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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

By mick dawson



The village of the dog tribe bowed in revered silence in the presence of the king’s entourage. Olleton the Wise strolled among them acknowledging their homage with a curt nod, flanked on either side by two of his Blue River Guardsmen.
The chief of the tribe stepped forth and bowed again.

“I am, Thorrin, leader of the Dog clan, my king.”

Olleton waved the man to his feet with a faint grin.

“Good day to you, Thorrin. I come seeking a friend of mine of about sixty years with great strength. Do you know of whom I speak?”

“He is in that house by the potter’s shop but he is resting, recovering.”

“Recovering from what?” asked the king.

“He was pulling the plough as he always does in the field then collapsed. The physician has seen him yesterday and believes it to be his heart.”

“I will see him,” stated the king and trudged past him to the home mentioned.

Olleton knocked on the door and waited before knocking again.
The door swung open to an annoyed middle aged woman. Her expression promptly changed to one of bewilderment at the sight of the king.

“My king,” she said with bowed head.
“I would like to see your husband, good woman.”

“I am sorry, my king but he is unwell.”

“Let them come, Serema,” croaked a tired voice.

She stepped aside revealing a mighty framed man lying on a bed in the corner of the room. Olleton looked on the ashen grey visage forlornly. Sweat rolled from his face into his shoulder long white locks. His mail hauberk, helm and double edged axe were draped on a stand beside his bed.
All at once a smile appeared on his face and the fevered man sat up.

“Olleton, I thought I had recognized your voice, how do you fare?”

“Better than you it would seem, my friend.”

“And what occasions the visit, not that you are unwelcome?”

“Only to see you,” Olleton replied averting his eyes to the floor.

“No there is another reason.”

“Do you know that we are at war with the Vindavians?”

“Aye, most of our young men have already been taken,” said the older man.

“They have pushed their way into the capital. The southern king has a bodyguard as tall as a man and a half and in his arrogance the king of the south men has given us a chance at a contest of champions. He boasts loudly that no Nusallean could ever best him. I told him that I knew of one so, I have come but I see you are in ill health.”

With a wave of his calloused hand, the older man wiped the sweat from his brow and looked toward his mail and axe.

“No! You remember what the physician said, you are not to exert yourself!” shrieked Serema.

Her husband drew the woman close and kissed her forehead tenderly.

“There is nowhere I would sooner spend my final days with, but what am I to do?” he said softly. “If I do not despatch this oaf then all of Nusalle will either be slaughtered or enslaved. I may or may not recover so I must leave now.” He said releasing her and putting on his hauberk.

“I may have a year at best.” he added. “Perhaps longer if I take my rest, but put yourself in my place Serema; would it be right to live out my days here in safety while our nation is threatened? … slowly withering away over the years?”

Putting his helmet on last he took up his axe and looked on his wife, staring back at him through tear streaked eyes.

“Do not ask me to go with you.” She said looking away. “I could not bear to see you cut down.”

“I know,” he said sombrely, stepping outside with his king.

“Oddly enough, if you win people will chant your name but not know who you are,” Commented the king.

“Aye,” guffawed the older man. “…the Forgotten One.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 03/13/08
Lots of good detail here, though I got a touch lost in the action. Nice job with the dialog- I hope you expand on this!
Jan Ackerson 03/13/08
A good genre piece, and spot-on for the topic.

I was left with a lot of questions, though--why were they the dog tribe? They seemed to be people. That sort of thing...which is why it's so very difficult to do fantasy or sci-fi in just 750 words. Not enough words to establish your world, and so something's gotta give.

I liked the relationship between the husband and wife. Well done.
Marilyn Schnepp 03/16/08
Very interesting story, or better yet - very intriguing mystery.

Anything I don't understand I call a mystery; and I needed to know what "mail" had to with an ax? Why? Who? When and perhaps Where did all this transpire? Am I Confused or just dense? I don't know... but I still think it was interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Holly Westefeld03/17/08
Mick, I continue to enjoy your tales of the Forgotten One, and hope that you do not plan for his candle to flicker out any time soon.

You did have an awkward sentence:
"“There is nowhere I would sooner spend my final days with, but what am I to do?”"
It would need to be noone, or omit the "with."

One need not know anything else of your land and people to enjoy this story, the Forgotten One's willingness to sacrifice for his people while his life yet shines, and the reminder that each of our lives is "slowly withering away." I wonder if you were aluding to Goliath?
Keep up the creativity!
Lyn Churchyard03/22/08
Ahhh, my favourite character – The Forgotten One. You have done a fine job with this entry, and spot on target for the topic as always.

I love your title “The Burning Candle”, but please, don’t let it burn too low. Great job Mick, great job!