Chapter 1: Chapter 1
The hawk soared high in the sky with its large wings still, as it across the sky. It was flying over a dry landscape in the hot afternoon, while others of its kind were in their nests to escape the heat. Perhaps this one was also heading to its nest, as it was carrying a twig in its mouth, to either build a nest or repair the one it had. Its dark brown body covered in feathers shone somewhat under the intense sun above, but it seemed unfazed, as it just flapped its wings twice to gain some altitude. It flew over a house built on a high land near the light forest the hawk flew into.
The house was built on the highest altitude relative to the ones that surrounded it. It was built with logs and had tents joined to it around all its sides. The back of the house led to the forest. The house belonged to grandpa Harry. He was a strong old man who had just clocked seventy and his daughter's family had come visiting to celebrate his birthday.
Under one of the tents, the old man sat with his troublesome grandchildren who really seemed to be enjoying their day.
"Grandpa grandpa tell us a story!" Yvonne, his little granddaughter shouted, beaming at her grandfather.
"Yes grandpa, tell us a story," Clement said, following up his elder sister in trying to persuade their grandfather to tell them a story, as they were sitter in the mat in front of him.
"I will tell you two one, if you promise to go help your mama with her chores," replied their grandfather.
"We already did!" Retorted Yvonne.
"Help your dad with the gardening then," the old man said.
We also did that grandpa, replied Clement with a dragging voice.
"Ok then, since you both won't leave me alone, I will tell one from the village's folktale Yvonne, about the tale of Elsie," he said as he picked up a wood carving figure from the table beside the mat he was sitting on, which faced his grandchildren.
"Once upon a time in the history of the village, in the warring era, there lived two young siblings named Elsie and Genma, and their mother. They were poor because of the war happening in the region and were struggling to feed themselves, but their mother worked really hard for them to just keep them from intense starvation, and Elsie, her daughter, seeing how hard her mother worked, wished once to be able to save her mother whenever she entered any sort of trouble she could not come out of.
One day, while looking for roots in the bushes to make into herbs, the family found a dog half-dead, and under constant pleading from Elsie, their mother nursed the dog back to good health, and Elsie named the dog Budu. Over the next few months, Budu would prove very useful to the family not just as a play dog, as he would stroll of to the military camp near their home and steal food for the siblings' family, no matter how big or small, and it went a long way for them, given how much the war had taken from the land.
On and on this went, and the dog kept bringing them food. He was like their Robin-hood. One day, during one of the dog's usual forages to the military camp to get food for the family, he hadn't returned in time, and as it got even later, the family began to worry. The mother told the siblings to stay behind in their house while she went to look for the dog.
The mother took way too long to return, and nighttime had already come. The children were getting agitated with impatience and hunger. In the depths of the night, both siblings left the house to go look for their mother and the dog.
They reached the top of a hill, below which was the military camp. Looking closer, the elder sister noticed a dog impaled to a wooden pole with a metal spike in front of the camp below. She pushed her younger brother's head backwards and told him not to make a sound as she scanned for her mother in the camp, but couldn't see her. She told her brother to stay put, and descended the hill from behind and went round the camp to the side and snuck into it. While in the camp, she hid and searched for her mother, until she found her. Her mother was in chains, binding her two hands to the wall it was connected to as she lay on the ground behind the camp.
Elsie was good at picking locks, as she occasionally had to steal to feed her family. She observed the locks holding her mother and left to look for something suitable enough to pick the locks, even though they were military grade at the time. She came back with two thin, rusty pieces of metal and began picking the locks until they became loose. Both mother and daughter snuck out of the military camp the way Elsie had come back to the hill where Genma was, only to find a soldier holding him upright with one hand and the boy's mouth with the other hand.
'I knew he wasn't alone,' said the soldier. 'You were chained at the base, weren't you? I see you got these two to release you, too bad, you've been caught.' 'Run!', the mother shouted at Elsie, and she ran as fast as she could. Not long had she run that she then heard her mother's scream of terror, and she froze, weeping. As the cavalry closed in on her, she wished, in tears, that she could save her mother. As the soldiers surrounded her, she disappeared from their midst, and the soldiers thought they had seen a witch and all scattered.
Elsie suddenly gained consciousness at the time her mother was to go look for Budu and realizing she had gone back in time to the past, she begged her mother to let her come along to look for Budu, despite the mother's warning of it being dangerous. After much persistence, the mother gave in, and they both told Genma to stay behind. As they reached the military camp, trying to hide, they were immediately spotted, and captured. As they were taken to be executed due to suspicion of them being spies, Elsie wished again to save her mother and Budu, but she did not disappear.
After watching her mother now being killed, again, she realized the original wish was to save her mother when in trouble, and that the previous wish was the same, and perhaps why it worked. Realizing she could not save Budu and her mother at the same time, she once again, in tears, wished to save her mother. Before the axe could touch her, she disappeared once more, and regained consciousness again at the moment her mother was supposed to go look for Budu.
She hugged her mother tightly, weeping, telling her not to go, but stay with her and Genma. The mother said they'd be short on food, but Elsie nodded, saying they'd survive. Her baffled mother gave in. Elsie realized that, by saving her mother, Genma was automatically saved, as he didn't need to follow them out, and wept out loud, releasing all the relief in her, and her mother then held her tightly. Months passed, and the family continued to survive amid the war, and Elsie wondered if Budu could have survived, since they didn't go to rescue him again, and although unlikely, she still kept hope. She reflected on how his sacrifice, when alive, saved the family, and thought to herself; 'life's unfair, isn't it?'"
"Stop scaring the children dad," Mia Nundo, the kid's mum, snapped in front of her father.
"O, but they were loving it Mia dear, weren't you kids?"
The kids were silent after the story, more intrigued than scared after the story.
"See papa, they…"
"And what happened next papa!"
"Did the dog survive?"
The kids rushed their grandfather with questions after their initial silence, with their intrigue turning into curiosity.
"Well kids, we're now running late and need to start leaving, cus your dad is going to work tomorrow, she said as she checked her wristwatch.
"Then we'll stay with grandpa mom," cried Clement.
"No can't do little one," Mia said, rubbing Clement's head.
"I wish I could save people like Elsie grandpa," "yes, me too," the children told their grandfather simultaneously, and he told them "you bet, guess she can hear you," He said, waving the wood carving of Elsie in his hand.
"Yaarh, better follow your mum kids, since she's being less fun today hmm," grandpa retorted.
"I see what you're doing there father, not gonna work. Now come here..muah!". She pecked her father on the cheek and called for her husband to come to their tent as he was engaged in discussion with one of the boarders boarding in the house. The boarder had recently started living there, and apart from him, there were four others who had been boarding for longer times there.
Their father and the boarder waved themselves goodbye, and he joined his family as they also greeted their grandfather goodbye, and got in the car to start living. It was already late in the evening, and the sun had already set, and as they prepared for their night trip, their father commented "It's gonna be a long trip tonight."