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For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Dave Free on 1 December 2006 - 5:29pm.

"Jake, Jake there's news from our kingdom. Come quick!" called Jessica as she ran down the path from the castle toward her little brother Jake who was busy practicing with his bat.

Jake looked up from the imaginary dragon he was fighting just in time to see his sister stumble over a rock and come hurdling directly toward him. He dropped his bat and caught her with both hands. "Slow down sis. No need to fly!"

Jessica tried to catch her breath but gave up and blurted out, "A messenger just arrived from our kingdom. We have a new little brother!"

"A brother? Why didn't you say so!" Jess almost fell to the ground again as Jake let go of her and headed for his stick horse Spot. "What are you waiting for? Let's go!" He threw his leg over Spot and started galloping up the path.

Jessica had to scream to be heard over the rattle and clank of Jake's armor. "Jake, Wait! Wait! I have some bad news too!"

Jake stopped so suddenly the weight of his armor carried him right over the head of Spot, where he fell with a loud clank. "Bad news? Is something wrong with my brother? Show me the villain that dares mess with the brother of Jake, Knight of the Great Smile! Why I'll--"

"No Jake, it's not the baby." Jessica interrupted as she helped him to his feet. "It's us. Our Uncle's kingdom is being attacked by the Kingdom of Contention from the north. The straight and narrow road that leads to our kingdom has been cut off. There's no way to get home!"

Jake's emotions changed so suddenly that his face couldn't keep up. With a half smile, half frown he muttered a weak "oh." But just when his face was catching up with the last emotion, it suddenly lit up again. "Jess I've got it! There's a shortcut through the Swamp of Selfishness that leads directly to our kingdom, I've heard our father talk about it with his warriors. We can take the shortcut."

Jess's face also lit up at the thought of seeing her new little brother sooner than expected. "Are you sure it goes all the way to our kingdom?" she asked tentatively.

"Yeah, I'm positive!" Jake replied.

That was all the confirmation Jess needed. "Well, what are you waiting for? Let's get you out of that ridiculous armor and go tell Uncle Joe. C'mon, I believe I can outrun both you and Spot to his palace!"

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