Dancing Bears, Prologue and Chapter One

Fiction By Clare // 1/30/2011

 

Prologue
 
How do you measure courage? Do you measure it like grains of sand, or like bars of gold? I tell you, courage is like golden sand; entirely precious, yet too easily it slips through your fingers.”
 
Two decades and a century ago, the Kingdom was formed by one Keyrall Maurone and his family. The Kingdom prospered and achieved greatness in a short time, expanding and becoming more and more the heart of the planet Pangaea. Many decades before the Kingdom, all the inhabitants of Pangaea were Gypsies. They wandered where their animals did; wherever food, water, shelter, and good weather were, the Gypsies were there as well. And even longer before that, were the Woodlanders.
Twelve years and a century ago, the Kingdomers and the Gypsies went to war against each other. Not over land, or prejudice, or jealousy, or power.
Over Bears.
Dancing Bears. Animals who, though no one knew exactly how, were extremely important and vital to Pangaea. They were unique and magical, but again, no one knew how. They were entirely mysterious, and entirely valuable. One Bear was worth millions of petha. Their bodies contributed countless potions and furs…even their meat was considered a priceless delicacy. Greed enveloped the Gypsies and Kingdomers alike.
That war goes on to this day.
Millions have died, and so many bright futures now lay in pitiful piles of rubble in their ruins. Thousands of children have been left orphaned by terrible raids, and entire cities have vanished.
Two years ago, Cade Mason, a Kingdomer, and Eileen Horia, a Gypsy, met one night under cover of darkness, and made a pact sworn with blood.
They would band together and end the war at all costs.
That night, they formed The Band.
This is a very wonderful, exciting, frustrating, heartbreaking, and beautiful story.
This is the story of what happened next…
 
 
 
Chapter One
A list.
Seven names.
That’s all they were for the next two hours.
The first name was easy. Damian Coriander. He smiled. Hard not to recognize yourself. The Captain Damian Coriander didn’t hurt…quite the contrary. It made Damian feel he was actually doing something. Getting somewhere. Underneath his name were his accomplishments and qualifications, which he didn’t bother to read. They were rather numerous, and he already knew them all. It was his name, and all it meant to him was; You have been chosen. You must lead. You must be strong. You can do it. And you will.
The other names were another story altogether.
First the pretty name, Sophia Illume. She sounded interesting. Damian knew of no other 19 year old girls from the Kingdom who had taken six years of map-making, both electronic and traditional, and was also skilled in path finding.
Than the two Carter’s, Frederick Carter and Evan Carter. They were brothers, Kingdomers. The Frederick guy sounded fascinating. He was 21…four years younger than Damian himself. He had numerous degrees in pyrotechnics, explosives, and combat.
The younger one, Evan, was also exciting. He was 19, and skilled in mechanics, code breaking and firearms.
Then, Mark and Maria Kyapana, Gypsies, also siblings. Mark Kyapana was 20 (almost 21, Damian noted, seeing his birth date), and his only qualification was healer. Beneath it were sub-qualifications…just a smattering of the ailments this fellow could heal. Damian’s eyebrows went up, and wondered just where Mark Kyapana had studied to be so expert in merely five years.
Maria Kyapana was only 17. Damian was almost distressed to see this. A 17 year old girl, going into active service with a controversial army!? He was relieved to see her skills would keep her cooking, cleaning, and tending fires, both electric and traditional.
Last was a girl named Charlotte. No last name. Just…Charlotte. She was a Woodlander…in fact, on further inspection, the only Woodlander in the entire band. She was 19. She had no listed education or qualification, except that she was a skilled traditional pathfinder, and an expert in Bear knowledge and legend. Damian grinned. This was going to be fun.
Eileen Horia tapped him gently on the back. “Ready, Commander?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” he replied, rubbing his face anxiously.
“Train’s almost here,” Eileen said, her voice quavering with excitement. “Finally! Oh, Damian…finally! Cade will….” Her excited faded and a look of regret crossed her pretty face. “He…he would have loved to see this.”
Damian hesitated before he hugged Eileen tight. “There there, little miss Admiral. Don’t cry. He wouldn’t want you to cry. You can do this,”
Eileen smiled hesitantly. “I know. I miss him, though.”
Everyone missed him. It just wasn’t fair. Young, healthy, ambitious Cade…dead. He fell from a building that was under construction for the Band. He’d hung on for three weeks, but nothing could be done for him. It fueled the fire to succeed and end the war. While the planet was still torn by controversy and uncertainty, no one outside the support of the Kingdom could get any medical help, unless they made the long trek to beg help from the Gypsies. As of yet, no one knew if they would help Kingdomers who defected, and there hadn’t been time to find out for Cade.
That had left Eileen as Admiral, which was an enormous responsibility. Everyone believed she could do it if she tried her hardest, and so far she hadn’t let them down. Only her closest friend among the Commanders, Damian, knew how much she struggled.
“Come on,” Damian said, patting her arm. “I’m dying to see the riffraff you’ve shoved under my command just to torment me,”
Eileen laughed her loud, marvelous laugh. “Just you wait, Commander. I made sure to stick two sets of siblings with you for that very purpose!”

