Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Serah II

Serah watched the Princess smile and knew it had been a good idea to have her and John spend time together. It was completely unheard of to have a young girl of her stature spend time alone with a young man, especially some boy from a small village, but they were getting along well and Serah was always there keeping an eye on them.
    They sat across from each other with a table in between them. They were near the open window and the Princess was looking outside at the setting sun.
    "So what was your village like? Were there lots of trees and animals?" The Princess turned to look at John with big eyes.
    John's eyes however darkened at the mention of his village and he didn't say anything for a moment. Serah felt for the poor boy. His was a truly tragic story. "I'm sorry, Wendy. I was thinking about something else. You were asking about trees and animals?"
    "Yes. I was asking about your village. What was it like there?" The Princess's smile widened and she lay her hand upon his.
    "I believe there's been enough excitement for today." Serah bustled toward them with a tray to collect their cups and the empty bowl of fruit she had put out for them earlier. "John, I think you'd better head back to your room and let the Princess rest for the night."
    John slid his hand out from under the Princess's and blushed. Good. At least he knew his place. "Yes, of course, Serah. I'll go to my room and practice my letters before going to bed myself." He smiled at the Princess.
    She grinned. "Oh, Serah. He has been making such wonderful progress. Soon he'll be able to read wonderful stories to me while we sit in the garden."
    John seemed to know his place, but the Princess's fancies were starting to get out of hand. This friendship was arranged to keep her company. To keep her from being lonely. Not to have some village boy become her suitor. Maybe Serah had been wrong. Maybe a girl friend would have been better.
    John stood and bowed. "Goodbye Wendy. Rest well and I shall see you tomorrow." He smiled, but Serah saw a touch of sadness in his eyes. "Goodbye Serah."
    "Goodbye!" The Princess said graciously as John turned to leave the room.
    "Now, now. Up with you my Princess and into bed." Serah closed the window and bustled over to the dresser to get a fresh nightgown. The Princess's little steps slowly brought her to her bed where Serah helped her change. She folded the covers and helped the Princess get under them.
    "Oh, Small John is such a lovely man. He may only come from a tiny village from the outskirts of the kingdom, but he is still quite handsome."
    "Oh my Princess, darling. These words you speak are so distressing. You speak of the boy as a man. While he himself insists on being called 'Small'. You are a Princess and like you said, he is just a village commoner. I must say these feelings you're displaying are quite unseemly."
    "A boy? You've seen how tall he is. And those arms. He's one of the strongest looking men I've ever seen. I dream of him sometimes. He's a soldier in the army, fighting against horrible monsters. Orcs with sharp teeth and gruesome bloodied weapons. He strikes them down like flies and wins the battle. A true hero." The Princess grasped her blanket to her chest. "Oh, how wonderful he is."
    "Those are just dreams, my Princess." Serah put a hand on hers to ease the blanket out of it. "Now calm down and think of less exciting things. You need your rest."
    The young Princess sure had an imagination. She just wished she would use it for more appropriate things. She was right of course. John was quite strong and fair, but that changed nothing about his status. It just wouldn't be right and she had to do something about it before the King heard about her silly fancies.
    "Goodnight, Serah." The Princess smiled and shut her eyes.
    She looked so very pale and frail in the flickering torchlight. Maybe the young girl wanted to be a woman before she died. Would that really be such a horrible thing, even if the man wasn't of the right class?
    Serah lit a big wax candle that served as a nightlight and removed the burning torch from its sconce. She went to the chamber door and wiped a tear from her eye.
    "Goodnight, my Princess."

