In my earlier post, I introduced you to the basic framework of the Rebels and the world in which they work. Now I’m moving on to tell the story of the first in the six-part series: The Rebel (technically, the fourth book in the series, The Gang, takes place before The Rebel [and coincides with the first bit too], but since I wrote it after it felt wrong to insert in in the beginning. Especially as it only really gets its significance after reading the first 1-3). (<- gosh, that was a long parenthetical! Sorry! 😛 )
Note: In this post I tell the big secret. So stay tuned. If you get bored and want to quit, but you still was to know THE BIG DEEP DARK MYSTERIOUS SECRET NO ONE KNOWS ( 😀 ), it’s towards the end of the post. Scroll down till you see bolded words. And I understand if you want to skip to it. I might too if I were in your shoes. 😛
We first meet Wystaria as a servant girl to Lady Alice, who could truthfully be called many uncouth names but is, summarily, a jerk(ess?). She is one of those people who doesn’t know what humor or taking things lightly is, and Wystaria’s sassy humor aggravates her more than a plague of fleas. When Wystaria hears that she is planning to have her killed, she flees to the sea, heading for Saathlir (the rich and friendly motherland of Kole). She takes the shortest route, which takes her within sight of the dreaded Rebel Mountain, but nothing untoward happens, at least on the Rebel front. She does have several run-ins with bandits, but Wystaria… well, has her own fighting style. She beats the bandits fairly easily the first time, and even when the return with more men, she successfully defeats them and makes her escape. But just before she reaches the sea, soldiers sent by the steward catch up with her and take her prisoner despite her nearly escaping through their fingers. After a strange interaction with the steward meant to pass for a trial, he charges her with treason and tells her to take her impudence to the hangman the next day. She locked in cell 32, a little Rebel series Easter egg that appears in each story in some way or another. She is confused, because she still has no idea why she suddenly has, it seems, enemies all around her hungering for her death. She literally has no clue why anyone would want her dead or who she might have antagonized. Even the steward clearly wants her dead.
The tide turns for Wystaria when she is rescued or taken captive, which she isn’t sure, by a Rebel team (reminder: the Rebels work in teams, two Rebels to a team). They take her to the top of the Rebel Mountain to meet with their captain, who, they tell her, will answer her questions.
I have to admit, her meeting with Johann is one of my favorite scenes, if not my favorite. If you want to read the whole conversation, you can find it here. And it was double cool because in The Gang, the prequel to The Rebel, I wrote the scene over again, but from Johann’s perspective. Okay, moving on. 🙂
(for those of you who want a nutshell, here you go:
- The ruling king is the late king’s cousin.
- The son of the late king disappeared with his mother after his death.
- His mother was murdered by Lady Alice and (though his enemies wish he was dead and tell the kingdom he is and try to make him be) the prince, the true heir to the throne, is still alive and in hiding somewhere.
- The Rebels are trying to track him down to put him on the throne and reestablish the kingdom as it was of old.
- The steward is the real brains behind the plot, and the king is more of a puppet than anything else.
- The steward is the one after Wystaria, seeking her death, but no one is certain why.
- The Rebels (well, Johann more like) want Wystaria to join them.
That, I think, is all you need to know 🙂 )
So in the end, Wystaria joins the Rebels (led by Johann, the captain, and his brother Rupurt, second-in-command), and the next day begins her training. In these days of the Rebels, training is more loose, meaning it’s more unstructured. Each trainer teaches their student to fight with knives and tactical thinking and stalking and sneaking skills, they have group drills for mass fights, and once the student is deemed competent in the necessary skills, they pass a test and are initiated. In later years the process becomes more organized and structured, but not now.
