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  1. Elize, Elvin Toboggan Ryder Elize and her fiery orange-red fox faced the dawn. In front of them spread a vast open grassland specked by dark evergreen trees, pocketed with shrubs showing off bright coral and peach spiked flowers reaching up towards the morning sun. Huge boulders dotted the grassland too, thrown there by an enormous monster from the depths of the earth, when it was attacked by a raging river of fire. This happened eons ago, when giant reptilian behemoths walked the earth, while great flying beasts blasted fire and acid from the sky. Patches of yellow, green, and white lichen covered the cold, black rocks, showing the time they've been above ground. The shadows were lifting oh so slowly with the rising sun, but still cast an air of secrecy where the mist swirled into the nooks and crannies of the rocks. The fox rubbed his head in farewell against Elize's side. Their paths separate here, for a short time. This journey was not for him to take. This path Elize had to face on her own. He'll join her again, soon enough. Carefully the girl moved along the well trodden path. She had to reach Sleepy Hollow by the end of today. Then she had four sennights to get going. This was the time in between challenges; a time of near restfulness, and relative safety. But there will always be some trouble afoot - little foxes playing in the vineyard, as the Old People used to say. This was the time she had to build up her strength, physically and mentally. This was the time she had to prepare, before she faced the battles that will lead to her reaching The Land of the Long White Cloud, hopefully her final destination. That will bring challenges of their own, no doubt, as once there, she will have to capture and bring back The Magic! With very little magic of her own left, but some willpower and stubbornness, maybe a dab of inquisitiveness and excitement too, she faced the morning sun. Little puffs of dust lifted around her every footfall as she slowly made her way into the grass field. By noon Elize had reached a tall hill with a modern contraption rising from it's back. The metal rail ran all the way down the other side of the hill, throwing huge curves across the grass saddle stretching on for miles between hilltops. One side it came within reaching distance of the scary, jagged cliff dropping down to meet the river below. She followed the rail to where it disappeared into the darkness of The Forest. All was quiet, peaceful. A light breeze ruffled the grass tops, while eagles soared on high, specks of black against an azure, cloudless sky. Elize could feel the animals around her. That was the little bit of magic she had left: she could feel the different animals, and borrow some of their abilities from time to time. But magic was growing weaker by the day, and she needed to build up her power, so that she could help her people build up their magical abilities in turn. Slowly she folded her tired body into the bright yellow sled. It was going to take a bit of time to build it up to its former strength and health. The worker gremlin smiled wickedly when he fastened her belt tight around her middle. "Hold on tight now, and whatever you do... Don't pull the brake!" he shouted as he pushed her forward onto the track, which immediately picked up speed going down the incline. The wind rushed around her face, the toboggan sled throwing her hard to the left as she rounded the corner. She tried to keep her balance, but it was difficult not to go with the momentum when being tossed from side to side. She saw the edge of the cliff from before, rushing up, knowing, waiting for the sharp turn, with some trepidation building in the pit of her stomach. The toboggan was going faster and faster, closing in on the drop! Another lurch and she felt herself rising a little bit, slowing down the toboggan ever so slightly, then some more, before she hurtled around the corner on the edge of the cliff. She couldn't help but look down. Caught only a glimmer of the racing waters far below. Then her head was whipped to the other side as the rail changed direction yet again. In less time than she anticipated Elize had crossed the vast grass plain and was nearing The Forest. The rail ran arrow straight down the hill, slowed down some on a flat stretch of land, then fell again and in no time she was zipping past trees, going ever faster in the murky shadows. She saw light up ahead as she neared the far side of the forest. Bushes with spooky white flowers flashed past, and imperceptibly the toboggan started slowing again. The momentum was carrying it up and over the small rise. For a split second she felt suspended at the top, suddenly out in the open again, before the rail, and therefore the toboggan, with her fastened to it, fell down the last hillside. In the distance she could see where it stopped at the Misty Mountain station in Sleepy Hollow. It slowly lost speed and momentum, until at last the toboggan barely crawled into the station before coming to rest with a soft bump against the thick rubber stopper. This was her destination for now. She felt hope blossom inside her heart. Little Hobbit children where shouting and splashing in icy blue-green mountain pools, oblivious of the cold, diving and swimming in the crystal, clear water. Yes, this was a place she could spend some time at, doing her share of duties to secure, cook, clean and manage the place. And train... she was here to train too. (I can't believe it took me nearly 3 hours writing this whole piece!) ----------------------------------------- Brandt (hubby), myself and our two boys were in the mountain town Sabie this first weekend of the challenge, visiting family. On Saturday we went to Mac-Mac Pools where we walked along the 3km Secretary Bird Day Trail. When we came back to the starting point, Rocco (my youngest son - on the left on the photo above) and his cousin dared each other into swimming in one of the pools. Within no time their lips were blue from the icy cold mountain water! Of course hubby couldn't let this opportunity pass, so he went in as well. Sunday we spent a (sort of) peaceful day at m.i.l.'s home, where I did my first strength workout for the week. We walked about 2km on the road to her house as well. Monday we went to Misty Mountain Lodge, a small private resort on the Long Tom Pass, where we all rode toboggan sleds down the hill. It wasn't quite as scary as I made out in my story, but definitely exciting. Now I'm hopefully ready to take charge of the rest of this challenge, trying to improve my health (mentally and physically), strength, as well as getting some things crossed off my To-Do list. Some of these things are needed to prepare for possibly immigrating to NZ hopefully before the end of the year; other things are just normal chores that needs doing, which I'm inclined to procrastinate on. Food-wise I'm cutting down on gluten as I know it makes my sinus and health in general worse. The same with milk/cream, but the main reason is to support Rocco, my 10yr old son who has very bad eczema from some food product, and we need to cut out food to find the culprit (long back story on this). As per advice from a friend ( @Lightning) , I'm increasing our probiotics (for digestive health) intake too. I'm also increasing food and vitamins that fight inflammation, as well as Omega 3 fish oils, to see whether it will help in this fight. It would also help both him and myself if we manage to loose some weight in the process, but we are not focusing on that right now. But it would be welcome... as a side benefit... Moving Moved my goals down to another comment block/post as I made some changes.
