All posts by ismael

There’s No Place Like Home

Jonathan sat on his old chair. It still made a creaking sound. It always had, ever since he had earned fat on his stomach and his arms had lost the marks of his youth. He held the hilt of his sword with two hands, the tip against the ground, and waited. The wind chilled his old bones; it was colder out there in the middle of the village than it had been inside the home.

He could hear shouting. He could hear crying. Some of it was cut short with sound of spilling, others when a ceiling burned down and crushed upon someone. He knew the sounds well to the heart.

“Master,” whispered old Sir Flaers. “It has been an honor, all these years.”

The wizened voice of Sir Jonathan had been frail for ten cycles; he knew it. He wisted the times when it was youthful and brave. “As it has been for me, Sir Flaers. We die to the Oath.”

“That we do Master.”

He weakly rose to his feet. His knees trembled and he could barely lift that rusty sword that had slain so many mages, that had so honored the Lord in battle. He looked at the corpse of the priest and signed himself. “It’s almost time, Flaers. Get in ward.”

“For the Chalice, “he agreed.

The two assumed a low ward. The high ward did not come natural to them anymore; lifting a sword overheard was only effective when you could hold it steady. He knew his only good defense was the weakest one.

When they came, they called at each other in Vavardi: it was a group of five. The two aged knights held their ground. Jonathan spake in a weak voice: “Knights of the Order command you to state your business.” None answered to them.

The younger one did not stop walking; he held his club close to himself. He looked like a peasant from one of the nearby villages, but his arms held great strength when he tried to hit him on the head. Jonathan could not slide out of that one, but he parried it weakly. The blow almost send his sword flying away, but he held it firmly between his bony old man’s fingers. The others took this as an indication to join in the attack; younger Flaers still moved with deftness despite being fifty seven cycles of age. His sword swung, hissing against the mace of one, entangling with the whip of the other and stripping him of it with a steady pull.

Jonathan could only remember the days, when his brown hair flowed behind his back, his stallion was still alive and he had sworn the vow with Helen in his mind. Oh, Helen, the girl of his dreams; he had left it all for her, and he had survived battles for her. I shall prove my valor, and keep it in my heart, even at times of deepest peril. I shall remain humble, if glory descends upon me. And seek to promote Justice for the good of all.

He failed the third parry and the sword cut through flesh and hit the bone; he cried out. Flaers had downed the one with the mace and the one he had stripped the flail from, and they had fell to the ground. The Knight was fighting a third. Jonathan fell to the ground when a pike cleaved through his old armor and found his liver, an attack he never saw coming– he was old; it hurt so much, and it bled so much. None of his other wounds had been so painful. It was the age. “Flaiers,” he tried to call out, but the word was impossible to make. It was as if he was already dead.

A moment later, Flaers fell next to him; his eyes were almost devoid of life, but he could still garner enough strength to gaze into the eyes of Jonathan while the old Knight was getting surrounded by his own dark viscously red blood. “Ma-master…” he mumbled. “See… you… soon.” His eyes closed. “Flaers… Helen… see you soon,” the old Knight echoed in his mind. A cracking blow crushed his skull.

Are They Back?

“Don’t make a sound.”

The soldiers plundered everything on their way to Port Ventura. Men and women, young and old, they were all slaughtered and left to bleed on the ground, in their homes, in the plaza. Flames clawed at the wood like leeches would an open wound. Not even the church saved itself from the dul Pondulle army, who raided it and stripped it of its relic.

“Do not… move a finger.”

She could hear their steps getting closer and closer. The house was small; it had a bed and a table in the same room. There was nowhere else to hide but underneath the bed. Her blue eyes could be seen looming underneath. Her breathed hitched as she could hear their steps at the doorstep. A branch cranched, and the doorknob slowly twisted.

“If the door opens…”

The door opened. The levitating kettle suddenly stopped levitating and it clanked against the head of the first with a violent gust of wind. The man crumbled down on the ground, while the sound of a sword getting unsheathed announced violence.

“Unleash.”

Her eyes glimmered as a figure with a sword appeared at the other end of the room; before the second one could notice that it was an illusion, she snuck her slender arm around his neck and tightened.

His fingers gradually loosened the grip of the sword until it clambered to the ground.

