Elgin Cain could not believe his miraculous luck. His friend Thomas had visited him at home that morning and told him of a way for them to become wealthy men. The recent war their country had fought for the last three years against invaders from the Glocklands had depleted the king’s reserves of knights in his service. King Davinshire ordered a decree allowing all men who owned land in Bristol to compete for titles at a contest scheduled in one month at the city of Bolta. Elgin had inherited his father’s farm a year earlier and Thomas told him that farmers are included in the decree.
The young collier was unmarried but fancied a woman working as a maid at The Cup Inn a few miles north of Bolta. His farm was just a bit further north of there, where he made a living making charcoal for the smiths in bolta. She lived with her parents who owned a small farm in the low lying meadow behind the inn. Brianna was truly a fair maiden and rejected his advances for the last two years. Only after he saved her younger brother from a pair of drunken bargeman did she agree. His father was thankful for his act of courage and allowed him to court Brianna. It had been her father’s refusal that had given her the cause to reject Elgin. That was the best five silver pieces Elgin had ever spent.
It was a usual evening as Elgin rode his hackney down the quiet dirt road heading to the inn. His saving of the boy won him the duty of escorting Brianna home safely each night. A chore he reveled in even under the forged circumstances he acquired it. A stretch from The Cup, Elgin came to a beggar holding out a strange piece of steel. Curious, Elgin leaned over to see what it was.
“What have you there?” He said, squinting in the low sun.
A smile formed on the man filthy face and the toothless grin made Elgin chuckle.
“A knife.” The man said in a grunting sound.
“A knife?” Elgin thought.
He loosened his pouch and offered the man three copper. The man stretched out the knife and cupped his other hand. Elgin quickly took the item and gave the old man his coins, then spurred his mount on to The Cup. This really has been a miraculous day. This knife was in fact a family crested roundel dagger used by knights on the battlefield. The reward for returning such a weapon to its owner would be well worth the trouble. The old man must have been scavenging in a nearby field that had been the scene of a smaller skirmish.
“Nothing like someone doing the hard part,” He thought as he slid the weapon in the fold of his leather gambeson.
The Cup would be closing soon as Elgin swung down and tied up his horse. Inside he saw a few travelers finishing their evening meal. The owner’s wife, Elga, busily put the kitchen to order again. Brianna carried dishes into the back. She noticed him and gave a smile.
“Ah, the brave hero comes protecting his lass.” Elgin turned toward the voice at the corner table.
“That’s right.” Elgin replied. He gave the big man seated at the table a stare. He owned the inn and his look told Elgin of his suspicions he had of the heroic night with the bargemen. It also told him the brute needed a bath.
“Let’s hope no drunken water lackeys have wandered off from the Collette. Funny they be staggering a half a day’s travel by horse from there, considering too that they were on foot.” Brayn wiped away the dribble of ale from his beard with his sleeve.
Elgin blankly stared as if he missed the owner’s meaning. He countered, “No telling what one might come across on these roads at night.”
Brayn continued.” Now boy, I can’t blame a fellow for trying. Sometimes a man has to make his own destiny.”
Brianna came out from the back room and put her apron in a basket by the kitchen. “I’m off Elga, if you don’t need me to help finish up.”
Elga turned from the headless chicken she was preparing for the next day. “Heavens no, lass, take care to the meadow and Elgin, you see her there safe.”
Grabbing Brianna by the arm Elgin led her to the door.
Outside, he pulled Brianna up onto the hackney and rode to the lane behind the inn. She excitedly told him of the news about the king’s contests and the need for knights.
“I’m sure there are enough land owners to fill the king’s needs.” He said, playing down his desire to compete in the contests. “Men are meant for a certain destiny. I have more that I could ever want and am more competent at the art of charcoal making than any man here ‘bouts. The forges of Bolta could not burn bright without me.”
Brianna tightened her arms around Elgin. “You have done nothing but speak of ambitions to rise above your station!”
“Yes, My love,” He continued. “The station of collier gives a man humility, while still maintaining a way of life suitable for a husband and father. I shall peddle my wares into a lord’s fortune. Shall I deny you your desires of wenching? Your father has no want for me to expose you and his grandchildren to the dangers of battle and warring associated with a knight.”
Elgin could feel the tension loosen from Brianna’s hold around his chest.
She began to slide down from the horse as she spoke in a stern voice. “My father needn’t worry for his grandchildren. Surely, I can wench the rest of my days without the Chancellor of Charcoal.”
