Twelve Years Before (prequel to Journey of the Star Bearers)

Fantasy story about a girl who lives on a planet called Starre. This is her life before the War...

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8. Life

LIFE CONTINUED ON AND, as the year passed, our class progressed at an extraordinary pace. Something about our class was special, Camilla had a special need for us or, maybe, it was just having me around that inspired them to try and catch up with me. By December, we had the best results of a class this age since the records began!

Everybody wanted to be friends with me but I just stuck with Fran, Xena, Danny, of course, and Ruby, who Danny had taken under her wing as soon as she started. We had a loose relationship with all the other girls but tended to stick together. Ruby had joined Danny in the second tent and was a very skilled student, though not quite as skilled as us in the first tent. I could manoeuvre and summon the storm at will. Not only that, but I could hold it indefinitely and had started practising with Xena to help her conceal others and conceal myself.

In December, we waited with bated breath for our results and, on hearing them, literally jumped up and down with joy. As a reward, our master gave us a day off and a campfire in the “woods”.

At the campfire, we sang songs and roasted marshmallows until it was time to go home. It was one of the best days ever. In the next term, the lessons weren’t just controlling our powers; we now had to learn history, the geography of the universe, Starrian, the language of the stars, and horse riding? Riding a horse was the only form of travel on Starre and every citizen had a horse. On our first lesson, we went down to the stable to see the foals and choose one to be ours. There was a spell that bound you to that horse for life and it would only die when you died. There were lots of different horses there but only one caught my eye. It wasn’t particularly beautiful compared to the other foals, but to me he seemed like the most flawless. He was a gorgeous chestnut brown colour with a black ear and black and white splodges all down his back. In between his eyes there was a black K and at that moment I knew he was my horse and called him Fidelis, loyal.

Once we had all chosen our horses, we learnt how to mount them in the right way. After a whole lesson  of that, we were shown how to scrub down and brush the horse until it had been properly washed and cared for, then lead the horses back to the stables, where they were put in a stall with our and their name on it. Now we could come and see our horse whenever we wanted to, wash it, brush it, ride it, once we learnt to ride, and generally just look after it. The stables fed all the horses in the morning and evening but we could bring it treats throughout the day.

By the time we were back at the classroom, it was time for our next lesson, History.

“Right,” declared our master “In history, we will be looking at the years on our planet, right from when it began.”

He started the lecture off with the creation of our planet and the people who lived on it.

“Over ten billion years ago Camilla created the planet we now call Starre. She created it because she needed a way to keep an eye on the vastly growing universe and everything in it. So she took some rocks that were floating in space and drew them together until she had a beautiful glowing planet that she was happy with. Next, she broke down the structure of another rock, reformed it and breathed life into it. She did this one hundred times but, into each one, she blew the life of a different star, so that each one was connected to the star from which she borrowed life. Each person lived for a different length of time but each star had been living for at least twenty billion years before she needed to see each of the planets that the star oversaw. Then she left the planet and the people on it began to learn and develop. They learnt many things such as how to fight, how to grow crops and many other things that made their lives easier. They also learnt to read and write and decided to keep track of the events that happened on the planet and write down all they knew into a book. Camilla saw this development and was happy with it but was sad that the children which had been born didn’t have a star to look after; as each star was different they didn’t have the life of that star inside them. So Camilla created the Key, an object filled with the power of the universe that would, when a child was born, fill that child with the life of a star. Soon, she came down and presented it to the people, with a promise to deliver another gift when the time came. The people protected the Key in every way they could until a terrible war broke out, brought about by the Key. This war raged on for twenty years until the Key was encased in a memorial, only to be released by the descendant of the one who put it there. Now, no one must touch this memorial until such a time as the Key is needed. Any questions?”

Kathy stuck her hand up. “Sir, who were we fighting against, you haven’t told us that, so how are we supposed to know all about our history?” she demanded, rude and impertinent as ever.

My master sighed “We don’t know Kathy and I suggest that you rethink how you speak to your teachers. Any other questions?” He scanned the room hopefully but his gaze fell on no raised hands “Class dismissed.”

My master left the room first, the rest of us filing out behind him. Kathy pushed her way to the front, determined, as ever, not to be outdone. We were all still too young to eat in school, so ran out of the school gates, eager for lunch. We, that is Danny, Fran, Ruby, Xena and me, were going to Fran’s house for lunch. Usually, we went to our house, but Delilah was out today, so we had to make alternative arrangements. Fran’s parents were very friendly. Her mother was in the house all the day, cooking for the café that their family ran next door. Her father spent most of his time in the café, serving. No one was there when we got in, so we waited and, sure enough, Fran’s mother, Leanne, entered with an empty tray.

“Hello, girls,” she announced cheerfully “Is it that time already? You must be starving!”

She went over to the oven and opened it, releasing delicious smells into the already mouth-watering smelling air. She dealt out the meals, and then bustled back into the kitchen. This was why we never went to any of the other’s houses; their parents didn’t hang around to find out how we were. But the food was great! It was far better than the smell. We finished all too soon and prepared to go back to school for another three hours of torture from Kathy.

Upon arriving, I sensed that something was wrong. My hawk-like eyes scanned the area in search of something wrong. Danny looked at me and I gave her my “later” look. I carried on searching till I found what I was looking for. My eyes zeroed in on the figure and I shrunk into the shadows.

“What are you doing!” Exclaimed a very bewildered Danny.

“Shh, don’t draw attention to me.” I whispered furiously at her. I regained my tone and whispered “Give our Master some excuse, I wasn’t feeling well etcetera, etcetera.” Then I bounded off through the shadows towards my target. I melted into the trees and leapt up onto the lowest branch, two metres above where I had been standing. Leaping from branch to branch, I sped closer to my target, letting my instincts guide me through the trees.

Finally I saw the man racing off through the trees. He had seen me in the courtyard. I raced after him, arching elegantly through the air, silent and swift. Soon I was racing next to him. I paused then somersaulted through the air to land on his back. The man jumped round but I clasped onto his back and wouldn’t let go. He tried valiantly to loosen my hold but I grasped more tightly. Eventually, he tired and I whipped out my dagger and held it to his throat.

“What are you doing here,” I snarled in his ear “Tell me or I’ll slit you’re throat.”

“I’m not scared of a little girl like you.” He replied smartly in a thick accent.

“A little girl who has a dagger pressed to your throat.”

“Point taken.”

“So” I snarled in his ear, soft as a feather.

“I was here to see Delilah Fatte and a few others.”

I pressed my dagger in harder.

“Who do you work for?”

“I can’t tell you that sorry.” He sighed “I’ll be killed if I tell you and killed if I don’t but I am still loyal to them and wouldn’t betray them plus, I think you will kill me quicker.”

I swiftly cut his throat and sprang into a nearby tree. I was horrified. How could Delilah, the woman who had raised me, betray me like this? I couldn’t tell Danny I decided. It was one of the worst decisions I made and almost got us both killed.

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