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Amy's Story

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  • Amy's Story

    ok, this is my first ever fan fic! it's not done yet, but here are the first two parts. it's about culture in civ and is also kind of a love story since no one ever writes those. i'm sorry if this is a little girly for you big tough macho men! i'm not big on military terms, so i'm trying to write what i know. finally, i probably have some inconsistencies in here with the game. i'd be more than happy to have them pointed out so i can correct them, or any other errors. comments or criticism would REALLY be appreciated since this is my first story. thanks, and enjoy! (i really hope this doesn't suck.)

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Amy's Story, Part 1

    Her horse galloping through the night, Amy's long, blonde hair streamed behind her like a banner of gold. She turned her head to look behind her and promptly caught a mouthful of hair. "Mmmmppph," she said. Impatiently, she turned back around and tied her hair in place with a leather thong. Finally she was able to look back at the small town of Seattle fading in the distance. No one was following. She sighed in relief and slowed her horse down a bit, not wanting to waste his strength. The journey would take at least another hour.

    She rode across great expanses of farmland, into the hills of the west where the mines were. She shuddered as she passed them, wondering what monsters might be lurking in their cold depths. Finally she spotted the edge of the forest up ahead. She pulled on the reins, and Washington stopped obediently. She dismounted and patted his neck, feeding him a carrot pulled from her rucksack. The moonlight shone upon them, but Amy wasn't afraid of being spotted. This far away there was nothing to fear except shadows and wild animals. She checked to make sure the short broadsword was still securely wrapped in the spare saddle blanket and tied tightly to her saddle. It was. She had never actually drawn it from its sheath, as swords were forbidden to all women, but she felt safer knowing it was there.

    It suddenly occurred to her how pointless it was to bother carrying a sword if she couldn't even draw it in time to defend herself in an emergency. Slowly she untied the parcel and, laying it on the grass, unwrapped it. She grasped the hilt, and stopped, waging an inner war with her conscience. A lifetime of "women aren't allowed to do that" had conditioned her thoughts quite well. As she stood there debating, a twig snapped behind her and she had no choice.

    She unsheathed the sword and, trying to speak in a commanding tone but finding she had no voice, whispered "Who goes there?" She peered into the darkness of the forest, gripping the hilt of the sword in trembling hands. A dark shape appeared and an accented voice sounded. "Why, mademoiselle, eet eez only me!"

    Pierre stepped out of the darkness and the moonlight washed across his handsome face. Amy flashed a brilliant smile at him as she resheathed the sword and laid it on the blanket. Then she stood and they went to each other, embracing passionately. "Ah, my sweet Eh-mee," he whispered. "How beautiful you are."

    Amy didn't consider herself beautiful, but she knew that she was able to attract men. She had many suitors, any one of whom would have been more than happy to do anything to win her favor. And at 16, she was well due to marry, a fact that her mother reminded her of every day. "You're getting no younger! At your age I already had one child and was pregnant with my second! Blah blah blah..." But it was unthinkable that her father would in a thousand years give his blessing to a man of France. Or any man other than an American man. No American woman had ever been wedded to a non-American man. Amy sighed.

    "Eh-mee? What is the matter?"

    "Nothing, really." She smiled up at him. "Right now, everything is perfect." She reached her hand around his neck and brought his head down to her level, her warm, full lips touching his in an exquisite kiss.

    The sword cast aside, they sank down onto the saddle blanket together.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Amy's Story, Part 2

    Amy wiped the sweat off her brow with the sleeve of her dirty dress and looked despairingly at her hands. They were raw, blistered with the hard work of beating the tough leather into foot-like shapes. Being the daughter of a cobbler wasn't fun. And now, with King Abraham the Bearded up in arms against the Greeks, her workload was almost unbearable. All day long she helped the rest of her family to make boots for the soldiers. Hundreds and hundreds of big, clunky, sturdy boots. Ugly boots. Hateful boots.

    All the people of America were doing nothing but making weapons and armor for the soldiers. The people worked like slaves throughout the long days, and sometimes into the night. King Abe had promised the people of Seattle a temple long ago, but they'd gotten a barracks instead. Now the knights and swordsmen filled the streets, the smell of their sweat clogging the air. Although they were generally well-behaved, they still crowded the taverns and ate more than their fair share of the crops the farmers slaved over each day. And the poor farmers couldn't even enjoy happy hour. Resentment had been building for a long time.

