A/N: I wrote this for school... I had started it long before that... while avoiding studying for my PSAT's... I am reasonably happy with the final product... I had a 2000 word limit, which sucked, as there was so much more I wanted to write... However. I am happy with the end result.
A Fateful Rebellion
By Joanne L. Prokop
The sun had finally set below the horizon. Now all that remained were the pink and orange touched clouds that decorated the sky. The birds had settled down, and the only sounds that could be herd were the whispering of the wind and her own breathing. It seemed like the whole forest found the moment as sacred as she did.
She lifted her chin to the sky. Letting her gray eyes flutter shut. She tried to memorize the moment. Her hair, that beautiful undefinable shade, whipped around her face with a sudden gust that sent a gentle shiver down her spine.
The silence reminded her of the old days; the days when she would sleep among the trees, and drink straight from the stream. It was those days that this silence carried her mind to. That was her favorite time. And it was the silence that helped her re-live it.
A crow cawed in the distance; noon. It was time once again to collect the water for her afternoon bath. There was a time once, when she cared not for her appearance. Certainly she found it easier not to bathe, but as she spent more time in the forest, she soon learned that her appearance was all that kept her human.
Beginning her climb up the mountain side she began to sing; her little feet picking up the beat and carrying her higher and higher towards the sky. Her voice echoed through the mountains creating a choir of gentle voices all hitting a perfect note.
As she ended her song she reached the stone well which held the water she would need. With swift and practiced motions she tied the well line to the handle of her bucket. The forest was quiet, strange at a time like this, as the forest usually sang her songs with her. Not really caring she gently lowered the pail into the well. Jumping, she was startled by a sound behind her. Scrambling to catch the bucket before it fell into the depths of the well she tried to organize all the things running through her mind.
"Sorry miss," came the deep voice from behind her.
"Oh," she said trying to force her thoughts out. "Don't give it a worry."
"I didn't mean to frighten you, but I was told to find a certain girl who lived in this forest."
"Yes? I know not of any others, and I have lived in these woods for as long as my mind can remember."
"Then you would be Fate."
"Yes, there was a time I went by that name, but here in the forest my friends call me Mave."
"Friends?" The man asked.
"Yes," she replied, not feeling the need to answer further.
"There is a rebellion." The man said bluntly, as she moved to lower the pail into the well.
"Oh? And why should I, a child of the forest care for a rebellion?"
"Because it will spread, the king is losing his hold, he wishes to keep the forest for protection from rival countries. The rebellion wishes us to sell the lumber to the rival countries in return for a peace treaty."
"Will you help?"
"Of course," she replied. "This is my home, as the king defends his, I must defend mine. His is just lucky that our wills follow the same path."
"Can you ride?" he asked. She just smiled in response and followed as he led her down the mountain.
The city was beautiful. The streets were busy with merchants selling their goods, and beggars reaching for the skits mother on their way to the market. The streets were alive, but she felt fear in the pit of her stomach, as the sounds grew louder in her sensitive ears.
"This way," the man said, leading her through a large gate with guards.
The new location seemed to be quieter, and she took the new silence to take in her new surroundings. There were fountains, and flower gardens decorating the vast expanse before her. Shrubs and stumps had been carved into forms of animals, and people. She assumed that she was on the palace grounds.
Her escort led her through two large yew doors. They were carved with a forest scene, so that it appeared as if one could walk into the woods by just touching its fine grain.
"My King," the man said, suddenly bowing. When she didn't move to bow he looked up at her with a knowing eyes.
"Sir," she said, not lowering herself.
"This would be the child I assume?" The King asked.
"Leave us." The King ordered. With another bow, she watched as her escort left her with the man. "Fate is it?"
"Aye," she said, realizing that Mave would not be an accepted name in this Christian country.
"I am Pytho, king of these lands. I will be blunt with you when I say that I am in need of your help. There is a rebellion planned on my lands. I know not who is running it, only that it will come to pass before the full moon."
"But that is tomorrow night," she said.
"I am in need of someone to investigate." He continued as if he hadn't heard her. "All my present field men are known to the conspirators. A new face, one such as your own, would not be recognized as a member in service to the crown. I need you to tell me who is trying to over throw my kingdom."
"And in return?" she asked, knowing that there was nothing this 'King' could do to force her.
"I will protect your forest."
"When do I depart?" She asked, knowing that the forest was all the convincing she would ever need.
The street was cold. After speaking with the King, she had been given a pack and some old clothes and told that she was now a beggar. Any information would be reported to Munnin, the owner of the local tavern.
