Of Kjallak and Sarod

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The tale of Kjallak and Sarod is a sad one. Kjallak, a brave slayer of monsters and beasts has been paid to kill an unnamed beast but he is not alone. Sarod, a simple farmer from a local village that has been terrorised by the beast has gone to help in a desperate attempt to prove he is a man. These men, who had previously never met, must climb the northern mountains together to kill the beast, but what will happen on their journey?

Submitted: July 17, 2014

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Submitted: July 17, 2014

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It took all day to climb the mountain. By the end Sarod could go no further, he was spent. If the stone of the earth could beat him with such ease how would he cope against the beast he moved closer to with every step. It was then he found himself to be very lucky indeed. His luck came from the simple fact that he was not alone in his endeavour, he was accompanied by the greatest knight the north had ever seen! His travelling companion, Kjallak Snow-child, had already begun gathering rocks to make a fire pit.

He was like the most of his northern kin. His hair appeared as strings of gold flowing from his head, and, from beneath his lower jaw came two more thick strands of gold made by twisting his beard and clasping it together with small metal clamps. He was tall, his shoulders were broad and his arms appeared as if they could move an ox! Yet, despite his hardened outer appearance, he was a kind man and one Sarod would gladly call friend. Sarod, on the other hand, was not as much alike most of the northern folk. He was thinner and depended on more furs to keep warm than one would care to admit. His hair was coloured not of gold, but of copper. He did not stand quite as tall as his companion, but was still noticeably taller than the men from the south (though he did not know this given to the fact that he had not met anyone from outside his own country).

 

The night drew in quick as it does every winter, the only light they had came from the fire that sat before them. It was only another half hour before the food they had packed was cooked enough to eat. As the ate their stew of vegetables and venison Sarod spoke, “What is it we are going towards?”

Kjallak raised his head at the thin man covered in countless furs, “I don't know for certain. Whatever it may be, I know it will be dangerous. The tales I have heard make it out to me some form of winged demon leaving only fire and death in its wake.”

This description of the beast made Sarod unnerved. Kjallak could see this because he shivered, but not from cold, he couldn't in all that fur.

“But you have little to fear.” he said trying to comfort the small man who sat opposite him.

“No no, nothing but death and fire asleep above me!” Sarod replied

“No matter what sleeps in the mountains above us we can face it and win. You need only do as I say.”

“And what gives you that authority!” Sarod demanded

Kjallak gave him an empty stare and reminded him “This is my life.”

“Then lead away, you have more knowledge of this than I, but then even a boy who is pretending to slay a monster does.”

The two men laughed together for the first time since leaving the village below. A moments silence passed between them.

“It was almost a year ago.” Kjallak finally said, “I was south in the great desert, one of their priests hired me to kill a Minotaur that had made a lair there. I thought it was some easy money, but I did not realise what I was to truly face until arrived.”

“What did you find?” Sarod asked impatiently

“A Minotaur, as promised, but I was taken aback by it's size. It was at least ten feet tall!”

“By the gods!”

“And in its hands it bore a great axe that could fell the mightiest of trees in only a single swipe!”

“What did you do!?”

“Between you and me,” he replied leaning in over the fire “I quite rightly shat myself!”

“You! The greatest warrior of our time!” Sarod laughed

“Yes, I'm not proud but it was terrifying! But thankfully it hadn’t seen me by then. I was able to get close to it, draw my sword. Just as I was about to impale the beast an claim my reward, it turned around. I was so scared at that point I couldn't move!”

“How did you survive?”

“It made an error. It had the chance to swing its axe and be done with me, but instead it growled a most tremendous roar that must have shaken the sands above us. That shook me out of my panic stricken daze and I was able to fight back. Its hefty size made it cumbersome and I was able to make many strikes and almost avoid all of his. After about an hour or two of this my foe lay dead at my feet. So I removed its head and dragged it through the sands to claim my reward.

“I've killed my fair share of terrible monsters as well!” proclaimed Sarod

“Oh, such as?”

“Not last week I was faced against a monster of innumerable eyes and legs that...”

“Was it a spider?” interrupted Kjallak

“Yes,” he said disappointedly, “But a big one!”

“How big?”

“About the size of a chopped carrot!”

A moment passed in which both men tried to take this seriously, but this was fruitless and both men burst into hysterics.

This carried on late into the night. After the fire had died, and only cracking embers remained, their merriment illuminated only by great streaks of light dancing in the sky like birds engaged in an Ariel display of magnificence. At first the lights were green but slowly, late into the night, they changed to pink with violet and white on their borders. They shimmered and rushed across the sky, their business was of too great an importance to be concerned with those who slept below. The sky was filled with their silent song, played only for the gods' ears. This display of colour and beauty lasted longer that the travellers who had both fallen into a restful sleep which to them would be the calm before the storm.


 

When they awoke it was still dark, night in the north lasts long into the morning. Regardless, the two men, who now looked upon each other as friend, ate. They had some cold bread with a simple pottage. After they had eaten they gathered their belongings into their respective packs. Sarod's pack was made from a cow's hide that had been reshaped and cut to sit almost comfortably on his back. If he had more money perhaps he would have bought a more comfortable pack. Kjallak, however, brought with him a pack made of soft leather to fit around the large steel sword tied to his back. Covered in cloaks and hoods of warm fur, the two friends moved off and had now came onto the main road through the mountains.

