Sylas the Strong

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story from a world I created called Santelia. It follows a war hero named Sylas who visits the same bar at very different times of his life and has two very different experiences.

Submitted: December 19, 2017

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Submitted: December 19, 2017

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Year 877
The White Crow Inn erupted in thunderous applause. The cacophony of celebration welcomed the arrival of the hero of the moment. Sylas had returned to the shambles of Highett to celebrate in his home town after a momentous victory in the Magic War. The country of Santelia had been going through one of its worst wars in known history. Millions were killed in needless bloodshed, entire races driven to extinction. As a general of the army, Silas had been instrumental in winning the war, and thus bringing Santelia out of darkness.
“It’s Sylas!!” A woman screeched. Every eye was pinned to the hero. His mere presence was magnetic; people were drawn to him at the best of times. But now, people clambered over each other just to get a handshake, a nod of the head in their direction or even just a touch of him. Sylas had his hair in a dirty, blonde ponytail with a brown grizzled beard shrouding his face. His skin was sun-kissed and his hands looked to be made of steel clamps. Beneath the coloured cape of his king, his hulking figure barely fit through the door. His arms were tree trunks and his muscles like boulders.
Sylas hushed his admirers with one hand and they obeyed like faithful dogs, hungry to listen to what he had to say.
“My brothers and sisters,” Sylas started with a smile, “I come to you today not as general of the human army that won the 15-year long Magic War.” The people cheered emphatically, spilling liquid unreservedly while toasting their drinks.
“I don’t even come to today as a knight. A knight to whom slew countless enemies and never gave up even when the days were bleak and nights were long” The people were feasting on his every word, squirming when his gaze fell in their direction.
“Today, I come to you naught but a humble citizen of the glorious town of Highett to celebrate with my common folk about our continued survival!” The people, as if on cue, threw their hats and some glasses in their air. “To celebrate our grit! Our determination! Our belief that those bastards can never take what is ours! They can try, but they will never break our resolve! And we will always be victorious!” Sylas’ booming voice reverberated through the inn.
Silence once more as Sylas went to continue, “And I come because I know Margaret and her bar maids here have the best ale I’ve ever tasted.”
Laughter and more adulation ensued. Sylas began making his way to the counter to get a drink, shaking hands and being bombarded with praise along the way.
“Sylas the strong! You’re my hero.”
“I want to be like him when I grow up.”
“The things he did are beyond belief.” 

After trudging through the maze of people and chairs he finally arrived at the bar and was greeting warmly by a lady who cut off another patron mid-sentence to turn her attention to Sylas. “What’ll you ‘ave Sylas?” The bar maid asked.
“Just some of your finest ale my dear.” Sylas moved to grab for his coin pouch around his waist when the maid interrupted,
“No gold necessary from Sylas! For Sylas, for saving us all, you can have free drinks forever!” The maid announced loudly. The crowd shouted in agreement. Sylas smiled and winked at the bar maid. The woman seemed to lose herself as if under his spell and forgot all about the drink for a few seconds before being nudged by another bar tender. Coming back to her senses and blushing, she thrust a bubbling tankard of ale into Sylas’ strong grasp.

Word of his arrival in town had been known for quite a few hours, and everyone knew Sylas would eventually return to his favourite hideout in Highett. Because of this, there was barely any room to move, let alone sit down. It seemed as though his searching looks was all his fans required to know what he wanted. He was suddenly spoiled for choice, offers of seats from everywhere at once. “Have my table, Sylas the strong!” A thin, wiry haired man nearby said with a bow and gesture to his table. Sylas humbly accepted with a handshake and a pat on the back of the man. The man, ecstatic, clearly thought it was an agreeable trade.

