The First Days – 2

Jul 11 2014

The Siege of Rassitown

 

“I’m goin’ home after all o’ this is over.”

“That’s what Guhn said, and look at ‘im now.”

“Guhn’s dead you idiot.”

“Dav man, and we call -you- Brainy?”

Rain pattered on the thatched roof of the Rassitown barracks. Much of it seeped through the cracks of straw and leaves and dripped down to isolated spots in the building, isolated specifically because of the puddles of rainwater that gathered.

Groups of men huddled around makeshift fires, as the hearth had stopped working ages ago and no one was bothering to fix it anyway. Even together, divisions showed between the defenders of Rassitown. Militia from the nearby border villages and towns sat separately from the peasants of Vandago, who in turn stayed far away from the Tubori farmers. A few Vavardi, and even Hillmen, fluttered about between groups, but the main three factions made it clear that they preferred the company of their kinsmen. Well, that was almost true.

Brainy looked around from the fire, and his dark eyes flickered over the segregated men. He turned back around and poked at the flames with a stick,

“Look at us. We’re treatin’ each other like damn Daravi.”

Across from him, the Vandagan Arthiu shrugged his broad shoulders and began opening the group’s last iron rations. “Don’t take it so personally. We look out for each other well ‘nough when we’re out there fending off attack afta attack. No one said nothin’ about staying with our own when the fightin’s settled.”

“It don’t feel right,” Hissed Brainy, pulling his feet back from the embers as his toes were singed. “we’re supposed to be on the same side. I bet it’s not like this in Edessa.”

“Right…” Junther, who sat beside Arthiu rolled his eyes and leaned back against the barrack’s wall, “Because nothin’ speaks unity for people of the Kingdom more than livin’ right beside a bunch of mage-lovers.”

“‘ey, shut up!” This voice came from Fergin, the large Farin man who had been sleeping next to Brainy. “I ain’t tryna be late on tha morrow and get whipped by Grenttham on account of who’s bein’ friends with me or not.” He rolled around so that his back was turned to the others. “Get ta sleep.”

Lloyd struggled to open the door to the barracks as the combination of strong winds and rain pushed against him. Behind the man, Dame Agnes, shielded her face with her scarf and tapped Lloyd on the shoulder. Their eyes met, and the Knight nodded only once before shouldering the door in.

His brute strength was aided by the storm’s gale, and the door opened inwards, slamming loudly and earning all the silence from the previously noisy hall.

At the eastern end of the barracks, near the wall, a man leaped up, howling in fury,

“WHO DID IT?!? WHO IN THA WRETCHED ABYSS WOKE ME UP? JUNTHER YEH SON OF A BIT-” The man was tackled by three others at the same fire, his protests and threats muffled by the sheer force of friendship.

Dame Agnes closed the broken door and then walked up to Lloyd’s side. The men in the barracks simply stared at the two new arrivals. In the minds of some, they were a pair of Knights come to assign duties too early. To others, a small minority who had witnessed their earlier entrance at the gates of Rassitown, they were Sir Lloyd le Tarrow, former Earl Marshal of Lithmore, and his partner. The rest were simply too drunk, tired, or confused to give a damn.

Slowly, the men turned around and returned to their earlier business of idle chatter and sleep, which left Lloyd and Agnes standing alone, unnoticed by all but one.

“Cousin! You’ve arrived! And a friend has joined you too?” A strapping man in his late twenties strolled over from a modest group of Tubori to the pair, unlined face wearing a brilliant smile that reached his gray eyes. “I heard the news, but refrained from believing it until I saw for myself.” He pulled Lloyd in for a tight hug.

As he patted his cousin’s back, Lloyd awkwardly began the long process of pulling away, forced smile quivering as he tried to get a better look at the man,

“Detlan… eh… yes. This is,” He managed to turn his head an inch to gesture to Agnes, “Dame Agnes. She was my grandfather’s page when-”

Detlan immediately pushed away from Lloyd and moved with uncommon swiftness to Dame Agnes. He grabbed one of her hands and placed a soft kiss upon it before he stepped away and bowed, “Detlan le Tarrow, at your service, Dame Agnes.” His head rose, and he took Agnes’s hand once again. “You know, they say a woman looks even more beautiful with every year.”

Dame Agnes stared back for a full moment, unimpressed. She looked over Detlan’s shoulder to Lloyd, brow raised.

His throat clearing, Lloyd took his cousin by the arm and turned him about,

“I came for you, Detlan. You are not a soldier. You do not belong out here.”