    Amy had heard that the war was over land. The King had sent settlers to every available piece of land, but had apparently decided that wasn't good enough. It was always more, more, more. Abraham wasn't content to let his kingdom stay small and happy. No, he just had to have a big sprawling empire spread to all corners of the earth to satisfy his own sick thirst for power, at the expense of his people.

    He had discovered Greek settlements to the north and gleefully sent his troops in. King Alexander had sent a messenger to Abraham, requesting that the troops be withdrawn, but King Abe had simply laughed and let the arrows fly. After conquering the settlements in his name, he had immediately ordered the soldiers deeper into Greek territory to lay siege to some of their larger towns. These towns were poorly defended, and the armies of America were strong. After more American victories, a full-fledged extermination process had begun. But as they had advanced closer to Athens, the Greeks had given America a very nasty surprise. A huge army led by a legendary Greek hero had ambushed the American troops, killing them all. As the story went, King Abraham had received a messenger a few days later, delivering a package for the King. Upon finding that the package contained the head of King Abe's most trusted captain, he flew into a rage and ordered the messenger decapitated. The package HE sent back to King Alex contained the head of the messenger, with tongue cut out. The two furious kings had exchanged various mutilated body parts over the past few months, while the citizens of America toiled to produce enough weapons and uniforms for the legions of soldiers that were being trained.

    Amy began to beat the leather into shape again, this time more savagely. Her little brother had been drafted into the military one month ago at the tender age of 15. She had only caught glimpses of him since then, drinking with the other soldiers or playing cards on the front porch of the barracks. He looked like he had aged at least five years, his muscles bulging and his eyes cold as steel. Definitely not the same little brother who used to give her noogies and make disgusting faces at her at the dinner table, behind their mother's back. Amy felt a tear slip down her cheek and wiped it away. Why did America have to be at war? Why couldn't they live in France with Pierre?

    More tears came as she remembered Pierre's descriptions of glorious France, its many temples and cathedrals and the beautiful hanging gardens of Paris. The coliseums with their games. Fascinated, she had listened as he described the colorful, bustling marketplaces with their many wares, the smell of seasoned meat turning on spits, the sounds of peddler women calling (in French) "Fine Persian silks here! Chinese spices for sale!"

    And most painful of all, the vast libraries containing walls of scrolls and books. "Libraries? We have one in the Capitol, and I believe one is being constructed in Philadelphia," Amy had said. Pierre had laughed gently. "Ah, but Eh-mee, we have a library een every city of Fronce." Amy stared at him. "Do you... do you... know how to... read?" Pierre had stared back at her. "But of course! Most certainly I can read! Every French child eez taught to read and write at an early age. I have known how to read and write seence I was a leettle boy."

    Amy had dearly wished to be able to read since SHE was a leettle GIRL. She understood that only the priests of the temples and the noblemen were taught, but the idea of recognizing words on a page excited her and made her thirsty for knowledge. She'd had no idea that literacy was commonplace in other parts of the world, and the thought almost broke her heart. That day in the forest with Pierre, she had asked him to write her name. He had done so in the soft dirt beneath a pine tree with a stick. AMY. She had traced the meaningless letters with her finger, whispering her own name. AMY.

    Now, in the heat of the day and surrounded with the pungent smell of leather, sweating like a pig, with her hands throbbing, her mother noticed her tears. "Amy, what on Earth is the matter?"

    "My... my hands hurt," responded Amy, wiping her tears away, embarrassed at being caught crying. "Oh, Amy," her mother sighed, "I know. But we all have to do our share. And you won't have to do this forever. Why, once you're married to a nice young man, you'll be having babies and you won't have to work then! Young David, the miller's son, now he would make a good husband. And I saw him looking at you the other day..."

