Friday Short Fiction: The Hidden Kingdom Part #3

Garhum rushed through the brush as the arrows were shot around him. The four elves behind him were lining up a second volley of arrows whenever Garhum jumped behind a log for protection. Grabbing his now, Garhum peered above the log to see if he might catch sight of his pursuers. He set an arrow and pulled back on the string. Silently counting to three, Garhum loosed his arrow towards his defenders. Throwing his bow back over his shoulder, Garhum jumped up and kept running.

Knowing that his options were quickly running out, especially if any of the elves had a mount nearby, Garhum headed towards the rocky terrain. He was hoping there would be a cave nearby he could use to his advantage. Running around a rock jutting out of the ground, Garhum heard an arrow hit just behind him. Using his acute hearing, he did notice that there was only one shot at him this time. He knew this meant his other foes were circling around him to block him in. The elves after him were trained. This training meant they were soldiers. Why would they want the map?

Noticing that the ground started to shift in a downward slope, Garhum ran in that direction. Knowing that there were caves in the lower lying areas of this area of the realm, Garhum was hoping to find one he could hide in. He knew instantly he chose the wrong path because he was headed into a ravine that would give the elves an advantage to shoot down on him from above. And fire they did.

Garhum had to dive behind a ledge to get out of sight. Trying to get sight of the elves, Garhum stuck his head out, only having to pull it back as three arrows were instantly sent into the rock he was hiding behind. Garhum knew he was in trouble. Each of the elves had a bead on his position and all they had to do was wait for him to try and come out. Garhum ducked back behind the ledge and sheltered himself. While he had a little bit of time, Garhum pulled out the parchment to see why he was being chased. Unrolling the parchment, Garhum could see the outline of a map. There was a path that lead through some ancient ruins and eventually stopped beside a lake. Garhum crinkled his nose as he didn’t recognize any of the landmarks on the map. He would have to find someone to help him read the map, but who could he find? Of course, he would have to get out of his predicament at first. Sticking his head out from behind the rock to see if his enemies were still there, he was answered by three arrows ricochetting off the rock.

Friday Short Fiction: The Hidden Kingdom Part #2

Sorry for the delay in releasing the second installment of The Hidden Kingdom. The blog was taking a major overhaul, and I just hadn’t been able to get a new post out. I hope you enjoy this installment as things heat up between the elf and Garhum Irontracker.

The Hidden Kingdom

Using the elf’s hair as a lever, Garhum threw him a short distance into the trunk of a tree, knocking the elf unconscious. Knowing that this elf was a dangerous foe, Garhum tied a vine around his hands and around the trunk of the tree. On the backside of the trunk, Garhum tied two different styles of knots as an added safety measure.

Garhum reached down and grabbed the waterskin attached to his belt. After taking a swig of mead inside, he threw the waterskin on the elf’s face. The elf awoke with a start and let out a growl when he realized his hands were tied behind his back. “That’s right ye darn fairy. I got ye tied up and now ye’r be answering me questions,” Garhum taunted his prisoner.

“I won’t do anything of the sort you smelly little dwarf.”

“Smelly? I believe ye complimented me.”

“Only orcs and goblins would take that as a compliment and trust me, elves rank you no higher then both.”

Garhum felt the rage grow inside him at the insult. Unable to control his movements, he slapped the elf across the face. The elf collapsed as he was knocked unconscious again. Garhum could easily forget the strength in his swing from years in the mines. Garhum reached out and shook the elf to bring him back to consciousness.

“Now, let’s be a little more friendly and that won’t have to happen again.”

The elf spit at Garhum.

“If ye tell me where the map is, I promise not to kill ye.”

“A promise from a dwarf. Hah! Why would you think that I would trust you.”

“I don’t care if ye trust me or not. Why are ye fighting so hard to keep the map? I don’t know what ye elves would want with Duhgron but either way I am leavin’ with the location.”

“Over my dead body.”

