Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Lands of Snow and Ice - Bandit Arrives

“Bandit!” Cried Kai eagerly as she made her way across the crowded Great Hall. “Bandit!”

Word had arrived that the famed hunter, Bandit BearSlayer, had arrived from the lands far to the west. Everyone in the Good Land had been expecting her visit. She was a member of the House of Ehren. After the great warrior Otto and his lively companion, Cowboy, left the Good Land and returned to the Westlands OFG had received messages saying that Bandit would be visiting. Princess Kai was particularly eager to meet Bandit.

Bandit was stunning. She wore a jet black coat with white accents and a glorious mane. But the thing everyone noticed first were her eyes. Bandit's eyes were a dazzling blue. No one in the Good Land had such striking eyes. OFG's eyes were a kind of hard, cruel grey but nothing like the glorious blue of Bandit's eyes. They were like a wind swept blue sky on a punishingly cold day.

Kai was somewhat out of breath when we finally caught up to the famed hunter.

“Bandit! Finally you're here. I'm so glad.” Said Kai.

Bandit turned her head to see who was calling her name so insistently. Kai was stunned by Bandit's shocking blue eyes.

Seeing only a stranger Bandit said, “What do you want?” With Bandit's heavy, unfamiliar accent it sounded to Kai like she said, “Vvhaat do you vaaaant.”

Kai was taken aback by the dismissiveness in her tone. Surely Bandit must want to meet another BearHunter. But instead Bandit's blue eyes pierced Kai with unveiled annoyance.

“I... um... it's just.. I been waiting so long to meet you. Cowboy talked about you so much. And.. and..I thought we could talk about hunting and I could show you the Good Land.”

As Kai was stumbling over this awkward meeting she saw Bandit's eyes flash toward the door. Col Ti was gruffly coming into the Hall. Hurriedly, of course. He glanced up and caught Bandit's ice blue eyes. For one second he and Bandit looked directly at each other and the distance between them was absolutely silent.

Then Col Ti appeared to trip over something. Col Ti caught himself, flushed with shame, and then barked at a page to immediately fix whatever imperfection was in the floor. He hurried on his way. Bandit grinned a little and then returned her gaze back to the Princess in front of her.

“Go.” Bandit said nodding toward Col Ti, “Your commanding officer needs you, I'm sure.”

“Commanding officer?...You mean...” Kai sat down hard and drew in a breath to calm herself. “My mother commands me, Bandit. Not Col Ti.”

“So. You are the Princess Kai. The BearKiller.” Bandit's tone was not respectful. It was mocking and Kai was not accustomed to being talked to in this fashion. “BearKiller.” Bandit sneered, “If you say so.”

Bandit moved to push her aside but Kai stood her ground and grabbed Bandit's shoulder, “Bandit wait! I want to...”

But before Kai could finish her sentence the famed bear hunter rounded on the Princess and had Kai by the throat. Bandit was eye to eye with the surprised Princess. Her blue eyes narrowed on Kai.

Bandit snarled in a tone that was not a warning.“What do you know about the hunt, you pampered princess! You know nothing. All you have ever done is lounge around this Great Hall and call yourself a hunter. You have not earned that name! It was given to you because of your status. You lack the courage of a real hunter. Have you ever even been on a real hunt? Has your own prey turned on you? Have you fought for you life? Have you smelled your own death and lived to tell the story?” Bandit roughly shoved Kai away. “Go. Princess BearKiller and welp some pups. You haven't the courage for the bear hunt.”

The Great Hall had fallen silent and Kai's Men at Arms were gathering around their war leader. The courtiers had all but disappeared and Kai could feel her mother's hard gaze on them. Lucky was in the back of the hall, at his new station as Master of the House, watching this all unfold. “Why hasn't OFG intervened? She hadn't even reached for her sword – or her ax. There must be a reason.” Thought Lucky.

Kai drew herself up to her full height, determination filled her brown eyes, and she slowly moved until she matched Bandit's fighting stance. They locked eyes and the entire Great Hall held it's breath for a long moment. The tension between the hunter and the Princess filled the whole of the space.

Kai suddenly lifted her head and revealed the jagged scar that ran down her neck and chest.

“See? I have smelled my own death, Bandit, and I have lived to tell the story. I alone took on the Good Land's largest hog to save my father. I nearly died that day and I would gladly give my life for any here. I do not lack courage.”

Bandit lifted an eyebrow and gave a half smile as she huffed. “So. It is true then. You fought that huge hog. Perhaps you have some courage, Little Kai. But if you fought that hog alone you are just foolish.”

This insult was almost too much for Kai and her temper broke. Just as she drew in a breath and poised to strike...


OFG's voice, full of authority and tinged with rage, filled The Great Hall. Everyone froze. Except for Little Mo, who was clearing his throat noisily and tapping a scroll too obviously. OFG cut her eyes at the former troubadour who again cleared his throat... too obviously. He started tapping on the scroll again. OFG blinked at him. She turned back to the Princess and the hunter.

“Bandit.” Said OFG in a more measured tone, “Come forward...and be welcomed.”

Little Mo exhaled audibly.

The Mistress of the House of Ehren had written OFG to tell her of Bandit's coming and to beg forgiveness. Altho Bandit lived with Erhen's Household she served none. Bandit's independence and insolence was almost as legendary as her hunting victories.

