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"Mender's Tale" was originally conceived as a five-part story. The first two chapters were scripted, edited, drawn, and published. Chapters 3 and 4 were scripted and drawn, but never published in print. They are seen here in the DigitalEQ project for the first time ever. Chapter 5 only ever made it to the rough script stage. We present it here, unpolished, so that readers may at least have a sense of how the tale was intended to be concluded.

PAGE ONE:

SPLASH: CU Mender, chagrined and VERY aware he's screwed things up. Others are in the background as he sends to Ember.

CAPTION: MENDER knows that in sending there is only TRUTH.

CAPTION: In a heartbeat, his chief EMBER will discern the CHAOS caused by his misguided crusade to explore humanity.

CAPTION: But with his quest in shambles -- and the lives of THREE HUMANS as well, who now depend on him for SURVIVAL -- he has nowhere else to turn...

MENDER (thought): "...give them NO REASON to come up the mountain!" she said. She'll KILL me...

MENDER (thought): ...and she'll be RIGHT to.

MENDER (send): Ember? My chief --

PAGE TWO:

Mender and Ember confer. Mender is told in no uncertain terms by Ember it's HIS strangleweed, and he's got to get himself out.

PANEL 1: ESTABLISHING SHOT: Teir and Ember in their sleeping-den, curled toward the reader. Remember -- it's not "shaped" like the old Father Tree -- but it's obviously where they have denned for some time. In his sleep, Teir is wrapped around Ember -- romantic and sexy without being in-your-face about it. Ember answers the send without sitting up.

EMBER (send): mmmm..Mender?

MENDER (o/p send): Ember, there's trouble.

PANEL 2 WAIST UP: Ember sits up (enough sleeping fur covering her to be modest to the readers). Teir readjusts so his head is in her lap, his arms around her waist, but doesn't wake up. (Even six years after Lehrigen, he won't let go of her if he doesn't have to...)

TEIR: mrfl...*sigh*

EMBER (send): How bad? Do they know about you?

EMBER (send): About US?

MENDER (o/p send): Not -- not exactly...

PANEL 3 LARGE PANEL: Behind Ember, fragmented views of what has happened (example: see GN 3, p. 33, center panel of Suntop's sending to Cutter). Ember

CAPTION: In a burst of jumbled images, the healer lays out his transgressions.

MENDER (o/p send):...so they don't know we're ELVES --

EMBER (angry send): -- but WHATEVER we are, we LIVE here, and they're on their way up!

EMBER (send): HIGH ONES, Mender, I TOLD you not to bring them here!

MENDER (small send): I know -- I'm sorry --

PANELS 4/5 DIAGONAL SLASH, TWO EXTREME CLOSE UPS: top Ember, implacable but not enraged (key: Hidden Years GN, Strongbow story; how Cutter handles it with Moonshade is the right note to hit); bottom Mender, wincing.

EMBER (send): That's not ENOUGH, healer.

EMBER (send): The tribe can't risk itself for YOUR folly. You're on your OWN.

MENDER (small send): But how do I --

EMBER (send): I don't care HOW -- just KEEP THEM AWAY FROM THE HOLT! Because if you DON'T --

PANEL 6 Mender; same view as splash page.

EMBER (o/p send): -- even LEETAH won't be able to heal you when I'm done with you!

MENDER (small send): I hear, my chief.

PAGE THREE:

Erghii and his hunters. Erghii is good -- but he's not a mountain man like Lehrigen, so the elves are able to keep them running and missing trails. Still, it gets harder and harder to hide Dalan and the rest.

PANEL 1 DOWN ANGLE ON YUN eyes high in a tree, motioning to the three humans hidden in a cave barely visible behind a bunch of bushes. Below her, Erghii stumps up with four hunters and comes upon a fork in the road. The right leads to the little hidden cave, the left somewhere else.

CAPTION: So for days it goes. Mender and Yun do their best to misdirect the hunting party, led by the Long-Rider ERGHII...

ERGHII: shhh!

YUN (send): Mender! Now!

PANEL 2 REVERSE (UP) ANGLE; Erghii holds up his hand, listening intently, a smile of superiority on his face. The others stop obediently behind him. Yun holds her breath.

CAPTION: ...who, though a fine hunter on the plains, is no match for elves on the mountain.

SFX: *crackle* *shff shff*

ERGHII: Aha!

ERGHII: This way...

