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2020-05-23 An Unexpected Score
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VeronicaFoxx
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2020-06-10 A Knight's Duty

2020-06-10_a_knight_s_duty_fa_ib_sf.txt
Keywords transformation 24072, magic 16288, fantasy 16031, knight 2027, no sex 734
A Knight's Duty
By: Veronica Foxx
For: Lorkos-Lovianne


Sir Lorkos stumbled down the last bit of rocky slope and nearly collapsed when he hit the more even ground of the plains below.  One hand gripped at his side, holding a bundled cloth against the rents that tore through armor and flesh, the other an unstrung bow stave that assisted him in keeping his feet.  He gave a final glance backward, past the foothills and low mountains, to gaze at the high peak from when he had come.  There lay slain the allies that had ventured forth at his side, but there lay also the monster that had plagued the nearby towns and villages.  Of them all, only he had survived, and that not for much longer.

The beast had struck him a terrible blow in its death throes, one that should have left him lying beside his fallen allies, but the determination that had seen him rise from a peasant-born page to a knight of the realm had bore him through to ensure the creature would trouble none of the lands' peoples ever again.  If he had had the strength left in him, he would have dragged along its decapitated head as proof of the deed, but his word would need to be enough.  If he could make it back to civilization to give his word...

Sir Lorkos turned back to the fore, sighting across the grassy plain before him to the forest that separated him from the nearest town.  His path to the mountain lair of the beast had taken him around it for fear of the tales that were told of these woods, but it would cost him days of travel that he could not afford to do so now.  Without a horse, his only hope of living to see his own home again would be to cut through and hope that whatever spirits guarded the forest would allow him safe passage.  There was a ritual that one of his companions had once performed in a similar situation, but he had neither the skill nor the requisite components and tolls to do so himself.  He would have to trust his fate to the same luck that had helped him get this far to see him through.

With a grunt at the burning pain in his side, he trudged onward.  Step, shift the stave forward, step again, feel the jolt of fire as the muscles torn by the beast pulled against one another, and step some more.  Forward was his only course and his only recourse.  He would have given much for even a dabble of the healing salves his clerical compatriot could create, but none had been left at the end of their battle, used up in attempting to save the lives of their friends before even he had fallen.  Lorkos would mourn them properly in due time, but first he had to survive to do so.

The sun beat down, searing him inside his armor.  He could have discarded it, his helm if nothing else, but pride and honor prevented him from doing so.  He had fought and earned this armor, and he would wear it to his grave.  The only time it ever came off was when he lay abed, and not even then when he was adventuring.  It was better to suffer a night of rough sleep than to be caught unprepared when bandits struck your camp.  And so he baked inside the metal, panting from both heat and exhaustion, bearing up as best he could as the golden orb crossed the sky and lowered towards the horizon.

He came upon the first stand of trees just as the sun touched the land, spreading bloody red across the place where sky met earth.  Onward he stumbled, his feet catching on roots and undergrowth, his strength nearly spent.  If he could only make it through these woods, he would find civilization and salvation, yet he was growing more and more certain that it was not to be.  It would soon be dark, and a man treading an unfamiliar forest at night would find himself quickly and hopelessly lost.

"Gariel, old friend, what I would not give to have your woodscraft at hand this moment," he mumbled to himself.  The hermitish forester could find a path through the thickest of brambles and the wildest of woods without hesitation, but Gariel lay with the rest of his companions far behind, never to walk his beloved woods again.

Sir Lorkos heaved a sigh and pushed onward.  Exhaustion clung to his bones, making each step an effort of will.  And yet, it seemed that his luck might be holding still.  In the fading light he spotted what he was certain was either a game trail or a footpath.  Certainly the brush seemed to be cleared of it in a meandering line, creating a lane that wandered between the trunks and deeper into the forest.  He had little to lose in trying it and much to gain should it prove to be a route through to the other side, so he turned to follow it.

Full night fell, but whatever guardian watched over him had provided a full moon that sent silvered beams down through the wide-spread canopy, allowing him to continue with little impedance.  The soft light seemed to fall directly onto the path before him, guiding him along it.  His heart skipped and his pace hastened when he noticed a soft, golden glow further ahead.  It could not be the town, not by any stretch.  It would take at least a day of travel, and probably more in his condition, to cross the forest, but perhaps a hermit or hunter had a cabin at which he could rest for the night.