The First Tavern

When the first settlers arrived to Vintrius, the First Tavern was their residence. Through the years, good managements had made the place an attraction to travelers from all places, being between the road to the castle of the baron and the main city. With the rampant civil war, news of rebel raiders making their way had emptied all the trestle tables and the clean mugs were lined on the counter. Carla and Rolf had of course not opened that day. They were in their bedroom because Rolf did not want to leave their lives’ work behind. They were praying the armies would walk past, but the tavern had been markedly a favorite place for visits from barons across the years and trophies of past wars lined the walls, an attraction to foreign ambassadors.

Their bedroom in the third floor had a window that overlooked to the road and they could see the smoke rising from the castle, and saw as the mob brought the baron and the baroness to be executed. Carla had sobbed as she saw her confidant and friend’s head roll on the ground and then be presented to the crowds; she awaited her fate hopelessly, sat on her bed. She wanted to escape but her husband would not leave the tavern and there was no way to convince him otherwise. He had shouted that he would never leave that place. He wanted to die there.

When they came it was a group of just seven men and they stopped outside to talk amongst themselves. Carla couldn’t see them but she could hear them. “…gonna buy my pa some fine noble food with this,” a rough one commented between dry chuckles.

The others laughed and one young voice excitedly said, “Ow, nay, did ya’ see the silks in the chest uv’ the lady? I got my wife these.“ After a brief pause, there was a general air of surprise.

“I just got coins,” the rough one sounded disappointed.

“Well, we can see if we can change that,” one that had never spoke before spoke. Silence.

The door opened. Carla and Rolf exchanged looks and the merchant man hugged his wife, both of them seated on the bed. “Whatever happens, Carla, I love you,” he whispered in a subdued tone; he did not expect this to be real. He did not expect them to actually come in here. They were out of their mind. “We will meet our children and the Lord now if everything goes well.”

Carla looked at him as he parted to get his stick and clutched it with both hands, staring to the door, awaiting. They were taking their time downstairs, moving everything. Metallic clatters, wooden chairs falling to the ground, coins being poured into bags, they tried to leave enough bounty for them to bore themselves downstairs but they didn’t and their steps approached the stairs after they filled their bags with all they had earned in decades. The doorknob twisted and one of them crossed the threshold.

BAM! The end of Rolf’s stick hit the first to enter in the face while Carla rushed to claw at the immediate second as they had planned. The rough-voiced man looked thinner than they had expected and had several scars that spoke of his past battles but she managed to sink a finger in his eyes. A third one came and she tried to kick him in the crotch before she managed to drop him to the ground; the three men shoved her and gripped her still and a fist found her nose. “Aah!” she spitted out, biting at whatever he could find: a wrist. After the shout of the man whom she couldn’t see in her frenzy, Another fist found her jaw and it ringed her ears. The third set of knuckles finding her jaw was too much and she fell to the ground. She could feel blood flowing out of her nose. She still heard Rolf’s stick slamming them, still fighting, and when she looked up she saw as he was tackled by the fifth of the seven to enter the room. They had been shorted only by three.

Then, she heard as they punched him unconscious, groans, spits and blood plowed out of his nose, out of his mouth, that mouth she knew she would miss when he was killed and later when they took what only he had took from her on that bed that once had been theirs. They took their turns at her and when she was left aching they slashed her throat, condemning her a traitor without the baron’s scepter to confirm it. The revolution was traveling to Moungrey, one of the many areas that were agreed to be used as stronghold by the revolution until the year passes.

Red Stains

The plaza outside of the dul Naevius castle still had the fresh blood of the baronial guard from earlier battling and the two guillotines had been brought with carriages from the stables that had served to hide all the equipment for the attack. Immobile bloodied corpses laid on the ground; the ones face down showed gruesome wounds evidence of their demise: one had a slash that had mangled the muscles of his arm, the other had the bones of his leg gruesomely coming to view and a third one had been trespassed by a spear, the wood still stuck in it.

The shouting and chanting was hectic, revolutionary exclamations being echoed by rebels. “To The New Baron, Kaython dul Pondulle!” “Liberty! DEATH TO THE BARONS!” Then a general roar of “DEATH TO THE BARONS!” repeated.

The gates of the castle opened and a group of rebels took the baron and the baroness out of the gates, dragged through the ground and still donning the fine silken garments they had dressed for the coronation: their first day of ruling. “DEATH TO THE BARONS!” The rebels brought the two of them to the center of the plaza and dropped them on the ground. The chubby Vavardi baron said something but the shouts of “Death! Death! Death! Death!” made all his speech unintelligible. A shield rammed the head of the nobleman, a spurt of blood out of his mouth.