Detlan pulled away, face already set in disapproval, “You don’t decide my choices, cousin. I remember all too well attending your ‘tournament’ and getting poisoned.”

“I never invited you to come!”

“And you’re not inviting me to leave with you either. I rode in through those gates at my own peril. I chose to help. I’ve already lost blood for it.” Detlan took off his leather gloves and exposed a wicked scar encircling his whole wrist. “I have to say Lloyd, I’m disappointed. I don’t wish to lambaste you in front of your attractive friend here however, no matter how much you’ve just shown your inability to command. You’re my cousin after all, and I can truly admire how much you wanted to see me safe.” He had already turned around after giving his cousin a last pat on the back, and missed Lloyd grabbing for the straps at his chest, which kept his steel gada secured.

Dame Agnes slowly brought a hand over his fumbling ones and shook her head. Speaking up, as Lloyd had temporarily taken up being silent, she walked after Detlan,

“Is there any space in the barracks for two more?”

Detlan exchanged a look of surprise with one of the men he had been speaking to before his cousin’s arrival. He scratched his temple and smiled with just a hint of desire. “You wish to sleep in this subpar garrison? With the lowly defenders of this poor town?” He turned around and raised his arms to draw the attention of the men that sat around their small fires. “Do you hear that, fellows? Instead of sleeping in the -far- more comfortable, luxurious, and appealing Knights’ Quarters, my cousin Sir le Tarrow and his most stunning friend will lay down their pillows here! With us!”

Lloyd, brows quirked, tapped Agnes on the back, and the woman turned to face him, expression not far different from his.

“There was a Knights’ Quarters?”

“Sir de Reshik said nothing of-” Before the dame could finish, Detlan le Tarrow slunk in between the two and wrapped his arms about their shoulders.

“Come on then! You can have the best beds in the house! They’re the only ones with all four legs.”

“Three brigades, each consisting of five battalions,” Sir ab Grenttham announced to the table of Knights. One of his bony hands nursed a large bruise on his right eye. “So that means twenty competent Knights and squires, commanding… 346 defenders in the entire settlement, not counting the fifty youths and elderly males.”

“They’re plenty able women ready to take up arms,” Added in Dame Agnes from her place at the table, and she straightened in her seat to look around at the others, “Wives and mothers of the men in Edessa Keep, Fort Latago, and Rassitown itself. They’ll fight if given the chance.”

Sir ab Triftus nodded without hurry as he listened, and his eyes scanned the replica of Rassitown, as if each alley and building held an answer to victory against the siege. His lips opened to speak, but he did move his stare from the model town.

“Sir de Reshik has already gone to assigning the men to their posts. After the casualties of yesterday we cannot afford another breach.”

“Then perhaps we should begin building stone fortifications. Rid ourselves of the wooden ones. Fire has been our worst enemy, Sir ab Triftus.”

“The Daravi, are our worst enemies, Sir le Hunne.”

“We’ve lost three scores of our people in the last month alone due to magefire! Surely you must see that-”

Triftus slammed his fist down on the tabletop, rattling the little Chalice on the Rassitown replica’s cathedral. He reached out with the same hand and steadied it. As he did so, his eyes locked on Hunne’s.

“There is no need to waste time and effort on stone walls. Farin wood is very efficient, and the ditches have proven quite capable to repelling charges.”

“They don’t charge anymore, Sir!”

“They charged yesterday.” Pointed out Lloyd, speaking for the first time since the meeting had started. Sir le Hunne, who had already made himself quite vocal about the loss of many good lives in retrieving the former Earl Marshall, shot Lloyd an unpleasant look.

“They charged only because we went after your worthless ass. Out of all the people, they send you! Sir de Abn’zahi has seen battle. Sir de Roldan! And those are the ones in Lithmore alone. All the better men from all the other duchies to assist and you come instead.” The words were practically spat with unguarded (perhaps intentional) disdain.

“Sir le Hunne, you may leave the chambers for now.” Triftus’s orders were clear and firm. He returned the salute that Hunne mockingly gave as the Knight stood and marched from the room.

A tense silence controlled the rest of the meeting’s nature, and some of the Knights casted dubious glances Lloyd’s way. The man attempted to ignore them and began looking stonily at the Rassitown replica, mimicking Triftus from minutes before.

For one entire second, he stared at the miniature imitation, marveling at its detail. The next second, he was leaping back as a ball of fire crashed through the ceiling and flattened the table.

Shireks filled the air, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh filled Lloyd’s nostrils for the first time in many years.

