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Sir Gregor?

Background:  I wrote a flash story here before, introducing a couple characters.  I had started writing a follow-up with these characters, but abandoned it for a reason I can't remember.  I decided to look through my shorts folder tonight and saw that it was actually nearly done, so I finished it.  I was thinking it could be the first part of an arc, but I'm not sure yet.  Here goes:


    “Believe it or not, Ian, I’m quite nervous.”  I’ve explained my displeasure of this plan a number of times the past few days, so my statement should have come as no surprise to him.  I feared he thought I was complaining too much.  He threw his hand onto my shoulder to stop my quickening trot through the busy marketplace.

    “Fallon,” he sighed, “you need to shake it off and get your face straightened out for this meeting.”  He was right.  We agreed before leaving Twine that this was likely the only way to secure the amount of iron needed for Twine’s upcoming expanded armory.  My mind wandered to the thoughts of our friends and fellow townspeople we lost in the mysterious mine collapse last month.  But was it so mysterious?  I thought on it more deeply as we continued through the crowd.

    The newly-crowned Prince-General Huefot of New Dalcia brought with him an ally from the Western Kinglands in the form of the menacing and expanding Káertom Kingdom.  They were no more than conquerors clothed as tradesmen and administrators, with obvious intentions to “unify” the Eastern Kinglands through Huefot.  Political intrigue never interested me, nor did I pay much attention until meeting Ian, but I was not fooled by the obviousness of the plan.  No thinking Twinian was.  New Dalcia was for a time our friend, but as the most recent winters passed and their power grew, it became clear that we looked small to them.  With their new ally, the contrast between our cultures became stark.  If Káertom had eyes for the East, we would be first to be swept aside.

    We cleared the marketplace and made our way onto the grand avenue leading up to Pearl Palace.  It was much more impressive than on the ride through the countryside.  The white spires lunged into the sky as if wanting to stab the very clouds they could nearly touch.  The avenue was also white, the mansions and grounds built from the country’s famous supply of bleached limestone.  Guards lined our path toward the palace, with some even working double-duty to keep the grounds as clean as possible at all times.  The safety this place seemed to enjoy was on full display and it might have convinced me to stay, if not for my deepening responsibilities back home.

    We climbed the steps and approached what had to be one of the most resplendent entryways to any building I’d ever seen.  The finely-carved limestone, depicting famous battles, generals, and emperors lined it.  The clothing of the soldiers and great men long passed was made of gold and silver filigree by likely the greatest metal artisans in the Midlands, if not the entire world.  It was legend that the original painter, hired to fill in the finer details of the entryway, took nineteen years to complete his work.  The opulence and security of this place left me awestruck.

    “Stop, what brings you to Pearl Palace?” a finely armored guard asked, startling me from my wonder.  Ian planned to do all of the talking on this trip.

    “Hello, sir, we’ve come to see The Illustrious One’s supply master,” Ian said.

    “Papers,” the guard replied, extending his hand.  Ian reached into his shirt and handed them over, calm as I’d ever seen him.  I was not, but as long as I didn’t speak no one could know.  The guard examined the papers thoroughly.  My nervousness spiked through me like a blast of frigid winter air, for I knew how we acquired those papers.  If he also knew, we’d be shackled and whipped in some dark place below our feet.

    “Cause no trouble,” the guard said, as he gave the papers back to Ian and motioned to allow us to pass.  I calmed slightly, and I managed to remain vigilant in these foreign surroundings.  We proceeded quickly to the supply master’s chambers, never missing a step.  We spent the previous evening camped, going over every detail we had of the palace.  It was important to appear that we belonged, and all we had to do was get into the chambers of this incredibly wealthy and incredibly powerful man. 

    We came to his door, which was flanked by two guards just as beautifully dressed and adorned as the guards outside.  We waited patiently for a few minutes before hearing a sharp order from inside.

    “Let the next ones in!”

