There were pools of blood in the courtyard; many had died so that one might be saved. Well two rather, but one didn’t count as much as the other. In the mud lay two gigantic men, each in their own way: one in strength and courage, the other in power and magic. What would History say about them? Both sought glory and immortality in their own way. What were left were shattered bones and broken limbs. Neither would survive, neither could save themselves. And as they passed, they brought with them an age that no men would be able to repeat, unless the one who mattered held powers.
She entered the inn, exasperation showing on her blushed face. There he was, rolling dice and a pint of ale in his hand. From the red on his face, she could tell he was past drunk and she’d have to ask for help to get him back to their rooms. She sighed and approached the man she hired to help her.
She tried to pull him up but he was too heavy. And in his effort to wave her away, he spilled his ale on the man behind. She fell down while he turned to the victim and defied him to prove it was his fault. She shook her head. It wouldn’t end well.
Galiana looked around the room; everything was a mess. And Thean was missing. The boy would never leave the house without her. Or without Lean. Where was he? She knocked at the door; after some time with no answer, she entered. Lean was probably out in the woods gathering some herbs, as he was wont to do. Instead, her hand flew to her mouth in a cry. Gods! There was blood everywhere.
She’d got used to blood since that day; travelling with Keran meant that fights were doomed to happen. Whether because he was genuinely battling men who belonged to the monster who stole her child or because he was drunk and picked a fight in the town they happened to sleep in that night.
He was a great fighter, there was no denying that; and she knew with certainty she’d be dead by now if she were travelling with him. But she also knew he only saw her as a means to enhance his own fame as a soldier of fortune.
Galiana’s house didn’t look like her home anymore. The authorities had done their things and left an even greater mess than the people who’d taken her child. She should stop referring to them as “the people”. There was only one man who could have organized that. And she didn’t even imagine how he could have found her. She also couldn’t guess what he wanted with their son.
There was only one person who could help her. He was a bastard and a drunk but he was her only hope. Keran.
“Keran you have to stop with the drinking.”
“Why ever so?”
“You’ll never manage to fight him if you’re drunk.”
“Do you think Graco can do anything against me?”
Sober Graco might not. That was why she’d needed him. But drunk? He didn’t stand a chance. He must have understood her glance because he sat up straighter, his nose finally no longer bleeding.
“I won’t be drunk to meet your former husband. His death will deliver people from his tyranny and I will be a hero. I will be fine.”
He wasn’t her former husband but there was no point arguing with the man.
She found the warrior where she expected him: at the inn wrist fighting. He was a tower of a man and she knew that he was the only person in the world who could fight Graco with a chance to win. He’d killed 5 men in a fight once to protect a woman whose life was in danger.
Yet, even here in his hometown he was a bit of an outsider. Too tall, too broad: he was so big that he tore his mother apart when he was born. His father never forgave him for that. He was massive and courageous. But he also knew of her past. And during one of his drunken nights, he’d revealed her secret.
Galiana remained hidden witnessing something she’d known very well since she started travelling with Keran. He could fight like no one else. But never until now had she realized what this could mean. Until now, he’d never found himself in a situation like this.
As he danced his way through the swords, slashing here, parrying there, cutting through another place, she finally understood: he wouldn’t care if he died while being a hero. He might even search death in battle; his glory would be enhanced. She understood why he accepted her small payment. Dying while defeating Graco would make him immortal.
As she saw both of them fall, Galiana kept Thean’s face against her chest. He didn’t need to see what was happening to his father or to the man who had come to save him. They fought differently but even Graco’s magic wasn’t enough; maybe it was true what they’d said about Keran, maybe he wasn’t his father’s son, but that of one of the gods. Who else could stand against Graco’s spells? Still both men were at the end of the strength. Both would die.
What would History remember? That she and Thean had been just the final step in the hero’s journey towards immortality? That Graco’s search for immortal life had destroyed the last hero? Or would they end up as forgotten men of a forgotten world where magic and heroes were part of people’s daily life.
In response to Deviant Art Flash Fiction Month July 11 prompt, which was the following challenge.
ELEMENT ONE: Combinations
Take a look at lists 1 & 2 below, and pick one genre from each list. Then use these combined genres as the basis for your story. These are the genres I picked
ELEMENT TWO: Fragmentations
Your story must follow a non-linear narrative, with events occurring out of their usual chronological order.
Prompt: He was a bastard and a drunk, but he was her only hope. by SarcasticCupcake5