The Writer's Cramp Entry due November 15, 2016
|People call him Grayson - but that's not his name.
He was a boy first. I found him hiding high in a tree. If he hadn’t dropped a gerdina pit I would never have discovered him.
I have heard it said, that he flew from the tree to my arms, that we immediately knew him our savior and bowed before him. That, is complete nonsense, we were not that insightful.
He was covered in dirt and blood. He seemed frightened and half wild. I told the wise-one but the boy would not acknowledge her or me or any other of the tribe. I found him, so the council put him in my care. I argued.
“I don’t know anything about children,” I wailed.
The head-one announced, “The lady sent him to you, he is your reward for all the suffering you endured. He will be your solace and your security.”
It was an unlooked-for reward, unwanted, at first.
It took several days to coax him into my hut. He would not speak; and seemed not to understand my words which made caring for him near impossible. I thought at first he had nine or ten years but the wise-one advised me that a child that age could easily reach an arm over their head to grasp their opposite ear. She claimed he’d closer to four or five years.
His first bath revealed a deep cut on his head, scratches over most of his body, and a thorn in his foot. Once clean, the symbols on his collar bones were revealed. Stark black shapes marched across his little body from one shoulder knob to the other, they were somehow imbued into the skin itself. They never did wash off or wear away.
His hair was a medium brown, at first – quite normal in every respect, but the new growth came in white.
I took him to the tribal meet that first spring. I asked everyone I could find; did they know this boy. None did. They made up stories to explain him, his hair and his markings—they were ridiculous.
Most shied away from him and saw evil omens. But just a few, saw the Grey Lady’s favor in his eyes and they knew he would do wonders in her name.
I’d called him lad, all the months before the meet. I don’t think I wanted to name him only to lose him. Afterward, I knew he’d be mine forever. I called him Fen.
He ate more than any person I’d seen before or since and he grew. It is true that he stands head and shoulders above the ears of a horse. He is a giant, my Fen. The Grey Lady made his back broad and strong.
One day, several months after the meet, he just started talking. He spoke in full sentences and he asked question after question. He wanted to know everything. Where does the wise-one go in the mornings? Why does the neighbor yell at his dog? How does the head-one know my name? Sadly, it was another year before anyone else heard his ringing voice.
Despite his curiosity, he trained with the hunters not the wise. No one expected a child that size to become an artist. However, he also listened to everyone and everything. Outside our hut, he was quiet and serious but at home, he was excitable and funny. Oh, the joy that youngster brought to me. I knew then that the head-one was right, he was my reward. I know now that he is a gift to all our faithful tribes.
Then the outlanders came with their yellow hair and nosy ways. They said Fen was one of their people and tried to convince him to leave with them. No one believed them. Fen was tall and strong with golden brown skin, just like us. He was no pale skinny outlander.
They tried to bribe him to go to their far-off country in their floating sky-ships. They said he belonged in the mountain holds and that he had a family that missed him.
I told them, “No!” As did Fen, the head-one, the wise-one and the council. The outlanders went away but during the night they returned in force, they killed our warriors, they killed our council, they struck me, and they dragged my poor Fen away.
That was the beginning of the Red Spring War; they started it; they brought violence to our land. Outlanders came with their sky-ships, and used their longbows to rain arrows upon us. They stole the people they wanted and killed any that stood in their way. We ran, we hid, we became prey, and we mourned. For two years, I guarded the orphans of my tribe from the outlander’s raids and I mourned my son, Fen.
That is when my bonny boy returned to us and his true calling was revealed. He returned to us a fiersome warrior with the secrets of the outlanders in his hands and reclaimed people at his back. He has destroyed ten of their sky-ships and hundreds of their brutes.
Now, I travel the land, seeking the strong and brave to join our cause. My boy knows the outlander’s ways and the Grey Lady’s secrets. He can teach them to you. Join him and you will push the outlanders back to their mountains, rescue the people they have enslaved, and regain your pride.
The boy our lady sent to us, has claimed the title that was always his and he calls for you to join him.
People call him Grayson - but that's not his name.