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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18. Sixteen - Faith

                The boat is here, the sea foam lapping against its sides. And there they are, there he is.
          From up here, I can only make out a few of them, one being Jackats and the other with the two strangers as being Lakin Lukehain, the son to the best fisher on the island. Of course he was chosen to bring the champion to and from the Fight Land. And there was a little boy, whose movements were the only sign that he gave to the world that he actually existed. Then there was a tall man, no, a tall boy, my age, maybe, but then everything is speculation from up here. I hate not knowing anything, and I would so love to be there, putting my money’s worth in and getting on Jackats’ nerves. But the crafty man made sure that I would never get the chance to even be down at the beach.
          The coarse rope binding my hands is too tight and is beginning to rub, but I don’t say a word. It would only increase Jackats’ enjoyment in punishing me. I breathe out a frustrated breath, trying to tell myself not to cry. That will just tip everything off and I will never be able to show my face around Corpe again. That is if Katesby wins and I’m not carted off to Bloor before that.
          They just look like blobs of colour from here and no matter how hard I squint I can’t make the features out of the champion from Bloor, the task proves impossible. It’s strange how we first see people in the flesh, after hearing so much about them. I wonder idly what will happen, how my people will see him. Already the news of his arrival has spread in chatted whispers throughout the townspeople as they pass, trying not to look at me. I suppose this is meant to humiliate me in some way, but I cannot be less bothered. If I begged and grovelled on my knees, then I would be the laughing stock of the town. No matter what Jackats did to me, to try and make me repent for what I did to Katesby, nothing ever will. He had it coming for a long time.
          They little group of men and boys have stopped talking and now are walking up the pebbles, closer to the ascent of the High Street. It really is quite a climb to get to the very top and the tall buildings that line either side look like they sway in a storm. I always used to wonder how they stood like that for so long. And now, with the murmurs turning into giggles and excitement, the people of Corpe line the streets in the hope to catch a glimpse of the champion from Bloor. I can see them all moving, the little boy with the black cap looking up at all the other men in black. I can see Dekkan Loadbar’s light hair and then Jackats’ shortly cropped black hair. They are advancing with a surprising speed and as soon as the shadowy champion comes into the view of my people, cheers and applause erupt and continue as he walks up to the top of the High Street, towards me.
          It is not hard to guess that Jackats will at least attempt to humiliate me in front of the whole town. The girls from the learning school will giggle and point and anyone who has ever spoken to me will shake their heads as if the feel the shame I am supposed to be feeling. I find the pride to stick my head up and look out to the boggy marshes, Fight Land and then Bloor, so close and yet so far away. What if I have to live there, looking different to everyone, alone and confused? I will hate that, for I can live with the decisions I make, but this time, it is not up to me to decide my own fate. I have to put my trust into a man I despise right down to my core and a boy who looks hardly older than me to ensure that I can stay here on Corpe, my home. I cannot imagine what life will be like there. My hands suddenly begin to tremble and I’m extremely glad that they are behind my back. If anyone from the town saw me tremble, that would be it. I would be labelled as the shaky prize who punched the champion from her own island in the face. Terror ripples through every inch of my body and I fear that the people closest to the platform can see me shaking.
          Taking several deep breaths, I manage to pull myself together and look up in time to see that the champion from Bloor and his little troop of my townsmen have nearly made their way to the steps of this blessed platform. The champion definitely isn’t too much older than me, and he keeps glancing at me with wide and watching eyes. He is handsome, very handsome. I am surprised that his face is pale and un-bruised. Surely if he is the champion, he cannot have never raised his fists to another man before. Oh Lord, he’s coming up the steps, just him for Jackats and Dekkan and the others have stayed behind with questions in their eyes. The watching townsmen and women are all holding their breath and the only sound is the wind whistling through the gaps of the High Street.
          He approaches me, this unknown gentle soul wandering into dangerous and destructive waters that lay here for him on Corpe. What is he doing? His kind and imploring eyes seek mine and I can see the gentle green of his eyes. How could such a colour exist? It is the exact replica to the sun coming up on the east side of the island, just before the world breaks into the morning glow of dawn, the tip of the horizon bleeds green. I search this green now, those sharp cheek bones and the firm jaw. What is it that is going through this strange boy’s head?
          He reaches me and stops, keeping a distance between us. Everyone is watching and waiting. My hands begin to shake again and I clench them, swallowing, aware of the eyes on us. He walks around the back of me and I can feel the rope binding my hands loosen. He cannot be doing this, oh this boy hasn’t a clue as to what he’s getting himself into. He gently touches his fingers to my palm, before letting the last of the rope drop to the wood of the platform. The watching crowd begin to mutter and wonder, but all I can do when I have the use of my hands again is stare at this strange boy, Alec McFadden, and wonder how he managed to get sent to my island. He gives a slight nod to me and holds out his hand. I bit my lip, trying to hide the rarest smile on my lips. This isn’t the best of times to be smiling, but I cannot help it. I slip my fingers into his awaiting palm and with one last little smile, turns to the crowd, our joined hands in the air. The crowd is no longer silent and expectant, but break into raucous applause and cheers.
          In amidst all my fury and anger, there is this little pressure that made me smile. 

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