“They’ve broken through!” He heard a voice scream. The cacophonous madness of battle that rang throughout Rassitown was audible through the main hall’s roof, which now sported a large oval shaped hole. Getting to his feet, Lloyd peered around the smoke filled room. Several Knights lay on the ground, roasting inside of their armour as fire spread. Triftus was trapped, legs pinned under the crushed table. Grenttham and Agnes were ushering those who still stood out of the burning space.

Lloyd began making his over to them.

 

One response so far

The First Days

Jul 01 2014

The Siege of Rassitown

 

“Open the gates!” Cried the guardsman as he brought his hand, which had served as a temporary visor, down from his eyes. “They’ve broken through!”

There was loud creak as several men hauled open the gates of the besieged Rassitown, and no sooner had a crack large enough to fit a horse came into being, a score of Knights and Dames rode into the settlement. Eighteen had ridden out an hour before. A golden-furred hunting dog made the last cross over before archers from the turrets above drove a dozen Daravi back.

The man in the lead of the new arrivals brought his stallion around, barking over to the gate guards, “Close them. The Daravi are already recovering from our attack.” As this was being done, he looked over to one of the men who had ridden besides him the whole way. “Tarrow. Welcome to Rassitown. I’m Sir de Reshik.” He dismounted from the stallion, handing the reins off to a passing stable boy and gesturing for his group to follow. As each man handed their horses off to young hands, Reshik whistled for a youth leaning idly against the gate wall. “You there. What’s your name?”

“Heden.” Replied the lad, and he stood from the wall, eyes widened as Sir de Reshik approached him. “Heden Strifen.”

“Go to Sir ab Triftus and tell him that the retrieval of the former Earl Marshal was a… success.”

Heden moved to peek around Reshik’s large frame, and his eyes found the man singled out as Tarrow earlier. Looking back at the Knight in front of him, the youth raised a brow. “Former?”

“Aye lad. Former. Now go on quickly. We lost good men out there.”

As Heden scurried off, Sir de Reshik turned again to face Tarrow. His eyes narrowed, and he gave the man a nod,

“What are you doing here?”

Lloyd le Tarrow wore a look of shock. His hands shook and his teeth chattered. A reasonable reaction for a man who’d just seen his first true battle in his entire life. He looked down at his bloodied boots, and then sank to his knees. Gray eyes closed, to block tears that would come either way.

Reshik’s face tightened, and he shrugged over to a Dame, who began to soothe Lloyd with gentle words while helping him up.

 

 

Ten minutes later, from their spot near the northern gate of Rassitown, four men, each holding spears, looked on at the Knight who had been crying moments before.

“Who tha feck is that?” Asked the one with a scraggly beard and a shaved head. His dark eyes squinted as they followed the group of Knights move from the gates and towards the town’s main hall.

“Show some respact, Fergin! From whet I ‘eard, it’s tha forma Earl Marshall in Lithmore… Yeh know, that Tarrow fella.” The mild answer came from the man next to Fergin, who awkwardly scratched the side of his face, leaving white marks across his dark skin.

“Ah, sorry then. Didn’t know Tarrow’d retired.” A long silence, and then someone passed gas.

“Fergin, cut it out! You’re worse than Guhn– And that’s when he was dead!”

“Well ‘scuse me, Arthiu, if a man who’s spent ‘is whole day lookin’ at a crowd of angry witch-lovers wishes ta relieve ‘imself. I’ll make sure I do it well out of ya way next time. Miles off, when you’re bein’ buried and I’m back home in Ird, wallowin’ in silva and gol-”

“Shut up.” This was the third man speaking, eyes rolled as he listened to his fellows bicker. “We don’t need to be caught arguing over who let one go. We’ve a job to do.”

“We’re not exactly doin’ it, are we, Junther?” Retorted Arthiu, who shot dirty looks both Fergin and Junther’s way. “We’re just lazin’ around… waitin’ for them damn black-skinned freaks to break through and kill us all.”

“Black-skinned freaks? What’s that supposed ta mean?” Growled Fergin, visibly bristling as he moved in front of Arthiu.

“Just… take it easy will you?” Chuckled Arthiu nervously, backing away and dropping his spear, “I’ll start cryin’ like that Tarrow man.” Fergin stopped his advance, but his eyes were still narrowed on his comrade.

Next to Junther, the fourth man, the same one who had pointed out Tarrow to Fergin, wiped his sweaty brow with the back of his hand, eyes still looking off to the last spot where the crying Knight was led away. He glanced to his side, where ten bales of hay lay stacked a short distance from the wall. He looked back towards the dusty path.

“Why d’you think he came here?”

