This was written as only a part of a larger story delivered weekly in a serial format.
The week passed in a blur of rainy nights, planting days, and dreams. Dreams, always with a woman warrior that could be Raelle herself at an older age.
It was the dreams that pushed Raelle out of bed in the mornings, through her morning chores, and into the fields to plant as much as she could before the sun disappeared beyond the village that lay on the other side of the forest every evening. That field had to be planted before her Pop Pop would teach her to fight, and she had to learn that if she was ever to be the woman in her dreams.
Fallon kept his doubts to himself. He knew his daughter and her overwhelming single minded determination. She would learn how to fight, even if she had to take beating after beating from the village boys to learn. There was no letting it go, and the longer he put it off, the more she would want it. Better to see how hard she would work for it and if her interest would last.
Besides that, he believed what he had told her. Knowledge of a thing, no matter the thing, is never bad. If Raelle learned how to defend herself, even a little, that would be a very good thing indeed as far as he was concerned. Perhaps he wouldn’t have to handle every boy in the village in a few years. That alone was reason enough.
But her mother was another reason. One all to itself. Raelle was her mother all over again, whether she knew it or not. Iron willed and strong. If that was a good thing or not, he dared not guess. All he could do was equip his daughter as best he could and hope that she didn’t walk the path Zelle had chosen. That path led to loss, but the loss would be greater still if Raelle walked the path unprepared.
Raelle rose early on Seventhday with such eagerness Fallon would have thought the Harvest Celebration was upon them. She bounded out the door and into her chores with vigor and was in the fields before the sun marked mid-morning. Before the day was half done, Raelle pushed the last seed into the rain soaked dirt and covered it over.
Fallon smiled at his daughter. “Someone would think that there was something you wanted, watching the way you tore through your chores this week. Is there something I should know?”
She looked up at her father. Surely he hadn’t forgotten. “Today we can start learning to fight Pop Pop. The fields are all planted.”
“Ah yes. I remember you saying something about that. Perhaps it can wait ‘til the morrow? The week has been long with planting and I dare say we could stand a bit of rest.” He rubbed the small of his back and tried not to laugh at the expression that fell over his daughter’s face. He failed. “Okay, maybe not the morrow, but perhaps after lunch?”
They ate a meal of good crusty bread and smoked fish. Raelle gulped the food down like a starving child and sat anxiously watching her Pop Pop chew irritatingly slow.
“Okay,” Fallon laughed as he swallowed his last bit of fish and licked his fingers clean. “You have a shield, but it’s too big and heavy for you to learn with. You will have to use something else to learn. Don’t worry, the shield is yours, and when you grow a bit it will be there for you.” Raelle twisted her face up. “Don’t be angry now. You want to learn, and the first lesson is that that shield is too big for you.” Fallon stood and walked into the other room returning with a small wooden shield and sword. “Try this one.”
Raelle made a sour face at the little shield. She had envisioned this day, her wielding her shield. Her shield, not that puny little wood thing.
“Do you want to learn?”
“Yes.” She took the shield and tightened the leather straps to her arm before reaching out for the sword.
“Good, now crouch behind the shield and spring forward at me.” Fallon caught her as she sprung forward. “Good! We can work with that. Now let’s go outside and you can have some practice.”
Fallon walked her over to a seedling he had stripped all the limbs off save two bushy ones on either side a little above the height of Raelle’s arms. He pulled it this way and that, showing her how the seedling would bend in all directions, and stood back. “Fight the tree.”
She looked at him puzzled, but when he kept silent, she reared back and chopped hard at the seedling. It bent with her blow and sprung back to pop her in the face with a bushy limb.
“Hmph. Looks like the tree is winning. When you can land five blows on the tree without taking a hit yourself, we will continue.”
Raelle struck again with her shield at the ready, but before the limb came over the top and she had a face full of leaves again. Fallon laughed and turned to go. She watched him go before turning back to the seedling with fire in her eyes.
Fallon smiled as he heard the whack whack of the wooden sword and couldn’t help but feel sorry for the tree.
This is the fifth installment of a serial. Every week, another portion will be posted with a target word count between 500 and 1,000.
If you missed the previous episodes, I have links at the top of this post!
I hope you enjoyed this portion of our story! I look forward to seeing you as we continue the journey and welcome any comments you may have.
Thanks for visiting!