Everything was a haze. Everything but the sword and the eyes. Moving his own sword upward, Drake Romell watched his opponent’s eyes to determine where the next move might be executed. Drake saw the eyes flick to the left. There. The man would strike there. When his opponent was just beginning to move his blade toward Drake’s left, Drake’s sword had already arrived, and was lowering to deflect the strike.
Then there was another flicker in the eyes. This time to the right. No. The man was not striking to the left. He had been depending on Drake’s skill to spring his trap. He had known that Drake would move to deflect his blade. And now Drake would pay for it … unless … yes.
Drake threw himself to his knees and raised his sword so that it would deflect his opponent’s blade. The move worked. His opponent’s sword was parried and he quickly slid his blade away to lightly tap the man’s armor, square in the chest.
The man grunted, looked as if he were about to strike at Drake again, and then let his sword go limp in his hands in defeat. Drake had won.
Drake leaped to his feet and raised his hands high over his head. Then the haze disappeared, and his surroundings washed about him. The wildly cheering crowd, the arena he stood in. The judges walking toward him with bright smiles on their faces. He moved toward them, sheathing his sword and puffing out his chest in pride. He had defeated one of the best knights in the land. He was champion of the tournament.
The judges produced a bulging sack of gold and a shiny metal medallion.
“Drake Romell, you are a very skilled swordsmen,” the first judge praised him, talking loudly over the roaring of the wildly cheering crowd.
Drake lowered his head in what looked like humbleness, but he couldn’t have been prouder. “Thank you, sir.”
“Now that you are the champion of the annual tournaments we present you with this,” the judge continued.
Drake took the medallion and large sack of gold that was given to the champion. How long had he yearned and trained and sweat and bled for this day to come? For this medallion and this honor. He had only guessed at how good it would feel. It felt better. He slid the medallion over his neck and straightened it so it hung on his chest, there for all to see. He was the champion.
Slinging the gold over his shoulder, he thanked the judges once again, shook their hands, and then turning, puffed out his chest, grabbed his medallion, and showed it for all to see.
The cheering and clapping increased. Drake closed his eyes.
This is the life of a champion, he thought.
When Drake exited the tournament grounds, exhausted from all the hand shaking, congratulations, and jealous looks of the other contestants, all he wanted was to return to his room and fall asleep. Footsteps pounded on the rough gravel road behind him and his three best friends, Elliot, Jacob and Terrance ran toward him.
“Ho, Drake!” Terrance called out, catching up to him and slowing down. “Congratulations, man. Do you realized how famous you’ve become in half of an hour?”
“Tell me about it,” Drake replied. “I could hardly get away from my new fans in the tournament grounds. I’m exhausted.”
Elliot and Jacob caught up as well and congratulated him. Drake rolled his eyes but grinned. “How many times have I heard those words today?” he chuckled.
Elliot changed the subject.
“Hey, I know I’m a knight too, but I am not nearly at your level of skill with the sword. Do you think we could train together some time, you know, against Jacob and Terrance or something? That would be fun!”
“I can fight against you, but I don’t want to fight together. And I’m not going to fight them both at once. I fight civilized: one on one.”
“But you’re not going to be in tournaments always, Drake,” Elliot said with one eyebrow raised. “You are a knight and that means you will have to fight real enemies one day when they threaten this kingdom. I think you could use a little more practice in fighting beside people, and against more than one person. Sometimes you need other people’s help.”
“Hey, who are you to tell me what I need to work on?” Drake shot back heatedly, gripping the medallion in his hand and shaking it in Elliot’s face. “I’m the champion of the tournaments.”
“Drake, I’ve never seen you like this. Ever since you got that blasted medallion for winning a little sword fight match you’ve been a jerk,” Jacob stepped forward and said heatedly in Drake’s face. “You know what, I don’t know why you always point out you are the ‘champion of the tournaments’ but it’s not actually that good. Drake? You’re a jerk.”
Drake looked as if he had been slapped in the face and he stepped back. He slowly let his hands fall from his medallion and then growled at Jacob.
“Well who are you to me?” he hissed at him, and then whirled and stalked away, leaving his friends to stare, bewildered, after him.
Drake rubbed the cloth over his sword again. Again he inspected it. Again he dipped his rag into the basin of water next to him, and again he rubbed it on his sword. Polishing was hard work, but he wanted to look his best today. He was the champion of the tournament. Today would be feasting day. There was always a feast for the competitors of the tournament, winners and losers alike, the day after the tournament. But only the champion of the tournament got to sit in the seat of honor at the head of the table. And he wanted to be the most impressive looking knight there. He swiped his rag over his sword once again.
Just then, there was a banging on his door. He walked over and opened it. Terrance was outside, panting. He looked up and Drake gripped his sword tighter. Something was wrong.
