Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

King Carl's Last Stand

When King Carl was a boy, he had an older brother, William. Their father, William the Elder, was the first king of Bamah. He conquered the tribal people that lived on the land, and by invading established the country itself. Kawan was the oldest son of the tribal chief, who lived with his older sister. The tribal chief killed himself when he heard of the coming invaders, leaving Kawan and his sister. She died in battle, but the young Kawan, who himself saw William the Elder murder his sister, was left alive. William took in Kawan as his own; he was the oldest surviving male out of the tribe. The three grew up together, and Carl and Kawan bonded because of their close ages; however, after both the Williams died, Carl and Kawan fell out of each other's graces.

A shadowy figure crossed a wide, green field. The light breeze made the tall grass ripple like a breaking wave; in fact, the sunlight on the grass was enough to create such an illusion. The dark figure, its hood like a sail on open seas, stood out among the grass. It made its way into a village, a large bag over its shoulder and an empty bow in its hand. It moved through the busy crowd and made its way to the castle where King Carl lived. Removing his hood, Schaff entered the gate; the keeper waved cheerfully at the young prince. Retiring to his room, a single, silent tear rolled down his cheek. Claire was nowhere to be found, but it had been two years since she disappeared; Schaff moved on.
King Carl entered the room unnoticed, and he addressed Schaff in the way only fathers can.
"You all right, son?"
"Yeah. It's over. I'll find someone else; I just hate to have seen it end this way."
"That's how it is a lot of times. Sometimes, the ones you care about most are the one you've got to let go of. Come on, we're holding that banquet thing tonight, and, to be honest, that... are you really gonna wear that raggedy-lookin' outfit?"
Schaff smiled. "No." King Carl began to leave the room, but Schaff caught him with a quick phrase. "Love you, dad, mean it."
"All right, Madame Harrison," replied King Carl, referring to the governess who kept Schaff when he was younger. (She always expressed her affection in this way.)

That night, the Bards met together, for the first time in a year. Each came in couples, Holden with Haley, Badger and Scott, Fox with Kat, and Paddy and Dumon. Gizmo arrived and began a new song; few had heard it. After a single chorus, the entire group joined in, and the other villagers with any musical ability contributed as well. The entire piece was a beautiful melody, and everyone applauded the Bards. Gizmo, the scheduled entertainment, then began a song more popular; this one was met with almost as much applause as the first. Then, King Carl formally began the feast. This feast was a simple harvest ball; the annual Baman tradition was a night of "food, family, and fun." Gizmo told stories that amazed the younger children, and many older children joined them.
Scott and Badger approached Schaff. Badger, in high spirits, embraced Schaff, and the three exchanged salutations. Then, Scott introduced Schaff to a friend from the Fort, Emily. She and Schaff began talking, and the two spent their entire evening together. Paddy and Dumon joined Gizmo in his story telling, and Fox and Kat watched from a seat together. The event was proceeding in a marvelous fashion.
King Carl watched the banquet with satisfied eyes, and turned to reenter the castle. He did, but as he passed his dining hall, a sight caught his eye; a chill ran down his spine. It was the maid for that room, dusting old armor on the shelf. He smiled and continued.
When Carl entered his room, he found Kawan sitting by the window sill, watching the events of the evening progress.
"Well done. Your fathers would be proud."
"Thank you," King Carl could hide the disgust in his voice, but not his face.
"I trust you know why I'm here, right?"
"Actually, no. Not this time."
"I have a bone to pick, well, another bone to pick with you. Remember when you tried to have me killed?"
"That was ages ago. I have to apologize for my actions, and I will, if you're willing to recant yours."
"Hmmph. As if. I accept your apology, though. I personally told you I didn't have him."
"I cannot allow you to stay here alive, Kawan. Your actions are far worse in the eyes of the law, than kidnapping my son."
"Yours are even worse than that, and you know it."
King Carl sighed. "My brother was a traitor; THE traitor. He threatened father; he deserved to die. That was his punishment, and I don't have to hear it from you!"
"He was innocent."
"He was guilty! I heard him myself!"
"I threatened your father! He killed my sister in front of me, with no reason. Then, he has the GALL to adopt me? He takes the one person I have, I take him. Your brother was a casualty, and for that I will apologize."
"You!? You murderer!" King Carl was taken aback. "Oh, you will definitely not leave here alive."
"One of us won't," growled Kawan.
"I DIDN'T GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO SPEAK!" King Carl grabbed a sword off his wall, and lunged at Kawan. The two fought as they had in their childhood, but the stakes were more than imaginary kingdoms and treasures of candy. Swords clashed, metal parried, and Kawan held his ground. However, King Carl had not kept up his sword training as much as he had liked, and his age was beginning to show. The two swords met in an upward cross, and Carl drove Kawan's blade to the ground. Carl turned and lunged, but Kawan drove his weapon through Carl's side. The king started, but fell to his knees. A tear rolled down Kawan's cheek, but he turned and left.
"It didn't have to come to this, brother," gasped King Carl. Kawan stopped at the door.
"Yes, it did."