PANEL 3 FOCUS ON front of the cave. Mender and Yun motion the humans out; we only see Anamara actually emerge. Everyone is still on alert.

CAPTION: Still, some calls are UNCOMFORTABLY close.

MENDER: *sigh* All's clear...let's go.

PANEL 4 ARTIST'S CHOICE: Sitting around a fire inside another cave. Mender and Anamara in discussion.

CAPTION: That night...

ANAMARA: It's getting harder to hide, spirit. We're not like you -- we make NOISE.

ANAMARA: And if Erghii find the horses...

MENDER: He won't. They're too far up the mountain.

PANEL 5 PROFILE: Anamara pulls some meat out of the fire with a stick and blows on it.

ANAMARA: Without horses, we might as well walk back and give ourselves up.

SFX: fffffff

PANEL 6

TWO SHOT: Anamara munches on the skewered meat, watches Mender, who has his chin in his hands, deep in thought.

MENDER: Maybe we can wait him out. IF we're careful...

PAGE FOUR:

Anamara confronts Mender. What are you doing? You can't go back to your people, we can't go back to ours, and we're NOT going to live here forever! The concept of honor...

PANEL 1 CLOSE TWO SHOT: Anamara waves the charred stick in Mender's face.

ANAMARA: WAIT? How LONG?

ANAMARA: YOU may be content to live without shelter or shield, but WE'RE NOT!

PANEL 2 SAME SHOT: Mender barks angrily back at Anamara, who holds her ground.

MENDER: I KNOW! It's what I'm counting on -- neither is ERGHII!

ANAMARA: That's where your WRONG, spirit. There's HONOR to be dealt with!

PANEL 3 UP AND BEHIND ANAMARA AND MENDER: Anamara raises her hands, futilely trying to explain the concept of "honor" to someone whose ideas about such things are completely alien.

CAPTION: Once more, the impossible looms -- how to explain human "honor" to one so exquisitely un-human...

ANAMARA: ERGHII will go without food, rest or tent until he can bring HONOR back to my sister. NOTHING means more to him.

MENDER: But WHY? SHE'S done nothing!

PANEL 4: ANGLE ON ANAMARA, Anamara points back to where DALAN is BG with Yun and the Urchin.

ANAMARA: She was BETROTHED to Dalan! His dishonor touches HER!

ANAMARA: And me -- her sister, a GIRL who got away from the FIRST HORSE?

ANAMARA: ERGHII'll see me on the DUNG HEAP before he's done!

PANEL 5 CLOSE UP ANAMARA in tears.

ANAMARA: You can't go back to your SPIRIT HOME with US, can you?

MENDER: I --

ANAMARA: And we can't go back to ours at ALL. We're TRAPPED here!

ANAMARA: ERGHII will STAY until he has SOMETHING to prove he's killed us!

PANEL 6 PROFILE TWO SHOT: Mender -- an idea hits! He grabs Anamara by the shoulders; she looks shocked.

MENDER: THAT'S IT! PROOF!

ANAMARA: Wh- what?

MENDER: Give the First Horse enough proof you're DEAD and he'll LEAVE!

MENDER: That's EASY!

PAGE FIVE:

Mender and Yun come up with the scheme. That night, Erghii beds down a little ways from the rest. He is awakened by the sound of a windwhistle somewhere close...

PANEL 1 UP ANGLE Mender bounds over to Yun FG. Dalan and the urchin watch BG.

MENDER: Ready for a little SWORD-PLAY, lovemate?

YUN: Who WITH?

MENDER: *chuckle* That lummox of a FIRST HORSE!

YUN: OH, no! Look what mixing it up with humans did for YOU! I'm not --

DALAN: ??

PANEL 2 Reverse POV: Dalan whispers to the Urchin, which Mender whispers to Yun BG. Yun's facial expression is "Jeez, how are you putting MY butt in a sling THIS time?"

MENDER: No, no! THIS kind of sword-play...bzz bzz bzz...

DALAN (whisper): I can't understand a word!

URCHIN (whisper): Of COURSE you can't. That's the spirit tongue! If you DID, your EARS would burst...

PANEL 3 ESTABLISHING SHOT: Night. The YASA is bedded down on the mountain. ERGHII is a little way away from the others, staring up at the sky, arms tucked under his head.

CAPTION: That night...as the YASA sleeps ...

