[Vfw-times] Story: I am the Wind (1/2)

PhadinXR at aol.com PhadinXR at aol.com
Tue Apr 25 15:15:15 CDT 2000

Wow, whats it been, well over a year since I actually put a story out.  I've 
just been so busy with school, and reading all of your stories, I never 
really got around to writing one of my own.  Well, I finally did.  Some of 
you may recall me starting something like this a year ago in January, but I 
trashed it due to negative responce.  Well, my English 101 class required 
fiction writing, so I resurected the idea, and rewrote the story.  Needless 
to say, it earned an A, and my instructer was quite impressed.  Since it 
passed her requirements, I decided I may as well let you all take a read.  
Compliments are welcome, comments will be accepted, criticism grudginly so.  
Flames will be doused with a firehose.


I am the Wind: Part 1

    Shun finally finished tying off the last sack of grain.  He looked over 
at Randol, the windmill operator, who was busy slowing the mill wheel.  
“Quite a harvest this year Randol.  We already have enough grain for the 
winter.”  Shun stood up and stretched his tired muscles.
    “Well, we would Shun,” the big man replied, “If Duke Marlis hadn’t raised 
taxes again this year.  As it stands, we will need another four or five bags 
to pay the new increase.  Fortunately, this year was another good harvest, 
and we should easily have enough milled after another few days.”
    “The duke raised the taxes again this year?” Shun said.  The new duke had 
come into power three seasons ago, with the death of his father.  He had 
raised taxes every year since, with each increase more then the last.  At the 
rate they were going up, even Heron Village would not be able to pay the 
taxes in another few seasons.  “He must realize that we are the only village 
able to pay these new taxes.  None of the other villages in the region can 
get the harvests that we do.  What is he thinking?”
    “It’s not for us to know the mind of the duke.  As long as the wind 
remains strong, we shall be alright.”
    “I suppose you are right, Randol,” Shun said.  He admired the large man’s 
optimistic outlook on life.  Shun had found it difficult to be confident 
after all the changes through the past three seasons.  Randol, however, was 
much more experienced, being twenty seasons older then he.  Randol was a 
central member of the village as well.  Many villagers would come to him for 
advice or opinions at various times, and he was always willing to give them.  
He was also a strong man, and more then one villager owed their life to 
Randol during some disaster or another.  Even Shun had been saved by Randol 
at one time, or so he was told.  He was only three years old at the time, and 
his house had caught on fire.  His father and Randol worked together to get 
him, his mother, and his brother out safely.  Unfortunately, his father never 
made it out afterwards.
    “Well, I need to be going Randol,” Shun said as he picked up a bag of 
grain.  “Mom said she needed some new grain for dinner tonight, so I can’t be 
late back.”
    “Well then you best hurry up,” Randol said with a smile.  “I’ll expect 
you back here bright and early tomorrow though.”
    “I’ll be here Randol.” Shun promised as he ran out the door, leaving 
Randol to finish closing up the windmill.

    Heron Village had been home to Shun since he was born, and from what he 
could tell, his family had lived there for at least three prior generations.  
The valley the village was in was known to have a light and comfortable 
breeze almost all the time.  The weather coming off the mountains made for 
light wind and light rain, and an extremely fertile valley.  Not even the 
oldest member of the village could remember when the village was originally 
settled, but it had supported the people for at least a hundred seasons.
    The village had a large weeping willow tree in the center, around which 
children often played.  Just four seasons ago Shun himself had played around 
that same tree, as well as other stronger trees scattered around the village. 
 Then the new duke had come into power, and with the raising taxes, the town 
needed more help in the fields.  Even many of the village children had to 
help out then.  Shun was only twelve seasons at the time, but he was told he 
would have to help with the harvest.  Although upset that he was no longer 
able to play, he looked at it as an opportunity to work with Randol, whom he 
had always admired.  Randol had been more than happy to take him on, and 
though he was a hard taskmaster, it was well worth the effort.
    Shun’s current home was on the east side of the village, near the road 
that lead to Marlis.  His mother was outside taking laundry off of a rack, 
and smiled as Shun came up with the sack of grain.  “Glad to see you back so 
soon.  I didn’t know if Randol would let you off in time,” she said as he 
    “I told him the grain was for dinner tonight.  He’s an understanding man.”
    “That he is Shun.  Well, go ahead and put it in the house next to oven 
and wash up.  I want your help with dinner tonight.”
    Shun nodded and went inside the house to wash up.  It was not a very big 
house, only three rooms.  The family was not able to afford much, especially 
since his brother, Toran, had left the village.  He had left with the 
intention of becoming a merchant in Marlis, but had never sent word back as 
to what happened.  The duke had died just a month after Toran left, so Shun 
guessed he got caught up in that somehow, but he still wondered why he had 
not returned or sent word in three seasons.  There was one time last season, 
when the duke’s tax collectors had come, that he thought he saw Toran amongst 
the guards with the tax wagon, but the man he had mistaken as his brother 
gave no recognition when he called to him.  The man hadn’t even turned his 

