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Rondor (unfinished/unedited)

By Paddy Cashman


Rondor is a community on an island. It is more than 1 acre in size. Rondor’s people are kept as prisoners on it. They are not allowed out of a great stone wall, which surrounds half the city. There is only one way out, the Black Gate, a giant gate that opens rarely, quickly, and silently. It towers over everything, like a big reminder that they are trapped in the ‘Citizens Keep’ as it’s called. It is guarded by Black Guards, the fearsome men that patrol Rondor, punishing foiled escapees, trying to be rid of the evil city. They live on the brink of poverty everyday, and only Black Guards receive fair portions of food. Rondor’s population is about three hundred, but is slowly decreasing; this is believed to be happening because of the Black Guard’s evil punishments.

From an early age citizens of Rondor are told they are the only ones on the earth, and that the seas have been searched many times and no one else has been discovered. They are also told the ‘Grey Wall’ is impenetrable. (As far as they know it actually is.) The Wall is fifteen metres tall, and at the very top is curling, menacing barbwire. The wall is also about two metres thick!

Outside the walls are several things, the citizens are not told much, they can get a general idea. There are the Colossal Mountains - cold, dark and mysterious. Many stories of Werewolves and Goblins erupt from them, but most are just that; stories. Leading from there is the River of Joan; these waters have immensely strong currents. Very dangerous sea creatures dwell in this evil place, and seldom would one pass through it unharmed. At last, there is the Black Forest, it takes up one tenth of the whole island, and its secrets are unknown. Not even the Black Guards, who venture outside of the Grey Wall are aware of its mysteries. (Though they aren’t very bright.) If half the stories thrown around in the wall are true, then it’s said that none can travel through it and out the other side. It’s impossible.

On the island, often they only ate meat, vegetables, and a small amount of meat, a healthy diet as it was, it did not comfort them. The food was served on weak paper plates. But only a small amount of plates had food on them. All the food was grown on a big farm down the main road. And all the meat was also from there.

You may have been wondering about the Black Guards lifestyle, they live in a narrow building lined with beds and weapons, but mostly they walk the wall, and eat with citizens, rubbing their large amount of food in the starving people’s faces. The guard’s, don’t only get more food, they get better food. Another misconception is that the guards are in charge. In fact, the person in charge of everything is a man named Salan. Salan has long red hair, blue eyes, and a small pointed face. Salan wore big green robes. He stays at the Governors’ estate, a large building that contains luxuries citizens could only dream of......

Part One

Chapter One: Shake

‘Great vast lands, clear fresh air, grassy, sunlit plains, deep blue oceans and the freedom to walk and dream…’ wrote Kemli as his sore back lent against the cold stone wall. He sighed and stood up looking attentively at the bright sun, wondering: ‘were others looking at this sun now? Were others that lived not in Rondor, but in another distant land looking at the great yellow star? Did such people exist?’ “Kemli!” said a voice that stole his daydream, he looked up to see a face he knew too well, “Myer!” he said happily, Myer was his best friend in the Citizens Keep and was always there for him. “How are you?” “Not so good.” she answered grumpily, pulling back her cloak to reveal four deep, long cuts in her arm. “How-“ started Kemli, but he really needn’t have asked, “Black Guards!” she said angrily. “Curse them.” said Kemli in reply. Black Guards often punished people very severely “Well, let us mourn over my pain no longer,” said Myer, “Sunset is almost upon us.”

That night Kemli slept terribly. He dreamt of his parents again, waving and smiling at him, he tried to reach them but they kept getting smaller, further away. He couldn’t get them, he ran as fast as his legs would carry him, but still they got away. He woke with a yell, drenched in sweat. Myer was looking at him from across the room. “I’m fine!” he said quickly” go back to sleep!” She took one last concerned look then fell down once again, as did Kemli, but was woken up almost immediately (or so it seemed) by Mrs. Shepard, Myer’s mother. Kemli had lived here with Myer’s family for as long as he could remember, his mother and father had died when he was two or three years old. But Marly and Ewon raised him as their own. He wandered into the kitchen to find bacon and eggs steaming hot, fresh from the stove. Mrs. Shepard’s cooking never failed to impress, even with the small amount of food found on Rondor she always managed. Kemli walked over to sit next to Myer when suddenly the table started wobbling, the cutlery clattering, the china breaking! Kemli stood up, and helped Myer do the same. He held on to the table for dear life as the whole cottage started shaking. He was wondering if the wood would hold such pressure, but then it stopped. “What,” said Kemli, clearly amazed, “was that?”

People were screaming, running, some were just in shock. But most had gone to the Black Guards to ask what had happened. Earthquakes had never happened on Rondor so they knew nothing of them. The Black Guards, of course, told them nothing: “Everything is fine! Please stay calm; if you all be quiet we can sort this out!” Kemli and Myer stayed in the shadows, coming up with their own theories. They strolled along the Grey Wall deep in thought. Soon they reached Raynor, a young boy of Rondor. He had short brown hair and was, despite his age, taller then both Myer and Kemli. As they approached Kemli suddenly stopped. “Come here!” he whispered to Myer. “Quickly.” They hid behind a broom shed that lived next to the wall. “What is the meaning of this?!” whispered Myer frantically. “Hush. Look.” Said Kemli, pointing at Raynor in the distance. She looked and saw: Raynor bending over, something shiny in his hand, he was stabbing the wall repeatedly. Kemli seemed to have realised something and said, “Don’t worry.” He led Myer out so Raynor noticed them. “Its no use,” he said, “the wall is too thick.” “Oh yeah?” said Raynor. Then he yanked hard at the wall and the brick that had stayed there for so long was released from its hold!

There was now a square hole a bit smaller then the average brick, looking out at the world! Both Myer and Kemli gasped, “impossible!” they said quietly, but their excitement, could not be hidden. With sweat poring from Raynor’s face he said, “Yet here we are! Staring at our freedom.” So they were. For the first time they saw the island without the shadow of the Black Gate on them. All they saw there was Salan’s home, and a fraction of The Black Guard Academy. From here they could see The Black Forest, dark and beautiful, The River of Joan, shining with the reflection of the sun. “Look!” they said together as a salmon soared up into the air, “WOW!”
There were no fish in the Citizens Keep, and pictures were the closest they got to seeing them. From The Gate the eye couldn’t see beyond the big hill between Salan’s Estate and The Black Guard Academy, so the sea was seldom spoken of. But they saw it, the big blue waves crashing onto the yellow sand of the Big Water. * Their excitement didn’t last. Soon more questions arose.

*The People of the Citizens Keep refer to the sea as the ‘Big Water!’
Chapter Two: Crack

“Its not possible!” said Kemli, “It cannot be broken. The wall is impenetrable! How did you do it? How?!” Raynor simply said “This sword.” He pulled into view the huge blade that he had used to cut out the brick. “But, that could not have done it!” said Myer “no normal sword can break through The Wall! It is three metres thick!!” “I know…” said Raynor, “…This is no normal blade.”

“It was made for Salan, and was stolen by my Grandfather, he hands it to me now.” Said Raynor mysteriously. “Okay” said Kemli slowly “if it was made for Salan then it is probably strong enough to break through The Wall-but, there is one small flaw in your story. No-one, has ever gone out of the Citizens Keep, ever.” He had expected Raynor to give up at this point, but still he kept coming back for more. “There was one man, my Grandfather. You must understand that in his time there would only have been three or four Black Guards at the Gate. He managed to sneak past-“ “What of the codes!?” interrupted Myer sharply. “There were none back then.” Said Raynor, “May I go on?” “Fine.”
“Where were we? Um…yes, he escaped, and stole this,” he displayed the sword. “He was caught and killed, but before they did that he gave my father the sword, and naturally the story of the great escape as well. In time my father handed that down to me also. I came to realise that this sword was more mysterious then first thought. I saw it had true power, yes power enough to break the Grey Wall.”

So the three sat thinking about the story, contemplating any unsolved questions, “how long has it taken you?” asked Kemli, “you must know of course,” answered Raynor, “that even a sword like this seems like a small needle to the wall.”
“How long!?”
“Alright, alright about…five or six months.”
“Five or six months? By the look of that brick, you’ll need about seven more! That’s almost four years, four years!” Raynor had obviously done the calculations himself because he wasn’t surprised at the answer. “I know.” he said quietly.

In four years, anything could happen. All of them new that. “You cannot speak of this ever again okay?” said Raynor, breaking the silence. “What!” said Kemli. “Yeah,” continued Myer, “People deserve to know!”
“NO!” said Raynor angrily, “Don’t you think it will be obvious if three-hundred people just climb out a hole in the wall? But that’s just me, you know, just my opinion.” “Okay,” said Kemli defensively, “We meant no offence.” Raynor looked at them wondering if they were trustworthy, and said “we could work together, it will get done much quicker. What do you think?” He glanced at both of them pleadingly. “Give me a look at that sword!” said Kemli, and Raynor smiled.

Chapter Three: Why Stay?

