I remember...

Cricket

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(From my journal, in the roleplaying game Ultima Online, a game possessed of lands where wizards, dragons, and mighty warriors dwell.)

I remember the first time I ventured out from our home by myself.

So often before I would go only in the company of my father or sisters, for with them did I find comfort and safety. The many chores we had living on our farm so far from town kept us quite busy. Often were the days we spent gathering wood in the haunted forest, mining minerals in nearby cliffs, or gathering valuable herbs and regents for sale to wandering healers. There was much we had to do to survive in the Land of the Bloodnames. Though so beautiful was this land by the inlet sea of Loch Lake, life was perilous and short for many.

Today, however, I felt the spring breeze blowing in from Loch Lake, the scents pulling me off the steps of our home and into the yard. I opened the gate without as much concern as I had always been taught, and I found myself wandering to the shore. I draped about me my sisters red cloak, protected from the rise of an early morning chill. Though breakfast was in the air, I felt safe going not too far. Along the shore, I stood for a moment to stare longingly toward the fortress city of Cove far across the bay. Smoke from distant hearths clouded the sky, and the last light of the sentry tower was gleaming its last. I turned away, strolling north, curious to see, to smell, to touch this or that and everything else that caught my attention.

Upon reaching the Sorcerer's Stone along the bank, I suddenly realized I was somewhat at a distance from our home. I could still see it, being only a fine long bow shot away, but never alone had I ventured so far by myself. I smiled, then shrugged, delighted in my bravery. With pursed lips I blew a stray lock of my black hair back up over my brow, then wheeled on my heels to jump upon the stone.

Again, I peered across the lake, though from this new vantage point so much more was revealed. The mountain buttressing the west side of Cove seemed so impregnable from here. Many times had I sailed there with my grandfather when younger, mining along the bank upon our ship, the Scant Bounty. How funny, that when younger I had always held the youthful belief that this was all our land and sea. We had worked it all my life, and my father and grandfather before me. Suddenly, from somewhere deep inside me, as I gazed across the peaceful inlet sea to those far cliffs, I realized that this was not so. It was not ours.

I can still smell that moment. Britain swamp was over my shoulder to the north and east as the crow does fly. I smiled, remembering my grandfather would always say this. I can only ask myself now, "How does the crow fly?" I scrunched my nose as the foul gas of the musky rot of downed trees and decaying vermin wavered on the early morning mist, meandering outward toward the loch.

Sitting upon my knees, leaning forward as I did so, I saw myself for the first real time in the waters of the lake. I had seen myself before mind you, yet, now it was different. I had sometimes seen my face glimmer faintly in the forged metal swords which my grandfather crafted with his own hands in the late afternoon sun, but only so slightly did I gather this image. That was me, I told myself. My hair was black. This I could see. Then there was the time my sister told us the most frightening story, nestled as we were within our home, the fire of the hearth warm and reassuring. As I drew near to her, there, in the brightness of her eyes, I could see myself. That was my face. That was me. Or, what of the day when the raiders burned the farms nearby, leaving only the bravest to battle in defense, and the remainder of us to hide in the fields. I remember that nearby, a war horse galloped within the stand of crops where I lay, hoping not to be discovered. Yet, so close was the enemy rider, that upon the shiny metal plate of one leg I could see my reflection. Only then did I become aware of how small I was.

Now, looking upon my reflection in the lake, I could see that I was no longer so small. Evenmore, as I crept even closer to gaze at my reflection in the calm waters of Loch Lake, I saw for the first time that my eyes were gray. I had heard my mother tell me my eyes were gray. I knew what the color gray was. Even my sisters had told me the same. Yet, without the luxury of a mirror, that finery reserved for others living so distant, how could I truly know the color of gray in my eyes? If I had no sight, as if the blind woman, would I know of gray if they told me still?

Lost in such reverie, I forgot myself and my whereabouts for much too long. This was Loch Lake, in the Land of the Bloodnames, by the swamp of Britain. It was no place to lose myself, even for so short a time. Always, you must be on guard. Always.

