Strassur the Red Panther

Toughts of a Reader and a Writer

Category: Writing

One of my favorite short stories about death and loss.

I wrote this a while ago and ended up narrating it some time after. Still one of my favorite short stories. Like many, I have experienced loss and this story was a way to help me cope.  I will admit, I do not have a great narrator voice, but I hope you enjoy. And as always feedback and comments are appreciated.

Have you ever written about loss, or novelized a tragic experience in your life? I would love to read it.

Link to the Youtube video, “A Journey”  Enjoy

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A Familiar Tale Clip

Here is a clip of a short story I am writing for the upcoming holiday season.  Basically, a medieval version of Santa Clause and his elves.  Enjoy-

Snow was falling heavily as the year’s end quickly approached.  Constantly battling was nature’s piercing cold and the heat of a blazing fire.  Smoke rose from every factory and home of the large compound as it slowly blended into the gray sky above.  In the farthest reaches of the northern border, this city normally appeared deep in slumber from the powerful wintry and strong demand for production.  However, this evening, as the shrouded sun was setting, the area was bustling with activity; Carts were being loaded, weapons sharpened and final routes and plans were being discussed.

The courtyard was rapidly filling with large war horses lightly armored and stocked with gear for the long journey.  Thins sheets of cloth draped across their backs that were dyed to match the surrounding woods and snow to aid in their stealth.  Mounted on these beasts are some of the most worthy riders in the world.  Skilled warriors who trained from a young age to complete one job: to safely escort a convoy of goods once a year in a time honored tradition.

Talking was at a minimum as this elite group of escorts oiled their bows and checked their blades, their minds on the dangerous task they were all about to embark upon.  Some have made the same journey for many years, but for others, this would be their maiden trip as all the training, meditation, and preparation would have to come together.  Sharp almond shaped eyes checked and rechecked equipment as food and wine filled skins were loaded and dry clothing was waterproofed.

Stepping into the courtyard was a tall figure with a broad chest and a well fed stomach.  He glanced out across the courtyard, assessing the soldiers and equipment with his aged eyes as his lungs adjusted to the burning cold.  Nobody knew how old Kristof really was, but his strong posture and battle hardened hands contradicted the wrinkles on his face and his silver hair.  He stood there for a long moment, stroking his long white beard as he commonly did when his mind raced, thinking now of his journey.

 

“Santos,” called out a scribe, as he approached, arms full of rolled parchment.  All who knew him used this moniker, as few across the lands were aware of his real name.  The scribes pointed ears jutted out from the sides of his cap and moved as he spoke.  “Santos, here are all the maps.  You may need them along the way.”

“I have made this journey every year since well before your time.  I think I know where I am going.”  His voice boomed.  “But I will take the maps to ease your concerns.”

“Thank you Santos.  And the scouts have relayed back that they are trailing a great many horses.  Possibly the green monster.  I’m sure his forces are already setting up in the valley below.”

“I’m sure,” the big man laughed deeply, “he is up to his same tricks.  You worry too much, Irv.  I have with me the greatest warriors in all the land.  We will succeed, as we have for many, many years in the past.”

Kristof left the steps of his great hall and headed towards the eastern rampart.  He could already hear the smith’s hammer pounding in a skilled rhythm, the glow of the great forge emitting its vibrant tone.  After speaking with the blacksmith, Kristof donned his mail tunic and worn leather coat, embroidered with the house crest; a bushy pine tree in front of a rising sun.  He grabbed his massive axe and admired the fresh edge on the blade as it glowed red from the burning embers nearby.

“She will cut through anything you need,” stated the smith, covered in perspiration.  Steam rose like a wraith off his torso into the cold air.

I hope you enjoyed what I have so far. Feedback is always welcome. And if you need any inspiration, check out this book.

Invader, a Medieval / Fantasy Short Script

Invader

Written by

A.T. Morales

Tagline:

Elkar begins his shift as a castle town guard, and quickly finds himself face to face with a dragon which brings both death and possibly, love.

FADE IN:

EXT. NEAR MAIN GATE OF THYLARK CASTLE – NIGHT

ELKAR steps out of the barracks, a cup of tea in his hands.  He shivers slightly from the fierce cold.

