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Written by Lord Cedric   
Wednesday, 16 November 2011

This is a short story about a Bretonnian squire named Calyxtos. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

 

 - Lord Cedric

Fever of Dreams

by Lord Cedric

An arrow breezed by Calyxtos' head. Its feathers tickled his cheek before it pierced the wooden gate behind him. Ducking back behind the feed trough, Cal braced for the inevitable. He had warned them! Why wouldn't they listen? It doesn't matter anymore. They're dead. All of them. And he would be next.

Closing his eyes, Calsank down weeping. The summer breeze drifted through his tattered blue jerkin. In the distance he could hear the war horns bellowing. It would soon be over. There was no more screaming to be heard. No more cries for mercy. The madness was coming to a standstill. He felt himself give way to the darkness. It was surrounding him, hungering for his soul. On bended knee, he clasped his hands and began a prayer to the Lady. The words; what were the words? Then he heard footsteps. The sabatons clattering with each step making a slurping noise through the mudded sty, coming closer. "With my blood and honor..." No, that wasn't it! Think Cal, Think! Something had taken hold of him. He could feel it eating away at his thoughts, his feelings, and his faith. It was doubt. I am alone and afraid. I am done.

Then silence. Wiping the tears from his cheek, he could see the shadow looming over him. Bitter coldness emitted from it. Calcould almost see his own breath. His last breath. Pulse racing and shivers running through his body, Calcould hear other footsteps gathering behind him but he didn't care. The face. I must see the face! Strong slender hands grabbed his own, forcing his arms behind his back, binding them to restraint. Focusing through the sunlight, he could almost see him. His executioner. The armor was immaculate, black in color and trimmed in silver and gold. Fluting appeared everywhere from pauldrons to greaves. The decorated gauntlet firmly gripped the haft with its barbed spear tip dripping with blood and aimed at Cal's chest. The face. I can almost see....

"Cal?" You alright? "Wake up, Cal.I've been trying to wake you for the past 5 minutes!", Halfdan muttered. Opening his eyes, Calyxtos Dakynthos sat straight up in bed. Sweat beads ran down his face. His hands were shaking and his stomach felt tied in-knots. Looking around his tent, everything appeared to be in place. Not that he had many possessions but they were his and he liked them. Reaching over to an upside-down dusty crate next to his bedroll, Cal grabbed a little wooden figurine. Worn and smooth with a thin rope drilled through its top, the toy knight had been with him since he could remember. A gift from his father, it was the only thing Cal had from him. "I want you to have this, son. An heirloom from our family, now long past",Calremembered. "When you look at it, I want you to think of your roots. You're a Dakynthos. A Marshal's son. Remember it and remember your kin." That was the last time he saw his father before Cal left for Brionne.

"It's that dream again, isn't it?", said Halfdan. "One morning you'll have it again and Halfdan won 't be there to wake you, no I won't. It will be the death of you and they'll make poor Halfdan dig the hole". Not a very comely boy to look at, Halfdan was a base-born bastard. The seed from Thomas the baker and some whore from town, he had few teeth and even less patience. But he was a decent boy and even a better friend. "Ser Grimoald doesn't like his squires late", said Halfdan. "Break your fast and then let's get the chores done."

"Just because you're a year older doesn't..." started Cal, collecting his thoughts...

"... mean you can lie in bed all morrow and dawdle over a damned dream", finished Halfdan. "If I had my way, I'd send you over to Ludwin's tent and have your bad blood leached out, I would!"

Calsmiled. He knew Halfdan was right. He shouldn't keep their Knight waiting. Looking outside his tent through the door-flap, he could see the fog was thick as dawn started creeping through it. He could hear the crash of the waves against the crags below and smell the salted air from the sea. Others will be awake soon, he thought. Kissing his necklace he slipped it over his head and gave it a good pat. He then rolled out of bed, dressed himself in black breeches and a blue jerkin, and followed his squire brother out to the kitchens.

***

"Damn this fog!" stammered Ser Grimoald. "One unit still out on patrol while the rest of the battalion wakes rousing and I can't even see the end of my beard! Lady help us if we were to be attacked this morrow." I am getting too old for this, he thought. A man of 7 and 40, Ser Grimoald was tired from wars, cold mornings, and most especially this fog. Duke Theodoric charged him with patrolling Brionne's southwest coastline of the Middle Seaafter hearing reports of dark sailing vessels being spotted traveling east from Bilbali and the IrranaMountains. Raiders from Albion, he thought, sailing the gulf's shore to pillage and plunder, and gather more slaves for their meat market no doubt. "Well, those savage bastards can eat their own dung and drink their own piss as they won't get anything from Ser Grimoald nor Brionne!" he whispered to himself. Peering over the cliff, Grimoald could hear the waves crashing against the crags through the fog. The chilly morning winds sweeping off the sea drove through metal and cloth to his aching bones. The salty moist air rusting his decorated armor.It's only surface rust, Grim. My squires will have it shined and oiled by nightfall, he decided though wondering if their chores are even done yet. His thoughts were interrupted by armored footsteps approaching him. "Cursed Mousillon! I hate waiting. And I hate this damned cold sea even worse!" he said without turning. "Any word, Ser Reginald?"

"The first patrol made it back safely 10 minutes ago, Milord Commander. Ser Tarly reports no suspicious movements from the north. No word yet from Ser Morgan's patrol". Reginald felt uneasy. A tall stout fellow with a crooked nose, fair freckled skin and a knack for sensing trouble. The sea breeze blowing east across the cliffs continued messing up his long blonde locks. Reginald was only a squire standing vigil when Grimoald first took field command of Baron Leuthere's eastern battalion. His father once quested for the Grail and the favor from the Lady 1 and 30 years ago but perished along with six other knights somewhere around the great forestof Loren near the Grey Mountains. Grimoald's father was one of those six as well.

