21
Aug
11

the chronicles of Shorok, part the third

Here we go. The first really long one. We start to see some of Shorok’s humanity here. Also, horrific violence. I feel like this one was probably one of the more complete stories. With a little work, it could probably even make it into a terrible short story anthology. This, chronologically, is the most recent Shorok story despite the fact that it’s not the most recently written. Tomorrow – another long one, plus a side project I was really, really proud of.

No pictures this time – go back and look at the other ones if you want visuals.

The mighty Shorok rarely smiled. No one was sure why. Some believe it was because he had few friends to know him. Many respected him, mind – in the face of such an imposing warrior, they had little other choice. However, few living souls could truly say they had ever been on any basis more personal with the barbarian king than being at the end of his sword.

The reasons for this were ultimately Shorok’s own, however, and none can agree as to why he never betrayed a grin.

One thing that is clear to those who study the Age of Shorok, however, is that he had a soft spot for children.

So it is no surprise then, that while Shorok was passing through the bazaar city of Dusking and was stopped by a young urchin in tattered and charred clothes, the warrior-king turned his attention to her.

“…Excuse me, king Shorok?” the girl asked. “Might you have coin for some bread, ser?”

Shorok nodded and reached into his traveling belt, purchased a plate of bread and cheese from one of the nearby vendors, and waited as the girl devoured it. When she had finished, Shorok extended a massive hand to offer her a drink of water from his flask.

“What of your parents, girl?” the great man spoke, his voice commanding despite (or because of) the lack of use.

The girl finished a long, messy drink, wiped her mouth and looked up at the traveler with eyes that had seen too much for one so young. “They died, ser, when the dragon attacked.”

“Dragon?”

She sighed as she recounted the memory. “Blazewyr the Fierce, the dragon-lord of Dusking. He ate our family’s cattle and set the fields and our home alight. When my father took blade against him, the dragon…he…”

Shorok knew what had happened without the girl’s saying. “And your mother?”

The girl stared at the ground. “She begged me not to look and told me to run, ser. All I could hear were her screams. I…I miss them.” At this, the girl touched the pendant around her neck. “This is all I have to remember my mother by. She had one too, ser, but the dragon must have taken it. You put them together, and music plays…” She trailed off.

“So you have taken to the streets, girl?” She nodded. Shorok closed his eyes. “Where might this dragon live?”

***

Following the instructions the girl gave him, Shorok made his way up a craggy mountain path to Blazewyr’s rook. The heat and flickering light of fire played against the walls of the cave in which the dragon lived, illuminating the human and animal skeletons that littered its entrance. The barbarian felt the heat more intensely the deeper he entered the cavern. Whether through arrogance on the dragon’s part or Shorok’s own luck, no traps or ambushes awaited him as he entered Blazewyr’s self-appointed throne room.

“Dragon, I wish to speak with you.”

Blazewyr, reclined on a mountainous pile of gold, looked up from a crystal globe of which he was clearly not the original owner. “AND WHO MIGHT YOU BE?”

“Shorok.”

“THE BARBARIAN? A LONG WAY FOR A FATHERLESS LACKWIT TO TRAVEL.”

Shorok bristled. He hated dragons; dragons who also happened to be insufferable bastards doubly so.

“There is a young girl in the village below. You burned her family’s home and fields to the ground and killed her parents.”

“A TRIFLE. THEY WERE OBSCURING MY VIEW OF THE PLAINS.”

“My patience and my time are short, dragon. I seek to retrieve a pendant the girl’s mother held.”

“THIS?” Blazewyr gestured towards his massive, scaly front caw. The pendant was barely stretched over one of his talons. “I RATHER LIKE IT WHERE IT IS.”

Shorok drew his sword. “We may leave it there, then.” In a flash, Shorok ran towards the dragon, dodging bolts of flame belched from the hedonistic beast’s gullet. Blazewyr swung at the rapidly charging barbarian with one of his massive claws, but Shorok took the opportunity to leap atop its massive forearm, leapt to its shoulder, and stabbed his blade deep into the side of the dragon’s jaw.

The beast screamed, but Shorok swung himself to the top of the mighty blade and, using it as a shaky perch, slipped on a set of spiked knuckles and punched Blazewyr through the eye. Ignoring the flames now lapping at his feet, Shorok reached in further, found the nearest part of the dragon’s skull, and went about his grim work.

The girl attached her mother’s pendant to hers and listened to the beautiful, tinkling melody once more. She was afraid she might wear out the mechanism but could not stop. The music sounded wistful in the cavernous new home the barbarian king had built for her, accentuated by the opulent surroundings the dragon’s accursed gold had purchased.

He had left days ago, saying little to her but nodding when she thanked him. The townspeople all promised to help look after her, perhaps knowing that if anything happened to the little girl the man who ripped a dragon’s skeleton out through its eye socket and built a house with it would come back rather upset.

And those who saw Shorok as he left town swore they saw something they had never seen before, and were not even certain they had just seen.

The wanderer from the west, the mighty barbarian king, the slayer of dragons…was smiling.

 

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2 Responses to “the chronicles of Shorok, part the third”


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