Tweet of the Day: Tease Your Readers With Joking Clues
“Not like I have a choice,” I sighed. The surviving fighters, veterans of countless weeks of blood soaked arena combat, sat around the fire pit. I poked the embers with a stick and they sizzled in protests. The days were sharp as a early Spring morning. The nights were as cool as a late Fall evening, sprinkled with a mix of cold rain or a dusting of snow. This kingdom of the Aos Si was strange indeed.
“I can think of better ways to spend the time,” said Sigmund the Orc. He downed a tankard full of mead and passed it to his twin, Sigurd.
“Or fight with such wonderful weapon. Never seen the likes of it. It hews steel and wood as a knife cuts through silk and never loses its edge,” added Sigurd.
“And only useful to kill beasts and men in the arena. The Queen’s Champion,” I spat on the fire, “more like the Queen’s pet.”
“Maybe so, but you and the sword work well together. Fast footwork, precise strikes, and no waste in motion or force. Which I could fight like that,” said Sigurd. He scratched his chin where a hound has sunk its teeth a few days before.
“Yeah, but I don’t split shields with a single blow either,” I said.
The twins roared with laughter, “No, I suppose not!”
“Still our time together runs short. Soon the Queen will tire of me and then I will not longer be her champion, unless I trip over a poor newcomer’s entrails and then….”
“Nothing you can do about it, I guess,” said Sigmund. He stared at his reflection in the cup. “If only father knew….”
“He may know yet, mighty prince,” said Oby, a yellowed eyes goblin who tended to the fighters wounds after battle. “Forgive my intrusion but I’ve listened to your tale, champion and I may have a solution.”
“And why, pray tell, would you help us?”
“Because I am as much as slave as you are. The gloss on the Queen’s lips are not of the Aos Si making. Oh no, they are of our making, of the wee folk of the moor. Stolen from us as surely as they stole our freedom. You may not remember much, but the gloss, it makes your body obey without question. But like any such thing, the longer you use it, the less potent it becomes. You probably noticed that the Queen sleeps more and exercises less, no?” said Oby, the shimmering eyes darting about.
“I noticed that much at least,” I said.
“When the effect wears off, she will have you kill. You have, at most, a few days, maybe a week before she decides what to do with you.”
“You know the answer to that, young lord,” said Oby. His heavy eyelids dropped.
“And again, I asked what can I or for that matter you, do about it?”
Oby opened his eyes. They transfixed on the dying embers, “I could give you a gloss that would reverse the process, for a short time. Make her body a slave to your will, while freeing you from her malaise.”
“Wonderful, but alone in the Queen’s Chamber without a weapon and armed guards outside is not my idea of a good escape plan,” I said. Although my not so perfect escape plans involved spears, dead goblins and putrid sewer pipes.
“Caliburn,” whispered Oby. “She takes it with her after the bout is over. It is hers to give and take and no one else. Not even the King. If she is under your control then perhaps she could give it to you and with it, well….”
“Better than a shit filled sewer I’ll say.”
The twins exchanged a glance, “What?”
I waved a hand, “Never mind. Do you have it, Oby? The gloss I mean.”
“I can prepare it in a day or so. Plan accordingly.”
I looked at the rest of the gladiators, “Ready to get out of this place?”
The twins lead the others in a roaring reply, “AYE!”