The Standard Bearer

I did mention that I wanted to write a post related to Sean Craven’s recent entry over at Renaissance Oaf, entitled An Immigrant in the Country of Love.

I’ve been finding a lot of parallels in my own earlier transformation and Sean’s current ones, as he begins to see himself as part of a larger community of artists. It’s good reading. He’s written very frankly about this experience. Do read his entry. It will NOT disappoint.

And it moves me to write something of my own, which is about my own tranformative experience. You can sort of see the overlap and the differences in how we both became larger than where we came from. Mine’s more than one part, I’m afraid. Bear with me.

The Standard Bearer

Nevermind that the armor didn’t shine. It was battered and tarnished, but it was hers. She was an unlikely standard bearer, dressed in armor that could only have been made of scrap, her face scowling, her hands shaking as she walked up the green hill. Her jaw was solid against the wind.

The standard she carried couldn’t have been hers. The material of it gleamed. White fringe swung with a grace that wasn’t her in her step. Even the hand that touched the pole was different than the hand that draped beside her, manicured and clean, not dirty, fingernails bitten to the quick.

She plunged the standard deep into the hill when she reached the top, and looked down over crisp green valleys. This was where she would build it. She had brought the standard this far. This was a good place, high, defensible, green. She would build a new castle for those she served, in this new land she had sought for them. It would be a better life.

So she began to work. She left the standard where others could see it. And she carried stones. The first thing she built was a watch tower, and the standard stood in front of the tower, gleaming white whatever the weather, whatever the time of day.

Riders came to the tower to see the standard, and they stayed because of it. The standard bearer they didn’t care for much, but underneath the battered armor they would catch a glimpse of a smile, or a snatch of intellect that made them happy that they had stayed underneath the glowing banner. They helped her build a fort, nothing fancy, but something solid and sturdy.

One day she told them she would return to bring those she served to the castle. She made to take the standard with her, but the riders, now her friends, asked if they could keep watch over it while she traveled. She agreed, and left the white banner in their company. She was relieved. Her journey forth had been treacherous. People had tried to take the standard from her. And those she served would want it back. She had become attached to it herself.

One rider, a man who had been her most loyal companion, decided he would return with her. They rode back to the land where she had come from, through mists of uncertainty, through a clouded landscape of vague shadows, and finally to the gray castle where the people the standard bearer served ruled.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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