    Shun could not sleep well that night.  As he tried to sleep, he was 
bothered that something was wrong, something was missing.  Sighing at his 
insomnia, he put his boots and shirt on and walked outside to enjoy the night 
wind.  He made an endeavor to be quiet when he went out the door, so as not 
to awaken his mother.
    The night seemed stale to Shun.  There was an element missing which he 
couldn’t quite place, until he saw the willow of the village.  It lay there, 
drooping, not stirring at all.  Shun knew then what the problem was.  There 
was no wind.  Not even a light breeze, or a flutter of leaves.
    Shun walked slowly up to the willow when he saw someone sitting 
underneath the huge tree.  There was a blond-haired girl whom he didn’t 
recognize.  She was about fourteen or fifteen seasons, he would guess.  She 
wore an elegant light blue dress unlike any he had seen before.  He 
approached her slowly, trying to speak softly and not startle her.  “Excuse 
    The girl looked up, and he saw in her deep blue eyes a sadness he had not 
seen before.  She looked as though she had lost everything she had.  “I’m 
sorry, were you talking to me?”
    “Yes.  Do you mind if I sit here?”  Shun asked as he sat down, leaning 
against the tree next to her.  “I was wondering who you were.  We don’t get 
very many visitors here.  What’s your name?”
    “My names Ariel.  I’m not from around here, though it seems I will be 
staying for a while.”
    “Why, what happened?”
    “I don’t know.  I was traveling and ended up here somehow.  I don’t even 
know where here really is.”
    “This is Heron Village, in the area of Duke Marlis.  Where are you from?  
Maybe I can give you directions.”
    Ariel shook her head slowly.  “I don’t know if I can ever get back home.  
I’m not from around here.”
    “There has to be some way.  How were you traveling that you can’t get 
    “I can’t explain it.  It’s complicated.”
    “How complicated can it be.  Horse, cart, or walking.  How else do you 
get from one place to another.”
    “It’s none of those.  I guess you would call it magic.”
    “Magic?  Isn’t that just entertainment?  You know, pulling rabbits out of 
hats and stuff?”
    “I thought it was, but I’m not so sure any more.  I don’t have any other 
way to explain this.”
    “Well, you can’t stay out here tonight.  There is an extra bed at my 
house, if you don’t mind sharing the room with me.  I can explain to my 
mother tomorrow.”
    The girl looked over at Shun for the first time and nodded.  “If you 
think it’s alright.”
    “Sure, come one,” Shun said as he stood up, offering his hand to her.  
“My house is just up the road here.”
    Ariel smiled, taking his hand and standing as well.  Together they went 
to Shun’s house, and distracted as he was, he completely forgot the reason he 
had come outside.  Behind them, the weeping willow continued to weep.

