Posts Tagged ‘Fighter’

Horror

July 10, 2017

Horror slid the blade out of the last vampire and whipped the blood from it. He slipped the hood back over his head and looked around at his comrades. They were all looking at him and he hated it. He felt his face get hot and he turned away. He felt a hand on his shoulder and he shook it off. The hand returned and he turned and found he was face to face with Mercy. The anger died in his eyes and he took a deep breath. Mercy was the only one around who could possibly understand what he was going through. She had been like a sister to him. For all he knew, they probably were brother and sister.

The two of them had been left as orphans on the doorstep of the village guardhouse. This would have probably led to a normal adoption, perhaps by a member of the local guard or a farmer or something. However, there was a problem. The two were tieflings and their demonic appearance had frightened the villagers. Horns and red-tinged skin were clear signs that somewhere along the line their relatives had consorted with Asmodeus. Horror had heard that a local cleric had even called for the two babies to be drowned in a bucket full of holy water. There had been widespread support for that plan. However, luckily a passing stranger had an alternative plan that saved the lives of Horror and Mercy.

The stranger had been an old knight, sworn to hunt the darker monsters of the world. He whisked the babies away to his stronghold where he spent his time while waiting for quests. He declared that they would be trained by his people to aid in the hunt of monsters. While many would think they qualified as monsters, they would do penance for their bloodline by hunting fellow monsters. Horror had embraced what they called him. He declared himself a horror to monsters and anybody who do evil to man. Mercy pitied the monsters and felt that their death was a mercy. Neither of them was allowed beyond the gates of the compound without a target.

“How soon do we saddle up to return?” Horror asked. Their ‘father’ would be waiting for a report.

“Soon, I think,” Mercy said. She was putting spent arrows back into her quiver to clean and re-fletch later. She was very conscientious that way. Seeing her taking such care compelled Horror to pull a cloth from his pocket and wipe off his sword. There was no need to bring vampire blood all the way home. “You don’t have to be so bitter about it.”

“I am tired of being caged up almost all of the time.” Horror said. “Every time we’re out here, I want to stay.”

“He keeps us for our own safety, Horror,” She said.

“Once upon a time it was for our safety,” Horror said. “I think we can handle ourselves now. We’re not children anymore. By blade and magic, I can defend myself.”

“We have a duty to remove threats from the world,” Mercy said. “We have a duty to end the shadows that hound the citizenry.”

“I can do that out there just as well as in a cage,” he said.

“There is no way they will let you just walk away,” she said. “Be content.”

“I feel like a falcon with a hood,” he said. “Every time I see the light, it is to kill whatever I’m told. We never even get to meet the people we are defending.”

“I don’t think they want to meet us,” she said. “We’re better off where we are.”

“You keep saying we,” he said.

“So do you,” she said. “We have been a ‘we’ since we were babies.”

“Since we are divided on the matter,” he said. “Perhaps it is about¬†time we stopped being a ‘we’ so that we can become an I.”

“Two eyes are better than one,” she said with a smile.

“Don’t be cute,” he said and smiled despite the argument.

“I couldn’t if I tried,” she said.

“That is intolerance talking,” he said. “They can’t all be like that.”

“I would like to think that as well,” she said.

Jacques Ironclad walked into the courtyard at that moment, his great axe across his broad back. He looked like he had seen a thousand battles but maybe it had been more than that. He was a battle-hardened hunter who had been appointed the keeper of Horror and Mercy. He was the falconer to the two deadly falcons. Needless to say, he and Horror did not get along.

“Time to get back in the cart, you two,” he said. “We want to give the all clear to the villagers.”

“We were just cleaning up,” Horror said.

“No backtalk, please,” Jacques said. “Get in the cart.”

“No backtalk, huh?” Horror said. “We just vanquished a whole nest of vampires. The least they could do is thank us before they start to throw rocks.”

“Horror,” Mercy interjected. “Please don’t.”

Jacques did not argue.  Instead, he just swung a fist at Horror but this was merely sidestepped. Jacques used the momentum to quickly follow the right with a charging left. Horror caught that with a smile and raised his own fist to strike but Mercy caught his wrist. The momentary distraction allowed Jacques to rock him with another right to the jaw. When the world stopped shaking, Horror found himself on his hands and feet.

“Stop!” Mercy cried out. “He’ll come along quietly.”