So the three companions began working all day on the new project. But after at least four weeks, they couldn’t see a dint in it. “I don’t know what’s going on,” panted Raynor after an extremely hard session of jabbing and stabbing, “its just not working like the others!” Still they tried, and tried, and tried, with little success. As they were on their way back to the canteen for dinner they passed the Black Gate, and saw three or four guards crowded around talking in low voices: “…yeah, the earthquake…evacuation…only us…seven weeks…whole island…breaking in half…”

“It’s got to be that!” said Myer in an excited voice as she and Kemli ate breakfast the next morning with Raynor, they had been discussing the matter for hours on end. “But there is a way we can be sure.” So Myer explained her idea to Kemli and Raynor, Raynor thought it would work well, but Kemli, on the other hand, agreed only because he was outnumbered. They got a piece of parchment, and wrote:

__________ Yeah the earthquake __________ evacuation __________ only we __________ seven weeks __________ whole island __________ in half.

They were writing the bits that they had heard and were trying to fill in the missing parts, like the end of a jigsaw puzzle, yet this time the pieces were not in front of them, they just had to think of them. After some hard thinking, they came to a conclusion, they filled in the most logical answers:

‘The big shake the other week? Yeah the earthquake, there will be an evacuation soon, but only we will go, like I said in seven weeks the whole island will be breaking in half.’

They all sat back and studied their work, it seemed to fit, they read it aloud three or four times then Kemli said “seven weeks. We cant get past the bricks fast enough, we’re not going to make it.” So they sat in sadness for a few minutes until Myer swore loudly and yelled “Mum and Dad, where are they?! They should have been here hours ago!!” Now normally if your parents come home late you just wait for them, and make sure they’re all right. But on Rondor this meant something had gone wrong, normally something terrible. When Men or Woman of Citizen Keep argue, or refuse to obey orders, there is a place that they are…condemned. It is just out of the village near the wall, in a big building, it was a church, but religion is now forbidden on Rondor. This place is now, the slaughterhouse.

The three ran to it like a cat from a dog, as fast as their legs would carry them. They arrived to find a Black Guard at the entrance, “You shall not pass,” he said firmly. ‘Dam.’ How can they find out if they’re ok now? But their chance came, the Black Guard sniggered, “you are Myer daughter of Ewon?” he glanced at them and they looked away, his piercing red eyes were like lasers to their innocent, young ones. “Yes,” said Myer desperately. The Black Guard let out a terrible sound, a laugh, it was like a bird was dying, but it was cruel, evil. “Disobeying orders from a Black Guard is severely punished! If people are bad enough miss, they might even have to face…” he mouthed the words death, and laughed again. “NO!!!!” screamed Myer, “NO!!!!” she kicked and struggled to free herself from Kemli and Raynor’s grip, trying to reach the Black Guard. “Let me go! “She bellowed at them, tears streaming down her face. But the Black Guard just laughed, his big armour shaking in the cold wind. Kemli and Raynor dragged her away to a patch of grass where she cried and cried, almost forever. Kemli cried to, “Myer we had to stop you, you would have been killed.” Sobbed Kemli. “I want to die!” she screeched, “I WANT TO DIE! I want to leave this place!”

Raynor sat quietly, he hadn’t known Ewon or Marly, but his parents had suffered the same fate only two years ago. Raynor now lived alone at their old house. He knew that she was best left unaccompanied, so Kemli and him walked away up the road through the village. Up the stone street, past the wooden houses, towards the Grey Wall, ‘The Grey Wall.’ Thought Kemli, “We need to get off this island.” Said Kemli “agreed” answered Raynor.

“Are you two crazy?” said Myer when they told her of their plans. “The people may have lied to us sometimes, but they got one thing right, the Grey Wall is impenetrable. Now, one shouldn’t try to escape, one cannot escape. This is an impossible task!” “Improbable” said Raynor smartly, “Listen!” said Kemli, “Myer, will you at least hear us out?” She folded her arms and looked at them angrily. Assuming this meant she would listen, Raynor said excitedly, “If we get out unnoticed, The Black Forest awaits us, aft-“ but Myer interrupted by saying, “Have you heard nothing of what I’ve said?” at this point she shook her head, “follow me!” she said. Kemli took a deep breath and raised his eyebrows at Raynor as they accompanied her out of the room.

“Lesson One.” Said Myer as they strolled toward the Black Gate. “See this?” she said, pointing at a small square piece of metal sticking out of the wall just next to the gate, it was about three inches by three inches. On it was a small foamy pad. One of the guards looked at the three of them, but surprisingly, let them go. “This,” continued Myer, “is a Thumb Print Pad. When a Black Guard places his/her thumb on this a seven digit code will appear here,” she signalled toward a small square screen engraved in the wall, just next to the pad. “Then the Black Guard must type that code in here,” once again she pointed, this time to a small keypad, with all numbers 0-9 on it. “Then and only then can the gate open.” Kemli and Raynor knew all this, “But what if y-“ “hang on!” said Myer…
“Lesson Two.” She said leading them away from the guards and north, along the Grey Wall. “As you very well know, this wall cannot be breached in time for the whole island falling apart. And if you are planning to climb it. Well.” She laughed, looking up the fifteen metre stone wall. “Class dismissed.”

“Thankyou for that very enriching lesson on things we already know.” Said Raynor amusingly, “Now here’s a lecture that I think you will find a lot more interesting.” Raynor went on to explain Kemli and his own plan.

Chapter Four: Planning

The three decided it would be best if they all lived at Myer’s house. The death of Myer’s parents seemed to drive her to get off the island more and she kept on thinking of ideas. There were now 6 weeks until the island would be destroyed and the three of them had come to some conclusions.

• They would not tell anyone else about it, if too many escaped they would easily be found, if too many knew Salan would know. Plus, few friends were held close on Rondor, for some people supported the guards, this is mainly because they fear them.
• They could not get Through the Grey Wall, they could not get over the Grey Wall, the only way out was the Black Gate. It was guarded by twelve Guards all the time. To open the gate you need to use the fingerprint of a Black Guard, which will show you a code that you type in to the keyboard next to the Gate.
• They would travel to the Black Forest and hide…
• The Black Guards that were at the gate, stood with ten on the outside, and two on the inside.

They planned everything over the week and packed all the supplies they needed. Five weeks until ‘Break Day.’ Stage one. They practiced and practiced. “Ready?” said Kemli looking at Myer and Raynor, they nodded. “Remember Myer, be s-“
“I know, I know, sad but firm!”
“Ray, got the rocks?”
“Let’s go”
Raynor jumped onto the side of the canteen building and climbed. He reached the top above Kemli and gave him the thumbs up; Kemli nodded and told Myer to go. She scurried away quickly, as she left Kemli rubbed dirt on his face and lay on the ground.
Myer walked towards the closest Black Guard and was about to speak when it said “Sorry to hear of your loss missy!” sniggering. She grimaced. ‘Breathe Myer, breathe,’ she told herself, ‘stick with the plan.’ “There’s someone over there that needs help” she said getting the perfect balance between a little girl, and someone you shouldn’t cross. “He’s by the canteen, he fell and hit his head.” She crossed her fingers by her side. “Alright I’m coming!” said the Guard angrily. ‘Yes!’

Myer led him past the front of the building, to the side, were Kemli lay right next to a cupboard. Ray lay low on the roof holding a bowl of large rocks in his right hand. “There he is,” said Myer sadly, pointing at Kemli. The guard bent over Kemli to look at him, but at the moment he did Kemli quickly rolled out from under him. The Guard looked around stupidly and with a huge crash seven or eight pineapple-sized rock came crashing onto his head. He fell to the ground for twenty seconds then stood up, hardly able to walk. “Kemli!” yelled Raynor throwing him the bowl from the roof, he caught it coolly and said, “Hey dung head!” the Guard turned around and Kemli smashed the bowl on his head as hard as he could. This time he didn’t get up. Myer and Kemli dragged him towards the cupboard and said “Quick Ray!” but he was already down, opening the door for them. Kemli and Myer dropped him in and shut the door. “Got the key?” Kemli asked Myer. “Yep,” she answered, digging through her pockets. “Here it is!” she said pulling out a small silver key, which Kemli had managed to snatch from a guard the day before. She locked the door. “Ok,” said Raynor brightly, “what’s next?”

You may be thinking that there is no school or teaching at Rondor. But the next day was a Tuesday, one of the two days of the week when school is on. That may seem like a great way of living, but school is a rare place of some freedom, (at recess and lunch.) It is a rare place on the island where friendliness is encouraged, (Black Guards often don’t allow too much of it!) Most importantly some of the teachers are nice. But today wasn’t a time for playing, but it was a time for a similar word, planning. Kemli had paper out all day writing down ideas. After school they went back home and talked it over. “So again,” said Myer, determined to get it right, “Kemli you’re finding the brush, right?”
“Ray, you’ve got to get the lemons. Three should do. The best trees are beh-“
“Behind Mr. McCann’s house.”
“Good. And I’m getting the parchment from the school. Meet back in two minutes. No three minutes…but maybe getting into Mr.-“
“Myer shut up.”
“Ok let’s go.”

Kemli went with Myer to the school for both of their jobs and Raynor went to Mr. McCann’s. (An old man who lives alone with his dog, which bites if you get to close.) Raynor was first back, after one or two minutes Kemli and Myer arrived too. “Got everything?” said Raynor, “Ok let’s go inside.” They walked into the house together and sat down at the table to find a large jar and a knife on it. Myer cut the lemons in half and squeezed them into the jar. ‘This better work!’ Thought Kemli.

