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Anabar's Run by Will Granger
ANABAR'S RUN is the story of a young man who is a different kind of hero. He's different because he's not magic or a vampire or a prince. He's also not destined to save the world from an evil being. Instead, Anabar is a normal young man who follows a dream and faces some very difficult decisions along the way, the biggest being whether to seek fame and adventure or what he knows is right.
Sixteen-year-old Anabar lives on a small farm in a valley surrounded by snow-covered mountains. He feels he is ready to leave his valley and see the world and becomes curious about what he might find. He has grown up as an orphan, raised by Tom and Pompor, two men who cared for Anabar’s mother before she died.
Anabar wonders about the world outside his valley, but feels he must first solve the mystery of a cave near his home. He enters the cave and discovers a journal, which provides information about his parents, whom he has never known. With this resolved, he feels he is finally ready to leave. Tom gives him a few sparkling stones called drail to use to trade for supplies when he leaves.
While waiting for warm weather to melt the mountain passes, Anabar climbs the highest peak above his valley to see the surrounding lands. The snow crumbles beneath him and he and his dog, Ralph, tumble down the slope outside the valley. A rider sees them fall and moves closer.
The rider, a huge man who Anabar regards as a giant, captures Anabar and finds a piece of the drail in his pocket. The giant ties a rope around Anabar’s neck and forces him to walk for miles behind his horse. Neither Anabar nor the giant notice that another rider has spotted them and is following, while taking care to stay out of sight.
This second rider is Omalof, a member of the Semdelan Scouts, a band of elite swordsman sworn to defend their nation against all enemies. Omalof doesn’t immediately try to rescue Anabar, but instead stays behind and watches to see how the boy reacts to being captured.
Anabar and the giant arrive at a camp where the giant lives with his brother. Anabar tries to fight them but can’t get away. During the night, Omalof sneaks into the camp and cuts the rope holding Anabar. The young man escapes and makes it back to his valley.
Back at home, Anabar questions Tom and Pompor about the drail. They explain that it is the main source of trade and conflict between the nations of Semdela and Ricamareth because it is so valuable. Anabar also learns that Pompor is from Semdela, and Tom is from Ricamareth, and that both moved to the valley to escape the almost constant fighting between the two nations.
Several weeks later, Omalof appears in the valley to check on Anabar. He says he was impressed by the way Anabar fought against the giant and asks him to enter training to be a Scout. Anabar agrees and they leave together.
Anabar begins months of brutal training that includes running and climbing mountains. He learns sword fighting, and hand-to-hand combat techniques, and how to move close to an enemy without being seen. Omalof also teaches him to be ruthless when facing an enemy.
Although the training is physically difficult, Anabar excels and becomes stronger every day. Privately, he also struggles with doubts about his ability to face real enemies and hopes he will not have to use his growing skills.
As Anabar and Omalof pass through several towns, they hear rumors of a possible war with Ricamareth. Anabar sees no reason for this and hopes it doesn’t happen. Determined to impress Omalof, he suppresses these thoughts and continues his training.
After months of training, Omalof announces Anabar is ready for his final test. He gives Anabar three days to make it the thirty miles to the capital city of Beral. They are to meet at a bridge in the center of town at sundown on the third day. During the test, Omalof chases him, and also tells all the soldiers in the area that Anabar is an outlaw. They do not know it is a test. Omalof also tells Anabar that he will not rescue him if he is captured.
During his race to city, Anabar travels nonstop with little rest or food. On the second night, he is almost apprehended by two soldiers but fights them off. He then changes his appearance by cutting his hair, putting on different clothes, and faking a limp. Disguised, he eludes capture and sneaks into the city and beats Omalof to the bridge. He passes the test and is initiated into the Scouts in a solemn ceremony where he receives his sword, the symbol of his new status as a Scout.
The dark rider following Anabar stopped when he heard the man fall. He climbed down from his horse and tied it to a branch. He stepped into the trees and walked toward the sounds of the struggle. He moved from shadow to shadow, making no sound. He made his way to the edge of the woods by the camp and peered out.
Anabar struggled to free his hands. He saw the huge man, who he regarded as a giant, was stunned and getting up slowly, but knew he didn't have much time. He pulled and twisted his body, ignoring the pain from the rope against his neck, but still was unable to escape.
The giant, no longer smiling, got to his feet and reached inside his coat. He produced a long, curved knife and glared at Anabar. For a moment, the boy thought the giant was going to use it on him. Instead, the giant cut the rope from the saddle and gave it a hard pull.
Anabar gasped as the rope dug into his neck. He finally managed to free his hands, but he could not release the rope around his neck. He almost lost his footing, but he was angry, and once again planted his feet and jerked back on the rope. The giant barely held on to his end and the two engaged in a deadly tug of war. Anabar was certain the giant would use the knife on him if he lost his balance. They stared across the open space between them, neither willing to give in.
The dark rider watched silently from edge of the woods. He reached down to his side and grabbed the handle of a long, curved sword hanging in a scabbard. He pulled the sword partway out.
Anabar and the giant circled around the camp, the rope pulled taught between them. No matter how hard he tried, and despite his size advantage, the giant could not gain any ground, or cause Anabar to lose his footing. He growled, and swore, and became more and more frustrated as the struggle continued.
Anabar noticed they had moved close to the fire, and a plan formed in his mind. Ignoring the pain in his neck, he gave a sudden jerk and hopped to his left.
The dark rider saw this maneuver and smiled. "Yes, yes, now you're thinking," he whispered. "Just a little closer now."
Anabar jerked the rope once again, causing the giant to trip over a pile of logs stacked next to the fire. He roared in pain as he landed face down in the dirt.
"Now!" Anabar thought, on seeing the giant go down. He took another step to his left, causing the rope to drag over the flames.
While all this was taking place, a small man emerged from the hut and quietly moved behind Anabar, unseen by the boy. He carried a short club in his hand. The man was a miniature version of the giant, with a similar heavy coat and dark beard. The dark rider spotted the man and drew his sword the rest of the way out of the scabbard. Still, he stayed back just inside the dark edge of the trees
"Just a few more seconds," Anabar thought. "Come on rope. Burn. Burn!"
The giant pushed up to his knees and shook his head, trying to clear his vision. The fall had left him dizzy and disoriented, but he still held on to his end of the rope. He managed to focus on Anabar, and staggered to his feet, without realizing the rope was in the fire.
Anabar saw the rope turn brown and begin to smoke. "Now," he thought, and gave a final tug. The rope snapped, causing Anabar and the giant to stumble in opposite directions as the tension gave way.
"I'm free!" Anabar thought. He started to turn toward the woods, but never saw the little man behind him, his club raised over his shoulder. The man struck Anabar on top of the head and the boy collapsed, unconscious, to the ground.
The dark rider started to step into the clearing, but held back. He decided to watch a little longer.