Character in Pandora Series
|This is an example provided to Exploratory Writing Workshop Students of how your facilitator, Percy, might have writtten Lesson 1 part 2
Vignette 1: Placid Waters
Recognition is the patron of excellence. PG
Once upon a time there was a prince named Comely. From birth it was evident that he was a handsome lad, hence the name. Unlike his brother Gunther, Comely was shorter in stature, with a slender and wiry build. His face was finely chiseled like the sculpture of a great hero's visage. He had a full head of black hair to match a twinkle in his eyes. It was spirited and infectious. He had a manner that put others at ease, and a keen mind that could see through the most subtle of facades. Prince Comely had a gift with languages, was a natural diplomat and used by his father in entertaining foreign guests and dignitaries. Young girls were particularly affected by his smile and often swooned when he passed them by. He was the firstborn, in line to become king, but achieved the distinction only by fifteen minutes. Gunther, well over six feet tall and massively built, was his fraternal twin and a soldier through and through. He had the look and physique of his father and sometimes teased Comely, calling him names like "Pretty Boy" or worse.
Prince Comely hated his good looks and cringed at the way Gunther oft' pronounced his name. He drew the letters out and pronounced it "Cumm-Ley ." It was also disconcerting how the young girls realizing his shyness, often dotted about and sighed deeply into his space. He avoided their presence whenever possible. On one occasion Gunther got one of his girlfriends to embarrass Comely. Greta cornered him, her blouse loose and revealing and she reached low, whispering, "You show me and I'll show you..." Comely blushed scarlet. As "coincidence" would have it, Gunther was close at hand and exclaimed, "Cumm-Ley, you look flushed, do you have a fever?"
The brothers lived in the Fertile Kingdom, famous for its rich lands and abundant natural resources. The King, Percival the Protector, built a high wall around his boarders. The kingdom, because of its wealth, was continuously beset by invaders, often wretchedly poor mercenaries and opportunists, seeking a better way of life. Of late they had become more organized under the leadership of an evil Monk. Sometimes they snuck over or beneath the walls and at other times tried to batter a hole through them.
The wall proved less and less effective as the years passed and in several instances defeat was staved off only by the narrowest of margins. In opposition Monk Stephen became the most daunting of threats. He was able to unite the tribes that surrounded the Fertile Kingdom and each year would probe the defenses using different tactics and his newly trained allies. Even though the Evil Monk used only a portion of his available forces it was not lost on king Percival that one day he'd bring his full weight to bear.
In the year after the flood, 0631 he summoned his sons and spake thusly.
To Gunther, he was perfuse in his commendations. "You've done well with the Army and were it not for your skill and courage we would have long ago fallen to our enemies. On behalf of our Kingdom I offer the highest accolades. Keep up the good work!
To Comely he was less effuse but still complimentary. You've done well in mobilizing the kingdom and encouraging the support of our neighbors. Good Lad. Keep up the good work. Comely saw his recognition as being damned with faint praise.
The Prince wanted not so much to be king but to be seen as worthy of the title. This required his father's blessing, something he wanted very much. To earn the King's approval was a need he couldn't seem to satisfy. When he woke up to each morning, he asked himself, "What can I do this day to prove myself to my Father? Thus, what he desired most was being esteemed and not seen simply as a handsome young man. He longed for the same measure of respect enjoyed by his brother who'd won much acclaim on the battlefield.
Shortly thereafter the King summoned Prince Comely to a private counsel.
"My son I love you dearly but what this Kingdom needs is more a soldier than a diplomat. Most of our allies have deserted us and we've been left to fend for ourselves. Your brother in these times seems to be the best choice to lead but even he mightn't be up to the task."
"You think not?" Comely was genuinely surprised by the admission.
"I don't know for sure. What I do know is that you are my first born and you deserve a chance to prove yourself."
"I'm at your service, Father."
"I've a quest for you. Go and demonstrate your worth by finding the Magical Realm. Beseech the Magicians of Old and plead our case to become allies and stand with us against the rising tide of our enemies."
"What do they have we need most, the ends to which I make our plea?"
