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General

Taking A Chance

Chance awoke to the ear ringing sound of the war gong. He threw back this blankets and clambered out of his whale of a bed. As he ran out of his room, he grabbed his bow and quiver. The palace halls were swarming with guards running to their posts. Ducking under arms and weaving around the chaos, he ran across the court yard and into the kings thrown room.

 “Dad! Dad I am ready to fight! Where are the humans?” Chance looked around the room and his stomach flipped. The entire elf council was sitting around the big table in the center of the room. And there, at the head of the table, sat his father, the elf king.

“Chance.” The king rose from his seat, “Can’t you see that we are busy? I don’t have time for your childish games.”

 “But dad, “Chance squeaked, “I am here to help. I’ve been training for this, I want to fight!”

 “Look at you!” A man standing in the shadow of the King stepped forward. The Royal Advisor, Chance hated him, and he got the impression that the feeling was mutual. “With your bare feet and training bow! Your Majesty,” He turned to the King, “Your son is a disgrace, barging in here at a time like this, in the midst of the war of the millennia. Surely you won’t stand for this.”

 Chance did look rather ridiculous, in his silk pajamas, and his long red hair in his face. He was a boy of 15, and quite small for his age. His ears were also small, nothing like his father’s long, pointed ones that could hear an army coming a mile away. In fact he looked nothing like the King, except for his emerald green eyes.

“Your right, Vohvelit. This is unacceptable.” The King greatly trusted his adviser, and didn’t seem to care that his son did not. “Chance, go to the safe room with the other children, and wait there until the Captain of the Guard gives you the all clear.”

“But Dad,” Chance protested.  

The King cut in, “Now Chance, this is your final warning.”

Chance whorled around and ran you of the throne room.

 “This is so un- fair, I can shoot a fly from 50 yards and I’ve been studying the humans for years. Why won’t he let me help?” An arm shot you of the bush next to the door and grabbed Chance by the wrist, pulling him into the shrubbery. The arm belonged to Chance’s best friend, Kira, the Captain of the Guard’s daughter. She also happened to be his cousin on his mother’s side. Like him, she had fiery red hair that she kept pulled back in a braid. She was small like Chance but had long ears, and bright blue eyes like his mother’s.

“What are you doing?” Chance hissed, “You are supposed to be in the safe room with the other kids!”

“Ha!” She laughed, “And miss out on this awesome war meeting? I don’t think so! We can listen in through this open window, just don’t get seen.”

           They crouched under the window and strained their ears to hear the counsel. The first voice they herd belonged to the King.

“The humans have been relentlessly attacking our border for weeks, my people need to rest. Our food supply has been cut off and our crops have all died. We don’t have much time.”   

“If I may, Sire.” General Kovu, the younger of the King’s twin brothers, rose from his seat, “I may have an idea.”

            “Very well, Brother, what is it that you would have us do?”

“Well, I was thinking, the humans have powerful weapons, all made of a strong metal. If we took out their mine it would put a halt on their weapon making, giving us a chance to push back while they are defenseless.”

           “I don’t know Kovu, that sounds risky. Who would we send, all of my able men are fighting to protect our border.” 

Chance didn’t get to hear the rest of the plan. He and Kira ran across the court yard and into the main castle.

           “What are we doing Chance? I wanted to hear the plan.”

“I have an idea, just trust me. I’m going to get dressed. Go to the weaponry and get your dagger and grab me some extra arrows. Meet me back here in a quarter hour.”

           Chance ran up to his room. He quickly changed and found a pair boots that Koda, the older of the twins, had passed down to him a few moons ago. He grabbed his leather school satchel and dumped the books onto the floor. Into the bag went a rope, his older brother’s dagger, and a loaf of bread he had ‘liberated’ from the grump old cook that night before. “I’ll make you proud Hakoda.” He patted the dagger and ran out of his room to meet Kira.

