Monday, January 29, 2007

Green War, Part 2

By Bryan M.

The rest did not last. He was awoken again by a presence, a different face than that of the previous night. This man was smaller and older, and his clothes were darker and more earthy. He smoked a long brown pipe, and its scent was unlike those of the pipes of the duke’s land. It was sweeter and yet somehow more bitter. He guessed from the little man’s posture that he’d been staring at the duke a long while, and he continued to do so even as the duke sat up in his bed and lit a candle by his bedside.
“You are one of the hillfolk,” said the duke, though whether it was a statement or question even the duke was not sure. “Why have you come?”
The man took another puff of his pipe and exhaled a long, deep breath. He cocked an eye toward the duke.
“You’ve been visited by the Podrain, haven’t ye?” said the man. “And a lyin’ folk they be. I am Dramhain of the Draymoor.”
The duke sat straighter, trying to muster all the royal blood that pumped in him. The effect worked, for he looked wiser and more powerful than he had in the moments before, and Dramhain took notice.
“I know of your people,” said the duke. “I know what is to be done in two nights’ time. Your people seek to undo what has been done here for generations of my family’s history. You seek to crush the peace we’ve upheld like a boat on the wave. You have drawn us in your war and no it is I who must decide what role our folk play.”
The little man smiled a little, but it was not out of malice or delight. He emptied the bowl of his pipe onto the floor and repacked it with a strange weed before speaking.
“Is that what they’ve got yeh believing? We’re to war on them in two nights?” The man stopped smiling and stood before the duke, mustering all the height he could. “This is the mark of the Podrain, my man. They would conjure a story to make an ally of you and your land, only to turn on all of you in the end and take all of it – the hills, the valley – all of it for themselves. In truth it is they who will strike first. They will waylay our walls with the help of your people, they will tear down our homes and our land. Then they will consume what they can and leave it bare, and rape your land next until nothing is left. That is why you must stand with us. You and your people must be at the ready at dusk the day-after-tomorrow, to fight for your—and our—very lives.”
The smoke grew thicker, and when it faded so did the man, and again the duke was alone. He sat upright until the dawn, when the town below his windows awoke and the wheels of the day began to turn.
That day he walked his streets. He watched as children played at their mothers’ and fathers’ sides, as mothers and fathers worked and laughed with each other indoors and out. He drank each moment in as if it were his last, and the weight of what was to come became too great to bear.
That night he’d reached his decision. He had just one last day before war, though which side was in the right he still could not say. On this night he did not sleep, awaiting another visitor though none came. He greeted the dawn in the same way he greeted nightfall—alone. And cold.
But this day did not start like the others. There was no lazy retreat from slumber for the folk of the valley. Today the duke burst from the doors of his home, clad in the armor of his people. It shone under the winter sun and reflected each house, each door and chimney of the homes of the valley. He came out in force, beating his chest so the clanging scrapes of metal on metal awoke each man, woman and child.
“Arise ye and stand! Arise! Leave your homes and be gone from this place! Arise!”
His shouts continued until every family was out their doors, some still rubbing their eyes from sleep. The clamor woke the livestock as well, and now the duke was shouting over a din of confused animals and people.
“We have lived here long,” the duke said, “and for many years have seen peace in our lands. But a new day comes, and with it a new life for all of us. Long have I hid from you the truth of these hills, for within them live two dark and mysterious peoples; long have they known me and my family, and have enjoyed the peace that we have upheld. But the peace has run its course, and before war brings ruin upon you I ask—nay, I demand—you leave this place and your belongings. Head for the next town where you might stay until it is safe to return. If it is ever safe.”


Bryan Mahoney said...

Sorry this is so LOOONGG. I just got to writing and .. well... I got carried away (I was bored). At this point there are two more sections like this one, about as long. Rather than hog all the blog I ask ye: Does anyone care? Shall I continue?

The No Talent Hacks said...

I'm liking it. Want more more more.
*Smiles* You took the assignment a lot more seriously than I did. (I just sent mine to Marcy. You make a guest appearance. Then again, so do most of the Hacks.)

The No Talent Hacks said...

Whoops and arrgh. That was me.

Marcy L. Dewey said...

I'm loving this story - It reads like a true old Irish folk tale! You'd never know it was a story made up based on your Halloween costume. More!