“Dunno… Why’re you asking me? You’re the one who can read, Brainy.”

Brainy grinned and punched Junther in the shoulder.

Fergin, who had backed off from Arthiu turned his head to look at the others, “Nah, I know why he came.” He waited until the other three fixed their gazes on him, all eager to hear the man’s explanation. “Man jest got married. Poor bastard. Can’t blame ‘im.”

“He got married?” Queried Arthiu, expression skeptical. “To who? That old dame that led him off?”

“I don’t care how old she was, she’s the most beautiful thing that’s entered this place since you.”

“Maybe he left ‘is wife and came ‘ere to start releasin’ his true lovin’ to the old dame.”

“Oh shut up, Fergin.” Another long silence, and once again someone passed gas.

“You four!” Sir ab Grenttham marched towards the men by the gate, and a finger tapped the hilt of his sword. “Why aren’t you standing watch? Where is Sir le Hunne and  Squire ab Fetros?”

Fergin rolled his neck around, cracked his knuckles, and his three fellows prepared to add another unconscious body to the pile hidden next to them behind the hay bales.

 

 

“We’ve fortified the township with wooden reinforcements. We’ve twisted and sharpened tree bark to barb the tops of the walls. The Daravi pump out a new attack almost every day, rattling against the gates until our spears and arrows push them back. As you’ve seen, Sir le Tarrow, they’ve dug in for a long blockade and we’re too undermanned and low on supply to continue the fight.”

Seven Knights and one Dame stood around a table, where a replica of a surrounded Rassitown was mounted. The room was dark, with only a dying candle providing dim light.

“What about the contingent from Edessa Keep? Did they not bolster the forces that had previously defended the area?” Asked Lloyd le Tarrow, gaze fixated on a single flag piece in the middle of the settlement’s model.

Sir ab Triftus shook his head and turned away from the table.

“The men here are peasants from the other duchies, mostly Vandago and Tubor. They’ve been fighting alongside the native populace for some time now. Most of them were supposed to go home once the fresh troops from Edessa arrived.” He paused as a scream from the medical ward, a room across, rang throughout the building. “Then when news of the victories at Queen’s Landing and Fort Latago arrived, the commander of Edessa Keep ordered many of his men back. We have less defenders now than when assistance first arrived.”

“And what of the Daravi encircling us? Any estimate of their numbers?”

“Hundreds. Perhaps a thousand. The amount of their soldiers are varied at each of our gates.”

“How many in all?”

“Five gates: one in the north– the one Sir de Reshik led you through. One each at the west and eastern walls, and two in the south. Daravi forces are strongest at the north and south.”

The only woman at the table folded her arms and pursed her lips. “Sir le Tarrow, we didn’t ride into the situation we thought we would.”

Lloyd shook his head and took off his hat. “Indeed we didn’t, Dame Agnes.” He cleared his throat and rubbed at his cheek, where streaks from dried tears were noticed, but unmentioned. “Sir ab Triftus… You’ve done a great job persevering this far, but I need to know where my cousin is.”

Sir ab Triftus turned, face dark.

“You came here only for your cousin? We thought you’d give the men a speech. Offer tactical advice.” Several other Knights at the table seemed to share Triftus’s bewilderment, but Sir de Reshik raised a hand for silence.

“This man’s never seen war, Triftus. Outside of the occasional demon fight in the capital, he’s as green as the lad who told you that we’d arrived back.” Reshik gave Lloyd a pat on the back, brown eyes still in Triftus’s direction. “You and Dame Agnes should go to the barracks. Meet some of the men. Detlan should be among them.”

Lloyd nodded, and swiftly made his way out of the room. Dame Agnes saluted the others before going after her partner.

Triftus met Reshik’s eyes, and leaned forward, both hands placed on the table,

“We’ll need to reform the men. Perhaps a system of battalions will be more effective than the standard contingent groupings… Where’s Sir ab Grenttham?”

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Yes, Ma

Mar 06 2014

SEPTEMBRIS 1ST, 357

“Don’t ya ever speak ter me like that ‘gain! Yeh ‘ear me?”

There was a choked sob, and then the thunderous sound of flesh slapping hard against flesh. The crying stopped, and the young boy leaning against the door jumped back when it opened, bewildered as his father stumbled out, stinking of alcohol and vomit.

“Out of my way, boy.” The father roughly shoved his son aside and shambled towards the house’s broken down door which led to the sands on the outskirts of their fishing village. The drunken father took a moment to scratch his unmentionables, and finally departed for more ale. He left the door open.

