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New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled Chapter 5 - Show us your world through the view of your word.

namfleFeb. 14th, 2013 06:55 pm New Fiction: The Lost Heir Saga. Book One: The Heir Exiled Chapter 5

Alright, action fans, here is the fifth chapter of "The Heir Exiled", rough draft. Comments are encouraged and welcomed.

To repeat, this is a work of fiction, taking place in a fantasy setting of my own creation. What you see here is a rough draft after only slight editing for punctuation and spelling issues. The final, finished product may look very different.

Chapter one is here, chapter two is here, chapter three is here, and chapter four is here in case you missed something.

And now, I bring you...


THE LOST HEIR SAGA
BOOK ONE: THE HEIR EXILED
by V Peter Collins

PART I: Havencliff Keep

CHAPTER 5: First Strike


The courtyard rang with the sound of near venomous anger as one large, grown man and one short, nearly grown boy matched wits and volume in a heated argument that drowned out the rain. The students on the bench were beginning to twitch with discomfort. Glory and Samjin wore open expressions of worry upon their faces. None of this was noticed by Master Garunth or Prince Callan, situated a nose's length apart in the center of the muddy field.

"You have continually displayed a complete disregard for the techniques that I have taught you..." roared Garunth.

"That is utter rubbish! I have mastered every technique you've demonstrated," hollered the Prince, "well enough to improvise around them, in fact!"

"Improvise? Is that what you call your childish, weak-armed flailing?"

"'Flailing'? I have bested every one of my classmates and you think my movements as such?"

"Bested? And your semi-final match yesterday? I recall a loss..."

"I did not lose! You awarded that victory to Kethlen, he did not defeat me!"

"The difference, and your point, is moot, my Prince."

"There is not a single soul in this courtyard that can defeat me in fair combat!"

Callan's final words, uttered at the very top of his lungs and projected with enough force to rattle windows and scrape his throat raw, hung over the wet witnesses as if it were one with the rain clouds above. Garunth raised his head, indignant.

"You think that to be true," he said, softer but with no less heat in his tone. His head snapped toward the bench. "Ellis!" The boy went rigid with attention. "My sword and shield. Now."

Trembling, Ellis moved quickly to retrieve the items that sat beside the bench, near Garunth's usual position. He ran clumsily across the field, desperate to not drop his charges.

On the bench, Samjin and Glory looked to each other with apprehension.

"Shit," she said.

"Agreed," he returned, eyes wide.

Callan let the full breadth of his anger show upon his face and leveled his expression firmly upon Garunth. This is exactly what his Father had asked him not to do, and for months now, what he had been trying to avoid. Why was this happening, despite the precautions? As he marched to his place on the field, he replaced his helmet and adjusted the grip on his shield. He knew the answer, and he could not deny it to himself; he wanted this to happen. To soundly defeat the Master of Arms, to prove his worth and ability in a fight once and for all, to end the niggling remarks and disrespectful treatment from those boys that were lesser than he in skill, and below him in station.

He wheeled and turned to face his opponent once he reached his place in the field, a move he made with ease despite the mud. Garunth was but a few strides behind. Callan rapped his sword upon his shield twice, two wooden thunks signaling his readiness. Master Garunth sniffed, wrinkling his face with disdain.

"Let us test this mastery you claim," he said. He yelled out a shield position and charged, swinging with unrestrained strength at where Callan's shield should be. The impact shook loose a wave of rainwater from both shield and sword. Callan held as much of the wet ground as he could, sliding only a trace. Garunth continued the assault, calling out shield positions just before striking. Callan's reactions were swift and timely, his executions perfect. They slammed through fourteen of the fifteen shield positions that Garunth had drilled into Callan years ago.

"Center shield!" bellowed Master Garunth. With deadly speed, he drew his sword far behind him then arc it down upon Prince Callan's shield, creating the loudest percussive sound yet. He repeated the call and the strike once more, a third time, then gave up on calling for the position altogether, slamming his weapon into Callan's shield over and over again with wild ferocity.

