I saw the legs outside of my tent the next morning before I heard the voices.
It was early. Just before sunrise. But there was enough light to form two silhouettes on the fabric of my enclosure. Roughly the same size, and both of them men. However, one of them was slightly taller and carried a staff.
“…another outbreak, on the eastern wooded areas. Hasn’t infected the larger lives yet, but Roak was the first to scout it and he’s showing symptoms.”
I blinked my eyes awake, hoping to make sense of the hushed voices.
“Send Maria to heal him. He’ll be fine if we’ve caught it early enough,” the second man said. It was Gale, leader of the group of mages who had rescued me the day before.
“Yes sir. But…” the voice I didn’t recognize faded, clearly reluctant to pursue his train of thought.
“What is it, Jarod?”
“He was hoping you’d perform the task yourself. Maria tends to be… a bit clumsy with her spell-making.”
“Ah. She will never improve if she is never practiced. And you know I have business with the young Ka’Zhan today, we’re running out of time.”
The second man’s shadow fidgeted awkwardly. “I- Many of us are wondering what use the girl is to us, sir. Our food supplies are already dwindling, and she’s… she’s been in the Milicore her whole life, sir. Who’s to say she doesn’t command a fleet to come and destroy us all. Mice shouldn’t seek help from a cat.”
“She was given no choice, Jarod. If we are to stop this, we will need a powerful ally. It is something mere spells cannot undo. If you can’t trust her spirit, then trust what flows through her veins. We need her, despite what she has done unwillingly.”
“Yes sir. Sorry to question your actions, sir.” And the smaller silhouette faded away into the dawn.
Gale left also, but he returned a half hour later bringing bread for me to eat. I pretended to be just waking when he beckoned me from my tent.
It was another day of nothingness, in my eyes. No training, no interrogations. Just simply walking at Gale’s side through the village as he made his rounds and told me stories of the Resistance. Some people glared at me as we passed, others waved happily. The reactions to my presence were as varied as my ideas about my purpose here. I assumed Gale was simply trying to gain my trust.
At midday, the little girl from the evening before came pouncing up to me, asking why I wasn’t wearing her mothers outfit. I had put on the cotton emerald tunic that morning instead.
“It was so beautiful,” I smiled at her. “I wanted to save it for a special occasion.”
“Oohh! Wear it tonight! I get to be the Great Elk in the play!” And without further explanation, she scampered off into the blur of other children playing.
And sure enough, after the sun set and stars emerged in the night sky, people gathered around the great bonfire. Two little boys wore costumes of a wolf, and a wild cat. The third costume was an elk, and it draped off of its wearer by several inches, clearly several sizes too big for the child. But the girl wore it proudly and held her head high.
Bongo’s played softly, and a woman, most likely the children’s teacher, began telling a tale while the children pranced and danced to the beat of the drums and rhythm of her words.
“In the early days of our race, we were fierce and savage warriors.
We hunted in massive packs, with only the strongest of men.
Beasts of all kinds were slain to feed our families. And our people thrived.
But men became greedy, and killed more than what was needed to survive.
Carcasses were left to rot, and the life around them also died.
The forests of their time depleted. Most creatures perished or left.
Soon mankind grew hungry, and were forced to feed on plants instead.
This left them weak. A plague spread throughout the land.
Still they ventured into the wilderness, searching for any signs of the creatures that once called it home.
One day, a wanderer collapsed of hunger in the forest.
His companions left him to die, for they had not the strength to carry him.
The man waited for death’s embrace.
A mouse scurried its way into the man’s lap, seeking shelter.
He was hungry, but he did not kill it.
It would only shortly prolong his life, and the mouse had years to live.
A bear sauntered up to the man, seeking revenge.
He was frightened, but he did not flee.
His death was warranted by the deaths he had caused. The bear left.
A bird on a branch up above called out to the man, seeking help.
He was tired, but he did not ignore it.
He fought to his feet and removed the thorn from the bird’s wing.
Three brothers still lived in the land. An Elk, a Wolf, and a Mountain Lion.
They were wisdom, bravery and strength.
When they found the man, his spirit was about to make its way to the afterlife.
The Elk spoke to him first.
‘Because you did not murder needlessly, I grant you my gift.
For this, you are wise.’
The Wolf spoke to him second.
‘Because you did not cower from threats, I grant you my gift.
For this, you are brave.’
The Mountain Lion spoke to him last.
‘Because you helped others when you could not help yourself, I grant you my gift.
For this, you are strong.’
The man’s health returned to him with more force than he’d had before.
He awoke from his weakened daze, and went to thank the three brothers.
But they were gone.
He returned to his village and told the people of his tale.
They heeded his warnings and followed his actions.
An abundance of animals returned to our world shortly after.
The man could hear their thoughts and they his for the remaining days of his life.
He maintained the balance of life for humans and beasts by using his three gifts.
The very first Peacekeeper was made.”
The drums ended, the children all bowed, and the applause fueled the embers of the flames deep into the late hours of the night.
Inspiration taken from Scourge of Nemo's Souls for Sale. She mentioned an entertainer not performing acts like charades (I think XD). And that got me thinking about charades... which got me thinking about a play... which got me thinking about folk tales... which I put in my story. @_@ *Hopes this makes sense*.