Hello hello, everyone!! I hope you’re having a wonderful day! Yes, similar to a couple weeks ago when I redid the picture-prompt flash fiction challenge, I have done another one!!
Today’s flash fiction is called “Relentless”, with this picture being the prompt!
I really hope you enjoy it! 🙂
Rain stung my eyes. I swiped at them, and my leather gauntlets chafed my skin, only adding to the blinding burn. Blinking back tears that instinctively welled up, I saw nothing but the streaks of rain.
But there! A glint of light revealed itself, high over the head of my attacker, a steel blade hurtling down to permanently fix itself in my skull. I made a dive out of the way. Razor-sharp steel tugged at the toe of my boot, but I felt no pain and rolled over one shoulder to rise in a crouch. The cobbled ground stung my back where I’d made contact, but it was nothing I hadn’t drilled thousands of times before. I risked a glance at my boot. A chunk of leather was gone where the sword has sliced through. It hadn’t struck flesh. I could keep going. I had to keep going. A memory rose unbidden in my mind.
“What does the word ‘relentless’ mean, father?” I asked, looking far up at the towering form of the man I admired most.
“The word relentless, son?” His deep chuckle made me smile. His head leveled with mine as he crouched, and one of his rough hands fell on my little shoulder, making me feel stronger than anyone in the world.
Pivoting on my heels, I locked my gaze back on the tall, muscled man I fought. He hefted his broad sword back into his gnarled hands and his head swung toward me, a grimace so prominent on his face I could count every gap in his blackened teeth. The callouses under my gloves pinched as my grip tightened around the weathered hilt of my sword. I jumped high, my only thought to end the fight. At that moment, I knew I’d made a mistake. Through the streaks of rain still roaring from the heavens, a small blade of steel hurtled my way, spinning end over end. My exposed ribs caught it flawlessly. Even as pain ripped up my side and traveled to my gut, I didn’t slow my leap. My sword flashed down, hilt first, and a loud crack resounded in the air. The hilt slid away from my opponent’s head as he fell and crashed into the cobbled street. His headache the next day would be prominent.
“The word relentless means…a very important thing. Do you remember the time I told you to split the wood so we would have a fire for the night?” My father’s gentle voice spoke carefully.
I nodded. “Yes, and mother didn’t want me to do it. She told you I was too little.”
Father’s leathery face wrinkled when he grinned. A scar he sported on his right temple rippled as well. He never told me how he’d got it. “Yes. And what did you tell me after I let you do the job and you worked all day on it, finishing with three times the wood we needed?”
A glow of pride flickered in my chest at the memory from a few months back. “I said I was gonna prove her wrong. I said I’d keep chopping wood until I couldn’t anymore. I’m eight, and that means I’m old enough to do anything I try my hardest to do.”
Turning my attention from the body, I slammed my sword back into its sheath and scampered from the dark alley I’d been baited into. The rest of the quiet village spread out before me, blanketed by the darkness of the night. A throbbing ache mixed with the occasional sense of soul-splitting agony when I moved traveled all through my left ribs. I need to get out of here.
A drain pipe shone invitingly in the faint light of the street lamps along the road. I hurried up to the brick wall it had been fastened to and started my ascent. I gritted my teeth so hard I felt they might snap. Hand over hand my gloves squeaked against the soaked metal. The rush of water inside the pipe reached my ears.
The roof rose up in front of me and I made a grab for it. My fingers burned, even in the cold night. I managed to get a forearm over the top, which protested against the gritty tiles it scraped against. I pulled the rest of my body over and rolled into a crouch. My side flashed with pain and a soft groan escaped my lips. I pressed both hands to my side and felt liquid far warmer than the night’s rain rush over my fingers. The pain was all I could focus on. I couldn’t keep going.
“That’s right,” Father’s eyes twinkled and he gave my shoulder a small shake. “That feeling of working hard for something, for not giving up until you can’t do it anymore. That’s what it means to be ‘relentless’.
“Oh,” I nodded and puffed out my chest as Father rose. “I like the word.”
“You know, Crater? I do too.”
I closed my eyes and pulled myself higher onto the roof. Far below, perhaps a quarter-mile away, I saw the light of a great bonfire, and three looming trolls standing about it. My final task in this test—to extinguish the flames without being demolished by the trolls. I knew I was bleeding out. I knew my strength would wane.
My shaking fingers fell on the tail of my cloak. With a sharp motion, I tore a long strip away and wrapped it tightly about my torso. The left side grew immediately damp with warm blood, but I knew it would stop it for a time. Rising, I started forward.
I stopped at the sound of my name. Spinning, I recognized the dark form standing across the roof immediately. Joden, my father’s friend. The man who’d accepted me to join his top-secret group of warriors. The man who’d given me this test.
“Whatever you do when you grow up, son,” Father’s voice grew serious, and I focused carefully on every word he said. “Don’t stop being relentless to finish what you start. To make the world better. To protect those who need help and speak back against those who wish to hurt others.”
I slowly nodded, the weight of the words sinking deep into my heart. “I won’t, Father. I will stay relentless, so I can be like you!”
Father’s smile made me want to puff out my chest even more.
“Joden, I haven’t finished the test yet. I won’t quit. I’ll finish what I started,” I gasped. I kept myself standing straight, despite how badly it hurt.
Joden shook his head, and a smile twitched at his face. “You already passed the test. You aren’t even supposed to fight the trolls. The final piece of the test is whether you give in after you are injured or not. You kept going. That means you passed. You’re one of us now.”
I couldn’t believe the words reaching my ears. As Joden set a shoulder under my arm to help support me away from the testing sight, my mind began to register what this truly meant. I had been accepted into the Silents. I had been accepted into the highest regarded group of warriors I’d ever known. Glancing down at my aching ribs, I knew the cut would leave a scar, but a scar I would wear proudly, like the one my father never tried to hide on his temple. And for the first time, I figured I knew where he’d received that scar from, years ago.
And there we have it!! I really hope you liked the story! It was so much fun to write.
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