Warriors – Episode 8

This was written as part of a larger story delivered in a serial format.

Previous episodes can be found here.


Colt’s Decision

Colt lay alone staring into the darkness of the small room above the forge he once shared with two others. The room felt almost large now that the two other apprentices, Jare and Tom, had gone. He had room to stretch out, or walk around stretching without stepping on another. Colt missed Tom often, but never Jare who was mean as a snake and often earned him and Tom beatings or beat them himself.

***

Tom had been a good worker, friend, and confidant. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that morning when Colt woke to find Tom gone. He had said often enough that he wanted to leave, that they could leave together, whispering to Colt in the dark so low that Jare couldn’t hear. Colt never thought he would go. Had hoped that he would not, being scared to go along, selfishly fearing what would happen to him if Tom did go. And then one morning, he realized his fears. Continue reading “Warriors – Episode 8”

Warriors – Episode 7

This was written as only a part of a larger story delivered weekly in a serial format.

Previous episodes:  Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6

Mountains Calling

Sweat slicked Colt’s long black hair, ran rivers along his face, and stung his eyes. Droplets flew across the small shop with every blow of hammer against steel. He wore a leather apron over a bare chest that hung low to cover his knees. He worked a bellows with one booted foot, keeping the furnace raging hot while placing the metal into the hottest part of the flame before pulling it out, pounding down with the sledge, and tempering the metal in the barrel of water to his side.

He had been at it since before the sun rose over the Great Sea in the cool of morning. That cool had burned away as the sun climbed overhead turning the day steamy and encouraging the salt wind to blow in from the sea. Still he pumped the bellows, pounded the metal flat, rolled one thin layer upon another, and tempered the blade again and again in tireless automatic motions.

If the piece came out, it would be a masterpiece. Both sword and ax, it would be a front heavy weapon as the blade turned from a long thin shaft expanding at the end into a sort of triangle with only one point, the point of the sword. It would be heavy enough to split a shield or skull, lite enough to carry with ease on one’s back or hip, and stand up well against a sword wielding opponent. Colt had taken to calling the thing a swordax and had thoughts of making another for himself.

Master Crandall would be by early tomorrow morn for it, and Colt was running behind. If he could get some help from the blasted fool who called himself Master Blacksmith, perhaps he would not be. But perhaps he would be behind and more at that.

Master Blacksmith Hammer, called Ham by everyone, was more a business man than a blacksmith now. There were lots of goods moved through his shop, but his hands seemed not to touch any of them except to pass them over the counter. True, he had a keen eye and could spot a flaw a mile off, and was always happy to tell his now only apprentice to fix what he saw, when he saw it. “The hammer no longer fits my hand boy, but I’ve still got the eye for it,” he would say several times a day as he instructed Colt to redo one piece or the other without mention instruction of how. That statement was often followed by a remark of how Colt could maybe one day turn into a passable smith himself if he would do something around the shop instead of just standing around. It was as if he wasn’t swinging the hammer all day and half of most of the nights.

It was maddening!

Colt wanted nothing more than to get away, but there was no way out that he could see. He could climb aboard one of the large fishers that sailed clear from sight before coming back with their catch. They always came back though. Almost always anyway. If he ever left, he would never return.

Sam, the latest apprentice to abandon Colt followed the coast to another city, saying that he could ‘prentice somewhere else and be better off. Colt had his doubts, and why leave only to do the same thing somewhere else?

He looked out at the mountains in the distance and shivered despite the heat. The stories said they were wild, dangerous things that no one ever returned from. Beast roamed those slopes, large enough to make an easy meal of a man. Colt had seen one such creature brought into town by a peddler looking to sell its coat. The wagon, surrounded by large men with bows and spears, creaked beneath the weight of the huge black creature. Colt thought that it must have weighed as much as ten men.

But it had been killed. Could the mountains hold some hope for him. He had heard that people lived on the far side of the peaks, in a fertile valley where they farmed and lived away from the constant heat and the salt wind that blew in from the sea.

That thought alone was enough to set his mind racing, if not his feet. He had nothing. Nothing except an apprenticeship to a man who would set orphan ass back on the street the moment he stepped a foot wrong. Colt feared that would happen everyday, and so he swung the hammer hard and without complaint.