    Amy let her mother's gossip fade and bent back to her work, daydreaming about sitting in the Hanging Gardens of Paris, wearing a fine gown and reading a thick volume, while Pierre sat next to her tenderly playing with her hair.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Last edited by Bella Hella; May 22, 2002, 16:46.
    drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang

  • #2
    Good job, I hope to hear more from you, and find the storywriters union thread and ask for membership.
    First Master, Banan-Abbot of the Nana-stary, and Arch-Nan of the Order of the Sacred Banana.
    Marathon, the reason my friends and I have been playing the same hotseat game since 2006...


    • #3
      good! You're a great storyteller!


      • #4
        thanks, metaliturtle! i'll do that (and i LOVED your greek wanderings, BTW! )

        oh, some other stuff - America is in the early middle ages before gunpowder or education, and their culture really sucks. i guess they're being played by a very inept human. they're obviously a monarchy. france is to the west and greece is to the northwest.

        more parts soon to come!
        drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


        • #5
          thanks, civman! i appreciate it.

          one more thing, pierre is supposed to sort of cheesy and flamboyant since he's like french and all, but we'll see his manly side. amy wouldn't like him if he wasn't a stud.
          drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


          • #6
            Great story! I look forward to the next part!


            • #7
              thanks for the feedback! OMG, i got nominated for the contest! i've been working on the third part and will hopefully be posting it a little later today (dratted work, always getting in the way of my fun ).
              drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


              • #8
                I hear that Bella, work sux big time, (I work in a butcher shop, part of my inspiration for Metaliturtle goes apesh*t, but using different body parts for bludgeoning baddies isn't very entertaining apparently)
                First Master, Banan-Abbot of the Nana-stary, and Arch-Nan of the Order of the Sacred Banana.
                Marathon, the reason my friends and I have been playing the same hotseat game since 2006...


                • #9
                  Parts 3 & 4

                  here we go, the next segments of the story. comments and criticizms are much appreciated, as always! (metaliturtle - no orgies, but there IS another long, romantic kiss at the end. ) oh, and hopefully the french is ok. i had some help (i don't speak french).

                  * * * * * * * * * * * * *

                  Amy’s Story, Part 3

                  That night, she once again stole away to meet Pierre at the edge of the woods. With the heightened security and soldiers constantly milling about, it was becoming more and more difficult to see him. She was glad her family’s house was at the edge of town. After quietly leading her horse through the shadows of the night away from her house, she only needed to pass a few farmhouses and she was free!

                  Normally she would have felt joy over the long journey to meet Pierre, despite the cold and the wind and the wedgie her riding breeches were giving her. But tonight her mind was wrought with anxiety. The only thing she wanted was to be with her sweet Pierre. But how could she abandon her family? She would be a traitor to her country. It wouldn’t matter that she was only a cobbler’s daughter - Abraham the Bearded was a ruthless king and had no mercy on traitors. Someone would probably find out and send assassins after her to silently slit her throat in the bed where she lay. There was no solution to her problems.

                  Images of the many ways she could be killed filled her head, and she firmly resolved to get her mind off these horrible thoughts. She remembered back to the day when she had first met Pierre, back before the war...

                  * * * * * * * * * * * * *

                  Amy’s Story, Part 4

                  The sunlight shone brightly through the trees as Amy led her horse through the forest. She was in high spirits. Birds were singing, butterflies were flitting around, and she laughed as she watched a young fawn wobbily getting to its feet for the first time, prodded by its mother. She knew she was supposed to be gathering blackberries, but the day was too beautiful to waste on work! It was lovely to be leisurely walking through the forest, without the boredom of the town, without someone telling her do this or do that.

                  Suddenly the fawn and its mother looked up simultaneously and darted away. Confused, Amy glanced over to where they had both directed their eyes before fleeing. She saw nothing. Shrugging, she went on her way, a little faster than before. She thought she heard footsteps behind her and quickened her pace, her heart beating faster. She knew she was being irrational, but her fear was real nonetheless. When she heard the rustling of leaves, she broke into a run, still leading Washington. Now it was total panic and it had overtaken her. As she made the decision to try some kind of running jump onto her horse’s back, she was pushed violently to the ground by unseen hands. Washingon galloped away, neighing loudly.

