On Wednesdays, Delores, from Under The Porch Light, has a word challenge meme which she calls “Words for Wednesday”.
She puts up a selection of six words which we then use in a short story, or a poem.
I’m hopeless at poetry so I always do a story.
It’s a fun challenge…why not join in?
This week's words are:
and: "in deepest water lies the clue", which I haven't used.
Here is my story:
Chief Warden Abberttz smiled smugly as his gaze swept over the subjugated mortals kneeling before him in the rain. The newest regime was progressing well. The overwhelming sadness of the people had allowed a rift to form and evil began to overtake the world. The Overlords of the Criminal Underworlds had risen in power and darkness once more ruled the earth.
People everywhere were terrified, they dared not stay away when a muster had been called. It was rumored that missing a muster, even a midnight muster such as this one, could result in all progeny being stolen from a village and imprisoned in the camps of the Underworld Lords, where they were trained in the dark ways once thought long forgotten.
They would be the Wardens of the future, travelling from village to village reading out the new laws, doling out punishments and tortures where people dared to disobey.
The villagers had been counted and all were present. Several of the women were close to giving birth, but those children were not to be included in the count until they had passed their second birthday. Previously, unborn children had been counted, but too many had died of the weaknesses brought about by malnutrition. Food supplies had been scarce, with all crops being sent to a regional Central Storage facility, where they were preserved and doled out to the villages according to the number of people.
After the Lords had taken what they deemed to be their share of course.
Chief Warden Abberttz timed the crack of his whip to the crack of lightning to magnify the sound and startle the people into a fuller wakefulness. He began to read the new orders, the first of which stated all newborn males must be scarified along their foreheads with their birthdate, then black ashes rubbed into the superficial cuts to create a permanent stain. A horrified whisper ran throughout the crowd. Facial tattoos had been banned decades ago! Any males having facial tattoos had been hunted mercilessly and had mysteriously disappeared. Word had spread fast, and some males had disappeared voluntarily, hiding out in forests and caves, surviving (or not) the same way people had in the dawn of time. Hunting small animals, gathering fruits and berries, being careful not to take too much from any one area, lest the villagers be punished for not sending enough to Central Storage. It was a lean existence and not many survived.
Things had changed when the governments had gotten greedier and greedier, adding levy upon levy, tax upon tax until the people lost faith, became disheartened, many of them simply giving up altogether, sadness taking over, laughter being forgotten.
Times were harsh, punishments were swift, executions were many. Governing Councils became greedy dictators, tyrants, the rift to the dark Underworld opened. Evil prevailed.
Morgan Tarkon wanted a return to the better days. He was only one man, but if he could overpower even one Warden, that would be a beginning and maybe others would be inspired to follow.
Dressed in a soot-black rawhide cloak, Morgan used the rumbling, rolling thunder of the oncoming storm to cover any sound as he rose from the shadows of the rocks behind Warden Abberttz to sling a rawhide noose over his head and pull it tight enough to cause him to fall heavily and unconscious to the ground. Stunned, the people of the village could do nothing but stare as Morgan dragged the Warden to a stout tree and lashed him to it with several strong vines. He pushed a rock into the Warden's mouth and tied it there with another length of vine.
Then he turned and began to speak. He first asked them to raise up from their knees, to stand before him. Quietly, gently, he appealed to the people. He spoke of the revolutions of centuries ago, where the people had stood up against their current regimes and very gradually things had changed. It took time, much, much time and many people died in the wars that followed, but a better lifestyle was the result. “If we begin now,” he said, “our grandchildren’s grandchildren may have a better life. This is something worth fighting for."
Morgan could see that many were not listening, they had been beaten down until their spirits died. He concentrated on the younger ones, making eye contact with those who still held their heads high. He walked amongst them, touching each in turn and asking them to follow him when he left here. They would take the Warden with them and return him to his Lord after two full moons had passed. He received only three nods of acceptance, but hoped those three might bring along more. Any beginning was better than none.
He returned to the front of the crowd of villagers, a pitifully small crowd he noticed and asked them all to say no Warden had been seen in this area since the last muster three full moons ago. Shocked gasps and whispers greeted this request, with the people glancing fearfully at each other, each wondering could they do this? Would one betray another? A glimmer of hope began to beat in more than one heart. Several young men and women stood taller, Morgan could see they were listening more intently now. Yes, this was the right village, he had chosen wisely. From here his revolution would begin.