25 Days of Writing – Day 12

Day 12: What does your character do when their day isn’t a normal day? Write a scene where something goes amiss in your character’s day to day life.

Trey shook the leaves off of the blanket that he had used for a bed the previous night. As he haphazardly folded and rolled it, he brushed off the remaining sticks and debris that clung to the blanket. A beetle held on.

“Ho there!” Trey muttered at the beetle. “Fly away thou, or meet my wrath!”

The beetle waved its antennae at Trey, but otherwise did not move.

“Thus, you make your choice!” growled Trey, and he flicked the beetle away. “Doubt not my strength, beetle, for I could crush you if I cared to!”

Trey chuckled to himself as he stuffed the blanket into his horse’s saddlebag.

“Aye, Garnog,” said Trey, addressing his horse, “Today we’ll find those Falgarth traitors and thus begins justice for Herongarde.” The horse tossed his head in agreement.

Trey mounted and Garnog sprang into a lively trot. “Restraint, Garnog,” Trey spoke low, slowing the steed to an energetic walk.

Trey had been on patrol for two days now. Today, he would return to Herongarde and make his report. There were indications that outriders of Falgarth had been through this area, but no direct unequivocal sightings – merely strangers with unusual accents and the odd firepit in the woods.

Most of the commoners preferred not to speak to Trey or answer his questions. Few details were offered, only vague references about missing livestock from a neighbor’s field. Trey sighed. Would that I could get a straight answer from anyone! He thought.

As they returned to the open road, Trey spurred Garnog to a ground-covering trot. They moved swiftly past fields and pastures, and the occasional hovel, with Trey endlessly surveying the scene for any sign of something amiss.

A woman was peering out a window of a small cottage near the road. Trey saw her face disappear as he approached. Hiding, he thought, and assumed he would not see her again. Suddenly the woman burst from her home.

“Ho. Ho! My Lord! Stop! Please!” she shouted as she stumbled toward the road. “Please, help us!”

Trey saw as they approached each other that this was an older woman, her body worn by the years. She had clearly been weeping. She looked both distraught and terrified. Trey sighed, and turned his horse toward her. He was not interested in the problems of women, but perhaps something useful could come of this.

“Why do you summon me, woman?” demanded Trey.

The woman ran up to him. “Oh, please help!” she begged. She noted the insignia of Herongarde on his tabard and horse, and awkwardly tried to kneel. She fell instead. From her knees she grabbed his foot.

“Please, Lord of Herongarde. Please! Men came through this night and have stolen my daughter!” She gasped and sobbed. “My husband follows them, but we have no horse! I’m so frightened for my baby!”

Trey kicked his foot free of her hands. “Men? How many? From whence?” he demanded.

She grasped for his foot again, and Trey’s horse sidestepped away from her.

“Please!” she sobbed.

“Answer me, woman!”

She took a breath. “Not many. More than one. Less than ten, I think” She pointed toward her home. “There are tracks…”

Trey guided Garnog to the cottage and dismounted. He saw the tracks, leading into the forest. Clearly men had used the forest for cover, ridden in, stolen the child, then ridden out again. From the disruption of the ground, he guessed no more than three riders.

There were human footprints. Some were barefooted and small, perhaps of the woman herself. Others were larger, from a man who wore leather wrapped about his feet. Trey presumed these were of the missing husband.

Then he saw the prints of booted feet. Ah, the riders, he thought. These were serious horsemen and probably warriors. No common person would wear such a shoe. At least two of the riders had dismounted, and there were signs that these two had struggled with this woman’s daughter.

The woman ran up shouting. “We thought they were riders of Herongarde! But no men of Herongarde would do such a thing, aye? Where have they taken her?”

Trey held up a hand demanding silence, while still inspecting the tracks.

“Were they of Herongarde?” she asked.

“Silence, woman!” he shouted. “How old is this daughter?”

“She is 15,” replied the woman. “They won’t hurt her, will they?”

Trey looked at the woman. “There are no riders from Herongarde in this area save me. The men who have done this are not of Herongarde, but are likely highly trained. This bodes not well.” He sighed and looked to the woods following the tracks made by the riders’ horses. Swiftly, Trey mounted his horse.

“Remain in your home and keep your door battened. I will find the truth of this.” He rode off, leaving the woman standing alone and weeping.

Trey spurred Garnog to a gallop, following the riders’ tracks into the forest.

Garnog trotted as Trey guided him through the forest. The hoof prints of the riders were relatively easy to follow, so Trey could make good time. After about an hour of riding, he came upon a man kneeling and weeping at the base of a tree. Clearly, this was the husband of the woman he’d spoken to, and the father of the stolen girl.

“Ho there,” Trey said.

The man rose quickly and brandished a rusted blade.

“Ho, friend,” smiled Trey. “I ride after men who have stolen a child. Are you her father?”

The man lowered his blade and dropped to his knees. “Oh, thank God!” he wept. “Oh please, help her!”

“This I aim to do, good man. Tell me, know you how many riders there are?”