    The guards opened both doors in unison and we entered slowly.  The sight was not what I expected.  The room was decorated plainly and lined with shelves piled with scrolls and leather-bound accounts.  A rectangular table that was located centrally in the room, and likely supposed to seat ten people, was littered with even more scrolls and even more accounts and had only one old chair at it.  The style of the walls did not match what else we had seen from the rest of the palace.  They were mostly wood, plaster, and rough paint that has faded and chipped over the years.  A strong pipe tobacco odor filled my lungs; it was sweet but a bit suffocating.  I assumed the man sitting at a large, wooden desk to our left was the supply master we came all this way to see; he, at least, matched the description we were told.  He didn’t look up as we walked toward him.

    “Please sit,” he said quietly.  He didn’t look up from his writing, not wanting to be distracted as he looked to be counting to himself.  We sat as we looked around and waited for his attention.  Minutes passed.  I grew impatient, but not enough to speak.  I gestured with my eyes at Ian, prompting him to break the uncomfortable silence.  He obliged.

    “Mr. Hafnir,” he started.  The tired man interrupted.

    “One more minute!” he exclaimed.  Ian immediately shut up and again we waited.  Another minute or two passed, and Hafnir finally looked up and spoke.

    “Tell me, gentlemen, why are you here?”

    The question puzzled me since I knew he was aware of the purpose of all of his meetings.  We wanted iron.  We just hadn’t quite told him where it’s to be sent.  Ian spoke with a slight stutter.

    “Well, sir, I thought you knew.  We wish to acquire a large shipment of iron, a simple affair for this great country I’m sure.”

    Hafnir stared at Ian and repeated his question, “Why are you here?  Surely, two tradesmen from New Dalcia can find iron in their own hills.” 

    Panic struck me.  He knew we weren’t who we presented ourselves to be.  I peered behind me at the door, expecting the guards to enter and our game to finally be up.  I looked at Ian who was still locked in a stare with Hafnir.  What hole will we be put into, and would they at least let us suffer together?  No one should waste away alone to be forgotten in the dungeon of the most powerful empire the world had ever known.  What chance would we have to get out of this?  It seemed to be falling apart in front of my very eyes. 

    There’s something to be said about having a partner who complements you.  In times when I would waver at the face of danger, Ian would prop me up and steel me for these difficult tasks.  In times when Ian couldn’t convince another tradesman to part with his goods, I could talk that man into trading the second floor of his mansion.  After doing a dozen deals with Ian and me side by side, our strengths and weaknesses were well-known to each other.  Then there were those rare times when we could surprise each other.

    Ian didn’t acknowledge our spoiled imitations and began speaking slowly, “True, but only the iron from your foundry in the Dark Highlands is of the quality we need.” 

    Hafnir looked puzzled before speaking again.

    “I see.  You do realize that would be quite expensive.  For what could you possibly need one thousand pounds?”

    I thought to myself how Ian would continue this ruse.  He was smart enough to appeal to his desire to sell a large amount of their best and most expensive iron, but he didn’t calculate that Hafnir would care how the iron would be used.  He knew that such a purchase would gain the attention of someone who’d ask a lot of questions.  I very much wanted to speak, but instead I let Ian take this as far as he could.  Besides, it would’ve been rude to interrupt!

    “Simply, we need it for New Dalcia’s new knighthood.  Only the finest iron will do,” Ian finished plainly.  The tension seemed as thick as the smoke in the air.  Hafnir took another deep puff of his crude pipe, and then nodded.

    “Ah, knights in New Dalcia, eh?  Things have changed so much in the south, although I have to admit I haven’t paid attention in a long while.  It would make sense that the Prince-General would seek out this iron.”

    “Yes, absolutely, sir.”

    “And hopefully you have a qualified captain to train these new knights in their fancy armor.”

    “Of course, that’s who my quiet companion here is,” Ian said gesturing toward me. 