“Trust me, I hope it comes to that.” Garhum reached into his quiver and pulled out an arrow. The elf’s eyes widened as Garhum headed his way. “Where be the map?”

“My friends will be here before can find out anything. How do you think you can fend off four elves?”

“I ain’t worried about four elves. I got enough of ye for me.” Garhum shoved the arrow into the arm of the elf and put his hand over his mouth to muffle the yell. Garhum had scouted the area before picking out his target, he knew the elf was speaking the truth about his companions. He was hoping to find out the information in short order and be on his way.

The elf’s arm went limp when Garhum pulled the arrow our. Sobs came from the elf when Garhum removed his hand from the elf’s mouth. “Now where be the map if ye want to live?”

“You might as well kill me now dwarf. I will not tell you.”

Garhum knew that his time was running out. The elf’s companions would be searching the forest for him by now and Garhum could not be discovered. He was outnumbered. Reaching for his knife to end his interrogation, he caught a glimpse of something behind the elf. Slapping the elf across the face to knock him unconscious again, Garhum pulled out the parchment. He started to unroll the parchment when he heard movement in the trees behind him.

Quickly grabbing his bow and weapons, Garhum turned and ran just as he heard the first arrow release behind him.

If you missed the initial installment, you can catch up here.

Friday Short Fiction: The Hidden Kingdom Part #1

Today I am going to release the first part of a new Friday short fiction story. Last week we finished Runaway King and I had another idea that I want to bring to light. These are new characters that I thought of last night, and an opening scene that I’m hoping will lead to a great story for all. As I am sort of a pantser writer though, I can’t really tell you where the characters will go next. I hope you enjoy the first part of The Hidden Kingdom.

The Hidden Kingdom

Garhum Irontracker dodged as heard the bowstring pull back. He didn’t know how he always ended up in these situations. Diving behind a rock, he heard the crack of the arrow hitting just on the other side of his new hideout. Pulling his own bow off his shoulder, Garhum strung an arrow. With his bow at the ready, he peaked around the rock to where he had last seen the elf. Waiting for some sign, Garhum pulled the bow tight, ready to release his own projectile. Not seeing any movement across the field, Garhum stepped out into the open. Shifting his head from side to side, he watched for any sign of the elf.

He heard the shot before he saw the elf. Diving to the side, Garhum rolled up on one knee and released his own arrow, hitting just to the left of the elf’s new position. Dropping his bow to the ground, Garhum grabbed the double-headed axe strapped on his back. In one quick motion, he swung the axe around his side and launched it towards the elf’s position. The elf saw the second weapon headed his direction and ducked behind a large tree trunk. Garhum charged after the axe.

Grabbing the axe from the tree trunk, Garhum came to the elf swinging his blade. The elf dove under the blade, pulling a dagger and sword from the sheaths on each hip. The elf came up, thinking it had the advantage from the powerful mis-swing by the dwarf, only to see that Garhum and brought the weapon back across his body and threw two quick blocks at the attacks. The elf came on, swinging faster then Garhum believed he could block. The elf danced in exact precision. Every offensive swing Garhum offered was blocked and followed by a dagger thrust that Garhum had to hurry to block. Eventually he knew a shot was going to get through, he couldn’t keep the rhythm up for long. Bringing the axe around for another swing, the elf acted on an opening and thrust out with his dagger. The dagger punctured Garhum just above the wrist. Garhum caught his breath as he felt the poison on the tips of those daggers coursing through his arm. Screaming with the rage only a dwarf could muster, Garhum pushed against the attacks of the elf. Catching the elvish sword with a block of his axe, Garhum threw his arms high, forcing the weapon above the elf’s head. Seeing an opening, Garhum pulled a small throwing axe and ran it across the undefended chest of the elf. The elf fell away, dropping its weapons as it hit the ground.

Garhum reached down, grabbing the elf by the hair and shouted, “Damn you fairy, where is the map?”