“He had better,” Jacques said and stood by. The two tieflings walked toward the cart and climbed inside. Horror’s eyes burned with anger as Jacques closed and locked the door. Somewhere, a bell rang to signal the villagers that they could come back out.

The cart rattled on, back toward the compound. When it arrived, Jacques yanked open the door, ready to bring the tieflings to their master for praise or discipline. Instead, he found only Mercy who gave a little shrug and pointed to a hole that had been burned into the floor of the cart. Horror was nowhere to be seen.

 

Hendry Hawkwood

February 11, 2017

The Baron Dran and his men had come into town one gray morning. Hendry was just a boy then and he did not understand at first that there was a new law in town. He did not immediately see the bad signs but he saw that his parents were worried. The Baron had a very nice house built as his headquarters but he and his men spent most of their time in the local tavern, The Green Lady. There was plenty of grumbling early on, but nobody dared to raise a hand to stop them. When they sent word summoning Hendry to their impromptu court at the Green Lady, he could see in his parent’s faces that they did not want him to go. They did not speak out and so Hendry had to go.

Hendry was surprised that the Baron was not much older than himself. He tried to keep the surprise off of his face but he was not sure if he managed it. The smoke was thick in the place so perhaps they could not see anyway.

“What is your name, boy?” The Baron asked. His voice was arrogant, made more so by the closeness of their age and his choice of words.

“Hendrick, sir,” Hendry said.

“You’re a farmer’s son, right?” The Baron asked. He was not even really looking at Hendry which was incredibly annoying but Hendry kept his mouth shut about it.

“I am proud to be a farmer’s son, sir,” Hendry replied.

“Not anymore,” the Baron said. He gestured and one of his men held out a shovel toward Hendrick. Hendrick grasped it and pulled it close with growing confusion. “You are now a gravedigger. I have a feeling that this village will need one before I am through.”

Hendry’s eyes went wide at the implications of that statement but Dran’s men were already pushing him out of the tavern. Their laughter shook him to his core.

* * *

“Why would you do such a thing?!” Karina yelled as she shoved things into a pack.

“The Baron’s men killed my brother. I had to dig his grave! Those men had it coming,” Hendry replied. He was still holding the bloody sword he had seized. He had seen red and before he even knew what he was doing, he had murdered two of Dran’s men. He was still breathing hard even as he watched Karina pack. The two men had started to push him around and he had just snapped and stolen one of their swords. He lashed out, slashing them to pieces in a moment.

“We have to get you away from here,” Karina said.

“I can’t leave,” Hendry said. He dropped the sword and it clattered on the floor.

“They will kill you if they catch you,” Karina said. “I will watch out for the rest of your family. I promise.” Karina was a good ranger and the best archer that Hendry knew.

“I cannot let him rule here any further,” Hendry said.

“What are you going to do? Wave your shovel at him?” Karina asked. “You got lucky with those two earlier.”

Hendry sighed. “I guess you’re right.”

“Come on, I have the best place to send you.”

* * *

Hendry stepped out of the barracks of the Battle Arts Academy. He breathed in the fresh air, as he hoisted the pack on his back onto the horse that would take him from that place. He slid a shovel into a loop he had tied onto the saddle. It was two years since he had left his village behind. He heard footsteps from behind him.

“You and that shovel,” Caleb said. “It sat by your bed for the last two years.”

“Just a reminder of the past,” Hendry said with a smile. “A reminder that I will not suffer a bully.”

“Hero type,” Caleb said with a smile. “I guess you will be out there fighting the good fight now?”

“Yes. It is time for me to move on,” Hendry said. “I will keep improving and one day I will make things right.”

“Whatever that means. I’ll miss you.”

“You are a great friend, Caleb. I promise we’ll see each other again,” Hendry said.

“We’d better,” Caleb said with a laugh. “You owe me after that last game of liar’s dice.”

“Hopefully you’ve forgotten by the time we see each other again,” Hendry said. He held his hand out to possibly his best friend in the world. Unless, of course, Karina was still alive somewhere. There was little news of the state of his village. The last he had heard, the Baron had been forced to flee by an errant group of adventurers. He felt a little cheated at his chance for revenge. Caleb shook his hand and brought him back to the present and Hendry smiled awkwardly.

“I’m sure I’ll never forget. Until we meet again.”

“Until we meet again.” Hendry climbed up onto the horse and started down the road toward an uncertain future.


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