Thursday, February 12, 2015


The arena wasn't much more than a large circle marked off by rocks, but it was the place where any such battles of honor were faught. Dax stood in the center with two short swords sheathed on his back, forming a cross. They had a slight curve with only one edge sharpened, fashioned in the Elven style. His bow lay in his tent. He wouldn't need it today.
    Ragnur was not there yet. Orcs from the two clans were starting to gather around to come see the spectacle. Dax hailed those that he knew better and they wished him luck. He laughed and smiled. Luck would not decide his fate, unless Ragnur became very lucky indeed. He knew what he was getting himself into. Most would fear fighting Ragnur, but Dax had done it before and Grim's words had convinced him that Ragnur had not changed.
    Time passed and Dax waited as a large mass assembled to be entertained. Many knew Dax and they would cheer for him, but some remembered Ragnur and were his friends from before he left their clan. They still held a grudge and would be glad to see Dax fall.
    Finally, Ragnur arrived. The fight would begin any moment now. His big sword was slung over his back and he walked into the circle with confidence and ease. He smiled with his big tusks pointing up. "I've been waiting for this day for a long time. Make it worth my while and don't die too fast. I want to enjoy this."
    "You seem to be under the impression that I'm no match for you, Rag. What makes you think that you will win? Your strength or your wits?" Dax paused for effect. "Oh, I forgot. You only have one of those attributes."
    A deep rumble came from Ragnur's throat as he drew his sword, breaking the strap that held it to his back.
    "Snappy comeback." Dax heartbeat increased. That was normal, he reminded himself. His body was preparing for the fight.
    "Stop your yapping and draw your weapon. I'm going to finish you once and for all."
    "As you wish." He drew the two swords from his back and went into a defensive stance. He faced Ragnur with his right side, making himself a slim target to hit. His right sword was raised and his left lowered. His legs were apart to give him a stronger sense of balance.
    Ragnur roared in anger and charged and swung his blade. It bit into the ground at an angle. Dax had easily dodged the first blow.
    "Come on you've got to aim better than that." With a backhand swing, Ragnur ripped the blade free with all his strength and tried to hit Dax, but he dodged again.
    "Nevermind. I forgot you wanted the fight to last. Take your time."
    "Shut up, you Elf scum! Shut up!" Ragnur raised his blade and swung it left and right. He was getting faster the angrier he got. Dax ducked and jumped aside as fast as he could, but Ragnur's rage was burning hot. Finally, a swing of his large sword came too close and Dax had to block it with one of his swords. The attack had such force in it that it knocked Dax's blade aside and he stumbled.
    His arm ached from blocking. He took a few steps back as Ragnur paused to get a breath of air.  They were both beginning to sweat. It cost a lot of energy to move around so much, especially for Ragnur, swinging that huge blade. It seemed though that he had energy to spare, before Dax could come up with something witty to say, he renewed his assault.
    The Orcs watching cheered with every swing and hissed with every successful dodge. They stamped their feet and banged their fists together. They wanted to see the clash of steel and smell blood in the air. These fights weren't uncommon, but they were always entertaining to the masses.
    Dax had to block another attack, almost losing the grip on his sword. He was starting to think that maybe he had underestimated Ragnur's stamina. He thought he would be slowing down by now, but the big Orc was beginning to look like an unstoppable force of nature. Maybe it was time to switch to the offensive.
    He dodged another strike and felt gust of wind race over his head. That had been a close one, but he used Ragnur's missed swing to get close and swipe his blade across Ragnur's thigh. The huge Orc howled in pain and instead of attacking with his sword, what Dax had been expecting, he swung only his fist in a backhand blow, knocking Dax against the side of his head.
    Dax stumbled as the Orcs began to chant at the first sight of blood. He tried to recover, before Ragnur could swing his sword, but he was surprised again when it wasn't Ragnur's blade that came at him, it was his foot that slammed into his gut. Dax was knocked to the ground.
    "In the dirt, where you should be." Ragnur walked up to where he was lying chuckling all the while. He slowly raised his sword above his head. "Any last words?"
    Dax looked up at his foe and realized that this was quite a predicament. He hadn't planned for this, but he already had an idea. "From this vantage point I can see that you have a bugger in your nose."
    Ragnur yelled out in fury as the gathered Orcs laughed. He used as much force as he could muster and brought his mighty sword crashing down. Dax was quick though and rammed both his swords in the ground next to his head, crossing each other. The handles locked in the middle and when Ragnur's blade went for Dax's head it crashed into the crossed swords and was blocked.
    The attack had come with such force that the short swords had actually sunk further into the ground, but their dull edges hadn't been rammed into Dax's skull. Maybe he had been in need of some luck. Ragnur looked down at him, wrinkling his brow. Before he could gather the few thoughts that he had, Dax sprang into action. He slid out from under his swords, propped his hands next to his head and pushed himself upward to deliver a kick to Ragnur's face with both feet.
    Ragnur dropped his sword and stumbled backwards. Dax caught himself from crashing to the ground and got to his feet. He ran towards Ragnur with speed, jumped up and gave him a forceful headbutt.
    A cheer went up from the spectators. Dax was sure that Grim enjoyed the sight of that. Though it had hurt like hell. At least it seemed to have hurt Ragnur even more. His nose was broken, blood dripping down his tusks and chin. He looked around wildly. Fire burned in his eyes.
    "My sword? I made it to hack you to pieces with." His words came out gurgly from the blood in his throat. He hacked it up and spat it out. He looked Dax up and down. "You don't have your weapons anymore either. Now we can fight like real grunts! I'll crush you with my fists."
    "I'd like to see you try." This is what he had been preparing for. Dax would prove once and for all that even though he wasn't the strongest, he knew what he was doing in a fight. He straightened his back and looked Ragnur in the eye. He relaxed his body and mind, just like the Elves had taught him.
    Orcs all around them chanted as Ragnur once again came running at him with rage. As his fist swung, Dax dodged and grabbed hold of it. He twisted his body and used Ragnur's own momentum to throw him over his shoulder. Ragnur's arm was wrenched out of its socket as he crashed to the ground. He howled in pain.
    There was a shocked silence from the gathered crowd. None of them had seen such a display of fighting before. The war with the Elves was a long time ago and nobody had fought one since. Dax was the only Orc for miles who had had any real contact with the Elves.
    Dax slowly walked over to Ragnur's sword and lifted the heavy thing from the ground with both hands. He crossed the arena to stand before his foe. Ragnur was kneeling and still holding his arm. Rage and pain formed a gruesome snarl of his lips. His breathing was heavy. Dax almost thought there was no more fight left in him, but then he got back onto his feet.
    "Don't do it, Rag. This fight is over if you want it to be or not. Give up and we'll both go on to live another day."
    Ragnur only screamed and charged with the strength he had left. Dax heaved the heavy sword through the air as he approached and sliced his head clear off. The large body crashed to the ground. The fight was over.
    Dax sighed with a heavy heart as the Orcs all around him cheered his name.