ELKAR is a late twenties soldier who was just promoted from the infantry to a Sergeant in the city guard of the fortified town of Thylark.  All soldiers under Thylark are called Panthers.  He has his standard baggy black uniform with leather chest armor bearing the emblem of a brick wall and a blue sash tied around his waist that all guards wear to identify themselves.  The tip of the sash is black to represent a supervisor.  He carries a one handed sword, which hangs from the left side of his belt and a one handed axe that is strapped to his back. On his left forearm is a small buckler shield. This is the standard uniform for guard Panthers, aside from the axe, which Elkar brought over from his position as an infantryman.

Elkar walks up to a group of night watch guards who are huddled near a brazier, trying to fight off the cold and sleep of a long night.

The guards turn towards Elkar and place their right fist against their heart.

GUARD 1

G’morning sir. Ready for another cold day?

Guard 1 is wearing a black baggy uniform with leather chest armor identical to that of Elkar’s.  He wears a blue sash around his waist and has a small buckler strapped to his arm and a sword hanging from the left side of his belt.  He is in his late twenties and has a beard and mustache.

ELKAR

Ah, it shouldn’t be as bad as you guys had to fare. Did the fire help some?

Guard 2

It was a battle, and the cold won. But it could have been worse.

Guard 2 is dresses identical to Guard 1. He is in his early twenties and clean shaven.  He has a young look to him and appears to be very muscular.

The two guards nodded and smiled at each other as they continued to rub their hands above the warm flame.  Elkar smiled at their comment.

ELKAR

I bet. I am glad you lads made it out alive.  Say, have you seen Dorian around yet?

Guard 1

Ah, your know him, sir. He is probably already with the smith, having his sword polished.

Elkar laughs, and is joined by the two guards.

ELKAR

I’m sure you are right. He is a bit vain, I gotta admit.

Elkar turns and begins walking away from the western gate of the fortified city, towards the blacksmith building.  As he walks he drinks out of a cup with steam flowing out.

(Off screen) Crack!

ELKAR

Ah, I love watching the engineers fire those ballista.

Elkar changes his direction towards the south western tower.  Rounding a corner of the “Pigs Hide” tannery, Elkar stops.

He stares up at the sleeping ballista tower, which lay stagnant, vacant.

ELKAR

I must be losing my mind.  Could have sworn I heard the giant bows.

(Off screen) Crack!

Elkar whips his body around, staring towards the southern wall, just east of the tower.  Pausing for a moment and squinting through the rising sun, Elkar begins to slowly walk towards the wall below the parapet.

As Elkar nears the wall, he gives a big look of shock and surprise. The wall looks as though it is moving.

Elkar looks down, suspiciously into his cup.  He quickly pours the liquid onto the ground.

Just as Elkar looks up, a portion of the moving wall flies towards Elkar’s head.  He barely dodges the attack as he falls to the ground, quickly moving into a squatting defensive posture.  Elkar draws his sword.

His sword is a double edged sword, three feet in length and three inches wide, with a shiny black hilt that looks as it were made of stone.

Another large piece of the wall suddenly flies towards Elkar’s chest. Too fast to dodge, Elkar takes a desperate swing at the piece of stone with his sword. As the sword makes contact with the stone, instead of chipping away stone as expected, the blade slices through the familiar substance of flesh.

Elkar is covered in blood from the attack and sees the stone is actually a large piece of tail.

The wall that was moving begins to change, changing from the color of stone to that of dark green scales.

Elkar looks with wide eyes as the form slowly takes shape.  The shape on the wall eventually reveals itself as a large LIZARD like creature.

The hairless LIZARD is approximately 10 feet in length (body) with dark green scales and a very long tail, minus the last two feet, which lay on the ground at Elkar’s feet. It’s sharp claws attached to short legs are dug into the wall, allowing it to cling with its belly again the stone in a low profile.

ELKAR

By the Gods. What sort of beast is this?

Elkar pulls out his small horn and gives three quick bursts as the Lizard begins to climb down from the wall and walk towards Elkar.

ELKAR

React! Tower 21!

Elkar drops his horn and maintains his defensive posture, holding his sword at the ready and the small buckler that is strapped to his left forearm at the ready.  Elkar quickly glances at the small shield and shakes his head.

ELKAR

Damn this dinner plate of a shield.  Wish I had my kite.

The Lizard nears Elkar and with surprising speed lunged towards his head.  Caught off guard, Elkar thrust the shield into the beast’s mouth, wedging its large maw open. Elkar squints and forces his mouth shut as a steam like cloud is breathed into Elkar’s face.