                  On the ground, curled into a ball, Amy coughed and groaned, the wind completely knocked out of her. The same rough hands turned her over on her back. Amy looked up and saw a huge, filthy man towering over her. His white kilt was torn in several places and spotted with something reddish brown. Blood, Amy thought, feeling sick. His matted hair was long and dark, and thick muscles roped around his arms and legs. He grinned, showing a few brown and broken teeth. Amy screamed and tried to scuttle backwards. The barbarian reached for her, but Amy blindly kicked out at his hideous face. Her foot made contact, and then the barbarian was howling, clutching at his face, a fountain of blood spurting from his nose. Recognizing the opportunity to escape, Amy started to scramble to her feet, but even wounded, the barbarian was much too quick for her. He slammed her to the ground, his eyes filled with rage.

                  Paralyzed in a nightmare of pain and terror, Amy moaned. The barbarian dropped to his knees, pinning her wrists to the ground with one hand and tearing at her underskirts with the other. He started to reach under his kilt....

                  “Restez oú vous êtes!!” {Stop where you are!} a voice shouted, and heavy boots pounded the earth, coming closer. Startled, the barbarian let go of Amy and leapt off her, grabbing a nearby crude axe. Amy weakly dragged herself behind the nearest tree, trying to hide as the owner of the strange voice appeared. He was almost as tall as the barbarian, but clad in chain mail and wearing a helm which covered his head. He ran toward the barbarian, sword outstretched. “Meurs le rebut de barbare!!!” {Die, barbaric scum!!!} he yelled.

                  CLANG! Stone axe and iron sword collided, sending sparks flying through the air. The swordsman fell back from the brute force of the blow, but quickly recovered and swung again. CLANG! Again, the barbarian was somehow able to avoid the fury of the sword, but he staggered backwards. As the swordsman advanced menacingly, the barbarian tried to strike with his axe once more. But the swordsman met the axe in mid air and sliced the handle in two with a powerful blow. Heavy stone flew through the air and thunked into a nearby tree. The barbarian looked down at the now useless piece of wood in his hands, then back up at the swordsman, his mouth hanging open in confusion. With a practiced thrust, the swordsman impaled the barbarian with 2 and a half feet of cold iron. The barbarian fell to his knees, choked, made a “Gaaaaaahhh” sound, and died, still with the surprised look on his scarred and ugly face. The swordsman swiftly withdrew the sword and the body collapsed to the ground. He deftly wiped his sword on the grass and stuck it back in its sheath before turning to the trembling girl behind the tree. “Êtes-vous blessé?” {Are you hurt?} he asked, concerned.

                  “I don’t understand you; please don’t hurt me!” Amy cried, covering her face with her hands.

                  “I am sorry, I did not mean to frighten you,” replied the swordsman, switching to heavily accented English. “I was seemply asking if you were hurt.” He pulled his helmet off, revealing a very handsome face, much different from that of the barbarian. Amy let herself relax somewhat. The young man had deeply tanned skin and sensitive brown eyes that seemed to gaze into her soul. He shook his head and smoothed his shock of black hair back with a gloved hand. Amy almost swooned, decided that’d be a little TOO clichéd, and instead said with dignity, “I’m a little beat up, but I’ll live. Could you please help me up?” The swordsman removed his gloves and reached a hand down to help her. For a fighter, his hands were surprisingly well manicured, though callused from years of swordplay.

                  Amy stood, wobbling almost as much as the newborn fawn she’d seen in the woods only a few minutes ago, but slowly regaining her balance. “I am forever grateful to you for saving my life, sir. Please, tell me your name so that I can properly thank you.”

                  “With pleasure,” he said gallantly. “I am Pierre Armand Renaud of the great city of Paris een the Republic of Fronce, loyal servant of Saint Joan D’Arc, our wise and gracious leader.” Amy looked at him a bit uncomprehending. “But please, call me Pierre.” Amy smiled gratefully and took his hand.

                  “I’m very glad to meet you, Pierre. My name is Amy Jones of Seattle in the uh, country of America, under the rule of his fearsome Majesty King Abraham Lincoln the Bearded. And you can just call me Amy.”

                  “Of course, Eh-mee. Please allow me to escort you home.”