The man looked up and wiped tears from his eyes. “I believe there are two, my Lord.”

“Only two?”

“Well, two came to our home,” responded the man. “I see another set of tracks here that join this set. Perhaps there are more. I know not. It was dark!”

Trey looked at the ground. There was evidence that horses and riders had waited here a while, perhaps to meet up with others. All the horses seemed to then go in the same direction deeper into the woods.

“Good man, I will try to find your child. The men who have done this are not of Herongarde and have no business being here. Return to your home and remain safely hidden there.” Trey kicked his horse and raced off deeper into the forest, leaving the man to his thoughts.

Trey rode on through the forest following the tracks made by the riders who presumably had 15-year-old girl who had been stolen from her home in the night. The tracks were obvious and easy to follow. The riders clearly weren’t concerned that they were being followed. He rode on for more than an hour until the sun shone through the trees from directly overhead.

Suddenly the shriek of a woman broke the silence of the woods.  Trey wheeled the horse and raced in the direction of the cry. Screaming continued, and Trey guided Garnog toward the noise. He heard male voices now – taunts and laughter that grew louder at each scream of the woman.

No, women. There was more than one woman. Trey could tell the voices were coming from just over the next rise. He spurred the horse over the forested hill and came upon an unexpected scene.

Four men, swords drawn, were taunting three women. Two of the women were little more than girls and were responsible for most of the screams Trey had heard. These girls hid behind the third woman, who was older and was brandishing a tree limb like a club. The older woman was curiously dressed and was shouting in anger at the men, but Trey could not quite understand what she was saying. Of the four men, only one was directly fighting the women. The others just stood by and goaded on the first. “Smash her!” “We’ll take her last!” “Show her your manhood!” “Don’t let a woman beat you!” The man slashed at the older woman with his sword. She blocked his blows with the tree limb. Clearly the man was stronger than the woman, but she was determined to ward him off.

Trey galloped toward the scene.

“Ho! What means this!” he shouted. The men looked up in surprise. “Who are you?” demanded Trey.

The men began to move in Trey’s direction, swords drawn ready for a fight. The woman took advantage of their distraction and clubbed the man who stood most close to her, knocking him to the ground and taking his sword. “Run!” she screamed at the other girls. All three of the women turned and ran into the forest.

The other men ran at Trey, who drew his long sword to defend against the three swordsmen. Trey urged Garnog to rear and strike at the attackers. One of the men fell at a blow from the horse’s hooves.

Trey could handle two attackers. He’d been trained to successfully defend against this many, plus he had the advantage of height as he sat astride Garnog. These men were fast though, and lead Trey and Garnog in tight circles, keeping to the left side of the horse making it more difficult for Trey to successfully strike any blows. Trey observed in his peripheral vision that the man felled by Garnog regained consciousness and was dragging himself out of the way of the horse’s hooves. Trey continued his defense against the two swordsmen. He scored a blow on the arm of one of them, who stumbled backward. The other grinned at Trey.

It suddenly occurred to Trey that the man knocked down by the woman was no longer lying where he fell. Trey swung at the grinning swordsman and twisted to look for the missing adversary. Instantly there was fiery stinging pain in his thigh. The missing man was on the side of the horse opposite the men Trey had been fighting and had just driven his dagger deep into Trey’s right leg. Trey screamed in pain and swung his sword to ward off this new attacker. The attacker leapt back, out of Trey’s reach, pulling the dagger back out of Trey’s leg. Trey screamed again, and nearly dropped his sword for the shock of the pain.

Shaking his head to clear his senses, Trey turned his attention back to the attackers on the left. Both were coming at him with swords at the ready. Trey tried to beat them back with a swing, then turned back to his right. The attacker with the dagger was running at him. Trey swung and connected a glancing blow to the man’s arm. Heavy hands grabbed his left arm. He tried to swing again at the attackers on his left, but missed as they pulled him from the horse.

A barrage of blows rained over him as he fell to the ground. His sword was ripped from his hand. He tried to kick away, but pain shot through his stabbed leg, leaving him weak. He covered his head with his arms and tried to roll out of the grasp of the men, but he could not escape. A sharp kick to the belly knocked the wind from him. He tried to gasp, but could not draw a breath.

“Kill the bastard,” he heard, as he continued to struggle.

He was forced onto his belly and his arms wrenched behind his back.

“Bind him.”

“Naw, kill him!”

Trey recognized the dialect of Falgarth. His suspicions had been true. Men of Falgarth were in the lands of Herongarde. But why? To steal the women?

A kick to the ribs. Then his right arm was twisted violently.

“The Mark of Herongarde. He’s worth a bunch. We buy something with him…”

“Posh!”

Searing pain across his forearm. “Cut that shit off of ‘im!”

More pain on his arm, and a squeaky groan escaped his lips. These men meant to cut his Mark from his arm.

“Nay! Leave it! How we prove it come from ‘im if it not on ‘im, aye?”

“Aye, damn!”

A kick to his head sent Trey’s senses spinning. All was blackness and the only sound he heard was the sound of his own heartbeat.

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