Again they went over the plan. Four weeks until Break Day. Luckily Raynor and Myer’s job was not needed, no one was around the cupboard. They walked up hastily and opened the door. Kemli jumped in and started working, Myer shut the door on him and they waited outside on watch. Five minutes later, Kemli came out wearing the whole armour and mask of a Black Guard, he was farley tall so he looked pretty alike the others. “How is our prisoner?” asked Raynor, smiling. “Awake.” Said Kemli, “Awake!?” they said, “It’s ok, it’s ok, I knocked him out again!” “Good, that’s the last thing we need” replied Myer, “Let’s put it on.” She pulled out the jar from her jacket and put some ink on the brush. She pressed the brush hard against The Guard’s thumb, and then pressed it hard against Kemli thumb.

Myer and Raynor hid behind a bush near the Black Gate and watched on eagerly. Kemli walked up and lent against the wall next to the thumb print pad. He discretely placed his thumb on it. He waited for about ten minutes until the other guards were looking the other way and pulled out some parchment, and a quill. He wrote like crazy, stuffed it in his pocket and walked off back to the cupboard.

“Yes, yes, yes!!!!!!!!” they said together as they sat eating dinner that night, (the armour was safely locked in the cupboard.) They each had a copy of the code number to open the gate and one more spare was hidden in Myer’s pillow. “Rejoice! For soon we will become great explorers of the unsearched seas!” For the first time in a long time they slept well, for not the creepiest of noises, bumps, or nightmares could disturb them that night. (Still planning of course!) Three weeks until Break Day.

Chapter Five: A Diversion

This part of the escape took the most amount of thought, the fact that they only had one armoured mask and suit worried Myer but Raynor and Kemli assured her it would work. They planned on putting Kemli in the armour again, he would use the code and get out. Then Kemli would create a diversion as the others escaped, also using the code. Raynor was very skilled with a sword and Myer had thrown some punches in her time. So if the time came to fight guards on their way out the gate, they were prepared. Two weeks and four days until Break Day. They made spears and slingshots, and stole bow and arrows from a shed next to the slaughterhouse. Raynor was especially good with an arrow, and the three practiced on trees by Myer’s house. Slowly they grew to like this weapon above all others, and believed it to be the most effective of all they used. They each had one sword, one small spear, one long knife (or slingshot in Kemli case.) So it was finalised; the three acquaintances were going to go the furthest anyone has ever been outside the Citizens Keep since Raynor’s Grandfather. Two weeks and one day until Break Day.

‘Armour is weak below the neck, outwit them not outrun them, Black Forest, Black Forest, Black Forest...’ recited Kemli in his head before he slept, two weeks until Break Day. The next morning Kemli woke to find two empty beds. He bounded in to the kitchen taking a running leap and landing next to Raynor. He jumped and turned, smiling at Kemli, “this is the day!” he said happily, “we shall finish what my Grandfather started.” They recited the plan again and were off back to the cupboard. Kemli put the armour on and walked off to start the mission. The three strolled over to the cupboard where the guard was locked in. Kemli was sure he was dead, so grabbing the suit was not a problem. Myer and Raynor nodded from the front of the canteen and a Black Guard strolled out of the cupboard where a citizen had been. He casually walked up towards the gate, just as Myer and Raynor hid in the bush near the gate. Kemli walked up to the keypad and was about to start typing when he stopped and looked around at another guard. They talked for several minutes, and then Kemli nodded and continued typing. The gate opened and he walked out. He took one deep breath and took a step outside the Citizens Keep for the first time ever. Myer and Raynor rejoiced in silent excitement. He walked up towards the Black Guard Academy, and stopped at the door, and for the first time also, he saw the Academy.

It was a long corridor about five metres wide, and one hundred metres long, it was lined with beds. At the end of the hall there was a big kitchen, and at the closest end to Kemli there was a wall lined with axes, swords, and slingshots,’ come on,’ he though desperately,’ matches, matches.’ Finally he found them, sitting on a little table under the weaponry. Kemli picked them up and ran outside, taking the accursed Black Guard suit off as well. He looked around for any other Black Guards, and ran to the back of the building, there he picked up all the dry leaves he could, he retrieved some small sticks from a slope which led to a little dry bush, which was dying. Then he put everything at the edge of the huge wooden building. He tried for minutes after minutes to make a fire, but nothing came. As he tried Myer and Raynor watched on desperately, “come on!” they would say occasionally. He tried, and tried, and tried- FWWOO! Fire! “Yes!” yelled Kemli triumphantly. He sat back and watched it feed on the vines, climbing up, up, twisting and twirling up the side of the building, on to the roof!

“There it is!” bellowed Myer, “Look.” “I see it,” answered Raynor “But don’t give away our position. Raynor and Myer were still hiding in the bushes near the gate, on watch. The fire took about half an hour to fully get going, and Kemli did his best to help it along the way. Suddenly one of the twelve guards at the gate turned and yelled. They discussed it for a moment then seven guards ran and tried to put it out. That left five to get past. (The two on the inside of the wall had already ran out to see what all the commotion was about.) They had decided that if there were five or more guards left over, Kemli would try Plan B.

They realised, (after much observation,) that the only guards watching the gate were the ones guarding it! All the others were with Salan or just resting. If no one else were watching it would be easy for Kemli to sneak up on the guards and distract them. The guards putting out the fire were too busy to notice a tiny figure sneak in the back door of the Academy. Kemli ran up to the wall of weapons got a sword, after some searching he found some thin rope, or thick fishing line. Kemli snuck past the guards once again and ran down to the others. These guards were standing still, watching the gate very carefully. Again Kemli checked that the others were occupied with the fire; they were. He saw two trees on either side of the gate, about five metres away from it. He dropped the sword and ran over to one of the trees. Then, wrapped the rope around it and tied a knot. One of the guards seemed to have heard something and looked up into the sky thoughtfully, Kemli jumped behind the tree with his rope just in time, for the guard had turned around quickly and cunningly. It growled and turned back. Kemli waited several seconds before carrying the other end to the opposite tree and tying another knot. The rope was about two inches off the ground, and incredibly hard to see. Kemli was certain that five Black Guards would not look for such things; when a citizen was escaping!

Kemli took a deep breath and yelled “HEY!” All the guards turned in surprise. “AH!” They all ran at Kemli started running too, but there was no need, they all tripped and fell. He grabbed the sword, just as Myer and Raynor got out the gate. He drove the sword into the first one’s heart. Despite himself he felt great pleasure in doing so. All the anger about/towards the Black Guards came out in that strike. The other four scrambled up and ran towards him. Suddenly the two on the left stopped, looking stunned, then they fell to the ground and Kemli saw a sword in each of their backs, as the guard on the right fell Kemli saw it was not a sword in its back, but an arrow! Raynor was still at the gate making sure no one in the village saw the group, running. He had still managed to hit one of the guards from there! Myer pulled her sword out with a big grunt. The two guards that were still standing turned angrily toward Myer, suddenly an arrow flew past Kemli’s ear, “URHH” yelled Raynor, throwing the arrow on the ground next to him and pulling out a sword. He ran toward Myer and Kemli who were each fighting their own guard. Raynor started fighting Kemli’s guard a lot more skilfully then Kemli had been.

Without his help need anymore, Kemli ran towards Myer and her enemy, which she was dodging. Fortunately, amazingly, and unbelievably she hadn’t been hit. Kemli swung the sword across his body as hard as he could, it went half way into the guard’s neck and he fell to his knees, after two seconds he collapsed onto his face. But as he did so, his sword lazily slashed and went deep into Myer’s skin, she screamed with pain, and blood was everywhere. Kemli took a rag from his pocket and tried to stop the bleeding. She breathed quickly and heavily, every few breaths she would grimace in pain. In the meantime Raynor was fighting his guard which was easily the strongest. with a very angry face. Suddenly he tripped, and fell to the ground, the guard was on him like a cheetah. Kemli was five metres away so he couldn’t get there in time. He shut his eyes tight. The guard swung his sword down as hard as he could at Raynor…

Chapter Six: Escaping Unnoticed?

The sound of nails on a chalkboard filled the air, Kemli opened his eyes and saw two swords clash together. One of them had just saved its users life. Raynor lay with his sword blocking the guards. His eyebrows were raised, and his head was slightly tilted to the side as if to say ‘is that all you got?’ With an almighty push, Raynor shoved the Guards sword out of the way, and with both feet, he kicked the guard in the face. It fell back and dropped its sword; Raynor was already up, standing next to it. He took his sword and smiled; “This is for my Mum, my Dad, and my Grandfather!!” He took off the guards mask and saw its face. Mutated and staring. Its hands were up against its nose, which was broken. By doing this Kemli did not very much change its appearance. This particular Guard had a wrinkled face, one eye was squinting and the other squiggling around in its socket. The Guard had no hair, but little indentations were spread across its head, one of which had a shred of glass sticking out of. Disgusted, Raynor stabbed it in the mouth, and it became still.