“R-riley…?” Weak and frail, the voice of  he boy’s mother came like the fragile creaking of an old chair. “Riley… p-please… Come.”

“Yes, ma.” Riley replied, taking a glance at the open door and watching his father’s figure grow smaller and smaller as he blundered towards the rowboat tethered to the family’s makeshift dock. The boy bit down on his lip uncertainly before stepping inside of the master bedroom, if it could be called that. It resembled a dank and almost prison-like chamber with its sugarcane bars on the windows and the faint smell of piss in the air. His mother completed the comparison, her hands tied to the wooden post of the straw bed with a length of rope.

“W-water… please…”

With a nod, Riley turned around and raced throughout the wooden shack, stubbing his toe twice and picking up a splinter. He didn’t slow one second as he reached for the  canteens that his father had stacked under the floorboard in the cooking area. At least one of them contained the clear liquid that would restore his mother’s parch throat. He juggled a few of the canteens around before deciding that all would have to do.

Riley hobbled back to his mother, only four of the original seven canteens still in his arms; three had fallen out in his haste.

“Here,” He began, and he stooped down and dropped the containers in front of the weakened woman, “One of them is… I think it’s this one.” He opened said canteen and peered inside of it. The winkle of his nose indicated that it was just more ale.

A small smile appeared upon his mother’s lips, and she slowly shook her head, “It’s the red one, my son.” She nodded to the partially chipped canteen that Riley had thrown down last. Her son gave a sharp exhale before picking it up and gesturing for her to open her mouth.

“Quick ma, he may come back soon.” He poured the water steadily into his mother’s mouth, gradually lowering his hand as the canteen grew lighter. When it was empty, he set it off to the side and began going to work on his mother’s binds.

Watching her son, the mother closed her eyes and leaned her head back. Thirst quenched, she already appeared far stronger than she was mere moments ago, but she was still anemic in frame at best. Her arms were  so feeble, Riley believed that he would accidentally break her wrists in his urgent liberation. When he had finally removed the rope, his mother’s hands dropped down to the ground, swollen and looking quite disproportionate in comparison to the rest of her puny body.

“Ma?” Riley began after a while of silence. His mother opened her eyes, their amber irises light and almost sightless as they searched around and landed on her son. The smile on her cracked lips widened, showing for the briefest second the former beauty that once was.

“My son… Riley… I’m so proud of you.” She raised a purple hand languidly to brush across the young boy’s cheek. The touch was oddly cold in the humid Tubori climate. “You’ve never disappointed… me… Or your father. I’m sure we haven’t done you the same favour.”

Riley shook his head immediately and took his mother’s hand in his own, “You’ve never let me down, ma. Never, ever.” He seemed ready to continue, but his mother’s head jerked slightly,

“No my son… I have… I should have been stronger.” She closed her eyes and let out a whittling sigh. “Oh… I should have been stronger. I should have been your mother and father. I’m so sorry Riley… Please forgive me…”

A rush of hot indignation rose in Riley’s chest and he bit his bottom lip hard to prevent a harsh rebuttal from slipping out. A deep breath later, he shook his head again. “No. No. Ma, you don’t have to be sorry.”

The mother coughed, leaned her head forward, and  rested both hands in her lap, the inflamed fingers playing with the cheap linen fabric that could be called a skirt,

“Riley, you’ve always been content… Even when you deserved better,” Tears plopped onto her finger, and then rolled down the dirty skin to dampen the skirt. “It’s too late for me… For me to do anything for you here… But maybe… maybe I can save you from your father.” She looked up and locked her amber eyes with her son’s own. There was fierce determination there, something that had remained nonexistent for so long that Riley did not believe what he saw at first. “Go behind the house… Take the shovel, and dig right under the palm tree. You’ll find-” A harsh cough. “You’ll find… a box. Don’t worry… about the lock: it’s broken.” Her scarred and bruised face stretched as her smile became forced, something that Riley could see was hurting her. “Take all the silver. Don’t leave any behind for me. Take all of it, and then take all the other things… The backpack, the belt, the shoes, the tamboura. Take it all.” She gestured with her hand for Riley to come closer, and he did. Giving him a kiss on the forehead, she settled back against the bedpost and became still. So still that Riley initially thought the worst.

“Ma-” He began, voice shaking as he reached for her bloated hand once more. The woman coughed when he touched her, and she shook her head,

“Leave, my son. Go to the harbor. There’s a ship in port right now. It’ll be sailing for Lithmore. Leave Yestraden and never return. Please. Not even to bury me.” Her eyes lost the passionate light of earlier. “Go now… I love you, Riley, more than anything on Urth… I wish I could have loved you more to save us… Don’t you?”

