On a quick journal-ish tangent, I find that I'm spending far more time crafting articles and other things tangentially-related to my ultimate of aim of publishing Grit : The Roleplaying Game of Harsh Realities (or Whatever My Final Subtitle Will Be) than working on Grit itself. With that in mind, dear readers, please do try to enjoy something I wrote a while ago.
A piece of plate mail, ornate greaves, sank into a brackish swamp. The armor was slightly baroque, but the filigree never interfered with any of its perfectly-wrought glancing surfaces. It was armor of a kind found in that interim between the High Mediaeval Period and the Early Renaissance. The design, however, was not authentic; it was as I would have made it. Oddly modern, stylized vines traced the outer-edges with rounded leaves tapering to sharp tips. The design had none of the disgustingly overgrown detail native to that point in time.The armor belonged to a man moving cautiously through the desolate mud. Only algae, demons, and the fog dwelt here. The man had dark hair and plain eyes. His chin was strong because it had to be. His sword was drawn. Its blade began at three fingers width and narrowed to a single point only two feet away. The blade was as practical as the man. It punched through at the place it must, at the right time.
What then awaited this man?
That question is best served by looking first backward then ahead.
He came from not quite the common mold, but the middle (merchant) class. He joined his lord’s ranks as an infantryman almost before he could hold a sword. But why? obviously because of a tortured past. A past built of men with steel untempered by reason. A neighboring warlord, no better nor worse than his own, raided his village and he had to watch his mother burn alive in their small, idyllic house when but a boy.
And so he fought for years and years and collected scars and horrors and honors. He was raised high in the household of the lord that had killed his father. Oh, he didn’t know. You do. You’ll have to live with it. His mother was, of course, too kind for their times and had told him his father died in battle. She didn’t need to tell our hero that his father was unarmed and begging for his life.
Then famine and flood and draught and pestilence and all those other personifications/Greco-Roman deities visited their land. And the lord died, but not before he was unkind enough to charge our hero with a holy crusade against the creature in the swamp that certainly caused all their ills.
And so our hero walked past dead and twisted trees (how they grew at all to be twisted no one knows). When suddenly, it rose from the shallow pool, but what manner of beast must it have been?
It too followed a necessary form, large and phallic with tentacles and razor-pointed, rending claws. It was a beast both ancient and modern, a dragon and a giant squid, a horned demon, a chimaera of power and nightmares. It struck him, rigid and true, rending our hero’s steel and flesh. The beast pierced, and penetrated him over and again. He held true and never let go of his blade. As the throbbing monstrosity drew our hero closer and closer to its gaping maw, the warrior prepared his exhausted limbs to strike. His blade bit deep, buried true to the hilt. His last thought was, of course, of his mother surrounded by thrusting flames. Our hero shuddered in relief, released, and sank quietly into blessed oblivion.
© Edward Lockhart 2009