Arrow and Shield (edit)

So a couple of days ago I realesed a part of my WIP the wolf and king. Since then it has been read by the amazing Periodically Demented and we had a conversation.

this conversation went like this:

P.D: You need to engage the readers more.

Addy: I – What?

P.D: Make an edit and the readers would be more engaged in the story

Addy: I can’t make the readers more engaged

P.D: Not if all you’re gonna do is sit around here and whinge about it. No.

Addy: What do you expect me to do, P.D?

P.D: Whatever you have to. And if you can’t do it from here, then take this edit to your computer and…

Addy: And what? Wave my arms around?

P.D: Wave your arms around. Jump up and down. Apply the changes to your blog. Whatever.

Addy: Apply the – Right! Because high school corrections are fun when you are about to make a blog!

P.D: Would make the story more engaging, wouldn’t it?

Wash: Yes, P.D, it would make the story more engaging. But even if some passerby did happen to see it, all it would do is make them read it.

Mal: Could be that’s true.

Wash: Damn right, it’s true. They’d be forced to stop and read the whole thing before they could even go anyplace.

[Beat, P.D waits for Addy to get it]

Addy: [Still yelling as if he’s angry] Well maybe I should do that, then!

P.D: Maybe you should!

Addy: Okay!

P.D: Good!

Addy: Fine!

either that happened or i watched firefly last night. But anyway here is the better draft and thanks again Periodically Demented!!!


The arrow and shield

“… but I will follow my own road until my time is done,” Bengie sang as they rode into the town, finishing on a high note that was quickly followed by deep gulping of wine.

“Yes very good, now for the love of the gods stop singing!” Sam said when she could get a word edgewise. A day’s ride from the palace and he hadn’t stopped since they had left the massive, towering gates of the keep. It wasn’t because the drunken archer annoyed her. Actually it was because he annoyed her; her and anyone around. Today it was also because she needed to be intimidating and not accompanied by a drunk, no matter how good his skill may be.

They had protected the King for years now, although it was both common knowledge and legend that no one could best the King’s own sword and shield. Even though Sam wears the armour and bears the shield, she knew she was underestimated. Especially here, in Old Town, as they called it. And it was old. It’s ancient and conservative ways seemed melded into the very bones of the folk who lived here, so set in their ways were.

“Oh, come on, Sam!” Bengie replied, “You need a lighter soul for the size of your carriage!” He hung his wine skin on his belt, sloshing and jangling as he jostled his quiver of arrows. Sam always found it strange that he wore his arrows there rather than at his back, but it didn’t hinder his abilities. He ran his hand through his mass of black hair. In the sunlight his skin almost looked the color of coffee.

“Besides,” he continued, as he does, “The guards love my singing. Don’t you lads?” Their escorts, three city guards in steel and chain mail armour, mumbled in agreement, obviously hating his singing voice as much as she did. “See?” said Sam, vindicated.

“And I thought you had keen eyes”

“That I do” replied Bengie, still sure of his eyes but now much less of his balladry.

Inside the town their first stop was the inn. But not for beds and food, but for answers

“Remind me again why we always go to the pubs and inns?” Sam asked as they pulled the horses into the stable.

“Inns means drink; drink means people. And we need to ask people.”

“Not to refill your wine skin again?” She said, with more than a hint of exasperated anger in her voice.

“Well there are extra perks and why not? Unless you’re scared to enter?” he goaded her.

“Spider eggs” she replied

“Oh, come on! That was one time!”

“Still holds,” she mumbled, a thin smirk curving one edge of her mouth.

“Who smuggles spider eggs onto a ship anyway?” he said in a raised and whiny voice, stung by her comment and the memory it aroused.

“I just never knew you could scream so loudly” she chuckled “That and the King had better sleep than you did!”

Bengie was about to retort but was cut off as one of the younger guards jumped off his horse and ran to Sam.

“Would you like a hand, My Lady?”

“And he was doing so well” Bengie chuckled, rolling his eyes heavenward.

Sam did what any respectable “lady” did when dressed in full plate armour. She hit him in the face with her shield and watch as he fell into a hay pile. His face, his backside, or his trenchant “honor”. Which would be bruised the greatest?