“Quick,” said Myer. “Ray, help Kemli with the bodies; take them to that ditch over there,” she pointed to a small dint in the ground twenty metres to the left of the gate. “I’ll cut the ropes and hide them somewhere. My legs won’t hold too much weight.” Kemli gave her a small dagger. “Quickly,” said Raynor dragging a guard over and dropping it in the ditch. (Giving it and unnecessary kick in the process.) “That fire won’t last too long.” In all the commotion Kemli had almost forgot about the fire, he turned to see it was almost out. The Guards had, had a bit of trouble with it. When they were done Myer threw the rope into the ditch.
All three of them ran north, heading for the Black Forest. They didn’t stop until they reached the edge of it, about one hundred metres in. It was very dark and spooky, the tree branches hung over them like a dark, glowing canopy, as the bright sun shone upon them. They now had time to talk. All night they sat and discussed their escape and life outside the Citizens Keep. When darkness came Myer pulled blankets and rugs out of her bag. “How did you remember everything?” asked Kemli in amazement and admiration. She also got some comfy leaves for a sort of bed. They slept silently, but they were all thinking about the same sort of things, tomorrow, and its happenings were one of them.

The next morning they made the decision to travel through the rough terrain of the forest to reach the other end. The trip so far into the forest had taken three hours and they were only ten percent of the way in, there were so many logs and sticks in the way that it was an injuring journey. But they would never be sick of the place because of its beauty. They kept trekking along together, first Kemli, then Myer, then Raynor. They had heard stories of strange, magic creatures, and twisted spells living in the Black Forest, but seldom did they believe them. The true stories were lost over time, from being passed from mouth to mouth. When people are told a story, they have their own spin on it, which they pass on to someone else… and so on.

Just when the trio was looking for a place to rest, they came to a small stream, which cut across their path from east to west. There were dozens of rocks sticking out that would have made a fairly easy path across the water. They sat and put down their packs. Myer took out a pan and a little metal grill. Kemli and Raynor made a small fire out of dry twigs and leaves, then they took an egg each. “Not quite up to your Mum’s standard Myer,” said Raynor through a mouthful of food, “but not bad!” Myer looked down sadly. “Oh! Sorry, I didn’t, well…” but he trailed off, “Its okay,” said Myer quietly, “Its probably better to talk about them.” “Well.” Said Kemli, interrupting the silence, “let’s move on.”
So the three of them were hiking along again, after an hour or so, they reached a big hill. Over the other side was a small clearing, “Hmm.” Said Myer thoughtfully, “how very queer!” So they walked and admired the small, beautiful, part of the forest. But suddenly they were stopped as if an invisible wall was set across the line of the forest. They tried and tried to break through it with their swords, but nothing worked. Raynor actually took a running kick at it in mid air but was thrown back. After five minutes or so, a loud voice coming from nowhere, yet everywhere said “entrance is prohibited.”

Kemli thought and answered “we wish to pass, to be rid of this island.” Again the voice said, “exit is prohibited.”
“What must we do to pass?” asked Myer. “You must each take a test.” It answered, “If you pass the test you may go through. If you fail, you will die.” This was no good. “We really should just go around Kemli,” pleaded Myer, “It’s simply too dangerous. “What sort of test?” asked Raynor suspiciously, (as the other two argued). “You will each complete a task of your capabilities. The tall man first.” Raynor was obviously the tallest and stepped forward, “Ray!” said Kemli, “what are you doing? Let us go around this horrible thing, we can easily bypass it. “If you attempt to leave I will kill you!” said the voice.

The three huddled together and discussed it.
“I still don’t see how its going to kill us.”
“Maybe it won’t be so hard-“
“Oh yes Raynor, perfectly simple, you know, two times two or seven plus six!”
“Well sorry Myer, I don’t see you showing any great ideas.”
“We should vote on it.” Said Kemli…
“I wonder who will win Kemli?”
“Myer, please, for once, shut up!” said Raynor
“All those in favour of taking the walls challenge, thus believing it really will kill us;” Raynor put his hand up immediately. Kemli put his only above the height of his nose, as if Myer wouldn’t notice. He received a firm kick for this, “Fine,” she said.

In a shaky voice Raynor said “what must I do?” “You must answer a question.” It sounded easy enough. “If Salan sends four guards to the gate, two guards leave and one passes out from the heat, how many Black Guards are at the gate?”

Raynor made the calculations several times. Four guards at the gate, two leave, that’s two left, one passes out, and that leaves one, easy. He thought and thought to be sure. He was about to answer when a thought struck him. There were always twelve guards at the gate if you send four, you have 16, minus two is fourteen, minus one is thirteen. Good. “At the gate,” he said confidently, “there are-“ wait, if the guard that passed out is still at the gate, does that count? Is that what ‘how many Black Guards were at the gate’ meant? He thought and thought, common sense would tell you that it meant ‘alive’ people. He decided to go with thirteen not fourteen. He couldn’t see how this voice would kill Myer, Kemli or himself anyhow. They might be able to outrun it…

As he thought Kemli looked around, having similar thoughts. Could they get away? Maybe. Maybe not. Even if they ran, it wouldn’t last. Already, they were one fifth of the way in. Myer was fairly fit, Kemli could run quite strongly, and Raynor was extremely nimble and agile…

“The answer is thirteen.” Said Raynor clearly. After a long pause, (which Kemli thought was not accidental,) the voice said “correct. Trick questions can only go so far. You may pass.” Raynor didn’t think it would be like this. “No. My companions will complete their tasks, then we shall go together.” Suddenly the voice boomed “If you do not go alone, all shall die!” “Go!” said Kemli and Myer. “Go!” He hesitated, but walked towards the wall. Shutting his eyes tightly, anticipating the bump he sank through. Myer hip and shouldered the wall but she was thrown back. “Bloody thing!” she said roughly “If it was that easy, why would there be a question each?” said the voice smartly, “You will try next, miss.” Myer stepped forward assuming Kemli’s long hair wasn’t fooling the voice. “You must chop this piece of wood in half.” A stump and an axe appeared out of nowhere in front of them, Myer gasped and nodded. “With your mind.” continued the voice.
“We are not wizards!!” Yelled Raynor, his voice slightly muffled from the other side of the wall. “It is impossible!”
“Think of the question!” bellowed the voice.
“Use your mind…” muttered Myer. ‘Mind over matter.’ She grabbed the axe and swung it down hard on the stump. The axe simply bounced off. Raynor raised his eyebrows, ‘Mind over matter.’ Myer could just see a tiny glow around the top of the stump. She considered the stump and sat cross-legged next to it, thinking. She seemed to come to a decision, and turned toward the stump. She faced it and stared. She stared, and stared. Her eyebrow was burrowed in frustration. Her face was shaking slightly. This went on for about ten minutes. ‘What’s she doing?’ thought Kemli and Raynor silently. Suddenly Myer smiled. The glow around the stump had disappeared! She hit it with the axe several times and it broke in half.

Chapter Seven: Cheating

Kemli was next. “Your task is to saw the tree, and make the tip of it touch the ground, that is all.” Kemli contemplated. “Oh,” said the voice, (not another catch!) “In thirteen seconds.” (A saw appeared leaning against the huge tree. Not even one of the strongest men on Rondor, maybe not even a Black Guard would saw down a tree like that in thirteen seconds! What was he to do? Kemli looked for the highest branch on the tree, and found it easily. It was a long; thin one with hardly any leaves. Kemli decided what he was going to do. He took a running jump and landed at the base of the tree. Where all the big branches started sprouting off. He climbed and climbed. It took him about ten seconds his hand was in reach of the top, he pulled the handsaw out and took the branch off easily! He threw it on the ground next to the tree! “Of course!” said Myer and Raynor. Kemli jumped down and walked towards the wall “how did I do?”

“You cheated,” said the voice angrily. “We will play a new game. It will not be so easy to get around…”

Part Two

Chapter Eight: The Escapee Colony

“How did I cheat?” asked Kemli, with anger hiding in his words. It was just a different way of thinking about the request after all. “Wit is not a crime!” “BE SILENT!” screamed the voice. And Kemli was. “You will choose wether you would like to be left stranded on this side of the wall without your friends, but with the Black Guards. Or, you could face death, easy, risk free, painless death.” Kemli felt slightly sick because of the way the booming voice spoke of death as a fun, amusing game. It was like a child sniggering as he killed someone in a computer program. “You may discuss it with you friends.” said the voice, as Kemli looked desperately at them.

“If I stay,” said Kemli “I will be killed, if I go, I will be hunted by the Guards…” “But maybe you could escape. You know, get away from the guards!” said Raynor nervously. “I suppose you want me to prance off to the Black Guards do you? Have a nice little tea party?” yelled Kemli furiously. “Black Guards are not easily escaped Raynor!” Raynor jumped back and Myer’s hand squeezed his in fear.
“…Sorry,” said Kemli, “its this place, I’m always angry here.” A shiver ran up Myer’s spine. She too, thought this place was very evil. Then Myer cried, for the first time in weeks, one tear soared and landed in mid air, stuck to the invisible wall. Kemli would have laughed, but the situation was everything but amusing. Raynor smiled weakly. Kemli looked at the tear sliding down, lost in thought. Eventually he said “I will stay. And meet you…” Kemli drew a bumpy shape in the dirt. After a couple seconds Myer and Raynor saw through the glass, it was the island of Rondor. He drew a path leading from the middle of the forest to the edge of it. “Here. We just have to make sure of one thing.”

