be willing to give up anything for him?”
only the best for him?”
what exactly is the best for him,” asked Firesmyth.
best education, best training ... every advantage I can give him.”
you prefer military or court training.”
I would prefer him to be a ambassador like me and not a warrior like his
careful not to project your own life’s ambitions onto your
legs began cramping up. To
remain out of eyesight he had to haunch down with his back along the
wall and knees bent. His
thighs were telling him they had enough of this position.
Firesmyth answered, “He is to be both.
Do not steer him away from the sword ... no, no, I am aware of
your concerns. The blood he
shall shed will be the true enemy’s blood, not blood shed in vain
ask a hard task, old one.”
am not done,” continued Firesmyth.
“You also have one more great task ahead of you.
You are to save Selma.”
can not say.”
no help, Mancuso.”
Mancuso sighed. “My task
is to hold the doors open for both you and the boy, no more, no less,
though I would dearly love to do more.”
Talon heard them stand up. “Come,
I wish to see how the tent maiden is fairing.”
heard footsteps leaving the room, the shed door open and lock close.
He sat alone again behind the bush with the frog looking up at
him with large, lonely eyes. “I get to be a warrior,” he told the frog.
“I get a sword, a real sword ... don’t worry.
I still won’t hurt you.”
dinner, Talon went out to the front porch and sat down to watched the
setting Epi sun, called Berea, which sets to their east.
After a few minutes, his papa joined him and brought a board and
a small sack under one arm and his cane in the other hand.
that, Papa?” asked Talon.
baraka set. Do you know how
you try to get the other guy’s pieces, right?”
yes, but it’s a lot more complicated than that.”
The old man set the board down and poured the pieces out of the
bag. Each piece was either
white or red and each was uniquely shaped.
Some bore the images of a wolf, others of a bear, an eagle,
hunters, archers, ambassadors, and the like.
Papa must have paid a lot
for this set, Talon thought. Most
of the sets he had seen were basic geometric shapes representing their
piece name in only the most abstract of ways.
not that hard, Papa. All
you have to do is know how each piece can capture another.”
He picked out a red wolf. “See
this one, it’s my favorite. It
can go in any direction and capture all but the prince.
I can win the whole game with this piece alone.”
frowned. “If you really
think that is enough, you are only thinking one move ahead at a time.”
He continued setting up his white pieces and Talon started
setting up his own.
one move ahead at a time might help you now,
but when you start playing against an experienced opponent, you better
think farther ahead than that.” He
fixed his gaze on Talon and squinted his eyes.
“You need a plan.”
He said this last word with such a hush and so intently that it
made Talon shiver.
whispered back just as intently, “What plan?”
sat up straight. The
secretive mood had been broken, “What plan?
Why, your plan, of course. The
one you’ll make up in that wonderfully smart, little brain of
yours.” He tapped Talon
lightly on the temple with his forefinger.
He must have sensed Talon’s confusion and added, “Here,
I’ll show you a plan. You
think your red wolf is the greatest?”