Willow’s Key

skeleton key surround with dry leaves

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

“It was here.  I had it my hand just a moment ago,” Rosemartin said kicking among the twigs and leaves on the forest floor.

“You’ve done it now,” Nettleblossom taunted.”

“You should hush and help me find it,” Rosemartin demanded.

“You’re the one that lost it,” Nettleblossom said accusingly.  “Why should I look for it?”

“Because, if we don’t find it, we can’t open the cellar.”

“Good point, but I’m helping only because I want some honey cakes,” Nettleblossom retorted.

Rosemartin and Nettleblossom often squabbled, though they were the best of friends.  This time it was different though, as Rosemartin had lost the key to the cellar beneath the old honey-elm where the Fey folk stored their harvest.

“Doesn’t Willow have a spare?” Nettleblossom asked after an unproductive search.

“Yes, but she will be angry all the same,” Rosemartin replied.

“She’s always cross,” Nettleblossom retorted.  “So what difference will it make?”

Rosemartin choked back a giggle and then said, “She won’t give us honey cake.  That’s the difference.”

As the two Brownies bickered, a boy of about five years of age arrived and they barely had time to duck behind a bramble thicket to avoid detection.

The lad looked curiously at the freshly disturbed forest floor.  He had noticed that squirrels left similar traces when the buried or retrieved nuts.  The boy looked up into the canopy to see if he spied any squirrels.  While he didn’t see any, the notion of nuts now was firmly in his mind, so he began to forage through the leaves to see if he could find any.

While no nuts were forthcoming, a small bright brass key did catch his attention.  He bent down and picked it up, and without a second glance popped it into his pocket and headed back in the direction from which he had come.

“Quick – we should follow it,” Nettleblossom said.

The Brownies began darting back and forth between trees, keeping pace with the boy.  They were forced to come to an abrupt halt, however, when two large hounds came bounding through the woods to join the lad.

“What should we do now?” Rosemartin whispered.

Nettleblossom swiftly placed her hand over her companion’s mouth to silence her as one of the dogs stopped and cocked its ears in their direction.

A moment later the beast turned and sprinted after the boy and the other dog.

“We – we will tell Willow that – that the child stole the key from us, and that we barely escaped.  That’s what we will ‘do now’,” Nettleblossom instructed.

“I don’t know Nettles, it sounds a bit unbelievable to me.”

“Was the key ours?” Nettleblossom asked.

“Yes.  Sort of,” Rosemartin replied.

“And does that child have ‘our’ key?”

“Yes.”

“Then the child has stolen our key,” Nettleblossom concluded.

The plan thus hatched, the Brownies left to face the wrath of Mistress Willow.

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

The Man At The Spring

Clay-pipes

image: ebay

Keeli sat by the side of the springs and played with the wooden horse that his uncle had made for him.  It was a bright summer day, and turquoise dragonflies flitted about.  Suddenly both dogs’ ears perked, and Dunder stood up and faced the treeline.  Dunder let out a low growl and his ears swept back.  Almost at the same instant Blisser rose to join him and assumed a similar stance.

 

A moment later a man with a prominent nose and a long forked beard emerged from the trees.  He wore a green cloak and coarse brown britches, much like those worn by the Nordlanders.  As he advanced he applied fire to end of a long white stick that he had in his mouth.  Dunder began to show his teeth and to growl louder.  The man responded by drawing his breath deeply through the white stick, and then blew a cloud of blue-grey smoke in the direction of the dogs, both of which immediately lay down and fell asleep.

 

The man was shorter than Father or Uncle, and had very jerky mannerisms.  But Keeli wasn’t alarmed when the man came and sat opposite him at the spring.   The fellow leaned towards the lad and poked his large pointed nose in his direction sniffing deeply, then cocked his head sideways with a puzzled expression on his face.

 

“Are you a boy child, or a girl child?” the man asked, and though Keeli did not recognise a single word that the man uttered, he nonetheless understood his question.

