TITLE: The One Called Coward
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy
The strap that fastens over my shiny silver boot feels loose. I tighten it, making sure that no skin is visible.
Three years ago, when I was studying the enemy with Geros, he peeled off his jacket and pointed to the oozing black scar that started at his wrist and ran up to his shoulder. “This was the penalty for carelessness,” he said. “It happened twenty years ago, and it still pains me.”
A gasp ran around the class. He glared at each of the twenty-four of us. Only Merith met his flat, black eyes. Geros is a hero. He’s old, fierce, afraid of no one, and we were children, eleven years old.
He pointed to me. “You, boy. Will you cover every piece of flesh before you go outside?”
Geros mocks us when we make mistakes and makes us work until we can scarcely move. But he’s been out beyond the wall many times. He knows what it’s like, and he wants us to be prepared. We understand that and we forgive him. All except Merith, who hates him and never shows him any sign of weakness. I’ve seen Geros watching her sometimes, but I can’t tell what he’s thinking.
I’m ready to go. I bend down and pat Navid, my dog. He licks my hand as I pull his long, silky ears and kiss the top of his head. I wouldn’t like anyone to see me doing that.