Friday Flash Fiction 013 – Raise the Black Flag

The trail of greenish light cut through the night sky. It was always the same when they came. The light was the messenger of their arrival. Before long, their ships would land, their troops would depart, and Miriam’s people would be forced to empty the warehouses that they had so diligently stocked up.

Miriam swung down from the treetop perch and landed on the forest floor. Leaves crunched under bare feet as she ran towards her village. She paused at the tree line just before the clearing. Beyond stood her village, a small collection of huts clustered around a bend in the river. The dock was nestled in the bend, though it was only used for the Romanus.

The other villagers had seen the green lights in the sky and had gathered outside, staring up towards the heavens. Miriam followed their gaze and watched as the wooden Romanus ship descended from the stars. It landed gently in the waters of the river as several men from the village ran to extend the walkway from the dock to the deck.

Once the ship was tied off, a Romanus official stepped forth, flanked on either side by a Praetor Guard. Their bronze breastplates shone in the moonlight while their capes fluttered in the gentle summer breeze, the red of the official contrasting with the purple of his guard. Miriam was too far away to hear the proclamation that the official was making, but she assumed that it was the standard address.

Every month since anyone could remember, the Romanus descended among them demanding tribute in the form of ore and precious gems. Something was off about this month’s visit, however. The villagers seemed tense as they listened to the official. Miriam also realized that the Romanus only brought one ship as opposed to the several they normally used to carry off her people’s hard earned goods.

The official had finished speaking and stared down the walkway at the surrounding villagers. There were shouts of confusion and anger from the small crowd. He listened with a look of mild disinterest before turning and stepping back onto his ship. As soon as he cleared the walkway, soldiers moved down the wooden path from the ship to the village. Cries of panic erupted as the soldiers began entering houses and villagers ran off in any direction they could.

Miriam watched in silent horror as fires lit the summer night. Screams of pain filled the air only to be cut off suddenly. Forcing herself to back away further into the tree line, she turned and ran. She did not stop running for seemed an eternity. The screams had faded away, but the glow of her village burning still glowed in the night.

* * *

Dawn was less than an hour away. Miriam had finally forced herself to calm down and turned back towards what was left of her village. Smoke still drifted lazily from the charred remains of huts. In the center of the village, several tents had been erected. The soldiers seemed to have made camp in the middle of their carnage.

Miriam felt her blood boil at the sight. How could they be so callous?

She was pulled from her thoughts by the sounds of people nearby. Silently, she crept towards the sound and discovered a few survivors from the village.

“Liam? What happened? Is there anyone else?”

A tall lad, barely younger than Miriam but still not old enough to hunt alone, sighed heavily. “They said that the empire no longer needed us. Our land is to be given to a new Proconsul who would settle it with citizens. We were the only ones who made it out.”

Miriam was shocked at the news. With a simple declaration, her people were killed in order to make way for a new settlement. All that was left of her village was a small group of barely more than children.

“Very well. If they think that we can be gotten rid of so easily, I guess that we will have to show them their mistake.” She nodded to herself as much as the band of survivors. “Listen up. You all can stay here and try to hide from the Romanus or you can come with me and fight back.”

“But how?” The question came from a smaller lad in the back. “There are thirty soldiers out there and only eight of us.”

“It’ll be ok, Sean.” Miriam smiled at the boy. “We only need to get to their ship. With that, we can get others, like us, and strike back at them at our own choosing and when they are weak. The soldiers are all asleep, so we can easily board the ship and take care of whoever is left on board.”

There was a murmur of agreement from the group before Miriam turned and led them back to the village.

She was surprised how easy it was to move past the sleeping soldiers. By the looks of the empty wineskins lying about, they had celebrated their “victory” over her people. Miriam silently pointed at Liam and then at the weapons left near the tent’s entrance. Nodding, Liam took Sean to gather the gladii and spears before joining the others on the dock.

Boarding the ship, they found only a handful of sailors. They were all asleep on the deck and were easily taken care of by the newly armed group. There was a little fumbling as Miriam’s new crew tried to make ready to sail. Their boats only traveled the waters, not the stars. Fortunately, the process of raising the ship into the air was intuitive enough and done without raising an alarm from the soldiers on land.

As they sailed into the morning sun, Miriam turned towards the cabin. Surely the official who brought the news was in there. She approached the door, gladius in hand. Little did the Romanus official know that he was not to survive the maiden voyage of The Galiani Revenge.

Miriam opened the door to the cabin and found the official still asleep in her new bed. She walked slowly towards him, a moment of doubt crossing her mind. Looking over her shoulder at the shrinking image of her village, Miriam tightened her resolve. Sometimes, one just needs to raise the black flag.

