Corpe and Bloor

On the rural islands of Corpe and Bloor the annual Fight Week is about to begin in which champions are chosen and lives changed forever. The Fight is between a champion from Corpe and a champion from Bloor. Girls are chosen as prizes for the man who is crowned the winner of the Fight. Faith Rathbone is the unwilling prize of Corpe and the life she had always known is tipped upside down in the form of Alec McFadden, the champion of Bloor. She must decide if she can begin to hope for a life on Bloor but leave her family behind. But her fate is not her own.

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17. Fifteen - Alec

When I step out of the boat and onto the shingly beach of Corpe, I suddenly draw every pair of eyes that are waiting for me. I don’t know what to do and Lakin Lukehain has just wandered off, leaving me to face the strangers alone. The buildings here are tall and thin, but look sturdy and strong enough to survive a storm. I simply stand on the beach, the pebbles shifting under my feet and wait for something to happen.
          There is a small group of boys and one tall, thin man are all looking at me with some interest. I still have no idea what I am to do and obviously, neither does Raphie. He can simply stare at everything without drawing the eyes that I do. I suppose, it is the advantage of being a child like that, for when you get a little older, you cannot pass through the world like you used to. How I envy the little, clueless Raphie on these shores.
          The long man from the troop watching me begins to approach, and the closer he gets, the more I find him intriguing.  There’s a certain gait to his walk and he takes long, loping steps towards me. He has a long black coat on with the collar turned up, even though it isn’t that cold. He is taller than me, and his nearly shaven head only produces a slight black stubble. His fingers are more bone that skin and they are extraordinarily long, with sharp, pale nails on the end. He has a rather unfortunate chin, to which I cannot blame him for and his eyes are a clear and pale blue. It is his eyes now that I find the most difficult part to look at. They are piercing and menacing all in one and I can tell now that his eyes can speak when words can’t.
          “Mr McFadden.”
          I simply nod, for I’m guessing that everyone on this island knows my name. I doubt that I will be getting much privacy over the next week and a half. Even being here has got my energy surging and I’m curious to see everything while I can. This is the only chance that I will ever get to have a look around Corpe.
          The strange man continues to look at me, his extremely pointy features casting shadows in the sun that has just broken out of the constant clouds. I find it oddly distracting. “My name is Skaliy Jackats, and I am the Chief Fight Coordinator for Corpe.” He extends a long hand and I take it, keeping my skin away from his finger nails.
           “I trust,” he continues, letting go of my hand, “that you have heard about our prize. I can assure you, Mr McFadden, that no one will harm you while you are on our island.”
          I’m guessing that he is saying this as reassurance, but I hadn’t even thought about it. I didn’t really think that these friendly gentle giants were capable of causing any harm to a stranger. But then, as I think back to the crossing and passing Roland Katesby with his swollen cheek, maybe I have misjudged what these people can do. Maybe some of them want to harm me, so that Katesby comes back victorious with my little sister. If I have anything to do with it, I will not let him touch Phoebe.
          Jackats begins to walk away from me with his hands clasped behind his back and his back the straightest I’ve ever seen anyone’s. He is a scary man, and I can imagine him being intimidating to whoever he wanted to be. He walks back and I follow him, close enough to catch what he is saying, but unfortunately close enough to smell the stagnant smell of fish that is so strong that it seems he must bathe in sea water. I am tempted to cover my nose, but knowing that I will look childish, I chose to breathe through my mouth.
          “Mr McFadden, you will be staying in the Champion Hall just off the High Street, where you and,” he grinds the name out between his teeth, “Miss Rathbone will be getting well acquainted with each other.”
          I see now that we are standing in front of the little group of boys that Jackats had detached himself from to speak to me on the shore. He briefly introduced them and I nodded, knowing that it is unnecessary for me to mention my name. I can hear many whispers carried on the wind, whistling on the breeze to my ears, my island, my status, my name. It all seems like shouts and trying to ignore them is one of the hardest things I can think of. I miss half of the boys’ names but I don’t think it will really matter, because Jackats vaguely motions with his hands up to the High Street and I have no choice but to nod again and follow him.
          At the top of the High Street is that large platform which I saw from the shore, its pole sticking high into the air, but I can see from here that there is someone leaning against it. It appears to be a woman, no a girl, in a black dress and a white skirt blowing about in the wind. Her long curly black hair is all over one shoulder and it looks stark against her white skin. Her wrists and hands are behind her back and her shoulders pulled back in a slightly uncomfortable looking position. I frown but then it all becomes clear to me as I suddenly know that she is Faith Rathbone. And she is tied to the pole to make sure that no one will harm you on this island. Everything clicks together and I suddenly feel like I am responsible for her being tied up. I remember the switch blade in my shoe and will be prepared to cut her loose in front of everyone if it is necessary.
          “There she is, Mr McFadden.” Jackats continues. “I would advise you to be careful how you tread with this one.” He mutters in an undertone, “Watch out for her brothers and her father, they will not be held back and I cannot guarantee where you stand with them.”
          Oh wonderful, it’s lovely to see that I am so popular with the indigenous already. My time here will be anything but calm and I haven’t a clue to what is to happen.

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