    Shun’s mother had been understanding, though very surprised, when Ariel 
came out of Shun’s room the next day.  She decided Ariel could stay with them 
for a couple of weeks if necessary, but she would have to work during that 
time.  Ariel had no arguments with that, and was quickly put to the task of 
collecting threads and needles for his mother’s tailoring job.
    Shun had to rise quickly, tired though he was, and make his way to the 
windmill.  Distracted by thoughts of Ariel, he didn’t even recognize Randol 
standing outside the windmill until he was up the hill and there.  The scowl 
on Randol’s face quickly brought Shun back to reality.  He knew he wasn’t 
more then a few minutes late, and was wondering what the problem was that 
would make the man so upset.  Then he looked up and saw the windmill, 
completely motionless.  At first he thought it a trick, until he remembered 
what had kept him awake last night.  “Randol, there is no wind.  The windmill 
isn’t turning.”
    “That’s right Shun, no wind, for the first time in twenty-five seasons.  
We can’t mill the grain without the power from the windmill.”
    “But if we don’t have wind, what will happen to the rest of the grain?”
    “Hopefully the wind will return soon, until then we will be grinding it 
by hand.”
    Shun grimaced inwardly at the prospect of grinding the grain by hand.  He 
knew Randol would not allow him any relief from that job.  Randol started to 
set up the equipment for the grinding when another villager, a field hand by 
the name of Thomas, came running up the hill calling out to him.  “Randol!  
Come down to the village!  The tax collectors are here early, and they are 
demanding payment!” Thomas shouted as he stopped at the entrance to the 
    Randol looked furious.  For the first time he was actually scared of the 
large man.  “They are here now?  But they aren’t supposed to come for another 
two weeks.”
    “Tell them that, Randol.  They are quite insistent we pay them now.”
    Randol muttered something under his breath.  “Alright, I’m coming.  Shun, 
you had better come as well.  Lets try to have as many there as we can.”
    Shun nodded slowly, fear knotting in his stomach.  He had heard of 
previous outbreaks of violence in other villages when they couldn’t pay their 
taxes.  He hoped that wouldn’t happen here, but Randol seemed to be prepared 
for the eventuality.  Together the three of them descended the hill and 
headed to the village center, where the taxman and his guards were waiting, 
along with about fifty of the other villagers.  Shun quickly saw his mother 
and Ariel in the crowd and made his way over to them.
Randol pushed his way through the crowd to the tax wagon.  He towered at 
least a foot over the taxman, but the man seemed completely oblivious to his 
size.  The taxman spoke in a condescending tone, “I assume, then, that you 
are the representative of the village.  Your taxes are due, please have the 
village bring forth the money now, or we shall be forced to posses an 
equivalent amount of material.
    “Taxes are not due for another two weeks.  That is what it has always 
been,” Randol said, practically in the man’s face.
    The man was completely unfazed by Randol bearing down on him, and 
replied, “Times change and laws change.  Taxes are now due on the fifteenth 
of the Season of Harvest, no longer the first of the Season of Earth.  Now 
please have the money brought forth.”
    Randol reached out to grab the man, but a guard nearby was quick to knock 
his hand away.  Shun was scared, never having seen Randol this upset.  Arial 
was gripping his arm tightly, fear visible on her face as well.  Shun put a 
hand hers, hoping to comfort her and hide his own fear.
    “We will have the taxes ready on the first of Earth, and no earlier.  
That is what the laws say,” Randol said to the man.
    The taxman pulled a rolled up piece of paper out of his vest pocket and 
handed it to Randol.  “Not any more,” he said.  “If you don’t have the money, 
we shall have to take other items of value instead.”  The taxman gave a 
motion to the guards, and six of them started pushing their way through the 
crowd of people, heading for different houses.
    “You can’t do this!” Randol shouted at the man, tearing up the parchment.
    “I can and I have.  Guards, arrest this man,” the taxman said, showing no 
emotion at all.
    The guards moved forward on Randol, who took a step back before punching 
one of the guards.  The one he hit went down, holding the bloody nose Randol 
had smashed.  He was no match for the other three, who immediately jumped on 
him, pinning him to the ground.  Thomas and some other villagers were not 
about to see Randol taken, and immediately jumped in.  One of them had 
brought a scythe from the fields, and brought it down into the back of one of 
the guards.  Shun turned his head as blood was sprayed in the middle of the 
crowd.  He could feel Ariel pulling on his arm and heard her telling him to 
run.  His mother had already turned and ran to their house, and they quickly 
followed.  Behind, he could hear cries of anger, rage, and pain as the mob 
attacked the guards.  Shun was too afraid to look back.
    Shun’s mom locked the door as soon as they were in the house.  He could 
hear cries of rage and screams of pain as the fight progressed outside.  It 
only lasted a couple of minutes, but it seemed like hours to Shun as he heard 
the cries of his friends and neighbors.  He heard the soldiers run past the 
house, their armor clanking as they fled.
    A knock came at the door, startling Shun.  Shun’s mother looked out a 
window, then opened the door, allowing one of the village midwives in.  She 
quickly told Shun’s mother to start gathering cloths and bandages for the 
villagers.  Shun and Ariel were told to stay indoors the rest of the day.  It 
seemed they were fearful that the soldiers might return.  He was used to this 
kind of treatment from her, as the woman had always been known as a bossy 
woman.  Unable to do anything more, he sat with Ariel in the house.
Shun was told later that the mob had assaulted the tax collector and his 
guards, killing at least two and wounding the rest.  The mob had only backed 
off after the tax collector promised to return at the beginning of the next 
month, as it had been before.  By then, however, the damage had already been 
done.  The duke would undoubtedly be levying even harsher taxes then before, 
and a good third of the villagers wounded or dead because of the fight, and 
with no wind to grind the grain, hopes for the village were dim at best.
    He wondered briefly what had become of his brother, Toran.  He didn’t get 
a good look at the guards, but he still remembered the one guard that had 
caught his eye last season.  If Toran was working for the duke’s guard, it 
was possible he had even been involved in this latest fight.  Shun closed 
himself to the thought, trying desperately to maintain the positive attitude 
Randol always had, yet found himself worried still.  He tried to sleep that 
evening, but found that the silence was even more disturbing then before.

