Welcome to my writing corner. Here you'll find stand alone stories and tales that stretch much longer. You'll find tales ranging from medieval adventure to modern stories about real people with a sci-fi twist. If you like/hate what you read, drop me a line and let me know.

You can find the stories grouped by the labels just to the right.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Origins - Clavius

Fingertips gripped cold steel as the morning shot orange rays across the horizon. Wisps of mist hung amidst the pine trees, the only warmth came from a nearby campfire. Three young men all sat near the warmth, each in different levels of dress, preparing for the battle to come. Leather straps were pulled tight; dull metal plates were shifted and locked into place, dangling chain armor was straightened and adjusted. Swords were sheathed, unsheathed and then sheathed again, fists pounded shields testing for weakness.

An older man approached the fireside dressed in shiny full plate armor. The steel was polished so finely you could see your reflection in the massive breastplate. The golden runes which decorated the shoulders were so finely detailed that you would never know the armor had seen countless battles.

“Clavius, Thompson, Anders, are you boys ready for legend?” The older knight spoke, his voice gruff, traveled and inspiring. “That red Wyrm sits a mere hour’s ride, the bards will sing of this battle for generations to come!” The knight unsheathed his long sword; it sparkled in the orange light, he held it high “To victory!”

A deep longing shown in the eyes of the three squires as they each raised a hand up, “To victory!” they repeated.

A pair of red dice hit the table, the bone cubes tumbled and spun across the scratched, dinged, dented wood and came to a stop. One die displayed a red number four and the other bore two black spots.

"Six!” A dark haired man cheered as moans of despair erupted around him. He reached a large shaky hand across the table and swept a pile of gold coins toward himself. The dark haired man took a long drink from a nearby tankard, as he set the cup back down, foam and froth spilled to the table. The tavern was loud, a minstrel sat nearby singing, drunk young men jeered at each other and shouted to young women, old men laughed too loudly as they told boring stories of their youth.

The dark haired man took a deep breath, blocked the noise out, grabbed the dice in his large hands and began to shake them. “Fifty gold says I push again!” The rest of the table burst into a quick bustle of side bets as he let the dice loose.

Four horses raced through the woods, atop the warhorses rode three squires and the knight. The pines grew thick in the old forest; it felt as if they were riding through the Underdark. Suddenly the group broke into a clearing. The sun pierced their visors and momentarily blinded the squires. As their pupils contracted and the clearing came into focus a horrifying scene lay before them. In the center of the clearing stood a great red dragon, it’s scales were rubies, it’s talons were great swords and it’s eyes were deep pools of shadow.
The horses bucked in panic, Anders lost his grip and fell to the forest floor. His mount bolted for the edge of the clearing. With terrifying speed the great Wyrm shot a claw out at the brown horse, the Beasts’ ivory talon caught the steed and cut the horse in two. Blood sprayed into the forest as the Dragon roared and lifted itself onto its hind legs, it spread its crimson wings and blotted out the sun for a moment before folding them back and bringing its massive front legs back to the earth.
The Knight laughed loudly and shouted, “Thompson take the left flank! Anders take the right flank! Clavius, with me!” as he rode his proud white horse directly at the Dragon, sword outstretched. The three squires yowled, adrenaline surged through their veins as they obeyed, charging the Crimson Beast.

The dice hit the table again, this time displaying a two and a five. Joy erupted from some of the men as they raised their glasses high in celebration. However, the dark haired man pounded an angry fist on the table, the circular wooden tabletop wobbled under his might. He reached an unsteady hand towards his tankard of ale, took another large swig and grabbed the dice angrily. He set his jaw and proclaimed, “Double or nothing!” Once again the bones left his hand.

The Knight’s long sword slid between two crimson scales in the Dragons belly and bit into the soft flesh beneath. Clavius and his steed were closing fast behind the Knight, the young squire’s blade aimed high. The Dragon’s dark eye focused on Clavius and he flicked his tail towards the armored young man. Hard scales smashed into the squire and launched him twenty feet through the air, his horse spun across the clearing, bones shattering as it was tossed like a ragdoll.

Clavius hung in the air for a moment before gravity took hold. The wind rushed from his lungs as he hit the ground, spikes of pain shot through his body, a cloud of agony covered his eyes. The steel helmet felt constricting, it trapped him, he needed air. With a large mailed hand he wrenched the helm free and tossed it to the ground.

