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||finest, heartless, inky, keel, lapping, mobilize, seaworthy, unreliable, villager-slaves, white-sailed, brutal, invaders, rebellion, immediately, coastal, splendid
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By Colleen Messina
1 Terek wanted revenge. As the ocean waves crashed against the rocks, anger crashed in his heart. He didn't know what he could do, but the day the brutal Tartans took over his village was the day he lost everything.
2 Terek's small coastal village had lived peacefully for centuries and had learned how to build the sleekest boats in the world. Their crafts were light, made from the finest wood, and the mast was hewn from a single tree. The ships could be easily maneuvered through the frothy ocean, and they never capsized. The villagers knew a secret that made the boats especially able to slice easily through high waves and deep troughs during storms. The Emperor himself had his entire fleet made by Terek's village.
3 Then everything changed. The foreign invaders ruined the land, stole the women and children, and forced the men to make ships for them. They planned on attacking the Emperor's fleet and ruining the empire. Terek, still a loyal servant to the idea that the Emperor was a god, knew he had to do something. But what? Tartan tyrants stood over them as they worked.
4 "Faster," said the Tartan guard. His eyes became dark slits of contempt.
5 "I am going as fast as I can," said Terek, keeping his eyes down to show respect even though his face burned. "Care must be taken if this ship is to be seaworthy. We have just started our work for you. Give us some time."
6 "We need these ships completed in one month, before the Emperor has time to attack," snapped the guard, whip in hand. He knew nothing about building boats, but he did know how to crack his whip. And he did.
7 Terek's back burned. Salty tears stung his eyes. He felt helpless. To thwart these heartless invaders seemed impossible. He was watched constantly. He could do nothing in secret, so no trick would be a mystery. The Tartans would destroy his country.
8 As the pastel peach sun slid into the ocean that night, Terek felt that all was lost. His wife and children were gone. His way of life was gone. He smelled the sweet vines that crawled along the edge of the woods. Even though they were poisonous, they had a soothing fragrance. He remembered how he had to watch his children closely so they would not eat the vines, and his heart contracted with fresh pain. Where were his children now? He watched the stars twinkle above. Their bright reflections shimmered in the inky waves below.
9 Terek listened to the soft lapping of the sea as it licked the beach. Then, a shooting star streaked across the night sky. As it died its brilliant, golden death, Terek had an idea. It just might work!
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