On his way navigating through the whirlpool of people he noticed an elderly man had fallen over and was in actual danger of being trampled. “CLEAR THE WAY!” Sylas boomed and his subjects obeyed. Most had not even noticed the elderly gentlemen, too entranced by Sylas. Sylas knelt next to the man and offered him a seat at his table after making sure he was not harmed.
The people gave Sylas no moments of peace, not that this bothered him at all; he loved the attention. Women throwing themselves at him and men looking on in wonder at his achievements. It was not long until a buxom young lady asked him to regal them with a tale from one of his fights in the Magic War.
“Oh no. You guys don’t want to hear about that.” Sylas coyly remarked to which the crowd replied with cheers of approval. Sylas didn’t require much convincing, if any at all, so he began his story.
“Hmm… Ah yes. There was this one encounter late last year which was particularly memorable on the battlegrounds in Listerton. My battalion were mostly dead, taken from us by an army of disgusting magic users.” The crowd grimaced and scowled. “My brother had cleared the way to the main keep where I believe their general to be. Unfortunately, that was not the case; I entered the main chamber to find the throne room filled with fucking wizards, with their general nowhere to be seen. These cowards had hidden here away from the battle and killed their own general. Savages, the lot of them. But by my count there were five of them and only one of me. I was at the ready with my sword and shield from the moment I laid eyes on their filth. They saw me and slowly began to surround me, trying to stretch my defences.” A few of the ladies in the crowd looked worried, as if they didn’t know whether he would make it out safely. Others were just in awe.
“One opened his mouth, to this day I don’t know if he had the mind to taunt me or speak peace, but I was not giving him an opportunity to utter a spell to harm me. I threw a knife which found it’s home in his throat. One down. Now, enraged by this one of them tried hurling a fire ball at me, and I’d have been cooked worse than some of ol’ Margaret’s mutton if it weren’t for my shield!”
People howled in laughter and a call from afar was heard, “Hey! You love my mutton!”
“You know I do Marge” Sylas said with a point, a wink and a shrewd smile. “But as I said, I’d be naught but ash if it weren’t for my shield. It’s imbued with magic, something I’m not too proud of, but if those fuckers are going to use it, why not throw it back in their face.” Even at the mention of using magic he was met with applause. Sylas could say no wrong.
“The fireball bounced off my shield and obliterated the wizard who produced it. This shocked the savages, which brought down their guards. Childish mistake. One I took advantage of. I slid across the marble and sliced one of them with my sword from balls to chin.” Sylas proclaimed, demonstrating with a swish of his arm.
“With only two left, one thought he had better chances making a run for it. As I said, they were cowards. Worst kind of people and I was having none of it. I stalked him calmly, knowing I had barred the door on the way in. Many folks ran at the sight of me and I learned early on to trap them in there with me. As he pulled desperately at the door in futility, I struck him down with my sword.” A few in the crowd began clapping and whooping.
“There was one final putrid wizard left in the room and after seeing me strike down his allies even against ridiculous odds, when I approached him he began to beg.” The crowd groaned, women giggled and men shook their heads in disbelief.
“This thing didn’t even have the decency to die as a man. I shut him up and relieved him of his pitiful life with one swing of my sword!” Sylas motioned gallantly with his arm, knocking over his beer. It drenched a nearby patron and Sylas apologised profusely. The patron assured him, “It is an honour to be soaked in your drink, no apology is needed!”
Sylas chuckled at what he considered an honour, but if that made him happy, Sylas was happy. Sylas was a selfless man at heart, whose people were always at the forefront of his mind. Often in battles he would make an awful tactical decision, but it would mean saving more civilians. The king did not always approve, but the people loved him for it.
One young lady with a bright flower in her long braided brown hair nudged through the crowd as Sylas was just having his ale replaced with a fresh tankard. She had a small freckled nose with piercing green eyes. She shyly began, “My name is Kalina. You probably don’t remember me but when my village was attacked, I would have died if it weren’t for you. You have no idea how grateful-”
She was interrupted by a sharp whistle from the entrance of the inn.
People turned their heads to see a royal messenger standing there, “King Pannigar requests your presence immediately Sylas.”
Sylas looked back to the girl with the flower in her hair, but she had disappeared into the crowd.

50 years later

Unfortunately for Sylas, time is fickle thing. On that day King Pannigar’s legend was created. His heroism was told across the land and retold to their children and their children’s children. Sylas however, along with millions upon millions of faceless soldier’s names would never be remembered this long after. No toasts would be made in their names. No songs be sung about their bravery. Any war history book you pick up would mention the Magic War without question, but nowhere did it mention the instrumental general responsible for so many lives today and countless victories. Unlike King Pannigar’s legend, Sylas had not been immune to the draining kiss of time.
Sylas now lived on his own, in a modest house. Still in his home town of Highett. He would spend most of his time pottering around town, listening to the stories of the travellers and weary soldiers who rested there. Sylas was now a shadow of his former self, he could barely even lift his sword anymore. Recently he took his sword down from the mantle where he had hung it. It was too heavy for him to put back and he had needed to get assistance from a strong looking passer-by. Sylas’ hands wouldn’t stop shaking and he babbled to the passer-by about his sword. The young man ended up stealing the jewel-encrusted sword from Sylas and left him alone, sobbing.

