Dark Tyrant

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 17 (v.1) - War and Weapons

Submitted: October 02, 2013

Reads: 159

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Submitted: October 02, 2013

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Chapter: War and Weapons

Amaria met me with a scorn, but couldn’t help herself and soon broke into a laugh. “So this is the girl who the king turned me down to!” She exclaimed. I looked in awe at her: She was wearing closely what I was, except her breastplate was gold. She was pale like her uncle, but had striking platinum-blond wavy hair, cut just above the shoulder, and a table piled with riding accessories next to her. I smiled weakly, staring down the stone, sloped corridor leading to the courtyard, where three hundred and forty-eight fully armed and armoured, specially selected soldiers were assembling.  Two horses stood next to the princess: One snowy white, the other crow black. They whinnied excitedly, two saddles strapped around their abdomens, along with full battle armour and gold thread sewn into the leather rein. She gestured to the white stallion. “This is your horse, Glayds.” The horse regarded me as I walked nervously to the saddle, and awkwardly hooked my foot into the stirrup. I attempted to push myself up, but my leg gave way and I came back down. The horse whinnied in protest at my hopelessness.

“Mmm…” Amaria said, walking behind me, clamping onto my waist. “This should do it.” I realised too late as she threw me up, giving a little yelp as I hung over the saddle. The horse stuttered some neighs, probably laughing, as I swung around and sat up, slipping both of my feet into the stirrups. I tried for a smile, making Amaria crack up. A horn sounded in the distance, and the horses jumped around dangerously in excitement. My eyes widened, and I yelped loudly, making the jumping stop. Glayds turned to look at me with boredom and disappointment, almost saying, Why is this loser riding me?

I glared defiantly at him, as Amaria rushed around strapping things to my saddle. “Why is my horse white?”

She murmured several things before answering. “Ensigns get a white horse, and the horses get darker as you get a higher rank. Same rule applies with martial arts.” She explained, swinging so gracefully onto her black horse that it made my effort look like dirt. “Some of the enemy know this, so we’re swapping the mix—this is Nightmare, my uncle’s mare.” I smiled, realising how appropriate the name was. She muttered a checklist, before reaching down to the table, and throwing a helmet at me. Princess Amaria examined me, and smiled at her work. “Right,” she announced, turning serious. “There are a few things you need to know:

One: STAY. OUT. OF. KING’S. WAY. He gets very exasperated and angry easily when he’s stressed. Only speak to him if he speaks first—and follow that oath.”

She eyed me, a protest bubbling quietly inside.

“Two: Look good today and the other soldiers will take you seriously. Make a fool of yourself and you’ll be the laughing stock of all the cohorts.

“And three: Always have a weapon with you, and address any soldier higher in rank sire and anyone lower sir, though, the latter one is unnecessary because you’re the lowest in rank,” she told me, laughing quietly to herself at that last observation. She almost took of, but turned to me. “Oh. Almost forgot. Stay with your cohort, and follow the sub-orders of your commander.” She smiled playfully, raising an eyebrow. “You’re with Marius.”

I nearly choked, and my eyes widened. I shook with so much burning fury that my horse whinnied nervously, pawing the limestone floor, saying in thought: Wrong question: Why is this hothead riding me? Ahh!

I snarled at the horse, and it flicked its tail at me in argued reply. In return, I kicked it in the ribs. It neighed a laugh, and danced playfully, making the ride more like bull riding then horse. I shrieked and Amaria snarled, Nightmare glaring at us (can horses glare?) in extreme disapproval and disbelief. “Cut it out! Now!”

The bouncing stopped and we both became suddenly interested with the floor. I looked up—Amaria’s eyes flared, and Nightmare reared before shooting down in the dim, long limestone corridor as a blur of black. My horse trotted in nervous anticipation. I gripped the reins tightly, and gently knocked my horse’s sides, gulping down the fear of what was ahead: War, fighting, riding horses, first impressions...

