Nondescript

*Limping behind schedule, but determined not to give up*

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, part 14. Character: Perandes

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Nondescript

The Formidable Men of Canaeton saw their first mission mere days after their official date of creation. Intelligence told us of a impeding ‘Nairan raid on one of our southern harbours. This was the enemy’s usual tactic; they were trying to circumvent the front and strike at links in the supply and command chains further behind it. They were to stop the raid and protect the assets.

The skirmish that ensued was an overwhelming victory. I heard the news while eating dinner with Lord Ferreidi, Knight of the Fourth Tower, and the king. The Lord Knight spoke energetically of his beautiful foreigner wife. Although my official title was still High Ambassador, I noticed I was spending a lot of time in direct service of the king, as a sort of advisor, since the war with ‘Naira broke out. As an ambassador, I had learned a lot about our enemy during the rickety peace, and that was what made me valuable now.

A guard burst into the rose-studded, fragrant courtyard with the news of the raid. The raid had been thwarted, and the ‘Nairans had run for the hills after suffering ghastly losses. “Our forces have also caprured two prisoners,” the guard informed us, “and have taken the liberty of bringing them here. They thought His Highness, or perhaps the High Ambassador, would be interested in. Shall I send them in?”

The king was delighted at the thought, and eagerly gestured his approval. The guard disappeared out the door.

After a short wait, he returned, looking severely flustered.

“I have just received word that one of the two prisoners has escaped, right here in the castle!” He spluttered, “We are doing our utmost to find him!”

“I would still very much like to see the other one.” The king proclaimed, and so the guard hurried off, and a moment later shoved in a girl, whose hands were tied behind her back. The paleness, straight, long black hair, loose, simple clothes and bare feet identified her as ‘Nairan, and she was quite nondescript for her kind, except for the fact that she was strikingly young. In any case, we all agreed was definitely too young to have carried the spear that another guard showed us, which they claimed to have confiscated from her. I asked for her name, and when she did not answer, I tried again in her language.

“GooiKe.” She replied with a steely, defiant tone. Prisoner. No matter my kind negotiation, she would not give any other name. She did not want to be anyone else than a prisoner to us.

“How old are you?”

“12.”

On the kings’s prompt, I ask: “Is that old enough for you to be fighting?”

“Everyone who is strong enough to wield a weapon is old enough. That is the law in ‘Naira.”

She was a prisoner, indeed, and always had been. A prisoner to that abhorrent land, and the abomination they called their culture.

Jovial

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, part 10. Character: Perandes

Are you peeps reading the previous parts~? Do so here!

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Jovial

After that spectacle of pitting Legande against the guards, the king waved everyone away from him.

“Not you, High Ambassador!” He called after me as I bowed my head and was about to turn on my heel, “Pray stay a moment longer.”

I could hear Arancia chattering excitedly to Legande, their voices fading into the distance. The three guards limped off, muttering amongs themselves, then gruffly shouted at a subordinate to fetch them new pikes. I obediently stayed, and his highness waited for the noise to die down before he spoke again.

“Well done, High Ambassador. I believe you have discovered the solution to a grave, long-standing problem of our nation.” The king announced in a sombre, stately voice, unbefitting the jovial expression that invaded his otherwise immaculately controlled face. ” As you undoubtedly know, we have always had a significant disadvantage in battle against our southern neighbours, despite our numbers, and perhaps more importantly, our superior technology and sorcery. Those beasts were created to thrive in the barbaric condition of war, it seems, and our soldiers cannot keep up with their physical prowess.”

I nodded approvingly. The king grasped very well, for his young age, what made the war against Súthenaira such a perpetually fruitless venture. Súthenaira was the land of the Faekind and the Beastkind, the immortal races of the known world. There, they allowed all manner humanoid monsters to live, as long as they could fight for the land, like Shifters, Serpents, or even Vampires. There had been reports from Escaton castle that a young Sylph had been captured some weeks ago, who had survived a jump from the highest tower into the icy ocean, and had almost escaped on several occasions. They were all vicious creatures.

“Our enemies are indeed the most vile kind of fiends, and it seems like this Legande man now resembles them.” The king concluded, “It may be an unsavoury thought, but in order to defeat the monsters, we may need some monsters of our own.”

“That is a wise insight, your highness.” I replied with a bow. These had been my very thoughts when seeking out Legande. Though it pained me to see his resemblance to the vicious ‘Nairans, it also gave me hope; perhaps I would not need to see again a massacre such as the one I survived. Perhaps, after milennia of struggle, this evil folk from the south could be defeated once and for all, and our people could finally live in peace.

The king studied my expression once more, before he announced in his most regal tone, “Then it is decided. Have the sorceress girl raise an army of soldiers from the dead, and let this man Legande train them. Soon, with divine aid, we may finally have our long desired victory.”

Heroic

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 8. Character: Arancia

Dear Readers, this is the 8th installment of an ongoing story! Have you read the previous entries~? 

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Heroic

The former thief revealed his name to be Legande. I listened, rapt with joy, as he told us of his heroic exploits in his newfound honest life as a soldier. I has never known my touch had been so powerful. I had just wished for his young friend to stop crying so bitterly after the execution.

The king mustered Legande, looking extremely intrigued, yet doing a magnificent job at hiding it. “High Ambassador, can you confirm these claims? Have you seen the man do what he claims to be capable of?” He asked, while still scrutinising Legande with his observant eyes. I had a feeling that the young king was not the breed of “useless nobility” that was often badmouthed on the streets.