ERGHII (thought): What would it be like, staring at the night sky with HER in my arms?

PANEL 4 CLOSE UP ERGHII looks drowsy...he's dropping off to sleep

ERGHII (thought): Bridebed-son to the Father of Horses...MORISAITAI to bear me sons of my own...

ERGHII (thought): I'd give ANYTHING to --

PANEL 5 SAME SHOT ERGHII's eyes open wide; he turns slightly without raising himself

SFX: [musical notes; small, as if faint and far off]

ERGHII (thought): !!

PAGE SIX:

Erghii follows it and finds Mender on his wolf in the shadows. Mender does his "mountain spirit" thing, tells Erghii he was sent by Adiirak to repair Khulki's work.

PANEL 1 WIDE SHOT Erghii, his bow slung over his shoulder, buckles on his sword-belt as he slinks through the forest.

CAPTION: Stealthily, to leave his comrades sleeping...

ERGHII (thought): Music in the dead of NIGHT?

ERGHII (thought): Do they think me DEAF?

PANEL 2 UP ANGLE: From in back of ERGHII; he comes upon the silhouette of Mender -- as Mender -- astride his wolf. Mender's found a cleared rise; he's backed by the two moons, so that they shine full on Erghii but his face is hidden. Real spooky.

CAPTION: But to ERGHII's surprise -- and apprehension --

ERGHII (thought): I'll show --

ERGHII: URK!

MENDER: ERGHII...

PANEL 3 REVERSE POV -- over Mender's shoulder looking down at ERGHII, who stands his ground, but is obviously shaken.

ERGHII: You know my name?

MENDER: Not only your name -- but whom you seek, and why.

PANEL 4 DOWN ANGLE Mender's wolf paces down a few steps. Erghii backs up.

MENDER: I have been sent by ADIIRAK to right KHULKI'S misdeeds...

ERGHII: By ADIIRAK? For ME?

WOLF: hrrrrrrr.....

MENDER: HOLD STILL when I'm talking to you!

ERGHII: Uh -- your, uh -- companion --

PANEL 5 UP ANGLE Mender swings lightly off the wolf, who flumps down where he is, face on paws. Mender neatly seats himself on a branch above Erghii's head.

MENDER: ...has already EATEN tonight.

SFX: whssh

SFX: fwumph

MENDER: Listen to ADIIRAK's judgment, First Horse...

PAGE SEVEN:

You want honor? You want Morisaitai? How do you know? Hey, I work for Adiirak, I know EVERYTHING. I've already taken care of matters. Now, how BRAVE are you? For you must battle a fearsome minion of mine (Yun snorts)...

PANELS 1-2-3 ANIMATION SEQUENCE: Mender sits in the crotch of a tree, looking as otherworldly and elfin as he can, and making it clear he is COMPLETELY in control of the situation. Erghii looks up, totally at a loss, and splutters more and more as Mender plays him.

MENDER: You've come up here seeking HONOR for your clan.

ERGHII: I --

MENDER: And you want MORISAITAI for your OWN, don't you?

ERGHII: I --

MENDER: And you think that retrieving ONE will gain you the OTHER...

PANEL 4 TWO SHOT: Mender swings down like a bat, nose to nose with a spluttering Erghii.

ERGHII: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?

MENDER: I'm a MOUNTAIN SPIRIT. We know EVERYTHING.

PANEL 5 UP ANGLE Mender back up in the tree. A more serious face. We see just a hint of Erghii from the bottom of the panel, looking up at him -- just a smidge of face. Focus is on Mender.

MENDER: I know, for example, that you are in LOVE with Morisaitai, and would marry her.

MENDER: My master, the Lord of the NINE WINGS, would know just HOW MUCH...

ERGHII: Anything -- I would do anything --

PANEL 6 FULL BODY SHOT Mender stands on the tree branch, points theatrically at Erghii.

MENDER: YOUR WORDS HAVE BEEN WITNESSED! Hear now what you must do to gain your heart's desire --

MENDER: -- and woe to you if you refuse!

PAGE EIGHT:

Don't be fooled by her small stature, she'll skewer you with a glance...she'll bring the booty. If you win, you may have the booty and go back and tell everyone you bested Dalan. If you lose -- you'll be the one to face Khulki's demons. Erghii agrees, and sends his men back down the mountain a ways.