He grabbed her arm and held her fast behind him. He laughed out a chuckle and told her he knew of the contests and indeed planned to enter the competitions.
“I see my failure to enter the king’s service would change my destiny and leave me alone and heirless.”
Hmmm, must have been the title. I did say the it was just a "scene" from The greatest freakin story ever written. Not that it was a great scene. Word! lol
Offering my 2cents may not be fair to you as a writer Rob. Middle Ages Fic is not my genre of choice for a read. Having taken great interest in Etymology of the time period I would offer maybe a tad more modern language for your story. And be consistent. In that we know language transferred with war during that period, and since no one has heard anyone from that time period speak, (we go by what is written) it's a stretch to think a phrase like "Heavens no,lass, take care to the meadow and Elgin, you see her there safe." are understood by the reader. Was just a tad puzzling. Elga was actually speaking to the pair was she not? The last part of the sentence, "you see her there safe." was spoken to Elgin?..................... And I'm thinking that everyone who reads this will have to Wiki even though you touched on an explanation of what a collier was................ gambeson? hackney? Anyone not familiar with that particular terminology will have to break reading for definition.................................. You did a good job painting a picture for the setting of the story and I could visualize the characters and the story line itself is interesting. This would be a damn tough write for even the most experienced published author. I was glad to see your key mark humor came out........... I hope the next scene comes soon, I'd like to see if Elgin gets run through at the contest........
The terminology will have to stay, Bill. Your right about the reader having to have a certain knowledge about the genre to understand and that is what I'm counting on. It's for the nerdy D&D'er out there.
You have a superb ability to gather advice for stories. I have always noticed this. Many times I will read a post, especially a long story, and be at a loss for words so I pass on commenting with a "That's nice". Then see later that you have quite nicely posted something insightful and encouraging. I am a man of extremes and if I posted with how I "feel" about a story the way you do it would not be pretty.
My brothers have always hated that about me. If a am doing something and the tell me I shouldn't do it that way, I will do it in another way that is so ridiculous that the outcome will have no chance of being what was intended. If I was doing something, I had to do it my way even if mankind has always done it another way for centuries. I always believed if we do something like it has always been done then how can we be sure there isn't a better way. Like my way.....
If I ruined something during my ridiculous exhibition my brothers would say, "Why did you do that?" Then after I explained the above to them, they would say, " You're an idiot."
Of course I was younger then. I looked at it as "Thinking outside the box", but after decades of never actually discovering any better ways of doing things, I became inclined to agree with them. Even after decades of something not working I would continue to try it the same way again and again because it was my way and it had to be right.
Tell me it can't be done and I'll try it. I even spent some time trying to devise a way to run a cable from the Earth to the Moon. This was decades ago and my brothers told me that it was impossible. Not only that but, "Why?" How would I know the why until it was done..... Now Scientist are doing the same research. Some kind of energy type they could harness. Hey I didn't go to Ohio State University to study Computer Science and Physics for nothing. That was the longest semester of my life. My only one too. When I asked my adviser what I got on my S.A.T.'s he said, "From what I can tell, it's drool."
I really liked it. And that's not just because it is based around Bristol where I live .
For me the terminology wasn't too tricky to understand but I have read a few different books based around the middle ages so I have a better understanding of the language than most. Although if this was to become a much longer story, I would have much more trouble understanding the language but then again, you said that some knowledge was needed to read and understand it thoroughly. That being the case, I think it fits perfectly for those who have read a lot of Middle Ages fiction.
I do look forward to the next chapter though as I want to know how Elgin does in the contest.
Yup, sometimes it's just necessary to use a dictionary to enjoy a story or literature. I'm cool with the language as well. That said, it feels a bit onesie-twosie... lots of short sentences to set the piece up. I'd like the beginning stretched out with more imagery so I didn't feel so rushed through the background info into the current setting. Otherwise, I like the sarcasm of the main character. He seems to be quite shrewd... it will be interesting to see how he comes out... shrewd smart, or shrewd inappropriately. Man, everything I am reading today is taking me back to the early stuff... this one reminds me of another Hawthorne piece, My Kinsmen, Major Molineux... Elgin seems similar to Robin... it's a short story @Forgewright and a great read. Should be able to find it online no problem. Actually, here ya go: http://www.feedbooks.com/book/1773/my-kinsman-major-molineux. You can download a PDF of it there.
Most Users Online: 144
Currently Browsing this Page:
Guest Posters: 8