Friday Short Fiction: Runaway King Part 3

Now we reach the final installment of my Runaway King short story. I hope that you have enjoyed it, and I plan to have something else coming your way for next Friday.

Thinking that the boys planned on running through the tunnel and leaving the city, Byron began chase. If someone else knew about his tunnel, it was only a matter of time before the whole city would be told and everyone would use it for escape. Byron didn’t want to be around for this to happen. The boys had a head start, but with his longer leg span, Byron closed the gap easily. He hid his torch as he got close to the two boys ahead. Judging by the extra layers of dust and the general direction they were traveling, Byron calculated they were close to the tunnel entrance. After the entrance, it was a short journey until he was free of the kingdom.

Byron snuffed the light of his torch as he entered the tunnel, using the light from the exit and the the boy’s torch to lead his way. He crept in the darkness behind the boys to overhear their conversation.

“The army should be close to here by now.”

“Yes they should, this is the time Captain Kron told us to be here and open the gates. Then we’ll get our reward when the city has fallen.”

Shit, Byron thought to himself, they are going to lead the army straight through my tunnel and my only exit. Byron stepped out of the dark and unsheathed his sword. The boys heard the rustle and quickly turned around at the sound of a weapon being drawn, each pulling a dagger of their own.

“What do you want servant man?”

“You will stop what you are doing right now!” Byron yelled.

“Why should we, you know as well as we do that this city has been ripe for the picking. Someone is finally stepping up and doing it.”

“If you think that sword scares us, you are dead wrong.” the second boy put in.

Byron didn’t say anything. He wondered where these boys had come from and what family had allowed this blatant disrespect for the kingdom. He focused back on the boys whenever they split up and started to circle him. Byron raised his sword in defense as the boys closed the distance. Silence swept over the tunnel as each adversary was waiting for the other to strike.

The boy on Byron’s right struck first. He moved with a quick jab at Byron’s chest. Byron brought his sword up to block and tensed as he sensed the boy behind him poise for a strike on his back. Byron blocked the first dagger and spun around to catch the second with his broadsword. He ducked out of the circle the boys were forming around him.

Knowing the numbers were not in his favor, Byron went on the attack. He brought his sword above his head and prepared for an angle cut. The boy adjusted for the cut and sidestepped. Byron had hoped for his defensive move, and jabbed out with one of his hands, catching the young boy on the jaw. The force of the hit sent him falling backward into the tunnel wall. Byron stepped back towards the tombs, hoping to get a wider area to face the remaining foe.

The remaining boy slowly followed Byron towards the tombs. Noticing that the tunnel was widening and noting the disadvantage, the boy thrust with his dagger. Byron, not expecting the thrust, turned his shoulder and winced as the dagger cut through the servant’s clothing and into his skin. The cut wasn’t deep, but the thrust threw Byron off balance and he tumbled to the ground. Bringing his sword up quickly, he blocked the dagger cut that came at his exposed stomach. Byron shoved out, making the boy stumble a bit, and spun the opposite direction, getting to his feet and raising his sword. Byron then saw the unconscious boy come up from behind his friend and bring his dagger in a defensive stance.

Byron knew he was in trouble. If these boys were supposed to unlock the tunnel gate and let the invading army in, then his time was limited before his escape would be cut off. He couldn’t afford to spend much more time fighting these young ruffians. One of the boys broke his into his thoughts by taking slow step forward. Byron brought his sword back up in front of him. The tension was thick in the air as the three waited for the attack each knew was coming. The boys struck first, one bringing a dagger in low while the other boy cut high. Byron had the advantage of a longer blade and he slipped out of the low cuts reach and used his sword as a wall to block the high dagger. Catching the blade on his sword, Byron twisted his wrist and wrestled the dagger out of the boys hands. It made a small sound as it bounced off the tomb walls. Seeing his friend weaponless, the second boy shoved his friend out of the way of Byron’s quick falling blade. The sword sparked as it missed the boy and slammed into the ground.