"Master Garunth!" cried Glory, fear plain upon her face. The rest of the students were silent as the Master's sword continued to beat brutally against the Prince's shield.

There was a triple snap, one of wood and two of bone, heard clearly through the rain. Prince Callan screamed as if from the bottom of his very soul, and he dropped backwards into the mud, his weapon forgotten, cradling his shield. Glory raced to the Prince, his name screamed from her lips. She slid to his side and covered him, but Garunth had already withdrawn. He seethed at them both but made no movement towards them.


Above the courtyard, Tilly cried out with dread. Shedding her robes, she tore from the laboratory, ignoring the well-meaning protests of Master Kuord. With her concentration thoroughly broken, the spell keeping her journal afloat evaporated. The leather-bound tome struck the ground like dead weight.

***

Havencliff Keep's main infirmary was on the ground floor, meant to service the kitchen, main dining hall, and the courtyard, the places where accidents were most likely to occur. As such, it did not take Samjin and Glory long to carry Prince Callan on a gurney from the yard to the Master Healer's domain. Princess Tilly had raced down to the yard and straight into the mud, soiling her shoes and the hem of simple but well-made dress. Glory, carrying the foot of the gurney, and Samjin at the head, had matters well in hand; injuries on the field were commonplace and handling them was part of their lessons. At their behest, Tilly ran back inside as their herald to alert Master Marc, the chief Mediciner in the keep. Thus, he was ready to receive the injured when they arrived. With the help of all three youngsters, they pried the split pieces of Callan's shield from his obviously broken arm, and Marc set his young, wiry hands to work. Tilly cornered one of the young assistants and had them fetch the King.

There was nothing left for them to do, so Master Marc had Glory, Samjin and Tilly exit the treatment room and bade them wait just outside, where there were comfortable chairs and a small table set for just that purpose. The children sat solemnly. Glory held Tilly, who was silent but clearly shaken. Samjin sat opposite them, exchanging woeful glances with Glory.

Callan had been brave the entire time, not uttering a sound after his initial outcry, although it was abundantly clear by the contortions of his face how much pain he was experiencing. It was a surprise, then, when his voice carried into the waiting hall; he had let fly one short, loud cry of agony. The Princess was startled, then stricken, and began to weep. Glory held her tighter and began to rock her.

"'Tis well, Princess," soothed Samjin. "His arm needed to be set before it could be bound for proper healing." Tilly did not completely understand Samjin's meaning, but he and Glory were calm even after the scream. She took her cues from them.

The Princess sat up. Slowly, anger twisted her features. "I hate him," she said, her voice a low growl. Samjin and Glory looked to each other with worry.

"I'm sure your brother did not injure himself to spite you," returned Samjin. Glory shook her head at him, eyes wide with surprise. Tilly noticed neither. She stood, her small hands balled into tight fists.

"He did it on purpose. Why must he be so cruel?"

"How can you be so sure it was intentional?" asked Glory. Tilly wheeled on her, eyes wild.

"I could see! The entire match! Did you not see the... the madness? The anger in his eyes?" Tears slid down from the corners of her eyes, and she shook, but from fury, not sobbing. "He is a monster. I hate him."

Master Marc's assistant, a young woman barely older than Samjin and Glory, raced into and through the waiting hall and disappeared behind the curtain that separated the hall from the Infirmary proper. On her tail, keeping pace, was King Jardinne, out of his formal robes, a harried expression upon his brow. He halted before the children for a moment, taking in their expressions, then plunged into the Infirmary.

"Please, Your Majesty," came Marc's fear-tinged voice. "Allow us to work."

"How does he fair?" the King said, his tone much more demanding than questioning.

"His shield arm suffered a clean break. We have given him medication to ease the pain and send him to sleep. He is otherwise unhurt. Please, Your Majesty, there is nothing more you can do here."

"Very well," and Jardinne reappeared in the waiting hall, eyes blazing, matching Tilly's almost exactly.

"Speak," he ordered. Glory and Samjin had both dropped their eyes to the floor

Glory, barely raising her eyes, began tentatively. "Master Garunth had us sparring as part of our lessons."

