|Authors Note: This is the first piece of fiction I ever wrote. And it shows it. It was written in Wordpad, that being the only way I had at the time to write anything. I had been reading the wonderful stories in the 'TBP' universe, and thought, "I can do that!" Here is the result. It and the story following, were melded together into the final form of the story, 'Warrior'. My sincere thanks to Wanderer Werewolf, who allowed me to use his character, and for the aide he gave a beginning writer, and to the people on the TSA-List, who actually said it was a good start!|
|Tales from the Blind Pig story universe|
"Good block," his Grace said, "but watch that tendency to lower your shield on the return stroke."
"I know," I replied, "I'm trying to get the whole shield and sword action together, but even with all the practice it still isn't a natural flow, like it is with you. But it will be, with more of your time and help, for which I again give thanks."
"That's ok Lord Felix, you know how much trouble I've had learning the bow with you, so it evens out, one wish for another. I would like to have your smoothness and confidence with that recurve bow of yours myself, but the sword has always been my weapon as the bow is yours. Getting dark, about time to quit for the night. See you next week?"
"You know it," I replied, and bowed as he turned and walked back to his van to disarmor, the plates rattling and squeaking like an old main battle tank around his grizzly morph body. I took the shield off my arm and hung it in its usual place on my harness, then reached up and drew the baldric around so I could run my practice sword into the sheath over my right shoulder.
I knew that I'd never be allowed to fight on the field of battle, the Society rule about two feet, hooves, paws or claws barred me from the dance as a centaur. Four feet are simply too clumsy, too ungainly, too likely to step on someone while engaged to ones front and not watching where the rear is going in a heavy fight and someone could be, and had been, hurt that way early on after the Change. Still, I'd always wanted to learn the way of the sword and get my fighting license, even if I could only fight on the list field. His Grace had been kind enough to teach me, and, as a grizzly morph, was big enough to make a good sparring partner. I proceeded to remove my gauntlets, bracers, elbow, and 'knee' armor, and put them in my saddle bags, then attached them, my helmet, and my archery gear to my harness.
I'd always been good with the bow, even before the Martian Flu came along, and when I got my life back together after the riots and the great turmoil and then again after SCABS had gotten done turning me into a bay horse/centaur morph, I kept up with archery and the Society. If nothing else, they gave me a center to base my life around, and now I was Archer Marshall and Archer Champion of the local Barony, and was working on getting really good with horse archery, learning to shoot quickly and score well while galloping down the range. I was thinking of going to the Horse Archery event up in Fort Dodge, Iowa and competing in the Centaur class next year, even if it was too close to my old home and its bitter memories for comfort.
It seemed like I'd been in the Society for Creative Anachronism forever, although it had only been about fifteen years actively before SCABS Changed me. My health had been failing, loosing endurance and energy so I couldn't fight, but I'd always wanted to learn the bow, and had done well enough to become recognized for my skill by being elected into first the journeyman archers rank, then promoted into the master level of the His Majesties own personal troops, and I'd developed a reputation for teaching the bow. I'd been working out how to make bows as well, first the longbow and after that became 'easy', learning how to build the horse bows of the old steppe warriors, made with sinew and horn on a wood center, glued together and wrapped with leather. Those got me my awards for craftsmanship, both journeyman and master, and I found that there were people who wanted to buy them. I learned the art of fletching, the making of arrows, of making the Flemish bowstring, and of leather crafting for quivers, bracers, and bow scabbards. I found I had a small business going, and that I could make a reasonable living from what I considered fun. So many of my old friends had died or been Changed, forced to drop out or find another aspect of life in the Society after the Martian flu and SCABS, but I thanked the Gods I was lucky, and with the strength and endurance of my big horse/centaur body I could at least carry on with what I loved.
I sighed and shook my head at the memories, then checked the bow case on my left flank and the arrow case on the right to make sure they were secured and nothing would shake out on the long run home. I'd never ridden before the Change, I hadn't known what the shaking of the trot could do, and had lost arrows and almost a bow before I found out. I settled my 'Robin Hood' cap on my head, peacock feathers on the left, then with my chain mail shirt chiming softly under tunic and over gambison, set off for the long canter home. I deeply enjoyed having the ability to run for long distances, it was something I'd lost down the years as I grew sicker and more weak, and now, thank the Gods, I had it back.
I crossed the boundary of the park where we practiced, and turned onto the street heading down into town. As I got closer to the city center, the traffic increased, so I moved to the sidewalk and slowed, first to a trot, then to a walk as pedestrians got thicker. I kept to well lighted streets, as always, and nobody wanted to give someone my size any trouble, aside from the occasional glare of hate. I was almost half way home when I remembered his Grace had recommended a SCABS bar I might want to look into, the Blind Pig Gin Mill. I'd heard about the place from some of the other SCA SCABS too and I'll admit it did sound interesting. I looked at the street signs and saw that it wasn't too far off my route. I didn't have anything pressing at home, so why not? I could always use a stein or two of good ale, and the tunic, chain and weaponry were always good as a 'Square-shaker', making it easier to meet people as they asked about it and I explained myself. "What the heck," I thought, and turned down into an area of town I hadn't seen before. The traffic and pedestrians dropped off quickly, and I stepped back up to a trot.
My shoes thudded quietly on the pavement and I grinned, remembering. I'd gotten steel shoes when I'd first gotten shod after the Change, and they'd worn well on the long trip from my old home to here, but in my first apartment the neighbor in the basement unit complained bitterly about the noise as I moved around. I checked with the local farrier, and found out about rubber horseshoes and I'd had them changed. I discovered they gave better traction on the street, as well as being quieter, so I stuck with them, even with the increased wear.
