Friday, June 12

In the Rain… Original Fiction by Xan

Through the rain a sodden knight trudges down the muddy road. Each step made more difficult with the added weight of mud sticking to his no longer polished plate boots. He holds his traveling hood up just enough to allow for him to see, the rest of the hooded cloak clings to his plate armor. The wanderer shivers in the wind as he drips in the torrent but he presses forward unwilling to stop as evil doesn’t stop for a little rain.

Upon the horizon, a crack of lightning bolts through the darkness. The knight spots a couple of wagons slowly pushing along, the large draft horses pulling the heavily weighed down wagons through the rutted and muddy road. It seems to be sliding slowly towards him. Not moving to the side, he continues to press forward on the road his eyes fixed on the slowly moving wagons. Upon further examination with illumination from another crack of lightning, he notices the wagons are not filled with the normal goods covered in sackcloth to be sold at market, but are filled with wet, shivering, and sick people.

The paladin scowls and mutters to himself, “No one should be treated that way. Those people are suffering; they are sick and possibly dying… for what? Slavery?” He removes his hood from his head. His eyes reflect the same fury as another lightning bolt crashes in the distance. “Slavery is evil and evil must be destroyed.” He draws his sword from the scabbard and slings his shield from off his shoulder. The rain soaked knight takes a defensive stance and yells to the slave train. “Where are you taking these poor people?”

“None of your concern pilgrim.” The wagon driver yells from the seat on top the wagon. “The road is wet and I am cold. Out of our way!”

The knight tightens his grip on his sword; the leather from his gauntlet creaked and ached beneath his grip on the hilt. “I will not step aside! I demand you release these people from your captivity and swear an oath to turn away from your evil ways.”
Laughter erupts from guards who slowly begin to appear at the wagons flanks. Riding horses and guards wearing light leather armor and hooded cloaks appear around the wagon, three to each side. They hop from their steeds and begin to draw their weapons. The knight begins to assess his situation and swallows as he realizes he is outnumbered six to one.

“I don’t know if I like these odds,” he whispers under his breath. He continues with his air of confidence hoping that his demeanor will shake the opposition. “There is no justification for such an evil act. By Saint Cuthbert, judgment must be rendered. I assume this is to come to the crossing of blades?”

Again, laughter erupts just slightly before another flash of lightning and a crash of thunder. If not for the slight illumination of the lightning the paladin might have not seen the wagon driver loose an arrow from his short bow. The arrow screams past the paladin as he sidesteps to the left of the road and onto more solid ground. The grassy knoll squished beneath his feet as he tries to gain the upper had. The six guards rush towards him despite being slowed by the muddy road shrinking them a good three to four inches in the rain. The paladin, standing his ground on the small rise, adjusts his feet and prepares for the onslaught. “Judgment must be meted out!” He shouted in him most intimidating voice. “No quarter shall be given.”

“Nor none asked.” Came a reply to the knights’ right side. One of the leather-bound guards had remained in the dark and surprised the knight nearly in a blind spot.
The clash of swords echoes between the crashed of lightning and thunder. The knight finds himself hopelessly outnumbered by his assailants. He manages to knock a guard off the hill and face first into the mud. Another guard was driven to the ground, nearly breaking his guards’ nose as he was slammed with the edge of the knight’s shield.

“Can’t we talk about this?” The paladin tries to hold off the other four guards. “The scales of justice can be balanced without swords.”
“And you said no quarter would be asked for or given.” The guard came up from the muddy road, his face covered in a thin sheen of mud and rainwater. He spit some blood from his mouth. “Take him down, he aught to make a strong house slave.” He smiled as the circle of four guards closed in on the paladin and forced him to his knees. Finding himself on his knees; the paladin looked to the ground and examined his much dented shield lying only a couple feet away.

Suddenly there was an unfamiliar flash of light, unlike the continual lightning, thundered through the group. The paladin realized that the two guards that were once holding his arms as well as the other two guards were instantly reduced to mere ashes. The rain dripping off of his nose, the sting of blood in his eyes he tried to focus in the direction of the bolt. He looked up to behold, what he would have described as a magnificent and dark figure clothed in a robe that seemed devoid of the water pouring down in the rain. After the figure approached he noticed that the rain was not even touching the figure, in fact it was a good six inches away from his saviors body. The figure in white robes bent over to help the paladin to his feet, a smile curled on his face.

“Are you going to be OK?” The figure states with a small hint of concern. “You don’t condone slavery either.” The wizard bends over and offers the paladin his hand. “I like that,” the wizard paused for a moment. “Philomar will like that of you too.” With that small sidetrack of thought, the figure began to walk away. A few steps away and the rain began to fall on the paladin once again. “Keep up if you want to stay dry, Solcloud.”

A little shocked and apprehensive that this figure not only was willing to help him but he knew his name. Solcloud shot to his feet quickly gathered his belongings and followed a small distance behind the figure. Solcloud said a quick prayer to Saint Cuthbert for guidance in knowing if this ‘dark figure’ could be trusted. The answer came to him in the form of a small glow around the figure, unseen by anyone but Solcloud. He shrugged his shoulders and followed closer to the figure, the rain seemed to magically stop around him. Solcloud reaches up and touches the figures shoulder, a small jolt tingled his fingers.

“Who are you?” Solcloud said as he rubbed his hands from the jolt.

The wizard smiled under the hood of his white rode but continued to walk, seemingly unnerved by the question or the small shock his companion received. The figure approaches the wagons, waives his hands, and the door of the wagon came free of its hinges and fell to the mud. The soggy people inside cheered and began to make their way out of the wagon. Various “thank yous” in all languages and accents were heard as the people scattered in various directions.

Not even turning his head to the paladin the figure began to speak once again. “Philomar will explain everything to you later, but we must leave now.” He then began to speak in some archaic dialect and waive his hands in the air, tracing runes and such in mid-air. The smell of ozone, a small light began to appear and slowly enlarges. Stones seem to gather from all around and form a perfect arch including mortar. Within the arch was a swirling pool of liquid lightning.

“Please, come with me,” the wizard beckoned. “You’ll be able to ‘mete out justice.” With a curl of his lip in a silly immature grin, the wizard steps through the archway and into the rippling lightning.

Solcloud hesitates for a moment but realizes the storm is not letting up and he could at least get dried off and perhaps get a nice hot meal. He quickly jumps through the doorway with an even bigger curl to his grin.

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