"To correct our techniques," added Samjin, also raising his eyeline.

"Prince Callan took exception to criticism he received after flooring his sparring partner."

"Aye, he did at that."

"Master Garunth set to test Prince Callan, then, and... well..."

Jardinne set eyes on each child in turn impatiently. "Continue, please!"

"That is when it happened, Father," blurted Tilly, still shaking. "He just bashed and bashed on Brother's shield until..."

"Who did?"

"Garunth! The Monster!" she roared back. The King was taken aback by his daughter's response.

"Master Garunth? Are you certain?"

"He is an evil man and should be banished from the Keep!"

Princess Tilly was one outburst away from full-blown hysteria. Jardinne, softening, took hold of her by the shoulders, then slowly wrapped his arms around her protectively. She made no move for long moments, and simply continued to tremble. Finally, the dam of her emotions broke under the emotional weight of her Father's love, and she began to sob, clutching to him as if with desperation. He caressed her and stroked her long hair. The last of his anger bled away, leaving only the sadness a parent feels for witnessing the tears of their child.

"Is this true?" he asked of the older children. They both nodded emphatically.

"It was upsetting to watch," said Glory.

"Aye. Master Garunth did seem quite mad. I'd not seen him so enraged before," added Samjin.

The King slipped his signet ring from his finger and offered it to Samjin.

"Fetch him immediately. If he protests or delays, show him this and tell him that his King demands his presence at once."

"Aye, Sir," said Samjin and Glory as the boy took the ring. They both tore out of the waiting hall and out through the Keep.

Jardinne drew his daughter to arms length and peered into her tear-strewn eyes. Her weeping had already abated, and her scowl returned.

"How can you befriend such a beast?" she challenged. Jardinne was visibly struck by her inquiry.

"I assure you, he is no beast," he replied softly.

"You do not know him well, if you believe that," she said darkly. The king rose to his full height, a combination of anger and surprise on his face.

"Take care how you speak to me, daughter, and how you speak of Master Garunth."

"But he..."

"You are upset, child, and you've the right. In fact, I admit to feeling a swell of pride that you could feel such deep emotions for your brother. However, you shall address me and speak of your elders with respect at all times."

"Garunth deserves no respect from me!" She had taken a step back toward hysteria, but the King laid such a fierce expression of anger and disapproval that she immediately shut herself down, feeling shame.

"You are to address him as Master Garunth, be you in his presence or not. Am I understood?"

"Aye, Father."

"Good. As for what else you have said..." and his expression eased into one of worried thoughtfulness, "I shall be mindful of when I speak on the matter to him."

There was more she wanted to say - in fact, she was in no way ready to end the conversation - but one reprimand was enough, and she held her tongue. She threw her arms around her father then, and remained thus for the long stretch of time it took Master Garunth to make his appearance.

When the Master of Arms did arrive, he had already changed out of his muddied armor and washed some of the grime from his hands and face. He was completely relaxed, as if he had been summoned for a friendly conversation. Tilly's disapproval grew. King Jardinne excused himself and Garunth from the Princess and the returning Samjin and Glory and struck their talk as they cleared out of the waiting area.

"He could at least pretend to feel remorse," grumbled Glory, just low enough for the others to hear. She stared at the junction between the waiting hall and the main hall, where Garunth had last been seen; the unhappiness she had expressed was clearly writ on her face.

Silence befell the group, and in time they recovered their seats. Tilly listened intently to the sounds emanating from the Infirmary, but nothing she heard suggested there was to be a change in her brother's condition.

"There's no need to keep you here," she said softly to Glory and Samjin. Glory registered deep caring at the Princess' words. "I will stay until my brother awakens."

"I'm not leaving until I see Callan on his feet again," Glory stated resolutely. Samjin lost all of his typical humor. He set his gaze upon Glory at first, but turned toward the curtain that separated them from the Infirmary.

"When I twisted my ankle two summers ago, he did not leave my side, and helped me all the way up to my quarters." He leaned back, his head resting upon the wall, and closed his eyes. "I feel to leave him would be treasonous."