Elkar forces his left arm out of the straps, catching his clothing on the thin stiletto shaped Lizard teeth.  The sharp teeth rip easily through the clothing and rake a gash in his skin as he pulls his arm back.

Elkar grunts in pain as he fades back, swinging his sword in a downward arc, catching the Lizard on the nose.  The left outer nostril is split in two and black blood instantly begins to ooze out.

The Lizard dislodges the shield from its mouth and spits it onto the ground, refocusing on Elkar.

The Lizard opens its mouth again, preparing to strike.  Elkar continues to move slowly backwards, focusing on the large beast.

As the Lizard looks as though it is about to strike, an arrow suddenly whips past Elkar’s head, embedding deep in the base of the Lizards tongue.

The Lizard lets out a cruel shriek as it rears in apparent pain.  Suddenly, dozens of arrows fly through the air, striking the Lizard along the entire body.

Elkar continues to stumble back and dares a quick glance behind him and sees the familiar green sash archers, raining accurate and deadly arrows at the beast.  Six Green Panthers stand along the tops of battlements and parapets, firing arrows.

(Off-screen) Boots can be heard running closer.  Elkar again looks.

Blue Panthers arrive on foot.  THOMAS GREENER runs up to Elkar and helps him to his feet.

THOMAS GREENER is a short man in this late thirties.  He has a slight belly and stocky build, wearing the same black baggy outfit as Elkar, with a blue sash around his waist with a black tip.

The Lizard, who is being bombarded with arrows, turns towards the wall and runs towards it. Digging its large claws into the stone, the Lizard begins to scale the sheer face up towards the battlements.

Green Panthers man the large ballistae at the nearby tower.  The engineers swivel the weapon towards the Lizard and begin loading the long bolts.

As the Lizard reaches the top of the wall, its bleeding should slams into an archer that was a little too close and a little too slow, knocking him off the outside of the stone wall.

As the archer falls, he slings his standard issue yew bow into the air as he falls out of view.

Out of view from beyond the wall, yelling could be heard before it stops, suddenly.

The Lizard runs off.

All the Panthers stand still, only their heavy breathing moves their bodies.

Snapping too from the shock, Elkar begins to take command.

ELKAR

Healer! Get a healer over that wall quick.

EXT. BASE OF WALL NEAR TOWER 21 – DAY

Green Panthers on the walls begin looping ropes around the battlements as two healers run up to the base and begin scaling a wooden ladder towards the top.

A MALE HEALER is first up the ladder and turns towards the female healer who is on his heels.

The MALE HEALER has short hair that is beginning to turn grey. He has a muscular build and is tall.  He wears baggy black uniform and a white sash with a black tip around his waist.

MALE HEALER

Hurry, Dannika. We can’t let him die alone.

DANNIKA is in her mid twenties, with long dark hair tied back in a pony tail.  She has a tall and slender athletic frame and wears a baggy black uniform with four stars in a diamond shape in the upper left portion of her chest.  She is wearing a white sash around her waist.

Dannika quickly reaches the top and ties a rope around her waist and lowers herself over the far side of the wall, repelling out of sight.

EXT. OUTSIDE OF PIG’S HIDE TANNERY – DAY

Elkar leans against the wall, sitting down. He holds his wounded left arm in his lap.

THOMAS GREENER

Elkar. Where in the abyss did that beast come from?

Thomas Greener runs gracelessly up to Elkar and kneels next to him.

ELKAR

I don’t know. The serpent was blended into the wall when it first attacked. Caught me off guard.

THOMAS GREENER

That’s hard to do with you.  Here, let me take a look at that arm. Gotcha pretty good, it did. Bleeding like a fountain. We might need a healer.

Thomas Greener grabbed some bandages from a pouch on Elkar’s belt and crumbled one up. He pushed it deep into the wound on Elkar’s forearm, causing him to flinch.  He then placed a few more on top of the wound before wrapping it tightly to apply pressure.

THOMAS GREENER

Let’s see if that works, eh Elkar? You gonna make it or can I have your sword?

ELKAR

(Laughing) Takes more than a small dragon to keep me from giving you my sword, man.

Elkar’s right hand slides slowly to the hilt of his sword, in a mocking grasp of defense.

Seeing the painful look and sweat on Elkar’s face, Thomas Greener yelled at a nearby archer.

THOMAS GREENER

You lad. Fetch Sergeant Elkar a healer for his arm.

Moments later, the same two healers from the wall walk up. The Male Healer begins to talk with Thomas Greener and Dannika approaches Elkar.