Riley’s gaze became watery as his mother closed those brilliant amber eyes. Tears rolled down his cheeks when she went into the sleep that would most likely be her last.

He walked stiffly for the door. Before he left, his head turned to answer her last question, “Yes, ma.”

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First Kill

Sep 22 2013

AUGUSTUS 9TH, 346

“Sir le Tarrow!” The squire called, his arms waving frantically in the air, “Sir le Tarrow! W-we…” He stopped and took a deep breath, and then he keeled over and crumpled to the ground.

The grey and grizzled man he had been speaking to quickly bent to knee and tried to speak with the young squire, whose mouth had been frothing with foam.

“Speak, squire! What’s happened?”

The squire’s eyes rolled back in his head, but he managed to spit out a few words before death embraced him.

“Mage… fortress… attacked…”

There was no time spared for grieving, save the swift Sign of the Chalice made by Sir le Tarrow. He stood up and looked down at the boy at his side. They both had the same grey eyes, although the elder’s were far colder. Finally, Sir le Tarrow nodded and motioned for the boy to get into the fishing boat.

They were on the eastern shore of Longpoint, one of the more militarized islands in Tubor. Being as this was, there was little convenience that the Knights Tubor had one of their largest fortresses there. The Stone Mountain, they called it, because it resembled exactly that. A massive structure constructed through the means of slave labor and vigorous lashings, the Mountain loomed over all of Longpoint from its central position on the island.

“Hurry up, boy.” Sir le Tarrow barked to the young boy as they both got paddles and began rowing. The boy was rowing harder than he had ever rowed in his life. Harder than when the harvest came, or when his father had a big catch. He was rowing for his grandfather. That in itself was the most important thing that he believed he could ever do, and his small muscles burned with each heave of the paddle.

They reached the adjacent shore quicker than they could have if they had walked, and abandoned the boat near a small fisherman village. Apparently, word of the attack had spread quicker than wildfire, and only a few dared to walk outside of their shambly homes.

“I thought I was hearin’ smoke… I mean, smellin’ smoke… Musta burned the whole Mountain down, yeh think?” Suggested a fisherman after hard questioning.

“They can’t burn the Mountain down!” Shouted the boy angrily as tears began their climb down from his grey eyes. “They can’t! Right Grandpa?” He looked up to Sir le Tarrow expectantly, awaiting the assuring answer; confirmation that everything would be alright, like they always were.

Sir le Tarrow didn’t answer, and turned away from the fisherman. “Lloyd!” He called, brisk steps unrelenting as the pair left the village. “When we reach the fortress, you go straight to the armory and find Sir le Gareck, am I clear?”

Lloyd nodded, running to keep up the pace of his grandfather, “Okay! Okay, and m-maybe I can fight too? I can fight, Grandpa. I beat up Detlan all by myself. I can beat up mages to–” The boy was cut off by his grandfather, who turned and stopped down to be on the boy’s eye level.

“You hide in the armory when we reach, am I clear? Mages aren’t bullies who’ll force you to eat sand until you stand up for yourself… Mages are monsters who will kill you before you get the chance to stand up for yourself.” His tone was imposing, commanding, something that the boy wanted to be when he grew older, and he nodded in reluctant compliance.

“Y-yes Grandpa.”

Sir le Tarrow nodded once before standing up again and marching off, and his grandson scampered after him.

“In the cabinet, Lloyd!” Sir le Gareck shouted as he shoved the boy into one of the many wooden containers used for old, rusty weapons. Lloyd himself could barely get a word out before the cabinet doors were shut closed, and the tiny gap in between the doors was his only visual to the attack going on inside the Mountain.

The mages had done a number on the fortress: an assault from the secret tunnels not used before the time of the old Sir le Tarrow himself. Dead Knights lay everywhere, and even more wounded. Bodies were strewn about, and most of the able defenders had retreated to the upper floors.

The armory was the only stronghold the Knights Tubor had left on the ground level, and its few fighters were wavering. Fireball after fireball was launched through broken windows, and the heat in the room increased until the boy hiding in the cabinet felt like he was being boiled alive. Perhaps that was already happening to Sir le Gareck. Maybe that’s why he was leaning against the wall, sliding down, still wearing his beloved heavy armor.

Only five Knights left, and they couldn’t repel the attackers for much longer. It would be a quick end for them.

More fireballs, this time from behind the standing Knights. Two let out horrid, blood-curdling screams, and the other three merely dropped to the ground, silent as mice.

