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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4. Two - Faith

Someone’s knocking at the door.
          I don’t need my brothers’ shouts and curses to know that the knocker’s here for me. I have been chosen.
          It’s too late to run up the stairs, for they would hear it in a heartbeat, so instead, I jump behind the couch and curl up in the tightest ball I can, trying to will my thumping heart to slow and quieten down. I’m sure they can hear it from all the way outside.
          I hear my father opening the door with a loud grunt, though it couldn’t have been that heavy for him. They used to say, that when my father was young, he would plough the fields himself when the horses wearied. I’m not too sure how true that is, but I am certain that my father can lift more than most and is one of the biggest men on Corpe. He is not scared of these visitors, and I am certain that I can hear his large foot tapping against the stone floor by the front door. He’s getting impatient, which is never a good thing.
          “Yes?” My father asks, his accent as old as the island itself. My father is a true islander, and he used to say to me, Faith, I was born on this island, so I shall die on this island. Though he would always say it with a little bit of sorrow in his tone. He hadn’t really done what Papia Edgar expected him to do, and that was to marry a Corpe woman. But my father had fallen in love with my mother, who was about as far away from a Corpe woman as you can get. My mother was originally from Bloor.
          Though I don’t know why I am thinking it now of all times, right about when my life could change. This will be the third time I’ve done the duck and hide from the knockers in a week and they are getting restless. I know that I cannot do this forever and will eventually be taken, but I cannot help but prolong the inevitable. I hear the voice of Skaliy Jackats, the one who organises the Fight. He is a scary man, who is from a long line of fishermen, but with a little bit of Bloor blood thrown in there from a couple of decades ago. He is a very thin and tall man, with a long nose and a pointy chin. He has black hair cut close to his papery scalp and ears that point at the top. Skaliy always wears a long navy trench coat that has mud splattering the sleeves and the hem, though it has always puzzled me as to where he got the mud on his sleeves from. The collar of the coat is always turned up against the bitter wind and it comes cleanly to the edge of his jaw. He scares the hell out of me and I want to stay as far away from that man as long as possible for the rest of my living days.
          “Mr Rathbone, may I say, sir that my patience is wearing thin.”
          My father’s foot stops tapping. “Well then I’m sorry to inconvenience you, sir, but you are not having my daughter to be the next prize. Neither I nor her brothers will simply stand by and watch you take her.” I squeeze my eyes shut and silently try and tell my father how much I love him.
          Of course, my brothers – Daniel, Joseph, Gabriel, Levi, Stefan, Fabien and Emmanuel – were never going to let me go without a fight. It is one of the good things about having seven brothers and being the youngest out of all of them. I know that Daniel (the eldest), Joseph (the second) and Emmanuel (the last) are all here in the house, prepared to be there to fight for me. I don’t want it to come to that, but I will certainly not just flounce out of that door like I’m away with the fairies. I have a brain and nails, so I’m not going to come as quietly as they hope. Sure, Jackats is scary, but I’m not scared of him, not in the month of Sundays. And I’m almost one hundred per cent sure that he has got the Snatchers with him.
          “Mr Rathbone, Faith must be the next prize, for it has already been decided. Just think of what a relief it will be when Roland wins it for another year and claims another young lady for this island.” Jackats attempt to make my father see the light with poor persuasion and I can almost hear Papa swallowing the wad of spit he’d brought up to spit in Jackats’ face. Though my father is a civil man, he feels absolutely nothing but hatred for Jackats and his band of Snatchers to take me away.
          “And do I have to remind you that your wife was a prize. There is no shame in it.”
          My own anger started to bubble in my veins at the mention of Mama. How dare this man speak of her, he is not worthy to even think of her. I can hear my brothers moving closer to the door, obviously hearing the last comment as well. They are all tall, muscular, blond and extremely intimidating when they chose to be. Especially when it is my well-being involved. Daniel had his twenty second birthday not the other week and everyone on Corpe knew that if they mess with a Rathbone, they mess with the whole family. Normally, the townspeople leave us alone and some are close neighbours, but when something threatens us, we stick together like glue.
          “Just because something has happened in the past,” Joseph says in a strong voice, “doesn’t mean that it should happen again.”
          “That is very true, Master Rathbone,” Jackats whips back not two seconds later. “But your sister has been chosen to be this year’s prize and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. It is an honour to be a prize,” he pauses and when he speaks again, his voice sounds a lot closer, “and so you should be grateful, Faith.”
          He knows I’m here; he’s known it all along. Hiding was practically useless and if I show myself now, I will be humiliated, so I stay put behind the aubergine couch, holding myself together and willing my heart not to cry out.
          Jackats continues, “You will bring Miss Rathbone to the town centre in three days, when the champion arrives for the first Fight Week.” He pauses and I can imagine his long, thin lips pulling up in the corners for a cruel smile. “And Miss Faith,” he calls and my blood stills. I hardly breathe. “We will find you.”
          They leave, with many a snigger even when the door has been slammed shut. I can hardly move, paralysed with fear as to what may happen in the next weeks. I stay down the back of the couch while my brothers and father go into a full blown rant, curled up in a ball, the tears dancing their grim way down my face.
          I am a prize, but all I want to do is stay here.

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