In the previous post I introduced the Elders, who represented the older generation, whose main contributions to the kingdoms included guidance, wisdom and caution. In this post I introduce the Runners. Every nation, people and story has its superstars, heroes and heartthrobs – the Runners would be all of the above. They are young, competitive, fit and somewhat idolised throughout the kingdoms. Of course they didn’t just run for the sake of running. They had an important place and function, helping to maintain the communications and relations between the various kingdoms where different people dwelt. They were postal workers and ambassadors.
To stay in touch they would send gifts to each other by the Kingdom Runners.
These were fast men and women who could run for a very long time.
They were like the postmen delivering letters.
Without telephones and the Internet, they were very important for spreading news between the kingdoms.
Please keep in mind that it is a work of fiction and almost anything can happen. That said, I do try to keep expectations close to reality or treat certain parameters like time and distance with a certain level of ambiguity. The runners would run for “many moons” and distances just to carry the simplest of messages. In the illustration above they are preparing to head off from the Kingdom of Fragrant Flowers towards the Northern, Western, Southern and Eastern Kingdoms. They would carry sacks of necessities (at sometime I will work out what those are), small gifts (like those Princess Nia is running to bring – read the book to find out what she has in those small bags) and instructions from the Elders.
The illustration also shows that the King and the Elders do not take these young, exuberant Runners for granted. When they trek across the albeit safe earth to the regions beyond, there is some element of survival and danger involved, which I initially spare the reader from. I try to show by the grave expressions and postures of King Kani and the Elders that they acknowledge the enormity of running miles and miles in primitive footwear and clothing. However, children, as well-meaning as they are, will often have a mind of their own, which hardly has time to analyse risk and submit to ceremony.
Before the Runners could set off, Princess Nia appeared
running and yelling, “wait! WAIT!”
King Kani tried to calm her down but did not want to keep the runners very much longer from their long journey.
However, the runners, like everyone in the kingdom, had soft
hearts for Princess Nia and were happy to help with whatever
Like all great runners and heroes, there is a time when shoes and capes need to be put away. Some of the Runners would go on to be Elders (maybe heads of the athletics association and constantly under fire) and some of them would go on to be storytellers/ entertainers. Some of the stories would recall past glories with embellishments to keep listeners on the edges of their seats.
Some of the older runners would tell stories of giant creatures and fire coming from mountains. These stories were however met with loud laughter. Nia would tell her mother, Queen Malia, stories she heard from the old runners. The Queen would laugh and say, “those silly runners don’t run with their feet any more, so they run with their mouths”.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading about the Runners. I have a further book in mind that will feature them and their journeys in more detail. I’ll stop “running my mouth” now and end this post here – gotta run catch the bus!