Chapter Eleven: An Account of What Happened to Moxi

Author’s note: This novel is written in loving memory of my sister, Jamie Elizabeth Bryan (9/16/1977-8/16/2014) who said I needed to publish “the Gruman story.”

Moxi was indeed swimming when Bri and Groblar entered the woods, but a minute later a current swept her further southward. She wisely swam with the current rather than against it and was able to finally climb ashore much further south from the rest of us. The trees were so thick there that she couldn’t even enter the forest. Figuring that we would head south eventually, she did so as well. After traveling south along the shore for four days, and never being able to get into the forest, she finally was able to get away from the shore only when she reached Monlan. Of course, she knew she was in Monlan when the trees gave way to a lot of mud.

“How do these people manage it?” she said to herself as she set out across the marsh. “It is entirely unhealthy to have feet as wet as this.”

Not wishing to sleep in the mud, Moxi kept walking all that night, but was getting more and more discouraged. As the sun rose that day, she cried out.

“WHERE ARE YOU NOW!?”

At that moment, her feet flew out from beneath her and she could remember nothing else.

That same day, the Grumans had sent out a slave they had who knew how to gather fish and frogs out of the marshes. He had to do his hunting just outside the city of Shoika, where he had grown up but now served a cruel Gruman master. While he roamed about in the marshes under the watchful eye of a Gruman guard, he noticed something strange lying among the rushes. As he crept up for a closer look, he saw that it was a girl. Not just any girl, but a girl like him. He hadn’t seen a girl of this type for what seemed like ages. Even more so, this girl was obviously not from Monlan. Her dress was far too long and she wore shoes.

Dumbfounded as to how the girl got there, it took him a while to realize that the girl was breathing. The condition of her face and blood on her smock had him convinced that she was dead, but after further observation, he figured she must have simply slipped and bumped her head.

“Which wouldn’t have happened,” he said aloud, “if she didn’t wear those ridiculous shoes.”

The boy made sure the guards weren’t looking and picked the girl up. He carried her to an area where the reeds and rushes were even thicker than most so the guards couldn’t see what he was doing. He then emptied his large bag of fish and frogs and put the unconscious girl inside it.

When the boy returned home that evening, he snuck into his own small cabin before reporting to his master’s wife. He laid the girl on the bed, put his own supply of fish and frogs in the sack to take to the Grumans, and ran up to the main house before the Grumans would get suspicious.

Moxi woke up rather wet and muddy and wondered where she was as she looked around the cabin. She jumped when she heard the door creak open, and when she saw the strange boy in the doorway, she nearly fell out of the bed.

“No, no,” he said, holding up his hands. “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”

The boy picked some rocks off the windowsill and struck them together next to a lamp. It lit up the room and Moxi was able to get a good look at him. He looked about her age, with bright blue eyes and dirty blond hair that stuck out all around his head. His clothes looked wet and muddy, especially the boots, which he had taken off and left at the doorway. There were also plenty of bruises and scratches on his face and arms, several of which were still bleeding.

Not knowing what else to say, Moxi asked him a question.

“What happened to you?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing,” he said. “I’ve just been to see the Gruman mistress is all. She doesn’t like it when I don’t bring home a lot of fish.”

“Really?” Moxi answered, trying to clear her head. “And why didn’t you bring home a lot of fish?”

“Well,” he said, grinning at her. “I appear to have found something more interesting.”

With that Moxi laughed. She told him her account, from the Gruman invasion to escaping from Sonchia and winding up on the outskirts of Monlan. The boy listened attentively and seemed very interested in the stuff about the prophecy. Moxi couldn’t believe her luck of running into one of the remnants of Monlan simply by getting separated and lost. The boy didn’t think it was luck.

“That prophecy,” he said. “Don’t you think that maybe it has destined me to find you?”

“What?” she asked. “You mean I was supposed to get lost?”

“Think about it,” he told her. “Twelve of you couldn’t just storm into Monlan and announce for us to come with you. The Grumans would have you in a minute. But if just one of you happens to wander in…and just happens to come across one of us…”

“You’re crazy,” Moxi said. “You mean I’m supposed to gather the remnant of Monlan and bring you to the others?”

“Sure looks that way to me,” he said.

“But…” Moxi stammered. “I don’t even know where they are! I don’t even know how many are here! Or where I’m supposed to find them! Why did it have to be me?!”

“Calm down,” said the boy. “And here…put these on and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

With that the boy put his boots back on and was gone. He had handed her some dry clothes, including socks, as well as some meat wrapped up in a cloth. Moxi quickly changed and was appalled at how short the skirt was. She covered her legs with the blanket and ate as she waited for the boy to return. He came back, but remained in the doorway.

“Tomorrow, you’ll need to hide in here,” he said. “I’ll be going out early in the morning but I’ll be back at twilight and then we’ll go. I sent a message to Pitru and he’ll be expecting us. I’ll sleep in the other cabin so you can use my bed.”

“Okay,” Moxi said. “But what about…?”

“Sorry,” he said, looking over his shoulder, “Can’t talk any more tonight. They’re watching me. I’ll see you tomorrow night okay? And stay out of sight! Goodnight.”

And with that he blew out the lamp and was gone.

“Well,” Moxi said to herself. “He certainly does come and go doesn’t he?”

The next day, Moxi did as she was told. She stayed inside the little cabin and managed to dry out her smock, but it was still pretty dirty, so she put it on over the clothes the boy had brought her.

“One must be modest,” she said to herself. “What that boy could have been thinking, bringing me something as short as that!”

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