Anders stood at the Wyrm’s right flank, parrying and thrusting the Dragon’s claw like it was a single skilled swordsman. Thompson’s sword plunged into the Beast’s back left leg. The giant Red squirmed and let out a blood curdling roar. It opened its huge maw; its teeth were like rows of scimitars. The Wyrm snaked its giant neck around towards its left flank and faster than lightning wrapped its jaws around Thompson’s armored body. All other sound ceased as the grating of bone on metal and flesh rang though the air. Blood and steel rained down on the clearing as the Dragon ground Thompson’s body into bits with its powerful bite.

“Seven again!” one of the gamblers cheered.

“I know how to read the damned dice!” The dark haired man snapped as once again a pile of gold was raked away from him. “Barmaid, I need more to drink.”

A lovely middle aged woman approached, “Don’t ya think you’ve had enough, luv?”

He darted one of his large hands out and yanked a tankard out of the woman’s hand. “I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough, bitch!”

An old man reached down for the dice. Angrily the dark haired man grabbed the dice away, “I’m not finished old man! Double or nothing once again!”

Clavius froze as blood splattered across his body, his jaw dropped.

“Clavius, we’ve got him on the ropes, grab his left flank!” The Knight commanded as he dodged a razor sharp talon.

Emptiness was all that the squire felt, the adrenaline was gone; all that remained was a hole in the pit of his stomach. The world slowed down and everything felt like a dream, Clavius felt he was watching the scene from outside himself.

“Damn it Clavius! Hurry! We can’t hold him much longer!” The Knight pleaded.

At that moment one of the Wyrm’s taloned fingers pierced Anders. It sank through his chest like a hot knife through butter. The Dragon retracted his talon and you could see the forest through the hole in Anders chest as his body sank to the ground.

The table was silent as the dice fell to reveal seven once again, no one spoke, no one moved, all eyes were fixed upon the black haired man as he grabbed the dice angrily and shouted, “Again! Double or nothing!”

“C’mon you bitch!” The Knight yelled as the Great Red Wyrm brought its full focus down on the armored man. A dry burning smell filled the glade as a jet of searing flame erupted from the Dragon’s maw. The flames engulfed the Knight, hair burned, skin seared, flesh separated from bone, and when it was over all that remained was scorched, melted steel.

Clavius stood, his feet rooted to the ground as the Wyrm eyed him thoughtfully. It brought its head down slowly until their eyes met. The beasts deep ebony eyes penetrated into the Squire’s soul. For what seemed an eternity the Dragon stared at the man, digging into the depths of his soul, revealing every inadequacy, every flaw, every cowardly feeling, every failure, and baring it like a hot brand.

The dice fell once more, a six and a one. The dark haired man took another long drink, finishing his tankard. His jaw was set tight, his face red; his head swam in anger and alcohol. He reached up and ran a finger along a scar which ran down the left side of his face from cheek to jaw.

“Again!” The dark haired man spat.

Warm urine trickled down the Squire’s chain pants and dripped down to the ground. The Dragon sniffed for a moment and chuckled; it slowly brought its front claw forward and extended one of its razor talons. The point of the talon just pierced Clavius’s cheek; blood seeped slowly from the wound as the Wyrm sliced carefully down to the Squire’s jaw. The Beast slowly retracted itself from the cowardly Squire, turned its back on the carnage of the clearing and flew off into the blue morning sky.

“Clavius!” one of the gamblers barked. A burly man with broad shoulders and a protruding belly, he scowled at the dark haired man. “You can’t roll again, you’re out of money!”

“Damn you Hector! I’ll play on credit!” The dark haired man stood up, his seat tumbled behind him.

“You’ve got no more credit here. Take what little dignity you have left and call it a night.”

“Is that a challenge? I’ll fucking gut you!” Clavius reached to his belt for a dagger, but a night of drinking had taken its toll and his hand missed its mark. The moment of hesitation was all Hector needed, the burly man lunged at Clavius, wrapped his arms around the drunken gambler and drug him across the hard wooden floor of the tavern.

Hector opened the tavern door with one hand, and with the other spun Clavius out into the street. “You make me sick. Don’t come back here until you pay off your debts.”

“Go fuck yourself.” The dark haired man spat as he tumbled onto the cobblestone street. His head swam as the world spun too fast, for a moment he thought he’d be sick, but he managed to choke down a mouthful of vomit before weariness took him over the world turned dark.

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