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Tales of Midgard - Part 10

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  • Tales of Midgard - Part 10

    28.

    The Keepsake

    In a defensive trench near the battlefront, two friends were enjoying a lull in the fighting.

    “Why do you carry that thing around?” laughed Perry’s mate Bern as Perry tugged the uncomfortable wooden frame out from his tunic and scratched his armpit, grimacing.

    “I got to, ain’t I!” Perry protested, “It’s a portrait of me mother what me Dad done. Made me promise to keep it close to me heart, she did. I wish she’d thought to stitch a pocket into me tunic for it,” he grumbled, fingering the sharp corners of the rough frame and sighing.

    “Go on then, give us a look,” said Bern, snatching the portrait out of Perry’s hands and letting out a hearty laugh. “Blimey, mate!” he roared, “I mean, I know this is an oil painting, but she’s no oil painting, if you know what I mean! Ha ha ha!”

    “Give it back!” snapped Perry, grabbing the picture and shoving it back into the folds of his tunic.”

    “Sorry mate,” chuckled Bern, “Only admit it. That face could stop an arrow in flight.”

    “That’s me Mum you’re talking about!” said Perry, but before he could smack his friend round the ear, there was a whooshing sound from above. The two mates turned their eyes skywards in time to see a volley of enemy arrows cutting through the air towards them.

    One landed with a thunk in Bern’s chest, killing him instantly. As for Perry, he would have suffered the same fate, were it not for the uncomfortable, rough wooden frame with an arrow hole bored into one side that he still carries in the folds of his tunic.



  • #2
    29.

    The Hunting Party

    For three days they had tracked the gigantic bear, leaving the horses at the foot of the mountain and following its trail up the mountain on a carpet of pine needles that swallowed all sound and left only the faintest of clues for an experience tracker.

    Finally, on the third night, they caught up with the bear and, while he feasted on a freshly killed stag, encircled him carefully.

    Lord Aron placed a hand on his young son’s shoulder and whispered into his ear.

    “It is your first hunt, boy. The kill is yours. Be sure of your shot.”

    The boy stared down the sight of his crossbow, breathing steadily. He waited until the bear, raised its head to chew and, taking aim directly at the animal’s eye, he let fly the bolt.

    The bear moved its head and the bolt skidded of its thick skull. It reared up on its hind legs and roared, blood pouring from the graze above its eye. Then it spotted Lord Aron and his son and charged.

    It was upon them before either could raise their weapon but, just as it raised its huge paw to swipe at the hunters, Lord Aron’s giant hound leapt to their defense, plunging his fangs into the huge bear’s throat as it clutched at him with razor sharp claws. Lord Aron used the moment to draw his bow and fire into the beast’s heart. His son ran to the dog which was bleeding heavily from a deep gash in his chest. As the boy knelt over it, Lord Aron put an arrow in the hound’s heart too. The boy wept.

    “Better the hound than you,” said his father, gravely, “Dry your tears.”

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    • #3
      30.

      Winner Takes All

      When the quarrel between the town’s guilds turned to fighting, it built into a battle that raged for a week, left dozens dead, and turned half the town to rubble. At last, outnumbered and cornered against the wall of the church, one side surrendered to the other. The leader of the losing guild was executed in the town square in front of his wife, and a feast held for the victors, where their commander gave a rousing speech.


      “Men!” he said, “You have fought like lions! Now, let us enjoy the spoils of our victory. This feast. And this wine!” he roared, gulping greedily from the goblet in his hand. “A toast!” he continued, “To our guild. And death to any who oppose it!”

      He threw back his arm and downed the rest of his wine. The soldiers at the long table followed suit.

      “Now-” said the commander, but his voice was cut short by a sudden hacking cough. “N-” He coughed again as his throat tightened. He dropped the goblet and clawed at his throat as the burning sensation spread through his body. He stared at the room. The men were falling like pins, clutching at their necks as they choked and foamed at the mouth.

      ‘That’s right,” whispered the smiling serving girl into the commander’s ear, “Poison. Looks like my husband’s guild wins after all.”

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