10 Words pt.2: This is what I was given:
As far as 10 words – how about horses, love, strength, courage, loyalty, family, happiness, summertime, companionship, bond. For setting, somewhere warm with rolling hills & fresh springs.
This is the story I created from it, enjoy! Remember, if you like this story please click the ‘like’ button at the bottom of this page before you leave! Let’s see how many ‘likes’ we can get her story! Feel free to follow my blog as well by clicking on the blue ‘follow olivierfiction’ button on the left of the screen as well! Then send me your 10 words and I’ll write you a story too!
So it comes to this.
The queen’s chestnut hair floated before her eyes as a strong wind pushed at her back. Looking out across the wide fields of Alexandria she could not help but be overcome with raw emotion. This had been her home. The verdant hills and forests that radiated the heartbeat of this simple land brought her back to days long past. She began to imagine the cold springs teeming with fish that would nip at her bare legs as she wadded from one side to another on Jolene, her first horse. Memories of chasing her sisters and being chased by them through the glades and into the woods beyond poured into her mind and she had to fight them back. This had been a peaceful place. Now it was infested and there was work to be done.
“Your majesty, it need not come to this,” said the Tier, the king’s main advisor.
“No,” Josel replied, “it needn’t. Yet it has and I shall not stand by and let it be so.”
“I beg you, wait for the king to return. He could scatter this rabble with but a stern look.”
The queen turned her eyes on him and Tier looked away. For all the king’s power nothing struck fear into people like the queen’s eyes when her strength was questioned. Soft and supple as leather yet hard as mahogany, the queen’s hazel eyes had melted better men than Tier.
“I believe I can handle this situation with as much ease as the king, Tier. Thank you.”
The queen turned back to the field before her and the abomination that defiled it. A host of wagons and hastily built shanties from the gypsy lands dotted what had once been a beautiful landscape. Pirates, thieves and killers all brought here at the summons of that woman. How long must the queen be forced to answer for her misguided attempts at revenge? Why did it always have to come to this?
The queen heaved a sight and felt the knot that constricted her chest which only this woman knew how to bring about. Trijntje of the black veil. Josel looked down at her inlaid silver gauntlets and then to the plate amour on her chest. The coat of arms of the house of Harrison was emblazoned there. Three Demi lions rampant, symbols of stainless honour and generosity, on and azure shield that stood for loyalty and truth. The family motto was etched into the bottom, vincit qui patitur — he conquers who endures — written below. The queen would endure.
Josel placed her gloved hand on the hilt of the sword at her hip and turned to the captain of her personal guard.
“I am sorry to ask this of you my old friend, but the woman will not relent.”
Jayden Jax was not a man to shy away from a fight and he looked not the least bit sorry to have a reason to draw his weapon.
“All will be well my queen. We will run this rabble off without issue. Besides, I’ve always wanted to see Alexandria in the summertime. I hear the springs are like no place else in all the land.”
“You are not mistaken,” she replied with a smile.
“If I could at least convince your majesty to take a few more men with you. This guard battalion is only meant to protect your person, not fight a war. You need more men.”
“No she doesn’t.”
Jayden, Tier, and Josel all turned to find Princesses Megan and Kaleigh riding up with a group of rangers behind them. Megan was dressed in full ranger attire, a sleeveless top with a thick leather chest piece and the Harrison arms burnt into it. She also had leather guards laced on her biceps and forearms and dark green leather riding pants. Her bow was strung across her chest and a quiver of arrows was peaking over her right shoulder.
Kaleigh was clothed in the raiments of a mage’s apprentice. She wore a robe of thick cotton canvas died teal and form fitted to her body. Her robe was likewise sleeveless and there were markings like tattoos up and down her arms from the arts she had mastered.
“What she needs is more women,” Megan pointed out with a wicked smile on her face. Megan’s lynx ran up beside her horse and stopped to stare into Tier’s eyes.
Josel could not help but smile. She should have known sending these two off in the other direction this morning would have led them straight here.