"For the Dragons, Comely, the Dragons. Have you no ear for fairy tales? In days of old it was the Dragons who decided things. With the Magic Kingdom as a friend, we need fear no evil.
"And what latitude do I have in negotiating their support?"
The King looked at him in dismay. "Look around boy! Offer them anything! Our very survival is at stake."
"...And where do I search for this Magic Kingdom?" asked Comely, perplexed by his lack of knowledge.
"In the No Man's Land, to the South, three days down the river. Just above the Great Falls, somewhere in the vicinity of an enchanted forest and broad plain. That's where they're said to exist, you'll see it plain enough.
"I'll leave within the hour."
"Thats my boy! Go incognito. You'll be on the edge of Monk Stephen's domain. Don't get yourself captured, as that would be heavy blow to our fortunes. Be "Inconspicuous." Many have searched, and none were rewarded. It is a quest of great difficulty and one fraught with peril. I hesitate to risk you, but what other choice is there?"
"Your confidence is not in vain. For our subjects, no task is too great!"
"Bless you my son, but please don't refer to our people as subjects.... call them instead, Kindred."
Vignette 2 Caught in the Current
Nothing ever Happens as imagined. PG
The Prince gathered some supplies, his purse and garbing himself like a peasant went down to the river's edge. There he purchased a small skiff pushed off and headed down river.
This is the opportunity I've been waiting for. He thought to himself. It's a job well suited to my talents and a task I intend to accomplish.
For two days he rowed until at last he came to the border of the Fertile Kingdom. A half a day beyond lay the great falls which marked the border between his father's realm and the lands that lay beyond. As he floated down river he pondered how he might accomplish this task.
Hmmm, he thought to himself, First I must decide what to do. That seems easy enough... Find the Magic Kingdom. Once I find it.... well that's another matter entirely. So, first things first. What do I know for sure? I know it's a Magical Realm, so if I see magical creatures, I must be near. I need to keep a particular eye out for dragons. Still, I'm baffled by this whole notion of magic, except for a few card tricks and some sleight of hand I learned from my brother. He showed me how to make a lady's scarf appear, as out of thin air by pulling it out from inside my sleeve... not that I'm interested in impressing some foolish young girl. I'm letting my mind wander. Drat! I need to get back on track. It must lie somewhere to the East or West of the river. Father said it was this side of the Great Falls...something about open plains and an enchanted forest. For now I need to get to the headwaters of the Great Falls, to begin my search, To start with I'll go East and if that doesn't pan out, try my luck on the Western side.
On the afternoon of the second day he put in at Backwater, the last town before reaching the falls. There he purchased some essentials for the quest. He'd been in a hurry to leave and could tell he was getting "Gamey" from rowing all day. In a dry goods store he bought soap, some changes of clothing, an extra pair of sandals and a waterproof pouch made of oil skin. In addition he acquired some rainy weather ponchos. At the butcher he purchased some dried beef and at the baker a dozen loaves of bread. So provisioned he returned to his boat and waving to the sentry, set off once more down the river.
That evening he rounded a bend and noted that the terrain was changing. On the Eastern bank was a dark forest and on the Western side a grassy plateau. This must be the uninhabited No Man's land Father told me about. The current began flowing faster and when he heard the falls in the distance, the Prince put ashore on a small beach. It was bordered by a forest and a pathway ambled out from underneath the lofty branches of forbidding old trees. It was several hours before dawn when he pulled his rowboat well above the high water mark. Yawning, he settled down to get some sleep. I must awaken at the break of dawn to take full advantage of daylight. He awoke when the sun was peeking over the horizon and set off up the trail into the dark forest. The path seemed to amble in no particular direction and stretch on forever.
Well before noon he came to the edge. A great plain spread out before him. He climbed a tree to get a better look. Near at hand he saw a circular hedge row. It was a half a mile in diameter and inside was absolutely nothing. Hmmm, he thought stroking his jaw, It must be some kind of seasonal pasture used for grazing sheep. Beyond that he saw a distant road that disappeared over the horizon. Nothing here but a vast and empty expanse. I think I'll try the other side of the river.