He looked at the wall he couldn’t see and asked “How far do you stretch?” The wall waited several seconds before answering, ”I am about six-hundred metres from the front of this forest and I span all the way to the edge.” ‘Yes.’ Thought Kemli, “And…” he hesitated, “you are the wall?” after a few seconds it said: “Yes.” After also, a couple of seconds, Kemli said, “Who’s side are you on?”
“SIDE!” bellowed the wall, “WHO’S SIDE AM I ON? I do not take sides, I am simply here to test you!” Kemli took a step back, gripping his sword tightly, for he still couldn’t see how, or from where this… voice, was going to attack him. Maybe lightning? Maybe a gust of wind? Nothing would surprise him now.

“I shall go. I do not fear death.” “Yet death awaits.” Said the voice wisely. “This choice is more important then you assumed.’’ This didn’t help Kemli’s worries at all. This made them worse. “We will walk next to the wall together, until the wall finishes.” Kemli told Raynor and Myer. “Then we will finish our journey.” They nodded. Kemli slowly looked up the wall and said, “Farewell. Good Luck.” Myer and Raynor weren’t sure whether or not it was right to say good luck to the thing that had almost killed him. But Kemli thought him not to be evil, but to be kind, sort of trapped in the wall. Then something happened that Kemli didn’t expected. The wall nodded. Not a nod you could see, but a nod you could sense. So strange it seemed, yet to Kemli, very obvious. “Come.” Said Myer to Kemli, who was looking at him anxiously. “Let’s go.”
As the three progressed on either side of the wall Kemli had too much time too think, he worried, and thought the worst of everything, Even though it was not his fault, (he hadn’t known he was cheating,) he still felt angry with himself. He felt that he was responsible for this detour. Every nightfall was a nightmare for Kemli. He squirmed on the ground. While Myer and Raynor slept silently beside him. On the northwest side of the wall. They didn’t talk much, they just kept on progressing forward, bit-by-bit. The journey took about two days. They had been moving for seven hours and darkness fell. “We should rest here tonight,” said Raynor. “I will keep watch.”

Kemli ran down a dark tunnel. He was wearing the armour of a Black Guard, and saw a glint of light in the distance. He ran and ran, but couldn’t get any closer, like he was on a long treadmill. Suddenly behind him were three giant Black Guards, eight foot tall. In front of him were Myer and Raynor peaking inside the small hole, they beckoned him rapidly. “Come on!” They said, “Hurry!” But Kemli’s legs wouldn’t carry him any further. He slowed right down, and the Black Guards laughed and sped right up. They could run for hours without rest, and keep a steady pace. Kemli’s shoes slipped on the wet floor and he fell flat on his face, beside him were several grey, slimy slugs, one crawled onto his face. “AH!” he yelled as the Black Guards grabbed him around the waist. “Myer, Ray!” he called but as he looked up he saw them walking away from the small light. He had failed; he had ruined his chance of escaping. All hope was lost. Now they could never find out about the challenge that lay ahead.

Kemli jumped up from his dream and saw, after his eyes adjusted to the lack of light, five swords pointing at him from a different direction. “Do not move, or you will lose the ability to do so!” hissed a voice. Kemli froze. Black Guards! What ill luck. “Salan will be interested in meeting you!” it snarled. Suddenly he was lifted into the air by strong hands, and then dropped with a thud. The Guards took this opportunity to bind his arms and legs.
“Let him go you fools!” yelled a voice from far away. Myer and Raynor had woken. “Show some heart!”
“More!” snarled one of the five guards. “He said there was only two!” suddenly all the guards started hissing and saying ‘More! Kill them we must!’… “STOP!” cried the chieftain of the five. “Ka nora sagz hiknan. Haft! Haft! Haft!” he hissed. This was the first time Kemli ever heard the Black Speech, (the Black Guard language.) He found it disgusting, it sounded almost like a snake speaking, Kemli held his hands upon his ears in dislike. The sounds obviously made sense to the Guard’s because after that two of the guards ran away, hopping on their way, as if they were excited about the order they had been given. “Come on,” said one of the guards, dragging Kemli by a rope wrapped around his waist. All was lost. Kemli’s dream had come true. “Run you fools! Run!” He yelled to Raynor and Myer in the distance. “They are coming!”

“There is no hope,” said a Black Guard to Kemli in a crooning voice, “Your little prophecy was correct.” ‘What?’ thought Kemli! “How do you know about my dream!?” he yelled. “How did you do that? Tell me!” The guard turned and snarled, “You’ll be told nothing, unless Salan says it!” How had the guard known about the dream? Did the guards somehow create it in his mind? So it was a shock to him? Kemli knew that it must have been coincidence. Guards don’t have powers of any sort, as far as he knew...

After a long days trek the Guards started to get restless, and Kemli’s legs ached. “Lets eat.” Hissed one of the Guards as Kemli sat down on a rock, putting down all the things the Guards were making him carry, the others murmured in agreement. Suddenly one of the Guards walked over toward Kemli, he shut his eyes and opened them a tiny bit to see the Guard had changed course, and was reaching into a bag near Kemli. He swore at himself for being so worried. He looked up pleadingly as the guard pulled out some bread and cheese. “Later!” it hissed. Kemli nodded and lay back on the rock, he watched that guard walk away-something wasn’t right. The guard was walking with his arms by his sides, he was striding noiselessly with long confident steps. Black Guards usually slouch down and hop off two feet, first they would face to the right, and then they’d leap forward on two limbs and land facing to the left. Many described them as monkeys, (without using their arms to carry them.) Kemli watched it eat a small piece of bread, then he turned his gaze to the other Black Guards. They had three or four pieces, and a bowl of soup each. Why was that particular guard acting so strangely? Kemli was lost in thought when suddenly the guard stood up, “ ak hunas farx.” Then he walked down to a group of trees and disappeared into them. The other two guards kept on eating loudly. Swiftly, a loud whistling noise came louder and louder for about two seconds. Kemli saw a flash of movement and one of the guards dropped his food; an arrow was sitting in his neck. The other stood up, furiously hissing, as if to scare away the enemy. Suddenly he two dropped to the ground, one arrow, this time, in his chest.

Kemli looked down in horror. From the back the Black Guards looked like a big pile of black robes, Kemli nudged one of them on the back and felt the hard armour underneath. He was just deliberating wether or not to just run when the other Black Guard ran out from the trees. ‘Oh no! Oh no!’ thought Kemli desperately. Would the guard think that he had done it to them? Kemli was sure that the Black Guards knew he couldn’t fight two guards without help, or some sort of advantage. The guard ran straight past the others, and seized Kemli by the arm. He ran, and ran. With Kemli just keeping up. Was he going to take him to Salan? Did he think that only Salan could punish him? (For doing something he didn’t do!) They ran and ran west along the forest, and Kemli was sure they were near the invisible wall again. But they kept on going, for a full half an hour, they ran together. Eventually Kemli saw the edge of the Black Forest ahead, but the guard didn’t take him there. It stopped, and bent over a normal piece of ground, covered in leaves. “Help me!” it said. But it was not a voice of a Black Guard, not even close. It was definitely a mans voice. “Your not a Guard!?” asked Kemli excitedly. “Not now!” answered the man from under the hooded cloak, which covered his face. Kemli looked down to see the man sweeping away leaves with his hand, Kemli did the same. Until their hands hit something hard. Kemli felt it with his hand and assumed it was tin. The man swept away the rest of the leaves to reveal a big rectangular, piece of wood, with bumpy tin stuck on it. On the end furthest away from Kemli and the man, was a small wooden handle. The man pulled at it, and the big plank swung back on a hinge, to reveal: a staircase, of about ten stairs leading underground, to a door. “Make haste.” Said the man, as he clambered down the stairs, “Come.” Kemli considered not going for a moment, but walked down too.

The man opened the door for Kemli to walk through first, “Welcome,” he said, “to the Escapee Colony!” They walked, through the door and Kemli gasped. He had been led into a big ten by ten metre, square room. Inside, there was a felt carpeted floor, and stone walls going up to a flat roof. Across the walls were many doors. And on the floor there was four couches, two at either end of the room, in between each of the two, there was a small table. In the middle was a long table, with lots of papers and maps on it. Up the walls were several beautiful paintings of, one particular man, he was very old, and had a long grey beard and hair, he reminded Kemli of someone…

Kemli turned to see the man, and realised he was already out of the Black guard armour and cloak. He was much taller then Kemli and had short, brown hair. He was wearing dark green pants and strange sock-like shoes, they fitted perfectly around his feet. The man had a button up shirt on with a hooded brown/green cloak on, he had a kindly face. The thing that stood out to Kemli most, was his different range of weapons. On a belt across his waist was a long thin sword, on his back was a quiver full of about forty arrows, and in his left hand was a bow. On it were strange markings Kemli couldn’t read. Out of the side of his cloak on the right, poked a small knife, or dagger.