“You know of course that I must tell you you cannot come.”
“We know,” Kaleigh said. “That’s why we’re coming.”
Josel sighed. “Of course you are.”
Megan commanded a force of twenty rangers which meant that their numbers were nearly equal to that of the black veil’s.
“I know, Tier,” the queen interrupted. “You must still object. I will hear no more. This woman must be dealt with and I shall not sit by while my people suffer. I shall inform Lord Harrison you objected to the last when he returns.”
Satisfied that he could say no more without suffering the queen’s wrath, Tier withdrew.
“I shall try and negotiate terms with her. Jayden, you will come with me.” The queen turned back to the two princesses. “You two shall stay here with the men.” She paused a moment and looked them both over. “Megan, protect your sister.”
“I am quite certain I am going to be the one who has to save her.” Kaleigh objected.
The queen smiled. “I am certain you are right.”
With that she and Jayden rode forward to meet the black veil and try to negotiate a peaceful solution to the current situation. The queen knew no such thing was possible but she had to try. For the sake of all involved she would not abandon hope.
Megan jumped down off of her horse and tied the reins around the horn. The other rangers began to follow suit and Kaleigh looked around.
“What are you doing?”
“I am sending her home.”
“What? Why? Doesn’t having a horse give you a tactical advantage?”
Megan laughed. “If I were a warrior, it might. I’m not. I am a ranger and we don’t ride horses into battle.”
“Because more often than not they are killed. That is not only a waste of a horse but against the ranger code.”
“What about your lynx?”
Megan looked down at Manus.
“That is a different story. If I were to try and send Manus home that would be tantamount to telling her I have no faith in her ability to fight. A horse doesn’t fight. It simply shields and dies. Manus can give as good as she gets.” Megan turned to Kaleigh and smiled, “so she gets to go. It is part of the pact of companionship between a ranger and their protector.”
“I see.” Kaleigh looked down at Jewel, her horse, and made up her mind instantly. She slid out of the saddle and began wrapping the reins around the horn.
Megan looked at her with a doubtful eye.
“You sure about that? Don’t try to do what I do just to prove something. You can protect your horse in ways that I can’t. I think you should stay right where you were.”
“I would never let anything happen to Jewel. I picked this fight, not her, so she doesn’t need to risk getting hurt over it.”
Megan nodded her approval.
“Well, just stay close to me and my boys. We’ll keep you safe.”
“I was going to tell you the same thing,” Kaleigh responded without looking back at he sister.
Megan laughed. “Saucy today. I like it.”
The other rangers and their companions had corralled the horses to a safe point and gathered behind Princess Megan. They kneeled down and brought their animals close to await orders from their captain. There were eagles, foxes, bears, wolves, hawk owls, and mountain lions all perched and ready to attack at the command of their guides.
The queen was nearing the midpoint of the field where Trijntje was waiting.
“Kaleigh, can you keep an eye out there for me?” Megan asked. There was no response and she turned to her sister to find her already doing what she was bade. “Good girl.”
“It is truly impossible to concentrate with you around,” Kaleigh whispered, her whole being focused on the area around the queen.
The queen reached Trijntje and she could feel the acid in her stomach starting to rise.
“Yer majesty,” the black veil said, her voice full of mockery and disgust. “How nice of ye to condescend to spend time with such as us. However can we be of service.”
Josel brought herself up to her full height and stared deep into Trijntie’s eyes. “You can gather this band of miscreants you have brought here and vacate this place.”
“Ah, is that all? Well I am afraid to say that I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request.”
“That’s what it means, yes.” Trijntje laughed at her little joke.
“Why must it always come to this? Why must we fight? I do not wish for this to carry on. We can find a way to live peacefully, you and I, if only you would try and see reason.”
The black veil laughed hollowly. “Ah, reason is it? Is that what I must see? I am afraid I am old and don’t see so well as I did. Perhaps that be why we must fight.”
“I think you do not see so well because you choose not to. What must I do to satisfy you? What will make us even?”
