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Whale Watching

Pnils

A single figure padded along in a field of tall green grass. He carried a walking stick and wore a sedge hat to keep the sun from stinging his sensitive eyes. A light breeze created small waves in the grass, and kept sweat from pouring from the dark skin of the walker. He raised his head and surveyed his surroundings. The dwarf could see the coastline in the distance. It would not be long and he would fulfill his harmless quest. Pnils Silentstone could not have known the ignorance that separated him from his goal.

The dwarven monk heard the footfalls of two horses long before he could actually see them. Pnils knew that he was close to the stronghold of the Knights of the Coast, but had hoped to avoid any contact with the dishonored group. Now all he could do was try to get through the encounter without hurting anyone.

Pnils kept his head down and continued his slow determined pace as the men rode up to him. “By the order of the Knights of the Coast, I command you to yield,” one of the men shouted proudly. Pnils knew it was not going to be easy to escape a fight. The dwarf put his hands up in a submissive manner, knowing without having to look that the men had spears leveled at him. “Drop your weapon and remove your hat.”

Pnils did as he was told. He put down his staff and pushed his hat from his bald head, letting the cord catch it so that it dangled at his shoulders. The sun stung his eyes and he squinted against the burn. “There is no need for any trouble,” Pnils said honestly. “I was just making my way to the coast in time to see the whales pass.”

“I don’t trust dwarven trash.”

“Oh, nor do I!” Pnils agreed. “One can ruin a whole community if not stopped. One bad apple, they say.” The dwarf’s eyes had adjusted enough to read the confused look on the knight’s faces. “Oh, you were focusing on the ‘dwarf’ part of that statement, whereas I was referencing the ‘trash’ part.” The men were low ranking in the order of knights; Pnils could tell by the lack of a symbol on the breastplates. One of the knights was older, which meant that he lacking in some way to be of such low rank at that age. The other was young, his facial hair soft having never felt a razor.  Still, they were heavily armored and on horseback. The dwarf knew if a fight came, he would have to set the battlefield in his favor.

“I should run you through for mutiny, little dwarf,” the older man barked.

“Or you could just let me live my life,” Pnils answered the threat kindly. “Let me catch sight of those whales before it is too late.” He pointed to the coast.

The younger man kicked the dwarf in the back of the head. “Silence!” he shouted.

Pnils did not even rub his head. He slowly turned to the boy knight and stated, “You should have kept that spear on me.” He slapped the horse in the ear, causing it to rear. The young knight struggled to stay mounted. The older knight plunged his spear toward Pnils’ chest. The dwarf caught the spear thrust; his strong arms keeping the tip inches away from his heart. Then, in a display of raw power, he reversed the thrust and the older knight flew from his horse.

Before the man could rise, Pnils punched him in the side. The armor dented with the force and the man struggled to draw breath. The younger knight jumped from his horse and drew his sword. He was terrified, and showed it by the wavering of his heavy shield.

“You got two choices, boy,” Pnils said calmly. “You can fight me, or you can take your comrade and get him some help.” The older knight nodded at the second option. Pnils put his hand up to show that he intended no more aggression. “Then I am going to see the whales. Do not come after me again. I did nothing to earn the treatment you showed me. The two of you were in the wrong; so let’s just forget this ever happened.”

“I am a knight,” the young man mustered up some courage. “I will not let you get away with attacking another knight.”

“The folly of youth,” Pnils snorted. “So be it.”

In a matter of moments the dwarf had the knight disarmed and unconscious. Pnils walked over to the older knight who still labored for air, and he punched a different spot on the armor. The second blow relieved the pressure and allowed the man to breathe again. “Thank you,” the man managed through heavy breaths. “You could have killed us both, and we would have deserved it.” The man reached into his armor and snatched a necklace from his own neck. He shoved it into the dwarf’s hand. No more words passed between them as they parted ways.