"I remember that," Tilly said wistfully.

The echoes of King Jardinne's voice found their way into the waiting hall shortly thereafter. It sounded, to Tilly's ears, as though he was livid and yelling. The Princess could not recall a time when she had known her father to display such anger or displeasure as to alert the entire Keep. A quick glance told her that both Glory and Samjin had also heard. The three paid careful attention for the next moments, the candles in the hall slowly diminishing above their heads, but no other exclamation was heard.

"My grandfather loved Garunth as a son," Tilly said absently, remembering the stories her Father had told of his time serving with Garunth in the army. She was beginning to wonder what was becoming of the bond between The King and The Master of Arms.

"Your grandfather also loved war," noted Samjin.

"Master Garunth, explained," surmised Glory.

The three spent the remainder of the afternoon in their seats, still, waiting in somber silence.

***

Thunder heralded the unseen night sky, underscored by the occasional flash of lightning over the Highreach Mountain to the west. The sound of the surf crashing into the cliff side below the Keep gave the thunder aural competition, making the hours after sunset noisy, and for those unused to the storms of late spring in the Havencliff kingdom, unsettling and disconcerting.

Despite the noise, Prince Callan had returned to sleep once he had been able to crawl into his own bed. He suspected that was, by and large, due to what the Mediciner had given him. He had been roused enough to stumble up the steps and into his quarters, with the help of Glory and Samjin at his sides. They had also helped him out of his leather armor and into his sleeping clothes. Tilly had tenderly tucked him into his bed once he was within its good graces, and the residual power of Master Marc's medicine took hold of the young man and he was pulled back into blissful unconsciousness.


Callan's eyes suddenly flew open. A peal of thunder cracked so loud and so close, it seemed to originate from his very room; it had violently reached through the medicine-crafted haze of his subconscious, took hold of his mind and yanked it to the fore. His senses and wits remained dulled, however. It was long moments before he could properly name the sounds that accosted his ears. The pain in his arm was blaringly obvious, however. Lightning flashed nearby, followed almost immediately by what sounded like the night shattering just outside his window. Slowly, he sat up, moaning. He thought to close his window, but in the time it took him to gain the floor's reach with his feet, he had come to realize that the window was indeed already shut.

Pain shot through his arm in a cascading series of waves, and he doubled over. When the agony eased to a tolerable ache, Callan found his mind had cleared. Another crack of thunder startled him. Using his good arm, he pushed himself across his bed until his back lay against the cool brick wall. He let go a long, tired sigh.

"This will be a long night," he concluded with a heavy heart. He pulled his lute down with some difficulty and experimented with different ways of holding and plucking it. Eventually he discovered that if he placed it on his lap, he could play songs that did not require any complex work on the fret board, work his left hand would be doing were his arm not broken.

As he idly plucked and toiled away on his lute, his clearing mind circled around the pain he was feeling, and the cause of it. His father had asked, nay begged that he resolve his conflict with Master Garunth. Somehow that conflict was escalated. He replayed the moments in the rainy court yard over and over, analyzing his choices and reactions. He suddenly knocked his head back into the wall and let loose an exasperated sigh, coming to a realization about himself.

"Glory spoke true," he said to the rain outside. "I do goad."

With that admission to himself, he came to understand that he had played an integral role in his own problem. He became angry with himself. He raked his fingernails across the strings of the lute, producing an ugly chord of dissonance; the instrument needed to be tuned.

***

Master Garunth stood before the door to his quarters, eyes closed tight, fist clenched tightly enough to turn his knuckles the color of sea foam. King Jardinne had just parted company with him, angrier than Garunth had ever, in their long history together, had seen him before. Garunth's own ire stemmed from outrage; he was the commander of the entire Havencliff armed forces, general of the final battle that ensured the King's hold over the kingdom, overseer of all things relating to the defense of the land and the keep. He was not one to be scolded or yelled at!

A long breath slipped from Garunth, then. If he had a son and his most trusted friend had injured the boy, he very well might have declared war. The gods did not see fit to give him any children to raise and command, however, not with two wives and more concubines than he cared to remember.

