Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grace, Please Lead Me Home (1/5)

Rather than posting a true piece of flash fiction, I'm going to post the first part of the first chapter of last year's failed NaNo run.  This year's was neglected, but I hope to work on it further in the future.

     One thousand heartbeats thumped simultaneously as a sea of blue and a staggered field of green came upon each other.  Hoots and hollers, swords on maces, bones splintering, the battlefield filled with noise.  A new sound erupted into the chaos, the sound of crossbow and longbow volleys.  Two thick clouds of brown flashed for a moment in the sky before dropping down and meeting turf or more often flesh.
     The soldiers of green, Ueklanders, wore only dyed shirts and loose britches.  They growled while cutting their prey to ribbons, grunting away the pain when wounded.  Some of their victims would argue that they were of canine kindred due to their savage zeal.  They wielded the axe, shortbow, and cudgel with mastery, their instruments of death made crudely with as little metal as possible.
     The fighters opposite them, the Urians, were of a different sort completely.  Most wore chain shirts and some had plate armor, gauntlets, and shields.   They fought with dignity, valor, and for some even chivalry.  Tempered longswords, longbows, and halberds were the most commonly used weapons by them.
     Among the waves of blue and white surcoated warriors was one soldier of particular character.  He was a giant.  Not a giant of southern myth that could look over mighty oak trees, but of a more humble type.  He stood two heads higher than a man of tall build, was heavily muscled, and wielded a broadsword in one armored fist.
     The giant’s name was Nom.  Born the runt of twins that miraculously both survived through infancy, Nom overcame numerous struggles in his life.  At the age of ten his ailing parents both died of a mysterious fever that left him and his brother unscathed, leaving the two to fend for themselves.  Nom’s brother died soon after the event, killed by a wild boar that Nom killed with his bare hands.  Nom grew rapidly and caught the attention of a nobleman who watched him kill a grey bear while passing by in his carriage.   The man, Baron Olwren, took him to the castle to be a man-at-arms, which he took to quickly and well.
     Nom waved his sword in a massive horizontal arc.  The blade cut deeply into the upper torsos of three Ueklandian axeman, spraying blood onto the uniforms of himself and all around him.  His victims stood still for a moment, rage still in their eyes, then each in turn were pushed down to make room for the eager men behind them.  He fought long and hard, slashing and thrusting through line upon line.  Looking from the air you could see a slight depression forming in the back of the green mass across from where Nom stood. 
     The Ueklanders, fearless in nature, began to avoid the destroying man and his massive sword.  One of them, however, ran up to face him, a crude iron mace in his hand.  He dodged the backhanded swing meant to sever his head and came inside of Nom’s sword range.  With a powerful two-handed swing of his cudgel, the Ueklander mutilated Nom’s sword hand, forcing him to drop his sword.  Nom’s eyes swelled with tears and he had to bite his lip to repress the pain.  Nom pulled back his fist and slammed it into the face of his oppressor, dropping him to the ground.
     Nom fought on all day.  He moved his sword to his weaker hand, keeping back tears at the pain of its badly fractured twin.  Men fell around Nom but he continued long after until the call for mutual rest set for darkness by the Urian King and Ueklandian Warlord came.
     Nom strode to the Urian encampment.  He stripped off his bloody surcoat and armor.  With a pained expression on his face, Nom pulled off his right gauntlet and saw the grotesque sight which lay beneath.  His hand had multiple compound fractures, severe swelling, and had begun turning green with infection.  Fear struck Nom hard.  His hand was a necessary tool for his profession and he didn’t know how he could go on if it had to be removed. He moved toward a nearby surgeon briskly.
     “Sir, can you please look at my hand?” Nom asked him, eyebrows knit.
     “That’s what I’m here for,” he replied.  The surgeon put on a face of amazement and scanned all six and a half feet of Nom’s bulky form when he looked upon him.  He adjusted his gaze to examine Nom’s crippled hand stifled a cough at the gore. 
     “This hand is quite mangled, my good man,” the surgeon said.  His expression morphed into sadness.  “I’m afraid it is going to have to come off.”  Nom went numb inside.  He would have to leave the life of a crippled man.  A tear cut through the blood and grime of his cheek.
     The surgeon plucked up a bottle of hard liquor and a saw from the instrument table beside him.  “Drink this,” he said soothingly.  Nom took the bottle from him and tore off the cork, then tilted the liquor to his lips and sipped.  Nom’s face twisted at the taste and accompanying burn.  Nom’s thoughts turned hazy.  He stumbled and nearly fell.  The world faded away.

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