 

“I am a boy,” Keeli said.  “Mother says I am nearly a man, as I am almost five.”

 

“A boy child, and five,” the strange man said distractedly to himself.

 

“My Cousin April is a girl,” the lad volunteered.  “But she is just a baby.”

 

“A girl child, a babe,” the man mumbled.

 

After a pause, the man asked, “What do you have there, Boy-child?”

 

“It’s a horse.  My Uncle Hal made it.”

 

“May I see it?” the man said reaching a knurled, liver spotted had towards the boy.

 

Keeli handed the man the toy, and the stranger turned it over in his hands several times before returning it to the lad.

 

The man tapped some charred substance from a little bowl on the end of his white stick, and then refilled the bowls with brown fibres from a little pouch on his belt.  He then reached behind his ear, and a small flaming stick appeared between his fingers.  He lit the fibres and drew a deep breath through the stick before blowing smoke into the boy’s face.  It tickled his nose, but the scent was not unpleasant.  Then Keeli became very weary, and put his head down on the rock next to the spring.

 

It was very late afternoon when he awoke, and the two hounds stood watch over him.  Was it all a dream? he wondered. But then he noticed that his wooden horse was gone, and that an exact replica of it in silver was in its place.

 

Padre

Early Start To A New Beginning

Covered Wagon, Wooden Cart, Wagon, Nostalgic, Wheel

Pixabay

It was a bit too early in the year to venture beyond the western hills.  The last of the winter snows hadn’t even fully melted on the more guarded slopes, but Halian knew that if he was to get a crop in before autumn, he would need to begin the venture.

He, his brother Dalvin, their wives Karianna and Helgi, and Dalvin’s four-year-old son Keelin, therefore began their westward trek on the last day of March.  Progress was good up to the frontier settlement of Caston.  There they stopped, as it was the last sure source of supplies, though water and some small items might be available from the sutler at Fort Wren at the head of the pass.  From there however, the pioneers would be on their own.

“I don’t know why Hal is starting off so soon,” Helgi said quietly to her sister-in-law.  “He could have at least waited a month for you ho have the baby first.”

“Helgi, I don’t know why you carry on so.  I’ll be fine,” Kari assured her.  “Besides, we need to find a suitable plot, and get the grain planted or we might starve once the next snows fall.”

Helgi, gave her quick sideways hug, and the two went into entered the merchants to acquire salt and molasses.

Meanwhile Dalvin tended the oxen, and kept an eye on Keelin who was playing with the hounds Dunder and Blisser.

“I will be back shortly,” Halian called, ” I want to see if I can get some iron nails from the smitty.”

“I will wait for the girls here then shall I?” Dalvin said with a chuckle, as if there was any other choice in the matter as the livestock and little Keelin needed to me watched over.

Dalvin tightened the thick leather belt around his waist.  It felt odd to be wearing a sword-belt.   He was a farmer, nothing more. Okay, Hal had been a conscript in the Count’s regiment two years before, but that was the only taste of war that any in the family had had.   No, it was not since their grandfather’s time that there had been a “real” warrior in the family.

Here they were though, on the road westwards.  “An early start to a new beginning,” his older brother Halian had said.  Beginning of what? he mused.

“Keeli, don’t antagonise those dogs.”

“Sorry Father,” the lad called and tossed the stick he had been playing tug-of-war with Blisser with.  The stick didn’t go far, but both dogs took the few steps to retrieve it.

“New beginning,” Dalvin said aloud.

 

Padre

Rescue

Medieval peasant dress Arlette Green

Image: LEONARDO CARBONE

Arabella was a buxom lass with sparkling eyes and a smile that would light the hearts of all who saw it.   Before the first whispers of the impending war, she had served at the border helping in the collection of tariffs and examining the baggage and persons of women entering the land via her station.