He smiled at Kemli’s bewildered expression and said, “What do you think?” “Um…it’s…” Kemli didn’t know what to think, who was this man, and what was the Escapee Colony? “Perhaps I should explain things to you before I show you around, then you can see your friends!” said the man. “They’re here?” said Kemli looking around, as if he hoped they’d jump out of one of the doors right now. “Yes.” Said the man, “But all in good time my friend, all in good time. Sit down.” Kemli sat at the long table opposite Glider, who sat also. “ You must be filled in… It is hard to know where to begin. Well, I am Galdier. But you can name me Glider! Now, who are you?” he asked. “I am Kemli.” He stuttered nervously. Gliders words seemed to flow off his tongue like music, but Kemli was so scared, he sounded like a bug had flown down his throat. “Well, Kemli. You may have been wondering why you should trust me, Glider. You may also have been wondering what the Escapee Colony is?” Kemli nodded. “I will start from the very beginning. One day a man named Hazier Shadow, attempted to escape from the Citizens Keep. He succeeded, and managed to steal one of Salan’s most treasured heirlooms. He hid in this very forest we are in, or under!” he said smiling. Kemli immediately knew who Hazier was. Raynor’s grandfather! He also believed that the paintings were of him too. Glider went on, “He learnt how to survive on his own, and how to avoid capture. He was surviving very well on his own for years, and years. The Black Guards told his family he had been caught and killed. The Guards didn’t want to raise hope in the Keep. Hazier was doing very well, living in the wilderness, but he was lonely. He wanted company to share the experiences he had. So he planned to rescue someone from the Citizens Keep. He was sly, and cunning, and managed to get one man out. Together they kept getting smarter, more organised. After many months of assessment they rescued more and more people from the Citizens Keep. The population grew to almost a dozen. That’s why they built this place!” he waved his arm lazily around the room, “As more people came they kept on extending it. Hazier is dead now. But the ruling of the Escapee Colony was passed on to his friend. That was thirty years ago. And to this day, we are still here. Rescuing more and more citizens. Learning more, and more about this island. With you and your companions, that brings our final count to about forty five!” Kemli couldn’t believe it. All that time, there was a survivor’s colony right outside the Grey Wall. That was what the decrease in population in the Citizen’s Keep was! That was what happened to lots of people the Black Guard’s said to have killed! That’s why they’re told the Grey Wall is impenetrable!

“I know it’s hard to believe.” Said Glider understandingly, “But it’s true…Do you have any questions that my lecture hasn’t answered for you?” Kemli did. “Just one,” he said, “although many more will arise from it.” Kemli was going to ask the very question that has been bugging everyone in the Citizen Keep. The question the Black Guards refuse to answer. The question that drove Kemli, Myer and Raynor to escape the Grey Wall; “Why are we kept behind The Wall? Why does Salan go to such great a length to stop us getting out? Why isn’t the curtain pulled back? Why can’t we see the world?” Glider had expected this. “Get comfortable, this will take a while.”

“A long time ago it was a whole different world. Earth was a planet, in space. Humans were very advanced. Some had even flown in huge machines up into the sky, and out into the stars! Earth is a big planet floating around in space. It was covered in water. There was a big landmass in the middle. Eventually it broke apart. And people were separated into different countries. People got more and more advanced, and humans made something called ‘electricity.’ It was power! They could make little suns. And things could move on their own without help. Just like magic. But they were ruining the world. Big buildings were destroying the trees and plants. Humans had made many species of animals die out, and were beginning to realise that their world was under threat. We were not all dum though. The government made a plan. A plan to send hundreds of people onto an island, with no supplies, no food, no drink, and most of all; no memory of a different world. The plan was to let them stay on here for a month. The reason for this was, if they could survive without all the electricity, then they really didn’t need it! As far as we know, the plan worked and the humans are thriving in a beautiful world!”

“All the people on the island believed they had always lived on Rondor, and that it was the only island in the world.
There was once a man named Salan, he was a scientist before he came to the island. He managed to give himself special abilities, he was being hunted by just about everyone for trying to take over whole countries. He saw this island as a possibility to gain power. He used his abilities to get on the island undetected, but unlike everyone else, he still had his memory. Salan was to advance for the people of Rondor and seized power immediately. He tortured, and brainwashed about fifty of them, and made them his guards, and helpers. Slowly people forgot about a world of peace on Rondor; history became legend, legend became myth, and myth was forgotten. The outside world now, is unimaginably advanced, I couldn’t predict what it would be like. No one could. Would you like to see a map?” he finished. Kemli nodded without thinking about the question. “Prepare yourself. For the real world!” He held up a piece of paper from on the table. it was a fold out map of the globe. “Wow.” Breathed Kemli. “Its…huge!”

Glider nodded, and went on. “All was going well for Salan, but it couldn’t last. Soon enough the test was over and people were getting taken back to the real world. He couldn’t let it happen, so he rested for one day and summoned his full power. He protected the island with invisible barriers, undetectable barriers. Some sent you in another direction if you got too close, and some made the boats/flying machines vanish! Even with his great abilities, Salan was almost destroyed by this great ‘accomplishment,’ as he viewed it.” Glider’s fists clenched white with anger on the table as he spoke, “He asked a great favour of his Guards; to capture all the citizens, and build a wall, that was to contain them under Salan’s control. The Black Guard’s obeyed immediately, not daring to think of the punishments that waited if they did not. After seven or eight months, (we are estimating of course.) The Wall was finished, and The Citizen Keep made.” He finished with a sigh. “Compared to the rest of the world we are just a tiny, insignificant community. People have long forgotten us…” his voice trailed off in thought.

“But don’t they care? Do they not know of the pain we have suffered because of their stupidity!?” His voice growing angrier. “Kemli!” said Glider angrily, “Have you not listened to me at all? The human race is ignorant and greedy, the care of a great planet, a great home, was given to them, they destroyed forests for their buildings! If it wasn’t for this test, the humans would have kept killing the world. All that was once good and green in this world would have been ruined by them.” Kemli started to realise the obviousness of the truth. But suspicion fell over him and he asked, “How do you know so much? If it is such a secret, how did you discover the information? What of the map? I don’t think Salan would leave them lying around. Do you?” Glider still didn’t stir, his emotions and thoughts were still well hidden. “We have been here for decades, Kemli. We have our sources, spies! ‘Sneakers’ we call the group of people that snoop around for information. They retrieved all this information!”

“This community is broken into three parts. The Sneakers, the releasions, (who free the people from the Citizens Keep,) and the ones who are too old, too weak, or too fragile, to do either. I am the leader of the twenty sneakers. Yesterday I saw five Black Guards. They mentioned something about rounding up citizens. Intrigued, I followed, and in the night killed one guard, and stole its armour and cloak. The Sneakers realised that two of your friends were on the other side of the invisible wall-yes we know of the wall!” he said cunningly before Kemli could started asking about it. “It was put there by Salan when he discovered this colonies existence.” “He knows you’re here!?” asked Kemli, both surprised and fearful.” Glider’s expression lightened, “He knows we are in the forest! Yes. But where? We have not given him the pleasure!” He grinned. “So your friends were brought to safety, and I, as you know, killed your kidnappers and bought you to safety also.

“If you ever lose hope,” he said suddenly, “When you think nothing can save you, look for this symbol.” He held up a bit of shining parchment. On it were two swords, clashing diagonally across each other, there was also a thin arrow, with feathers on the end. It was flying behind the blades. Left to right. Fitting to its shape, was a big, bumpy circle. “It is the sign of the Escapee Colony, and will always be a reminder that some good is left in this world…” After a long silence, Glider stood, and said, “I am sorry to have troubled your ears with such ill news, but it had to be said. If you want to know more, you can ask the head of our gathering. As wise as he proclaims to be…” Kemli wasn’t sure if Glider was insulting the head of the Escapee Colony or not, but realised he was supposed to agree, and nodded.

“Follow me.” Said Glider, leading Kemli toward the largest door at the back of the room. (The other five were positioned on the walls to the left and right.) Kemli walked behind, and found him self being led into a magnificent hall. One hundred metres long, and fifteen metres wide. It stretched so far back, that Kemli thought it must almost reach the River Of Joan. There were chairs randomly placed across the hall. It seemed a party was happening! About forty people were dancing to drums, they were singing, and all wore clothes alike Glider. Kemli stood out because of his young age and poor, dirty clothes. “GLIDER!!” Came a roar from the crowd as they entered. The singing and music stopped and all heads turned in their direction. “Welcome,” yelled Glider, “Kemli!” A huge cheer erupted from the swarm of people. “One of three escapers of the Citizen Keep. The first to do it without assistance since Hazier himself!” more cheers exploded from the crowd, “You have already met his companions. Raynor! Myer!” The crowd parted and revealed Raynor and Myer, they waved at Kemli, beaming. He ran over to them and the music slowly started up again.
“Isn’t this amazing?” he said as he sat down on a long stool in between Raynor and Myer, facing the table covered in beverages. “I know! Everyone’s so kind. Apparently, this party is just for us! They do it every time new people are rescued. But one guy said we’re special. Because we got out on our own!” said Raynor proudly. “I know. Have you met the guy in charge?” asked Kemli, he had been really curious about him ever since Glider mentioned it. “Yeah,” answered Raynor in a low voice. “Apparently most people want Glider to take over!” he said, leaning in closer to Kemli. “You know Glider?” said Kemli, surprised. “Yeah,” answered Raynor, “he’s the one that told us Myer and I…well…you know… Anyway.” Suddenly Kemli noticed Myer hadn’t said anything the whole time. “Are you okay?” Kemli asked her, as her head went into her hand. “Yeah.” She mumbled. Kemli looked at Raynor questioningly. “She in a bit of shock.” Said Raynor. “But it’ll pass… I hope.” Kemli put his hand on her shoulder. She turned and he said, “Its okay, we’re safe now.” She looked up, and to Kemli’s relief, smiled. “Yes,” she said. “We are.”