Glayds sensed my nervousness and started down the corridor at a reasonably fast trot. From the entrance below, a hushed whisper dared to pierce the decreed silence. Suddenly, a chirp of a bell rang. My horse panicked and galloped the rest of the way. My eyes widened as the rest of my body paralysed in fear. We shot out into the courtyard, a huge dirt space next to the training yard, lined with shoulder-high shale wall, small patches of greenery dotting the outskirts of the area. What filled the area were perfect rectangles of horsemen—six in all—with a smaller, thinner rectangle in front of the assembly of generals, the royal family, warlords and other important persons riding steeds of either brilliant, sparkling gold, black or chocolate brown, a cape of navy blue lined in gold draping down past their waists. I squinted as the dipping sun glared its harsh sunlight in my eyes, my horse mercifully saving me from humiliation as it quietly slowed and joined the far right cohort, consisting of caramel and light-brown haired horses. A figure in a golden breastplate over chainmail covering his arms and legs with a dark green cape walked out of a tunnel. The sunlight hit him, and his cape turned to a dazzling gold from the sunset. The whole assembly dismounted in synchronization as I realised the figure to be the absolute leader, and hastily slipped off the saddle. A soft scream of metal cried as the cohorts acted as one and raised their swords in salute, chanting: “Renus Tyrixis! Ave  Ave! Ave!”

When the blades lowered, the king was mounted on a golden haired horse. Everyone else followed his lead. He unsheathed his sword and raised it to us.

“No, to you, my loyal servants.” He exclaimed, voice clear and sharp. My hand suddenly burned, reminding me all too well of the kiss a few hours ago.

Shut it, I snarled mentally.

“For we are insurmountable, and they are imposters. Justice must be served,” he snarled, a sudden wind blowing through the courtyard, swaying his nightmarish hair. “Traitors punished, and let them fear the very voice of us, let them tremble at our feet and beg for mercy!” He shouted, the assemble roaring and yelling in approval, several thirrages rearing in excitement. “And let them be kicked aside into the dust of our authority so that they will know never to challenge us again! Brutus shouted, smiling as everyone pumped their fists in unison, cheering.

The king’s horse spun on its heels and galloped off down the last slope of the hill, headed towards Townside Gate. Everyone followed, the roar of hoofs deafening against the cobbled road, as the cohorts filed out into a thinner formation more suitable for the road.

Glayds flew across the stone, but despite its best efforts to soften the repeated bumps in each stride, my hands still gripped the reins until my fingers felt like they were cast in cement. It seemed to be a race to catch the king—but that horse was fast. It was like a hundred children chasing a singular ball down a steep hill—a hope in vain.

Three hundred and forty-nine soldiers thundered out of the castle gates into the main road leading into the city, citizens just rising from kneeling on the cobbled sidewalk and continuing their business. We galloped around sharp corners—the horses actually galloped faster when we turned!—and halted in a large, long rectangular formation behind the king, who was only several meters away, staring down the last leg before the city walls—the market place and central square, in front of town hall. A horn sounded and everyone froze.

He started off at a slow walk, turning his head to somewhat marvel at their obedience, as they knelt and looked down where they stood. As he wound his way skilfully through the narrow passageways between the groups of subjects, one man suddenly shot up onto his knees and started begging. The king looked down with well-hidden fake adoration and slight disgust, and held out a hand for him to touch. The old man gingerly stroked it as if it was holy, before throwing himself down. The king continued on, an aura of supreme authority and power flaming off him in the eerie quiet. A young woman with bronze hair and middle-class looking rose shakily and offered a baby wrapped in purple silk.

The horse halted, and neighed in whisper, saying, For gods’ sake! The battle’s going to be over if this continues!

Brutus ignored the impression, smiling with warmth at the small purple bundle, and kissed it’s forehead. A sickly, sweet voice rung out of the woman’s smile as she took the baby, purposely managing to touch his fingers in the exchange. “Thank you, my great king! When he is older, I will tell him of this kindness!”

He touched her face, and she knelt again. I suddenly grew hot with jealousy, but pressed it down. Just duty, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s his job to connect with his people...