                  “Oh, no,” Amy quickly responded. “My parents wouldn’t like me being seen with a foreigner!” Seeing the crushed look in his eyes, she involuntarily reached up and brushed aside a stray strand of his black hair. “I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to be rude. Especially after you saved me from that... creature!”

                  “He was a barbare; ah, barbarian een your language. I was sent here to rid the forest of them. I found their encampment two days ago and keelled as many as I could find, taking their gold, too. I believe that now,” he looked over at the corpse in disgust, “I have keelled the last of them. But come, let us get away from this fouled place. I will burn the body later.” They set out towards the eastern edge of the forest.

                  Awed at the thought of a lone swordsman single-handedly battling so many fierce barbarians, Amy spoke quietly. “I am in your debt, Pierre. Really. I would have been... been...” She couldn’t bring herself to say the word. It had just been too close. “Well, it would have been horrible. But... how do you speak my language?”

                  Pierre laughed. “I speak many languages. We have been een contact with the English for some time now, and they seem to share your language, although you speak it deefferently.”

                  “Strange,” said Amy, puzzled. “The English, huh? Never heard of them.” {Pierre and Amy pause and ironically look directly at the camera, rolling their eyes.}

                  A neighing sounded. “Washington!” said Amy. “My horse!” The huge chestnut animal cantered toward her and stopped, snorting gently. She hugged him around the neck. “I thought he’d run off!”

                  “You must good care of him,” Pierre said, impressed. “A horse will always return to a good master... or rather, mistress.” The way he looked at her made her blush. She took Washington’s reins in her hand. “I should really be getting home,” she said. “But... I admit, I’m still afraid. What if there are more barbarians in the woods? I have no way to protect myself. I suppose I could throw carrots at them...”

                  Pierre laughed appreciatively and reassured her, “There will be no need to waste carrots like that. The forest eez now clear of the filthy barbarians. You shall be safe, I swear it. I will accompany you to the edge of the forest.” Pierre smiled at her, and she smiled back, thinking that he was the most handsome, courageous and gentlemanly guy she had ever laid eyes on. At the same time, Pierre was thinking how pretty she was in the soft sunlight. He had met many beautiful women, and more sophisticated than this girl, but there was something about her. He could see a great deal of intelligence in those deep blue eyes, and he always valued someone who could speak her mind. And she even had a sense of humor! “Are you married?” Pierre suddenly blurted out. Then turned away, horrified, slapping himself in the forehead and thinking, Bête, bête, bête! {Stupid, stupid, stupid!}

                  Amy caught his hand and grinned bemusedly. So he DID find her attractive. Good. “It’s ok. No, I’m not, although my mother has been trying to marry me off for a year now.” She made a disgusted face at the thought. “She won’t stand for me staying single much longer.”

                  “Ah, but what can she do?” said Pierre, dismissing the thought with a wave of his hand. “Eef you have not found someone you wish to marry, she must wait until you do, no?”

                  Amy laughed. “Apparently, you don’t know much about American customs,” she said sadly.

                  Pierre stared. “Your parents choose the man you must marry? How terrible!”

                  “Not… not always,” Amy said. “My mother and father want me to be happy, so they’re more lenient than most. I can marry whomever I wish, with my father’s approval and blessing, of course. But we have an agreement. If I reach the age of seventeen and have not found someone, they reserve the right to choose for me.” At the scandalized look on Pierre’s face, she quickly reassured him, “Oh, believe me, it could be worse. My best friend was married to a 37-year old man when she was only 13.”

                  “But why?” demanded Pierre. “Why the beeg hurry to marry? I do not understand.”

                  Amy sighed, trying to find the words to explain. “It’s more dangerous for an older woman to bear a child than it is for a young, healthy girl. So they… get us… started as soon as we’re able.”

                  “Even eef eet means forcing you to marry before you are ready, to a man you do not love? That eez madness!”

                  And that was the moment Amy began to fall in love with Pierre.

                  They walked slowly through the springtime forest, side by side, talking together and looking into each other’s eyes as much as possible.

                  As they reached the edge of the forest, Pierre stopped and turned to her. “Eh-mee, I do not wish this to be goodbye, and I understand that I cannot come to your town to visit you. Eez there some way you can come back to visit me here in the forest?”

