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The Determined Man

The corridor was cold, dark and damp. It seemed to swallow up the light from the torches on the walls. David had been through here once before, but he had been wearing a blind fold at the time. At least he thought it was through here. It was a rare occasion to be even called, much less asked to come here. He knew this meeting meant something important would need to be done, and that was never a good thing.

The man leading the way was Latham. David sized him up and could tell this man wasn't just a guide. He carried himself like a soldier. His skin was battled hardened and the lines on his face ran deep. He wasn't old, but he had seen his share of battles. He had told David to follow him and he could feel the sense of presence; this man was used to commanding people. David thought he must be a Captain. Even in these hard times a General would not be leading people through tunnels like a servant.

David had seen his share of military campaigns when he was younger. His father had served in the Kings army and when he was old enough, he joined their ranks as well. But times were different now. Those who fight on the side of good were forced to huddle into tunnels to make plans. Fighting like outlaws and bandits trying to reclaim the world that was taken when those vile creatures came.

After several twists and turns, the tunnel opened out a bit and at the end was a barred door with two guards. Latham motioned and they moved aside. Latham pushed open the door and pointed. "They are waiting inside"

David, slowly walked into the dimly lit room, where ten men sat around a rectangular table.

David, slowly walked into the dimly lit room, where ten men sat around a rectangular table.
“Is that him?” Asked one of the men.
“Yes Geon, that is him. He may look weak, but he has had his share of combat.
My share of combat? David wondered. “What do you want me to do?”
One of the men looked around the table, and as he looked at each person, they gave him a quick nod.
“We want you to go behind enemy lines as a spy.”
“A spy? Are you crazy? I could never convince them that I was on their side!”
“The Zalacars will believe you are on of them. They have barbarians helping them, and you will go dressed as one of them.”
The one named Geon threw David a sack of clothes. “Get dressed.”
Latham led him into another room that was next to the one of the Council. Hurriedly, David changed into his new, bizarre clothing. He walked back into the room for further instruction.
“Good. Latham will now lead you out of the caves, and then he will lead to the edge of the Zalacar’s camp. You will be on your own from there.”
Latham grabbed David by the arm and led him back out of the caves.

Two horses awaited were awaiting them for when they reached the entrance.
“Climb on,” Latham said.
David did, and Latham kicked his horse into a steady gallop, as David did the same. For an hour, the two rode without stopping. Finally, Latham stopped his horse, and motioned for David to do the same.
“Here we are,” he said, pointing to a cluster of tents. “You’re on your own. Watch the other barbarians for a while, and pick up their way of eating, talking, and walking. Good bye.”
Latham kicked his horse, while holding the reigns of David’s and he sped back of towards the caves.

David walked into the camp, spotting two men near a couple of tents.
“Hey! Hey you!”
David looked to see that one of them was shouting at him.
“How come we ain’t never seen you ’round before?”
“Uh, I like to be alone.”
They laughed. “Are you nervous about the upcoming battle we’re gonna fight against them stupid Klos?”
Klos? I’m Klos! They’re planning to attack us! “No. You?”
“Nah. We fought plenty with them before this. They’re weak.”
David clenched his fists, but managed to restrain himself from doing anymore than that.
“When are we going to attack again?”
“Tomorrow.”
David’s eyes widened. If he started back now, he might make it in time to give them a good warning. “How many are we going to send?”
“All of us are goin’. They want this to be the final attack. We’re gonna finish ‘em this time!”
The others laughed, and some echoed, “Finish ‘em.” David’s heart started to beat faster. What should I do? He finally made up his mind, turned and ran.

It was dark, and David was pretty sure that the vast shadow in the distance was the caves. He had run all day, and was ready to collapse and die. But he knew that he had a mission. He knew that he had to save his people. He could still hear the war drums two or three miles behind him. The army of the Zalacars had left shortly after he had, and had been right behind him the whole time. He heard something approaching, but he didn’t think that it was anything. Finally, as the noise was becoming louder, he turned around to around three hundred men and Zalacars on horses.

David ran behind a small hill and waited. There was no use of trying to beat them to his people; they were already way in the lead now. David now began to run. It was only three hundred; he could still beat all the rest.