I now had my own house and associated shop set up in the garage, like I'd had back home, and I'd restarted my Chiron's Bow company. I'd let people know that I was back in business, and the back orders I'd been forced to leave behind at my old home had been filled and now new orders were coming in regularly.. After what happened back there, the way that crazed mob of religious fanatics had burnt my home as the police and fire people just looked on while I'd run for my life with the little I could save, I'd sworn I'd never go back. Ah, well, at least the insurance company had finally paid up, and the law suit had gone very well, so now I was in the black again, with the new home paid for, money in savings, and friends locally. I guess that my musings on the past, combined with the quietness of the shoes helped to contribute to what happened next.
Checking the street signs, I could see that I was getting close, so I slowed to a walk. I turned the corner and ran into a large group of norms looking toward the Blind Pig. I stopped abruptly, they noticed me and took a step or two back in shock. "Well, well, what have we here?" said a large mean looking man."Hello, horsy!" Now I could see the Humans First tee shirts, and realized this could be real trouble. I backed up, and they spread out around me.
"I don't want a fight, I'm just here to get a beer," I said, nervously.
"Too bad, Horsy, WE want to fight with you!" he replied, "Monster!"
"I'm neither monster or horse, I'm a Child of Chiron!" I replied, hotly. I couldn't back up any further, I was up against the building.
He grinned and waved, the mob drew clubs and knives from hiding, and he drew a big bowie knife. " I do believe we'll shave him first," he said.
I couldn't help it. The memory of that film was too strong. I snickered at him.
"What?" he said, and stopped, just out of reach.
"I guess you never saw that old movie," I replied with a chuckle.
"What old movie? I don't have time for old movies!" he growled.
"The one where the punk kid pulls a knife on the hero," I said, "and the hero says, that's not a knife!" as I reached over my shoulder and drew my sword, "now THIS is a knife!" and slashed out at him.
He yelled in surprise and panic and jumped back, as did the rest. This wasn't what they'd expected. I used the moment to grab my shield and set it on my arm, then leaped out at them, crying "Epona and Rudiobus, aid your adopted child!" as I swung.
The action quickly became a melee, with me shouting battle cries and the yahoos trying to get at me with their knives and clubs. I blocked, spun, kicked, thrust and struck. I grunted as a club got home, but my return swing brought a yelp of pain and my opponent dropped his club and staggered away holding his arm. Shrieks erupted as my strikes went home, and my shield blocked most of their blows. Bodies began to accumulate in the street, but there were just too many to stop them all. One got under my shield and gashed my flank with his knife and I paid him back with a shield bash that left him out cold.
While I was distracted, the big fellow made his move. He stabbed up at the side of my human torso. The blade cut through my tunic, then encountered the chain. With the bad angle, the backing of solid muscle and the gambison, the blade caught against the chainmail shirt, flexed, then snapped, leaving him holding just the hilt and half the broken blade. He froze and stared, shocked, and I caught him just under the arm with my blade. Away he flew, landing in the street with a soggy thud. With that, those still able to turned and ran. I gave (slow) chase after them for several blocks, howling "Come back, you cowards, and I'll BITE you to death!" My, how they ran!
I slowed and let them get out of sight, stopping to catch my breath and let the adrenaline levels drop. I thanked the Gods for their aid, and prayed that no one was badly hurt. The cut on my flank was beginning to sting as sweat got into it, and I could feel the blood dripping. I turned and trotted back toward the Blind Pig, holding sword and shield low. I could see a large group of people standing outside, attracted by all the noise. Mostly predator types, I saw, wolves, cats and such, although I saw a huge bull morph and a morphed mule also.
"Good eve to thee, good gentles," I cried, "at the risk of blowing a good straight line, is there a doctor in the house? Oh, and you might want to call 911 to come pick up the trash!" Four bodies lay moaning in the street, and another was trying to crawl off.
"Hail and well met, Master Centaur! Two physics have we, nay, three! Pray, tell to us thy name, ay?" called a large wolf morph wearing, of all things, a cape.
I bowed and said, "I am Lord Felix Swiftarrow, liegeman to his Majesty the King of the East, Master Archer and Warrior of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I was coming down here on the recommendation of a friend after fighter practice to check out the bar, and ran into that crowd of yahoos who seemed to be waiting for someone. They attacked me with knives and clubs, and you can see the result."
"Well, my Lord Felix, 'would seem you've saved someone from a beating or much worse this eve. Pray, won't you come inside, where your honorable injuries can be healed? And I will personally see to introductions, and even buy you a pint or two," he said.
"The big one mentioned a shaving," I replied, as I set the shield in its accustomed place, then pulled the baldric around to sheath the sword.
"Oh, did he," he said, "and before you sheath the blade, may I see it?"
"Certes," I replied and handed it over.
He looked at it, tested the balance and rapped it on the pavement. "Ah, yes, the wicked wicker weapon. I've heard of them, but not seen one afore now."
"Aye, made of rattan wrapped with duct tape. The Society doesn't allow live steel on the fighting field, some one could get hurt!" I replied.
"Like those fools over there?" he laughed.
"Well, if they're stupid enough to fight a trained warrior in armor, with only tee shirts, toothpicks, and butter knives, that's not my fault!" I chuckled, accepting the sword back and running it home.
He shook his lupine head, then turned and cried "Good people, open a path and let a noble warrior enter!" The crowd parted with a cheer, I ducked under the casing and so I entered the Blind Pig, for the first - but not the last - time. <comments/>