Haidley XCVIII – C

One hundred verses ago,
there was just emptiness
and a blooming dream.
Now there is something
but what it is
I can not tell.

 

XCVIII

The night was long

and chilly. But Tuniss

stayed firm in her

vigil. The group she

followed had returned briefly

to their compound before

separating and heading in

different directions after what

she deemed a meal

break. Her cape was

the sturdy kind favoured

by her unit. It

fit like a coat

and therefore was able

to fit underneath a

standard cloak cape, the

kind worn by many

that only seemed adequate

when it wasn’t raining

and wasn’t chilly, like

tonight. She brushed her

hand along the neck

of her horse, a

gelding she liked because

of its feisty nature.

He was devoted to

her, as she to

him — even he did

snap at her whenever

she made a silly

decision. But those moments

were rare. That they

had lasted so long

together was testament to

the care she devoted

to him, even though

he was a war

horse. And he, in

return, lavished considerable attention

to protecting his master

as best he could.

Somehow, though, they both

seemed to scrape through

with their bodies relatively

intact. He nuzzled her

face, breathing warmth on

her. She patted him

comfortingly. “Not long now,

Blade. I expect he’ll

be on his way

soon.” Blade softly flicked

his head up and

down, as if understanding

her words. He stamped

the ground though, as

if impatient. “I know

you want out of

this frosty weather. So

do I, old friend.

But we need to

find out what our

friend is up to.”

So they watched and

waited from the grove

of trees. The sun

had already disappeared when

the main gates opened

and a large group

of riders emerged. They

seemed to split up

into multiple smaller groups,

some headed her way.

One group, larger than

most, seemed to be

riding southwards but steering

clear of riding into

the city. A third

group, perhaps the smallest

of all (from her

guess), made for the

east. “Which one, Blade?”

The gelding hearing the

sound of hooves became

excited. Tuniss mounted him

and allowed him his

head. He seemed anxious

to follow the group

heading east.  “Okay then,

east it is.” She

held his reins tightly

as the group approaching

her passed by. She

could still see enough

to count at least

a dozen riders. They

looked to be in

a hurry. Once cleared

though she emerged from

her location and trotted

eastward. From a nearby

bush, a small figure

rose and trotted after

Tuniss for a distance

before turning back to

the compound. It searched

for a way in

and was soon over

the guarded wall. By

now it was night.

 

XCIX

Haidley sped through the

town. He knew where

he was heading and

didn’t slow down. Vivid

memories of his childhood

came back as he

easily navigated in the

dark, anticipating turns and

dangerous spots. His one

thought in his run

was that a Raven

was alone, something Senna

would never have tolerated.

“Two eyes, two hands,

two feet, one heart.

That is how our

way. Never forget that.”

Even though he had

been the exception because

of his innate sense

of rebellion, still he

was true to the

clan’s creed. He reached

the outskirts of the

compound and slowed to

a slow casual walk.

The place looked to

guarded; he could hear

the chatter in the

gatehouse, light and cheery.

He looked up and

down the high wall

before walking round it.

He saw the way

in almost immediately and

wondered if Tyla had

spotted it too. He

clambered over and dropped

down onto a stack

of crates. This was

too easy, he thought.

The compound was irregular

in shape. Almost a pentagon

except that two sides

were elongated. Along these

walls were stables and

barracks. Several large buildings

sat clustered in one

corner while a smaller

clump were at the

opposite corner. In-between

stood a storeyed building

that could only be

the main accommodation of

the master of the

place. “Bear castle,” he

said recalling a childhood

memory. Delog and Senna

were close friends. Some

say they were lovers

but Senna mentioned it

even though she always

had warm things to

say of Delog. Haidley

watched and waited. There

was little activity. The

gatehouse was off to

his right and some

distance away. There seemed

to be some sort

of activity. He listened

but then spotted a

darting figure among the

shadows near the stable.

It was too small

to be an adult.

He watched as the

figure flitted from one

spot to another, never

staying too long. Haidley

had to admire the

ease and pace. It

reminded him of himself.

He followed, keeping back.

The figure up front

had just reached the

wall of the main

house when a commotion

broke out near the

gatehouse. Haidley turned in

time to see fire

erupting from the gatehouse.

“Wha’?” He was momentarily

mesmerised as from the

main gates a large

group of men appeared.

They ran noiselessly towards

the barracks and into

the compound. They were

joined by another group

that had appeared from

another entrance. He tried

to count but there

were too many. They

all wore dark clothing

an

 

a few resisted. Then

the arrows flew and

the resistance quickly folded.

Haidley ran. He yelled

to the figure crouching

by the wall. “Hurry.

Get out of here.”

The figure was startled

at first but on

seeing who it was

ran to join him.

Tyla’s face was alive.

“What’s going on?” she

asked as she nested

herself beside him behind

a bale. “Looks like

someone has a grudge

against Delog. Can you

tell who they are?”

The fighting was now

spreading all over the

compound yard. Some had

even entered the buildings.

