Tales to Feed the Beast

A different short work every chapter, to sharpen my (very) dull writing skillz. Join in with a story if you want to.

No one told him the stories, never explained that the good guys always win. There was no final push, no special circumstance to spare the killing blow, no legacy of hope. With him, by the river, died the righteous, popular uprising that never was.

He had been carrying a letter for the consul, but we stand with you only comforts those who hear it. Many things might have been, had the rider from the west not overtaken him on the twelfth day. Their confrontation was not even heroic- The man had stopped near dawn, and lain his head by the root of the willow tree, at a bend in the river. The night was pregnant with expectation, ready for relief, and fading into grey even before the labours of the sun had made themselves known. Lighter and lighter it grew, untill a steady stacatto drumming bled into the man's hazy half- sleep. Quietly, the man had grabbed his good axe, the one Jerald at the forge made for him before he died, and stepped forward to the edge of the canopy. An ashen mare wavered at the edge of his sight, then broke through the mist crawling off the river as a rider dismounted in a leap. They paced towards each other, met in the rutted road, and drew their weapons.

The rider struck first, wounding the man's unprotected side with the flick of a wrist. Pain slowed  his axe for a moment, as the rider slid around the cumbersome shaft and struck his face . Blood gushed, the axe fell away, and the man collapsed with a burbling choke. He knew he had failed, deep below the current of the pain, but there was no self rebuke; only confusion. He could not turn himself, or breathe through the thickening pool of red in his mouth. His eyes could not see, and the pain he felt was to great for him to truly comprehend, but around him, in the dark, circled the cheery chirping of the birds, the soft rustle of the willow leaves and the rub of the water against the riverbank. There could be nothing wrong. He would just lie down a bit more...

There was no sunrise.

The End

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