I quietly raised myself with my hands to my knees, still sitting upon the calves of my legs. I had not remembered the lesson. My eyes peered across the lake, fixed upon the high mountain above Cove. It was not that they were so beautiful that snared my attentions. In the corner of my eye, no more than a spear in length away, stood a large white wolf. Even had I wished to flee, perhaps even scream, I could not. My breath was braced by fear and my heart began to race. I could not move. I could not even turn my head to look at him. I simply continued staring out across the lake, fixated upon the distant ramparts of Cove, a shimmering blue water element lurking about the docks, along with the rising hump of a hump of a sea serpent on the far shore.

Mustering my strength with a deep breath, I slowly bowed my head. Within my red cape I rose ever so measuredly. Standing tall, I began to raise my arms above my head to make myself appear even taller, as if attempting to reach the very bright spring sky above with my fingertips. Then, when I could reach no further, I cautiously turned to face the creature. Only then did I realize I had not taken another breath. My cheeks were puffed out, and my lungs were aching horribly, crying out for air. "White wolf kill me now," I must have screamed within myself, "so I may breath one last time!"

He did not kill me. The white wolf but turned and walked away. Evenso, I stood there holding my breath, arms high above my head. Now, I feared that in gasping for air I would make so loud a sound that even a more terrible creature from the swamp might hear, or even worse, a bandit.

The white wolf then suddenly stopped at the edge of the swamp. He did not turn around, but his head came about, to cast a look over his shoulder in my direction. What a sorry sight I must have presented. Standing in a red cloak much too big for me, cheeks puffed out in a desperate attempt to hold my breath, my hair a morning mess, my eyes bulging, and my arms high above my head. Within his golden eyes I could discern, even from here, that I was the most pitiful sight.

Then he was gone. I gasped at last, immediately covering my mouth, frightened. In both directions did I turn my head to see if I was heard. Only in the distance did I hear the cackle of a gargoyle, but nothing more.

Without thinking, my legs propelled me off the Socerer's Stone and onto the shore. I ran to the edge of the swamp, wanting to see the white wolf just one more time. He was gone. Only a slithering snake presented itself, along with an alligator slipping into the water.

I walked home the way I came, head down, as I traced my path along the shore. On my first day out of our home, along this loch where I had always lived in comfort and security, I had learn several things. I learned for myself that my eyes are gray. I learned that I am brave, though perhaps somewhat a fool. I also learned that, although I could not yet understand how or why, I possessed a very strong appeal over the beasts of this earth. I was not born to be just a herder. I would one day be much more.

My name is Cricket de Montfort. On this day, one year ago, I remember.

cricketflagbanner.jpg

_________________
 
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Cricket

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Hehe. I don't know. It is just a story. Besides. I am found that it helps working on my spelling and grammar. I stayed up late trying to get this ready. If it is not good you can just take off. I just thought it would be nice to share.
 

scalem X

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I am astonished, the weird thing is that although I now people in fantasy that have some sisters and talk to their father and grandfather are often male. I could sense this story was told by a female; you have an amazing talent, Cricket, don't stop writing even if your life leads you to some other work.
 

Cricket

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Hehe. Thank you, Scalem. Yes, and my sisters and I are very close to our father and grandfather. If you knew us and our name, then you would understand. They are great men, and everyone around here and beyond know them. We are living in history with them. As for writing, I don't know. It is something I like for now. My sisters and I are just making the website now for our friends at school with a live journal and such. That is our major activity, along with making the avatar, the signature, you know, this and that. For me, I want to be a veterinarian one day and have my own farm. I will be happy with that. Stories, that is for other people. If it makes them happy, and they learn something from the other experience, okay.

Scalem, you never answered me, I do not think. You are in Flanders, yes? How far from Maastrict or Vaulkenberg in the Netherlands? We used to go there to see my father's friend when I was younger. I loved Vaulkeberg. They had so wonderful a park there.
 

scalem X

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Well I think I do have answered but I'll repeat for you:
I've never been to Vaulkenberg (and I haven't been to an a park in the netherlands), but I remember going to maastricht when I was little. Maastricht is about 80-100 km (I think about 50 to 70 miles) from where I live. I usually go to sixflags theme park.