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Flash Fiction Friday 012 – The Persian Sand Wyrm

The Persian Sand Wyrm lifted it’s mighty head and spit forth it’s venom as the crimson clad combatants. Heinrich ducked, Rich dodged, and Tim dove, but Ulrich did not move fast enough. He screamed as the venom struck his left arm.

It quickly ate through his armor, burning into his flesh. The pain was intense, almost unbearable. Tim rolled to a crouch a few feet from Ulrich and dove back towards his injured battle buddy. He scooped Ulrich up in his arms and tackled the fellow Crusader to the ground as another burst of venom shot overhead.

“Crusader Main, Crusader Main. This is Crusader Bravo. Request immediate medevac at LZ Hawk. Elaine. I say again Elaine.”

Ulrich was family aware of the report Tim was sending up. Through the haze of pain, he recognized the code word for confirmation of the sand wyrm. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Heinrich and Rich engaging the creature, saw it slither and writhe under the hail of gunfire from the other two Crusaders.

Ulrich was pulled back to the reality of his situation as he felt something tightening on his arm near the shoulder. Tim was applying a turniquet to his injured arm. Reaching into his aid pack, Ulrich popped one of the pain potions that had been issued him and waved Tim away. “I’m good. Help them.”

Tim nodded and took off towards the wyrm while Ulrich finished applying the turniquet. A wave of euphoria washed over him as the potion took effect. After several moments, Ulrich was done treating himself. He couldn’t move his arm, but he was ok for now.

Ulrich reached for his weapon, the crossbow just a few feet from him. The bolts were specially designed and enchanted for desert dragons. Luckily, it was undamaged from the wyrm’s venom, but he only had one shot.

The other three had the wyrm’s attention. It was now or never. He lifted the crossbow, aimed, and loosed the bolt. It struck the wyrm in its venom sack, sinking deep into its neck. With a terrible cry, the creature reared its head before collapsing to the ground.

The medevac arrived a few minutes later and the team loaded up on the helicopters. Ulrich didn’t remember much after that. The medics had given him some of the good stuff, and he faded into a drug induced sleep.

If you liked this, please drop me a comment or share with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us here, or on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the weekly fantasies I destroy my sanity to build for you. If you want, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and as a special thanks, you’ll receive a short story for free. And as always, I mustache y’all to stay fantastical.

Flash Fiction Friday 005 – The Golden Horde

As the day of battle was reached, the Golden Horde stood ready to meet their foe. #flashfictionfriday #fantasy #battle

The sound of a thousand breaths echoing in a thousand helmets filled the first few ranks. Behind, standards fluttered in the breeze, undulating with the same determined beat of the warriors. The sun rose behind them, casting the field in a glorious, golden light. It was a good omen.

The heavens were smiling on the Golden Horde. Though chaos still loomed ahead, order would soon be brought to bear as sure as the dawn was ending the night. It was a certainty, as sure as the dawn.

A horn sounded in the distance and a cloud of smoke rose on the horizon. The earth shook as the wild ones marched forth. Their army outnumbered the Golden Horde three to one, but that did not cause a stir among the ranks.

General Gradicus observed how the wild ones marched forward. Their steps were out of time with each other and their ranks bent like a reed in the wind. This was not a professional army, merely a mob meant to scare and intimidate.

Gradicus allowed himself a small smile as he wrote several orders on scraps of parchment. These orders were handed to nearby runners who sped off towards the designated officer. This army was not easily scared and would show this rabble what true military force can do.

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Flash Fiction Friday 002 – Knowledge is Strength

This week’s flash fiction looks at a world where knowledge and strength go hand in hand.

Master Rotenaphon sat atop his pillar, his large forearms resting on crossed legs. Six shelves were cut into the side of the pillar, and each shelf was filled with scrolls of various thickness. Those scrolls alone were proof of Rotenaphon’s prowess. Years of study and work went into gathering all that knowledge displayed within the pillar.

A potential student was brought within the room to stand before the pillar. The student’s jaw clenched and his shoulders shook slightly at the sight of the pillar. There was nothing else within the room to compete for his gaze. All the young man could do was let his eyes travel up the pillar, past each shelf, with growing apprehension before finally setting on the master himself.

“So,” Rotenaphon began. “You wish to learn of the philosophy of nothingness?” The master punctuated his question by flexing biceps the size of melons. “Well then, I hope you are properly prepared, otherwise you shall only learn the philosophy of pain!”

The fight was over quickly. Rotenaphon sprung from his pillar with lightning speed. Before the potential student was aware of what was going on, he was balled up on the ground and staring at the ceiling. Within minutes, the student was on his way out the door.

At this rate, he was never going to be able to learn anything beyond the basic education. Maybe he should just try an easier teacher, at least until he learned how to fight. Until then, he was never going to be able to win any lessons.

 

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