PANEL 1 ANGLE IN ANOTHER TREE: FG Yun watches the playacting. She rolls her eyes and shakes her head when she hears HER part. Mender and Erghii BG.

MENDER: I will send you one of my FIERCEST minions...small but deadly...many have perished for daring to cross swords with her...

YUN (thought): Oh, BUCKROT, Mender...!

PANEL 2 DOWN ANGLE AT ERGHII: Mender's really getting into it. Theatrical gestures even bigger -- REALLY hamming it up. Erghii is screwing up his face -- "are you kidding me?"

MENDER: She will have two treasures with her -- the crownlock and bloodstained tunic of DALAN.

MENDER: They are YOURS -- only if you can defeat her!

PANEL 3 DOWN ANGLE from tree: Erghii stands, one hand on his sword, and squints up at Mender: "lemme get this straight."

ERGHII: Are you saying that you've already KILLED Dalan? What about the girl? Is she --

PANEL 4 SAME SHOT, but Mender's wolf has snuck into the edge of the picture; he's growling. NOTE that there is a bald spot on the top of the wolf's head that we have not noticed before. Erghii gets real nervous.

MENDER (coldly): Some things are WORSE than death, human...

WOLF: hrrrr......

CAPTION: The First Horse queasily notes the bald spot atop the wolf's skull...

PANEL 5 ERGHII AND WOLF TWO-SHOT. The wolf snarls (but not a big one) at Erghii. Erghii puts ‘two and two' together.

ERGHII (whisper): Wings o'ershadow me! D-DALAN?

WOLF: ...rrrRRRrrr...

PANEL 6 WIDE SHOT: Erghii sending his people down the mountain. Everything is helter-skelter, they don't WANT to go, they don't understand...but the go.

CAPTION (MENDER): "Now GO...send your people off my mountain...and come back at sunrise to fulfill your destiny!"

PAGE NINE:

Fight between Erghii and Yun.

PANEL 1 WIDE SHOT: Erghii stands in the middle of a clearing, nervous, but upright and ready to do what he must. Sword is at the ready. There is NO sign of Yun.

ERGHII: SPIRIT! I HAVE COME!

CAPTION: Erghii's voice ricochets off the rocks...into silence.

PANEL 2 FROM BEHIND ERGHII, as he goes from ready to wary, and even more nervous. He sidles around a tree.

ERGHII: Spirit! Show yourself!

PANEL 3 Yun jumps right on top of him, her feet jamming his shoulders like a pogo-stick and knocking him to the ground.

SFX: WHAM

YUN: Careless, First Horse!

PANEL 4 Erghii scrambles to his feet. Yun stands there, easy, alert, but relaxed.

ERGHII: Uhh!

YUN: You'll have to do better than THAT!

PANEL 5 Erghii runs at her. Yun hasn't moved.

ERGHII: YAHH!

PANEL 6 As he comes at her, Yun does a GORGEOUS acrobatic leap right over him, swatting him with the flat of her sword right across his forehead.

YUN: *snicker* Too easy!

SFX: WHAP

ERGHII: AU!

PAGE TEN:

Fight between Erghii and Yun.

PANEL 1: WIDE SHOT: Erghii stalks toward Yun. His face is now calm; this surprises Yun.

CAPTION: To Yun's surprise...

ERGHII: Jeer as you please, spirit.

PANEL 2 OVER ERGHII'S SHOULDER Erghii slashes -- quite neatly -- at Yun, who leaps back, sword up.

ERGHII: I do not yield.

SFX: slash

YUN (thought): whoop!

PANEL 3 CLOSE TWO SHOT: Erghii thrusts; Yun parries. NOW Yun takes it seriously.

ERGHII: If only a fight will gain me Morisaitai...

SFX: whungg

PANELS 4-5-6 SHARP ANGLES: Erghii and Yun do hack/slash/parry, Yun slashing his arm and the front of his tunic. She is TRYING not to wound him badly, but give him something "respectable" to take back. On the last one he actually gets her in the shoulder somewhat.

ERGHII: ...a fight I will have of you!

CAPTION: His determination quickly sobers the Go-Back.

CAPTION: The fight becomes a real one --

CAPTION: -- though the outcome is never in doubt.

PAGE ELEVEN:

Fight concludes. Erghii wins, with a few bruises and slashes. He appears to his men, who cheer as they ride down the mountain.