Trijntie’s smile faded from her lips and it was replaced by a snarl. “Suffer is what ye must do. Suffer as I have. Feel your world taken from you and know that yer powerless to take it back. I want to see you wallow.” The black veil’s lips twitched with hatred.
The queen shook her head slowly.
“Suffering is something all humans do at one point or another. It is a natural part of life and often unavoidable. Wallowing, however, is a choice. I have sufferances a-plenty in my life but I shall not wallow in them like a pig in shit. To do so is foolish and I have long since moved past such things.”
Trijntje snarled at Josel.
“Flippant ye are. A right cheeky little brat. Ye forget who yer speakin’ with. I’m…”
“I know full well who and what you are, Trijntje of the black veil. I will not allow what you once were to impugn upon my honour nor the peace of this land for a moment longer. Am I understood?”
The black veil smiled a dark, toothy smile.
“Aye. Yer understood right well lassie. Right well.”
“Megan!” Kaleigh suddenly shouted, her eyes shut tight.
“What is it?” Megan responded, her hand instinctively going to her bow.
“There is a Shinobi, an assassin. He’s lying in wait between us and the queen. He intends to harm her on her return.”
“Bloody black veil. Leave it to her to dishonour even the most basic rules of combat,” one of the other rangers spat.
Megan pulled her bow off and strung and arrow. The string came taunt next to her cheek and she aimed the arrow high.
“I need your help, Kaleigh. I can’t see him and you can.”
Kaleigh squeezed her eyes tighter and focused on the target. She raised her right hand slowly and placed it on Megan’s straight arm, moving her aim slightly to the right. She had to split her mind in two, focusing half on the target and the other half on tapping into Megan’s skill as a bowman. She needed Megan’s talents to know exactly where to release the arrow because Kaleigh knew nothing of the bow.
“Just a bit further,” Kaleigh whispered. “There. Loose.”
Megan released the arrow and it tore into the sky. It came thundering back down to the earth with incredible speed and pierced the hidden assassin at the base of the neck, killing him instantly. Fandango, the queen’s horse, and Jayden’s steed both jumped at the sudden sharp whistle of the arrow coming down so close behind them. When Jayden turned back and saw what it struck he yanked his sword from its sheath and found that the queen had done the same.
“So it is to be like this?” Josel shouted into the haggard face of the veil. “You would try and win the day by violating the rules of combat.”
“I would kill you in your sleep with a snake if I had the chance. Why do you feign surprise?” Trijntje shouted as she turned to retreat.
Arrows came soaring across the open field toward the queen and she batted them away with her sword. Such poor archers would never lay a scratch on her. Jayden and Josel turned their steeds to retreat. They needed to rendezvous with the rest of the men and charge as one if they were to end Trijntje quickly.
“Megan,” Kaleigh began again. “We have another problem.”
“Great, what now?”
“There are more Shinobi in the trees. I think Trijntje means to draw us into the woods to try and get the drop on us.”
Megan smiled. The stupid hag had no idea how badly she had mistaken her opponent.
“Did you hear that boys? She wants to fight in the woods.”
The rangers all laughed and began unstringing their bows. Megan whispered something to Manus and she turned to communicate with the other animals.
“Can you run?” Megan asked, turning to her sister.
“Not like you, but I can keep up.” Kaleigh said with a smile.
“Then do that. You,” Megan shouted to the second in command of her mother’s guard. “Tell Jayden we have gone to clear the Shinobi from the trees. Do not let my mother be drawn into those woods. Get the veil out into the open and we’ll meet you in the middle.”
“Understood, princess,” he said as he bowed his head and put his closed fist to his chest.
Megan turned back to her rangers and nodded. They all spun on their heels and raced toward the nearby woods. Megan caught a gasp from one of her men and turned to find her sister gliding along in the midst of the rangers, completely surrounded in a swirling ball of air.
“Showoff,” Megan whispered with a smile.
