Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pewtory the Lesser Bard - part 5: Jacquard the Brave

To celebrate the release of “Ritual of the Stones,” I am releasing a free serialised story set in the same world of Frindoth. The story will follow the journey of Pewtory the Lesser bard as he travels to Lilyon to witness the Ritual. I hope you enjoy.

 

 
 
 
 
Chapter 5 – Jacquard the brave
 
“King Jacquard risked a quick glance over the broken wall and swiftly lowered it again as two arrows whistled over and thudded into wagon behind him. If he had looked for a second longer those arrows would have sent him to the afterlife.
 
His heart thundered against his chest and with a shaking hand, he wiped the sweat from him eyes. The sight he had witnessed would have made ordinary men go weak at the knees for hundreds of bloodthirsty Kronian’s disembarked from their ships and attacked the Barembaugh castle.
 
These were remorseless enemies of Frindoth, pirates of the sea, scourge to all traders who had decided to progress from their cowardly tactics and take Rivervale for themselves.
 
They charged with scimitars, lances and crossbows, wearing their flamboyant coloured frilled shirts and dripping with gold jewellery.
 
“I’d say they have us pretty well pinned down,” he said to Longshaw the daring, his chief knight.
“This could be the day we finally lose,” Longshaw replied.
 
“Nonsense,” the King grinned. “They only outnumber us three to one.”
 
Pewtory the Lesser Bard paused. Within seconds he had the room’s attention again. He ducked behind the stall on the stage to simulate King’s Jacquard’s actions. In the front row he spied the boy who had requested the story, lean forward in his seat and Pewtory struggled not to smile.
 
He was of course telling the story of the defence of Barembaugh, where King Jacquard and his knights had fought the Kronian’s in the ruined castle as they invaded Vale Bay.
 
Although the Kronian’s were notorious pirates, they had never bothered with the treasures on land before. Jacquard had little warning of their attack and so only had time to assemble his own army and personal knights. There would be no assistance from the other regions. Pewtory resumed the story adopting a deep baritone voice for the King.
 
“We just need to hold them,” the King said.
 
“Easier said than done,” Longshaw replied.
 
At that moment a Kronian launched himself over the wall and landed in front of Jacquard. Longshaw stabbed him through the heart immediately before the man had time to turn around.
 
The King did not wait to see the man die, but jumped up to meet the next assailant. He was a huge man, bellowing with rage as he stood on top of the wall. He twirled an axe over his head and looked upon the King with hatred in his eyes that would give any child nightmares for life.”
 
With that Pewtory jumped off the stage, landed in front of the boy and roared at the top of his voice. A few of the woman gasped but the boy just grinned from ear to ear. Again, Pewtory continued.
 
“Jacquard was not intimidated though, he calmly swiped at the man’s shins opening up two enormous gashes. The man howled in agony as the King jumped up to meet him on the wall and kicked him into the enemy.
 
This time when an arrow flew towards him he batted it away with his shield before doing the unthinkable and jumping into the mass of attackers below. He landed on three of them, taking them to the ground, before springing to his feet and meeting the next attack from a bald man yielding a short sword. Jacquard parried the blow, twirled around and decapitated the man’s head in the next stroke.
For a moment, his knights could only stare in horror at the King’s exploits. It was impossible to think a King would place himself in such mortal danger. Was it reckless? Was it stupidity? Had battle fever driven the monarch to madness?
 
The answer to these questions is no. The King was demonstrating bravery of the highest order. For whilst he fought like a lion, accompanied by his fellow knights, Ulric Von Coolidge, his loyal friend, known as the “no-nonsense” knight, had secretly been dispatched by the King to attack the Kronian’s by sea.
 
The King’s intention was to keep the focus on himself. For whilst Jacquard made himself a large target too tempting for the cowardly pirates to ignore they were distracted from watching their backs.
This allowed Ulric Von Coolridge to destroy the enemy ships by raining down fire arrows onto the sails and burning them into the sea.”
 
Pewtory continued to narrate the tale, embellishing King Jacquard’s exploits and portraying how brave he was in battle. As he talked he acquired an old man’s walking stick which he used as a pretend sword. He swished the imaginary weapon back and forth to the delight of the audience and the resentment of the old man.
 
In truth, although over the years, the Kronian war has become known as a great victory, it was a straightforward win for the King. The pirates were ill-disciplined and once their ships were on fire, they were caught like rabbits in a trap. The significance of the tale was the achievement of Jacquard ending years of skirmishes and pirating in one decisive battle.
 
From the battle of Barembaugh Pewtory moved onto recall the siege of the Terror Tombs and then he told the story of the “Ghost Assassin,” which demonstrated the King’s bravery off the battle field in making an unpopular decision not to execute a criminal.
 
“There is little disputing our honourable King was a brave man. Who knows? Maybe he still is. But you my friend,” he pointed to the young boy who now sat so far on the edge of his seat Pewtory thought he might fall off, “wanted to know why he is now Jacquard the disheartened...