    A knight-captain, I thought to myself.  Ian had surely lost his mind at this point.  When I thought of all the possible ways we could talk ourselves through this, I didn’t think I’d need to do an outright impression of something I certainly am not.  The silence deepened in the room.  Hafnir peered at me through a couple bellows worth of pipe smoke.  I finally found the courage to speak.

    “Certainly, sir, I’ve been training these men for some time, but our equipment falls short of what is needed for…ummm…proper knights.”  I couldn’t believe I managed to get that out of my mouth.  Another long pause, as he examined me and my lies.  His eyes widened as if his lifetime’s most brilliant idea had come to him.

    “Perhaps a demonstration then!” he exclaimed.  I froze.  Ian spoke exactly what I was thinking.

    “You’re serious?” he asked with a point.

    “Aye, he shouldn’t get hurt.  He’s a…knight-captain, is he not?”

    “He certainly is!”  With that Ian quickly rose to his feet.  I didn’t think.  I really didn’t know how at that moment.  I just rose with Ian.

    “Guard!” Hafnir yelled.  A guard entered and Hafnir told him to remove his armor.  I had none.  During the few moments it took for the guard to ready himself my mind wandered back to our home.  I thought to myself that at least Hafnir didn’t know we were from Twine, and not New Dalcia.  Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad after all.  The guard handed me a sword, as Hafnir explained the parameters of this exercise, which were simple enough.

    “Get my guard to yield and that iron will be yours.”

    “Ok,” is all that I could let out.  I did learn a little in my time with Ian, but have only swung at dummies.  I promised myself, as I put my sword in the air, that I would practice harder if I made it back to Twine.  All I needed was to wait for a lucky opening, a mistake, and I might be able to get out of this.

    The guard squared up about ten feet from me, never saying a word.  I think that if I was wearing armor I would’ve sweat so much it would’ve rusted right off of me anyway.


    The guard advanced on me and…


    It was dark at first, and then a bit lighter.  I felt a haziness in my mind I’ve never felt before.  I heard singing.  My eyes were closed.  I moved my head and opened them slightly.  My head ached terribly and I felt pain in my arm.  The singing continued, and I believe we were moving.  I had trouble remembering where I was or where I was supposed to be, and I was on my back in what looked to be a carriage.  I made some kind of noise that caught the attention of the singer, who stopped.

    “You’re awake!”  Ian said.  “I didn’t think you’d be conscious again before we made it back.”  I was confused still, but then vaguely remembered what we were doing before.  We were talking to an old man.  I was frightened and stressed, and thinking about it made me sweat.  More came back to me.  The fight!  I fought another man, and it was for that damn iron we needed so badly.  I groaned and then managed to speak.

    “How did I do?” I asked weakly.  Ian laughed the loudest I believe I’ve ever heard him laugh.

    “My friend!  You did terribly!”  He continued laughing.  I should not have been amused, but his laughing always made me want to laugh with him, so I did.  I couldn’t help it.  After a few more moments, we quieted down.

    “But,” he continued, “We succeeded.  That bastard knew the whole time he was going to sell us that iron.  It’s interesting what bored, aging, and powerful men will do to amuse themselves.  Now, we just need to figure out how to get that iron to Twine, instead of New Dalcia, without spending a single coin.”  I replied with the only thought that came to mind.

    “Sounds fun.”


Thank you for reading!  I do appreciate critique and comments.



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    nice :smiley:

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    ArchivedUserArchivedUser Guest
    edited October 2017
    @WhyMe2000f That "nice" makes me feel like you didn't read it. Not saying it was bad just after all that there was no critique or constructive criticism? ;)

    I usually go for something a little more action orientated but it was concise and we'll worded for the most part. 

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    Elder said:
    I usually go for something a little more action orientated but it was concise and we'll worded for the most part. 

    Hi, Elder, thanks for the input.  So, are you saying it's boring for your taste...or just boring overall?  Are there any specific passages that stick out in your mind?  I do appreciate any feedback.
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    What is this?
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