Byron took an inventory of his surroundings. He was in the tombs of the nobles. Looking to the left, he caught a glimpse of a shield with the family crest of Lasher on it’s face. Byron started to step towards the casket. The boy shadowed his steps. Byron took a chance, he brought his sword in an overhead cut, forcing the boy off balance and he dove for the shield. Wrapping his arms around the shield, Byron came back up with confidence as he knew he had the advantage in the fight.

Byron had lost track of the other boy. He wasn’t too worried though because he did have the advantage. The boy in front of him tried to feint with his dagger, but Byron didn’t fall for it. He patiently waited until he had his opening. The boy tried to angle the dagger to strike at his kidney but Byron brought his sword down in a block and used his shoulder to push his shield into the boy’s face. The action caught the boy off guard and he took the full force of the hit. The boy fell back against the wall, blood coming from his nose. Byron was ready for a second attack, but the boy was unconscious.

Byron started down the tunnel to find the other boy whenever he felt the tip of a dagger against his back. A quick look told him the second boy had found his dagger and came back to help his friend. “Boy, you don’t want to do this.”

“I believe I do servant. I am going to walk you out to the invading army and watch as they hang you.”

“As much as I would like to comply, I won’t be moving.”

“Then you’ll die right here. I have no qualms about that.” The boy pulled the dagger back to drive it home when Byron dove forward and out of the boy’s grasp. Jumping back to his feet, Byron held his sword above his shield and used it as a spear to skewer the boy in his rush. The boy’s eyes looked at him as they started to glaze over. Byron watched the life force being pulled out of the boy.

Byron stepped over to the unconscious boy. He knew that he should let the boy live, but no one could know of his escape. Even if they hadn’t recognized him as the king, Byron could not let anyone believe that he had left the kingdom. So while looking at the boy laying on the floor, Byron pierced the heart of the unconscious boy with his sword. His breathing shallowed and eventually stopped. Byron wiped a tear from his eye as he turned and started down the tunnel.

Byron found himself running, fearing that the invading force would soon be getting close to the exit of the tunnel. Byron breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that no one was at the exit. Byron pulled the key from inside his coat and threw the lock away after it clicked open. He swung open the door and took a deep breath of fresh air on the outside. It felt like everything that had been weighing on his shoulders over these last years, was lifted. He only had himself to worry about. Damn this kingdom and damn this office. I was never fit to be king, I never wanted it. Damn my family for putting me in that position.

A mixture of smoke and fog fell down on the kingdom as Byron walked into the woods. One quick look back at his old life showed Byron a kingdom in flames, a castle that was breaking apart at the seams, and screams from his subjects as they were cut down for defending their home. Byron shook the image from his head. He broke into a run to put some distance between himself and the kingdom. He had a new life now.

If you missed Part #1 or Part #2, click on the links.

Friday Short Fiction: Runaway King Part #2

Sorry for the late post this Friday. The week has had me messed up and I thought that it was Thursday this morning. Oh well, haha, now on to part two for the Runaway King.

Byron leapt over to his cabinet and grabbed a set of servants clothes. He kept a pair in his closet so he could sneak around the kingdom without being noticed. He picked up his dagger from the bed and started cutting off lengths of grey hair. Byron frowned as the grey hairs fell to the floor. He remembered whenever color had touched those locks and the girls would swoon over a chance to meet him. Now all that is left is the remnants of a color pattern on his hair. The girls had disappeared long ago. Remnants, that is all Byron had to show for his life.

Finishing up his hair, Byron moved the dagger over the haggard skin of his face. He was careful when moving the blade over the wrinkles that had formed from years of worry about his reputation. Each stroke was calculated to not cut his face. He hadn’t shaved himself in so long, he was glad that he even could.