His coin-gold horse continued forward. “Rise,” he announced, yet some still continued to look at their shoes. They parted for the king’s passing, but still continued to reach out and touch their sovereign. He ignored them completely, and continued in a voice smoother then silk, clearer than glass. “My people. Rarely must it be necessary for me to leave Jamarnia. But as your sovereign, it is my duty to offer protection and love for my subjects and loyally serve them as they do me,” he told them, almost at the grated, iron gate, huge oak doors and draw bridge over the sparkling wide waters of Turmoil River. “My council has agreed it necessary to inform you that we are at war.”

Several gaped and gasps of shock echoed in the marketplace.

“But do not fear,” he assured them, in a voice so persuasive that you wouldn’t dare in your right mind deny it, “these traitors will be punished, they will be crushed, scarred and scattered just as quickly as they dare think of uprising against my rule.”  

The gates opened, quiet approval and awe at their king passing through the gates, and the rest of the king’s forces surged forward. Several attempted to touch Amaria and the nobles, but they were either slapped away with scowls or not quick enough, as we all soon galloped off like impatient children. Everyone scattered, as our horses neighed and shook their manes playfully. I waited for the fear of riding to come over me as I shot out of the city gates towards the long shadow of the mountain range ahead, golden grass plains swaying mesmerizingly in the slight breeze.

All I felt was pure freedom and joy, and Glayds was putting it into action, bulleting on the dusty road-like track. I smiled, and suddenly there was no war, no soldiers, no purpose but to never stop. I whooped, snapping the reins and passing everyone, my white horse and I a comet on earth, an unstoppable force. Suddenly I was in the lead, everyone else dust in my tracks. I snapped the reins again and leaned into the wind—Glayds happily agreed. Someone caught up with me—I took a moment to steal a glance. He was so glorious and godlike that in the wind with tousled hair, a golden cape (but really it was dark green) and on a horse the colour of pure sunlight, he raced past me, grinning.

I laughed. “Not so fast. Try this for speed.”

Not knowing my horse’s speed limit, I yelled and the white super-mammal flew after him, just managing to be inches ahead on full gallop. He raised his eyebrows. “I’m not even at full gallop!” He scoffed, and suddenly I was left in the dust.

I sneered at him. “Just ‘cos he thinks he’s the king of the track. I think it’s time to show him!” I told Gladys. He whinnied in protest, but agreed to one last lighting-fast stride. And finally we were flying—the king was a blur as we passed him. We spun round and celebrated in triumph as Brutus on his ‘slow steed’ lowered gear, skidding professionally meters in front (or better yet, behind).

He narrowed his eyes, but couldn’t restrain his smile as Glayds reared and dropped back down, the rest of the army a few hundred meters behind him. “Impressive, for a rookie.”

I grinned at him. “I’d like to see you do any better.”

He grinned smugly back, eyes flaring. “I’d like to see you clean the stables.”

He laughed at my sneer, Princess Amaria resting her hand on the tan nuzzle of the panting horse. “Easy girl. Easy.” She smiled grudgingly at me. “Yes. My uncle is right. You did do well for a rookie, considering your hopelessness in the stables.”

“I don’t see you in the lead. Hey, isn’t that me?”

“I wouldn’t be the one throwing out sarcasm when you’re covered in horse manure,” she added darkly, clearing stating my potential for stable cleaning.

The king tutted disapprovingly, “We must ride now if we are to reach Fort Hustly at nightfall.”

After reaching down to rub the horse’s shoulder, he was a blur and the only evidence his horse was ever there was from the settling dust. Glayds spun around, and took off with him, but I was soon caught up with the rest of the group, finally realising how tired he actually was. “Sorry guy.” I muttered to him, pulling back. He neighed in thanks, and slowed his pace ever so slightly, pulling us back to the edges of the formation as we followed our king into the mountains, and with day-light fading as fast as we’d just recently galloped, I was sceptical we’d make the Fort by next morning, much less nightfall.

~

I was half right. But it wasn’t my fault that it took me thirty-odd minutes to catch up with the rest of the soldiers. The fort was just a huge cube of stone surrounded by a wall in the middle of nowhere. Some soldiers snickered as I was quickly dubbed ‘Amateur Angie.’ Gladys shook his mane as I slid off onto the stable floor and started undoing his saddle. A coffee-skinned hand caught mine. I looked up to a scowl. “Keep it on.”