His fists undid themselves. He knew he had lost control and let his anger get the best of him the instant he heard the boy's arm break. What was done was done, however. There was no need for regret or recompense, not with what the had planned. Additionally, he would not be able to enjoy this next meal if he dwelled on the incident. He produced his key and entered.


Myir was inside, already out of her training uniform and dressed in casual body wraps of thin but ornate fabric, made in the style of her distant homeland of Sun's Cradle. She was moving about the central room of the spacious apartment, setting their supper table. Around her, the bare grey stone of the walls loomed, broken by but a single tapestry hung near the entrance, depicting a scene from Garunth's first battle, fighting alongside a young Jardinne and his impressively rendered father, King Durst.

The Mistress smiled warmly at Garunth's entrance and moved with grace to his side.

"You've returned just in time," she said, after kissing him lightly. "Supper is imminent."

He grunted and nodded slightly, the barest of acknowledgements as he bent to remove his boots. Myir looked to him with concern etched on her soft features.

"How did your talk with The King fair?" she asked. He did not answer until both his feet were bare, making her wait.

"He was quite upset. Callan's arm has been broken."

Myir gasped. "What happened?"

He gave her dark look, for a brief moment, before striding upon the carpeted floor the few paces that ranged between the door and the wooden supper table.

"An accident while sparring," he answered curtly, taking his seat at the head of the rectangular table.

There was a knock then, before Myir could inquire further. Their supper had arrived from the Keep's kitchen.


The food, cooked to perfection, was served upon the awaiting plates and bowls quickly and quietly by a member of the kitchen staff, who swiftly departed. Garunth began to eat without ceremony as soon as the servant was no longer present. His wife watched him for a time, perplexed, before she began on her meal. Garunth ate with focus, and in a short time was half-way through when Myir broke the silence that he had brought down between them.

"What troubles you, Gar?"

He shook his head and shrugged as he masticated a large bite of meat.

"There is no trouble, Myir," he replied at last. "I simply have much to consider."

"That is certainly most clear." He took another large bite and, for the first time since he had taken his seat, looked at her. "I only wish for you to share your mind with me. You always have before, I don't understand what is different now."

He returned his attention to his supper, a clear dismissal. "You will let me dine in peace, and I shall give you what you ask," he said, using the same tone as when he issued orders to his troops. This sat ill with the Mistress.

"I am your wife, not your soldier, Garunth." Although her volume was low, her unhappiness and disappointment were clearly conveyed. She began to quietly eat her soup.

In short order, he had consumed every morsel before him. Garunth leveled a dark look upon his wife as he set his utensils down. He downed the last of his wine then replaced the metal goblet noisily, stood, and marched from the table into their bedroom.

Myir's irritation slipped away. Once more, she was puzzled, supremely so. After a few moments had passed, she reservedly continued her supper, keeping watch on the threshold to the bedroom. A loud clatter escaped after a time, the sound of metal knocking into metal.

"Gar?" There was no answer. "Do you need assistance?"

"Keep your place!" was the bellowed return. "I will rejoin you presently."

"By the sun and moon," she breathed to herself, taking a sip of wine. Irritation creased her brow.

A short time later, as she was finishing her soup, the distinct sound of a long sword being drawn from its scabbard leaped from the bedroom. It was a displeasurable sound to her ears. Her puzzlement and curiosity changed to alarm. She stood, intent for the bedroom.

Garunth emerged then. He was wearing most of his full battle armor; plates of hammered and oiled iron secured to leather. His massive shield and helmet were absent. Present was his sword, a weapon that had carried him through innumerable battles and saw him transform from soldier to captain to, at long last, Master of Arms and General.

Myir's alarm increased two-fold. "Garunth!" she cried, "What is the...?"

He rushed her, sword raised, murderous intent in his eyes. Her shock and surprise lasted but the span of a breath. Lifelong instincts took over. When Garunth's sword came down, she was already on the other side of the table, eyes wide with fear and unknowing.

With his free hand, Garunth exercised his impressive strength by lifting and tossing aside the hefty, thickly made table. He now had a clear line to his wife, and plenty of room to swing his sword thanks to the comfortable width and depth of the apartment.