DANNIKA

Can I have a look at your arm, sir?

Elkar looks up and finds his words stumbling as he stares into Dannika’s dark eyes.

ELKAR

It’s, uh, yea sure. Not really that bad…but, uh, you can, um, yea, take a look.

Dannika looks up at Elkar through her bangs that have fallen out of her ponytail and smiles warmly.

Dannika begins to remove the bandages slowly so she can examine the wound.  Elkar notices the four stars on Dannika’s upper left chest.

ELKAR

You’re a Druid?  But…

DANNIKA

Yes sir, but because I am a scout Druid I am receiving some cross training in the healing arts.

Elkar begins to look around curiously.

ELKAR

Where is your, um…?

DANNIKA

Spirit animal, sir?  Right above you.

Elkar looks up and sees a large hawk circling high in the sky.  Dannika nods at Elkar.

DANNIKA

That’s her. That is Shae.

ELKAR

Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t expect that you were a Druid.

DANNIKA

Why didn’t you expect that?

ELKAR

Well, you don’t seem to, …you don’t like a fighter.

Dannika stops and looks right into Elkar’s eyes.

ELKAR

You are way too beautiful.  Never have I seen an equal. Why have I never seen you here?

Dannika looks away, her face begins to blush.

DANNIKA

Thank you, sir. It’s just, that well I am a scout. I am mostly in the surrounding forest and report directly to Captain Malicos.  Unfortunate at times, because, I do not often get to meet people.

ELKAR

People?

Now Dannika begins to stumble over her words, her face still flush.

DANNIKA

I mean, um, people that I want to meet. Or, rather, would like to meet. You know, people such as yourself.

ELKAR

Oh. (Smiling largely) It is a pleasure. May I have the honor of your name.

Elkar rubs the sweat forming on his right hand against his pants, his breathing beginning to increase

DANNIKA

Dannika. And if it would please you, you might see me in town more often. I have been reassigned.

ELKAR

Yes yes, very. And where are you reassigned to?

DANNIKA

To security and enforcement. I don’t know anyone, but my new supervisor is Sergeant Elkar. You know him?

Sighing greatly, Elkar looks up towards the Gods and rest his head against wall.

ELKAR

Yes. I know him, for he is me.

FADE OUT.

THE END

 

Poison, a short medieval / fantasy movie script

Here is a script I had to write for my MFA program.  Our guidance was a 5 minute script that require a character to make a difficult decision.  Enjoy and let me know what you think, as I am fairly new to script writing.

The formatting is off due to copying it from a word doc.

Tagline:

James’ arch enemy shows up unexpectedly at the tavern where he works, when the bar owner distracts the villain while a poisonous drink is prepared.

FADE IN:

INT. LOCAL TAVERN KITCHEN – NIGHT

JAMES is a tavern barhop that assists in stocking and serving food and drinks at the PIG’S HIDE, a local tavern most popular amongst locals.  He is in his mid twenties with a short beard and a tall and awkwardly skinny frame. 

LEON is the owner of the PIG’S HIDE and looks after the weak framed JAMES.  He is a retired soldier who still bears a large, muscular frame, although he has packed on some weight with all the food and ale at his disposal.  He is balding with a bushy mustache and sharp squinting eyes.

LEON stands in front of the large stove, prepping food as JAMES peers out of the cracked door into the common room while wiping out a earthenware pitcher with a cloth.

JAMES

By the gods, that bastard found me.

LEON

Whatchu talking about boy. You look as though you spotted a apparition.

JAMES

I may have, Leon. You remember about the boy I told you about that always used to throw dung at me and whip my arse with sticks.

LEON

Aye.

JAMES

He just walked in and is at the bar.  That bastard even broke my hunting sling while we were in the middle of the Asperian Forest. Left me to die.

LEON

(Throwing down the large cooking fork) That’s the bastard? I’m gonna go squeeze his throat.

JAMES

No, my friend. I have a better idea.

James walks across the room and reaches into a high mounted cupboard, removing a small leather bag.

LEON

What in the kings name is that?

JAMES

Something I picked up from the apothecary months ago.  Some blessed thistle and mandrake root.

LEON

(Staring at James) You gonna poison him, ain’t ya boy?

JAMES

Yes. (Smiling) But nothing too quick.

From the same cupboard, James brings down a mortar and pestle and sets it heavily on the counter.

JAMES

(Almost in a whisper) Slow and painful.

