A sneak peek…

June 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm (Fiction)

What follows is a sneak peak into a current project of mine:

Things are not as they once were.

I no longer smell the wild grasses beneath me, or the scent of game.  The vivid colors of my world have muted, only shades of gray stand out.  The whispers of the wind have been taken from my ears.  Food has taken on a blandness, and the gentle caress of a mate fails to register on my face.  Now, only the harshest and most blatant stimulates my senses.  Even most emotion has been torn from me.  Everything worthy of life has gone; and now, even the vengeance I sought cannot be sated.

Things are not as they once were.

From an early age, it was apparent I was chosen to be a guardian of those around me.  I was the annoying child in camp that made sure that grasses were removed from near campfires; I stoically stood watch against snakes and small creatures, much to the amusement of the elders.  I took fallen branches and fashioned them into small clubs, imitating the training of those older than me, swinging at imaginary foes.  As I grew, I looked for more arduous tasks to strengthen my body.  This was good, as I never developed appreciable skills outside of my abilities with a weapon.  Distinguishing plants and herbs seemed impossible, a healer I was not to be.  Attempts with cloth or leather left my hands with embarrassing needle marks, and materials stained red.  My few forays into preparing meals left things tasting heavily of salt or garlic, so badly that a friend noted that anything I cooked should be subjected to a decent burial.

After coming of age, I was given the name Bullheaded, for my single-minded effort I put into my tasks and training.  As a member of the Oatwind clan, I had no great aspirations to leadership.  I was happy as a provider and protector for my tribe, often standing special watch over the younglings.   The sunshine on my face, and the feel of Mother Earth beneath my hooves while listening to the laughter of the youngsters made me steadfast in my role as protector for my tribe.  Our conflict with the centaur kept us on the move, and required those remaining in camp during war-parties to have utmost vigilance.

I was, however, missing something, and I found it not long after my first war party.  I was taken by surprise by a centaur warrior, with my axe stuck in one of its still twitching companions.  My former mentor parried the blow meant for me, but I was still clipped on the leg by steel and hoof.  I slapped a hasty bandage to staunch the flow, and returned to the battle.  The battle was nothing like those I had heard by the campfire as a youngling; there was little enough honor, and no glory to be found during the battle.  When the smell of blood, sweat, and waste threatened to overcome me, and weariness sought to take me, I remembered the young tauren playing underneath my protective gaze, and continued to fight for their future.

After the battle, I found myself sitting, hunched over amongst several dead centaur, with my eyes closed.  I heard a voice above me say “Perhaps it kept some of the dirt out at least.”  I opened my eyes, to see that the blood was still running down my leg; the bandage I applied on the battlefield was of the same quality as my attempts at tailoring.  I snorted and tried to stand, but my body betrayed me and I was unable to rise and meet my accuser.

“Hold, brave warrior.  Take no offense from my words.  You have lost much blood, and need to rest.”  I looked up, finding a lovely young female standing over me.  Her staff identified her as an apprentice shaman healer, and there was a look of concern in her eyes.  After a moment, her eyes closed and a low chant came from her lips.  She laid her hand upon my wound, and the feeling of cool water, followed by the warmth of a winter’s fire washed over me.  The blood stopped flowing, but the look of worry remained on the face of my healer.  I attempted to thank her, but the dryness of my mouth made understanding impossible.  She noticed, bent over and gave me a long drink tasting of a fresh spring from her waterskin.

“Bullheaded.  Praise the elements, you are safe.”  The sounds of Chipped Horn, our clan shaman, came from behind me.  His voice also hinted at concern as he handed me a mug of a steaming tea.  “Drink this, it will help you sleep briefly while I tend to others.”  I drank and returned the cup, still unable to rise.  As he turned away, I heard him whisper to the apprentice, “Watch him carefully, if there is any change alert me at once.”

“Bullheaded.  Why that name?”  Her question reached into the fog dragging me into sleep.  I struggled to answer “Stubborn child.”  The reply of “Well, the Centaur certainly found you stubborn,” sent greater warmth through me than all of Clipped Horn’s potions.

Hopefully, more to follow at a later date…

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