PANEL 1 Erghii bathed in sweat, rumpled, slashed, and pretty disheveled looking -- though no serious injuries. Yun has just the one slash on the shoulder, but she's in a bit of a lather too.

CAPTION: Eventually...

YUN: *pant pant* All right -- you've *heff* proven yourself.

ERGHII: I CAN go on --

PANEL 2 DOWN ANGLE: Yun's expression is "yeah, right, I know." She reaches into a bush and pulls out one of Dalan's tunics, which looks as bad as Erghii's -- and with blood on it.

YUN: I'm sure of it.

YUN: Here, First Horse --

PANEL 3 HEAD ON VIEW of Erghii, as the tunic whaps him in the chest -- followed by a shorn short ponytail on the forehead.

SFX: whup

SFX: thwip

YUN: -- you've earned them.

PANEL 4 DOWN ANGLE, Erghii coming down out of the trees into the foothills, where his men are waiting for him; everyone looks worried -- is he going to make it alive?

CAPTION: "Take your trophies and claim your bride."

PANEL 5 UP ANGLE Everyone crowding around Erghii, cheering and making much of him -- but he is looking up the mountain, where a small shadow figure -- Yun -- watches him from the trees.

CAPTION: "But if you DARE come BACK ..."

CAPTION: "You won't find me as obliging."

PAGE TWELVE:

In the village. Cushyuk is satisfied. Erghii gets Morisaitai (who is QUITE content; he's richer than Dalan, and more the "manly man" type.)

PANEL 1 WIDE SHOT: Erghii slides off his horse in front of Cushyuk and bows deeply. He leans on the crosspiece banner, proffering it to the headman. Cushyuk is VERY impressed. The crowd (indistinct shadow is fine) is behind them.

CAPTION: And upon his return to the tent-city...

ERGHII: *cough* Father of Horses. I have returned. My word remains unbroken.

ERGHII: I bring to you proof your daughter's honor has been redeemed.

PANEL 2 TWO SHOT: Cushyuk takes the banner from Erghii with one hand; the one toward the reader rests on his shoulder. Erghii is quiet and serious when he speaks of Anamara; no more revenge on his face.

CUSHYUK: Well done, First Horse. The Long Riders mount up safer for your courage.

CUSHYUK: But of -- the other? I see only HIS...

ERGHII: There was no sign, Father of Horses.

PANEL 3 CU CUSHYUK, head bowed and sorrowful.

CUSHYUK: *sigh*

CUSHYUK (whisper): I leave it under Adiirak's wing, then. He has taken life back to himself; she IS dead to us.

PANEL 4 PULL BACK to see them surrounded by the crowd: Cushyuk has handed off the pole to someone, and brings forth his Morisaitai, who solemnly puts her hand in Erghii's. Everyone cheers wildly.

CUSHYUK: Hear me, people of the plains!

CUSHYUK: This day has ERGHII redeemed my daughter MORISAITAI from the great shame heaped upon her!

CUSHYUK: From this day he IS my son, by choice and by bride-bed! Morisaitai and my clan-name are his!

PANEL 5 TWO SHOT Morisaitai and Erghii. Erghii is bowed over her hand, holding it to his heart, his eyes closed. He really is in love with her. Morisaitai looks at him, her head cocked a little to one side, a look of consideration on her face.

CAPTION: As the crowds cheer...

MORISAITAI (thought): Wife to the First Horse...so much BETTER than to just an artisan.

MORISAITAI (thought): I'm sorry it took your "death" to bring it about, ANA. But Erghii loves ME.

MORISAITAI: With Dalan, it was really always YOU.

PANEL 6 CU MORISAITAI -- one tear, but a smile.

MORISAITAI (thought): I KNOW you, little sister -- you're no more "dead" than I am. And I'd bet my bride-crown DALAN isn't either.

MORISAITAI (thought): Good fortune, ANA, wherever you ride...

PAGE THIRTEEN:

But there is one matter that must be taken care of before the wedding. A FUNERAL must be held...back on the mountain, Dalan and Anamara get packed up and ready to go.

PANEL 1 ESTABLISHING SHOT: Back on the mountain. Dalan and Anamara pack their horses; a few bundles are scattered over the ground. It's clear that they're just starting. Dalan is going in one direction, Ana the other; they cross midpanel.

CAPTION: Far up the mountain...

ANAMARA: I saved as much as I could -- there wasn't much left --

DALAN: It's enough. What I don't have I can make.

