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Old 10-12-2008, 05:03 PM   #298
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The three-legged race

The seven pairs practiced walking, tied leg to leg. Loern practiced hanging on to Degas' leg for dear life, giggling all the while as Degas practiced walking with an extra 30 pounds on one leg. It was when they started to practice running that the weaknesses of the various couples began to show themselves. Degas made very good progress while it was nothing but walking; once he tried to run a bit, Loern squealing, he looked like a drunken sailor who had lost his sea legs. Kara did not have very good balance and her right leg seemed to always get left behind, and down she went. Garstan and Stigend kept on saying “after you” “no, after you”, and got nowhere. Garmund and Cnebba struggled at first and started to get frustrated. Then they watched Saeryn and Ginna, and Eodwine and Rowenna, who seemed to be getting the hang of it. Garmund told Cnebba to watch what they were doing, and with a little bit of practice, they began to make some progress. But Wilcred, wise old man, had a plan, and giving Javan a wink, explained what he had in mind.

“Under your breath for now, boy, but later on, we'll show 'em.” Javan nodded, grinning enthusiastically.

“On your marks!” cried Lithor, and waited patiently as all seven couples struggled back to the starting line.

Eodwine whispered something in Rowenna's ear. She got a sly grin on her face and nodded gleefully.

“Get set!” cried Lithor.

All seven pairs got themselves ready.


Kara and Erbrand, and Garmund and Stigend promptly fell. Eodwine and Rowenna tried to grab Degas so he couldn't move forward, and instead fell themselves. Garmund and Cnebba didn't fall but barely kept their balance, but got nowhere. Saeryn and Ginna took three whole steps forward, and Degas took four steps, but Javan and Wilcred, the elder of the pair shouting “One! Two! One! Two!” went five whole steps, moving in perfect harmony, before the others got off their bottoms.

Eodwine and Rowenna, and Kara and Erbrand promptly fell down again. Garmund and Cnebba managed three whole steps. Garstan & Stigend made four. Saeryn and Ginna adopted Wilcred's counting device and they made four more steps while Wilcred and Javan made three (Javan's short legs were slowing them down). But Degas picked up the pace and was in the lead by a step.

Kara couldn't even get up she was laughing so hard despite Erbrand's kindest ministrations. Eodwine and Rowenna got up, tried a step, and fell down a third time. Garmund and Cnebba were making good progress and were catching up to Saeryn and Ginna. Wilcred slowed down a bit for Javan. Garstan and Stigend caught up to Saeryn and Ginna and were closing in on Javan and Wilcred, but Degas and Loern were now pulling away much to the laughing glee of the little girl.

Erbrand finally got Kara on her feet, and they managed one step before Kara fell yet again, weak from laughing. Eodwine and Rowenna actually made three steps without falling. But Ginna tripped over a bump in the ground and down went both she and Saeryn. Garmund and Cnebba caught up with them. Javan and Wilcred found a more comfortable Javan-sized pace and made two more steps. Garstan and Stigend seemed to finally get the hang of it and started really running, and almost caught up to Degas while Loern cried, “Degas, you must beat Daddy!”

Kara laughed helplessly and couldn't get up, so Erbrand could do nothing but laugh in bemusement himself. Eodwine and Rowenna fell again, which was inexplicable because they both had good senses of balance and were fit, and not shy with each other; it was as if someone were rolling dice for their progress and constantly coming up with snake-eyes; at least they had made it twice as far as Kara and Erbrand, which wasn't saying much. Saeryn and Ginna managed two more steps, gaining back their confidence. Garmund and Cnebba passed them. Garstan and Stigend were tied for second with Javan and Wilcred, with Degas just a step ahead; but he was tiring.

It hit Erbrand that he was being too bashful with Kara and not holding her tightly enough; his competitive instincts won out and he hauled her to her feet and grabbed her firmly around the waist (she just kept laughing), and they took a whole step forward without falling; this put them four steps from the starting line. Eodwine and Rowenna finally found their rhythm and the luck of the dice rolling gods seemed to be with them, and they took three running steps without incident; they'd taken ten so far. Saeryn and Ginna managed another two steps; thirteen. Garmund and Cnebba kept up their pace; fifteen. Garstan and Stigend stumbled but kept their feet, slowing them; twenty steps. Javan and Wilcred caught up to the tiring Degas; twenty two steps.

Eodwine and Rowenna stumbled but kept their feet, taking two steps more. Erbrand gained confidence and took Kara three steps. Saeryn and Ginna kept their pace and stayed the same distance ahead of Eodwine and Rowenna. Garmund and Cnebba fell into a mighty rhythm and started running faster than anybody else, closing in on Garstan and Stigend who were falling farther behind Javan and Wilcred, who were in the lead; Degas was tiring badly.

Suddenly, the strings holding Loern to his leg came loose and she swung wildly on his leg with a “whoa!”; his left leg dragging, his right went out too far and he almost did a (painful) split, his arms flailing wildly, and he went down. Wilcred was tiring now, and Javan had to slow down with him, but they were still ahead. Garmund and Cnebba passed the fallen Degas and the steadily plodding Garstan and Stigend. Eodwine and Rowenna picked up their pace again. But Erbrand and Kara (shrieking) came charging forward now, catching up to Eodwine and Rowenna.

They were closing in on the finish line now, but Wilcred was tiring more; he and Javan took two more steps. Garmund and Cnebba, tired out from the exertion, slowed to half their pace, only two steps behind the leaders. Garstan and Stigend both tripped on the same hillock and they both went down. Degas got himself up and grabbed hold of Loern, telling her to hang on tight. They took a step. Saeryn and Ginna found the best pace yet for them, and made up a little bit of ground. Eodwine and Rowenna did the same, still four paces behind them. Erbrand and Kara were now charging forward and had almost caught Eodwine and Rowenna.

Eodwine and Rowenna took two more steps. The hard charging Erbrand virtually carried Kara (still shrieking with laughter) past them, and past Saeryn and Ginna, who lay on the ground again, apparently having gone faster than was workable for them. Degas was only two steps ahead of Erbrand and Kara now, trying to figure out how to take a step while holding onto Loern holding onto his leg. Garstan and Stigend had gotten up and took two more steps. One step away from the finish line, Wilcred lost his footing and fell, Javan landing on top of him. Garmund and Cnebba took the lead, and crossed the finish line first.

Wilcred and Javan got up and crossed the finish line next. Garstan and Stigend, overeager, tripped and fell again, three steps shy of the finish line. Erbrand and Kara were only two steps behind them. Degas was still trying to figure things out. Saeryn and Ginna got up and closed in on Degas, Eodwine and Rowenna bringing up the rear.

Erbrand put on a final burst of speed and carried Kara past Garstan and Stigend (who had gotten up and promptly fallen again), and crossed the finish line third. Saeryn and Ginna caught up to Degas, still standing there, trying to figure out a step while Loern looked like she was ready to cry. Eodwine and Rowenna still brought up the rear.

Garstan and Stigend got up and took three more steps to cross the line fourth. Degas figured out how to manage and took a difficult step with Loern. Saeryn and Ginna were watching as they passed Degas, and through loss of concentration, tangled up their steps and fell. Eodwine and Rowenna both laughed at that, and fell themselves. These last two pairs coudln't stop laughing and didn't bother to get up. Meanwhile, Degas, encouraging his partner, took one difficult step at a time and finished fifth.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 10-13-2008 at 09:58 AM.
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