The war had begun more precipitously than any had imagined.  She watched on in hope of a swift return to normality as the “brave” lads of her country’s expeditionary force crossed the frontier near to her post.  Many young lads momentarily lost the chilled look of fear from their eyes as she smiled in their direction, while some of the veterans made catcalls or urged her for a “good luck” kiss.

Behind the marching column were a large gathering of well-wishers, sweethearts, and parents who cheered as the last of the warriors crossed the boundary line.  There was quite a party on the customs house grounds which lasted into the afternoon, but began to wind down as the sun began to set.  Soon after, the last of the merry makers and their shouts of, “It will all be over by Gunten’s Day,” departed back to their homes leaving Arabella and her fellows again alone at the border.

That had been a month ago.  Five days after the crossing, a lone rider came galloping from the far side of the border shouting that they had met and routed an enemy force near the Tino River.  He then road on towards the headquarters in the capital.

There and been no word of the expedition since then.    Though a unit of engineers had arrived from the capital six days ago, and had begun to erect barriers and dig trenches.  “Just a precaution,” a major explained to Arabella’s station chief.

Then yesterday, dust was seen on the far horizon.  A column of mounted men was approaching.  To Arabella’s horror, they were soldiers of the Sultanate,  The cavalrymen dismounted just beyond bow-shot and began to establish camp, and causing quite a commotion among the engineers on Arabella’s side of the frontier.  The major immediately dispatched two riders to headquarters.

***

Hayden had been frightened to his wit’s end.  He had never seen a battle before, much less taken part in one.  He could not have imagined the terrible carnage that ensued as they crossed the Tino.  No sooner had they made the far bank, that they were met with a rain of javelins.  Brice, a lad that Hayden knew from the village, was struck in the belly and lay doubled over on the ground crying out for his mother as the dark blood oozed between his fingers as he grasped the wound.

Hayden’s attention was drawn away from the scene by a sharp slap on the back of his helmet.  “The enemy is in front of you, not on the ground, son,” the sergeant chided.

Hayden adjusted the strap on his shield, and drew his hanger and joined his colleagues in the advance directly towards the javelineers.  He really didn’t remember much of what had happened afterwards.  Their were flashing images of blood and carnage in his mind, but no coherent narrative could be given to them.  All he knew for sure is he found himself in a circle of cheering men, shouting “Victory.”  He was bone-weary, drenched in blood and human detritus, but he was alive, and they had won.

After that, the enemy began a series of retreats, each one drawing the expeditionary force deeper into the interior.  Most engagements were minor, but each built his countrymen’s confidence.

How quickly fortunes change.  There was another of those staggered shows of force by the enemy.  A wave of javelins fell short of  his line, and the attackers then fled over the crest of a hill.  As had become their custom, the expedition men advanced in careless order after them.  This time they were not met with the fleeing backs of the enemy, but an arrayed army three times their own number.

If Hayden had thought the Battle of the Tino was carnage, he was sadly mistaken.  It was but childhood games in comparison to what happened beyond that ridge.

For a week now Hayden had been on the run.  He was weaponless, he had discarded his helmet, and his dented breastplate chaffed against his bruised ribs.  He had taken to sleeping , when he could afford such a luxury, in gullies and behind jagged up-crops of rock.  He had filled his belly with moss, and had only secured a few mouthfuls of brackish water each day. But now he could see the flag of his homeland waving in the breeze above a stone blockhouse.  The problem was, he could see a large body of enemy cavalrymen between him and the refuge.

***

Arabella stared out through the window on the border-ward side of the customs house.  It was then that she thought she saw movement in the early morning light.  The enemy soldiers were still largely abed,with only a few sentries wandering the camp, but this was something else.

She spied the motion again.  Something, no someone was crawling quickly towards a gully just on the far side of the frontier.  She shifted her position, and reached for the viewing glass that was on a hook by the window.