INT. LOCAL TAVERN COMMON AREA – NIGHT

LEON stands at the bar directly in front of KILLION and for a moment stares at him through the slits in his eyes.

KILLION is a average height man with a stocky build.  He is clean shaven and wears a dark green hunting cloak with the hood still up.  

KILLION

Uh, hello good barkeep. (Shifting in his chair) My name is Kil…

LEON slams his fist onto the counter.

LEON

I know who you are. You’re the piece of dire wolf shit that harassed James for all them years.

KILLION

(Mumbling) I guess I have found the right place.

LEON

What are you mumblin’? Speak the hell up!

KILLION

I, I know many of my past actions were less than…chivalrous, but that is why I am here. (Pausing, Killion looks up at Leon)

LEON

I’m listening. (Crossing his arms)

KILLION

I was a horrible, nasty person, a dragons ass back in those times.  The things I said, my actions…I hurt many people. (Playing nervously with the clasp of his cloak) I came to make things right.

LEON

And how you plan to do that?

KILLION

Well, to start, by saying sorry.  Look. (Staring back at Leon now) It’s no excuse, but I watched my father beat my mother every day during that dark time of my life. I thought treating those weaker like that was life.  But, (looking down again and lowering his voice) after my father beat my mother to death, I knew. I knew it was wrong and I knew he was the problem, not the weak people.

Leon uncrossed his arms and sat down. The tight look on his face loosening.

KILLION

I grabbed my little brother and we fled to the Keep, reporting the matter to the first guard we could find.  I knew it would not bring my mother back, but I vowed to make a change and help those who cannot help themselves.

LEON

(softening his voice) What did you do after that?

Leon poured a mug of brown ale an slid it in front of Killion.

KILLION

I grew and studied, and when I was of age, I joined the infantry.  (Looking up and straightening his back) I am being sent off to fight in the border wars. Since I have no family, I have used my leave to correct my past and tracked down James to here.

LEON

I may know where he is. Wait here.

INT. LOCAL TAVERN KITCHEN – NIGHT

LEON sat in the kitchen, peering out to the bar area quietly.  He told James everything that Killion had told him and watched as James walked slowly towards the bar.  James had spoken outwardly for months about a time when he could inflict revenge on Killion.  The decision was for James and James alone.

LEON

Well my boy, (whispering to himself) what’s it gonna be?

Through the door Leon could see Killion pulling from a bag a brand new hunting sling.  He conversed with James for several moments before Leon turned and walked back towards the stove.

LEON

(Seeing the full cup of brown liquid still sitting next to the mortar, Leon smiled and again whisper to himself) That’s my boy.

FADE OUT.

THE END

Watch “Audio Short Story, The First Draw” on YouTube

Here is an original short story I wrote about an archer going into battle for the first time. Let me know what you think.

Audio Short Story, The First Draw: http://youtu.be/zMLBCVmHxRo

Watch “Audio Short Story, Added Scene to the Patriot” on YouTube

I narrated one of my short stories that I had to write for my graduate program. I added a scene into the movie the Patriot with Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. My scene shows the love of Benjamin and the aunt, Charlotte, starting to blossom after the death of one of his sons. Enjoy and let me know what you think. Cheers

Audio Short Story, Added Scene to the Patriot: http://youtu.be/VqDMSBFv5fI

Character or Plot? Who will be the victor?

When it comes to importance, Character is the key. A plot is needed to begin your process, but a character is what drives the plot. We have all most likely watched a movie because one of our favorite actors or actresses are in it, or because it is a sequel with a character we loved. I loved the old Conan movies starring Arnold, so of course I had to watch Red Sonia because it had basically the same character in it. The traits of a well written character are what makes us as the reader or viewer relate or feel emotion towards them. If aliens are attacking a city, it’s exciting to watch, but without someone there we care about then it is just destruction, not drama.

I like a quote in Seymour Chatman’s book, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film, “The character plays a role of connecting thread helping us to orient ourselves amid the piling-up of details.” (Page 111) By being in the mind of the character, or seeing events through their eyes, we as readers are able to understand what is going on, or to only see what the author wants us to see until the right time. The character is the perfect tool to keep us on track and in the desired direction. Now, there has to be a reason why we are reading the book, so plot is important, but characters are the ones we remembers and love.

Final score:
Character 1
Plot 0

What’s your opinion?