He was about to climb down when he saw a Unicorn and her foal pass beneath. They were heading back down the trail he'd just came up. He marveled at seeing the magical creatures for the first time. Ahhaw! I bet if I follow they'll lead me straight to the Magical Realm. He climbed down and dropped to the ground, Can't be letting them get too far ahead. With that he set off down the trail to the river. Upon reaching the clearing he proceeded to the bank to check out his boat. The tracks of the Unicorn's were clearly in evidence and he saw where they'd entered the stream a short time earlier. On the far bank he noticed them emerge from the waters dripping wet. The foal stared at him a long moment before trotting off after his mother. Tomorrow I'll follow their tracks and see where the tail leads. If I'm not mistaken It should be Magical Kingdom. Satisfied that matters were proceeding well, Prince Comely returned to his campsite. He'd chosen it because it stood beneath an outcropping of rocks that gave some shelter and blocked the wind. He was getting ready for a snack when he heard the wolves.
Judging by their howls and excited barking they were close on the trail of a quarry. He climbed atop the rock and looked to the trail leading out of the woods. Just as he did he spied a young woman in a white dress fleeing for her life. She was tall with Red hair flowing behind. Her hands held high the hem of a dress and long shapely legs stretched out in sprinted haste. Straight for the river she ran, a veritable blur of white, elbows pumping and her dress swishing this way and that. Not far behind came the yipping and yapping of the wolves as they too broke from the forest. Upon reaching the bank she noted his boat and hardly missed a stride. Taking hold the bow, she leaned in with her shoulder and began sliding it along the sand. As the stern floated she threw herself aboard just in the nick of time. The leading wolf, a huge beast, lunged and grabbed the wooden prow, shaking it back and forth. The young girl, instead of shrinking back in fear, leaned forward instead. Her lips curled and she snarled back in defiance. Then she drew back and swung down with her fist, striking the wolf atop his snout. The beast yelped in pain, retreating backwards into the barking pack.
Prince Comely watched the drama unfold in wide eyed disbelief. What kind of woman is this? He exhaled in a mixture of wonder and relief as the small boat drifted out into the flow. Then his heart clutched. OMG! He cried out in warning. "Row to the other bank, NOW!" his voice was fraught with despair.
She looked up, noting him atop the rock waving his hands frantically. She waved back.
Having just narrowly escaped death she doesn't yet appreciate the gravity of her situation. "Row to the Other bank!" he cried again as he gestured up river.
Obviously the girl doesn't get the messaged. She seated herself, took the tiller and pointed the bow downstream. Prince Comely jumped up and down frantically!
She looked back over her shoulder with an uncomprehending look.
"That way! That Way! Row That Way!" he shouted, pointed, and gestured but to no avail. In an agony of helplessness he watched her drawn towards the falls.
Almost too late he realized his own peril. The hungry wolves, hearing his voice were now nearly upon him. Without further thought he jumped from the rock and made a mad scramble for the river bank. Racing across the sand he took three long strides and dove into the river. The pack followed, close at his heels... then sensing the danger halted abruptly and began pacing and barking.
The current drew him into the fast waters and he swam with all his strength. Soon he was carried into the rapids, buffeted by the rocks, sucked down and lifted up as the torrent raced forward. Ahead he saw his boat carried over the edge. The undertow pulled him under once more and he struggled to regain the surface. Comely's life seemed to pass before his very eyes.
"You show me and I'll show you, a distant voice cycled dreamily through his awareness. It was replaced by another pleading, Don't die on me Cumm-Ley, they'll make me king, On the verge of passing out he was suddenly flung free of the water. In slow motion the Prince began freewheeling through the air. Straightening at the last instant, he plunged into the deep waters. HIs feet hit bottom and pushing up, strained to hold his breath. At the last possible instant his head surfaced and lungs sucked a huge gulp of water. ...And I almost found the Magic Kingdom he sighed, losing consciousness.
Strong hands pulled him roughly into the boat.
Vignette 3. Life Changing Event (LCE)
An LCE oft' comes without Warning. PG
The Prince opened his eyes in a daze. His stomach churned with nausea and he began retching water from his lungs. A blurry figure was beaching the skiff and the sound of graveling sand could be heard coming from underneath the hull. The wind stopped blowing but from the roar he knew they were close to the falls.