“It's much easier to take the road.” Sarod called forward, “Why didn't we do this yesterday?”
“Because, the road circles round to where the mountain is less steep. That is a three day hike west! With horses and carts it is a necessary journey, but not for us.”

Sarod grumbled to himself

“And think!” continued Kjallak, “The quicker the beast is dead, the quicker you can return to your work and trade from north can resume.”

Their progress that day was hindered due to a blizzard that neither men foresaw. They were forced to take shelter in a near-by cave. The cold made it difficult to light a fire so they dined on bread alone.

“What beast of fire would want to live in such cold?” queried Sarod.

“One with many layers of fat and little brains.”

The night drew in again only around six hours since it last finished. All warmth had left their bones and they were forced to huddle together to try and keep as much warmth as they could. It was that night that Kjallak's hand found itself moving towards that of Sarod. He had not yet fallen asleep but ignored this move and pretended he was.

By the end of the next day they found themselves where they had hopped to be the night before. After setting up their camp for the night they sat down and ate bread and stew.

“I still haven't recovered from last nights storm.” announced Kjallak, “I had forgotten how much the cold can get to you up here.”

“How much happier would you be with a belly full of mead?”

“Why do you ask?”

Sarod opened his pack and removed two bottles of mead brought by the last traders before the beast arrived.

“I was hopping to save it until after we had killed the beast, but as we are so cold, perhaps we can start it a little early.”

Kjallak moved over to his friend and hugged him in thanks. After they had finished their drinks they sat together, silently happy in each others company. Kjallak's hand was again moving towards his friend's.

“What are you doing?” asked Sarod

“Are we not friends?”

“We are, but why to you wish to take my hand?”

“I have never known what love is, at least not until we first climbed the mountains.” admitted Kjallak

“Are you saying that...” Sarod struggled to bring himself to say it, “That you love me?”

no words passed them for a moment. Instead they looked into each others eyes. Kjallak held his gaze strong whilst Sarod was torn. He felt he should look away, but he did not, he did not want to keep the gaze of his friend.

“It cannot be!” he finally exclaimed moving his gaze.

“Why?”

“I have a wife, who carries my child.”

“They need not know, the mountains cannot speak.”

“Even so, it's not right. No man should love another as he may love his wife.”

“But why shouldn't he?”

“It's not natural!”

“And is keeping a cow in a pen to eat it natural?”

Sarod could not respond. Kjallak took his hand and lifted his head.

“I have never known love before.” he told Sarod, “Please allow me to know it for one night, then no one need know what took place here.”

“One night, that is all I promise.”

“That is all I ask.”

That night was the most glorious Kjallak had ever experienced. He had finally understood love, the joy it is to hold someone dear to you. That is how they woke on the morn of their battle. Unclothed, save for many blankets, and in each others arms. Neither of them had been more happy in all of their days. But it was over. It was only a memory for them to share. After their fast had been broken they donned their armour and prepared to set off. Kjallak wore full plates of steel atop a warm layer of fur. Sarod wore leather atop his fur with some iron placed strategically along the body. He wielded a single one handed blade of iron in his right hand, and in his left was a shield made of wood.

When they reached the summit the found a gap between two peaks and melted snow around an cave opening.

“This must be it.” Kjallak told his friend drawing his blade from his back.

The men moved slowly to the cave opening. As they prepared to move in flames burst forth from the opening. The men retracted away. Sarod's shield was caught in the flames and was engulfed within seconds. He cast it to the ground leaving him with only a sword.

“Are you ok!?” cried Kjallak

“Alive, yes. What is it?”

Kjallak looked into the cave as the beast moved forward. It was reptilian in nature, as big as a small house, two wings and two legs.

“It's a wyvern!” He cried, “We can kill it! Attack it's wings keep it grounded!”

The wyvern, now fully exposed from it's cave, stood on it's hind legs and spread it's wings out wide shaking them trying to scare the attackers. As it came back to the ground Sarod charged it. The beast saw him and threw him against a rock with it's wing. Angered Kjallak charged the beast bringing his sword down on it's head. The beast flinched protected by it's scales. Another swipe cut it's neck. As the beast reared a thrust of Kjallak's sword entered it's gut. The beast fell on to the stone, all life taken from it. Kjallak then rushed to help his friend.

Sarod had be thrown against a large rock. The leather of his armour was not strong enough to protect him. Kjallak reached him and took his hand.

“Kjallak?” the man who lay bleeding in the snow said.

“It's me I am here.”

Sarod opened his eyes and smiled to see his friend kneeling beside him.

“I'm scared Kjallak.”

“So am I.” he replied, a tear rolling down his cheek

“I doubt I can make it down the mountain without dying...”

“Don't say that!”

“I must tell you the most important truth I can. I love you Kjallak, with all my heart. But, you must know, I love my wife the same, you could never have been the the only one in my life.”
“I knew you would always love her, but I am glad you could love me, even if only for one night. Thank you, my friend, my love.”

Sarod began to feel peace overcome him.

“It was not only that night.” Sarod confessed, “It was all of today, and will be until my last breath.”

No more words passed between them. Kjallak stayed with Sarod until the end. Alone they sat in the cold and snow until it was that Sarod no longer inhabited this world. Surrounded by the blood of the wyvern and Sarod, Kjallak wept for the loss of his friend, his comrade, his lover.

Here ends the tale of Kjallak and Sarod


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