When the queen regrouped with her men she instantly demanded to know where the princesses had gone. After the lieutenant had informed her Jayden cursed under his breath.
“He had no choice but to let them go but it was foolish nonetheless. Those girls should not have seperated our forces.”
Josel did not share his apprehension.
“Nonsense, Jayden. They will prove more than a handful for whatever Trijntje has hiding in those trees. In the meantime we will need to handle what she has hidden in the wagons and other huts she has dotted across the fields. What say we chase out the rats?”
Jayden smiled and turned back toward his men.
“Light ‘em up men. It’s time to get underway.”
The order was passed back and a row of archers lit their arrows and shot a volley of fire at the temporary houses Trijntje had built in the valley. Josel hated to bring fire into such a lush and beautiful land but she knew it would heal. She would need to hurt if first though.
The arrows came raining down and the buildings went up quickly. The black veil’s men began to pour out and Josel put spur to Fandango with Jayden and his men close at her heels. She gripped her long sword tight in her hands as she rushed to make battle with the pirates and thieves that had befouled her home. They would pay for thinking they could encroach on this land.
“There,” Kaleigh said, pointing up into a tree.
An hawk owl followed her finger and bolted into the tree. The assassin twisted to try and fend off the animal while also keeping his grip on the tree but all the movement gave him away. Megan strung an arrow and loosed it in a split second. The assassin fell from the tree with a heavy thud and the rangers never broke stride.
They weaved in between the trees and underbrush naturally, barely even making a sound. Rangers lived in the trees, were one with nature. This was their home. That Trijntje thought she could best them on their own ground was beyond foolish.
“Another,” Kaleigh said, indicating another tree.
This time a bear smashed into the trunk with all it’s strength and the target was rattled loose. Two rangers drew and fired before the target could reach the ground and it was a toss up between the arrows and falling on his head as to what killed him.
“You should bring her along more often,” one of the rangers remarked to their captain.
“That would only make you lazier than you already are, Raze. Don’t mistake her magic tricks for instinct,” Megan said, drawing an arrow and firing before Kaleigh could pick out the next target. The assassin fell and Kaleigh was shocked that Megan had sensed him before she had. It was always a hard call as to which of the two sisters would be the worse to face in a battle.
Josel raced from one side of the camp to the other, hacking down every pirate that dared challenge her. Her sword was caked in blood as was her horse but there was no end to Trijntie’s men. How she had amassed such an army of villains the queen could not fathom but they would all be erased.
Josel turned Fandango and leap from her back, landing in a pool of mud and filth. She drew a second sword from her belt and spun them both as she charged into a burning building to find the rats who refused to show themselves.
One attacker came at her from the side as she entered and she deflected the blow aimed at her head with one blade and ran him through with the other. Pulling the blade out and spinning around she met a second attacker, closing the distance too quickly for his blow to come down. She put her shoulder into his chest and knocked him to the floor. He landed flat on his back and Josel stepped on the wrist still holding a blade as she thrust the point of her sword into his chest. The man twitched violently and she thrust the blade through his whole body and felt it dig into the dirt beneath.
A third man rushed her then and she did not have the time to pull her blade out of the man on the ground. Josel dove forward and rolled, picking up an axe that was lying on the ground as she did so. She batted away a wild swing for her midsection and buried the axe in the man’s skull. She kicked him in the centre of his chest and watched him fall before going back to retrieve her other sword.
“I think that is the last of them,” Kaleigh said as two mountain lions tore apart a screaming man who a pair of eagles had knocked from a tree.
A barrage of fire came roaring into the woods and the rangers all turned to flee. Megan collided with Kaleigh and brought her to the ground as the flames burst several of the tress like puss filled boils, sending wood pieces showering all over the forest floor.
“Are you okay,” Megan shouted into her sister’s ear.
“I would be better if you got off of me,” Kaleigh said calmly.
The two girls stood up and came face to face with the black veil. They were trapped in a ring of fire with the old hag, cut off from the other rangers.