I'm not dead after all, came a realization into his water soaked brain. Somebody saved my life. Another wave of nausea swept over him as he vomited more water and everything he'd eaten in the past week. His guts were tied in knots as he staggered ashore helped by his mysterious benefactor. He dropped to his knees and buried his forehead in the sand. At least now I can breath a little bit better.
Looking up, he noticed his rescuer. It was the girl with the red hair. His jaw dropped open in amazement. She was beautiful. He watched as she dragged the boat further ashore. Nice legs he noted. The observation surprised him. Female anatomy has never been a great interest, so why the interest now?
He took a sudden breath and a final spasm of coughing racked his body. At last I seem to be breathing normally once more.
She came closer and gave him a look of sympathy. Her blouse had torn from her shoulder and her dress clung like a second skin. Must be expensive fabric to do that...Very expensive indeed. While it covered her body, it had an almost translucent sheen that didn't leave much to the imagination.
She watched as he slowly recovered his wits. A long pause ensued.
"Sorry about your boat." She shuffled her feet as a look of guilt came over her face. "The wolves made me do it."
"Don't apologize." he replied, "I'd have done the same thing."
She sighed and looked around. "I suppose that things could have gone worse?"
It began to sprinkle.
I'm going to lose a day getting back above the falls. Now the rain will likely hide the tracks of the Unicorns, He shook his head. "I thought we were both goners."
"Do you know where we are?"
"Not exactly." Too deep in enemy territory for my liking. He scanned the area and looked out across the rushing river. "I've never gone this far down stream before. Everyone here abouts knows the falls lead to the realm beyond." He waved a hand to encompass the surrounding area. "They say these lands border an Enchanted Forest, and the kingdom of a Steward who doesn't take kindly to trespassers."
"Fancy that." The Female twisted at her soggy dress and squeezed water out through her fingers. "What's your name?"
A pause ensued. He almost blurted it out. Then his fathers words came to mind."Kindred."
She wrinkled her forehead noting he was slow to answer, then quickly wiped the look away. Still he noted and assessed its meaning. Pay attention he admonished, this is someone of high station with an intimate knowledge of the court and all the nuance that entails. "In Cognito" is how I must remain. He countered, "And yours?"
With a start the young woman's whole persona seemed to change."My Lady!" She replied.
It was the aristocratic arrogance he had witnessed before on occasions too numerous to mention. She thinks I'm a commoner, he realized, ...imagine that, me a commoner... well at least my disguise is working.
She continued, "Once you win my trust, I might allow you to address me informally, if no one else is present." With that she looked away, dismissively.
"Well . . ."The Prince was amused. For the first time he could remember an attractive young woman was holding him at arm's length, a favorite tactic he'd employed with females for years. He slipped effortlessly into his new role. "You certainly have the dress and demeanor of a highborn."
"See you don't forget it." She answered looking up. "And you?"
Again he paused. ....Well I don't want to lie, but my father's kingdom relies for its wealth on agriculture.... "My father's a grower."
It seemed to work because she answered, "Farming's honest work."
I think I can handle this. "Would that I was back on the farm this instant, behind the plow or slopping the hogs." He swiped his wet hair back from his face.
"Well, Kindred, you're a farmer no more." She looked down her nose. "You serve me now, and Fate has written you a new destiny."
Now that's an interesting twist. Suddenly I'm promoted to becoming her manservant. He found the thought amusing. ''Tis true You saved my life..." he said resting his elbows upon his knees.
"I did, didn't I?" Puzzlement clouded her face. "This isn't the way it's supposed to happen."
Comely was at a genuine loss.., "Huh?"
"You do know a knight is supposed to save his lady? " She shot him a quizzical look. "And I wound up saving you. That's rather backwards, don't you think?"
The Prince shrugged. "You'll have to ask a Knight."
"It was a rhetorical question," she explained, in an exasperated tone of voice.
I'm not believing this. "What?"
"Duh... Call me MY LADY!"
She spat the words and Comely sensed the girl had a dark side even though she was struggling to appear totally in command of the situation.
"Henceforth you shall address me properly." She looked at him down her nose.