Kawan entered the village streets, approaching Badger. Schaff stopped him with a sword and a fierce word.
"Boy, you might want to visit your father at this moment. It may be his last." Kawan's face was ravaged by anger and sorrow.
Schaff, stunned, took off to his father's quarters. No one ran as fast as he did that night, not since. Scott, Badger, and Emily turned to Kawan.
"We're not finished, girl. This had nothing to do with you," said Kawan as he vanished into the night.
"It has everything to do with me!" cried Badger into the darkness. The three took off into the castle. The other Bards witnessed the scene, and ran to be with Schaff.
They missed their chance. King Carl was gone, and his oldest son, was grieving over him. All the Bards sympathized with him, and they vowed to help him in his revenge.
"We're all here for you, dude," said Holden.
"Yeah, like, we'll help you tear him apart," replied Fox.
"Yes, we will." Carson's tears burned in fury. He turned to leave.
"Well, what about your dad? We can't just leave him here," called Emily. Dumon and Badger agreed.
"Well, we won't. It's just... sometimes, the ones you care about the most are the ones you've got to let go of. It was his time, and now, it's ours." The Bards left the room, and as Gizmo shut the door behind them, he heard a shudder. He saw the open window and curtains ruffling. Little did he know that King Carl's look of shock turned into a tearful smile. He died at and in peace.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Battle of Kawan

In the days before the Bards came together, Badger was a free-spirited girl with the heart and power of a warrior. She learned many skills from her sisters, who had since left to defend the country of Bamah from southern invaders. These sisters, Karli and Kati, were known each for their fighting skill, and together for their many victories in battle. It was for this reason that a visitor came to Badger and her Mama Sinkus's home.
"Is this the home of Kati and Karli, the fearless warriors?"
"Yeah, why?" replied Badger.
"I have a job that I need help with, and I've been told they're the best."
"For one, they're kinda, you know, defending our lives. For two, I can do anything they can."
The stranger thought for a moment, smiled, and relented.
"I need someone... destroyed."

It was local legend that a dangerous being, Kawan, the Dark One, roamed the southeast region of Bamah. He was a deadly fighter, whose only reason for leaving King Carl and the Baman army was a feud between the two. By fear alone, Kawan held control of the people in the area. No one crossed him, and those that did were displayed for all to see.

The mysterious visitor made it obvious that Kawan was the target and that the best price would be paid to the best challenger. Mama Sinkus was asleep, but Badger thought up a good plan to keep her from worry. She agreed to the terms of the deal, and the visitor left.
When Mama Sinkus did rise, Badger told her that she would be traveling to Fort Ni Aps, to visit her sisters. It would be a week's stay, but the war could affect the amount of time she stayed. Badger left the next day.
She journeyed to a small village on the lower end of the Bamah River. It was bustling; the market town was small, but well populated. A man named Robert met her at the gate.
"Could you help me?" Badger asked
"I hope so. This whole dale, this valley, is mine."
"Where is the one they call Kawan?"
The man stopped. He spoke something about the rain and night, and hurried Badger inside.
"The Dark One is in this town. He is feared and fears none. He knows everything and has spies, everywhere. Look for him in the dark grey hut at the far end of the dale. For tonight, though, stay here. My wife and I'll do all we can for you."
Badger stayed the night at Robert's home. His son and daughter accompanied him in beautiful music that evening, and Badger learned to sing many songs that night.

The next morning, Badger woke up. She heard no noises from throughout the house. She ventured from room to room, but found no one. Packing her things, she prepared to leave. When she opened the door, she entered the deserted street. She started to the dale, when a voice froze her in her steps.
"So you're just going to leave like that? Fine? Don't say goodbye."
She turned around. Facing her was a dark-skinned war hero in full armor, which was as dark as he. He looked up from his polished gauntlets to her, and smiled.
"Oh, ok. I see how it is. Hi Badger, I'm Kawan. Or, the Dark One. Or, Robert. I do own the valley, though. The family is mine, too."
Badger looked on in fear and silent confusion.
"I told you I know about everything. I know about the hit on me, I know about your sisters, and I know how you think. I won't kill you; no, I'll let you go. If you can outrun the dragon. See, I don't hold the people in fear. Well, I do, but more so because of that thing." As he pointed, a dark shadow darted across the sky. A dragon made its way towards the two warriors.
"No, I actually need your help. No one stayed around here, except you."
"I sleep late."
"Oh, she talks? I see. Now, if you'll kindly draw your sword and draw that beast's attention, I'll see that it hurts no one, except maybe you."
Badger had no choice but to oblige. She drew her bow, though, and prepared to plaster the beast with arrows.

Her first fight. Nerves screamed, and she shook like a windswept tree. She took a deep breath, rethought her entire life, closed her eyes, and let go of the arrow. When she opened her eyes, she saw the dragon reeling in pain. A wooden shaft stuck out of its left eye. Kawan marched up to the dragon with the swagger of an undefeated champion, and removed the head of the beast in a heroic sweep.
Badger approached the dark warrior and his slain prey.
"Hmmph. That works."
"Did it? I--"
Kawan suddenly snapped.
"Listen. You get outta here. Go back to where you came from. We will end this, another day. I will find you, and we will settle our score. You want me dead?"
"Someone does."
"Tell them that you're delayed. I'm out of the country, and you're waiting to strike. I have more important fish to cook right now. Go. Go!"
Badger backed away, watching the crazed adversary look over the fallen beast. She turned to run, but stopped. Looking back, she saw the carcass of the beast, but no sign of the dark warrior.

Before she actually returned to her home, Badger visited Kati and Karli at Fort Ni Aps. While not completely out of the way, it would provide truth to her story. Karli saw her and ran up to her.
"Are you ok? I heard you fought... Kawan."
"What? How did you hear that?" Badger replied.
"Because someone sent a messenger to me asking us to fight Kawan. I sent him to you."
"Wait... who was it?"
"I, uh, don't know."
"Well gee thanks." Badger replied; she began to leave. Karli thought for a moment.
"Badger!" She called.
"The messenger was... Qabel, the king's new deputy. He runs errands for King Carl, does things for him."
Badger never forgot those words, but she never understood them, either. She made it home safely, but she never heard from Kawan again.