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The Winning Story

_They’d come a long way, but their goal was finally in sight. Radkin Fallborn stood atop the mountain ridge, his cloak flapping in the wind, and shielded his eyes as he looked toward the setting sun. It was almost too late. Down below a figure on horseback could be seen racing across the plains, its robes flying out behind as it sped towards the approaching night.
_If the dark mage could survive long enough to see the night, his powers would peak and this band of warriors would be helpless to stop him or her from escaping.

“Archers,” Radkin called.

Two dozen men and women stepped up to the ridge behind their commander, bows being bent and strung as they did so.

“Raven,” the commander said.

A young, thin girl stepped forward. Although her frame was light, she was tall. Her hair was so black it shimmered in the diminishing sunlight turning the red-gold to blue. Her high cheekbones and stern countenance could seem haughty were it not for the fullness of her lips and the ease with which they often smiled.

“My lord,” she said as she stepped beside him.

“The sun is setting behind the far mountains,” he said, pointing towards the mountain ridge on the far side. The blood red disc of the sun was just beginning to dip behind the very tallest peaks.

“Below,” he continued, “where the sun’s light is cut off by the mountain range, the day is dying.”

Raven looked to where Radkin pointed. Where the shadows cast by the distant mountain range touched the plains, night was falling. From their vantage point, the line of darkness could be seen advancing across the plain towards them as the sun sank lower.

“There,” Radkin said, indicating a point just before the line of darkness, “rides the dark mage.”

Raven’s intestines tightened as she saw the distance: over three hundred yards already.

“Arrows!” she called.

Her hands and arms moved reflexively drawing an arrow from the quiver on her back, the other archers followed suit. In one swift motion two dozen bows were raised skyward, their arches swaying in unison from center to left mimicking the angle and lean of Raven’s bow.

Below the dust trail was driven horizontal by the wind as rider and darkness raced towards collision.

Radkin grunted and for an instant Raven cast her eyes in his direction.

With a flick of his dagger a lock of Radkin’s hair fell, leaving an inch long bang.

It was both a challenge and a sign of confidence.

Should the archers miss, all of them would have to shave their heads to the length of the remaining bang. Radkin included.

Eyes front, her shaft flew. Instantaneously two dozen shafts followed, rising, blurring into the air, moving as would a murmuration of swallows. Wind gusts, left, right.

“One day,” Raven said as she turned away from the plains below, “I’m going to miss just to see your head shaved.”

Radkin snorted, barking a laugh.

In the distance the dark mage and its horse crumpled to the ground.
12/5/2011 10:29:23

The letter
My life changed last week and it was all because of a letter but let me start there.
"I'm not sure how to tell you this," the postie said as she handed me the letter. “The post office apologises for the delay and hope it didn’t cause any undue stress.”
“Mom?” I yelled into our home
“I’m not deaf you know. Now what is it Claudine? You think you’d almost at sixty five you’d show some compassion for your mother.”
“Mom this two letter came for you. It’s...”I began but she saw the letter turned pale and looked like she would pass out.
“Sixty- five years, where did you get this?”
“The post person. Who is Claude? There’s two of them”
She opened the first letter her face full of trepidation.
“He loved me. He loved me.” She said through tears.
“Who Mom, who loved you?”
“Your father loved you.”
“Of course Dad did.” I answered
Then she fumbles opening the second and gasped at first then said. “Claudine I have something to tell you.” She began “It was wartime and I was working for the CWACS fixing tanks and stuff, when I met him Claude Denier.”
“You fixed tanks in the war? I thought you just wrapped bandages or something and this is the Claude Denier who wrote you?”
“Yes Claude was handsome and was from Montreal. We dated for months but when he was shipped back to Canada after he was injured, I never heard from him again until now...”
“I don’t understand Mom what are you talking about? What has this to do with me”
“Claude was your father.”
“But Daddy.”
“Your daddy yes, well no he wasn’t.”
“Who wasn’t?” I asked not wanting to really know.
“The man you knew as your father Paul was a good man. He adopted you so he was your father but not your biological father.”
“So this Claude was my father then why wasn’t he there when I grew up? Why haven’t I heard of him until now?”
“It was so painful .I couldn’t talk of him and then your Dad Paul passed away. How could I tell you the man you loved wasn’t your real father?”
“You could have told me.”
“I just did and...”
“Who could that be at the door?” I asked hearing the doorbell.
I answered to find a white haired man standing six feet tall. He proudly stood with military bearing that was only oddly enhanced by the cane in his hand .
“Hello I’m Claude.”
“I’m Claudine...”is all I got out before my eighty year old mother threw herself in his arms both of them crying. Much later when they noticed me Claude marvelled that I was his daughter. The letter he sent asked her to marry him and said if he didn’t hear he know it was no.So today we are standing in front of a judge and my mother is marrying my father. Claude never married until now.
497 words
@SweetSheil

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