“Aye, now here’s where it gets interestin,” she growled. “The two little pups, all alone with the dirty old witch. How bad do you think yer ole mom will pain when I squeeze you two dry?”
“You come on over her and try, you dirty old bit…”
“Megan, do not resort to her tactics. We are better than her,” Kaleigh said calmly.
The black veil laughed manically. “Better’n me are ye. That be a laugh. Two pampered little pups are better than the greatest sorceress in all the land? Well, we shall see, shan’t we?”
Trijntje curled her fingers together and two balls of flame burst forth. A twisted grin spread across her face and she began licking her lips.
“Megan, listen to me,” Kaleigh whispered. “I am not strong enough to fight off her magic. We need to work together or we are not going to survive this.”
“Tell me what to do then,” Megan said.
“We need to flank her.”
“How do we do that?”
“A distraction would help.”
“Great idea. Distract her then.”
“I was hoping you could do that part.”
The black veil flung the balls of fire at the girls. Megan dove to the side to doge hers and Kaleigh twisted her hand around and blew into it, creating a hurricane of air that extinguished the one intended for her. Trijntje was not going to give them any more time to talk. She began firing torches of flame at both girls and they were reeling to keep from being burnt alive.
Megan rolled over to one side of the ring and she heard a frantic howling sound and knew instantly what it was. Manus. She was trying to fight the flames to get to her master but it was no use.
“No!” Megan shouted. “Manus, no! Get my mother, Manus. Go find my mother, NOW!”
Megan heard the reluctant whelp and knew that Manus understood. She also heard several cries from the other rangers. Help was coming, they just had to hold out a bit longer.
The black veil was so intent on destroying the two girls that she did not notice that all of her wild attacks had moved them to opposite sides of the circle. Trijntje had become the distraction Megan and Kaleigh needed. She turned to fire off a bolt of flame at Megan and was struck in the face with a stone. She turned to find Kaleigh conjuring up stones from the ground and sending them flying at her with quick flicks of her wrist. Trijntje turned to focus her energy on destroying Kaleigh when an arrow came whistling toward her. She batted it away just in time but was struck again by another stone. The two sisters were firing in such rapid succession that Trijntje had been put on the defensive. Her savage need to destroy the girls had cost her the upper hand.
Fate was on the veil’s side though. She was able to send a ball of fire in just under one of Megan’s arrows that caught the ranger in her midsection and sent her reeling. Kaleigh screamed and used both hands to conjure up a bolder and fling it at Trijntje. The black veil had to use all her art to deflect the projectile and when she turned she found Kaleigh standing resolutely in front of her sister.
“You should have stayed over there, Kaleigh. We had her,” Megan grunted, biting back the pain.
“I wasn’t going to let her kill you.”
“No, ye’re gon’ta let me kill ye instead.” Trijntje took a deep breath and pulled together all the power she could muster. The ground shook from the mindless wresting of so much raw energy. The black veil meant to burn to two girls and half the world down with her next attack.
Kaleigh focused all her energy into calming the earth. The land would be what saved them and she would need to give back what the veil was taking if they were to stand a chance. Megan rose to her feet and placed two fingers on her sister’s forehead and two fingers on her sternum. She knew what Kaleigh was trying to do and she had to lend what life force she could to help her. Their bond as sisters would have to save them. Megan tapped into the two strongest centres of power in Kaleigh’s body – her mind and her heart. Together they could be stronger than the hate that wanted to end them.
Trijntje felt them preparing to battle back and stepped forward to release her ball of unbridled malice. Kaleigh summoned the earth to protect them and a dome of stone and earth encapsulated the two girls. The pillar of flame struck their shelter with incredible force and the sisters knew they would not last long against such a barrage.
The black veil took another breath and doubled her output, pouring all of her hate into the flames that licked that small dome. She was so focused on destroying the two girls that she did not hear the shouts of men or the clink of steel behind her.