He flashed a mischievous grin. "You're quite a sight in that soggy dress, MY LADY." He eyed the womanly curves revealed by her clinging attire.
"And further you need to stop that obscene gawking." It's rude for a anyone to so openly display his . . ." she fumbled for a appropriate word. "Desire." She said finally.
A familiar flush of embarrassment colored his cheeks. Don't let emotions reveal too much."Forgive me."
"Forgive me what?" She emphasized the "What."
I'm not believing this charade? "Forgive me, MY LADY." He blurted it out.
"You're forgiven... Just see it doesn't happen again." Pointing her finger and shaking it, she made one last point, "And don't forget, you owe me."
"Yes, My Lady." A note of playfulness returned to his voice.
He might have said more but noticed she was shivering . He got up and went to the boat. He popped open a small hatch. Inside the water-tight compartment he picked through a small assortment of essentials. He took out a bundle of shirt and trousers, a pair of sandals, and laid them at her feet. Then he broke the bar of soap in two and added it to the pile.
"You make me cold just watching you." A chill hung in the air and she looked wet and miserable. "When you get changed, perhaps you'd be so good as to gather some firewood. I'll see if there's some fish to be had." He stepped off and then paused, glancing back over his shoulder. "By your leave of course, My Lady."
Don't overplay your hand, this girl is no dullard, he warned himself. She shot him a piercing look before nodding approval with an aloof and disdainful air.
As he walked down the pebbly beach Comely assessed the situation. What have I gotten myself into? Where did she come from? She was only half an hour behind me and there was no place in miles that could account for an aristocratic young woman. She is certainly spirited, knocked that wolf on his head with her fist, rode the boat over the falls, righted it and I'd have drowned were it not for her rescue. On top of all that she is very attractive. The don't write this in Fairy Tales and yet what I'm seeing is playing out before my very eyes. What do I do now? Do I leave her and see if I can follow the unicorns or do I cast my lot with the snobby red head and see where it all leads. She keeps talking about Destiny, and me being in her service. Well I'd be dead if it weren't for her and I can't very well leave a gentlewoman alone in these dangerous lands. Maybe she knows where the Magical Realm is and if I show her I'm useful she'll show me some answers.
The waters below the falls were full of big trout and in short order the Prince hooked three. He'd pretty much made up his mind as he walked back to the boat. He noted a pile of driftwood laying on the bank. She was waiting impatiently in her new attire, that did little to hide who she was. Despite the change of clothes there was never anybody who looked less like a peasant. Judging by her scowl it appeared his absence was a bit too overlong for her liking. "Took you long enough," she scolded. "Look here, I did my part with the wood, for all the good it did... We've no fire, or do you intend eating them raw?" She looked askanse at the fish.
"Peasants are trained to perform many low tasks. . ," Kindred replied, avoiding eye contact, "fire-making is one of them."
From the storage compartment he took out the paraphernalia for starting a fire. It included a packet of dried tinder, and the starting bow. In short order he'd spitted the fish over a small camp fire. From his stash of luxuries he mixed up some salt, dried herbs and water. From these he stirred a paste and brushed it over the fish with his fingertips. The main course proved delicious along with a loaf of bread and some beef jerky. She was ravenous. It was simple fare but one had to admit, that under the circumstances was as fine a meal as anyone could expect.
Twilight settled. The music of croaking frogs resonated in the air. A southern breeze warmed their skin and teased through their hair. She pulled the last of the laces from her ruined blouse. She tossed the useless garment aside, then looked a long moment at the young man. "... And what do you think the morrow bodes?"
He looked her in the eye. "Are you asking what we need to do, My Lady?"
She waved her hand in a wide arc. "This is a situation suited to a man's knowledge." She paused. "Yes, some advice would be in order."
Here goes nothing..."We cannot go back." He stroked his jaw,. "We're hemmed in by the forest and we can't row up those falls. It seems down the river is our best course, MY LADY."
"My assessment as well." She nodded in his direction. "Your manners are improving. I'll sleep in the boat. You can fend for yourself." She stood.
In the distance a wolf howled.
Kindred reassured her. "We'll be safe here 'til morning... beyond that, we'll simply have to go with the flow."