Colt pulled the swordax from the water barrel and held it before him looking for faults. Master Hammer took the piece and scowled. “The storms take me and hurl me into the sea, but I can’t see what this thing is good for save chopping wood.” He swung it in an awkward arc. The weight on the tip of the swordax caused the old blacksmith to stumble forward. He appeared ready to throw the blade into the dirt, but thought better of it. “If that’s what the man wants, who am I to judge. Long as he pays, it’s all the same to me.”

Colt took the weapon back from his master with ease, giving it an easy twirl before hanging it on the wall. Ham gave him a look, and Colt did his best to look abashed. He stared out at the mist covered peaks as his master stomped off.


This is the seventh installment of a serial lovingly named Warriors.  It is my goal to have a new episode every week or so depending on life.  Please bear with me if I’m not as punctual as I would like.  Another portion will be posted soon with a target word count between 500 and 1,000.

If you would like to read the previous episodes, I have links at the top of this post!

I hope you enjoyed this portion of our story!  I look forward to seeing you as we continue the journey and welcome any comments you may have.

Thanks for visiting!

Warriors – Episode 6

 

This was written as only a part of a larger story delivered weekly in a serial format.

Previous episodes:  Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5

Riders at Dusk

Chunks of carrot and potato fell from Fallon’s knife, joining the herbs, and seasoned meat in the stew-pot as the broth boiled.  The smell infused the small house.  It wouldn’t be long before the aroma reached Raelle outside.

Winter was fast approaching, replacing the life giving rains of summer that rolled off the slopes of the Storm Mountains with a chill that would soon turn the valley and village white.

The crack of wood splitting sounded from outside.  Raelle now insisted on doing the most strenuous chores, claiming that it was good for her training with sword and shield, and refusing his help whenever he offered.  It was an adjustment that Fallon made with a struggle, but there was work enough to keep them both busy on the farm.  Even if his daughter had taken most of what he considered the man’s chores from him.  It was his job to care for his daughter, and if that meant allowing her to be strong, then that was what he would do.  And she was strong. Stronger even than him now, though her lean body didn’t show it.

He was proud of his daughter.  She was strong, beautiful, and could take care of herself.  But how had it happened.  It seemed like yesterday she was begging him in the Village Shoppe for a shield they had no need for.  A smile split his face as the memory lingered. His little girl.  That was so long ago, but seemed only a few days.  That little girl was now a young woman that pulled the eye of every boy in the village, many of whom had had their feelings, or worse, hurt when they tried calling on Raelle a bit too exuberantly.  Best of all, Fallon had done none of the hurting himself.

Raelle added the wood to the stack, looking over it at the mountains in the distance. There was enough there for three winters already, but she liked the feel of the ax in her hands and the cool winds that blew down the mountain slopes wicking the sweat from her skin.

The sun dipped low, turning chill air cold and casting long shadows over Raelle as the large crescent ax fell.  It stuck into a green piece of hardwood with a thud.  She began to pull it free as the clop, clop of hooves sounded on the road.

She watched two cloaked figures ride slowly past from the cover of the shadowed woodpile.  They worried her every time they rode past, which was more often now than ever.  She had spied them out three times that week alone, always at dusk or later and hiding behind dark cloaks.

The smell of her father’s stew reached her.  Her stomach volunteered a noise as the figures disappeared down the shadowed road. She wished, not for the first time, that they lived further from the road and wondered if she had been the only one to smell the cooking.

Raelle pushed the door open and leaned the ax against the frame before going to the wash basin in one corner of the small house to clean up.

“Bringing the ax in again?” Fallon asked.  “Everything alright?”

“Saw those riders again.  They make me nervous.”

“I would imagine you have more to worry about from the village boys.  Hope you don’t take the ax to them though.  Their fathers are hard enough to deal with without that,” he chuckled through his graying beard.

“I like having the ax close.  It’s the best weapon we have if something were to happen.”

That was true enough Fallon supposed.  He had not been able to secure Raelle a real sword.  She learned the sword with poor wooden imitations of the real thing.  Even after several decent harvest, the funds just weren’t there, so Fallon taught her everything about the sword he new with what they had. Raelle adapted it to the ax as best she could so as to have a real weapon if she needed it.

“One of these days,” Fallon said smiling, “you’re going to have to pick one of those hay-brained boys and settle down.  I’m getting to be an old man, and you have a life of your own to live.”

She wrinkled her nose at the thought.  “For now, I’ll settle down with a nice bowl of stew.  It smells wonderful, and I’m starved.”

They sat and bowed over steaming wooden bowls thick with meat, carrot, and potato.  “Thank the ones above for the Spring and Summer Rains, the Fall Harvest, and the strength to pass the test of Winter.  All said.”