  2. * I just saw that my status is "Innovator". It is so fitting with the Tinkerer theme * I love these books! The girl is of mixed heritage and grew up with the Tinkerer. He taught her all kinds of things from carpentry and metal work, to building a flying machine and how to make things go "BOOM!", as well as respect for nature (she has an affinity to nature) and cooking, cleaning, basic math, science, etc. My boys probably think they are The Tinkerer's Sons because I'm usually busy building or making something, whether a cage, bookshelf, or just painting the house, drawing pictures, working in the garden, busy with the animals, or even cooking. My cooking can be quite "adventurous" at times, because I tend to "tinker" with the recipes. It's a normal day for Tink and her boys. In the morning they do their chores and then school work. Then they basically each go their different way for the day. Oldest has started a dinosaur business, teaching people about dinosaurs you find in the wild. He has his two miniature ankylosaurusses to thank for that. They are the size of Great Danes of old, are very clever, and herbivorous. He has taught them to pull in a harness and they help him to plow the lands. He has obviously inherited her affinity to animals and nature in general. She has seen him sway the most verocious troop of Compies to calm down and not attack! Youngest on the other hand is almost always busy in the workshop. If he isn't busy creating something new, he is tinkering with swords and fire craft. Why just the other day he gave her a huge fright by creating what he called a "boom stick"! It shot a hole the size of her palm in the wooden plank. He definitely has his father's knack with weapons! Tink can't help the sigh that escapes as she thinks of the not so distant past, and how they ended up on the outskirts of Maritzborough. With her husband being in the employ of the King, she and the boys had learned over time to always be on the lookout for strangers. Just before leaving on that last secret mission her husband had again impressed on her heart their plans if danger came too close. And this time it did. They came in just before the low swoops of the pteranodon flocks. That already drew a lot of attention, for only strangers didn't know, not to be in the street at that time of day. Those flying creatures were as regular as clock work, flying low over the city, stealing all kinds of food like freshly baked bread cooling off on window sills or fruit or vegetables out of the garden! The curious birds would peck at anything with their long, sharp beaks, whether edible, or clean laundry hanging on a line. The men had rushed to the old Dragon's Inn in another part of town, but word reached her ears soon enough that two strangers were asking after the Captain's family. Luckily their friends sent them on a merry chase around the country side the following couple of days, which gave them a chance to reach the Gryffin Caves. They had grabbed their emergency backpacks and set off. She had extra clothes and food in there, along with jackets, other things too precious to leave behind, and of course she had packed her tinkering tools. She won't go anywhere without them! She remembers that day as if it was yesterday, and truth be told, it wasn't that long ago. A month? Maybe two months? ... The Griffin Sire is the alpha of the pack, with the strong muscled body of an African Lion, and the head and wings of a Bald Eagle. She showed him the appropriate respect by bowing slightly in front of him, then held out her hand, palm up, for him to inspect. There was a time that she flew regularly with him, but the last while it would have drawn the wrong attention. Now she had to ask the gryffins to fly them as far as the border of their province. The gryffins weren't allowed outside that area, as they were in service to the King. The alpha pushed her hand away, and came closer to nudge her head softly with his beak. She made the crooning sound her father had taught her, while tickling his feathers softly with her fingers. He enjoyed this attention for a little while, and probably sensed the anxiety climbing in her, as he suddenly lifted up his head and screeched for other gryffins to come closer. Saddles and bridles weren't necessary, so they climbed up on the soft backs. The alpha walked to the edge of the ledge and with a strong bound leaped in the air! His front legs immediately folded back a bit to cover and hold her legs in place. His wings were stretched out to either side of her, brown feathers ruffling in the breeze caused by his flight. She lightly held on to the tuft of hair where the eagle neck became a lion's body. On the gryffin behind her, Oldest was laughing out loud. He loved every minute of it. Youngest wasn't too keen on flying, but a small smile curved his lips. From the air the trees looked like soft green cotton balls, the rivers like thick blue wool, unrolled across the land. The land itself sped past underneath them. What would take a person a day to cross on horseback, takes the gryffin a mere hour or so. Soon they could see ragged, scarred rocks and a deep canyon beyond in the distance. The border. The gryffins will land on the other side of the military post guarding the bridge. The soldiers will only know that someone came, not who, and not why. Their on gryffins, the King's transport, so they were exempt from being questioned. With a strong thrust of leg muscles and flap of wings the gryffins jumped back into the air, lifting up, circling once then heading back the way they came. Tink and her boys hefted their packs, making sure everything is tightened. They filled their water bottles at the fountain, had a quick snack then set off for the forest. They still have a long way ahead of them.
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