PANEL 2 ANGLE ON DALAN turns and catches her arm. She turns her head toward him (in the direction of the reader). BG the Urchin watches with an odd look of longing on his face.

DALAN: As long as I have YOU -- what are a few tools?

PANEL 3 CLOSE TWO SHOT Dalan and Anamara. Romantic, she a bit shy.

DALAN: Summer-blossom, YOU are my home. Not a place, not a people.

PANEL 4 CLOSE TWO SHOT Dalan and Anamara, this time the focus on her. He teases her, she stumbles.

ANAMARA: But Dalan -- we need to LIVE. To eat, to --

DALAN: -- raise a family -- lots of sons and daughters to care for us in our old age!

ANAMARA: Dalan, PLEASE listen! It's --

PANEL 5 OVER ANA'S SHOULDER at Dalan, who cups her face in his hands.

DALAN: No, YOU listen, my Ana.

DALAN: I have my two good hands. YOU have courage and brains enough for BOTH of us.

DALAN: And the NINE WINGED LORD himself has sent his messengers to get us safely away.

PANEL 6 POV BEHIND THE COUPLE, looking out over the land from where the elves first saw the Long Riders in Mender #1. Dalan has his arms around Ana, and has pressed her back close to him, as they both look out over the plains.

DALAN: I know you grieve your family's loss, my heart. But we've gained the WHOLE WORLD to travel...

DALAN: And we'll make a clan of our own. I PROMISE.

PAGE FOURTEEN:

The Urchin watches all of this, not knowing what is to become of him. Anamara sees this, and knowing what it is like to feel abandoned, tells Dalan they must bring him along as their son.

PANEL 1 FOCUS ON URCHIN, watching the two Long-Riders BG

CAPTION: The Urchin watches all this with quiet desperation.

CAPTION: He knows he cannot go back to the village.

PANEL 2 SAME FOCUS The Urchin turns and watches Yun and Mender BG.

CAPTION: To live on the mountain -- with the spirits --

CAPTION: His mother-mother spoke of the terrors of just one NIGHT.

PANEL 3 DOWN ANGEL The Urchin huddles, arms wrapped around his knees, and rocks himself, eyes closed. He holds the little elf-statue in his arms. BG Anamara and Dalan; she is focused on the Urchin.

CAPTION: He has no answer.

URCHIN (whisper): Lord, you PROMISED, you PROMISED me my wing-wish, you PROMISED...

PANEL 4 REVERSE POV: Behind Anamara and Dalan, Urchin BG.

ANAMARA: Dalan -- the little boy -- he helped us escape. He's trapped here, too.

DALAN: HIM? Nobody EVER notices him. He's just -- there. He can go back --

PANEL 5 TWO SHOT ANAMARA AND DALAN. Anamara fierce, Dalan a bit thick.

ANAMARA: Dalan! People SAW him help us!

DALAN: It doesn't matter -- he's not clan --

ANAMARA: AND NEITHER ARE WE ANY MORE!

PANEL 6 ARTIST'S CHOICE ANGLE ON Anamara heading for the Urchin, who is FG, still huddled.

ANAMARA: We'll have to make our OWN clan, you said.

ANAMARA: Well, we're starting right now!

DALAN: Ana? Ana!

PAGE FIFTEEN:

Anamara asks the Urchin...who flings his arms around her neck and holds her like she's the answer to his prayers. Yun comes up to give her booty to Dalan and Anamara as her reparation in this whole fiasco. The Urchin whispers to Yun as the others load the new items on, "I knew you would grant me my wingwish!" Yun just hugs him and says nothing. Well, I've taken care of MY responsibility, she says to Mender.

PANEL 1 OVER URCHIN'S SHOULDER Anamara squats down in front of the Urchin, whose head is buried and arms are clasped tight. She pries his hands loose, gently.

ANAMARA: Little colt -- do you want to come with us?

PANEL 2 OVER ANA'S SHOULDER, ANGLE ARTIST'S CHOICE The Urchin's head shoots up; he stares at her wide-eyed; it's clear he's been crying. She is very gentle with him, very loving.

ANAMARA: Dalan and I can't go back. We don't have family there any more.

URCHIN: *gulp* I -- I don't have anyone either.

ANAMARA: I know. But if you want --

ANAMARA: -- you can have us.

