I certainly hope the Winter ice is not destroying your poor Reader body- perhaps less so if you're near the equator, and more so if you live at one of the poles.
Anyway, I apologize for posting so little as of late, I've had much on my list of things to do... perhaps more of it having to do with farming in certain online games than I should be, and I've also been quite busy with school- so that remains my prime excuse. However I do like whetting appetites, so for your concern, I submit this piece of a short story I've been developing. It should appear quite samey up until the great twist that... well, that's a secret, can't tell you.
Here you go:
Finally, the day of the Hero’s Celebration has come. It’s warm, just as it should be. Ralic gets up next to his wife as usual, but now dawns the garb of “the hero”. It was delivered to him yesterday evening to put on, passed down from generation to generation- and now it is his turn.
It fastens on easily. Ralic’s surprised, the clothing fits him perfectly, as if it were meant for him. In a way it is meant for him just as it was meant for his great great great great great grandfather; each generation of men given the same task. He leans over to his wife, the daughter of the blacksmith, and kisses her lightly on the cheek.
“Good morning,” he says.
Her features clench, and she opens restful, green eyes and stretches forward her pregnant center.
“Mornin’, Ral’.” She gets out of bed herself, returns the kiss, and prepares for the big day.
Ralic walks up to the mirror, the only one in town and a great symbol to his wealth, and looks himself over. Long, clean, handsome features- he looks just like his father at that age, who looked just like his father, and so on. He smiles the way most handsome men do in front of a mirror, and Tenay notices.
“Must be nice knowing you’ll look like your pa’, huh?” she nudges him gently with a snide look about her, the main reason he chose her to be his bride.
“Eh, yeah. I gotta’ say, it’s kind of a cool feeling knowing you’ll be handsome until like, eighty.”
She kisses him again on the neck. “Well I wouldn’t know. So, do you feel any different putting them on?” she glances over to his armored garb, a black chainmail fitted with a brown tunic, all over a thick white padding. Ralic waves his head about in uncertainty, and raises his brows.
“Well… Well kinda, not really. I’m sure once dad gives me the sword I’ll be feeling it though.” He puts his arm around her and nudges into her neck, causing a quick squeal from his wife.
“Your nose is cold!” she says.
“Should have been ready,” he says.
“You shut up.”
“Spoiled hero kid,” Tenay says, pushing him back playfully.
“Angry smith’s girl,” Ralic returns with another nudge.
“Go get ready, dork!”
“I am ready!”
“Then leave me alone to get ready!”
“Okay smith’s girl.”
This is the extent of their conversation until Ralic gives a loud “goodbye” from the door and takes his leave to the grand plaza.
The grand plaza is a wide place surrounding the great tree the town was built around hundreds of years ago. People have already gathered around the hero’s pedestal, where Ralic’s father, a man that is both the previous hero and now the mayor of the village, waits with the Sword of Destiny in his hands.
A few pleasantries are exchanged, his father gives him a great big hug, and then turns to begin the ceremony just as Tenay arrives.
“People of our town, welcome to the day of the hero!” Ralic’s father begins just as the people uproar in applause and cheering. “The young Ralic the Twelfth, my son, has come of age. Now that he is twenty, he will go off to the forbidden forest of the dark lord, and slay him. As you all know, the dark lord returns every twenty years, and as such must be dealt with by the noble line of heroes that live in this very village. I know that times have been hard, and from some recent mistaken experiments the harvest has been lower than ever this year, but with the hero off to destroy the Overlord, let this feast serve as a ringing in of new prosperity. Join me in delivering the Sword of Destiny to him!” Ralic the Eleventh says amidst ear-churning applause.
Ralic embraces the older Ralic. “Thank you, father,” he says, allowing one moment to gaze in his father’s eyes before he takes the sword from the pedestal.
The father gives the son a strange smile, and says “You won’t.” Young Ralic returns it with a smile more genuine than any he’s made in his life, and takes the blade. It positively surges with power, he feels, as though it’s vibrating in his hand- or he could just be nervous. He pulls up the blade from its sheath a moment to inspect it, and the brightness and sharpness is unlike anything else he’s seen. It’s perfect, this day is perfect, his wife is perfect, his life is perfect, he is perfect.
With a strong, high wave and a glance to his wife, he turns for the gates. Once the guards open them for him, he is on his way out into the dark forest, feeling ready for anything to come his way. Tenay follows him and looks over the wall, while the others go down to enjoy the traditional feast of the hero’s departure. But this time, unlike all the other times, there was a small stone in the middle of the road, dug in not even an inch. It tripped the mighty hero, and he falls right onto his face, cutting it on another rock further down. Tenay gasps, but knows she cannot let herself be seen by him- his pride would be hurt. As much as she likes to stick it to him, she knows his ego is very delicate when it comes to this one, single day in his life- the one that must go without error.
Ralic pulls himself up from the dirt, his face bleeding with a long gash across his cheek, a serious, scarring injury, but he continues down the road as if nothing happened. He can’t turn around now.
Hours pass through the dark fir wood, and Ralic finally finds the dark lord’s ruined keep, but something’s off. The matter is, it’s not a ruined keep at all. It’s perfectly maintained and shining with long banners of the colors of burgundy and gold, and etched, artisan stonework. The drawbridge comes down for the scarred Ralic, and once he draws his sword, he enters.
In the hallway, lavished in priceless paintings and statues, he creeps forward with his blade in hand. It’s quiet, the bridge has shut behind him, and he can no longer hear nature’s calls around him. He quiets his breath as he starts up the foyer steps, going roundabout and leading up to a large set of doors, carved with images of massive, deadly beasts- this must be where the dark lord is.
See you all next time!