Josel leapt through the ring of flames with her swords high and with two swift strokes she took Trijntie’s hands off at the wrists. The old witch fell to her knees in blinding agony and began to wail. Her screams resounded through the forest and into the neighbouring lands like booming thunder.
Josel stood over the haggard old woman, her radiance shining through the gore that caked her armour, and pointed her blade at the witch’s heart.
“I was content to let you live. You could have walked from this place into banishment. Then you raised your hand against my family and that I will not tolerate. You may befoul my home, slander my name and do as you will to me, but you will not harm my children.”
The old witch spat at the queen. “Your children are nothin’ to me save trinkets of your vanity. Yer naught but a haughty ole strumpet who thinks the world owes you summin. I got news fer ye, us low folk number more than ye can count and today was just the start of your woes. T’will not end fer ye,” Trijntje laughed. “T’will never end.”
Josel smiled at Trijntje and the black veil’s laugh caught in her throat.
“Throw your hate at me. Throw your anger and your malice. As you can see I will withstand it. I will prevail through any barrage you launch at me. I have the courage and fortitude to preserve such base attempts to befoul me, and do you know why?”
Trijntje glared at the queen.
“Because I have known suffering, I have known what it is to wallow. I have known the pain you wish upon me and I have risen above it. Not by standing upon others or by casting slander about as you do, but by accepting why it was I suffered and learning from it. I have become more than the sum of my sorrows. I have found true happiness and I am sorry that the same is so impossible for you.”
“All I have ever wanted is peace between us but I see that it will be long in coming, if it comes at all. You resent the love I have found because it is a love you are incapable of accepting and feel unworthy of receiving.”
Megan and Kaleigh had emerged from their protective dome and stood next to their mother, Manus standing wrapped around one of Megan’s legs. The three of them looked down at Trijntje and the old witch moaned from a mixture of pain and frustration. Her hate would not die easily.
The flames surrounding them had died the moment Trijntie’s hands were cut from her and the rest of Josel’s force appeared to surround them.
“Jayden,” the queen called.
“Yes, my queen.”
“See that she is tended to and then put on a ship. She will never again step foot in these lands as long as I draw breath.”
The black veil eyed the queen with a hate that burned like the sun.
“Begging your pardon my queen, but would it not be better to just kill her and have done?”
“It is dishonourable to strike down a defeated foe. Besides,” the queen added, “death would be a kindness to her and I have no more charity left in my heart for her just now.”
Josel turned to lead her daughters from the forest and they were met by the first legion, the king riding at their head.
Lord Harrison leapt down from his horse and his men followed behind him, dropping to a knee as the queen approached.
“Your majesty,” the soldiers all cried in unison.
The king smiled as he placed his hands on either side of his wife’s face.
“Forgive me for not bowing as well.”
Josel smiled back and let him kiss her. When she pulled away she whispered, “oh, don’t worry. You will later.”
The king laughed heartily and then looked past Josel to the scene beyond.
“Trijntje, I presume.”
“She has been dealt with,” Josel said.
The king nodded and his eyes fell on his daughters. He rushed over to embrace them both, pleased to see them unharmed.
“Did you account for yourselves in this battle?”
“They were both amazing beyond words, my lord.” Josel said.
The king raised an eyebrow. He looked from Megan to Kaleigh with a wide smile on his face.
“Kaleigh helped me to fell an assassin from an incredible distance. It was like standing outside the castle and firing over it to strike and enemy on the other side, that was how far it was.” Megan gesticulated with a huge grin on her face.
The king turned toward Kaleigh and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Is this true?”
“I also saved Megan’s life.”
“Now, wait just a minute with all that,” Megan jumped in and both the king and queen began to laugh as the sisters bickered over the truth of who had saved who.
“The day has been won,” the king said. “Let’s go home. I want to hear all about my fearless women and their battle with the great witch of the veil.”
Megan and Kaleigh smiled and ran off to fetch their horses with Manus on their heels. The queen slid under the king’s arm and they walked after their two children with the sun shining down and the hope of a more peaceful day ahead.