It seemed years since they’d stuck away from Aunt Libby and the Clan two mornings ago, and the comforts of home seemed farther than the moon.
Maria wasn’t completely oblivious to her repeated blunders in mixed society, but she refused to let them bother her. Small, with flaming red/brown hair, flashing green eyes, and numerous freckles, yet full-figured, everyone kept asking how old she was. After two snobbish and slender Kingdom girls refused to believe she was really seventeen, she started claiming she was anywhere between twelve and forty-five, whichever she thought the situation required. She also kept falling over people and stepping on toes. It was hard enough lugging around her enormous trunk and keeping up with Mark, who, if she didn’t know any better, was trying to lose her in the crowd. If people were going to look down on her, she was going to laugh it up.
Mark was only sort of trying to lose Maria. He would never abandon his precious younger sister, who was practically his whole world, but she was a handful, and he often wearied of constantly watching out for her. They looked fairly different for siblings. Her hair was the straightest, lightest and reddest Gypsy hair could come, and his was the darkest and blackest, not to mention curly. He had one brown eye…his left eye had been absent from his face for the past five years, and rather than get some fancy cyborg eye, he chose to wear a rather roguish eye patch. He also had no eyebrow over that eye, but his face never lacked expression. He had a nice smile that he used only occasionally. Even so, his face was kind, open, and usually touched with a bit of sadness. It’s a hard thing on a boy to lose an eye and both his parents at the age of fifteen.
“Mark!” Maria suddenly wailed.
He whirled around, convinced someone was attacking her, but saw she had merely dropped her trunk onto her foot and couldn’t extract it.
“You little terror!” He called, grinning fondly. “Don’t move…I’m coming,”

