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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12. Ten - Faith

          Katesby has just got into the boat, causing it to jump on the shallow waves. He is such a big and heaving man that I won’t be surprised if the boat runs a ground somewhere in the bog. Unfortunately, I fear that for me, it is all just wishful thinking. I have over heard that they will be stopping on the Fight Land to exchange words and boats. It seems like a good idea for me, and I’m almost certain that Katesby will be grumbling or boasting about the bruise on his cheek. I hope he winces every time he touches it, or forgets it’s there and leans on it by accident. I’m proud of that punch and hope that there will be more opportunities in the future.
          I watch as the boat travels further and further away from the shore. I hope his shoes will be caked in spit by the end of the Fight Weeks. Oh Lord, I hate him so much.
          But to distract my boiling hatred, something detached its self from Bloor’s unforgiving shoreline and was heading towards the Fight Land. I take an educated guess and say that it’ll be the boat carrying Bloor’s champion.
          To no one in particular, I mutter, “Who’s the champion from Bloor?”
          “His name is Alec McFadden.”
          I don’t turn, for I would know that voice anywhere. I fought hard to repress a shiver. Skaliy Jackats has come up out of nowhere and is now standing beside me, towering over me in his scary posture. He looks down at me, and then back out to the sea.
          “And what are the odds that this Alec McFadden will win?” I keep my voice nonchalant but underneath is a burning curiosity that I cannot deny. I think, despite my efforts, Jackats hears it too.
          He sucks on his lower lip as he thinks, before smacking them together and answers me. “They are rather favourable for him, but they betting hasn’t legally started yet, as you know.”
          I have to bite back my snort at this. Sure, it is in the rules or something that the betting is only allowed to start once the champion had set foot upon our soil, but I was in The Pig’s Head last night and it was more like a bookies.  I could hardly move for the gamblers who were steadily getting drunker. And I wouldn’t have been surprised if Jackats was among the shadows that hugged the walls. He is a sneaky and dangerous man when he wants to be.
          He takes a sharp breath before continuing, “Might I also advise you, Miss Rathbone, to keep that temper of yours at bay, at least for a little while. That mighty wallop you gave Ronald might’ve been seen as cheating.”
          I am incredulous. “Cheating, cheating! How on this bloody island is that cheating? He is a lying, thieving buggar and everyone knows it. He is disgraceful to every woman that he so much as glances at; he believes that they should be down on their knees, worshipping the ground he walks on.”
          After my outburst, I feel oddly deflated, like that is the heart of my anger and now it is all out of my system. I am strangely glad for it to be honest, for now it seems like dulling acceptance has crept its way into my body. I am beginning to entertain the idea that I am the prize. I may not like it, but it is something that I’m going to have to deal with.
          “Would you look at that,” Jackats murmurs, like all that angry breath that had spewed from my mouth was only a figment of my own imagination. He is a very strange and difficult man. I look where he is and see that the boats have reached the halfway point between our islands and the Fight Land. It wouldn’t be long before they have reached their destination and swapped boats, making that journey to a place where everything is different. I feel sorry for Alec McFadden, for Katesby has been over to Bloor twice before and probably has become friendly with the local brothel. In the boat with the lumbering giant, is a rower by the name of Lukehain and a young lad to wait on Katesby hand and foot. I feel sorry for the pair of them, but more so for the young boy who has to put up with Katesby’s antics for one and a half weeks.
          “Miss Rathbone,” Jackats turns to me and I hold my breath, not liking the tone in his voice, “We don’t want any more casualties here and for the protection of Mr McFadden, a certain arrangement has been set in place for your meeting.”
          I don’t like the sound of that.

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