*****

As Pnils watched the whales migrate near the coast, he fingered the necklace. It was a symbol with a forked whale tail jutting from the water. The waves crashed around him and the whales crested and played in the sea. A small human boy was watching the whales a little farther down the beach. Pnils walked over to the young boy. “Aren’t they magnificent?” he asked.

“I love to watch them play,” the boy answered. “Whales are also the crest of the Knights of the Coast.”

“Yes they are,” Pnils smiled. “You are a smart boy, but do you have courage and compassion?”

“I do,” the boy beamed proudly. “I want to be a knight.”

“Be a good man,” Pnils lectured. He handed the boy the necklace. “Be a good man, and the knights will notice.”

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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Denying the Knight

Randall

Randall looked around at what had once been a peaceful city. He placed his wonderful blade in the soil of Pinevale; dozens of dead or dying orcs at his feet. An ogre approached and Randall extended his arm in a gesture of friendship. The two creatures, ogre and man, turned to watch the orcs retreat into the pines.

“You would let them go?” the ogre asked.

Randall nodded, “This war is over.”

*****

Months later Randall found himself standing in front of a panel of knights, fully armored with the exception of their helms. He had fought valiantly against the orcs and the knights had noticed. He was led into the chamber by two hooded men, who stood beside him as the knights began the ceremony.

“You have been summoned here for your outstanding service in the defense of Pinevale. We would like to make you an honorary knight,” Sir Radisson,  the head of the knights, announced proudly.

“I know why I have been summoned here,” Randall stated with an icy tone.

Sir Radisson was surprised by the man’s response. He asked, “Are you not honored?”

Randall’s face looked as if he had smelled a dead animal. “Honored? No.” The council of knights murmured among themselves. They could not believe what they were hearing.

Sir Radisson stood and calmed the others. “You deny our offer, and you dishonor us.”

“You speak of honor as if it were yours to bestow on whoever you like,” Randall scoffed. “I have no desire to have the type of honor I saw on display in Pinevale while your knights were stationed there.”

“You hold your tongue,” one of the council members shouted.

The two men standing next to Randall pulled back their cowls revealing their identities to the knights. King Arrington and Jericho stared at the council. Arrington spoke, “You asked him here, now let him speak his mind.”

“You are not king here, Grey Arrington.” Sir Radisson scolded.”You have no power here.” Jericho let out a snarl, but remained in his human form. “I see you brought your dog,” Radisson teased, hoping that the therian would rage. Then he would have an excuse to have him cut down in front of his king. Jericho surprised everyone by keeping his composure.

Randall broke the tension. “Your men took whatever they wanted while they were in our city; women, food, and any other item they desired. They bullied our young men and forced themselves on our young women. They had no respect for enemy or ally on the battlefield.”

“Lies!” Sir Radisson shouted. “You speak lies!”

“The proof can be seen in the swollen bellies of our women,” King Arrington replied.

“If your women are whores,” said one of the knights with a smirk, “that is not our fault.”

“There is the honor that displayed itself in Pinevale during the war,” Arrington bowed to the man. “Thank you for showing so clearly the truth in our claims.”

Sir Radisson shot the man a glare that ensured that he would be punished for his outburst. “My men reported no such activities.”

“Would they?” Randall asked. “Would they tell you of the heirlooms they plundered from our people? Your men are not guided by any moral code. Your knighthood is based almost exclusively on bloodline. There is little to no honor to be found behind the coat of arms you so proudly bear.”

“Enough!” Sir Radisson exclaimed. “Leave this place now, and never return. The next time Pinevale is under attack, be it orc or troll, do not call upon us for help.”

King Arrington smiled and stated, “We would not wish you to set foot in our city ever again.”