Sophia was fascinated by all the different clothes and looks around her. The Kingdom was always diverse, but she’d never seen real Gypsies in their traditional dress. The men wore boots, loose trousers, and loose shirts, bound tight around the waist by colorful sashes. They carried leather sacks and packs, in contrast to the Kingdomers, who carried synthetic ones…metal, polyester and vinyl. The girls were even stranger to Sophia. Many of them wore trousers, too! That was intriguing to Sophia, because she never wore anything but dresses. The girls’ trousers were wider and longer, and they’re tops were loose, flowing, and mostly off their shoulders. They also wore sashes at their wastes, and all the skirts were down to their feet, another difference. Sophia wore skirts to the knee and a little above, with leggings or tights. They’re shoes were even different. Plain and wooden or leather, while Sophia’s were fashionable black, with small heels. She envied their simplicity, and hoped she would get on a Core with a bunch of Gypsy girls who could loan her their new and wonderful clothes.
Sophia herself was lovely by anyone’s standards. She was tall, slender, and graceful. Her hair was the color of honey and butter mixed together, and fell in perfect, un-frizzy waves. She had enormous blue eyes lined with dark, curly lashes. Her skin was creamy, clear, and radiant. Her lips were pink, her nose was the kind of nose other girls envied for being neither too big, too small, or too anything. But those physical attributes weren’t what made Sophia lovable.
She was born with the milk of human kindness running thick and plentifully through her veins, and had somehow managed to live 19 years without being too terribly stuck-up when everyone treated her like a princess. She had plenty of faults, though, and she only hoped they wouldn’t make her disliked in her Core team.
Frederick was watching for the train; Evan was watching for particularly gorgeous girls. This was because Frederick didn’t need to watch for them. They would inadvertently come to him at some point, drawn like flies to honey.
“See it yet?” Frederick asked calmly.
“She’s cute,” Evan replied.
“Which one?”
“The brunette with the big stick,”
Frederick glanced in the direction Evan was looking. “Hm. She is cute, but the big stick makes me think she wallops people,” He turned back to the train tracks.
That was when the first girl came to call.
“Hello,” she said shyly, looking right past Evan to Frederick.
Not that Evan blamed her. Frederick was, as he’d heard countless girls say before, winsome, handsome, hot, hunkish, and smoldering. Just to list a few.
But this girl made him blink and stare. She was cute. He had a thing for girls with ridiculous amounts of freckles, which weren’t plentiful in the Kingdom. And she had the most incredible hair he’d ever seen. It was…orange. Well, not orange. More…brick colored. Red. But brown. Red/brown.
Frederick turned and looked down at the girl, and his gaze no doubt made her feel like the sunshine itself was shining favorably on her. “Hello! I’m Frederick, this is Evan! What’s your name?”
“Maria,” she replied, looking bashful. “I…I just…”
 “You a Gypsy, then?” Frederick asked.
“Mm hm,” she replied, smiling.
“You have a cute dimple,” Frederick said, touching it gently with his knuckle.
She blushed from the roots of her hair probably down to her feet. “I do?”
“Yes, you do,” he said, laughing. “I hope some fellow who notices it, too, gets on your Core,”
She gaped, and quickly stammered a goodbye, fleeing.
“You overdid it,” Evan commented emotionlessly. He was used to such a scene.
“Eh…she deserves attention like that,” Frederick replied, and resumed spying out the train.
Evan studied Frederick, wondering how vast the differences in their appearances were. He himself was tall, with light brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a very small beard on his chin he’d been working at for almost two years.
Frederick was taller, stronger, and friendlier. His hair was dark blond, shaggy and course, with a handsome little goatee of his own (which took much less effort, needless to say). His eyes were deep blue with brown flecked in them. His teeth were white and he had a dashing smile.
“Fred,” Evan said, glancing down at the list of their future Core members.
“Yep?”
“Can I have the prettiest girl on our Core?”
“Considering we’re not allowed to date any girls on our core,” Frederick replied, grinning. “Absolutely.”
 
Charlotte felt squeezed and trapped by the crowds of people. She wrapped her cloak tight about herself, the hood up, looking down. No one would recognize her…for that matter, no one knew who she was. But she still felt vulnerable and skittish.
“So many people,” she murmured. “So many…different faces,” She herself had a fairly large family, with many generations and families living together out in the forest, but never had she felt so unsafe in a crowd.
Someone bumped into her, and she shied away, ignoring them when they apologized and asked if she was alright. How had she gotten herself into this? This was not her line of work…or, not usually. The Elders were right…this was a good opportunity and very important. But Charlotte was already millions of miles out of her league. Solitude. That sounded so tempting…so marvelous at the moment. She longed for an unconquerable throng of trees to protect her from everything, to keep her a secret from the world.
Charlotte loved being a secret.
And she was completely quaking with fear that she would have to tell that secret to someone.

Comments

More, please?

Wow, this is so good! I don't normally read sci-fi, but this has my full attention. Please write more, and post it soon :D I only noticed a few misspellings, and the part where it said Sophia had 'un-frizzy' hair seemed kind of unnecessary. Other than that, practically flawless. Two thumbs up =)

Laura Elizabeth | Mon, 02/07/2011

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The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Thanks so much! Its being put

Thanks so much! Its being put on the back-burner right now because of other things I'm working on, and its VERY complicated and I need to figure it out more, but I will definately be writing more! Thanks! : )

Clare | Mon, 02/14/2011

fascinating

I love this idea--absolutely intriguing. A bit heavy on the showing, but hey--it's an intro. And...is Cade really dead? If so...ok, but he could come back in massively dramatic fashion too! LOL...not that I have a habit of doing that or anything...

LoriAnn | Tue, 02/15/2011

...

An intruiging beginning! Can't wait for more!

Kyleigh | Tue, 02/15/2011

Whoa...

Onslaught of likes! Lol. Currently I am not working on this story (its CRAZY complicated, as I said before), but I SHALL continue it. I just don't know WHEN. Thank you so much.

Yes, Cade died. Very said. This story has a LOT of tragedy in it, a drastic change from Hot Air Balloon which was mostly happy and crazy lol.

Keep writing!

Clare | Tue, 02/15/2011

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