One day, he decided to return to the White Crow where he had had so many fond memories. Although it wasn’t called the White Crow anymore, it had another name, but Sylas could never remember it. His memory was not what it used to be either.
Sylas stepped through the doorway to see a familiar inn and friendly environment but no one paid him much mind. This time he easily slipped through the door frame, not laboured anymore with his hulking figure. His arms were but twigs now, his muscles like pebbles. His hair was thinning and white as snow, but now his beard was a matching colour. He no longer sported sun-kissed skin, having wrinkled and paled now. A completely unrecognisable man from the once great hero.
“It’s Sylas.” A woman groaned upon seeing him. She rolled her eyes and continued wiping down a table. His presence now repelled looks as if two opposite magnets were being pushed together. Sylas looked at his boots, swallowed deeply and began his trek to a nearby seat.
A bar maid was rushing past and Sylas raised a hand for her attention to order a drink but she ignored his request as if he were invisible. Things like this happened a lot to Sylas nowadays; he was known around the town as Sylas the Senile. People believed him to be some hermit who had lost all his wits and was more of a burden than a help.
After waiting some time he realised he was not going to get any table service so he resolved to get his own drink. “Hello Marge,” Sylas chirped.
The bar maid sighed, “Sylas I don’t know how many times I need to tell you, I’m not Marge. I’ve never known anyone named Marge.”
This always startled Sylas. “Y-y-yes. Of-Of course.” He stammered. His hands began to shake again. “I-I-I just mean to say-“ Sylas took a deep breath to collect himself, with one hand on his brow. “Can I get a drink?”
“Two gold.” The maid stated bluntly.
Apparently forever wasn’t so long in Highett. “Ye-yeah, two gold. Two gold.” Sylas stuttered as he fidgeted through his pouch before producing two gold. “Two gold?”
“Two gold.” The lady confirmed.
The gold was dropped into the bar maids hand with a smile from Sylas. It was not returned. She produced an ale in a tankard and returned to other duties at the other side of the bar. Sylas had to grasp the drink with both hands to have a firm enough grip on it to begin the trip back to his table. His legs had really begun to tire by the time he returned to his seat. He rewarded himself for making it to the table with a generous mouthful of ale. At least some things didn’t change; it was still just as delicious. When he closed his eyes he could almost hear the cheering. His eyes opened to the sound of another bar maid wiping down a nearby table. Sylas leaned towards her and asked, “Did you want to hear a story?”
“No that’s okay. I grew out of make-believe stories a long time ago. Thanks anyway.” The maid replied with an impatient smile.
“But they aren’t make believe…” Sylas mumbled to no one in particular. The lady had left him. Sylas looked around the White Crow. It was the same inn. But the people were all different. The name was different. They chattered about the heroes of the day. Not a care in the world for the past. Sylas decided coming here was a mistake; this wasn’t his inn anymore. They didn’t remember people like him anymore. He pushed himself up from his table and one of the legs of the table snapped. Sylas struck the floor with a heavy ‘thud’. A few patrons looked to the disturbance before returning to their drinks and muttering to themselves. One patron however remained transfixed on Sylas. When falling, Sylas had grabbed for anything to save him, managed to grasp his drink and accidentally flung it on a nearby man. “What the fuck is wrong with you! Stupid old fool!” The drenched man was outraged.
Sylas cowered on the floor like a submissive dog. Babbling nonsensical words. His whole body shook like a leaf. Frustrated by Sylas’ lack of any real response, the man left in a huff. Sylas lay there, curled up on the ground for a few moments until a woman helped him off the ground and back to the table. “Tha-thank you kind lady.” Sylas dribbled.
“It’s completely fine sir. The least I could do.” The woman had a warm and sincere voice. Sylas looked up at her face for the first time. He thought he was having another dream. It couldn’t be her, she hadn’t aged a day. The young woman who helped him up had long braided brown hair, a small freckled nose, green piercing eyes and of course, a flower resting above her ear. Sylas was flustered again, he must be seeing things. He mustn’t mistake someone for someone else again. The woman with the flower in her hair began walking out of the inn and he couldn’t help but follow. Outside the familiar looking woman thrust out her arms and a little girl, no older than seven years ran into her arms. She swung the child around in the air and brought her in for a warm embrace, both smiling wildly. The girl was the splitting image of the lady that had helped Sylas up, she even had a tiara made of the same type of flower. Sylas closed his eyes and wracked his brain. Is this what she looked like? Or was his mind playing another trick?
The lady linked hands with the little girl and she chirped, “Are we going to see grandma Kalina now?”
“We sure are, and I’m sure she’ll love your new tiara.”
Silent tears trickled down Sylas’ face. He watched the pair walk down the cobbled stone path until they were tiny specks on the horizon. Sylas hadn’t felt like this in a long time; like his life actually mattered. They wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him. The people might not remember or value him, but families like that made it all worth it. And that humbling feeling was something time could never take away from him.


© Copyright 2018 C.J.I McLachlan. All rights reserved.

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