The three men left the citadel of the knights and returned to Pinevale. The alliance between the knights and Pinevale was severed. However, Randall began training new soldiers to protect the city. He rebuilt an army that far exceeded it’s predecessor. Then he faded into obscurity, but he would always be known as the man who denied the knights.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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Escaped Prisoner

Amy

A man leaned against a tall pine; sweat ran down his face and dripped on the ground ferns. He gasped, trying to fill his lungs. The man even spared a few seconds to pull at the ropes that were knotted around his wrists. His reprieve was short-lived. The men chasing him were closing in once again. They would catch him, he was certain of that fact. He had been living on prison food for the past few weeks, and simply did not have the strength to run much longer. However, he was determined not to make it easy on his pursuers.

He headed deeper into the forest. The prisoner’s heart dropped as he heard the howl of an abyss hound. The giant dogs were bred as pets by the orcs of Locwood. He knew that he had been travelling in that general direction; had he already gone that far? The hound had found his scent. There was no longer any sense in running, so the man sat down and put his hands on his head.

The abyss hound stormed through the small green foliage and started barking at the prisoner. It circled the man until a group of three orcs appeared. They wore studded leather armor with the goat insignia of Locwood clearly showing on their arms. Each orc was armed with a shortbow. They also had shortswords strapped to their hips and shields upon their backs.

“Wat we got here?” asked the orc, who was obviously the leader of this tiny band. The abyss hound gave another howl. One of the orcs leashed the giant dog, and the beast calmed. The prisoner did not say a word. He was paralyzed with fear.

Just then a group of four humans burst into view. Three wore chain armor, while one wore plate with a plumed helmet. They all carried longswords and shields that were emblazoned with the pine tree symbol. “That man is our prisoner,” called the plate armored human.

“No,” stated Grug, the orc leader. “My prisoner!” He grabbed the man by the hair and yanked him up. The prisoner winced, but kept still and quiet. The other two orcs laughed. However, they readied their swords and shields.

The human leader took off her helmet and spread her arms; showing no aggression. Her name was Amy, and she knew that this situation could be very dangerous. “This man escaped from our prison yesterday. If you look on his left wrist, you will see the “V” branded there.” The other three humans kept their swords drawn.

Grug harshly grabbed the man’s right arm and turned his hand over. “I ain’t see nuthin.”

“Try the other arm,” Amy tried not to demean the orc.

“Still nuthin,” Grug stated without even looking again. The three humans took a few steps toward the orcs, but Amy held up her hand to stop them.

“This prisoner is to be brought back to Pinevale for trial. He is a criminal, and we ask that you allow us to return him so the he may receive what he deserves.” Amy was being very careful; a wrong move could send Locwood and Pinevale back to war.

Grug, like Amy, did not want to be responsible for starting a war. However, he could not allow the human female to dictate his actions. He would not allow himself to appear weak. “He ‘deserves’ his freedom. He escaped your jail.” The orcs could sense a fight coming, and the hound sensed the rising tempers as well.

“Are you not going to give us the prisoner?” Amy asked. She was willing to give the man over to the orcs if it would save a fight.

“Split him with ya?” Grug suggested, as he pulled a large knife from his belt. The prisoner went limp in the orc’s strong arms.

“No!” Amy shouted, which sent the abyss hound into a fit of barking. The orc was having a hard time holding the dog back. “No,” she said more calmly. “Keep him. He is your responsibility now.” She nodded to Grug in concession.

The orc leader was glad that the female had backed down first. He returned her nod, slightly.

Amy had to listen to the grumblings of her fellow guards all the way back to Pinevale. She knew that she had made the right choice; perhaps not for that day, but for the days which would have followed. Amy would be able to sleep soundly that night.

The orcs laughed at the retreating humans. They called the female weak, but Grug knew better. Sometimes walking away from a fight took more strength than drawing your sword. No, Amy was not weak; not at all. Grug understood, even if the others could not.

“Thank you,” the prisoner stated as he grabbed Grug by the leg. “Thank you, so much for saving me.”

“Oh, you.” the orc leader mumbled. His mind hardly registered the movement as he drove his knife into the prisoner’s skull. Too many other thoughts had erupted in Grug’s head to even care about the man. It ended up being a long walk back to Locwood.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Penn's Diary

 

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