A few mages made their way into the armory, motioning to each other with their hands, and then they left. All of them. Except for one.

Lloyd didn’t know why he stayed behind, but at this point, the boy didn’t care. The remaining mage had begun to to loot Sir le Gareck’s body, tossing away things that had been valuable to the dead Knight, such as his wedding ring. Lloyd clenched his fists as the mage had the audacity to remove Sir le Gareck’s helm, revealing the  sweaty, burned, and scarred face underneath. Steam rose from the dead man’s head, where a few dying flames had caught at his short brown hair.

Lloyd watched with his grey gaze; watched as the mage poked two fingers into the sockets of Sir le Gareck’s eyes, as he brought the small knife up to his nose, as he began to mutilate the corpse.

The boy in the cabinet slowly reached for the closest weapon- a mace. Rusty, just like everything else in the stuffy repository. It’d have to do.

The sickening squelches of the postmortem torture  masked the creak of the cabinet door. Sir le Tarrow emerged soundlessly from outside the doorway of the armory, his sword covered from hilt to tip with blood. He watched his grandson with his cold eyes, and didn’t say a thing as the boy sneaked up behind the defiler.

Lloyd let go his grip on the mace after the spiked head struck the mage with a twang. Both weapon and body fell down at the same time, and the boy stood panting, eyes wide in disbelief at what he’d just done. He slowly looked from the dead mage to his grandfather, who simply nodded and said,

“First kill.”

One response so far

Yes, Pa

Jun 28 2013

QUINTILIS 1ST, 355

It was hot. Really hot. Even for a region like Yestraden, where the mountains in the east casted shadows over the numerous settlements. Many a Tubori found himself by the docks, swimming, and it wasn’t strange if a body went under and never came back up. The sharks in Yestraden were anything but merciful.

On this particular day, the docks were nearly deserted, save two figures: A young boy, his hair so long that he unknowingly sits upon it, and a larger, pudgy man, balding, a fishing pole in one hand and a bottle in the other.

The man glanced down at the boy, chuckling and handing him the pole so he can take a drink. “Y’know Riley, every year, around this time, I used to sit with my pa.” His cheeks bulged just the slightest and he sloshed the rum in his mouth. “He’d tell stories. ’bout him and Ma before me, ’bout the ole fishin’ days, where he’d go out on a small sloop and nearly sink due to the damn thing being made out of glass!” He chortled and nearly spit out his rum. The young boy narrowed his eyes in concern, and a hand moved to pat the man’s back, but it was shrugged off.

“Ah, I’m fine. Just, ahm, just swallowed wrong.” The man sighed and looked back onto the wide sea. It was clear, near the shore. One could see all the small fish, swimming around, and the occasional dorsal fin of a more fearsome creature. “You see Riley, when you come to my age, you start feelin’… you start feelin’ like you’ve missed out on a lot.” He chuckles again and nudges the boy roughly with an elbow. The boy forced a smile back to the older man, but looked genuinely more confused than anything. The man caught on to the boy’s expression and just chuckled more. “Son, if there’s one thing you’ll learn in this life, is that there’ll always be somethin’ you wished you did different. You’ve probably already thought of a bunch of things, aye?”

The boy didn’t respond, and instead opted to remove his gaze from his father and stare at the open sea. The father sighed and did the same,  grip slackening on the fishing pole.

“I never regretted meetin’ your mother.” The man carried on as he shifted his weight on a more comfortable plank. “Most beautiful woman I ever seen.” He tapped his temple. “Smart too. Did you know she speaks about… I dunno, five different languages? That woman…” The man trailed off, and almost didn’t notice a sharp tug on his line.

Swiftly, he shoved his bottle into the boy’s hands and held onto the pole with both hands. “Woo hoo! He’s a big one!” The man began to reel his catch in, leaning over the dock end to see what it was.  “Well slap me ’til my cheeks swell up! You ever seen an ‘erring this large?” The man let out a wheezing laugh, and the boy’s eyes widened in surprise as the big fish flopped onto the docks. The older man quickly hefted it up and dropped it into a nearby bucket.

“Now you see, son!” The man exclaimed over his shoulder, “This… this is a catch. This is one of the things you don’t have to worry about thinkin’… Thinkin’ that you wanted it differently.” He chuckled and turned around, striding back to the boy. “And trust me, I’ve had a lot of stuff that I wanted differently.”

“Did you want me differently, Pa?”

A long silence.

The man wore an expression of true shock, and he blubbered around for the first few moments after the boy’s question. After realizing that he wasn’t giving any answer at all, the man cleared his throat and stooped down to one knee, until he was eye to eye with the boy.

