Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Of Martyrs and Wise Men by Cresta McGowan (ME!)

This is a short story I wrote for a WeBook contest - just thought I'd share. It had to include the following five words:
  • rapscallion
  • titanic
  • balderdash
  • biscuit
  • falsie
Here is my entry:

            The boats beat back the waves of the Thames. Their wooden clinkers sliced through the sea led surreptitiously by a dragon’s head. The land stretched out ahead and boasted an ornate church, a treasure of gold and riches. Each man readied his shield and his sword, prepared to secure all from whomever lived upon this terrain. At landfall, their steps moved without caution toward the doors of the alcove nestled between stone pillars. The men poured into the church prepared to battle, and stopped to find it empty. Hollow.
            “Where are the great riches Asgeirr?” A demand, not a request.
            A sly smile covered the stained face of the Viking king, “You ask me of great riches, you doubt me?” His sword rested in his tanned hand the skin scarred from tumultuous years of victorious battle. He plodded through the stone parish; glared into the eyes of each man – he watched, judged, questioned - Do you doubt me? 
            “The treasure is here. Trust this. A Christian tradition besets you, one that has failed as no miracles will save this place; a fool’s folly. They believed buried bones of a saint could create magic for them. Protection. A martyr, their rescuer.”
            “That doesn’t explain the desolate of riches. You promised brass biscuits like Njoror’s. Gold, Asgeirr, gold,” he spat.
            Vexed by the simplicity of his men, yet temperate, Asgeirr replied with a shake of his head: “You stand upon it.”
            The shouts of the men coupled with the strident sound of a wooden chest shoved across an uneven cobble floor echoed off the walls. The trap door beneath the chest guarded the paragon against impatient grasps. The men clawed at the hatch, wrung it open with the impetus of desire to reveal gold and sliver, and to their surprise, the high priest masked betwixt the fortune. 
            Swords drawn by the Vikings the priest ascended from the depths. Asgeirr surveyed him; his eyes challenged him. 
            “Why are you alone here?"
            The priest remained calm, quiet, his fear absent. He did not shiver or cower, and his eyes held Asgeirr’s gaze with uncharacteristic determination. For the Northmen, fear motivated their blood draw, fear nurtured their rage.
            “What makes you assured?” Silence.
            With his sword tipped for entry at the dip in the priest’s neck, the holy man’s eyes lifted to the balustrade above them. A cold chill passed through Asgeirr’s spine as he followed his gaze and counted fifty arrows pinched and placed upon him; Asgeirr faltered.
            “Did you think we would not be ready? For Norse rapscallions? Attacks burrowed in unplanned, unorganized, childish pretenses. The nature of your people. Your ships sail with swiftness over the ocean’s waves and scar the sacred honor of Wessex with filth on our shores. You desecrate our lands. What, forever? No. You are finished. Your titanic wake tolerated no longer. We dedicate ourselves as men to tame the villainous nature of your people, to seek revenge for ours. You will thrive here no more.” Athelwulf, Noble of Wessex, allowed his words to sink deep into the haggard men below him. The raids upon Canterbury and London had created a trail of preparedness in the men of this place. Blood spilled over the green grass for far too long, and Athelwulf vowed to end this war.
            Asgeirr lowered his sword, “I have underestimated the men of Wessex. It seems your martyr is no fool. However, you will not defeat me. My men. We will still take this treasure, and the priest. We will return to our ships and conquer all in our path. We will not surrender to your darts.”
            “Balderdash! Ludicrous confidence comes before the fall. Outside the stone pillars, my army waits for my command. One arrow shot will set off a sea of disappointment for your kind. The arrogance of your men, taken in by falsies of wealth. Bite into the gold Asgeirr, you’ll find your teeth leave no marker.”

            Asgeirr, an honorable man, could not allow this victory by acquiescence. Peckish and resolute, he drew his hands through his ragged beard and glanced feverishly around the chamber proper, his eyes rested on each false statue of gold, on his men who now wavered in their conviction. Wise men predicted this prophecy, a martyr that would mend the English soul. Wise men are not to be doubted, and yet Asgeirr raised his sword.

1 comment:

  1. I think perhaps historical fiction may be your genre. Well done! Mom