Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Green War Part 3

(By Bryan)

The duke was met with confused stares and rumblings amongst the folk – a dark rumor spread among them, it was madness they said—and a few of the younger men spoke up, willing to fight at their duke’s side. At their offers the duke rebutted; no man was to stay save him. And after a morning full of the duke’s urging, every family was packed and off just after noon.
A quiet sank the valley, a dim hush that seemed to breathe in its walls and inhabit the dust on the streets. There the duke stood, between two of the larger houses, sword sheathed and fists clenched. He slowly spun about himself once, taking in the sight one last time, as he walked toward the edge of town. It ended in the center of each hill where two great brown-green hills sloped steeply up into white snowcaps. It was under these caps that the duke now saw dark forms. They started small, then grew quickly. They were the armies of the Podrain and the Draymoor, and they descended quickly now down the hills. The duke could see each form clearer now; one was brighter and sparkled slightly more than the other. He saw glints of metal, of pikes and shields made of metals long lost to the peoples of the duke’s race.
Whether this truly was madness the duke could not say. He prayed to his father and to all the men of his race who had kept the valley before him, prayed for strength and bravery and constitution. For too long his people lived under this invisible threat, a prevailing wind that ever blew through the valley. Too long did they go unaware, playing the part of prisoner and captor. No more.
The armies were close to the bottom now, and the duke could see their strange faces screwed up and battle-ready. Some had war-paint, others bore little or no clothes. They chanted as they descended in a language not ever heard in the valley. It was a battle chant, and it grew louder as they approached. But the duke saw each side slowing now, curbing their trots until they were at a slow walk, and as each side approached the duke he saw faces changing. Gone were their bloodthirsty expressions, gone was the hatred. They looked bewildered, confused at the sight of the lone soldier standing before them. They took to murmuring to each other in a common tongue, and soon a hush fell over the valley.
The one that led the Podrain, the one called Clamagh, walked ahead of his clan toward the duke.
“What say you, duke,” he shouted while still some paces away. “Are your people prepared to defend against these rogues, will they stand up and fight this menace?”
“Hallo,” came a cry from the opposing side. It was Dramhain of the Draymoor, now a few paces ahead of his people. “Come to hear more lies, ah duke? Shall we set to rights this scourge?”
The duke raised his hands, an impressive showing as he stood a few heads above both armies.
“Nay, listen to me, people of the hills. My folk have fled this place, gone far away and I am all there is left.” More whispers and cries of betrayal came from both camps. “And before they are summoned back, if ever, I entreat you sirs to sit with me a moment before you let your blades fly.”
The Draymoor were first to respond.
“And what, brave duke? Talk ye of truce?” cried Dramhain. “What business is it of yours to belay this quarrel? I had given yeh chance enough to side with the victors this day, but now we fight and shall roll ye down with the braggards!”
At this the army roared. They flashed their spears and shields, their eyes shone in the dimming light. Again the duke raised his arms, and let a cry so fierce it rumbled the very hilltops. It shook each man in turn, sending ripples through both sides and they were quiet again.
“What man silences armies such as this?” said Clamagh of the Podrain, who until then shared a thought with his enemy, that if the duke shall not choose he should be mowed like the grass of the hillside. “What man indeed? Perhaps we shall entertain him.”
The duke let down his arms and motioned for each leader to come closer to him. From under his breastplate he produced a haggard cloth of green and grey. It was wound tight around something, though what neither enemy could say. When Clamagh and Dramhain were but a few paces from each other, the duke stepped away and spoke to the armies.
“People of the hills,” he spoke, and as he did the hush over the armies grew, as neither realm had ever spoken to the people of the valley except for their chiefs. “I have been visited twice under this moon, first by the Podrain then by the Draymoor. I have been given reason to take up arms against both your peoples, and so I shall. But first I will ask ye: Who is invading whom?”


Marcy L. Dewey said...

I like this Duke. He's honorable and a little nutty.

I like the pacing of the story too - even though I'm guessing you're condensing things for to fit in a blog entry, it reads well. A little tweaking in Word or something and it's a nice, cohesive story.

Now ... how do you end this conflict and still keep the feel of an Irish folk tale? They don't all end pretty ...

The No Talent Hacks said...

Dude! Where's the rest? You can't leave a guy hanging like that.

Here is what I am hoping for - some kind of twist, something that shows the king is truly a wise king with a firm plan and not just whining about peace.

Perhaps he really has all of his people ready to defeat both hill clans at a word from him? Maybe he played both sides against each other and this is the culmination of his plan?

Also, having something the king cared about which was a little more specific than his kingdom would go a long way toward evoking our empathy - something he stands to lose if all goes poorly.

Like I said in the beginning - more!