Poetic Themes of the Romantic Period

I was reading some poetry from the early Romantic Period when I began to think about the difference in poetic theory amongst some of the more famous writers.  William Wordsworth’s theory of poetry was to display actual events through poems in a language that we actually use.  “Tis true had gone before this hour, the work of massacre in which the senseless sword was pray’d to as a judge” (The Prelude, Book 10)  He speaks of the Revolution in simple terms and in the above passage, talks about the violence where the sword is the ultimate judge of man.  I feel like he believes in a time of war and revolution, mob rule and violence takes priority over God and politics.  The time for speeches and prayer to induce change is over, now man is judged by way of sword.

Samuel Coleridge mirrors the theory, but added more emphasis on imagination.  Imagination with a little symbolism, such as the albatross in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which is bad luck to kill.  The story as a whole is based around the result of the mariner killing the symbolic bird.  As such, the mariner must travel the earth and retell his tale.  Both Coleridge and Wordsworth write in ways that are easy to read and rely more on painting a great scene then displaying fancy words.

Percy Shelley seemed to be on the more extreme side in his poetry.  He was expelled from Oxford after writing a short piece on atheism.  I found a poem that he wrote titled The Masque of Anarchy which is considered the first modern statement of nonviolent resistance.  He would be a protestor of violence in any civil war or revolution.  Perhaps this style of writing would be the most effective in the revolutionary sense because it can be more controversial.  Good or bad, publicity gives the piece more exposure which spreads quickly.  Should Shelley’s life had been longer, he could have continued to write on matters that sparked his passion under his extreme craft and continued to make waves against his opposition.  Wordsworth and Coleridge may have been read and understood by more people, including those on a lower literacy level, but may not have had the same powerful impact.

The Journey (Short Story)

Elkar stood near the makeshift wooden table holding a blazing torch.  He was in his polished and most ceremonious armor, shinning dully under the full moon.  The flames of the torch danced on the gold emblem portrayed in the center of his breastplate and reflected the tears that slowly rolled down his cheeks, stopping only to be absorbed within the dense whiskers of his well groomed mustache.  The symbol on the warriors chest of the panther’s head seemed to breath with every flicker of the torches flame.

On the wooden table lying amongst the small branches and decorative flowers was the lifeless body of Dorian.  His gloved hands were folded across his chest and covered with a silver and gold buckler that housed the same emblem depicted on Elkar’s armor.  Tied neatly around his waist was the familiar brown sash that represented all infantryman.

Elkar could remember when Dorian was selected to train the new Panthers.  He was so excited because Kyle, their mutual childhood friend, had also been selected.  The three had made a name for producing quality soldiers that could effectively wield deadly weapons, and had the heart to continue fighting beyond the point of exhaustion.

They had built so much together over the years, all to be destroyed by a nightmare of a patrol only two days prior.  Kyle and Dorian had been winding through the Skytop Pass when they were ambushed by a large group of the Bultov Riders, an organized and intimidating group of thieves that were terrorizing the outer trade routes.  The two warriors fought back to back as their fellow Panthers dropped around them, unable to defend against the endless stream of attackers.  Elkar remembers responding from the walls of Thylark to the sound of the trumpet that all patrols carried, followed by a platoon of infantry.  Horses were driven hard to the area where the last sound had faded, over a mile up the steep grade.

As Elkar rounded the first turn his nostrils began to burn with the recognizable smell of death as the wind poured like a funnel through the pass.  The warrior slowed to a steady gallop, careful not to fall into the same fate as his comrades, as he could only imagine the worst.  He had crested the first peak when his stomach dropped, nearly knocking the breath from his lunges.  In front of him was nearly two score of the hated Riders, victims of the well trained Panthers.  Humans had been flayed open and extremities were detached from the furious strikes of sword and axe.  Well placed arrows protruded from the gaps in armor of the helpless Rider who found themselves in the sites of the deadly green Panther archers.  Among the dead, Elkar also saw the familiar brown and green sashes of his own people.  Anger flushed over him as he stared at the end result of an ambush, with neither side being the victor.

Elkar quickly snapped too, realizing where he was.  “Jarel,” ordered the commander, “take your team and push forward a ways.  See what you got then set up security.”

“Copy,” replied Jarel, as he came back to reality.  The weather beaten team leader began barking orders to his men as they cautiously rode up the pass, looking for signs of the Riders.

