Tweet of the Day: Heracles Is Not My Favorite
I fell to my knees on the lake’s rocky shore. A thick cold fog engulfed us.
One of my captors yanked hard at the rope tied around my neck, “Get up!”
Days, perhaps weeks passed since the ambush. A bare two dozen of my men survived the brutal attack. Our captors tied ropes to our necks and dragged us across ankle breaking goat trails. We ate nothing but tiny strips of salted meat and stale bread every other day. In a daze a looked around. The faces of the survivors appeared like ghosts in the meandering fog.
Pain and hunger forgotten.
Bruises and cuts ignored.
Only an ever present sense of thirst kept me alive, waiting for the next drops that would slake it.
Long row boats emerged from the fog. The orcs pushed us aboard. I curled up to sleep in the muddy bottom of mine. The soft light of morning nudged me awake, moments before a hand grabbed me by the throat and stood me up. They gathered the prisoners on the a stone peer. We stood in front of a city that gleamed in the sunshine. Glints of gold an silver emanated from the towers of in the distance. The streets were clean. Graceful onlookers passed by with long flowing hair of honey or maple. They walked with an unearthly grace and talked in a lilting tongue I never heard before.
“Aos Sí!” said one of the captives. That earned him a a quick jab to the mouth with the butt of a spear from one of our guards. They marched us to a nearby set of huts. There with buckets of cold water and slathered a white paste on our wounds. They itch so much I wanted to rip my own skin, but after another bath of cold water, the itching stopped. Not a single bruise left in our bodies.
We were given new clothes that while clean seem to be made of rough sack cloth. We were made to stand side by side in a stage of sorts, guarded by men in gleaming scale armor and wicked barbed spears. Dozens of buyers came and went. Men and women selected a few, paid in silver and took their charges home. As the day wore on, the crowd of onlookers grew. Then it parted like a wave. A tall woman, with a silver circlet embedded in a crown of flowing white hair that trailed behind her, made her way through the crowd. The people touched the hem of her dress briefly but with extreme reverence only to retreat back into the fold.
She took to the stage. Grey eyes inspected the flesh before her. Her features were chiseled as if from purest marble. She stopped in front me.
A cold shill emanated from her thin lips, “And what is your name, brave warrior?”
“Severus, my Lady,” I said looking into the distant point past her shoulder.
“Still proud and defiant. Yet they tell me you surrendered to the orcs, is that true?”
“Yes, my Lady. Tis is true.”
I bowed my head, “I chose life for myself and my men,” I said. My knees buckled from the shame.
She held my chin with a slender pale finger. Another tucked a lose strand of hair behind my right ear. Her lips came close to my cheek, “Fight for me. Be my champion and your inevitable end, mortal, will be glorious. Defy me and the suffering….”
She pulled back, pointed at me and some of the others and left.
I’ve become Winter’s Champion.
The Queen’s bitch.