She came to him soon after the last torch had been extinguished. He watched her climb down from the north wall, unwilling or unable to use the lift pod. She was Cherine, and he’d known her well. She hadn’t a man here, for he’d been lost whilst on an excursion with Bartta which gave her another reason to hate. At the base she turned and had a look to her, a look of sorrow and foreboding. Her eyes stared to a distant place unseen, unfocused.
He may have been too hasty in asking her to come and she may have needed time to mourn, but if he hadn’t asked her to come this night, she may never have had the opportunity for which he was allotting her.
She walked on stiff legs, her face, painted white which gave her a ghosted look.
On her approach, he looked around then rose. There was no point in hanging around. The sooner they got this done the better.
‘Are you ready for this?’ he asked as he stepped down.
Her eyes, with lashes in full black, snapped to him. ‘You try and stop me. Those men need punished for taking my, Locklin, from me,’ her voice rose when she added, ‘And you and me both know our king’s idea of punishment, comes nowhere close to what they deserve.’
‘This is why I asked Daykkor to put them in the storage cellar, not a cell. Anyone has the opportunity to do what I believe you will want to do to them.’
She nodded satisfied with his response. She was more alert than he’d given her credit.
She walked in step beside him as he led her to the north of the castle.
Unworried, he took her past the boulder and into the tunnel without looking to see who, if any were watching.
The space beneath the castle was not a place for secrets. Any voices within echoed from the walls and were channeled up through the tunnels. One sounded as they got to the halfway mark, it was Bartta’s. He stopped Cherine by placing an arm in front of her and then gestured her to be quiet.
Bartta’s voice was muffled and they crept forwards until it became clearer.
‘You weren’t supposed to kill anyone. Just throw each other about.’ There was a pause and then Bartta continued. ‘I went through a lot of trouble getting that green cloak to disguise your true worth as a magician. And what do you do? You end up killing a boy.’
Again a pause and Gwendalin could imagine the pair whimpering for mercy as their king bore over them. It had been a ruse and at the head of it Bartta. Not that this surprised him, he’d never quite learned to trust their appointed king. Ah, Runcorn, what were you thinking naming him your successor?
One of the men spoke up. ‘Get us out of here. We did what you asked, yes it is unfortunate that a boy died, but I told you, I tripped, and, Lanos, had already thrown his magic. It was an accident.’
‘You know I cannot. I have to put you through a trial. It’s not like you’ll go hungry and Daykkor left you with enough rope for you to piss and shit in the bucket. You will just have to suffer. You deserve this for your accident. Whatever the majority vote be, you deserve this, but remember why I asked you to do it in the first place. You just button your lip and talk nothing of it while you are here. You never know who may be in the tunnels at any one time.’
How right you are, King.
He’d heard enough and needed to get out of here save Bartta see him, and gestured Cherine back away. She shook her head and stepped forwards. He placed and hand on her shoulder and whispered, ‘Go in there now and you’ll not get what you wish,’ she stopped, ‘come away and we’ll come back when we know Bartta has retired.’
It was enough and she turned and they slipped up and out of the tunnel.
This is a 1700 word short story about the saving of a kingdom, or at least that is the way he wants it to appear. This rather short excerpt is taken from the middle of the story just after the main character had cut Loriss. Here he wants to get him outside, away from the blood thirsty crowd.
He let Loriss come back at him, let his arcing rapier connect with his vambrace, ducked and rolled out of the way. He was quick, a lot quicker than Loriss gave him credit. On his feet again he charged at Loriss, whose back was to him. He re-sheathed his blade and at the last moment leant forwards, plucked Loriss from the ground and shoved him towards a door at the back of the room.
The Enchanted Confinement
This is a short stand alone story where a dragon, many years ago, had been trapped in the side of a mountain, alone and abandoned. For a thousand years he'd been this way and time had taken away his will.
Two hooded figures arrived and their presence alone angered him. For it was monks, so many years earlier, who had enslaved him and left him alone.
We take up the story as the monks return for a second time. Without inclination of why they had come, they built and lit a fire.
Both were similar in appearance, with shaved heads, and eyes dark and stern in the flickering light. Neither spoke in their preparations, both seemed as eager as the other to get everything right. One produced a three inch thick leather bound book from his pack, the other a single drum. There was something familiar in their faces.
One struck a chorus on the drum, the beat a wild cadence of the past. Instantly he recognised the similarity of the song of his demise, yet it was different somehow. The other danced in step to the drumbeat. All around the fire he sprang, leaping here and there. Every pass of the book, now lying opened, he recited its contents.
The beating of the drum reminded him of the anger he had felt of the monks’ abandonment. There was no doubt in his mind, these two were monks, and this was the time, his time. Was this their plan all along: to enslave him, until they had further need of him? The warmth he now felt was not from the fire, but from his anger rising. It burned him to the core. He willed them to succeed. Do it, set me free. He wanted nothing more than to rip off their heads and burn their decapitated torsos. Or should he wait, he thought suddenly. Should he allow them to live, just long enough for them to lead him to their peers? Yes.
The incantational words of old echoed round the valley, to the wild cadence of the drumbeat. The fire flickered and cackled rhythmically. The ground beneath trembled.
Into The Ocean
This is a stand alone short story whereby the main character has fallen in love with a woman of the sea.
We take up the story from very near the beginning when he is awaiting the return of his love and their daughter.
Note: Having re-read this story, I felt it needed a little more than the 3000 or so words I had originally intended for it. I have completely changed things with this and although I have kept the original storyline for the beginning, it is currently sitting around 9000 words mark and growing. And what a story it has become. I'm really enjoying the write.
Update: It is currently sitting at 11,300 words. It is nearing its completion, or so I believe. Things do have a tendency sometimes to expand beyond a short story and this could end up becoming a novel
The story continues...
To any who read this excerpt. I am in cahoots about whether to scrap this scene entirely. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks, Charles.
When he opened his eyes, he was uncertain of where he was, and it took him a moment to organise his thoughts. He jumped out of his seat, panicked at the thought of missing them and ran out the door. He sprinted bare foot across the sharp sand, headed straight for the water’s edge. He searched the waves in every direction as he ran, desperate and hopeful.
He leapt into ankle deep water, soaking himself in the process. When no heads presented themselves, he removed his shorts and ran farther out before diving in and swimming.
He may have missed them, but if he was quick enough, maybe, just maybe he’d still find them before they left the bay.
For ten minutes he searched, before finally heading back to the shore.
On his approach, something grabbed at his conscience; he dipped his head and looked along the underside of his body. Through the murky water he could make out two lines of triangular white teeth, they belonged to a jaw, opened wide. The teeth of a great white shark he had no doubt. He kicked faster with both feet, arms flailed in his desperate plea to flee. In knee deep water, he rose. Running proved difficult as he struggled to gain any distance from the predator. The shark was right behind. Its nose nudged the back of his lower leg. He fell. Turning he readied to fend in whatever way he could. The shark came on, wide jawed ready to take its fatal bite. As teeth pierced his skin, he jumped in his chair.
Charles F Bond is writer of fantasy and paranormal fiction. He wishes you much merriment in the pursuit of good reading.
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The Little Miracle