I smiled sarcastically. “Nice to meet you too, Quill. How’s your sister these days?”

She rolled her eyes, shaking her neck-length toffee-coloured hair. “Just keep it on.

“Ask the horse.” I turned to Glayds. “What do you think?”

Gladys neighed in protest, strengthening my point. I smiled triumphantly at Quill. “See?”

She sneered. “Yes, you’ll see when your nickname changes from ‘Amateur Angie,’ to ‘Slowest Soldier.’ We ride in hours, and I don’t see you getting ready, eating and saddling your horse in ten minutes.” I

 bared my teeth at her back as she turned on her heels, though I felt like scoffing at the pathetic nicknames. A grey nose nuzzled me.

“Don’t listen to her.” I said with a tone of baby talk, pulling off the saddle, and dumping it on a table. I yawned, stretching out my arms sleepily. The long ride as the sun quickly—and alarming—dipped below the outskirts of the zigzag low-altitude mountains range and my unfortunate wrong turn that got me separated from the small army—causing me to be the ultimate laughing stock of everyone in the cohorts—had left it’s consequences. Gladys nudged me suggestively. I smiled, and let him to a post with a net full of hay, tying him up loosely; he immediately attacked the dried grass. I patted his shoulder and trudged off, up the staircase, down a corridor, up more staircases, until I pushed breathlessly through wood double-doors—which revealed an ostentatious room themed with gold and purple—collapsing onto a plush posted bed, draped with purple silk, and was that…lace? Suddenly, like a tsunami, my body suddenly realised the aching of sleep, and I was swiftly and forcefully thrown into the land of nod.

~

In my dream, I was wandering through an abandoned village—smoking houses, barely holding their own, verging on collapse from severe burning; the road itself was made of ash from the damage. My legs continued to move forward, horror consuming me—interest barely managing to make itself known.

I looked around: Evidence of battle was clear—broken spears, shields, tattered remains of flags flapping in the lazy breeze. Suddenly, a shadow loomed over. Looking up, a huge figure in the close distance was sitting on a solid gold throne, inlaid with gems the sizes of houses—the smallest one I could see was the size of a double bed. My eyes focused on the figure—with a gasp I recognised the face to be Brutus’—a gold and gem inlaid crown so huge it could wall in this village atop his raven-haired head. His hands rested on the armrests, palms up. In one hand, a small unit of soldiers knelt in respect, fully armed and armoured. In his other pale hand, a mob of peasants kowtowed. He smiled a huge cruel smile at them, and slowly started to close his fingers, threatening to crush them. I screamed in horror. He looked up, freezing, eyes narrowing.

“Please, stop!” I cried sharply, waving my arms in distress. He sneered at me, and jerked his fingers closed—screams of fear rung out.

“Yes, little ones. Beg for my mercy!” He boomed, laughing cruelly, fingers barely hovering over the peasants. A sharp pain shot through me—I dropped to my knees, hugging my stomach. Giant Brutus glanced back up again, and smiled. “Yes. Kneel, Angia, kneel. As it is your place.”

I looked up, gasping, an excruciating needle of pain shocking through me with each breath. “Help me. Brutus...” I rasped, coughing madly.

He growled like thunder, and the sharp crack of bones revolted me, as did the horror of noticing the eerie silence, free from the desperate screams. The shadow loomed higher—a massive red drop of human blood barely missed me. I angled my head higher: He was so tall that the tips of his crown touched the wispy cirrus clouds, stepping forward, the action causing a small earthquake. He bent down on his knees, looming over me, still carefully carrying the soldiers. My lips trembled, from outrage though the logical person would’ve basically radiated fear from my giant king.

I hardly managed to stand, shaking and fuming with uncontrollable disgust and anger. “You…crushed those people?” I spluttered in disbelief. “What in the name?”

Eyebrows the size of a waning moon rose, huge green eyes twinkling maliciously.

“You forget your place. Kneel, or I will force you to.” He threatened, sneering when I continued to stand. Instantly, I crumpled in pain like someone was drilling into my bones. The glare of an evil, yet satisfied smile seared my back, the pain slightly easing. I looked up, my devastated face, asking how could you?