           Back in the main hall, Chance and Kira meet behind the fern that the Queen had put over a hole in the carpet that Kira had made while playing with fireworks. She always seemed to be catching something on fire.

“All right, here’s the plan.” Chance began, “We are going to sneak into the human’s mine, and destroy it. Then my father will see that I am ready to be in the army and lead the troops!”

“Wow, impressive,” Kira said with a scowl, “And how do you plan on doing that?”

“Well, I hadn’t gotten that far quite yet. But I’m working on it!” He said a little sheepishly.

‘Don’t worry about it, I already have a plan!” She had the grin on her face that she always had before they got into trouble. “First, we have to get out of the castle. All the exits are guarded. All except one!”

           Chance stared at the water in the well, and he could have sworn that it stared right back. They were in a small garden, Hakoda’s garden, behind the kitchen.

“I don’t think this is a good idea, Kira. The water looks really dark. What if a family of piranha have taken up residence and they eat us?”

“Don’t worry, I do this all the time. All we have to do is swim down the tunnel. It will spit us out in the moat behind the castle, nobody will see us. It’ll be fun! Ready?”

She didn’t wait for a response. The water engulfed her as she swam downwards. “Well, here I go.” He took a deep breath and plunged into the well. The water was cold and he couldn’t see a thing, but he swam down the tunnel, hoping he wouldn’t get eaten.

           When he emerged on the other side of the wall, Kira was waiting for him on the bank.

“Time for step two, infiltrating the mine!”

The human’s main base was a day’s walk, and Chance and Kira had gotten a late start. The sun was setting and the waxing moon was visible in the evening sky. The two travelers decided to stop for the night, under the protection of a mighty oak tree standing in the middle of a field. Chance’s stomach growled as they sat down. He reached into his bag, thankful for the waterproof cloth that covered the bread. He ripped the loaf in half and handed a piece to Kira. They devoured their bread in silence, then Chance spoke.

“Get some sleep, Kira. We still have a long walk tomorrow. We are going to kick some serious human butt!”

“Yeah, kick some butt.”

           Kira fell into a deep, peaceful, sleep quicker than you can say ‘Flap-Jacks’, leaving Chance to worry by himself. What if something went wrong? His father would never trust him. He pulled Hakoda’s dagger out of his satchel. He missed his brother. Every time he fell asleep, Hakoda was there, telling him to run. Everything had happened so quickly. Chance was 11, and Hakoda was 15. They had been playing in the wood and had gotten lost. They stumbled across a small elf village that grew crops. The brothers were going to get a ride back to the castle in one of the carts that made weekly trips to sell rice the market. But the village got attacked by a band of human bandits. Hakoda put Chance on a horse and handed him his dagger. He slapped the horse and it galloped of toward the castle, a path it knew by itself. When Chance turned around, all he saw was smoke. That was the last time he saw Hakoda.


           The morning found a rejuvenated Kira and an exhausted Chance. There was a root sticking him in the back and a squirrel had fallen asleep in his shirt. The trio, squirrel and all, started toward the mines, ready for the challenge of a lifetime.  

The sun had already started its decent from the sky as they neared the edge of the woods by the mine. Chance pulled Kira behind a bush and they peered through the foliage to see a stomach lurching site. A large clearing was between them and the mine entrance. There were human guards everywhere and, to their complete surprise, elf slaves pushing carts of metals. Theseus, Kira had named the squirrel while they were walking, covered his eyes with his tiny paws and chittered in horror.  

“This is a little crazy,” That sly grin crept onto Kira’s face, “but I have a plan!”


           Minutes later, Chance strolled into the mine. His loosely braided hair covered his ears and he wore a guard’s armor that Kira had ‘borrowed’. It was a little big, but Theseus thought it was the perfect place for a nap, and had fallen asleep in his breast pocket. Kira’s instructions had been simple.

