Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Flash: Some Heroics Required

Chuck Wendig gave us a sub-genre mashup this week, and the dice gave me "creature feature" and "sword & sorcery." That's almost too easy a fit, but I was pressed for time, so that was a good thing. In 998 words, I give you:

Some Heroics Required


“You have to, Eeyla. You’re our last hope.”

The knight shifted uncomfortably. She was the last hope? To go after a monster that had destroyed how many knights?

“It’s defeated every other knight in the realm?”

“Well, no.” Lord Altain looked uncomfortable in his turn. “But you have what none of them do. You have magic.”

Eeyla sighed. She might have known. “So some fool of a wizard created a golem that’s run out of control. Why me? Let him fix his own mess.”

The Lord Chancellor grimaced. “The monster ate him for breakfast, minutes after it was created. It had most of the village for elevenses.”

It was the knight’s turn to grimace. It didn’t look like there was any way out. With a small groan for the joints that had been sprained too often, she rose and began gathering her weapons. “Where will I find this...creature?”

Lord Altain gave her an incredulous look, but refrained from comment. “Just follow the trail of death and devastation.”

She didn’t like the sound of that. She hoped the reports of destruction were exaggerated.

#
Two hours later, Eeyla was forced to admit that the reports were, if anything, an understatement. She rode her light mount, keeping to a canter as she approached the village where the creature was last reported. Her heavy warhorse followed on a lead rein. He’d be needed soon enough, and needed as fresh as could be, too. She drew up at the edge of the village.

She could only tell it had been a village by the bodies strewn about. Every structure had been reduced to rubble—kindling and gravel, she thought, looking at the ruins of the wattle-and-daub buildings. The dead had been flung about, many missing limbs.

“Playing with its food,” Eeyla muttered. The creature, sated, continued to kill. Lord Altain was right. She had to do this, and she needed to move fast. How many more villages had it devastated in the hours since leaving this one?

It didn’t take long to get an answer to that question. The trail of destruction required no wood-craft to follow. Eeyla rode through the remains of three villages, and found half a dozen crofts or small farms that had suffered likewise.

She had drawn up to listen more closely to the distant sounds of battle when the first man ran past her, fleeing back up the trail of destruction. Terror contorted his face, and he didn’t seem to notice the knight and two horses in his path.

He wasn’t the only villager to flee, only the fastest. Others soon followed in a thickening stream, most too focused on their flight to respond to Eeyla’s presence. A few called to her to turn back, to fly while she could.

Eeyla didn’t turn back. She set her spear, loosened her sword in its sheath, and ran through all the spells she could think of that might be of use. She didn’t think the thing would listen to a command to, “Begone, fiend!” Instead, she concentrated on spells that would give her weapons greater force and accuracy. Which knights had been killed? Yes, at least one was stronger and faster than she was. She would need her magic.

Maybe she could combine the double-force spell with some lightning.

When screams and crashing told her she was very close, Eeyla switched mounts. She could do it while in motion, not in full armor, but in the leather and chainmail she wore for this battle. Armor would be more protection, but she thought the speed and agility of the lighter garb would be more needed. She turned loose the lighter horse.

Eeyla rounded a final bend in the road and took in the scene at a glance. This village might recover, if she stopped the creature soon enough. There were a lot of dead, but more had somehow escaped alive.

A moment later she saw how. A dozen men had attacked the creature—a giant, almost featureless golem—with pikes and ropes, and their efforts slowed the thing enough to allow the people to flee.

She was planning her attack when she saw the children cowering behind a chicken coop almost at the monster’s feet. If she drove it back, it might well crush them. She had to draw it forward, away from them.

The creature knew what a knight was. It lunged toward her, tearing the ropes from the grips of the villages.

“Fly!” Eeyla commanded.

They fled. One man chanced a dash behind the monster, swept up the children, and escaped by crashing right through the fence that had trapped the children. Eeyla was left alone to face the monster.

She didn’t waste her breath with taunts, threats, or entreaties for the creature to just stop. She lowered her spear, shouted the words of the empowerment spell, and charged.

The spear shattered. The creature seemed to have a hide of steel. It stumbled toward her, clumsy but deadly, and Eeyla pulled her sword from the sheath. Her mount, terrified though it was, held its ground, and the added height put Eeyla on a level with the creature’s chest. What on earth had the wizard been thinking, to make something so huge? She had time for just the one thought before her sword met leathery flesh.

The golem used its own arm as a shield, deflecting the blow, and reached for the knight with the other arm. Eeyla was saved only by her horse dancing back out of reach. The creature screamed rage.

Enough. As she swung the heavy sword again, Eeyla spoke the words of the lightning spell. Power poured through her, and from her. A bolt from the clear sky met lightning from the sword in the middle of the golem.

Bits of the creature flew everywhere. Eeyla was knocked from the saddle by either a piece of monster or her own magical power, she didn’t know which.

It didn’t matter. Her battle was won.

###
 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!


If you like your fantasy adventure with a touch more humor, check out Halitor the Hero,  on sale this month for just 99 cents.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O7WX8Q0

Or purchase in the format of your choice from Smashwords.

4 comments:

  1. Yay! Three cheers for Eeyla!! Lovely action piece :)

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  2. A couple of minor typos (trial of death and devastation), and the final battle almost wrapped up too neat and quick. I found myself wanting to know a bit more about Eeyla. Why does she know magic? Why does she regret the fact?

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    Replies
    1. Oops! I finished this up in a hurry late last night after helping my Mom move, so not surprising I missed some typos! Ditto about the ending--I may play with this some more to work all that out better. Thanks for taking a look and for the feedback (I'll go fix the typos; the ending will have to wait :D ).

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