“Comrades!” a booming voice called to silence all, Kaython dul Pondulle having emerged from the crowds, the leader of the rebellion against Vintrius. His dark eyes traveled the crowds, donning brocaded silks and the one-pronged coronet of the barony of Vintrius. “We gather to celebrate the fall of another faulty rule. A rule, which like that of the Renarde was bound to dig a hole of oblivion around our barony. A RULE which would prefer to have us starve before lowering the taxes!” Fists emerged from the crowds and a roar of agreement. “A RULE which would prefer to have -CORONATIONS- instead of tending to the problems of the barony!” Another roar surrounded the barons. “A RULE which will end TODAY!”

“Death! Death! Death! Death!” The baron shouted, “We have done nothing!”

“Shut your bloody hound mouth,” Kaython snapped at the baron and slapped a hand at him, before his voice lifts to call to the crowds: “The people has issued their ruling; guards!” Four peasants armed with bloodied spears and armor stepped forth, closer to the baron and the baroness, who was sobbing on the ground, damning all propriety. “Prepare the prisoners!”

The baron stoically made his way to the blade while his wife continued to sob. They reached for the ropes of the wooden beam and placed it around the baron’s and baroness’s wrists, their head secured in place. “I die with my wife and an impeccable reputation!” the baron calls out to the crowds. “May I be remembered as a martyr of the doom of the revolution!” “Death! Death! Death! Death! Death!”

“Death!”

The blade hissed as it fell, a loud wooden clack ringing across the plaza followed by the running of fresh baronial blood. The sobbing of the baroness was replaced with the popular roars of freedom, new rulers and death. The dul Naevius had lost their first baron. The people wanted blood and Kaython would give it to them.

A Historic Escape

Every wall sounded to the clash of swords and cries of help in Vavard’s own tongue as Barcus skimmed past them with the hood of his black cotton garment covering his face. Quintilius held his hand and pulled him to a quicker pace. “We need to hurry, Barcus,” he whispered in an urgent voice as he pushed the doors of the servants’ quarter open.

As they entered the kitchen, servants rose to greet them and the butler looked at them with surprise, not expecting the little lord and the grand chevalier there, and especially not expecting the young dul Naevius wearing cotton rather than his usual lavish garments. “Everyone leave us for a moment,” Quintilius’ voice commanded. The servants complied and they were left alone. Under the central tower, the battling outside couldn’t be heard here; the room felt peaceful and silent for once, no shouting of chevaliers, no shouting of warriors, and definitely not the shouting from Father making everything worse. “It’s all going to be alright!” he barked at Mother, trying to soothe her crying. “Shut up, woman, you’re making me nervous!” Then he commanded the guards to take her away to her chambers.

“Barcus, listen to me,” Quintilius knelt in front of the heir to the barony of Vintrius. “I don’t know what is going to happen now. Everything is not going to be alright after this; those are lies. Don’t let -anyone- lie to you, Barcus.” The closest friend of his father clutched his hand and tried to look in his eyes; the gentleman’s eyes were crowded with tears and Barcus did not understand why. “You shan’t give up. We need you to rule Vintrius. We need you to–” The loud ram of something wooden against the gates of the castles startled him. “—we need you to remember this day and take it to your grave. My men will be outside; they will get you somewhere safe.”

Barcus couldn’t believe what this man was saying. “Why would I go away without Father?” he asked with confusion; it didn’t make sense and he felt that maybe this man was an enemy of his father trying to give him as hostage. “Bull,” that’s how his friends and Barcus liked to call him, “what is this?”

“Barcus, they have our retinues,” he whispered in a desperate tone, curling a hand around his wrist to try to encourage the boy into the catacombs through the old wooden door at the kitchen. “Your father won’t win this. They will capture the castle and everyone in it.” The ramming at the doors of the castle continued and the desperation in the halls of the castle invaded that peace he found for a few seconds. “Go, Barcus! You have to go!”

“My father won’t lose!” he cried back at the man with his own tears, trying to shake out of his hold and run towards the door. “You’re— you’re a traitor!” As he opened the door, however, the ramming sound felt much nearer together with a loud *boom* of a wooden door. The sound was so close and so familiar that it was obvious that it was not the gates outside of the castle but rather the gates that lead to the underground. Quintilius’ face paled. “Barcus, they’re here,” he whispered and Barcus understood that his words were the truth; both of them exchanged looks and both of them agreed in the midst of desperate, erratic running towards the doors of the catacomb that they would escape the castle together, a castle no longer of the dul Naevius.