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Lost at Midsummer (2009)

When Midsummer rolled around again in 2009, I started a new version of the Lost at Midsummer thread I'd begun the year before. While the sequel thread only lasted a few posts, it did contain this excerpt of which I was quite proud. It also features the youngest version of Ambrose that I'd written.

The new moons left the woods surrounding Juroon as dark as Arathi ink. Still, the blond-haired boy knew he couldn't be more than a hundred yards or so from the village. As long as he could still see the flickering torches at the gate, he reasoned, he could run back before anyone knew he was gone.

The alarm bells were quiet now, though his ears still rang from the noise. His whole life his mother had told him to run home as fast as he could whenever the alert was sounded. Every time he'd been a good boy and gone straight to his mommy, and he would ask where his father was and why wasn't he with them? He'd be told that his dad was keeping the town safe and would get home in just a few minutes and to be quiet and still. They'd hear the door open and his mother would clutch him tightly as they heard the footsteps upstairs. Then they'd hear his father's staff being placed in the spot in the corner and she'd relax and smile and tell him to run up and give his father a big hug.

When he was very young he would be scared by all this. That fear gave way to curiosity, the curiosity to frustration, the frustration to anger. His dad always came home safe! Why did he have to hide in the basement like some frightened puppy? What was happening out there when the bells started clanging?

Ambrose didn't see the troll coming. The troll was far too cunning for that. The creature withdrew the long scalping knife from its velvet-lined sheath and closed the distance to the small boy with a silence befitting the dead.

The troll never saw the man behind him, the man who raised his arm and pointed his staff and sent a lethal spike of ice two feet long whistling through the dusk air into the hunter's back and through his chest. The creature shrieked, and the boy whipped around, falling onto his backside and scrambling in the loose pine needles, trying to get to his feet. Ambrose held out his hands and spat broken incantations as the howling troll lurched toward him, knife in hand. A gunshot pierced the cool mountain air and echoed off distant peaks; the boy cowered into his hands and fell fetal on the dampened ground. He felt the thump of the hunter hitting the earth inches from him.

Sparks flashed and a torch blazed to life. Three men approached the now lifeless troll.

“Ambrose!”

The boy looked up into the scowling face of his father.

Colquitt turned his back on the violent scene at the canals. Sure, he had no hatred of the trolls or of any of the horde races, for that matter. Undeniably, though, the Alliance was at war. The mage took a deep breath and walked toward the newly opened harbor, shaking his head in silence. There were some days that everything seemed… futile.

The young man felt a tug at his sleeve, shaking him from his thoughts. “Master?” He turned and a young red-headed girl looked up at him. She couldn't have been more than five or six years old, and Colquitt saw she wore the white blouse and violet skirt of the Academy.

Ambrose knelt down on the cobblestones. “What can I do for you, novitiate?”

The girl bounced on her tiptoes grinning from ear to ear when he returned the formality. She pulled a bright orange burning blossom from behind her back and offered it to the mage. “Midsummer's blessing upon you, Master,” she said in the staccato speech of a child reciting something from memory.

A genuine smile crossed Colquitt's face as he took the blossom. “Thank you, novitiate. That is very, very kind of you indeed.” He set his backpack on the ground, rummaged inside it for his sewing kit, pulled out a needle and used it to pin the flower to the front of his tunic. The girl beamed with pride, turned, and ran back toward her parents.

Ambrose stood and looked at the couple. He recognized the man as one of his classmates from last spring and waved a greeting to him. The red-haired mage waved back, then bent to scoop the girl up into his arms. Colquitt sniffed the spicy-smelling flower, shouldered his bag and continued his stroll to the harbor. There were days that everything seemed futile, to be sure. There were also days that the future held bright promise.

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writing/lost at midsummer 2009.txt · Last modified: September 2, 2011 by Dave Leach

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