PANEL 3 PULL BACK WIDE SHOT The Urchin launches himself into her arms; you'd have to kill him to pry him loose! Anamara looks over the Urchin's shoulder at Dalan, who has walked up behind him. Dalan is okay with the situation, and smiles at Anamara, full of love.

CAPTION: In response, the Urchin launches himself into her arms.

ANAMARA (whisper): I'm going to need practice raising little boys, anyway.

PANEL 4 FROM BEHIND DALAN Yun comes up to Dalan, her arms laden with leather, trinkets, food-pouches; he turns at her approach. Quite a tidy haul. She presses the pile into Dalan's arms.

CAPTION: And...

YUN: Here. You'll need these more than we will.

DALAN: So much! A generous gift --

PANEL 5 FG FOCUS ON YUN Dalan and Anamara load the booty onto the horses BG. The urchin tugs at Yun's tunic, jumps up and down in the time-honored way of Little Boys With Secrets. He beams up at her like a little sunburst. Yun looks down -- huh?

CAPTION: As the booty is loaded onto the horses...

URCHIN (whisper): Spirit! Spirit, guess what!

URCHIN (whisper): I got my WING WISH! Just like you said!

PANEL 6 TWO SHOT Yun bends down to his level; he grabs her around the neck. She staggers a little.

YUN: What?

URCHIN (whisper): Not so loud, or KHULKI'll hear!

URCHIN (whisper): I'm going to be THEIR son now! She SAID so!

PANEL 7 FROM BEHIND YUN, as she watches the Urchin race towards the other two.

YUN (thought): Well -- duty's done where HE'S concerned, thank the High Ones!

PAGE SIXTEEN:

The parting of the ways. Mender is shocked that the parents would throw away Anamara for simply learning about loveplay: but that, too, is what humans do. She points down the mountain, in tears, but stony-faced. We see a funeral procession: her best tunic, like a scarecrow, on a cross-banner: it is placed on a funeral pyre and burned.

PANEL 1 WIDE PANEL: The humans mounted up and ready to ride. The Urchin rides behind Anamara. Mender and Yun at her saddle-side; Dalan and his mount are on her other side and visible.

CAPTION: At last, the company is ready to part.

YUN: There's a pass -- a half-morning's journey -- that'll take you down the backside of the mountain. Then it's a clear ride all the way to sun-goes-up.

DALAN: Our thanks go with you, spirit. There will always be a shrine to the Nine-Winged Lord in our tent!

PANEL 2

UP ANGLE BEHIND YUN'S SHOULDER. Yun gives the Urchin's knee a pat. The Urchin laughs down at her. Anamara's face is cold and remote, looking up and away from the camera (we'll see why in the next panels).

YUN: And as for YOU --

URCHIN: I know! No more filching --

URCHIN: Unless MOTHER says I can!

PANEL 3 SAME ANGLE, OTHER SIDE OF HORSE. Mender reaches up to touch Anamara's hand. She doesn't move her gaze.

CAPTION: Other partings are not so cleanly made.

MENDER: Anamara.

MENDER: I'm sorry. Truly. I had no IDEA -- to be driven away merely for learning about joining -- I can't understand it.

MENDER: Perhaps in the future, you can go back and --

ANAMARA: Look.

PANEL 4 FROM BEHIND MENDER AND ANAMARA. She points, her arm arrow-straight. We see a little procession.

ANAMARA: It is more FINAL than that, spirit.

PANEL 5 WIDE SHOT: A funeral procession. Muffled drums, a heavy pall in the air. Cushyuk carries Anamara's best tunic, like a scarecrow, on a cross-banner (think of how kimonos are displayed as wall hangings). Her sister follows, crying. Behind them are solemn, sad faces.

CAPTION: "I could not be more dead to my family..."

PANEL 6 WIDE SHOT: A roaring bonfire. The tunic and crosspieces are burning in the middle of them. Cushyuk ceremoniously cuts his beard -- one straight slash, the way Clearbrook cut her braid for One-Eye. Morisaitai and two or three female relatives behind her slash their robes with a knife (the ritual tearing of the clothes in mourning -- no self mutilation!). Make this scene very solemn, very ritualistic.

CAPTION: "...if it truly were my body cast into the flames."

PAGE SEVENTEEN:

Anamara tells Mender she hope he's learned something from this, and will leave humans alone. There are some things that don't belong to outsiders.