He laughed like a madman, and grasped me. I struggled, but he only squeezed harder. In a breeze of wind, we were looming hundreds of meters over the small village. I’d never been scared of heights, put this was pushing it. “Let me go! Please! What have I done?” I screamed, eyes welling up, threatening to break my voice.

The grip tightened alarmingly in response. “Angia. Angia. ANGIA!” He boomed, shaking me.

~

My eyes fluttered, as Brutus shook my shoulders, annoyance tinting his tone as he repeated my name in an effort to stir me. I sprung up in a burning hatred at recognition of the voice, and in seconds, the king was pinned under my weight, my arm pressed against his throat. “You crushed them. Crushed them.” I snarled, remembering the vivid screams.

He frowned in confusion. “What are you on about? And please get off me and out of my quarters.”

I blinked several times and laughed, grinning, rising off my leader. “Ha! See, I can tackle you and be successful.”

He bared his teeth playfully, and shoved me towards the door. “Get out. Now. Or in a few minutes, you’ll be invading my privacy.”

My finger touched my lip thoughtfully. “Doing what?”

He rolled his eyes, lighting a candle. A delicate snarl warned me that sticking around would be bad news for my health. My knee momentarily touched the rich wooden floor, and I backed out into the candle-lit corridor.

~

A horrible ring of cymbals inside our room made us all blink open, but I shot up and unsheathed my sword, waving it and jumping over to the direction of a sound every time a noise was made. Everyone burst out laughing. I flustered crimson and bit my lip, sheathing my blade. This was by far worse than getting lost, and arriving half-an-hour late. At least there hadn’t been witnesses. Quill grinned as she—in a battle-dress that was striking against her warm skin—clashed the instrument pieces together, winding around the beds of thirty soldiers who had slept in their armour.  “What’s the time?” one groaned in a sleepy tone.

“Time for you to get up, or prepare for your arse to be flogged,” she snapped, purposely clanging the metal together close to his ears. He made a face but wisely did as he was told. I managed to sneak over to the window and take a peek through the long cloth. “Probably three in the morning,” I loudly spoke aloud, a murmur soon following my comment.

Something sharp dug into the small of my back. “Don’t be difficult, Angi-Pangi,” Commander Quill hissed into my ear. “We wouldn’t want anyone getting hurt.

As if she cares, I thought, as Quill emphasized her point by pressing the tip in even deeper, gritting my teeth to stop myself from turning and throwing myself at her.

“What’s with the name calling, feather?”  I snarled back, elbowing her in the ribs. I bit my tongue to avoid wincing as I hit metal. She sneered, and kicked into the back of my knees—it took all of my balance skills to not crumple to the ground in defeat.

“I think it’d be wonderful to go and have a nice little chat—,” she said it like it wasn’t going to be nice, “—with…mmm…?” She asked in a sneer, touching her lip before glaring at me in amusement. “What about my friend, Marius?” Quill knew she’d hit a nerve. I rebelled against the sheer dread and horror of memories.

Shut it,” I spat at her, stepping back away from the window.

She raised an eyebrow in triumph. “What’s wrong, Angia?” The commander asked sarcastically with dead sympathy, puckering her lips.

I bared my teeth, changing my direction towards the doors on my left, all eyes on my next reactions. I managed to collect myself for a blazing expression, “I said shut it!”

“What’s Miss Little Sooky Servant going to do?” She sniggered, impersonating my voice as a tiny squeak, sheathing her sword, and looking up to the ceiling theatrically. “Run off to the safety of her master?”

I bared my teeth. “I dare you to act that cocky in front of your master too.”

Quill spread her arms. “Huh. Funny. Looks like I’m a free soldier.”

I snarled back, getting excited as I thought of an amazing comeback. “Huh. That’s also funny, because it looks like I’m the one the king turned you down for.”

I raised my eyebrows at her sudden speechlessness, spun ninety-degrees and pushed open the huge oak doors, instantly placing on a grin as I walked proudly down the corridor.

Hubristic me, Hu-bris-tic me. I thought smugly, recalling Quill’s proud, smug expression being shattered by my comment. And that’s when I saw Hisca.

 


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