You certainly have the ability to make people anxious to know your background!!!
 

scalem X

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Ah my mind must have been taking a walk I do have been to an a park in Holland
'The everland' (het land van ooit). And I also know the efteling (another dutch theme park (I've never visited it though))
 

Brian G Turner

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Cricket said:
Hehe. I don't know. It is just a story. Besides. I am found that it helps working on my spelling and grammar. I stayed up late trying to get this ready. If it is not good you can just take off. I just thought it would be nice to share.
No, it was a good piece - maybe a couple of sentences that someone twice your age might be asked to polish up.

The only thing I wasn't really keen on - to make a proper criticsm - was a couple of times you described details well into the piece, when we should really be expected to either know them, or them not to be an issue (though I'm sure it doesn't stop a lot of published writers). Specific examples were the reference to her hair being swept aside, and the reference to her wearing red was just too close to Little Red Riding Hood, in a way that seemed otherwise gratuitous and unnecessary. Just my personal opinion, though.

Otherwise, I think the whole work shows a lot of promise, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the piece at all, really - I think it's positively precocious. :)

I was actually also relieved - the setting was made so calm and idyllic that I was expecting the inevitable event to a be a maruading bunch of soliders, in the process of torching the surrounding farmsteads and murdering the families. That you kept from that and went with the wolf symbolism was pure fantasy, and I liked that. :)
 

Cricket

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Hmmm....yes. I understand everything. The red clothes....if you played the game of Ultima, you would understand. It is a sort of camouflage. In the game, reds are bandits, or player killers. Unlike most players, they live off tracking and killing other players. They are banned from entering towns and many other areas unless they be killed by city guards controlled by game moderators, who I think are in so basement in London. Hehe.

You know the reds because you can see their name above their heads is written in red as they approach. Since my character lived in the red, or bandit controlled areas (so much more exciting, and allowed my sisters and I to have a nice home, unlike peaceful areas that are crowded), I dressed in all red....leather armore, cape, shield, hat, everything. This gave me some initial protection as a bandit would wonder for a moment, then I would be off and running home if caught in the wilderness areas. It is also the family color....such as their flag, so forth. So I dressed in red. I then just used it in the story to give some reason why it started. My character is well know in the game and reading the story they would say, "oh, so that is how she started wearing all that red." Hehe.

Anyway. Thank you for the information. I will use it for my next piece which is already written on the gaming forum but I must correct the grammar and spelling again to be just right for here.
 

Clay

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That was a wonderful story Cricket. I think it was well told and vividly interesting. I am not a writer myself but I really enjoyed reading this story of yours and think you should definately keep writing.

:)


*Thanks for referring me to this site. :D I hope the other Sciflicks members come over as well.
 

Cricket

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Clay!!! I am so happy to see you. You came. Thank you for the compliment. I know it isn't really the best writing, but it is my story as I felt from the heart. I have to work hard on my grammar and spelling because I know that I am terrible with this. I like writing about my adventure there because it has been so much fun playing, and so intensive emotionally at times. I remember those times like an actual story.

I am going to add the second part after I fix all the spelling errors and such. Maybe tomorrow.

I am so happy you are here. I love that you have your avatar! You will love it here.
 

Clay

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Thanks "I, Brian" Nice site, I'll see you in the forums once I get familiar with navigation here.:p



Hi Cricket, I look foreward to reading part two of your story.:)
 

Cricket

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Re: I remember...Part II

On the second day of my leaving home, I wandered toward Britain swamp careful not to attract the attention of the many beast that threatened within and about this place. Soon, I discovered I had travelled quite far from home, and not even the waves of the Loch Lake could I hear beating against the shore.

Evenso, in my memory was retained the sound of cackling that I could once again hear now in the distance. I so much wanted to discover the origin of this carefree laughter. To know what manner of man or beast exuded such joy in the depths of this perilous wilderness. Before long, the answer was mine. I lay on my stomach to await the approach of the gathering cacophony.