While walking the streets, Fate grew afraid. There were so many strange men, all staring at her, and grinning toothless smiles. A number had even reached for her wrist, telling her they would pay for her services. Pytho had told her about these men, he said to avoid them, that they were rude, and not worth her time as they weren't part of the conspiracy.
Fate lowered herself to the ground. Scooting over next to a vendor's tent, she watched as the sky turned from its pastel blue to a midnight one. As stars began to appear, she focused her attention to the moon. Its light seemed to cast long shadows along the previously busy street. Now there were fewer people. Men were staggering drunk from the tavern, and many of women hitched their skirts up, as they walked with undone bodices.
"Are you with or against him?" As woman said, slumping against the side of Fate's stall. She reeked of ale and stale food.
"Who?" Fate asked, her mind already making assumptions.
"Pytho," the woman spat. "That man who calls himself King."
"Against," Fate whispered, as instructed earlier. Remember, the Pytho had told her, you are to tell everyone you meet that you are against me. They must believe you to be part of the rebellion.
"Tomorrow," the woman whispered, her breath causing Fate to wince. "The rebellion is tomorrow, in the main square; noon. May the forest bless," she burped before staggering down the street.
Tomorrow, Fate thought. Tomorrow the forest's existence is decided. The woman's last statement confused her though. May the forest bless? She was protecting the forest, could that woman have been another member of Pytho's team? Something in her heart told her she was missing a piece of the puzzle, but her mind told her it was because she was from the forest, an didn't understand the working of this big city.
Curling into a small ball she pulled her cloak tighter about herself. It took until dawn for her to fall asleep. It was only shortly after that the rough hands were shaking her awake.
"Wha…" Fate carried off.
"Get up." A stern voice ordered.
"Who are you?"
"Get off the street. The rebellion will start soon, and the King doesn't take prisoners."
"What do you mean?"
"Go," the man ordered, before disappearing into the crowed.
Fate, confused began walking the streets. She was beginning to notice small things; things that she hadn't seen upon her first arrival. People were passing as they always were, but if you looked closely one would place a basket of herbs down to observe some produce, and then leave without picking it up. Then another would collect it, and scurry off before dropping something of their own. Once, while eating some of the scraps Pytho had provided her, she noticed a glint of steel as a passing peasant slipped something long into another's cloak. Fate was sure it was a sword, though the knowledge did her little good. Peasants were permitted weapons, though few could afford them.
The sun glinted over head. Fate judged it was around the eleventh bell, and as if the town church heard her thoughts, the bell rang the eleventh hour. Fate hurried to the tavern.
"Munnin," she called, through the locked door. "I know about the rebellion." As soon as the words were spoken, she felt strong hands grip her wrists. "Get-Off-Of-Me." she stammered.
"You are under arrest, as proclaimed by King Pytho, on the grounds of starting a rebellion."
"What? No, no. I'm not starting the rebellion. All I'm doing is trying to save the forest."
"Is that a confession?" the man asked, not wanting an answer.
"Take me to Pytho," she said through clenched teeth. "He-." She was interrupted by a slap on the face.
"King Pytho, wench. He is to be addressed with his proper title." Her captor corrected. "And we have ordered to take you to be made as an example. Come."
Fate lowered her chin. The ground before her feet crumbled a little, as a few pieces of the cliff tumbled to the bottom. The wind had settled down, and as she turned around she met the eyes of the entire town, the entire rebellion, standing behind her. This was the lie he had fed her. Pytho wasn't protecting the forest, he was exporting it. The rebellion was to save the sacred grounds, while the King thought only of power and wealth.
Many in the rebellion, those who were not strong, lowered their eyes under her judging gaze. Those who were true to her cause met her eye. Their faces didn't hold the pride she hoped they would have, at her dying for their cause. But instead they held disappointment. The rebellion had failed.
Then she was falling. She could faintly hear a woman scream; but her mind was no longer a part of her body. One would have thought even given the circumstances, that at a moment such as this one might feel exhilaration. Fate felt none of that. She was dead before she hit the ground.
King Pytho looked over the edge at her broken body. Turning to the crowed, he chose his words carefully. Fate had been a danger to him. But with her death he had accomplished two things. He had won the forest, and reinforced his rule in the minds of his people. The humanity it cost him, was nothing compared to the satisfaction he received in return.
"Rebellion is not an act which I tolerate. Her choice of disloyalty cost her, her life. Let this be a lesson to you, this woman's fate was preventable. Do not follow her to the base of this cliff, for any," he paused to stress the word. "Any who rebel, will follow."
With those words spoken, the towns' people started to disperse. With a final look over the edge, King Pytho led his men into the forest.
Final Note: I got 96 percent on this... It was also submitted as my classes selction for the short story contest. Hope you enjoyed. Please Review.