It was known that Bandit rejected all forms of authority and submitted to none. It caused great heartache and frustration for her Mistress but it was the way of the BearHunters. OFG agreed not to be offended by Bandit's insubordination as long as it did not infect the rest of her troops. But OFG had not expected Bandit to challenge her own Princess in her Great Hall. OFG was vexed and everyone knew it.

Bandit made her way to OFG's dias. She had the low slung stride of many great hunters and she walked with the confidence of an older woman who knew her beauty. Bandit knew that Col Ti was watching her. Bandit moved like water. Silently.

Little Mo had been furiously whispering in OFG's ear as Bandit approached. Princess Kai followed just behind and her stoney gaze was also on Bandit.

“I bring greetings from the House of Erhen.” Called out Bandit as she made, with great effort, a cursory bow acknowledging OFG. “I thank you for your welcome. The Warriors Otto and Cowboy send their warmest regards to you and your officers. My bearers and personal guard are positioned outside your North Gate and await for your permission to enter this Good Land. My bearers have gifts and messages from my Mistress.”

Little Mo was intrigued by Bandit's thick accent and reveled in the way she said, “vfrom mai Meeeestrezzz.” The foreignness of her voice tickled the inside of his ear. “This was going to be an interesting visit.” He thought. Seeing that OFG had relaxed a bit Little Mo settled in to watch the spectacle.

“You are most welcome, Bandit. Our scouts have reported your camp. Have your men come and we will give them quarters.” Said OFG.

“No,” Said Bandit, “My thanks. But do nothing for them. They will seem odd to you and they will prefer to keep some distance. But please, send a runner to let the bearers know the gifts will be received.”

“What manner of creature are your companions, Bandit BearHunter, that they would seem strange to us? Asked OFG.

“Kapvik.” Answered Bandit. “They can be...difficult..and it is best for them to keep their own camp.”

OFG raised an eyebrow. This Bandit is really something, she thought. A she-bitch who runs with wolverines is no one to be trifled with. OFG smiled to herself. But neither is My Fighting Uruk-Hai. OFG glanced at the Princess who was nearly shaking with rage. Kai had been caught off guard by Bandit, but it would not happen again. Having two BearHunter females under the same roof could be problematic.  She had expected some friction but nothing like this.

“Col Ti, recall the rangers from the North and tell the troops to avoid that region. Bandit, tell your men that they may hunt for two days North and one day East or West, but to stay close to the gate. And I trust you will keep a firm hand on your....difficult... companions.” Said OFG.

Then gesturing to the warriors gathered in the Great Hall, OFG explained, “You see that we have both Predators and Prey serving the Good Land. Make sure your men understand the difference between friend and foe...and food." A little laughter rippled through the troops, altho some of the serving ducks looked around nervously.  OFG continued, “Of course, they may help themselves to as many rats and weasels they can find.” Bandit nodded curtly acknowledging these orders.

Little Mo was watching Col Ti. Col Ti's eyes watched Bandit's every move. He looked like a love struck puppy. “This will be very interesting, indeed.” Thought Little Mo.

Meanwhile the Great Hall resumed its typical level of activity. The crowd gathered to hear the news as Bandit relayed the stories of her Mistress, Otto, and Cowboy.

Commander Zander entered the Great Hall. He stood at least a head and shoulder above the rest of the crowd. He was tall and proud and kingly in his appearance. He smiled easily and people were drawn to his natural leadership. Wondering what he missed Zander took his place next to his mother and his still seething sister. He noted the new visitor and her amazing eyes.

“You must be tired, Bandit, from your travels. Please enjoy the comforts of our hospitality.” Said OFG.

With this polite dismissal Bandit bowed to take her leave. But before Bandit could rise OFG leaned down and said in a barely audible whisper, “Have a care with my Princess, Bandit. Had I not agreed to some... latitude... for your behavior you would be dead now. Kai may be beguiled by your fame, but I am not.” Bandit raised her eyes a bit to see that OFG was glaring at her. “You will respect this court, Bandit, or I will kill you myself.”

Bandit could feel the full weight of OFG's authority and rage upon her. Perhaps for the first time in her life Bandit genuinely averted her eyes and knelt lower under another's dominance.

“My apologies. I....”

But OFG cut her off, “Col Ti, please escort our visitor to her quarters.” Said OFG.

Eagerly Col Ti stepped forward, “Of course, Sir.” Then to the visitor, “Right this way, Bandit.”

Little Mo thought he might snicker at bit at Col Ti's eagerness to show Bandit her bedroom. However, everyone knew that you did not laugh at Col Ti and live to tell about it. So Little Mo just silently watched them go. As did everyone else.

Her mother's disapproving eye was upon her. “Kai. You will make your peace with Bandit. And you,” OFG said looking at Zander. “Zander, you will make sure of it. The last thing we need is some kind of incident. Just remember Kai, that your dear friend Cowboy will not be happy to hear of a fight between you and Bandit. She is a famed warrior and of a noble name. So give her the respect she deserves – and keep that sharp tongue of yours in check, my Princess, or I will send you on a very long and a very boring patrol. Now go. Both of you.”

Zander and Kai trotted away. Kai's brow was still furrowed. “What was that all about, Sister?” Asked Zander.

“Nothing. It was nothing.” Said Kai, deeply shamed, and she walked faster to get out of the Great Hall.

1 comment:

David said...

awesome. just awesome

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