Grimoald looked into Reginald's brown eyes while he gave the report. He knew there were uncertainties and came to rely on Reginald's gut intuition in the past. Today was no different. "What vexes you, Reg?"

"Ser? I...don't know.." Reginald responded hesitantly. His voice almost cracking.

"Don't play with pretenses. You're bad at 'em.", replied Grimoald. "We've known each other for 6 and 30 years. And speak up! This old goat's ears aren't what they use to be you know. If it's about Ser Morgan, Hells! He was late for his own birth!"

"Better late than not have been born at all, eh?" Ser Morgan answered approaching on his skewbald mount. His crooked smile resembled more a smirk than greetings.

"Where in the hells have you been?" said Grimoald angrily. "I assume the south ridge is still secure."

" Oh." Ser Morgan paused. "It is secure... indeed."

The pause was enough to give Grimoald notice. Squinting his eyes he could see dark figures from the south riding towards camp. Coldness began sweeping inside of him. His body felt stiff. His mind yelling at his muscles to react. Grimoald you dolt! You've been crossed! But all he could do was watch in fear. Then it came. A paralyzing rip in his side. Clutching his body, Grimoald felt the life draining from his self. His hands wet with blood, he wearily lifted his head; his eyes meeting Ser Morgans who only responded with a smile and heard him mutter strange words. A bright aura surrounded Ser Morgan turning white to blue. A misty smoke swirled around him like a frothy brew. The shape of Ser Morgan twisted and turned into a tall, thin, and dark silhouette. Lady have mercy! thought Grimoald. Standing next to the dark figure was Ser Reginald. A smile broke out. And at the end of his arms was a knife, dripping with blood. Falling to his knees, the earth started spinning rapidly. He could no longer feel his arms or legs. Feeling weak, he closed his eyes. Then off to the south, like some distant dream, he heard the sound of war horns.

***

"What's that sound, Cal?" yelled Halfdan. "What's going on?" Dropping the horse brush, he ran around the make-shift camp stables where Calwas standing. "Them horns didn't sound Bretonni."

"No. They weren't," replied Cal."But I've heard them before, in my dream."

"Not that blasted dream again, Cal!, stammered Halfdan. "We need to..." Calfeverously grabbed hold of Halfdans arms. His face was solemn with grit and relevance.

"Listen to me!" Calsaid shaking Halfdan forcibly. "We need to inform Duke Theodoric that we are under attack. He must be told. The Druchii have landed on our shores."

"Don't ya think that Ser Grimoald is needing help? He needs us, Cal! cried Halfdan. "We can't just leave him be. 'Sides, I ain't one to go all Mousillon and leave when there's fightin' to be had! And I'm no good on horseback!"

"Fine!" yelled Cal."But just before your corpse winds up on the Druchii pyre or enslaved in their mobile prisons, I want you to think of where they are headed next. Do you think they will stop here?"

Halfdan could only stare back. Cal's words shot through his soul like a phantom searching for a vessel. Taking a deep breath, Halfdan nodded. "You're right, Cal. I need to leave and inform the Duke."

"You're a good squire brother, Halfdan. And a good friend. May the Lady guide and protect you," said Cal. With a quick hug and a solemn nod, Halfdan jumped on the chestnut horse, kicked it's side and rode east.

Ducking behind the feed trough, Calfelt an arrow wisp past him, hitting the stable gate behind him. Shifting back down, all he could think about was Halfdan; hoping that he made it to the Duke.The Druchii may take me now, but they will not have Brionne, he thought.Is this my end? Is this the path that the Lady wills for me?

Reaching through his tattered blue jerkin, he held his necklace. He felt himself give way to the light. It was surrounding him, eagerly protecting his soul. On bended knee, he clasped his hands and began a prayer to the Lady. The words came naturally, as if it wasn't even him speaking. A soft, brilliant light emitted from the necklace filling himself with perseverance and faith. Then he heard footsteps. The sabatons clattering with each step making a slurping noise through the mudded sty, coming closer. Something had taken hold of him. He could feel it eating away at his thoughts, his feelings, and his faith. Yet Calclung on. Tightly gripping his necklace and with an insurgence of faith, he shot straight up and looked directly in his eyes.

"Cal?" You alright? "Wake up, Cal. I've been trying to wake you for the past 10 minutes!", Halfdan muttered. Opening his eyes, Cal was already sitting straight up in bed. Sweat beads ran down his face.

"It's that dream again, isn't it?", said Halfdan. "One morning you'll have it again and Halfdan won 't be there to wake you, no I won't. It will be the death of you and they'll make poor Halfdan dig the hole".

Calcould only smile. The dreams were starting to change and this brought a hint of comfort to himself. Looking around his tent, everything appeared to be in place. Halfdan, looking on, developed a puzzled look. "Ya know, as often as those damned dreams come you'd think I'd be use to them b' now, " said Halfdan.

Calreached over to his upside down dusty crate and grabbed his necklace. "Come on, brother. Let's break our fast and get the chores done," Cal said. "Besides, we don't wish to keep our Knight waiting." He then stopped, looked at Halfdan with a smile and said "Just do me one favor."

"What's that?" he replied.

"Learn to ride a horse." And with that the two went off to the kitchens.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 January 2012 )
 
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