PANEL 1 VIEW: ANAMARA AND MENDER, she on her horse, sitting ramrod straight, stone cold; Mender is stunned -- appalled at what he sees.

ANAMARA: From today, for them -- I do not EXIST.

MENDER (whisper): Great Sun!

PANEL 2 DOWN ANGLE OVER ANAMARA'S SHOULDER; Mender looks up at her.

ANAMARA: And as far as I am concerned --

ANAMARA: -- neither do YOU.

PANEL 3 FROM BEHIND MENDER. Mender tries one last time to make everything all right. Anamara looks down at him from her horse -- cold, implacable, making him face everything he has done.

MENDER: But at least you have DALAN. Before, you --

ANAMARA: At what cost? He and I would have made PEACE with what was to be.

ANAMARA: I would have gone on -- married another. And still had my family.

PANEL 4 DOWN ANGLE WITH ANAMARA THE CAMERA Mender holds his hands out, pleading with her to understand. He has GOT to have this make SOME kind of sense to him before he goes back to his tribe.

MENDER: But all this LOVE you say you have for him! You told me -- if you could not love DALAN, you could not love anyone!

MENDER: And now you HAVE him!

PANEL 5 SAME POSITIONING AS PANEL 3, but Mender turns away, completely and utterly lost.

ANAMARA: I cannot expect a spirit to understand a HUMAN heart.

ANAMARA: Our ways are not your ways, nor our roads your roads.

PANEL 6 WIDE SHOT: Mender and Yun on wolfback, going up one road; the humans on horseback going down another.

CAPTION: "We have hopes, and dreams -- and lives -- you will never know."

CAPTION: "And I think you are not MEANT to."

PAGE EIGHTEEN:

A bittersweet ending, back at the holt. While Dalan and Anamara are united, it's at the cost of their people. Mender learns that human emotions are far more complicated and tangled when it comes to sex. Especially being head-blind as they are, they rely on words and posturing, and can only hope to find real love with luck. And while no harm has been done to the tribe, it has not strengthened ties between humans and elves; if anything, it has accented their differences. Sometimes, it's best to let things be, and accept that some differences will never be bridged.

PANEL 1 ESTABLISHING SHOT: Yun and Mender ride back into the holt. Yun's relieved it's done. Mender is so far into himself and what he has done nobody outside can reach him. He is REALLY doing a number on his own head. They are met by Dewshine, Scouter and Tyleet.

CAPTION: Soon...

SCOUTER: AYOOAH! You're back!

DEWSHINE: We heard there was trouble. Are the humans...?

YUN: Staying where they belong -- DOWN the mountain.

PANEL 2 POV BEHIND Scouter and Dewshine with Yun. They watch Mender dismount and face Ember BG.

SCOUTER: Then why is Mender so --

YUN: It wasn't at ALL what he expected. Dealing with humans THAT CLOSE --

YUN: All I can say is High Ones help CUTTER and LEETAH!

PANEL 3 TWO SHOT, Mender and Ember. Mender hangs his head as he talks. Ember listens coolly, as a chief should, neither comforting nor berating just now.

MENDER: I could make sense of their BODIES -- even stiff and stuck as their LIFESTUFF is.

MENDER: But what they do to themselves INSIDE -- !

MENDER: They treat LOVE like a HERD-ANIMAL -- thinking to tell it WHERE and WHEN and HOW MANY.

PANEL 4 Mender and Ember. Mender is REALLY agitated, all of his empathetic healer's senses in a lot of pain because he just -- can't -- understand...

MENDER: Because they're HEAD-BLIND, they make rules and rituals, thinking THAT will keep it TAME and SAFE.

MENDER: So if they RECOGNIZE, it only causes PAIN -- because RULES get in the way.

MENDER: It just doesn't make SENSE! I could have --

PANEL 5 Mender turns away from her, toward us. There is such regret, such sorrow in that face! Now, Ember puts a hand compassionately on Mender's shoulder.

EMBER: Mender -- we ARE different, humans and elves. Remember the SCROLL OF COLORS?

EMBER: We're even from a different STAR.

EMBER: I hope you've learned from this.

PANEL 6 Final shot: Silhouette of Mender on his wolf, staring down at the bright-winking bonfires on the plains.

CAPTION: "Sometimes, it's best just to let things be as they are --

CAPTION: -- no matter how much we wish they were otherwise."

CAPTION: THE END

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