Yes, it was definitely a person.  As she adjusted the focus, the features of a freckle-faced, curly haired lad of about her age became clear.  He had a gash on his forehead, and his uniform was in tatters, but he was definitely one of her countrymen.

The problem was that he couldn’t make his way from the gully to her side of the newly established “no man’s land” between the enemy cavalry and her own engineers without being seen and captured, or worse.

Arabella knew she had to act.  Though it was not yet the time of year to wear a heavy winter skirt, she donned one anyway.  It was a long grey garment which swept the ground as she walked. Perfect, she thought to herself as she glanced at herself in a mirror.

She then went to the small custom house kitchen and grabbed the bucket of vegetable peelings from next to the scullery.  As nonchalantly as she could, Arabella crossed into no man’s land and towards the gully.  A couple of the cavalry men watched her initially, but lost interest when the saw it was a woman, and that she was dumping refuse into the gully.

Keeping her back to the enemy warriors, Arabella lifted the hem of her skirts to mid-calf. “Come on, get under here quickly,” she whispered. “What are you waiting for?”

Hayden scrambled to climb under Arabella’s skirt, and he did his best to keep pace crawling, as she slowly turned and made her way back to the customs house.

Once safely on home soil, she said,  “You can come out now.”

Hayden didn’t seem to respond.  So she pulled her skirt out from over him.  “What made you wait?” she queried.

“I was – um – was. . . sorry,” he said red-faced.

“Oh, um -Oh!” she said, beginning to blush herself.

“Thank you for saving me,” Hayden said quickly, in an attempt to change the subject.”

“You’re – um – welcome,” Arabella replied, turning her face away to hide her embarrassment.

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden: A Dunes War Tale

Waterfall, Landscape, Botanical Garden

Pixabay

Foreign Minister Blackridge found the temperatures in the Sea-Landian capital of Xi oppressive.  The architecture of the ancient city was impressive, and the bright red tiled roofs alien to him, he having been raised surrounded by thatch or grey slate.  The official Xi military escort brought him to a blue tiled building from which flew the Purple Rose banner of his own kingdom.

 

After a few moments of pleasantries with the Xi official who had met him at the port, he exited the sedan chair and approached the Embassy.  As he mounted the steps, two uniformed Lancers snapped to attention, and the ambassador, Sir Cuthbert came to greet him.

 

They made their way to the ambassador’s office, where cold drinks were already waiting, and a servant operated a fan by means of a pulley system.

 

“Sir, Cuthbert,” the minister began. “I have travelled all this way because the king wants your honest appraisal of the Far-landian claims of neutrality.”

 

Cuthbert being sure to have his back turned to the pig-tailed fan operator held a finger to his lips and said, “The Xi are a truly amazing and upright people.  Their word is as good as gold, My Lord.”

 

With that he picked up his glass and dropped two pieces of ice into it.  “You look tired and well – over-heated, My Lord.  Perhaps we should sit in the cool breeze of the garden?”

 

Blackridge was in no mood to get up and move about again, but he noticed the slight wink the ambassador gave him as he handed him a drink.

 

“Very well,” the senior official said, and he followed Cuthbert through an arched doorway into a well- tended garden.

 

They passed several well shaded benches, much to the Foreign Minister’s annoyance, and came to a large pool into which plunged a waterfall which tumbled over an artificial cliff.  Sir Cuthbert, sat on a ledge at the edge of the pool and motioned to a large rock which was next to him.  Irritably, the minister sat.

 

“What is the meaning of all this?” he demanded.

 

Leaning in towards the minister, Sir Cuthbert said in a voice barely audible over the waterfall, “Sorry My Lord, but the Xi have the embassy building riddled with passageways and peep-holes.  The servants, though vetted by us, are nonetheless Far-landians, and I was honest in the appraisal that their word is as good as gold, until someone offers them platinum.”

 

“Ah, I see,” Lord Blackridge said.

