problem? I can’t think of a single good title for the story. Nope, not one. The folder on my flashdrive is literally labeled “Raven Story”. (Yes, her name is Raven, not Rapunzel – who would name a kid Rapunzel anyway?) At any rate, since this story is intended for publishing (hopefully before the year’s end) I figure I should start sharing about it on here. (Stop jumping up and down – I’m not going to tell you all about it at once so you’ll have to be patient and come back often. Muahaha!)

 

Oh, and I have another problem too. Currently the story is only around forty pages, and unless I find a way to add bajillions of descriptions and thoughts and all that great stuff, I doubt it will be much longer. So I have a couple questions. Does that make it a novella? Is it too short to publish on its own? Would it be better for me to do several similar-length stories to publish together like I intended at first? Please comment below with your thoughts!

 

“Well, look who decided to visit me.” the old woman exclaimed to her knitting. “I wonder what would prompt her to come again so soon!”

“Mother is going to town and she told me to watch your fire.” Raven scowled. Why did Luda always have to aggravate her?

“That explains it.” Luda viciously stabbed a knitting needle through the yarn and fell silent. Raven ignored the caustic comment and leaned on the window ledge, trying to feel the spring breeze that played just out of reach.

“Why can’t I go outside the ruins?” she asked suddenly, turning to the cantankerous old woman.

“Because your mother was foolish, that’s why.” Luda spat, and rocked harder. Raven narrowed her eyes, and turned back to the window.

“She’s not foolish…” she muttered fiercely to herself, and then stopped. After all, why did Tolina think Raven couldn’t go out on her own? And why didn’t she ever tell Raven about their past? And why did they live in the castle ruins in the first place?

“What do you mean?” Raven turned suspiciously to look at Luda again.

“Now what nonsense are you talking about?” Luda held up her knitting and scrutinized it closely.

“Why did you call Mother foolish, and what does it have to do with me?” Raven prodded impatiently.

“I called her that because she is.” Luda snapped. “And it has everything to do with you. It’s her fault.”

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Where is Your Focus?

I was thinking the other day (Don’t look so surprised…) and I came to a conclusion that I had never considered before. My conclusion was this, that criticizing ourselves and putting ourselves down and dwelling on our stupidity and our mistakes is actually just as selfish as trying to convince people how wonderful we are compared to them. We’re still focusing on ourselves, and it’s still a negative influence on our walk with God. You know, the devil has an awful lot of creativity when it comes to getting us to take our focus away from Jesus. After all, the devil can use artificial humility just as easily as he uses outright pride.

So, I think that especially as Christians, we’ve got to learn to let our mistakes go. Honestly, we’re all human, and we’re going to keep making mistakes until the end of the world. Why should we worry ourselves about things that can’t be undone? If we’re forgiven, we have no reason to keep digging up our old junk to review just how awful it was. Why can’t we just focus on Christ’s beauty instead? He is big enough to forgive us, and leaves us no right to withhold forgiveness from ourselves.

So anyways, my point is we’re not perfect yet, but God is still working through us. And if we can’t see His progress, it just might be because we’re not focusing on Him.

 

I get so clumsy, I get so foolish, I get so stupid, and then I feel so useless. But You’re sayin’ You love me, and You’re still gonna hold me, and that You wanna be near me, ’cause you’re makin’ me holy.

Clumsy by Chris Rice ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUwJZFybcW )

Categories: Opinionations | 11 Comments

Perspective of a Tree

Have you ever wondered what a story from the perspective of a tree would sound like? Well, recently I decided to find out, and I wrote a short thing-a-ma-bob about (surprise!) a tree. I don’t know how good it is, but here it is anyways. Enjoy! (Or not…)

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A gentle breeze tickles my leaves, and they chatter in delight, as the moon reluctantly sinks beneath my hill. Goodnight, moon; sleep in peace until darkness bathes the plains once again. The wind sighs in my branches, and I sway gently to and fro to the rhythm. Nearly asleep, I watch quietly as a line of pink slowly spreads over the eastern horizon. The stars blink and yawn, waving good night one last time before winking out one by one. They never were much for staying up long. I smile and wave good night, as giant clouds lovingly tuck them into bed. Sleep well, my friends.

 I sigh, and watch the wave of pink wash over the sky and curl through the holes in the great gray clouds, turning them dazzling shades of pink, orange, and purple. A great red disk slowly eases over the horizon, and I hold my breath, fairly hearing the trumpets blowing to greet the sun. Golden rays of light flood the world, and the hills explode in fields of color – green, brown, yellow, red, pink, white. Good morning, sun.

I smile, as the robins nesting in my branches begin to sing. Their joyful noise fills me with gladness, and I rustle my leaves along with them. Good morning, friends. They chirp back at me, as the sun pulls itself away from the horizon once and for all, leaping into the vast blue ocean of a sky. Today there are many gray islands in that blue expanse. I test the air. There will be a storm before the day is over, no doubt. 

The sun climbs higher, casting a great, black shadow behind me, and as it rises above the great gray clouds, their shadows creep along the hills like a herd of sleepy sheep. The breeze freshens to a wind, and my branches creak and groan. Slowly, reluctantly, I bend my back at the wind’s command. I watch in sorrow as the clouds roll in, continually blackening, as they crowd out the sun’s cheering rays. Farewell, sun. The light fades, and the wind moans, increasing to a gale. My back aches from bending before it, but I have not the strength to stand aright. My branches groan in protest and my leaves fairly scold it, but the wind does not heed me. 

At last, the wind achieves its goal, and obliterates the sky with the vast gray expanse it brought in. At least the clouds share my sorrow at the sun’s distress, and they weep upon the earth. Torrents of water stream to the ground, beating my leaves off my branches, and tearing at the poor robin’s nest. Puddles begin to gather in the hollows about my roots, and I shiver in delight as they refresh my tired soul. I smile, and for a while, it does not seem such a burden to bend so before the gale.

Gradually, gently, so that I hardly notice the change, the rain abates, and the clouds slowly thin and disperse, tired of their play for now. Gradually, reluctantly, the gale retreats before the influence of a gentle breeze, and the robins venture a hesitant chirp, testing the atmosphere for further disturbances. Seeing all is well, they burst into cheery song once more, and I smile and shake my leaves along with them. Farewell, storm. Hello again, sun.

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