Soon Kemli found him self, Raynor and Myer being led around by Glider. He was introducing them to every single person in the room. (Even the drummers.) Soon he led them to the very far wall of the room were a big alter was positioned. On it was a huge chair, and on that was an equally large man. Kemli saw a crown of leaves and vines on his head. He knew he was the king immediately. “My Lord.” Said Glider forcefully. “I give you; the three companions that escaped, single-handedly, from the Citizen Keep.” Glider bowed, and walked away into the crowd, muttering to him self. “My friends.” Said the king in a slow, deep, voice. “Welcome to The Escapee Colony, or as you probably don’t know it as; Haslanath. I am King Syon.” He droned. “Please enjoy the celebration!” his voice quickened slightly, and he through his arms outward, but they flopped back in lazily, realising this was an invitation to leave they thanked the king and walked away. “What a nutter!” said Kemli under his breath, to the others. “Yep.” Said Raynor and Myer in agreement. So they danced, and ate food into the night. The three friends forgot about the time and for hours they explored the many passages around the city. The place where the party was held, was the usual spot for meetings and discussions about the Guards and Salan. On all the walls were doors that led into bedrooms were four or five people slept at a time. In the room where Kemli had first entered was where the sneakers and releasions planned their action. One room branching off that was a large kitchen, where all the food was cooked. In another room King Syon stayed. Two rooms contained mainly weaponry. And the last room was documents containing the history of the other world and all its technology. (Myer found this place the most interesting, and often sifted through books there.) After one nights rest in a room together, (they had to share with an elderly man who had dementure, and forgot thing in a flash.) the three companions remembered something that made all the happy times get washed away. The island of Rondor was still going to break! They told Glider what they had overheard. As always, his face didn’t harden, it smiled, and he said. “We know this! The Guards were simply making up stories! They often do it. It brings them great pleasure to see a person go off screaming about the end of the world. My team found this out weeks ago! Do not be heavy hearted my friends. Embrace the future, and whatever it would bring.”

The three were so relieved that they spoke of what would have happened if the rumour were real, late into the night. Soon the subject of conversation turned to the King and Glider. “Glider is so wise!” said Myer. “And brave. He always seems to know more then he lets you know…” said Raynor. The others murmured in agreement. “But if he does take over the position of king,” said Kemli slowly. “Who will be the head of the sneakers?” Myer and Raynor looked at each other nervously, “Ray!” said Kemli loudly, “Well…” said Raynor, one guy said that after we escaped, it might even be…us.” Said Raynor. “But we have no experience! We’d have no idea!” said Kemli angrily. “We know!” said Raynor and Myer at the same time. They each thought about it silently. Went they tried to keep talking they received a death threat from the man they stayed with. He told them to get back underground, the rabbits are coming! They laughed, but fell silent.
Kemli slept very little that night, but did not find it uncomfortable. He thought about the hope Haslanath had brought to the hearts of both Kemli and his two friends. The city was like a beacon of hope to the weary and unhopeful. A light when all other lights had passed under darkness. With this thought in his mind, and the thought that he would wake tomorrow to a warm breakfast and a clear mind, he fell asleep. Raynor dreamt of a world just like Haslanath, but larger, and aboveground. Everyone was pleasant, everyone gave a friendly hello, and people were free to roam the very corners of their land. A world such as this was unimaginable to Raynor, and he wondered how the human race could’ve thrown that responsibility, that privilege away. Why had they been so greedy? ‘All I want is what I need, because everything I need is most definitely enough.’ Thought Raynor, as he drifted into a deep, snoring, sleep. Myer dreamt of her dream house, it was built around the top of a tree; at the bottom she kept a wonderful garden, and had many pets. She thought as well; how could the people have thrown away this privilege?

Kemli woke early, and heard Raynor’s snoring in the bunk below him. Across the other side of the room he could see Myer wriggling around, and above her the old man was grunting in his sleep. He swung over the side of the wooden bunk and landed nimbly on the ground below. As he walked out into the great hall form his room, he realised how much energy he had when he in Haslanath. Everything seemed so simple, and easy. He walked out and breathed in the cool air of the hall. He turned right toward the door leading to the entrance/common room to Haslanath. He was delighted to find Glider sitting with another man he recognised from the party two days before. “Kemli” beamed Glider, “this is Rindath, one of the strongest men in the army of Sneakers. His arm is strong and his eyes keen.” Rindath nodded solemnly at Kemli. He didn’t know wether to nod back or not and just said, “Hello.” “You can help us.” Said Glider, “We are planning a ‘raid’ on Salan’s Estate! Maybe you can give us some ideas on how to get pas the big group of Black Guards at the far edge of the forest. They are guarding the very path we need.” Glider went on to explain how his team was planning to snatch certain documents concerning the whereabouts of a person that had been taken by Salan weeks ago, by two Black Guards, when he tried to free a person from the Citizen Keep. “That’s serious, isn’t it?” asked Kemli, “We do things like this every few days explained Rindath. “This is a normal procedure. Or it would be if we could get past the Guards at the edge of the forest!” he finished by pulling up a map. He pointed to the east end of the forest with his finger. “You see,” said Glider, “you showed such skill slipping through Guards clutches, we thought you could help!” “And help I will.” Said Kemli.

“You cannot fight your way through, correct?” “Not a chance of that.” They answered. “Can you not go around?” “No,” said Rindath, “to go to around the side nearest the Grey Wall would get us seen, and passing through the opposite way is suicide. Half the Guards are there and half are covering the other parts. Now you see the dead end we have hit.” Kemli too, saw the problem, but in order to impress Glider and Rindath’s expectations of him, did not give up. “Mmm…” he said, thinking. “Dead ends can be bypassed.” He said slowly, “We must back up and try another path. What you need is a diversion. Something to draw away the Black Guards from their posts…” Glider raised his eyebrows at Rindath, as if saying ‘I told you he was good!’ Fortunately Kemli didn’t see, and went on speaking. “But to draw such a number away, you would need a huge distraction! The likes of which couldn’t be found here. Right?” he asked desperately. Glider just smiled.

Chapter Eight: In Not Out

The distraction and raid went well. Kemli decided to help them out, and with another young boy made the distraction using a big horn. It was the call of Salan. Whenever the Black Guards heard it, they flocked to its sound immediately. It was very large, and golden. Poking out the front were two long funnels to blow in. They both went in, to join with a big one. It went out very far, then curved up. It was there that the noise erupted. With only a small breath Kemli and Falan blew. But the noise amplified enormously, and the sound of Black Guards big feet could be heard coming from a distance. Kemli’s mind went blank and he forgot what to do next! “Over here!” whispered Falan from behind him. “We’ll hide it behind this tree.” Kemli nodded and ran over to help Falan, who was tugging at the big horn. Soon they got it behind the tree. But the Black Guards footsteps were as clear as day now. “What do we do now?” said Kemli desperately. He looked around at Falan; but he had vanished. “Pstt!” said a voice from above him. Kemli looked up to see Falan about ten metres up the tree, grinning to him down below. “How did you get up there so fast!” said Kemli angrily, as he attempted to put his shoe in the smallest foothold he had ever seen.

“Put your foot on that bump.”
“Like that?”
“Yeah. That’s better. Now swing up onto that branch.”
“Sure, I’ll just put my wings on!”
“Just try.”
Just in time, Kemli got onto the branch. Black Guards came speeding around the corner, hissing something in the Black Speech. Kemli and Falan blocked their ears as the Guards started hissing furiously. They thought it would never end, when the chieftain Guard came out and pointed toward the wall, saying, “Over there!” As quick as a flash the Black Guards had vanished through the trees. Kemli sighed, and began to climb down. “STOP!” pleaded Falan, “They will hear you! They will smell you!” Kemli jumped back into the trees quickly. “They are not as dim-witted as you think Kemli!” said Falan again, as one Black Guard, a bit behind the pack looked up, sniffing the air. They waited in absolute fear, but the Guard turned and slid away. Falan raised his eyebrows, “That was close.” He said. Then he jumped to the branch Kemli was on, and landed with one leg. His other leg swung through and he flew through the air again. Swinging, monkey-like from a branch across from them, he landed nimbly on the ground. Kemli attempted to do the same, but ended up landing, sprawled on the ground. Falan laughed, but helped him up.
He enjoys something so dangerous so much! Thought Kemli as Falan acted out Kemli landing in the dust. Kemli said this, but Falan just said, “It’s the only way to do it!” Kemli was starting to think that to. That afternoon Falan and him walked through the forest together. The two guys were becoming very close. “It doesn't matter if it works! You’re holding the string all wrong!” laughed Falan as they shot arrows at a target in the Black Forest. “Look, just try it and you might be surprised!” So Falan shifted his fingers into the odd position Kemli had them in and shot an arrow… Bullseye! “Lucky shot!” Falan mumbled quietly as Kemli started laughing. On their way back to the Colony they talked about the new machines humans had invented, ‘Guns!’ they called them. They spoke about how the guns had done so much damage to countries, which were once beautiful fields.