 

“We have found that the only place we can securely speak candidly is here next to the falls.  There are no tunnels, and the waters, as you can see, stop our words from carrying.  It is what we like to call, ‘The Secrets Garden.”

 

Padre

 

(454 Words, 26 minutes)

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Secret Garden

The Foreign Minister: A Dunes War Tale

Alfonso Sagasius was brooding over the injustice of the uproar over his verdict, when his clerk knocked the door.

 

“Please enter,” the judge called.

 

The man opened the door and said, “My Lord, the Foreign Minister is here to see you.”

 

“Show him in,” Sagasius instructed.

 

A moment later Lord Blackridge, the Foreign Minister, and the Lord Chief Justice entered the chamber.

 

Sagasius courteously offered them a seat, and then sat down himself.

 

“Alfonso, my friend,” the Chief Justice began, “My Lord Blackridge has some important things to say to you and I think it is best for you to hear him out before you respond.”

 

“I will, Lord Digby,” Sagasius responded quietly.

 

“My Lord,” Blackridge began, “far be it from me to interfere in matters of the judiciary.  These are troubled times, however, and so there are weighty circumstances that must be considered.  The matter of the merchant, Zabrinsky, is one such circumstance.  The man is married to the sister of Count Branov, who in turn is the cousin of Czar Blad.

 

“Yes, I am aware of this,” Sagasius interjected.

 

“Good” the Minister continued.  “The war with the Sultanate has thus far gone well.  We have achieved several victories, but the outcome is still far from certain.  We have firm control of our own southern border, but out manpower is not limitless.  If the Ice-landians reneged on their pledge of neutrality and allowed the Ralulee passage through the Eastern Passes and transit of their lands, our entire eastern frontier would be at risk.  Worse still, if the Czar chose to ally with the Sultan, then even with support from the Nordlanders we would almost assuredly face defeat.”

 

“Do you see the dilemma we are in?” the Chief Justice asked.

 

“But Zabrinsky defrauded hundreds of our people,” Sagasius objected.

 

“We are not blind to that,” Blackridge responded.  “We are not even asking you to reverse your verdict.  What we need to avoid is a lengthy appeal, or the worsening of our relationship with the Czar.”

 

“What do you want me to do then?” Alfonso asked bitterly.

 

“You have not as yet passed final sentence,” the Chief Justice said. “When you do, you can uphold your integrity and speak of Zabrinsky’s callous actions, but then say that in regards to his sentence, that you must honour international agreement as well as King’s Law, and you in light of the man’s diplomatic appointment are obliged to expel him to his sovereign’s lands, but no further sanction will be meted out to him in this kingdom.”

 

“I trust that about handles it,” the Foreign Minister said standing and extending his hand to Sagasius. “I believe it is appropriate for me to say that King Hector will be most grateful for your decision.”

 

Sagasius shook his hand and then showed the two out.  He then sat heavily in his chair and again cursed a pox on all politicians.

 

Padre

FOWC with Fandango — Grateful

Monument: A Cousins Tale

 

image: National Post

Luke stood starring at a shrine of sorts along the right hand wall of the tavern.  Seven Ralulee lances were on a rack below a painting of a young man who bore some resemblance to the landlord.

 

Below the portrait was a framed silver heart, a silver rose with a golden “V” at its centre, and a golden rose.  A polished brass plaque bore the inscription, “Daniel Howard, Hero of the Flames.”

 

“That’s my brother,” Peter said sorrowfully, stepping from behind the bar.

 

“He held off the Ralulee advance,” Luke said in reverent awe.  “Then you must be Peter.  You’re a hero.”

 

“No lad, just a survivor,” the old man said gruffly.

 

“The lances are from the warriors you slew!”  Luke observed in an admiring tone.

 

“Trophies of my shame, Boy.  They remind me of my failings.”

 

“Why shame?” Uran asked courteously.

 

“Because I am here, and my little brother is not,” he said.  “Now, about the biscuit,” he said stepping towards the shelves.