“I’ll take flank security,” stated Morgan, reading his commanders mind.  Elkar simply nodded at the second class infantryman as his men already began to move.  Elkar turned to discuss with his third team leader how to transport all the dead men back to the city.  Frustration still clouded his mind as he stood, saddened by the death of so many great warriors.  He watched as the two healers attached to the platoon began searching the slain Panthers in some great hope that there may be life.

“Jarel!” a shout came from a distance.  “Come quick.”

Elkar heard the excited shouts and the thunderous sound of horses running.  Quickly, the warrior drew his sword and started up the path in a full sprint.  ‘Not again, not while I’m here.’ he whispered to himself.  Now, it was Elkar’s turn to taste blood.

     Back at the northern gate, Panthers waited impatiently, as another group of reinforcements were about to deploy up the pass to aid their comrades.

“As soon as that last team of archers gets here, we will ride,” yelled Sergeant Pravius, commander of a heavy cavalry company.  Approaching the end of his days as a Panther, the silver haired veteran was already holding his long handled axe in his powerful hands.  The worn blades still shinned even after years of abuse by the experienced fighter.  His aged face continued to peer out to his destination, as if he was looking for a sign, or signal.

     Reaching where the commotion has been, Elkar immediately saw what the yelling was about.  Lying on the ground was Dorian.  The warrior labored his breathing, struggling to force every inhale of life into his body.  Elkar ran over to his friend and discovered his neck had been lacerated and was bleeding badly.

“Healer!” he yelled.  “Someone get me a damn healer.”

Elkar sat in the dirt cradling Dorian’s head.  The soaked ground was replaced with Elkar’s thigh, quickly absorbing what remaining blood drained from Dorian’s body.

“Hold on there, Dor,” he choked out, holding on to what little control he had.  “The healers are coming.  Gonna fix you right up.”

Dorian tried to respond, but only formed sounds of struggle within his throat.  His breathing continued to slow and fade to an unrecognizable level.

A healer arrived fast, her long legs covered the ground quickly.  She skillfully grabbed a wad of rolled cloth and pressed it firmly onto Dorian’s throat.

“You have to help him, please.” plead Elkar, his voice barely above a whisper.

“I will, sir. I will do everything I can.” the healer responded, her face shadowed by sadness and the recognition of Dorian’s status.  Grateful for the cover of her long brown hair, the healer tired, but could not stop Dorian from slipping away.

Elkar sat quietly as the shadow of guilt and pain loomed over.  His friend Dorian took his last breath.  It was not the healers fault, it was not the leadership and protection that failed.  It was just the business of freedom.  Freedom for a land Dorian had always said he was willing to die for.

 

Back at the ceremony, Elkar touched the torch to the sticks and hay below the table that served as a hasty cremation station.

Holding in his tears, Elkar turned and addressed the remaining members of their small party, the flames behind him jumped to life, popping and cracking as the accelerants began to roar.

“Cremation is the quickest way for Dorian to meet his maker.” Elkar began, his voice deep but soft.  “This is the fate he wanted, the dream he spoke of for years.  Dying for a realm that always gave back to its people.  The people he vowed to protect.  Unfortunately,  there are those who do not share our values.” Elkars voice began to rise.

“The values of our land, and the values of the Panthers.  You will be missed, Dorian.” The warriors head raised, he looked towards the sky.  “I will miss you.  I only wish you did not have to make this journey alone.”

Response to Writing Prompt

Here is the paragraph I wrote in response to my prompt given on the AFK podcast:

Enok arrived at his destination and began to find his way from the crowded taxi drop-off to the shop entrance.  Having only been in the United States for a night, he already missed the slower pace and snow covered hills of his homeland.  An easy read from one of his favorite American comic book heroes always eased the nerve of intense interviews and his struggle with the English language, and promised for a calm evening.  The bright sun and intense heat would eventually become a welcoming feeling, but the absence of dry air already caused his aging joints to be noticed.  Walking slowly as he searched his small translator for the word Entrance, the Greenlander made his way across the parking lot, occasionally stepping over discarded cans, flyers and other rubbish.  He assumed the comic book store he had been dropped off at would be in this large building.  As he rounded the corner of the multistory structure, he first noticed the rounded glass and open front of the creatively crafted waterside mall.  His attention was suddenly pulled away by the hundreds of people lined up in the front. Bright costumes, oversized swords, and creative ways to barely cover the unmentionables of those in line filled the patio of the great center.  Stunned, Enok looked up at the sign above the large glass doors and read, “San Diego Comic-Con 2013”.