Byron looked in the mirror at the shell of his former self. The kingdom had been torture on him. Every decision being so paramount in sustaining the life of his kingdom. The stress and worry lines had appeared for the whole world to see. His eyes looked tired and worn. The man in the mirror seemed a much different person then the one he had dreamed about as a younger man.

Byron had always dreamed about running off and seeing the realm. He wanted to seek out every adventure and live the carefree life. All that was taken away with the death of his older brother. Byron’s carefree lifestyle got put in a quick second to the belief’s and ideals of the kingdom. He had sacrificed half his life to try and help others, and no one cared. All he had gotten was a life of second guesses and snide comments on his ability to rule, his ability to keep everyone alive. Byron saw his way out, and he was going to take it. His kingdom would fall tonight, but he wouldn’t be around to watch it happen.

*

The sound of the first siege engines firing on the castle shook the walls. Byron, dressed in his servants clothing, watched as nobles were running around trying to rally the untrained masses. The courtyard was a mass of confusion as everyone tried to save themselves. Byron watched as a group of men trampled a family down in their own fear. No one stopped to check on the family.

Byron stepped away from his window and cracked open his door to see if anyone was in the hallways. After waiting a few seconds for the coast to clear, he stepped into the hallway. Quickly moving down the hallway Byron fell into his role of a servant.

Halfway down the first staircase, Byron saw a group of people huddled together, afraid to move, but also afraid to be left behind for the invading force. No one knew what was going to happen whenever the siege engines busted through the gates and the initial armies entered the courtyard. The fear in the castle was so thick in the air, it made it hard to breath. Another shot rang out against the walls. Byron picked up his pace.

Turning a corner, Byron ran into a handmaiden carrying water to the infirmary. Byron held his breath, scared that the handmaiden would recognize him in the servant’s uniform. She reached down for her water pail and looked directly at him. Mumbling she turned and continued on her path. If she recognized the king, she didn’t show it as she went about her duty. Figures, Byron thought to himself, I wouldn’t even be recognized in my own kingdom.

Running down the stairs, forgetting all about the handmaiden, King Byron made quick time to the catacombs. The gate entrance normally had a lock, but Byron could see that it had been torn open. Even though the open gate was out of place to Byron, he ran past it, not thinking of anything but getting out of the castle and starting his new life in another settlement.

The catacombs had an overwhelming smell of death and decay. Everything in the area was covered by cobwebs, or remnants of cobwebs. The layers of dust were falling as the continued barrage from the siege engines pounded into the city. Byron lit a torch upon entering and scanned the area for any intruders. Upon seeing none, he started his journey to his secret tunnel. He started as a rat ran out from behind one of the tombs and crossed his path. Byron threw the torch, but missed the rat by the length of a sword. Shaking his head in shame for jumping at such a small animal, Byron picked up his torch and headed deeper into the catacombs.

The torch picked up a reflection from something on the floor. Catching Byron’s attention, he stepped beside the tomb when he heard a voice coming from behind him. Ducking down behind the tomb, Byron caught sight of two younger boys headed down the catacombs in the direction of the secret tunnel.

“Do you think we’ll get there in time?” one of the boys asked.

“We have to!” the other boy said as they walked past Byron.

If you missed Part #1, click on the linky.

Friday Short Fiction: Runaway King Part #1

To add to my normal posting schedule, I am adding a Short Fiction Friday to sample some of the short story work that I have done in the past. The first short fiction will take place over the next three Friday’s. I hope you enjoy. So here is our first sample: Runaway King

The court was silent while they awaited an answer from the king. The eyes were all about him, staring at him, looking deep into his soul to try and find an answer for this travesty; war was upon the kingdom. Crecadia had crossed the border and was quickly marching on the capital city of Gregon. It was the first conflict in the realms for centuries. Years ago a bond of peace between the kingdoms was established after war had nearly destroyed them both. This act of aggression was unwarrented.

