This is the beginning of a short story that I am currently working on. I will try to complete one at least once a week. They will all be inspired by the incredible art that I have discovered online. Please visit the artist’s page if you enjoy their piece, and comment on the story with any criticism you may have.
This story’s art is provided by the artist Wang Ling. You can see more of his art here:
8th week of the harvest, in the Third year of Peace.
I was nervous, scanning the cobbled street in front of us. There was too much to look at and I could do nothing to slow my racing heart. Instinct had taught me to survey every face that I could, to make out those who could bring harm. To know wear danger might linger, and silence it swiftly.
I remembered the war and the moments that I felt before the first battle on the fields outside the capital. My father and uncle stood next to me, my armor loose and heavy. During the chaos I kept their final words with me, moments before the enemy crashed against us like a wave.
“Trust your arms.” My Uncle told me. “They already know how to kill.”
“Trust your heart.” My Father told me. “It already knows how to keep you alive.”
When it was over I found them face down in the grass, glistening red in the sun. It seemed an arrow through my Uncle’s throat had stole his life, and my father lay upon him his back cut like the stump of a tree that had been hacked by child wielding an ax for the first time.
An armored hand placed hard on my shoulder brought me back to the present. I took my eyes off the street to see the gaze of my commander look at me through the dark slit of his helmet. It had been made to resemble the snarling head of a dragon.
“Sir Harold, are you clear with procession? I will not tolerate any mistakes, especially today.”
“Yes Commander.” I said the words as if it were an ordinary breath. I never gave a different answer. My orders were clear and simple. They were no different then the orders I received when I was finally knighted three years ago. Each day I woke knowing nothing should change. My loyalty to the royal family was unwavering. The King and Queen were good to me. They allowed me to join the royal guard when the last of my family died defending their realm. Back then my only order was to survive, to grow strong to one day serve them.
A horn blasted from on top of the closest tower, signaling the approaching royal family. I turned as the great oak doors of the citadel opened. The King and Queen stepped out into the light, walking proudly. I remember the King’s beard was still golden when he first spoke to me as a squire. My tunic was covered in the grime of the stables and my hands sore from chopping wood to stoke the fire of my Commander’s room.
“You there.” He beckoned me towards him, adjusting the straps on the saddle of his great warhorse to the great displeasure of his servant. I approached, my eyes locked on my muddy shoes. “Look at me lad.” I looked up without hesitation, and gazed upon a man with golden hair, kept out of his face by a band of gold that crossed his forehead. His beard was even thicker, and he combed two fingers through it has he peered down at me. “I knew you family well. They served me proudly. I expect the same from you.”
“Yes my King.” I answered. They were the first words of bravery that I ever spoke.
I knelt as the King passed by gazing once again at my feet, too cowardly to look any higher. He stopped then and I watched as the toes of his fine leather boots point in my direction.
“Arise knight, so that I may address you.”
I got up without hesitation, and gazed upon a man with silver hair.
“Remove your helmet.” The sun shone brightly on us both as I followed his command. For a moment he let go of his solemn demeanor and smiled. “Sir Harold. You look like your father in that armor. It suits you well.”
“Thank you my k-”
“King George!” The sudden appearance of my Commander stopped my words. “The Procession cannot be delayed, it is time.” The king nodded, his face drained of expression once again.
“Make us both proud Harry.” I looked as the words slipped from the King’s mouth. I responded, though the words could not be made audible past the metal of my helmet.
“Yes my King.” The words ringing from within my helmet, ringing my skull with a new sense of bravery.