“You, my boy, you… you’re everything I’ve ever wanted you to be.” He ruffled his son’s hair with a massive hand. “I love you, and I know I don’t always act like it, but I love you. You believe me, right? You trust me?

“Yes, Pa.”

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Nobody

May 30 2013

Maritus 1st, 353

The night air was warm, far warmer than it had been in the past. Party goers swayed about the front garden of Yestraden’s noble family’s estate, debauched, and drinks in hand. Everyone drank. Even the children drank.

“E-everybody-yyyy!” The call came from the center of the garden. The large man swayed, bottle raised high. His gut had seemed to expand far past the thin belt that struggled to contain it. “Every… everybody… Yes.” The man grabbed the woman next to him and then placed a full kiss on her mouth. Far too tipsy to resist, the woman returned the kiss, a soft moan being swallowed up by the croons and whistles from the crowd around them.

Far away at a solitary table sat a boy of around seven years of age, his hair easily his most distinguishable feature. The long brown tresses stopped just before his lower back, and their bright ends contrasted well with the rest of his locks. Perhaps another distinguishable thing about the boy was the lack of alcohol in his hands. No ale, rum, or wine bottles being clasped by tiny fingers. No, this boy sat completely alone, watching the festivities go on around him.

“We’re… we’re all gathered here today,” The large man continued on with his speech, ale  sloshing from its container and down onto his arm. “We’ve gathered to celebrate my son’s… my handsome son’s birthday!” A loud chorus of inebriated applause. “Shut up all of ye. Calm… heheh… calm down now.” The large man searched through the crowd with his hazel eyes, speech slurring. “Where in Arien is the bastard? Ah, there you are! Come on son!” He pushed past the crowd, lumbering over to where the boy sat. “Come on Riley, don’t want you missin’ your own party now.” A somewhat rough and uncoordinated shove came from a large hand, and the young boy was nearly sprawled across the grassy ground.

The woman who had been kissed earlier hobbled drunkenly over and helped the boy to his feet, after which she began to cajole him with soft -yet dazed- words, and loving snuggles, rum from her own bottle spilling over some. The large man let out a roar worthy of a champion’s and held up a fist for silence. The crowd watched wearily, yet eagerly as the man crouched down to be more leveled with the boy and lifted the latter’s chin with a finger.

“Who’s your favorite Yestradeni, son?” Asked the man, staring dreamily into the boy’s eyes. “Come on, who?” The woman bent down and mumbled into the boy’s ear, “Say mama. Tell him mama, hehe.”

“Nobody.” The boy replied coldly, not moving as the woman hugged him even tighter. The large man stood back up and took a step away from the boy, looking down on him. “What did you say, boy?”

“Tell him you didn’t mean it, Riley.” The woman advised sternly, a muffled giggle implying that she was trying her best not to break out in laughter. “Tell Pa you didn’t mean it.”

“Nobody. Nobody. Nobody.” The boy repeated, lower lip stuck out in a bit of a frown. His eyes followed the large man as he turned to the silent crowd and laughed. “Nobody, he says! Haha! His favorite Yestradeni… is NOBODY!”

Nobody

Nobody. Nobody. Nobody.

The man began to trudge away through the array of people, shoving those too stubborn to move from his way. Before he reaches the small shack he made his way to, he turned and laughed again, cackling, “Nobody!” Before entering into the small structure and slamming the door.

The silence that followed was even more unnerving than before, and the woman let go of the boy, dropping her bottle and walking slowly over to the table that had been occupied by only one moments before. The boy followed after her, muttering the same word repeatedly under his breath.

“Nobody.”

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About Riley Dayle

May 27 2013

 Name: Riley Dayle

Age: 12

Birthdate: Maritus 1st, 346

Origins: Yestraden, Tubor

Description: This young boy’s long brown hair shines healthily in the Sun, its highlighted ends giving it a sort of dark honey blend. A flawless face, unmarred by any marks or blemishes shows the prevalence of his youth, and full, -almost pouty- lips do nothing but enhance his innocence. Perhaps the only things that could out-perform them would be his eyes, their shapes seemingly a mixture between almond and round. Flecks of bright green can be seen around his deep, amber irises, which could understandably be mistaken for hazel. He has tan skin, although it is not as dark as other Tubori, indicating that he probably stayed inside for quite some time. Last but not least, a lean and supple frame indicates that he is maintains a healthy level of fitness.

      Riley Dayle

That hair!

98 responses so far

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