“All said,” Raelle repeated as they caught the sound of a horse’s whinny.

Fallon looked at his daughter as she moved toward the ax.

The door burst from the hinges, spraying splinters across the room.  Raelle fell back, splinters digging into her face and arms. Two figures stepped through the ruined doorway.


This is the sixth installment of a serial lovingly named Warriors.  It is my goal to have a new episode every week.  So far I’ve met the every week goal, but I’ve slipped a few days here and there putting the post close to the next week.  It will happen eventually, I know.  Please bear with me if I’m not as punctual as I would like.  Another portion will be posted soon with a target word count between 500 and 1,000.

If you missed the previous episodes, I have links at the top of this post!

I hope you enjoyed this portion of our story!  I look forward to seeing you as we continue the journey and welcome any comments you may have.

Thanks for visiting!

Warriors – Episode 5

This was written as only a part of a larger story delivered weekly in a serial format.

Previous episodes:  Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4

The Seedling

The week passed in a blur of rainy nights, planting days, and dreams. Dreams, always with a woman warrior that could be Raelle herself at an older age.

It was the dreams that pushed Raelle out of bed in the mornings, through her morning chores, and into the fields to plant as much as she could before the sun disappeared beyond the village that lay on the other side of the forest every evening. That field had to be planted before her Pop Pop would teach her to fight, and she had to learn that if she was ever to be the woman in her dreams. Continue reading “Warriors – Episode 5”

Warriors – Episode 4

This was written as only a part of a larger story delivered weekly in a serial format.  The previous episodes can be found in the links below.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Chores First

Raelle trudged through her daily chores after a small breakfast of grains and milk that she pushed around the wooden bowl from side to side, only taking a bite every now and again. She replied that nothing was the matter when her Pop Pop asked what the matter was, and in a way, nothing was. Nothing that she could pin down anyway. She had had a dream, and she was no baby. True, it was a dream she didn’t really want to talk about, but it was a dream all the same.

She gave the dishes a scrub and put them away as Fallon made his way out to the field. Planting started today in the rain softened soil of the open fields. Farmers all around the village would be out planting today, taking advantage of the rains they had been blessed with.

Raelle would join her Pop Pop soon, but the chickens had to be seen to and Ole Bessie had to be milked if there was to be any for the following morning’s breakfast..

The tasks came and went without thought. Raelle’s hands worked of their own accord as her mind fought the battle on the road time and again.

The woman on the road was not her, though every part of her being said otherwise. How could it be? She would live in or around the Grey River Village in the shadow of the Storm Mountains all her life and that was all. There was nothing to be done about it. She would marry, have children, and work the farm or tend the home. Her Pop Pop had explained it all to her.

She would live the life her mother would have lived had she not died with flu shortly after giving birth. It had been a bad year for flu and many died with her mother, going home to serve the gods above. She would have the happiness that her mother never had here on earth before she joined her in the above. Raelle would make her mother proud. Thoughts of her mother and life lost replaced thoughts of battle as Raelle walked.

Fallon waved from across the field, rubbed the small of his back, and stretched high over his head before bending again to push a seed into the rain softened earth before covering it over. “It is good to see you my heart. I was getting lonely.”

“Pop Pop, I want to learn to fight,” Raelle said as she walked the last few yards.

Fallon puffed out a long deflating breath. “I’d be lying if I said that I was surprised, what with all the happenings of late.” He gave his daughter a long look as if he was seeing her for the first time or the first time in a long time. “I’ll teach you what I know, but now is not the time, you have to understand that.”

“Will there be a time?” she snapped. The statement was less a question and more demand. Raelle cringed at the sound of her own voice. That tone usually earned her the switch, but she was surprised to see her Pop Pop smiling down on her when she gathered the courage to raise her eyes again.

“You are your mother’s daughter, that’s as sure as the day is long.” Raelle looked confused at the statement. Who else’s daughter would she be? “The day doesn’t last forever though, and seeds don’t plant themselves. We need this whole field planted by week’s end if we are to have a good harvest. After that, I’ll show you all I know about fighting. All I remember from a youth spent in one militia or another.” He went quiet for a long moment, eyes staring off beyond the horizon. “And though I figure its a waste since you’ll never need it, I suppose it won’t hurt nothing either. Knowledge of a thing, whatever that thing is, won’t hurt you. That is your first lesson. Think on that until the field is planted, then we can move onto other things.”

Raelle, too shocked to speak threw her arms around him.


This is the fourth installment of a serial. Every week, another portion will be posted with a target word count between 500 and 1,000.

If you missed the previous episodes, I have links at the top of this post!

I hope you enjoyed this portion of our story!  I look forward to seeing you as we continue the journey.

Warriors – Episode 3

This was written as part of a serial.

Episode 1

Episode 2 

Dreams

Fallon checked over his wounds and washed blood from his face and knuckles while Raelle prepared herself for bed.

He tucked the blanket tight around his daughter as the first rains of the mountain squall began to fall. Sharp lighting flashed outside, sending light throughout the small house, and Raelle braced herself for the coming boom of thunder. When it came a second later, the house shook with the force.

“Don’t worry about the storm,” Fallon said, brushing the hair from his daughter’s forehead. “It will be gone by morning, and we have lots to do. You’ll need your rest.”

“Pop Pop, can you teach me how to fight?”

He gave her a long look. “I suppose with the days events, that question could have been predicted, but we’re farmers Dear Heart, not soldiers. What need do you have of fighting. Besides, we have crops to plant, and that starts tomorrow when the ground has been softened by the rains. Praise those above for sending their blessings upon us.” He turned his eyes to the heavens, then back to Raelle. “Now got some sleep.” He kissed the top of her head, puffed out the candle on the bedside table, and walked out of the room.

Raelle’s room was small, but she had found a spot for the shield at the foot of her bed. It stood between her feet and the small four paned window that looked out over the farm’s largest field. Raelle would often lay awake at night, waiting to hear the heavy breathing of sleep from her father before rising to watch deer graze by the light of the moon. There would be no deer tonight. Tonight, there would only be wind, lightning, thunder, and driving rain. The spring squalls had begun.

Fallon slept, tired from the days events.

Raelle lay in the bed restless. Her mind going from point to point in the day, connecting them, trying to make sense of them, succeeding at some and failing at others. She always settled on the fight on the road, and how helpless she felt. She hated that feeling, but what could she do about it?

After long hours, the lightning and the booming thunder that accompanied it waned, leaving only the constant rain to sound on the roof. Beneath this constant droning, Raelle drifted into fitful sleep.

***

A great road, the likes of which Raelle had never seen stretched before her. It was wide and long, seeming to take up all the visible space, all things beyond blurred to nothing. A lone hooded warrior stood against four armored foes on smooth worked stone. The warrior, Raelle could see was a woman from stance and apparent body shape, was surrounded by four remaining men. Two others lay discarded, their blood staining the stone just outside the circle.

The woman dressed strange for a warrior, but Raelle knew that was what she was. No armor was visible, only a long flowing brown-green cloak that seemed to hover an inch from the stone.

She bore a shield with only points on the top outer edges and another at the base. It protected her left as she attacked with the sword she held in her right hand. The weapons flowed, extensions of the woman, not tools of war but a part of her. She flowed from stance to stance with grace only told in stories, pushing one man back as another attacked, only to turn into his shield blocked blow to sweep through the man’s leg with the her blade.

The man went down with a scream and it was three against one. The next man lost more than his leg as the warrior drove the point of her sword through the man’s eye-hole. He crashed to the stone and moved no more. The two remaining men charged the warrior together in an all out attack.

She fell back, defending blow after blow as the men tried their skill. She parted their attacks left and right, looking for openings as they charged reckless and full of battle lust.

She took one in the hand with her sword. His own sword clattered to the stones as the warrior turned her attention to the only armed foe left. He retreated as his nerve left him. The warrior engaged, pushing him back. He defended franticly until he tripped over his one legged friend. She drove her sword beneath the man’s breastplate and blood splattered from his mouth.

The man with the mangled hand was running when she turned back. His sword lay abandoned on the road.

The warrior watched the man run, pushed back her hood and took a pull from her water-skin. The man who lay with one leg whispered in awe, “a woman?”

She walked over to the man and looked him in the eyes. “Yes, a woman. The last you will ever see.” She drove the point of her sword between the man’s armor.

Raelle looked then, really looked into the eyes of the warrior, and in those eyes, she the storm and recognized herself.

***

Raelle sat bolt upright in bed, breathing hard, heart beating fast as though it had been her fighting in that strange road.

She lay there, unable to sleep until the morning sun rose to drive the darkness away, thinking of her dream and the day before. Wondering if the woman in the dream, the warrior, had been her, and by the time the day had dawned, decided that it was.


This is the third installment of a serial. Every week, another portion will be posted with a target word count between 500 and 1,000.

If you missed the previous episodes, I have links at the top of this post!

I hope you enjoyed this portion of our story!  I look forward to seeing you as we continue the journey.

Warriors – Episode 2

Warriors – Episode 1

The road back to the farm lay between the wide, lazy Grey River on their left and forest thick with undergrowth on their right. The sun peaked above the tips of the mountains in the distance, throwing long shadows over the sloppy road. The day had been warm, but the sun had done little to dry the road from the previous night’s storm. Fallon picked his way between puddles, keeping his feet as dry as possible.

Thoughts of his talk with the shopkeep played in Fallon’s mind. Seen some unsavory types on the road, he had said. He quickened his pace, wishing he had brought their farm horse instead of letting it rest from the plowing the previous day.

Raelle reached over her Pop Pop’s shoulder to rub a hand over the smooth surface that made what she now knew was a shield and grasped the middle point of the W. It felt right in her hand, though she could not fathom why.

A branch snapped in the dark of the forest. Fallon cast his eyes about, searching the shadows, seeing nothing beyond the edges of the road. Curse me for a fool, he thought.

It had been stupid to waste the light haggling over the price of a shield he would never need. He should have bought the hoe, he thought as the conversation came back to him again. Even if all you have is a stick, the conversation had gone. Had he bought the hoe, he would have a stick and then some. He scanned the roadside for something he could use for defense.

“Help me look for a nice walking stick,” he told Raelle, mustering more calm than he felt into his voice as he lowered her to the ground. “We’ve a ways to go yet.”

A deer burst from the forest a moment later. “Only a deer,” Fallon muttered in relief as Raelle held up a sturdy length of oak branch that seemed to have come down in the last storm. “Oh that will do nicely.” He took the branch and began stripping away the leaves and smaller branches that spread out from it.

Fallon hefted the stick, feeling the balance. “Not bad,” he said. If nothing else, he would have a spare hoe handle he thought as he lifted Raelle back onto his hip.

Her breath caught, and Fallon followed her gaze to where three men made their way out of the underbrush and into the road. They carried strung bows, and bright white fletchings were visible poking over the men’s shoulders, an easy hand reach from the quivers that hung across their backs.

“Run into the forest and make your way back to town,” Fallon told his daughter setting her feet back on the road. “Be swift and do not look back. I will find you.”

“Pop Pop?”

Fallon heard a thousand questions in the simple words. “No time. You run when I run,” and whispered “go” as he began to run.

He ran, thinking back on long ago training, realizing too late that he had left the stick behind, and was on the men, tackling one and raining blows down on him before they splattered in the mud. Fallon scanned the confused men, saw them recovering from where they had scattered and kicked out at them as they neared. Fallon’s heart sank as he saw Raelle frozen in terror, standing in the middle of the road. “Go!” he yelled into the night.

One of the men, running hard tackled Fallon from atop the other man, landing them in a splash of muddy water as the third added his weight to him, pinning him to the muddy road. Fallon’s breath left him in a gush and he struggled to get it back as he waited for the blows to come.

“Stop it, stop it!” Raelle screamed as she ran to her Pop Pop.

Fallon tried to move but couldn’t. The weight of two men on him was too much. He had failed Raelle. He groaned beneath the men and searched for a way of escape.

“Fallon?” the man who lay across him asked. When Fallon did not answer, he continued. “Fallon, we mean you no harm. It’s Jarrel, Bones, and Telle.”

Fallon let his body go limp in relief as he heard the stick crack across the man’s back.

“Aye!” he screamed as the stick cracked again. The men scrambled away from where Fallon lay.

Raelle stood with the stick at the ready, protecting her Pop Pop.

***

Telle took the worst of it. Jarrel and Bones took whacks with the stick from Raelle, but aside from a bit a swelling, they would be fine.

Fallon apologized for attacking the men and informed them of the path the deer they had been stalking had taken, though none of them looked in the mood to continue the chase.

Almost home Raelle looked up at her Pop Pop in the light of the big bright moon. “What if they had been bad men Pop Pop?”

“If so, then you run. You hear me? Don’t you ever do that again.”

Raelle did not answer, and they walked the rest of the way in silence.


This is the second installment of a serial. Every week, another portion will be posted with a target word count between 500 and 1,000.

If you missed Episode 1, you can check it out here!

I hope you enjoyed this portion of our story!  I look forward to seeing you as we continue the journey.