Because of this, and because of Wystaria’s dedication and her saintly instructor (getting up to crazy antics at all hours of the day and night in all sorts of places like swamps, woods, castles and cliff sides to train and hone her skills and only catching sleep as a recreational activity in the odd few hours they took off from training), she passed her tests after only three weeks. Her very first assignment is to go with Rupurt (incidentally one of the Rebels who rescued her, because Wystaria hasn’t been matched to a partner yet so he is acting as a stand-in until a permanent partner can be found) and rescue a certain man being held prisoner by the steward “king” in cell 32. He is, it seems, a very key person, and Johann urges her to make sure he comes back alive and to not delay for a moment. She escapes with her charge, but the cell guards (whom she had knocked out) came too and gave the alarm before they had quite escaped the castle. Wystaria leads the soldiers on a merry chase while Rupurt takes their rescued prisoner back to the Rebel Mountain. Wystaria runs into the steward, who she greets for the sake of it, reveling in his confusion and lack of recognition. But even as she makes her way out of the castle leaving the confusion and uproar behind her, she witnesses the steward murder the king. Wystaria, who had thought that they were in league in their evil plots, was confused by this turn of events, but she didn’t dare meddle with anything now – she had a job to do, and that was get out, get back, and make sure Rupurt and their charge got back safely. So she leaves and catches up with the others and they reach the Rebel Mountain relatively unhindered.
Now, this it’s another favorite part of mine, at least when I wrote it. Because this is when all the little pieces of the story fall into place, and you get all the tangled web and betrayal, murder, and deceit straight right before plunging into the climax. But to continue.
Arriving back at the Rebel Mountain, Wystaria and Rupurt find out that Johann had left shortly after they had for a quick mission, recovering some papers or something, Kara (Wystaria’s instructor, whom Johann had left in charge) wasn’t sure on the details. (great idea! Send the president and the vice president out at the same time! See if we can’t get them killed!) Fortunately, Johann isn’t the captain for no reason, and he returns in the same hour with the information he sought and a few less of the steward’s assassins to beset anyone again. He introduces himself to the prisoner they rescued, and says basically, “please tell me you’re Lukus, because we’re running out of time and really can’t afford another false trail”, and he says yes, he is Lukus, true heir of Kole. (This takes Wystaria quite by surprise, as Johann hadn’t given her any hint that he was sending her after possible missing heir… but then, that’s classic Johann 😛 ) Johann and Rupurt then give him a crash course on the position of the Rebels and the position of things, and they decide to make the bold move of marching against the steward, who they guess after the king’s murder plans to set himself up as ruler, with the Rebels as their only army. But first they will discreetly spread the word that the true king still lives and is returning to take back his koingdom. Then, before the steward can fully organize himself, they hope, to strike and (also hoping) then all the loyal Kolite soldiers and warriors will join them. Otherwise, it would be a very ugly situation.
After the plan of action is established, Johann reveals what he was up to. Pursuing the trail of missing prince, he had made a surprising recent discovery. Somehow, the Klondel (the steward), Lady Alice, and the royal family were all tangled in a complex web that also crossed trails with Wystaria. Lady Alice was secretly the head of Klondel’s assassins, and was responsible for the queen’s murder. Klondel himself however had murdered the king (Lukus’s father). How he got his hands on the “papers” that told all the deep dark connections of the steward’s plot or what exactly the “papers” were, Johann didn’t say (though later you learn they had something to do with the secret files Klondel had in his study).
Now, bear with me, because this is going to get complicated and require in depth explanation. We’ve gotten to the BIG SECRET. 😉
Klondel’s sister Faera played a role in it all. Far back, she had married a man her brother didn’t like, and he had tried to prevent the marriage, especially as he had planned to marry Faera to the (then single 😛 ) king, stage an accident to the royal family, and become king. She had three children before he caught up with her again. His top assassin, Lady Alice, was assigned the task of getting rid of the unwanted husband. She opted for poison, but things went wrong and Faera got the poison and died. Her newly born daughter got some of the poison and so her father rode swiftly to an old friend of his, a mysterious woman in fenlands, who saved the baby’s life. But she told him that the baby would need her care for another week before it would be safe to send her home. He left his daughter there to return home and bring his two sons (who had not been able to accompany him on the urgent ride) back and go into hiding. He was attacked by Lady Alice’s cronies and all but killed. At that same time, they caught up with the queen and her son where they had fled after the king’s death earlier that day (when Klondel had heard of the death of his sister, instead of murdering the queen as he had intended to, he killed the king). So the prince was able to escape because Lady Alice’s assassin force was split. When Faera’s husband got home, clearly dying, his sons asked him where their sister was and how they could know her, for she hadn’t even been named yet, last they knew. He struggled to tell them everything, but all they ever made out was something about the stars. After his death, his sons, together with their gang of other orphan-outcast boys, went more or less into hiding, and began structuring a group unmatched in history – the Rebels. Johann and Rupurt seldom spoke of their missing and unknown sister, but secretly both hoped that somehow they might find her. But even when she had been dropped in their laps they hadn’t known her, not until Johann filched the papers and filled in the gaps.