    The next morning started no better then the last.  He quickly found out 
that Randol had been wounded in the fight the day before.  His broken arm 
meant he wouldn’t be grinding grain anytime soon.  Thomas and six other field 
hands were dead, and a few others crippled.  Most of the men left were busy 
loading three of the town’s wagons with bags of grain.  Randol was directing 
the efforts.  Even with the broken arm and other wounds, he was still a 
leading figure for the town.  Shun quickly headed over to him, asking,  
“Randol, what’s going on.  Why are you loading all the grain?”
    Randol glanced down at Shun and nodded to him.  “Ah, glad to see you are 
up Shun.  In order to pay the taxes when the taxman does return, we still 
have to sell our grain.  We are loading what we can for sale in Marlis.  I 
was hoping you would be here.  Get packed and get ready to go.”
    “Where are we going?  What’s going on?” Shun asked confused.
    “We still owe our taxes on the proper deadline, so we need to sell what 
grain we can.  You are coming with us to sell the grain in Marlis.”
    “You’re taking me with you?” Shun said excitedly.
    “We need some strong fresh men there to help unload the grain.  Besides, 
you’re getting old enough to travel to Marlis.  Now hurry up and get packed.”
    “How much should I bring Randol?”
    “Just pack as if it was a hunting trip.  About a weeks worth of clothes 
should do.”
    Shun nodded and ran back to his house.  His mother was inside showing 
Ariel how to bake sweetbread.  Shun had always enjoyed his mother’s 
sweetbread.  Ariel didn’t seem to quite understand the concept however.  She 
had no experience in cooking at all.  They both turned as Shun burst into the 
house shouting, “Mom, I have to get packed.  Randol wants me to come with him 
to Marlis to sell the grain.”
    “Good to hear you are doing your part Shun.  They need all the help they 
can get now,” his mother said in reply.
    “Shun, if your going to Marlis, can I come to?” Ariel asked.
    “Why do you want to come?” Shun said, puzzled by the question.
    “We might find the reason that I am here in Marlis.  Such a large town 
must have someone with some knowledge of magic.”
    “Are you sure Ariel?  Your already lost, we don’t want to make it worse.”
    “I’m not sure, it’s just a feeling.  The answer is in Marlis.”
    “Well, I suppose you can come if Randol says it’s ok,” Shun relented.  He 
was quite surprised when Ariel, giggling, ran over and wrapped her arms 
around him in a hug and gave him a big kiss.  He knew already this was gong 
to be a very interesting trip.

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