                  “How long will you be here?” asked Amy, confused. Hadn’t he said he’d killed all the barbarians?

                  “Eendefinitely,” Pierre answered. “Joan D’Arc believes in constant vigilance, so I shall stay fortified een this area, keeping watch should any other tribes of barbarians attempt to enter this place again. Although,” he added, seeing the alarmed look on Amy’s face, “she has a tendency to be overcautious about such theengs. She greatly values the safety of innocent people, and goes to great lengths to ensure eet.”

                  “Joan is a woman?” Amy exclaimed. “You’re joking! And the men, do they actually listen to her and do her bidding?”

                  “You are the one who must be joking!” Pierre laughed. “Of course! All people of Fronce love and respect her. She eez a saint, a wise leader and a great warrior.”

                  Amy almost fell over. “A warrior? And are there other woman warriors, running around with swords and fighting like men?”

                  “Yes, there are some. The French military eez open to anyone who wants to fight and can handle a weapon.”

                  Amy was dumbfounded. Everything Pierre said about France was new and strange to her. No arranged marriages? Women with swords? A strange civilization called ‘the English’?

                  “Eh-mee,” said Pierre, “you should learn to protect yourself een case you are ever een danger again.” He unbuckled his sword belt and held it out to her. “Please, take my sword. I have several others back at my camp.”

                  Amy started to reach for it, but drew back. “I couldn’t. The women of my country aren’t allowed any weapons…”

                  “Take eet!” Pierre insisted. “After your experience, you will feel safer with a weapon when you come to see me.” He put his free arm around her waist, drawing her closer, and looked into her eyes. “You will come to see me, no?”

                  “No,” murmured Amy. “I mean yes! Yes. I will come back.” She returned his one-armed embrace, laying her other hand on top of his on the sword belt. Standing thus, they shared a long and lasting kiss of pure and simple sweetness. A tingle went all through her body, all the way down to her toes, as their lips touched for the first time. Somehow, even though they had just met, even though he was a foreigner and a stranger, she knew that this was the man she would marry. The question was, how?

                  * * * * * * * * * * * * *
                  Last edited by Bella Hella; May 24, 2002, 09:11.
                  drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


                  • #10
                    a few notes on this: first of all, WHEW! now that we know how they met, we can finally get down to business with the action and all. sorry about all the cheesy romance. second of all, joan being a feminazi and all, i figured things would be a little different in fronce. i know it's totally not accurate, but i kinda like my vision of france.

                    coming soon, part 5!
                    drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


                    • #11
                      Did I hear correctly, NO ORGIES? Oh well, just make sure they participate in one when there is big time Roman influence, as that was the prime private recreation of that culture.
                      First Master, Banan-Abbot of the Nana-stary, and Arch-Nan of the Order of the Sacred Banana.
                      Marathon, the reason my friends and I have been playing the same hotseat game since 2006...


                      • #12
                        Bella good. Where did she get the sword and horse being a poor cobbler's daughter and all? Looking forward to more.


                        • #13
                          well, pierre just gave her the sword in part 4 above. as for the horse... uh.... ok, i'm gonna omit the word "poor" from the description. the joneses have to work hard, but they're not too bad off. good point, though. i'll put something in the next part to explain it (i think a horse surplus in america since they're at war and not doing a lot of trading).

                          thanks for the comments!
                          drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


                          • #14
                            Gee, here I was going to suggest that the little vixen won the horse from some snarky American officer. Somebody has to be the villian.


                            • #15
                              Part 5

                              ok, an explanation of the horse thing and a little foreshadowing. sorry, but amy's not much of a slut. king abe is basically the villian in this story since he treats his citizens like sh*t and starts pointless wars. don't worry, i promise to include some major conflict, probably in the next part.

                              * * * * * * * * * * * * *

                              Amy’s Story, Part 5

                              As Amy passed the mines, she felt herself shudder with apprehension, as usual, snapping her out of the daydreams of Pierre. She would soon see him in person, anyway. Her thoughts drifted to the sword he had given her, as always strapped to her saddle and wrapped in a blanket. She had drawn it for the first time the other day in the woods, but never used it. She kept it hidden always, under a loose floorboard under her bed. She had had to loosen another floorboard to accommodate its length. She felt a strange mixture of shame and excitement as she thought again of the women warriors of France. Excitement because the idea of fighting alongside the men stirred something in her blood, ashamed partly because her conditioning forbade her to even think of such things, and partly because she felt weak and powerless. But maybe she could learn. Maybe she could actually learn to fight!