After dismounting, and instructing her men to stay with the horses, she and Bengie entered the inn. Raucous and stinking of old ale and even older sweat, breath, and feet, it was busy today. Everyone from farmers to mercenaries drank here. Sam donned her helmet, her blond hair still visible on her back. Shield at the ready in hand, and her sword hanging forward on her belt. Bengie however looked quite comfortable; in fact he strolled right over to the bar and ordered some cheap wine. Still, he drew some looks.

Sam took a breath and banged on a table to get everyone’s attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please.”

The crowed quietened down a bit.

“People of Old Town!” she called more forcefully. Now everyone in the inn looked at her, a wave of quiet menace mixed with distrust washing over them.

“As you have heard by now, the Lord of Old Town, Sir Malcolm, has made an attempt on the King’s life. We are here to gather information on his whereabouts. Any information will be rewarded and any involvement will be pardoned by the King if you come forth now!”

“And why should we listen to you” the crowed was shocked as they stared at a man in black leather armour. “I mean you can’t expect people to go against their Lord now can you?” He started to clean his nails with a knife; clearly trying to be intimidating.

“Maybe because the title ‘King’ vastly outranks that of ‘lord’?” Bengie said playfully. His back still turned on the outspoken one.

“Right,” the mercenary replied. As he stood up, more mercenaries came forward. “And the King thinks its apt then, to send a foreigner and a girl.” He started to laugh. People began slowly sneaking out of the inn.

“If you have something to say, say it,” Sam hissed.

“Your permission to speak is acknowledged… My Lady,” He smirked, his voice thick with humor and dangerous belligerence. The mercenary walked toward her “How about this? Your King is weak, Malcolm is strong, Malcolm tried to exterminate the dogs, and Alistair welcomed them.”

“I think the correct term is Wolfling. As for me I am sure I have earned my way into the country.” Bengie replied calmly.

The Mercenary decided to be a fool and he threw his knife. Sam wasn’t sure how Bengie saw it with his back turned, but he ducked as the knife flew over him. Then, while turning, he unslung his bow, notched an arrow, and in seconds sent it flying into the man’s shoulder.

Sam was the next to be attacked. A mercenary threw an axe at her but her shield was faster, blocking the blow, drawing her sword she charged.

The townsfolk panicked and ran, leaving a large group of mercenaries to contend with. Sam smashed her shield into the face of one while parrying the sword of another. Bengie jumped on tables and counters drawing three arrows at a time and sending them flying one by one. Sam blocked an axe with her sword and smashed her shield into the attacker’s throat, ducking under a long sword and driving her sword into the attacker’s gut.

Bengie kicked a man in the face while firing an arrow into a knee. “No more adventuring for you, my friend.” An archer ran into the room and loosed an arrow at Bengie, who somehow caught it and sent it right back into his enemy’s throat. “I remember when this was difficult,” he complained.

Sam had locked swords with a large brute. “Not for me,” she said with a grunt as she pushed the brute back, far enough to allow room for a quick, powerful and vicious jab to the throat with her shield. “In fact it’s always seemed too easy.” Bengie dropped to the floor in time to dodge another blade; he sprang up and stabbed the attacked with a spare arrow. Sam spun around to face the final attacker still standing and capable. Bengie spun and drew an arrow.

Before they attacked, they froze, realising that they were about to attack each other.

“Well… that was fun,” Bengie said lightly panting.

“I could have killed you, you know.”

“Hmm. Doubtful.”

The guards outside rushed in as both warriors collapsed into chairs. Bengie handing a skin of wine to Sam. The guards started checking the unconscious and dead men, counting the dead and slipping a knife between the ribs of all but one of the wounded. That one would talk; they always did… in the end.

“So” Bengie clapped his hands together. “Where the fuck have you been?”

“Gah,” grunted the lucky survivor, the first mercenary, who was stirring, arrow still in his shoulder.

“That reminds me… arrest that man for…” Sam’s breath was labored.

“… Treason? Treason has a nice ring to it,” Bengie offered.

“Yeah. Take him in for questioning.”

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