David ran down one of the long corridors of the caves. Here and there was a slaughtered body, but it looked as if they hadn’t done too much damage yet. Finally, after searching for half an hour, he found the entrance to the Councilor’s room. The two guards were dead, and so David walked straight through. Three of the Councilor’s had been killed. They were scattered about the room. David’s heart sank. He turned as if to leave, when he heard a raspy call, “David? David is that you?”
David turned to see the one Councilor that he did know, Estevon huddled up in the corner.
“Estevon?”
“Oh David, I thought you were dead,” he said with tears in his eyes. “Everyone else is.”
He stood up and hugged David.
“Everyone else is?” Asked David.
“Well, not everyone. About two hundred managed to escape and are headed to the city of Borkall. Us four who were in here were about to leave when ten or so barged in and trapped us. Before they could see me, I went into that room there,” he pointed to the room that David had changed in, “And I waited. I could hear it all, David. I heard them all die!”
He fell to his knees with his face buried in his hands and wept.
“We have to get out of here. We have to get to Borkall.”
David picked him up and lead him as quickly as he could down the corridors. As they neared the exit of the caves, they stumbled into a man. David shielded Estevon from the man, until he realized that it was Latham.
“Are you alright?” He asked.
“We’re fine. “You have to help us get to Borkall.”
Latham led the out of the caves, and onto the road to Borkall. The city was two miles away, but once they were inside the city gates, they would be safe.

With Borkall in plain sight, the three began to sprint to the gates. War trumpets being blown from the Zalacars let them know that they were right on their heals.
“Hurry,” yelled Latham.
As Borkall’s guards saw he three approach, one of the gates swung open and they ran through. The gate was quickly closed behind them, and the three leaned up against a near wall while panting.
“We made it!” Said David.

EPILOGUE

Borkal with ease defeated the Zalacar’s army, and the Klos were able to go back into their own towns and live peacefully. David later on became head general for the Queens army, and Estevon was elected Imperial Chancellor, which meant that he ruled Borkall, and all the towns around it. The Zalacar’s never did come back, and so the people of Klos were able to live the rest of their days out in peace.




Comments

The following comments are for "Write Off: The Determined Man"
by ArturHawking

First
I'm happy. Got first comments on all of these. I thought your story was all right, but frankly I liked the other two better. I'm usually less harsh, but it's a competition, after all, and there has to be a winner in the eyes of the viewers.

Even considering the lack of space, seemed kind of rushed. David just zooms back and forth, saves a few people, and becomes a general down the line. Maybe if the story focused on just one incident there could have been more development in the same amount of words. Good job though.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: June 24, 2003 )

hmmmm...
Bronze medalist here. I have to agree with washer, this story does seem to be a bit rushed and you have a few too many typos. Contests tend to do that though especially if you are timed or limited to size and scope.

( Posted by: sgt_cook [Member] On: June 24, 2003 )

rushed
While all in all this isn't a bad story idea, the plot doesn't move anywhere unexpected and even when it moves in the expected direction it gets there in far too short a space. I understand the constraints of the Write Off and realize that you only have so many words to work with but I have to agree with previous comments that you would have been better served to stick to one key incident or scene.

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: June 24, 2003 )

3rd place
I'm afraid this takes third for me too, and for the same reasons.

There are no unexpected twists, and the whole thing moves too quickly towards a 'happily ever after' ending.

I think you tried to do too much in too few words, and ended up with an outline for a story that would have taken several thousand words to tell properly.

There were several 'chapters' here - if you could have done one in more detail, you could have had a winner.

One example that intrigued me was the point where David has to infiltrate the enemy camp. I think you had a great opportunity to make a story of daring heroism in the face of danger at the point that Latham says: “You’re on your own. Watch the other barbarians for a while, and pick up their way of eating, talking, and walking. Good bye.”

This is a great piece of dialog that really puts the reader in David's shoes. This one line conveys a sense of danger, of the unkonwn, and of the loneliness of David's situation.

After this build-up I think it's a shame that David strolls in to the camp, and seems to have no problem blending in, and getting information from, the first characters he bumps in to.


( Posted by: crazylegs [Member] On: June 26, 2003 )





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