Myir backed slowly, knees bent, hands open and ready but fear plain on her face.

"Why? Please, husband, explain!"

His only response was to resume his attack. She stepped into the blow and attempted to disarm him. He simply punched her with his free hand as a counter. She collapsed to her hands and knees before him. He stabbed down, set to plunge his blade through her chest. She rolled just out of the way then brought both legs around in a sweep, attempting to knock Garunth off his feet. He bent his knees and secured his stance, blocking her maneuver.

Myir rolled backwards to her feet. Garunth pursued, swinging his long blade with precision. The chase went on; she always able to keep a hair's distance between her skin and the blade's edge, he always able to counter her best returns. Fear was tightening its grip on her, he could see. Eventually, Garunth had his wife cornered. Tears were in her eyes, and she trembled, but she faced him as a warrior. He knew, it was not death that she feared, but the lack of understanding that made her feel terror.

He swung his sword. She deftly pulled a nearby chair and blocked with it, then thrust it at him. He blocked with his free arm and took hold of a leg. He kicked her beneath the chair, knocking her off balance. Swiftly, he stabbed through the chair, into and through her chest. His aim, guided by decades of experience, was true; the blade pierced her heart and a lung. She clawed wildly at the wide blade and chair, eyes unblinking, mouth gasping uselessly. The patterns of her wrap took on the darkness of her rapidly escaping blood. The life fled from her eyes. In a moment, her struggles had ended and she hung from his blade, still.

With a grimace of disdain, he kicked her and the chair from his weapon with one great push. Garunth made one great sidelong swing which spread her blood in an arc across the wall and the lone tapestry in the room. With a smooth, practiced motion, he returned the sword to its scabbard at his side and spun on the balls of his feet towards the apartment door. Without hesitation, he opened it.

Captain Liendra stood in the hall, a squad of six guardsmen and -women with her. They were all dressed for heavy combat; armor that matched Garunth's, including helmets and large, heavy shields, and weapons drawn and ready. A single red stripe decorated Liendra's helmet and each of her shoulders. Garunth's armor sported four such stripes. She looked to him expectantly.

"Give the word," he ordered. Liendra turned to her squad. Two peeled off and ran down the hall. Garunth came about and marched back into his bedroom, leaving Liendra to stare at the ruination within her Master's quarters. Her focus grimly fell upon the still form of the Mistress Myir, where it stayed until Garunth's swift return.


To Chapter 6 -->

***


That's the end of Chapter 5. Any comments will be treated as from a beta reader, and will be sincerely appreciated.

2 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry

Comments:

From:hybrid_xisha
Date:February 15th, 2013 10:05 am (UTC)
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Holy SHIZZ, Elf. Shizzelf. I came here expecting some realization of their mutual bad behaviour between Callan and Garunth (and we did get that!), but after that rug-pull, I seriously had to go away for a few hours to let new words percolate for a bit before I could respond. And that's a *good* thing! You rolled up the action early and fast, and with just the right amount of mystery connected to it, such that I groaned to see the chapter end. Bra-VO, elf-dude. Bra-freaking-VO. I was anticipating seeing Garunth put Callan in his place and Callan finally ditching some of that child's arrogance, but I have to say this is far more intriguing. (Though I'm still looking forward to Callan's growing up. I no longer know WHAT I think of Garunth. I started off disliking him, then felt sympathy for him at the beginning of this chapter because Callan really was being rather full of himself, and now I'm basically "Dude. WHAT GIVES." at every mention of his name. Seriously. Really really well freaking done there, bro. This is how I wish more stories kicked things off.)
From:namfle
Date:February 16th, 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
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One of the hardest things to do in writing is to create expectation in the reader and then subvert it and still make everything work and have the experience be enjoyable. I'm glad I pulled that off for you here.

Seriously, your comments have been invaluable. thanks for taking the time to read, and to comment. It really is helpful to know I have an audience, and that they are enjoying my work. You're half the reason why I write in the first place.

-elf-