                              She set to daydreaming about hiding her long hair under a helmet, squashing her breasts under bands of tight fabric and going to battle. No one would ever have to know she was a girl. But did she have it in her? She didn’t know. She remembered feeling sick at the sight of the dried blood on the barbarian’s kilt. But she also remembered kicking him in the face and feeling the satisfying crunch of his nose breaking. Maybe she could just cut her hair off altogether to disguise her femininity. Of course, she thought bitterly, if I lived in France they would accept me and teach me without having to hide.

                              Reaching the edge of the western forest, she stopped her horse and dismounted. She patted Washington’s neck and gave him a carrot. Thanks to her father’s business success a few years ago, he had been able to afford horses for himself and his sons. At this news, Amy had begged her father for one of her own, and he had kindly indulged her (her parents had always been more loving and understanding than most). Explorers had found a herd of wild horses in a southern valley, and this new breed was larger and stronger than the horses that were then used by the military. Suddenly there had been a surplus of the smaller horses, and Amy’s father, along with many of the other more successful men in town, had seized the opportunity, knowing that it was a once in a lifetime chance. Her father had sat them all down – Amy, her two older brothers Thomas and Jeffery, and her younger brother Benjamin – and taught them how to care for a horse, how to brush their coats and clean their shoes, what they liked to eat. At first, 12-year old Amy had been terrified of the huge beast, and wished she had not been so insistent. But when the horse had turned to her and lowered his head for her to pat, she had melted right away and left her fear behind. She had named him Washington after the legendary general, even though her brothers had scoffed and told her it was a stupid name for a horse. After the children had mastered the basic care necessary for the survival of the horses, her father had taught them to ride. Her brothers had shut up when it became clear that Amy was the best rider of them all. Go, me! thought Amy, remembering her brothers’ slack jawed amazement the first time she had galloped Washington around the yard in triumph while they could barely convince their own horses to stand still as they tried to saddle them.

                              Now she could count on Washington not only to bear her long distances, but to also be her companion and friend. With all her brothers in the military, she often found herself lonely in the house with only her mother and father for company. The house was so much quieter now.

                              She cupped her hands to her mouth and gave a long, low whistle reminiscent of the call of a dove to signal her presence to Pierre. The whistle was returned and shortly he appeared, his eyes shining and his hair freshly washed in the river that flowed through the forest. They kissed hello and grinned at each other for a few moments. But then Amy’s grin faltered and she stepped back holding both his hands in her own. “Pierre,” she said seriously. “We need to talk.”

                              “What eez eet?” asked Pierre, for no reason terrified that her next words would be “I think we should just be friends…”

                              “I want to be with you forever. I love you so much that I can’t imagine spending my life with someone else. But…”

                              “But eet would be impossible for us to get your father’s blessing,” Pierre said gently. “Yes, I know.”

                              “So,” responded Amy with determination in her eyes, “what are we going to do about it?”

                              They could think of nothing, although they brainstormed for the next hour. Amy could come with Pierre to Paris… no, then she’d be found and executed as a traitor. Pierre could come to Seattle… no, because although her father was a kind and fair man, he couldn’t give his blessing to a Frenchman. Plus, they would be ostracized by the community forever. The best scenario they could come up with was to elope and go far away where no one knew them, maybe to the strange-sounding land of England. If they worked on their accents, perhaps they could blend in. But Amy couldn’t bear to leave her family behind, and Pierre wouldn’t break his vow to serve Saint Joan D’Arc.

                              Finally they gave up, Pierre saying that love would find a way. They held each other for a long time.

                              After they said their farewells and declared their love a few more times, Amy mounted her horse and prepared to leave. Impulsively, she turned back to Pierre. “Oh, and by the way… I want you to teach me to use that sword.” With that, Washington reared back with a whinny, and they galloped away into the night.

                              * * * * * * * * * * * * *
                              drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang