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.

#WeekendCoffeeShare – Palmerton

cappuccino on table

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I hurt, and that I’m ready to be home again.  We should make it home today sometime, but I’m not sure when I’ll stop hurting.  This morning we’d be sitting in the Hampton Inn as the rest of the family snoozes a few more minutes, drinking there coffee, juice, tea, what have you, before we head back out on the road.  I’ve just got to be careful not to drink too much, considering that we’ll be on the road and all.

It feels like we’ve been on the road for forever.  Leaving Thursday after work to head towards Palmerton Pennsylvania, we made it as far as Richmond Virginia.  Then the next day, we continued, hitting all kinds of traffic and pushing what should have been 5 to 6 hours to more like 8.  But we made it.  Then we ate and slept, got up early, and ran the Spartan Super at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort Saturday.  (That’s where all the hurt came in.)  Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare – Palmerton”

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.