***

It was thirty-five years before and the troop of eleven men of the King’s Yeomanry had formed a piquet in the approach to an oasis.  The kingdom men had enjoyed a series of victories from the mountain passes, and all away across the High Dunes.  They now had halted to regroup and gather their strength.  Many were astonished at how swiftly the Ralulee had abandoned the cool waters and withdrawn at their approach.

 

Suddenly shimmering  lines of fire burst up through thin layers of sand as the long lengths of oil and bitumen soaked ropes were lit from the Ralulee lines to the south.  Several kingdom soldiers just stared as the flames snaked across the sands towards them, uncertain as to what to make of them.  Then with a tremendous burst of flame cisterns of bitumen disguised beneath the kingdom men’s positions burst into life.  Many of the soldiers were killed in the initial blast and the rest ran about in disarray.

 

From the south massed phalanxes of Ralulee infantry began to move forwards.  The men of the Yeomanry with the flames to their backs, and the approaching Ral before them formed a defensive line between two huge dunes which made a direct approach to the oasis’ flank.

 

The brothers, Peter and Daniel Howard emptied their quivers at the advancing Sultanate troops then drew their sabres to make their stand.

 

All around them their colleagues struggled for life.  At least seventy Ralulee light infantry had entered the narrow pass and the yeomen gave their all to stop them.

 

Sergeant Wheeler was the first to fall, a lance in his side, though he managed to slay his own killer with a disembowelling stroke from his prone dying position.

 

The two Howard brothers rushed forwards to assist him, but being too late stood back to back to meet the onslaught.

 

Daniel who had already dropped three Ral with his bow, now thrust his shield under the lance of a tribesman and ducking under the staff buried his blade in his belly, then spinning to his right he made a backhanded stroke across the face of a second Ralulee warrior.

 

Peter presented his shield to an approaching warrior who embedded his lance into its wood and leather face.  Releasing the shield, and diving to his left, Peter severed both knees of his opponent.  The man fell and Peter gave him a killing blow through the kidneys.

 

Another Ralulee prepared to lunge at him from behind, but Trooper Blackwell gave the man a sword thrust across the back of his neck.  The three yeomen now faced a ring of five Ral, and as one rushed towards Blackwell he was sliced across the back of his calves by Peter.  Daniel grabbed the staggering man’s lance, and spun it round in time to arrest the approach of another Ral warrior with a thrust to the throat.

 

Peter parried a lance stroke and spun to attempt a reposte, but as he did the scimitar of a Ralulee officer sliced off the cavalryman’s ear.   Peter continued his spin to come about an additional one hundred eighty decrees, passing up to stroke at the lance-man and burying his blade through the eye slot of the officer’s helm.  The blade stuck fast and Peter wrestled the dying man’s scimitar from his grip and continued to fight.

 

By this time Daniel had recovered his own blade which he had dropped in order to grab the lance.  He shifted to his left to face an oncoming warrior, but tripped over the fallen form of Blackwell who had suffered a lance thrust under the armpit which had just missed the protection of his breastplate.

 

A Ralulee whose lance had snapped giving a killing blow to Trooper Smyth pounced upon him with a drawn dagger.  The blade pierced Daniel’s left shoulder, after severing the leather fastening strap.  Daniel reached up and gouged at the eyes of the man with his thumbs, causing him to momentarily jump back.  Howard taking advantage of the shift in the man’s weight wrenched the man’s own helmet from his head and proceeded to beat him across skull with it.

 

Peter at this time dove to his brother’s aid, and pulled the unconscious Ral from him. Just as he released the man a Ralulee lance thrust removed two fingers from his right hand.  The pain was excruciating, and Peter became dizzy and passed out, just as the Ralulee trumpets sounded the retreat.

 

When Peter came to he was amid the bodies of nine of his fallen comrades.  His brother had suffered severe blood loss from his shoulder wound, and could not move his left arm.  Daniel’s breathing was shallow and erratic.