Falan had replaced the old man in Kemli, Raynor and Myers room, and the others really thought he fitted in well with the other occupants of the room.

The four woke early the next morning due to a lot of yelling and arguing from the hall outside. “The last ship that was sent never returned!” bellowed the voice of King Syon. “Of course not! Is my team’s information not enough to persuade you? You cannot get back in! The barriers only stop ships getting in. We think that if enough supplies and boats are sent, we could make it to shore!” said the furious voice of Glider. The four were listening intently by now and Kemli was almost tipping over as he leant toward the door, eavesdropping. “Will you at least consider our offer?” said Glider, his anger becoming more and more visible every word he spoke. “I will not rest the fate of Haslanath in the hands of Galdier, son of Xaviaa! With his team of Sneakers! We do not believe in fools hope.” Gliders voice became very angry, “Fools hope is your only chance off getting off the island!” With an angry growl his footsteps walked away. Kemli saw a shadow pass out the door in a flash, and he jumped down to follow. It was Raynor. “Ray!” he said as he ran after him, past the King on his big chair. “Where’re you going?” said Kemli as he caught up with him. “To see Glider.” He answered. “What are you going to say?” asked Kemli. “Same thing you are.” Said Raynor, as the pair walked through the doors into the entrance room.

They found Glider sitting on a couch, breathing heavily. “Glider,” said Kemli, as Raynor and him sat down. “We just wanted to say…we have your full support in trying to get off the island.” “And we’ll go just the three of us, if that’s what your up for!” continued Raynor. “Ah, you heard our little…altercation?” Glider didn’t seem to like talking about the King much, but went on, “Well. You are very kind, but you will have to sway all twenty Sneakers to think the same way, if you want to go.” “But we can convince them! Us three! Or at least try?” said Raynor bravely, and forcefully. Glider looked up with a testing look, “While the King tries to sway them otherwise? As hard a feat it would be, I will help.” Kemli nodded just as Myer walked in, closely followed by Falan, who when saw the three sitting at the table, yawned loudly, and said, “wut’s goin ooon?” he said the last word in the middle of a huge yawn, and he brightened the room instantly. Then Myer and Raynor were filled in on the plan. Both strongly supported the idea, but Falan was also angry with Glider, for waking him up from a good dream. They all giggled.

Straight to work they made a list of all people under Glider’s rule, and split up, to try and sway them. Every time someone agreed, they would come back and tick it off the list. By mid-day more then half were gone. And only a couple had been hard to tempt. By late afternoon, only two were left. The group split in two. (Glider, and Kemli going to the woman named Slinathan, and persuaded her quickly.) While the other three had more trouble. A tough man with long, curly hair was their target; he believed he should be the one who was in charge of the team. Falan openly said he believed the man didn’t have the brains to hold an arrow the right way, and things went downhill from there. Glider managed to hush everything up, and then convinced the man to come off the island. “He’ll be no help to the crew, and I think he will have to have a whole boat to himself.” Laughed Kemli as they sat down in the Entrance Room. “But still, his vote counts.” Said Glider. “You four,” he said, pointing at Kemli, Raynor, Myer, and Falan, “Go to your room, you are near the Kings Chair, right?“ they nodded. “I will bring the King out to there and tell him that we have got the votes! You’ll probably be able to hear the conversation, from your room that is. It’s probably better if he doesn’t see you were involved. Go off to your room, and I will go after you, to Syon. Go!” They scurried off quickly to their room, and when there, shut the door and listened intently at it.

Syon’s room was positioned at the back of the room, behind the chair. It was the largest of all the cabins. Soon they heard Glider’s footsteps crossing by their door, and toward the back of the room. After muffled conversation, the foursome couldn’t hear, two footsteps returned and stopped outside their room. “Are you sure?” said Syon, “Yes Sir.” Said Glider, “All twenty, agreed Sir.” “Mmm…” pondered Syon, “I will check with them first, then decide.” Heavy footsteps passed their room, and reached the Entrance Room. A minute later, lighter footsteps came toward the room; and Glider walked in. He was smiling, “We can just hope that all my Sneakers are truthful, and admit they said they would go with me…ooh! Falan, he will probably come to ask you, so be prepared.

Syon came and asked Falan, he answered believingly, pretending he didn’t know about the plans. Syon came back half an hour later and told Glider, (very reluctantly,) that he could go! Soon news of this departure reached the ears of all the Haslanathiann’s, and a huge party was held, the day before the boats left. Glider, and the commander of the Releasions spoke there. Everyone was excited. Would they be the first ones to venture into a whole new world unharmed? What would they find there? What would the other humans be like? All would be discovered tomorrow.

Eventually the party died down, and only the Sneakers leaving the next day were still there. Glider spoke to them, “Tomorrow we go where no one on Rondor has yet dared to venture! We will again meet with the people that banished us here! And they will help us stop Salan!” The crowd roared, some in anger and some in excitement. “What technology the people will have is unknown, but we will not be afraid! We will accept what we see.” “YES!!” They roared. “Let us enjoy what just might be our last night in this city!” “GLIDER! GLIDER! GLIDER! GLIDER!” They chanted. Glider waked them the next morning; he wanted to show Kemli, Falan, Raynor, and Myer the boats they would be travelling in. They were dark black, with grey/silver oars. Carved into them were beautiful pictures of great weapons and wars. They were surprisingly light and quick. Each boat could hold five men, with a fair amount of food, weapons, armoury, and tools. They would take five boats, (one was mainly for supplies.)

After two hours of packing, and farewells all the people leaving met in the Entrance Room. Glider said, “It will be the greatest accomplishment ever achieved by any person on the island! If. We succeed.” “And that we will!” they chanted back to him. “Then let’s do it!.” He answered, and they cheered. “We should probably make our way north, around the Invisible Wall, then head toward shore. From there we will go straight, to try and find another island! A bigger island! Many islands!” said Glider. When he had finished a call came from the stairs going outside carried down to them, “its all clear.”
So the group filed out, carrying big boats with them. And began walking toward the edge of the island. Occasionally they would send someone ahead to check there were no Black Guards around. They walked along the Invisible Wall, until the forest ended. They rested a little, looking at the River Of Joan, which crossed horizontally at the edge of the Forest. It was very beautiful, but they had to move on. They turned east along the left side of the Black Forest and soon; in the distance they saw the sea. There were many ‘Whoa’s’ and ‘Amazing’s’ as they marched toward the water and lay down their boats. “It just goes on and on and on…” thought Kemli gazing out at the tremendous sight before him. Only some of the Escapee’s had seen the sea this close before, and everyone adored it. They pushed their boats off the sand, and into the water. They lined the five boats up side by side, and began paddling. No one spoke at first, but soon merry songs, of joy and hope broke out amongst them, and they became happier, and happier, the closer they got to their destination.

Glider explained that Rondor was close to a country that was named, ‘Australia.’ And that it could fit about one and a half million Rondor’s in it. Myer thought that like the sea, it stretched on and on. On they rowed, until nightfall. One person kept watch at a time, in every boat. Even though they complained, Glider insisted they did it, in case any Guards had followed them. He said, “Salan probably wouldn’t have seen us until several hours after we left. But we must still be careful!” “But isn’t a few hours enough of a head start to shake off any Guards?” said Raynor. “Guards are fast, and their technology outwits ours by far. But yes. It should be enough time!” he answered, although unsatisfying, this was the best answer they could get.

After weeks of rowing, spirits were low, as were food and supplies. They were allowed very little every day, and Kemli’s stomach rumbled with hunger. After two more days hope was almost diminished, and many of the men had already given up. But Glider pushed on. He didn’t give up; he knew they were almost there. One night, all were asleep. Complete darkness overshadowed them. Suddenly a beautiful red sunrise burst over the horizon, filling them with light and hope. For there, in the distance, was land!

After songs and cheers of glee, all fell silent as they approached the shore. After half an hour their boats slid onto the sand, and they looked back to see the fantastic sea. But when they turned around, they saw something everything but fantastic. They turned to see a tremendous city, with thousands of buildings. But the buildings were not standing tall, they were no longer tremendous. This city was in ruins. The buildings looked as if they were melted down to nothing. Vines grew over the structures remains, and rubbish blew everywhere in the wind. There was not a person in sight.

The humans had destroyed the earth with their technology and greed. They did not appreciate the peaceful and beautiful world that was handed into their care. Water soon became something of stories, and the suns glare melted everything in its path. Rondor was not affected by this disaster because of its barriers, and by the time the Escapee’s reached Australia, the affects of climate change had lessened, and very few animals still lived.

The Escapee’s knew they had to rebuild, to start again. But this time they were going to do it the right way, building around the trees, and with the environment.

The world is a privilege. Let’s take care of it.

Brian Falkner Books