The speed of the

attack however had caught

the defenders completely by

surprise. Many were cut

down as they emerged

from their quarters. A

few lasted longer but

the attackers swarmed over

them. Fully ten were

already lying still on

the ground. Haidley and

Tyla watched the scene

from their posie. Then

someone spotted them. “Here,

there’s two more. Quick!”

Haidley and Tyla ran.

“Get over the wall.

Hurry,” Haidley said as

he flattened himself against

the wall and squatted.

Tyla instinctively knew what

to do, leaping into

his cupped hands. Haidley

felt her weight and

heaved. She flew onto

the wall, balancing herself.

She spun about and

leaned down to offer

a hand. But Haidley

was gone. She watched

stunned as the young

man ran at the

some attackers who were

approaching where they hid.

Haidley slid under the

first swipe and thrust

up with Blade. The

attacker yelped and then

fell back clutching his

groin. Haidley lashed out

with his feet at

the next one who

carried a polearm, blocking

the intended thrust meant

for his body. Haidley

seized the front end

of the shaft and

hoisted himself up and

whirled in mid-air. His

foot connected with this

attacker’s head. Then he

turned to face the

remaining two who by

now approached more cautiously.

They came at Haidley

from two sides, both

carrying spears. One was

aimed low; the other

high. Haidley rolled forwards

so that the spear

tips hit empty space.

“Get the little git!”

yelled one of the

attackers, clearly frustrated. He

suddenly roared a challenge

and ran at Haidley

flashing his spear rapidly

in short sweeping motions.

Haidley back away, concentrating

on the sudden attack.

Too late, he failed

to see the other

who had circled round

silently. Tyla screamed from

her vantage point. Haidley

spun about just as

the spear drove home.

He hung there for

a moment looking down

at the spear embedded

in his body. The

look of surprise and disbelief

was etched on his

sweating face. Then he

collapsed on the spear.

The attacker yanked his

spear roughly as a

pair of defenders launched

themselves at him. Tyla

lay on the wall

stunned by what she’d

just seen. She forgot

about the battle then.

After a while, she

slid off the wall

and ran.

 

C

Klax and the others

stared at his body

for a while. It

had been laid alongside

the others from the

raid. The area had

been cordoned off after

much confusion and dispute.

As neither Haltog nor

Delog were available, it

fell to the most

senior retainer to deal

with the authorities who

were interrogating the poor

fellow. He, like everyone

else, were fast asleep

when the attack happened.

He had no idea

who would do such

a thing. He was

almost in tears. Then

Tuniss appeared with Lyll.

Both their guards were

also present. And she

immediately declared this under

her jurisdiction. The local

sheriff made to protest

but then Tuniss reminded

him gently who she

was, displaying her medallion.

That effectively shut off

any further protests. But

the local authority petulantly

relinquished their control. When

Klax showed up, alone,

Tuniss allowed him through.

The rest of the

clan slowly emerged from

the still-gathered crowd.

Jilk made to stop

them but Tuniss waved

him away. “They’ve come

for their friend, Jilk.”

His body was quickly

found and Hason began

to clean him as

best he could. Haidley.

Young Haidley. “Unwanted,” Klax

whispered. Tyla, standing next

to him, heard it.

“He wasn’t unwanted, Klax.

He was just unlucky.”

Klax’s eyes blazed for

an instant but then

calm returned when he

saw who said it.

“You’re right, Tyla,” he

said. “I just wish…”

He left it unsaid

for a moment before

saying, “he had the

chance to pay that

fat scumbag his due.

But never mind, I

will finish it, brother.

I swear it on

our Mother’s name.” He

gently placed a hand

on the chest of

his dead friend. Tyla

joined him. “I too,

even though I never

knew him that well,

I could see he

was a true Raven.”

Slowly the others came

over and each placed

their hands on the

growing pile. Each swore

the same oath, even

the twins. Klax then

turned away abruptly fearing

he would cry once

more. Above him, on

the branch of a

nearby tree sat a

raven, a large bird.

It cawed his way.

And for some strange

reason, Klax smiled, Then

the raven took flight,

heading north. Klax

watched it momentarily and

then turned back to

the group. Hason was

making final preparations with

the body. “We’ll bury

him under that tree.

Then we find that

pig and kill him.”

The others seemed to

roar with approval. Tuniss

watched the group and

smiled. “You better run

far fat boy. I

wouldn’t want to be

on the end of

this lot,” she said.

Jilk laughed. But Tuniss

rebuked him with a

stare. He turned away,

yelling at the rest

of the squad to

“get a move on,

we’ve got a ways

to go before sundown.”

 

© 2017 L. Tafa


Well, this interesting exercise is done. One hundred “verses”. A short story. Using a poetic form or structure. Made a start. Arduous at time but worth it in the end. Story not finished though.

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Author: b20f08

I enjoy solo wargaming and writing. The first caters to the boy that never grew up; the latter satisfies a deep desire to communicate. Cheers.

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