Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Brown (11/26/09)
TITLE: THE BROWN BANK
By mick dawson
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Once scaling the thinnest branches that he dared, he craned his head in all directions. The green covering of the trees were interspersed with the colors of the native vegetation. Colored tree blooms such as purple, red and yellow sprouted in the heat awaiting the rains of the next year. Although raised beyond the northern border, he could not help feeling that anywhere in the bush was home to him. The many colors always lifted his mood.
A glint amongst the trees in the distance brought a smile to his lips. Then … ah, he was sure that he detected a trace of metal.
He decided he would wait for the men of the colder south to arrive. They were not meant for the heat and would often stop for water. In fact, on one of his jaunts, it was so cold there that the landscape was covered with something white. It frustrated him that he would have to stop and wait for them all the time. To know someone pursued him made an otherwise monotonous journey entertaining. He peered through the many gum trees. Six men in mail shirts and shining helmets sat atop weary horses which threaded through the trees.
Good he thought as the one in the lead, halted to study his print he left for them in the earth. The lead man suddenly pointed north in his direction and remounted his brown horse, wiping his hands on the fur cloak which was tied to the rear of his saddle.
The feral man twisted northward, his heart sinking in his chest at the sight of the broad backed river which marked the border between Vindavia and his own beloved Nusalle. He sighed resignedly at the brown banks of his drier homeland; another league and the chase would be over.
The six Vindavians began to wade beneath him, close enough now for him to hear their conversations.
“It is pointless,” said one of the riders to the rear. “Another league and he will have crossed the river.”
No one responded to him.
“We cannot go into Nusallean territory,” the soldier insisted.
“We can do no less than follow him all the way to the river,” said the rider behind the tracker. “Our king, Natas would torture us for weeks if we did not return with the Nusallean spy.”
“Spies come and go from our land just as ours do in theirs.”
“True enough,” said the leader of the group calmly, “But Natas suspects that this one is Tonunda the Savage.”
“The king of the northmen?”
“The same,” their leader assured them. “So you see; if we do not capture him, then it would be best if we surrender ourselves to the Nusalleans.”
Tonunda virtually glided through the trees above them until he saw thousands of the Vindavians camped on the southern bank of the Pentraca River. As his eyes rolled upward, he saw the camp of the Nusalleans on the dusty brown, northern bank; both armies waiting for the sun to lower, before resuming the fighting of the late afternoon.
The scouting party stopped beneath him again when they spied the river. A deep sigh issued forth from their leader as all stared on in hopelessness.
“This is where the road ends,” he said. “Tonight, I will cross the river when our army sleeps and surrender to the northmen; the rest of you are free to do what you like.”
Tonunda listened as they all voiced their agreement of crossing the river together. He nestled into the bough of the tree, closing his eyes, knowing that nightfall would not be too far away. After the scouting party had crossed the border into his homeland, he would simply slip past the army of the southmen and follow them. A grin curled his lips; tonight he would deliver six prisoners that had literally captured themselves, and he would then report to his army on all he had seen.
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