On the throne sat King Byron Regulan trying to hide from the eyese of the crows. They didn’t know what it took to be king. They did not believe that he had the guts to give the order. No one in the community believed that the son of King Jeron would be strong enough to lead this kingdom. Now was their chance to laugh at him from the rooftops while he fumbled over the right things to say. He would prove all of them wrong, he had no choice!

“What do you want us to do, my lord?” a noble asked from the side of the room.

The question startled King Byron out of his deep thoughts. He felt a quick second of panic as he realized that he didn’t know what to tell the nobles. Normally he would order the troops to get ready for battle, but Grigon had no troops. The peace treaty was supposed to be kept for all time and Crecadia had shown no outright acts of aggression, however, Grigon had not been spying on them either. We had not reason to, the king thought to himself, everything was going normal. He lowered his head into his hands and stifled back a moment of self-pity. He was a leader that had no idea how he was going to save his people. They were defenseless.

“Told you he’d freeze,” came a snicker from the back of the room.

King Byron shot out of his chair and grabbed the nobleman by the collar. He nearly lifted him off the ground by his shear will, even though the nobleman was a foot taller then he. The king shoved the nobleman against the wall. Byron could feel the man kicking the wall as he fought for his life, his face quickly turning a dark shade of purple. “Is there something you wanted to tell the group?” King Byron asked.

“No, sire.” the nobleman squeaked. The king lowered him back to the ground and allowed him to catch his breath. The nobleman wobbled on his legs and coughed as he tried to catch his breath. Serves him right for questioning his leader, Byron thought to himself with a chuckle.

Turning to the crowded nobles, he said, “Rally the workers and villagers. We need people that can fight. Our land is being invaded, our people are going to be killed, stand up and fight for what you believe. Show these people the reason you have noble blood running through your veins. We haven’t faced a threat for centuries. Pull out that fighting spirit and get your people on the walls and on the gates!”

“But the workers have no weapons!”

“I don’t care what they use for weapons. If we have to grab brooms, pitchforks, and chairs we will. No one comes into our land and takes over as we stand by and watch.”

The throne room quickly emptied as the king’s last words were heard. All the nobles passed by the man that was still red in the face, anxious to be away from the king and not suffer the same embarrassment as the red faced man.

King Byron let out a sigh as the guards closed the door. He felt that a mountain sized weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He always hated being on parade in front of the nobles all the time. Nobles, pfft, the king thought to himself, they always want to make the decisions as long as someone can tell them what to do. Not worth the supposedly noble blood that is in their veins.

The king walked to his chambers and reached into the cabinet for his sword. He unsheathed the weapon and caught the reflection of a man that had aged too many years in too short a time. The problems of the kingdom had taken a toll on Byron. He used to have so many prospects when he was younger, now he just sat as a withered middle-aged man that hadn’t really accomplished anything in his life. He was thrust into the leadership role when his father was killed on a hunt in the northern forest. His older brother should have had the role if he hadn’t passed in a fire in an outlying village. Byron had felt the weight sink down on his shoulders upon hearing of his brother’s death. Byron went from being an innocent kid to a world of responsibility and boredom. How easy it would be to turn his sword on his gut and end it all right now.

A noise in the hallway startled Byron and he quickly sheathed his sword and threw it on the bed. The notion seemed absurd to him, that even in this time he cared what someone might think. What did he care what they thought, they were going to be overrun in a matter of hours. Byron sighed. Crecadia had crossed his borders and was marching on his capital. After all the power that his kingdom had amassed, Byron felt so helpless.

Hell the townspeople will probably point them straight at the keep and release them on me, its not like anyone down there would care at all if I was hung. Hell they’d probably help, the king thought to himself as he stared out the window at the bustle of the main courtyard. All these people running around, trying to do something to help keep their beloved home from being razed. The futility of it all. Byron shook his head. Worthless, every one of them. Why should I die for these worthless souls? I know they would gladly send the Crecadian armies to the keep to save their own skins. Byron paused as he thought of a way out. He could be rid of his responsibilities, start over, a new life in a new place.