“Drake … dragon … over in a farmer’s field … ruining … the crops! Come … quick,” he said through great gulps of air.
Drake brandished his sword over his head, leaped out of the room, raced passed Terrance, and charged for the door leading outside.
“Drake, wait! I’ll get Jacob and Elliot and we’ll come with you,” Terrance called after him.
“No,” Drake yelled over his shoulder. “I have my own way of fighting, you would just hinder me. Besides, it’s too dangerous for you guys. I can do this on my own!”
He burst from the knight’s living building and ran through the gate out of the castle walls and toward the farm lands. Already he could see the smoke billowing from the fields. Drake already knew it was the dragon.
Drake pumped his legs hard, moving quickly over the ground toward the smoke. As he neared the place, he could see a large moving object.
The young knight pushed fear and doubt from his mind. He had to stop and kill this dragon. The dragon turned and spotted him, it’s fiery red eyes glowing in curiosity. It stomped toward Drake. It wasn’t the biggest dragon Drake had seen, but it most certainly wasn’t the smallest. Drake cried out in fury and smashed his sword against the dragon’s side. The dragon shrieked, more in surprise then in pain. It flicked it’s wrist and knocked Drake sprawling. Drake landed hard on his back, but to his surprise he was still holding his sword. When the dragon rushed him to finish him off, Drake drove the sword up at the dragon’s soft abdomen. The dragon shrieked, and it was a shriek that was brought from pain. Drake would have smiled, but he didn’t have time. He withdrew his sword, now stained with dragon blood, and rolled away, out from under the dragon. The dragon moved toward him again. He swung his blade but it caught between the strong scales of the dragon and snapped. The blade shattered at the hilt and Drake was caught gripping only the handle of his brilliant weapon.
The dragon reached down and snatched Drake off of the ground in it’s large fist, hissed in his face, and opened it’s jaws wide to kill him. A hot burning inside of Drake to survive kicked in and he yelled as loud as he could and dug his fingers into the dragon’s fleshy palms with all of his might. The dragon loosened it’s hold. Drake kicked and fell free. He landed hard on the ground, rolled to break the impact, and move toward the handle of his sword which he had dropped. Remembering it was useless, he looked up at the dragon. It had pushed the pain Drake had caused away and was charging him again. He leaped to avoid the oncoming monster, but he was too late. One of the running feet came up and slammed into his stomach while he was in the air, and he was tossed several feet away and landed with a thud and a heavy gasp as the wind inside his lungs disappeared. The dragon was coming straight toward him. He threw his arms around his head and curled up into a ball.
Let it be swift, he thought, but then there was a shriek. Drake opened his eyes and saw the dragon shriek once again, and then keel over on it’s side with a boom.
Drake looked up and found his rescuer, behind where the dragon had been standing. He was clad completely in gold and white armor which shone brighter than the sun, and gripped a sword even shinier and stronger than his own, dripping with dragon blood. The sword had pierced through the mighty dragon’s back scales. How was that possible? The knight walked toward him and then stood over him. Would this man kill him too? It looked that way. Maybe he was just a bandit, ready to kill anyone and anything. But no. The man offered a hand and Drake took it. He was hoisted to his feet and was surprised by the strength in the hand, but also in the gentleness with which the man gripped his hand.
“Your sword broke,” the man said plainly, turning to look at the shattered blade still gripped between the scales, and then the handle on the ground.
“Yes … sir,” Drake said, guessing this man was a knight. Was he a lord? Maybe even a king?
The man turned back to him.
“Drake, taking on this dragon by yourself was a foolish thing to do. Do you know what might have happened if I had not come here sooner?”
Drake didn’t answer. He was staring at the man in armor.
“How …” he finally stammered out. “how … do you know my name?”
The knight didn’t reply to his question either. He turned and began to walk away.
“You need help, Drake. You need to accept your friends help. You can’t do everything on your own,” and then he finally replied to Drake. “Your name, Drake?”
He chuckled softly, and disappeared behind a hill. Drake ran to where the man had last been seen, opening his mouth to ask what he meant by that, but the man in golden and white armor had vanished.
Drake looked over at the dragon. He saw his shattered sword, the dead dragon, and then the great cut through the dragon’s back which had saved his life. He shook his head in wonder and then walked away, mulling over the words that the man had spoken.
Don’t you dare be shy! Here’s a challenge for you:
What did you think about the first part of this short story? Fun? Cool? Exciting? Wanna read more? I sure hope so! Tell me what you think about this short story in the comments below! 😀
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To be concluded next week in Strength Together: Part 2
Short Story: Strength Together: Part 1
Caleb E King
Copyright © 2018 Caleb E King
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