Peering from behind a bramble of bush, breathing ever so lightly, I beheld the source of this joyous commotion. It was a gargoyle, tall, naked, and so gay in his prance about the forest. I was at first frightened, so horrible were the tales that I had heard about this creature resonated in the darkess recesses of my mind. I did not move at all, remaining ever so still, as if the very ground below me swallowed me whole. I was as the grass about me.

He looked my way, this prancing creature, and I believed he saw something in my direction. I dared not give him reason to suspect that I was here. Yet, he did not move or act, just as I did not. Sniffing the air about him with an upturned nose, it was evident he detected something, but was unsure. He simply continued to fix his gaze this way, scanning the surroundings. I wanted to tremble in reaction to his surveillance, but dared not, believing that even this small disturbance would reveal my presence. I closed my eyes. When I open them again, ever so slowly, I saw that he had turned away, grumbling with a shrug and a flap of his wings. I realized quite quickly why he reacted in such a manner.

Beside me was the white wolf. As with my encounter yesterday, I did not turn. I saw him in the corner of my eye, and dared not move. The wolf, crouching upright on his back legs, had drawn the attention of the gargoyle, his scent and sight covering my surroundings. Standing fast, the wolf but glared at the gargoyle, as if in solemn challenge, as if to say, "...this is my place. Come take it if you will. Leave in peace so that we may both live." With this challenge, the gargoyle pranced away unperturbed, laughing, flapping his wings, and enjoying his forest home.

The wolf then strolled away, allotting me little regard. I did not follow, let alone leave my place of safety and comfort upon the ground. So sheltered did I feel even here, as if at home. Perhaps, in fear and confusion, I was frozen and unable to move. I am not sure.

All that I do know, is here in this place, north and west of the swamp beside Loch Lake, I left home for the second time by myself. Here, along the forests and the creatures that dwell here, I was slowly discovering the courage I possessed. For courage is not, as my father says, without cost. You are courageous when you do something that you would usually not do under normal circumstances, when something deep down inside you commands you to do otherwise, and thus remain safe.

Also, I learned something about the creatures of this remote forest. Only in fear do we transform them into monsters greater than the security given to us by our meager comforts. That is to say, not knowing them, are they to be seen as threatening. For the gargoyle, though the stories of my childhood are so terrifying, dances among the forest trees, as if to his own song. Naked, with wings flapping, he is seemingly so happy. What is it of this beast that posseses us with loathing and terror? What it must be like, his life, to dance naked, with wings lifting him here and there, laughing about the day, to his own song, caring not for all the worries we so possess.

To this day, wondering of the white wolf, and his second coming to my place in the forest, I realized quite clearly that he did save me. Surely, had he not come, covering me with his sight and scent as I lay amongst the bramble, I would have encountered a most ignoble end so close to home. Yet, without the slightest regard, caring not about the other creatures seemingly so menacing, the white wolf stood his ground, assisting another creature in need, and one who he could have so easily forsaken.

In this spirit, I, Cricket, decided that one day, if ever I was powerful, I would act the same. It was a child's wish, for on that second day, I was not strong, and I could help no one. Or so I believed.

The white wolf, though not as powerful as the gargoyle, showed me that no matter what your place in life, you can reach above and beyond that which you are and care for the other, even as the poorest man or woman can still help even those more desperate than themselves.

Of my second day venturing alone from our home, this is what I learned. This is what I remember.
 
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Wayfarer

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Aug 25, 2004
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lol. You posted this on another site I think.

Nice story and well written but I'm sure a hungry wolf would've torn you to pieces had it not sensed danger.

In the five years that my father lived in Siberia wolves would come during the winter and attempt to break into the log cabin he was living in. Failing this they climbed on to the roof of a large animal shelter via a significant mound of snow that had fallen around the shelter which was protecting a flock of sheep (the area was a type of farm). They then proceeded to force their way through the roof by somehow destroying the tiles and into the shelter where they slaughtered all the sheep.
 

Cricket

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Hehe. Yes, maybe. But it is just a story. One where I am a member of the game I play for my journal, and then the other sci-fi site. Thank you noticing and taking the time to read twice. Hehe. Your story of the siberian wolf slaughtering the sheep is interesting as well. Maybe I will use it. Hehe. Just joking. You should make one.
 

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