 

Lieutenant Hall knelt down before the dying Daniel and tried to stem the flow of blood, but it was too late.  Daniel reached towards his brother and whispered, “We did well.”

 

Around them lay the bodies of twenty-four Ralulee. Peter and his lieutenant were the only survivors from among kingdom men.  Daniel had killed seven of the tribesmen, and Peter five including their officer. Several other Ral had crept away from the battle site with wounds.

 

To their rear, King Hector had rallied his troops and seen off the frontal assault on the oasis, but the brave action of the Yeomanry piquets had stopped the oasis being flanked.

 

Both Howard brothers received the Golden Rose for bravery.

 

Peter had his brother’s decorations mounted and commissioned a portrait of his brother with the money he received for pawning his own golden medal.

 

Padre

The Messenger: A Dunes War Tale

Risk Cacophony, Hotel Continental, Tangier, Morocco

 

This could be risky.  Sultan Razuli was not a man accustomed to receiving bad news, but bad news was what the messenger was bringing.

The Ralulee army had had a number of initial victories in the Disputed Lands, but that was before the latest engagement at High Dunes. The Easifa Corps, the most elite cavalry unit in the entire sultanate had been drawn away to the east by a feint by the kingdom’s men.  The left of King Hector’s lines seemed similarly weakened by the eastward withdrawal of part of his force.  General Abu Biad therefore gave little thought to sounding the advance.

At the centre of his onslaught was a unit of six war elephants.  They smashed through the front lines of the kingdom’s First Division, its spear-men seemingly unable to repel the attack.  Hector ordered the King’s Light Infantry to run and fill the gap and to meet the oncoming wave of elephants and the following infantry.

Sergeant Seymour de Klod led his squad of twelve axe-men to the breech. The war elephants were making light work of the Farmington lads of the “Old First” and he could not stand to see his comrades massacred.  Without waiting for reinforcements, he cast off his shield and grabbed a second war-axe from a fallen warrior.  With an axe in either hand he rushed towards the first elephant.  Just as it began to sweep its armoured trunk towards him he slid between its legs and used one of his blades to cut the leather straps securing the “basket castle” to the beast’s back.  He then rolled from under the animal, and laid an axe into the its rear leg.  The animal shifted away from the pain, and as it did the entire basket and its compliment of soldiers toppled.

De Klod then hit the animal with the other axe causing it to turn to strike him.  He had timed the blow perfectly and as the beast spun it laid its metal trimmed tusks into the side of the next elephant.  It fell sideways dumping its soldiers sprawling in the dust.

In the confusion, the tender of a third elephant halted his armoured beast, and Seymour used the pause to jump up and pull the man down.  One of the archers in the basket let loose an arrow which struck de Klod in the shoulder, but he nevertheless pulled the elephant’s guide tether and made it rear.  This again caused the men mounted on its back to tumble.

By now de Klod’s squad had begun to fall upon the stricken elephants and their soldiers.  The crews of two elephants turned their beast and began to escape in such a panic that they crashed into their own supporting infantry.   This cause a general flight of the entire advancing Ralulee line.

Not satisfied with his accomplishments, de Klod rushed the remaining elephant whose tender had halted in an attempt to decide which direct to go in.  In an amazing display for a man his size, de Klod jumped upon one of the animal’s tusks, then bounded into the center of the “castle” laying his axe into two of its soldiers.  The other three dropped their weapons and cried out “No fight, no fight!” in the common tongue.

High Dunes was definitively a kingdom victory, and now the messenger had to report it to the Great Razuli.  How could he tell his sovereign that his army had been defeated essentially by one man; a man that now the sultan’s entire army called Il Washa, “The Beast?”

Padre

RISK ~ PIC AND A WORD CHALLENGE #183

You can read more about Seymour de Klod The Sisters Tales