I’m finally getting my #BlogBattle post up. You’ll have to excuse my lateness. I had a test yesterday and a practical exam this morning that basically decides my fate. (I’m reasonable sure I passed but I’d appreciate some finger crossing 🙂 ). After all that, a nap was in order before I tried to get this written.
This week’s word is Spaghetti. Thanks, Rachael. 😛 My first thought was THE HORDE IN HALLOWELL FOREST DOES NOT EAT SPAGHETTI!!! But I guess they do now. 😛 My submission for this week exceeds the 1000 word rule by about 60-ish words. I probably could find a way to pare it down to size but I didn’t want too. #writerprobs.
Don’t remember what happened last with Clancy and Tanya forever ago? Catch up at The Crossroads!
Clancy and Tanya were ushered down a hidden path as two of the Horde led their horses away.
“Welcome to the Hall.” Micah waved them through two great oak trees set side by side. As Tanya stepped into the Hall, she saw that it was aptly named. Long ago, someone had cleared the ground and planted oak trees in a rectangular pattern. Now fully grown and moving on in age, the oak trees formed thick walls and their foliage reached towards one another to form a green ceiling. There were more youngsters in the clearing and Tanya estimated that there were around forty members of the “Horde”, the clearing being able to hold almost double that number comfortably.
The human boy, Alex, whistled and gave a shout. “Jotham! Mc’Clarrah’s here!”
A slight figure slid from rope secured in one of the oak trees and landed lightly on the ground. He wore a mixture of brown and green clothing like the others and sported a thick bow across his shoulder. As he neared, Tanya could see that he was a Drafn, not quite reaching to the full height of five foot, meaning he was not yet seventeen. His lightly freckled face was serious as he looked up at the towering Clancy.
“Mc’Clarrah.” He extended a hand.
“Jotham.” Clancy greeted the boy nearly ten years younger than he as an equal.
“What trouble did they give you?”
“There was some talk about throwing my bones to the four winds.”
“Not our best work,” Jotham admitted, breaking into a grin. Clancy laughed.
“I brought a guest. I hope you don’t mind.” He introduced Tanya to the leader of the Horde.
“Were you on a mission?” Alex begged for information.
“Maybe,” Clancy winked. “I think Miss Tanya will enjoy telling this one. She’s the Master of Disguise who dressed me up like a girl.”
Both grownups joined in the howls of laughter.
“Miss Clancy!” a young girl clapped her hands over her mouth to stifle fresh giggles. Clancy scooped her up into his arms.
“Hey!” he complained at the title prefixing his name. “And I brought you a present.”
“Did you bring us aspeghti?” she asked hopefully.
“Close enough. Go find the blue package in my bag,” he instructed and set her down. She scurried off and returned carefully clutching a large package. Clancy took it from her and called a name. A human boy pushed forward in a food-stained apron and took the package.
“As promised, Spaghetti sauce!”
There was a delighted gasp and the Horde crowded it to look appreciatively at the package until the cook sent them running with a swing of his ladle.
“Last time I was down south a friend was kind enough to pull it together. He dried the ingredients and told me that all you need to do is add it to boiling water, add diced tomatoes and let it simmer,” Clancy checked the handwritten note attached to the binding. “And since you don’t have pasta, wild rice will have to do. It’s not quite the real thing, but it’ll be close enough.”
The cook nodded seriously.
“We should have enough tomatoes for it by now in the garden,” he said.
“I’ll send someone for rice tomorrow,” Jotham promised his band. “Is tonight’s dinner ready?”
“It would be if all my helpers hadn’t abandoned me,” the cook scowled and the Horde rapidly dispersed to prepare the Hall for dinner.
~ ~ ~
Clancy and Tanya were seated in places of honor next to Jotham and his lieutenant Alex. Clancy looked proudly around at the children. They’d come so far in the two years that he had known them. Jotham had taken his charge as leader seriously. There were a few new faces since his last visit and he carefully stored their names away in his memory. He wished the outside world remembered what is was like for all races to live equally like this. For every true blood there was at least one half-blood. The tips of the Prevyrn half-bloods’ ears rose into a slight point, and the Drafn were marked by their mismatched eyes; one grey, the other the color of their human parent. There was even a boy with giant blood who he had rescued from gypsies nearly a year ago. Mamek was fitting in nicely and graciously tolerating the youngest children using his huge frame as a climbing tower.
Tanya finished her thoroughly enjoyable dinner and turned to Jotham to seek the answer she’d wanted since arriving in the forest.
“I hope you don’t mind my asking, but what is this place?”
“Nobody wanted us, so we all eventually found ourselves here,” he explained simply. Tanya’s heart nearly broke in two.
“Why?” she asked.
“Outcasts,” a half-blood Drafn said.
“Orphans,” a Prevyrn girl toyed with her braid.
“Runaways,” Alex finished. “But we all have a family now. Clancy helped us make this a better place to live and Jotham made the rules.”
“Everyone contributes, no stealing, and you leave when you’re eighteen,” Jotham supplied. “Once you leave, Mc’Clarrah will help you find a place to learn a trade.”
“I wish a place like this existed when I was younger,” Tanya said and caught accepting nods from the children. They needed no other explanation for now. She was one of them.
“But then you wouldn’t have become so proficient at disguises,” Clancy broke in.
“Probably true,” she allowed.
“Did you really make Mc’Clarrah look like a girl?” Micah asked. Clancy nodded his permission and she began the story, leaving out most of the important details. Clancy followed it up with some more tales of his recent adventures, making light of both himself and any danger he might have been in.
The stars were peeping down through the branches when everyone dispersed to bed. The boys went to one side of the clearing and the girls to the other. Tanya climbed a rope ladder into a mighty oak and found platforms cleverly built into the tree, complete with roofs and canvas walls to roll down in bad weather. Hammocks were strung at varying levels and the tree housed at least two separate living areas. Three girls of differing ages were hosting her in their flat and they strung up another hammock for her by the light of a lantern.
Apologies for the rough ending, but I’m already over my word limit. Don’t forget that you can vote even if you’re not a participant in the Battles! Just read everyone’s story and vote with the poll that will be up on Rachael’s blog tomorrow!