High Ambassador Perandes, in his best impression of a humble servant, replied “No, your majesty, though there are many who have.”

“Interesting.” The king walked around Legande, seemingly very deep in thought. Legande stood straight and decorous, yet he seemed quite apprehensive when the king examined him from behind. “Highly intriguing are the workings of sorcery, and it seems a formidable being has been created. Formidable, though unfortunately an abomination to humanity.”

At these words my stomach sprung into a tight knot. I had apparently been fooled by the lavish beauty if the royal court.

“Guards! Knock him out!” The king commanded, with an authoritative gesture. Three guards stormed in, brandishing their pikes.

“No!” I screamed, unable to bury my dismay any longer, though my feet were rooted to the ground in fear. Dispair washed over me and I felt I would drown in it as Legande, with a resigned expression, turned to face them. He stood his ground, waiting for them to come to him. I held my breath and dared not move.

The first guard swung the blunt side of his pike towards Legande’s head, the blade whistling through the air, but he sidestepped the blow and caught the pike by the shaft. His grip must have been hard as steel; the shaft shattered into splinters. As the guard reeled back from surprise, Legande caught the blades half of the pike before it hit the ground, and held it defensively in front of him.

The other two guards, hesitant, glanced towards the king but he was relentless, so they sprung into a half-hearted attack. Legande, with a simple, effortless, sweeping twirl of his newly aquired weapon, cut through the shaft of another pike. The third pike remained intact by a miracle, the guard parried the strike with the blade, and the metal on metal echoed with a resounding scrape through the quiet courtyard. Another of Legande’s attacks sent the last guard staggering and falling back, and as he lay sprawled and panting, Legande pinned him down, broken pike at his neck.

The tension was broken by the king’s unexpectedly jovial chuckle.

“Well done, well done!” He clapped his hands. “What a wonderful abomination, indeed. You have passed my test”

I could not believe my ears. An exhasperated sigh escaped my mouth as I went limp with relief.

Formidable

A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, Part 6. Character: Perandes

Dear Readers, this is the 6th installment of a continuous story! Please read the previous parts here: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

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Formidable

In the warm, sunset light, I led Arancia through the courtyard, between vivid bushes of blooming roses, each plant bred to perfection by the skilled gardeners. She looked nothing like the beggar girl I had picked off the street earlier today; She walked with pride and grace, her head held high, the queen of the roses in a splendid magenta dress. I knew there flowed no noble blood in her. She was the daughter of a jewel merchant. Nonetheless, I would have mistaken her for a princess.

The king awaited us in the easternmost corner of the courtyard. Surrounded by the sweet, heavy atmosphere of a warm, rose-scented evening, and the fine white silk of his gown, the king resembled a young divinity. Even as he was still a prince, I had often entertained the bemused fantasy that he was perhaps a secret descendant of that powerful race we knew only from ancient legends. He turned around to face us and I  bowed deeply before him.

“Thank you, High Ambassador.” His majesty spoke, his voice soft and measured. That was all the attention he graced me with for a while. Seeing Arancia’s graceful curtsey, a delighted glimmer flickered in his expression.

“Dear Lady, I thank you for coming.” He said to her. Their gazes met and intertwined as Arancia bowed her head lower.

“We pray you take no offence if the pleasantries are left for another time. As it happens, the matter is quite of urgent nature.” The king, knowing Arancia’s background, was doing his best to speak clearly, I noted appreciatively. He was still very young, too young by some ill-mannered opinions. The monstrous aggression of the ‘Nairans had forcefully thrust him into his late father’s place.

“Send him in.” The king gestured towards a door, and it promptly swung open. In walked a tall, slender man, dressed in the comparatively simple clothes of a soldier. He carried no weapon, as was proper in the presence of nobility. He first greeted the king, then Arancia, then me, with seperate, somewhat curt bows. Arancia in front of me gasped as she saw his face. It was the man she had revived years ago. I had heard rumours about him, tracked him down in the run-down district of the poor, and persuaded him to follow me to the royal court.

On my prompt, the former thief recalled how he had indeed been hanged that day, but had then awoken in the street, with the little girl Arancia kneeling next to him. The flabbergasted guards, after a few shocked questions, had attempted to arrest him again, but he was easily able to escape them, much to everyone’s astonishment, including his own. He could suddenly run faster than any man, and was stronger than humanly possible, thanks to Arancia’s gift of the returned life. He had decided to use this gift for good, and joined the king’s army. He had since turned away from crime, and had a respectable, if modest, family. The king listened with growing interest. As the man finished his tale, the king looked to me, his authoritative gaze flashing with curiosity.

“High Ambassador, can you confirm these claims? Have you seen the man do what he claims to be capable of?” He asked, raising his hand to his chin, deep in thought.

“No, your majesty, though there are many who have.” I replied.

“Interesting. Highly intriguing are the workings of sorcery, and it seems a formidable being has been created. Formidable, though unfortunately an abomination to humanity.”

The king mustered the man, sinking into his observation, walking around him, each pace a stately, graceful one. I longed to know what thoughts went through his mind, wondered of the world that royalty could see. As he completed the circle, he suddenly called out “Guards!”

The door swung open and three guardsmen, armed with pikes, trooped in.

“Knock him out.”