Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
This short story is based on the #sunscribbles Twitter prompt, Blade. I was going to write a story about a serial killer turning the blood of his enemies into weapons, but I wasn’t feeling it so I wrote this rather silly story instead 🙂
Fall of a Kingdom
Head on a chopping block, blade of the executioner poised to strike, was not a position Rissien expected to find himself in when he’d left home to find his place in the world. But here he was, knees protesting against the hard, dirty, cobblestone floor, hoping his death would be swift.
His final hours had been building up to this moment, and they flashed before him as the king addressed his people; Chained up. Last meal. Scrubbed down. Though why that last one was necessary was a mystery. A local custom, perhaps? To prepare even the worst criminals for the afterlife? Not that he was a criminal, not really. Things had just gotten out of hand.
Terribly, utterly, irrevocably out of hand.
He’d only meant to steal a loaf of bread, enough to keep him going for a few days, but, prize in hand, he’d stumbled upon a community of unsightly orphans under a dilapidated bridge. They were hungry too, and not one passerby would so much as look at the poor things.
It was only a few things at first, bread, fruit, cooling pies from windowsills, but they’d looked at him with large, greedy, eyes and begged for more. Seek the king, they’d urged. He has plenty. So he’d broken into the castle before a feast, hoping to escape with half a banquet. He’d risk his freedom for their mischievous smiles, for here, unlike the towers of Edif, home, he was wanted.
Apparently he was mistaken: He wasn’t wanted, he was needed as a distraction. The little horrors tore past the executioner’s block, skin shimmering green, and startled the executioner. The swish of the blade should have signalled the end for him. It was good fortune that his executioner fell backwards, and the falling blade didn’t sever Rissien’s head from his shoulders.
He stumbled to his feet, knees protesting (how long had the king been talking, anyway?) and hands bound behind his back. The rough rope cut into his wrists. The palace guards were overwhelmed, and screams pierced the air as people tried to clamber the walls of the courtyard to avoid the children storming the castle. Just how hungry were these kids?
A bone flew past his head, stripped of flesh, and he flinched. Shit. These were no ordinary kids. He grimaced and shoved through the tightly wound guards and stampeding crowd. At least no one was paying attention to him. He skidded to a halt paces from the main exit. The portcullis were open, but he’d only make it through alive if the guards didn’t notice him and the kids spared him. Looking at those sharp teeth and grim smiles, he decided not to risk it.
He tore off in the opposite direction, dodging blades and teeth, and through a small archway at the back of the courtyard. It led to the parapets, but they too were swarming with screeching hell children and knights. The only way out was down. He sucked in a breath and leapt.
The river below welcomed him with a splash, and he kicked with all his might to break the surface of the water. Spluttering, and cursing his bound hands, he flopped towards the edge, trying to keep his head above water. After what felt like an age, he flung himself onto the river bank. Without glancing back he sped into the forest, off kilter, but alive.
In a small clearing he finally took a breather. He sank to the floor in front of a tree and wiggled his bound hands, longing for the blade he’d stashed under his pillow at the camp where the little hellions lived. He couldn’t go back. It was too risky. All he had were the ragged clothes on his back. Worse, he still didn’t know what he’d done to warrant such a swift execution. Sure, he’d broken into the palace, but he’d only taken food…
He shook his head. It didn’t matter. He couldn’t go back, but where did he go from here?
As he pondered his next move three of the children emerged from the dark bushes surrounding the clearing. ‘Where’s the apple?’ one of them hissed, pointed teeth bared.
Seriously? The golden apple from the centrepiece of the feast table? It was tasty, sure, but was it really worth all this trouble?
‘Give it to us, and we’ll bless you with a swift death.’
Apparently so. What rotten luck. Time to get out of here before things got even more out of hand. He shot to his feet, but he’d barely made it three paces when they tangled themselves around his legs and sank their teeth into his calves.
‘Ow, get offa me!’
He kicked out, and one of them went flying into a tree. The others sank their teeth in deeper and small claws protruded from their fingers. He whimpered as three more emerged from the trees. They had him surrounded. Was it his fate to die here? Torn apart by the very children – creatures – he’d taken pity on?
An arrow shot past his head and impaled the creature by the tree. A knight with a sparkling blade emerged from the same direction and cut down two of the creatures. Her shoulder length hair flowed as she span in a graceful arc to impale a third. Two remained, clinging to Rissien’s legs with wide eyes. He jiggled his legs to try and dislodge them, but to no avail.
The knight stepped forward, and with practised ease she lopped off their heads. Their little bodies fell to the floor, but their claw like hands remained embedded in his legs. Rissien started to shake with disgust. ‘What did you do? They may have been terrible, but they’re just children!’
‘They’re not kids, they’re Trows.’ The knight sheathed her blade and peered into the forest. ‘There may be more of them. We need to leave.’
Rissien whimpered as she pried the remains of the creatures from his legs and freed his hands. Blood dribbled down his legs, and his wrists were raw, but he ignored that for now and met her eyes with a blank expression. ‘Trows?’
‘Goblins. I can’t believe you were taken in by them. Aren’t elves supposed to be smart?’
He bristled and glared at her. ‘We’re not perfect you know. Everyone makes mistakes.’
‘You more than most, apparently. You stole our most important artefact. Now the castle’s overrun and the king could lose everything.’ She sighed. ‘So where is the golden apple? It wasn’t on you when we caught you, so you must have stashed it somewhere.’
‘All this trouble over a golden apple?’
‘It has great magical properties and protects us from all manner of evil creatures and their trickery.’
Rissien flushed and rubbed the back of his neck. ‘It tasted good too.’
Horror painted a picture across her face. ‘Why would you eat something so precious?’
‘Why would you use such an important artefact as a table centrepiece?’
‘Because everyone knows not to eat it!’ Smoke rose from the castle in the distance and raucous cheering filtered through the trees. The knight’s shoulders slumped. ‘We’re doomed.’
‘Cheer up,’ Rissien said, and he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. ‘Can always move somewhere else, right?’
Thanks for reading!
Trows can morph into human-like form; however, they’re usually small and “ugly.” I wanted to write something fun and this is the result. It feels pretty silly, but I enjoyed it 🙂
Share lines with #sunscribbles every week on Twitter, or write a short story based around the prompt and share a blog link.
Next week? My monthly updates post, in which I can’t believe it’s the end of August already 🙂