Actually, to be fair, Johann had had a sense of something fitting together inside him ever since the first meeting with her – her face, the “stars” memory of his father’s dying words struck when she spoke her name, a certain familiar air and bearing – but he hadn’t had the time to focus on figuring it out. But when he got his hands on the proof of the steward’s full treachery, he had accidentally gotten his hands on the pieces to his own family puzzle. Why had the steward pursued Wystaria’s death with such vigor? He feared what she might know, and being the wary calculating snake he was, he sought to stop all possible holes in his beautiful scheme. He knew his nephews were the ones leading the Rebels, but by the time he learned that they were too great a force to be reckoned with. So he satisfied himself with populating the belief among the Kolites that Rebels messed in dark arts and were evil sorcerers to be feared (and destroyed when possible).
And here we are, at the climax. If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through 2,000 words. Congratulations, and good for you!! (that is, unless you skipped ahead… in which case I don’t know how many words you’ve read. And I’m not sure I’d blame you, lol! 😛 ) I’ve wasted enough of your time, so I’ll try and breeze through this.
Their plan goes relatively smoothly, except for one thing: no one liked or trusted the steward, but the fear and mistrust of the Rebels was too deeply ingrained for the Kolites to turn around and rush to their side. So in the end, the Rebels faced the steward and his most loyal followers and assassins, and all the Kolite warriors washed their hands of both, not knowing who to join or root for. The battle takes place in Castle Kole itself, more like hide-and-seek or tag than a normal battle. Later into the battle, Wystaria finds herself against Klondel. This exchange tells it all.
Wystaria: “So we meet again.”
Klondel: “I am, ultimately, inescapable. Like fate. Like your death. ”
Wystaria: “Back down now, traitor. Drop your sword and submit, and perhaps my king will spare your life.”
Klondel: “Oh, I’m truly terrified. And if I don’t? You’ll kill me yourself, I suppose? I dare you. I dare you to strike down your own blood and kin.”
Wystaria: “You always knew how to play the hearts of others, didn’t you? I am forced to take your dare.”
Fortunately for Wystaria, it was not to be. Just as she and the steward engaged in combat, the king, who had been searching for Klondel, found him and challenged him to single combat. Klondel accepts with relish, and both call off their troops. Everyone surges to the courtyard to witness the combat – everyone, that is, except Johann, Rupurt, and Wystaria. The king told them that without them present he would be able to kill Klondel with a clear conscience. So they hung out (in cell 32 – where else?) and had their first real meeting to compare the different pieces of their history and childhood and match timelines. (that was cool to write too, but a little boring if I went into it here 😉 )
So, anyway, the king wins as I’m sure you guessed and everything was sorted out. Afterward, the king gave the Rebel Mountain to the Rebels forever, so they became under their own rule, but still allied with Kole (and smack dab in the middle of it). I think that’s the only pertinent thing I covered in the wrap-up, but if I missed something necessary in the later books, I’ll cover it then. 😀
Bonus Trivia: In my second NaNoWriMo novel, I referenced several stories of mine in a world that was a stereotypification (you got me? That’s not a word, but I don’t know how else to put it) of my classic fantasy world. A world of “good kings and evil stewards, or good stewards and evil kings”. My lead was listing some examples, and among them she mentions Klondel and Lukus. She says, “…Klondel’s story is the more interesting because he was steward while the true heir was missing. He had a puppet king on the throne, sure, but everyone knew he wasn’t the true ruler and he didn’t do the ruling anyway. Klondel was the power behind the throne, and it took a great upheaval by a small band lead by his niece and nephews before he was deposed and the heir sat on the throne.” Just in case you were interested. I love Easter eggs, and putting in Easter Eggs. 🙂
Okay, this is the end. And since you’ve made it this far, here’s a little something for you.
Before ever I watched Batman Begins, before I even really knew what that was, this happened in my story (just try and picture a Rebel instead of Batman and swords instead of guns 😉 ):
Again, just thought you might be interested. 😀
Thanks for reading this, folks!! You made my day! ❤ Happy October! 🙂