The Lesson of Leather Mask

story & illustration © 2001 Bruce Van Patter

ripping his sword in his hand, Roland spun, ducked and jabbed.
He missed the straw dummy.

Deep laughter rang in the courtyard -- loud but muffled, like it was covered over by a hand. Roland turned to find his mocker. A large man leaned against a post in the morning sunshine, his hand resting on the handle of his sword. He wore only leather -- boots, pants, vest were all a dark, scuffed brown.

Now Roland knew why the laughter sounded so strange. The man's face was hidden in a leather mask.

"How dare you laugh at the royal prince," shouted Roland. "I'll have your head for that!"

"That I would dearly like to see," said the man.

Roland rushed him. The boy lifted his sword over his shoulder as he ran. With two steps left to go, he brought down the blade with all his might. The man quickly stepped aside. Roland's sword slammed into the wooden post and stuck there. His hands stung so much he cried out in pain and let go. The man shot out a foot. Roland fell and rolled, ending up on his back. The man placed a heavy boot on the boy's chest.

"Lesson number one: aim better," said the leather mask. "Lesson two: always respect your teacher."

"You're my -- new teacher?" asked Roland, amazed. He tried to roll free.

The man's boot pressed harder. "That's right. School is now in session."

It's Your Story - That's one tough teacher! You take the story from here...

Who do you think this new teacher is and why does he hide his face? Why not write an ending, where the two of them go up against a dangerous creature! Can you have Roland do something really brave to impress his teacher? Or... maybe they'll both learn a lesson!

Have fun -- finish the story -- and be creative! Say, why not email me me your ending!