 “Walk into the mine and go as far back as you can go. As you walk back, sprinkle the black powder that I put in you satchel behind you as you come back. When you reach the mine entrance, light the powder on fire and run as fast as you can back to this bush. Easy”

“Easy.”  He thought. He walked straight back, and reached the end of the mine in ten minutes. Everything was going according to plan. He opened his satchel and let the black powder leak out as he started back toward the exit. Just as the light of the sun was visible at the end of the tunnel, something caught his eye. A big wooden door was sunken into the stone of the wall. Cautiously, he slid the door open, pushing his whole body agents it. 

On the other side of the door, a big room had iron cells lined up along the wall. There was a guard sleeping at a small table in the corner. From his belt hung a key chain, full of keys.

“Chance?” A voice from the farthest cell struck Chance like an arrow strikes a target.

“Hakoda?”

Chance’s eyes welled with tears as he peered through the bars at his brother. He was really there. Right in front of him.

“Listen brother,” Hakoda stood and looked down at his little brother. “You need to run before the guard wakes up.”

“No! I thought you were dead, I’m not leaving you this time. I just need to get the keys.

The other prisoners were standing at the edge of their cells. Chance heard a jingling of keys behind him. He spun around on his heal, ready to fight the guard. But instead of the massive guard he was expecting, Theseus was standing on the ground, looking expectantly. In his little paws, he held the entire key ring.  Chance bent down and the squirrel waddled on to his hand. There were a lot of keys, but only one that was the same color as the cells. He quickly unlocked Hakoda’s cell and the brothers embraced each other.

“Unlock the other cells, then we need to get out of here.” Hakoda told his brother.

Soon, all the cells were unlocked and the band of elves snuck to the end of the tunnel.

“So, here’s the plan,” Chance told the elves, “when we cross the field, the guards will try to recapture us, so I’ll make a distraction. Hakoda, free as many prisoners as you can on your way out. There is a stream on the other side of the trees, back the way I came. I’ll meet up with you guys on the other side. OK?”

“Alright Chance, but what if you don’t make it? You could get captured. I could wait with you.”

“I know you always looked out for me, so now it’s my turn. I’ll have to take a chance.”

“Hey you!” A guard had spotted them.

“I love you.” Hakoda turned and darted across the field, blazing a path for the others.

Chance dumped the last of the black powder onto the ground. He lit a match and threw it onto the pile. The guards were closing in on him and there was no place to run, but he had an idea. Tying his rope to an arrow, he knocked it onto his bow and shot at the tree by where he and Kira were supposed to meet. The arrow hit its mark and sank into the tree. He tied the rope around his waist and closed his eyes.

“BOOM!” the cave lit up in a fiery explosion, flinging debris everywhere. The force of the blast sent Chance and the guards flying into the air. He felt a tugging on the rope and his trajectory changed, aiming him at the meeting bush. Kira was pulling him in just as he had hoped. He landed in the bush and jumped up. He untied the rope and grabbed Kira’s wrist.  

 “You have a lot of explaining to do!” She scolded

“Run! I’ll explain on the way!”

The elves regrouped on the other side of the stream, and after many explanations and hugs, they headed back to the castle.  

The band walked through the night, exited to get to the castle and rest. In what seemed like no time at all, they were at the back of the moat.

“All right, gang!” Kira proclaimed, “Follow my lead, and make sure you take a deep breath!”

One by one, the elves slid into the water and swam up the well. Once they were all inside the protected walls, they set across the castle and court yard for the throne room.

           In the throne room the King and Queen sat in their thrones, the Queen sobbing and the King barking out orders to Kovu.

“I want every available man out looking for my son and niece. Nobody is to rest until they are found!”

Just then, the doors swung open. The elf band marched in, led by Chance, Kira, and Theseus.

           “Chance!” The King jumped to his feet, “Where were you! Your mother and I were so worried!”

           “Well Dad, Kira and I decided to go blow up the human mine. And…” Hakoda stepped out from behind his brother, “We may have found something while we were out.”

The Queen looked at her sons with a loving exertion, then, she passed out.


November 23, 2019 02:26

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