The general idea is that every week I write, and publish here, a short story of some kind. I have to get back to writing fiction somehow, and the Panto seems to have fallen over. If I can’t think of anything, I shall open up The Writers Block and follow it. So, Number one, the page in TWB says…
They were just coming up to the valley when Trick ran up to Clae.
"Kael said to. tell you something. I don’t. understand." he said, trying to catch his breath.
"Calm down, Trick." said Clae, slowing down his horse, "What did he say?"
"He was talking to the guide about going though the valley, when he sort of made this laugh that I don’t think was really a laugh, because Kael doesn’t usually laugh like that, but anyway, he looked down into the valley with the scope and then told me to tell you that there was a bacon tree ahead."
"Did he say where?" asked Clae.
"Er, no, but he was looking right down at the bottom by the road. But I don’t understand, because bacon doesn’t grow on trees, does it?"
"No, my son. That it does not." then he reined in suddenly, and swore loudly enough to be heard by the trio ahead.
"What is it now, Clae?" shouted back Emerald.
"Something’s slipped on the packages. I’ll fix it, then catch up with you in a little while"
Emerald, Kael Sapphire and the guide nodded and continued down the path.
"The packages are fine, I checked them just now." said Trick.
"I know, lad" replied Clae, and started pretending to fix them.
"Clae?" asked Trick. Clae grunted, so he continued: "Will you explain the bacon tree thing, and why we’re staying here?"
Clae watched until the trio disappeared from sight behind a ridge, and worked out how long it would take them to reach the bottom, then sat down.
"I suppose I might, at that. Sit down, lad, and I’ll tell you a story."
"Before the empire there were the clans, and the clans didn’t get on. That’s putting it mildly. A month a family stayed intact was a month to be thankful for in those days, there was nowhere safe, and each clan had a web of alliances so baroque and detailed that most of the battles were caused by accidentally firing at the wrong side. It had been one of these battles that the leader of one particuler clan had sent his top general – what used to be known as ‘Kael’ until he," Clae pointed into the valley to indicate Sapphire "sort of redefined the term – to reclaim a piece of territory he wanted to fish in, or some such rot. Anyway, this general was sent down and a couple of days later this junior warrior comes back screaming ‘It’s a bacon tree! It’s a bacon tree!’. Naturally, the leader is a little perplexed by this, and quizzes the warrior: ‘What do you mean?’ he asks, but only gets the reply ‘It’s a bacon tree! Down by the stream, a bacon tree, a bacon tree!’
"Now, it hasn’t been a good year for crops for the tribe, what with one thing and another. And so the leader mounts a small experdition to the stream to look at this tree of bacon. He considers maybe a pig got caught in a bush, or maybe the gods have been kind.
"A few days later, the leader returns. Just. Bleeding from every limb, he crawls back into town. He’s missing three fingers, his torso is a mass of scars, but he crawls up to the junior warrior, and says just one sentance: ‘That wasn’t a bacon tree…’"
Down at the bottom of the valley, the guide seems to have stopped.
"Why have we stopped?" asked Sapphire, tersely.
"There’s something down here I want you to see." answered the guide.
"We are in something of a hurry, we do have to get this back to the kingdom soon."
"Thankfully," said the guide, "That is no longer your problem."
Clae watched a group of archers rise from the grass a few metres from Emerald and Sapphire.
"…’No, son. That there was an ‘am-bush’, said the leader."
Trick gazed open mouthed at the scene below
"Shouldn’t we try to help?"
"Hell no." said Clae, "First, because this box must get to the Kingdom. Second, because that valley isn’t the worlds safest place right now."
"Exactly! Emerald could be killed!"
"I doubt it." said Clae, "And besides, Emerald and Kael arn’t the ones in trouble."
"Are you telling me that you brought us all this way just to rob us?" screamed Emerald at the guide
"Oh no. We’re going to kill you too." replied the guide, somewhat smugly.
"Archers…", commanded the guide.
"Because," said Clae, "Emerald has something of a"
There was a flash of light
"." said the large, round, orange guide.
"Squeak?" said the archers.
"Pumpkins, Dear?" asked Sapphire.
"Pumpkins, Saff. And white mice. I’m feeling traditional." replied Emerald.
"Short fuse." concluded Clae, mounting the horse. "Enjoy your walk down, by the way. We’ll be traveling in style the rest of the way."
"How so?" asked Trick, confused.
"Looks like you’re entering the Kingdom via a large, orange coach…"