Friday, November 5, 2010


This story is set in the world of a novel that I've been working on. It's only peripherally related to the plot and not included in the book itself.

Once upon a time, in a forest where such time happen on a regular basis, there was a city built into and around an enormous oak tree, called Grand Oak. Grand Oak was populated by a variety of talking rodents. One such rodent was a pika (tiny round-eared and short-tailed critters) named Destiny.

Destiny was a young she-pika, and lived in a hut on the eastern side of the tree. She lived with her parents, who were both field workers. They were one of the few families who had escaped the Riverside Massacre many years ago to find refuge in Grand Oak.

Destiny was a restless young pika, and she was never content just working the flower fields with her parents. She always felt that she was needed elsewhere, that she had a greater purpose. However, she had no real talents or skills, and the field work kept food on the table for her family, poor as they were.

Word came to the family one evening that the Grand Guard-- the city's elite league of rabbit knights-- would allow any Critter to volunteer for training. Previously, only the male rabbits of Grand Oak were allowed to attempt the training course and the final test.

Hearing the news, Destiny's face lit up. This is it! she thought, This is what I'm meant to do!

Destiny talked to her parents, and told them her thoughts. They were hesitant to let her leave her work in the flower fields, but finally they agreed to let her volunteer for the Grand Guard. She thanked them and told them that they wouldn't regret it.

The next training course didn't start for a few weeks yet, and so Destiny made the most of her time. When she wasn't in the fields, she spent all of her time exercising and sword fighting with sticks. She honed her mind and body in every way she thought possible in preparation for the training.

She was at the market one morning buying some grain for her mother when a large dark-grey rabbit came up behind her.

"I heard you're planning on trying out for the Grand Guard, Dez," one of them said mockingly.

"Go away Stormcloud," Destiny said, looking away.

"You know that just because they're letting your people and the mice and squirrels try out now, doesn't mean the training will be easier. None of you will ever make it. There's a reason rabbits have always been the warriors."

Destiny ignored the rabbit and turned away into the market. Stormcloud dashed after her and grabbed her by her ears and lifted her off the ground so that she was eye level with him.

"I'm trying to have a conversation with you, pika," he said derisively. "Don't be rude."

Dropping her grain to the ground, Destiny grabbed the rabbit's arm with her paws, pulled herself up and double-kicked Stormcloud right in his nose. He yelled and dropped Destiny, who hit the ground hard. Stormcloud recovered quicker than Destiny, and he picked her up again and threw her into a vendor's produce stand, collapsing the awning. Destiny moaned and rolled to her feet. She picked up a long wooden pole that had been propping up the awning off the ground. She yelled and charged Stormcloud, beating him with the ends of the pole faster than he could react. She swung it repeatedly, catching him off guard, and finally jabbed the end into his chest, knocking the wind from his lungs.

Destiny bent down and began picking up the trampled, dirty grain that she had dropped. A black rabbit in a marvelous blue cloak bent down to help her. Destiny jumped and looked guilty.

"Don't worry, I saw everything. You aren't in trouble," said the Guardsman kindly. "Why don't you just buy more? This stuff is no good now."

"I have no more money."

"How about I buy it for you?"

"You don't need to--"

"I insist," he said warmly.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome," the Guardsman said, helping her to her feet. "You know, with skills like that, I hope you're trying out for the Guard. We could use someone like you."

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