As he grew nearer the glow, however, Lorkos realized that his luck had finally deserted him.  It was no cabin, but an ancient tree, grown tall and proud, its roots gnarled in lumps about its base, a clump of glowbugs crowded in a circle upon its trunk in malicious mimickry of a window through which firelight might show.  A fit of childish rage struck him, and he slung the bow stave at the gathered insects, scattering them into the night.  Then the pique left him, and he fell to his knees, weeping at the turn of fate.  Then laughter struck him, and it was all he could do to fight it off and prevent it from paining his side further.

"I suppose this is as good a place to die as any..." he mused.

Dragging himself forward, he lay himself between a pair of large roots, nestling into the hollow between them, and discarded his helm.  Laboriously, and with many pauses to let the agony fade, he removed his breastplate, followed by the rest of his armor.  It was worth no more to him now, and perhaps some unknown adventurer might find it in the future and put it to good use.  Despite the coolness of the night air, he felt strangely warm.  He had always thought that death must feel chill as the grave, but the lethargy that crept upon him was soothing, easing.

He muttered a bemused apology as the glowbugs returned, seeming to dance and twine before him in patterns that he could not begin to decipher.  It was almost hypnotic, and he relaxed further into the embrace of the roots, feeling a slight tickle at his injured side.  Glancing downward, he found small tendrils seemed to have grown up out of the earth to tease at his torn flesh.  He wondered at it, feeling that he should be alarmed but unable to muster up the energy to care.  His flesh would feed the earth sooner or late, so what matter if it began to claim him before he had truly passed?

He gave his head a slight shake and looked up at the glowbugs once more.  It was restful, watching them, letting the warmth that suffused him buoy his spirit as it prepared to depart.  If nothing else, it was a peaceful place to die, though the strange pressure on his limbs was beginning to grow annoying.  He glanced downward again to find that more small roots had grown up to wrap around arms and legs.  Again, he could not muster the will to care, though he did find the moss that was growing across his discarded armor rather peculiar.

He turned his attention to the glowbugs once more and let his mind wander, memory embracing him and casting him back through his life.  It was a life that he was proud to call his own.  He was a defender of the realm, a guardian of the people, a protector of the innocent and a scourge against the wicked.  He was a true knight, beholden to righteousness and justice, and it was without regret that he had lived.  He wished only that he had more time to continue his good works, but he was not unhappy to have slain such a hideous beast as the last in a long line of heroic deeds.

As he watched the dancing lights of the insects, though, it seemed that he was beginning to understand their patterns.  No doubt it was fading wit from loss of blood, but it seemed to him that they were weaving him a promise.  A promise of life.  A promise of hope.  A promise of continuing his guardianship.

"That would be nice, little bugs," he chuckled, "but fate seems to have destined me for the grave.  I'm sorry that I can't protect you."

But he could, they seemed to communicate.  He could continue to live, would continue to live.  He was a guardian to the core, a duty that he carried out proudly and with all his soul.  A guardian he would remain, though of a different sort.

Something tickled at his ear, and he reached up to scratch it, finding something strange protruding form his cheek.  He plucked it away and held it out, a flower.  He held it out to the glowbugs with a slight smile, a last gesture of good will, and they gathered in close to swirl around it.

Not a last gesture, their patterns wove.  Not at all, only the first of many more to come.  Many and more for many, many long years, as many years as the trees of the forest lasted, until the last root had rotted and the last trunk fallen.

Lorkos found himself enticed by the promises they offered, and nodded his acceptance.  It would be nice to continue performing his sworn duty, an honor and a joy.  Yes, he would be a guardian of the woods, a defender of the trees, a champion of all that dwelt within.  He reached for his helm, finding it covered in moss and bark, and settled it atop his head once more.  The rest of his armor was likewise encrusted, but it would do well to camouflage him amongst the trees and shrubbery.  His bow stave had likewise been altered, thorny vines twined tight around it for most of the length to form something akin to a spiky-bladed longsword.

He used it to help him rise, but found it unnecessary.  His wound no longer pained him, sealed over by the roots that twined around him, likewise the rents in his armor hidden.  He followed the glowbugs as they fled, swirling up the ancient tree that was the heart of this forest, the sacred heart that he now guarded.  He let out a soft chuckle and offered up a salute to the spirits that had guided him here and given him a second chance.  It would be a privilege to protect these gentle woods and the creatures that sheltered here, and he would perform his duties well.

The End

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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2020-05-07 The Meeting of the Wilds
2020-05-23 An Unexpected Score
Sir Lorkos is the last of his party, dying from his wounds, and unable to reach civilization for safety. He lays down to die in a forest grove only to be offered a way to continue on with his duty of protecting others.

Keywords
transformation 24,072, magic 16,288, fantasy 16,031, knight 2,027, no sex 734
Details
Type: Writing - Document
Published: 2 months, 1 week ago
Rating: General

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