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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 29 Jan, 2016 8:13 pm    Post subject: Short Story: The Advancement of Civilization         Reply with quote

Recently, I completed a short, fantasy story that I’d like to share with you. I’ve managed to pack a surprising number of references to historic arms and armour in such a short narrative, so I think it’s appropriate for here. Enjoy.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 29 Jan, 2016 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

King Harold had hired us, and our task was simple: find the few remaining orc villages and exterminate the inhabitants.

Our kingdom had grown thanks to the puissance and valour of our king. Slowly but surely, he overcame the bands of orcish resistance. Vast swathes of land, once held by the orcs, fell under his domain. Where before there had been savage and stinking hovels there were now fine castles and walled towns as a sign of the new peace and the advancement of civilization.

Few orcs remained. Those who did lived high in the mountains, in their secret villages. We had travelled for days, through the bracken-floored forest, past gurgling streams, around ancient moss laden boulders, and through forgotten forest tracks. Yesterday evening we had camped in a glen near the foot of the mountain, and by mid morning we had discovered a dirt path, winding through the forest and up the mountain, that showed the signs of recent use by orcs.

Our company was ten men, all told. There was Dale, a warrior who had spent much time traveling the wild lands and who was our scout. Benedict, our priest, would beseech the gods to forgive our transgressions and would smite the skulls of the enemy with his mace. There was Gord, too, who was particularly adept at recovering lost treasure, and Thorim, who knew the occult powers of various minerals and herbs, and the arcane lore of secret words. Baard delighted us with tales of valour and the glory of arms. Gerard, Matheusz, Kieran, and Morrigan were men-at-arms, renowned for their boldness and prowess in battle. I was the captain of the group.

While we were guests of his court, King Harold had told us stories of orcish raids. Whole villages became kindling for the orc bonfires. As the raiders descended upon the villagers, the bronze church bells would clang the alarm. Orcs mounted on horseback, with their cruel bows and swift black arrows would fell the villagers. Those who fought back were mutilated, their arms cut off and their tongues cut out. All around you could hear the lowing of frightened cattle being lead away, and the sounds of the innocent, weeping and dying.

“We draw near,” Dale declared softly, a few feet in front our band. “The tracks here are fresh, perhaps from today.”

Up ahead we could see a clearing in the forest that looked to be a vale between the mountain ridge on either side. A wooden stockade, its gate open, surrounded simple wooden houses with thatched roofs. This was it: the orc village.

Swords slid from their scabbards, maces were freed from their lanyards, bows were removed and quickly strung, crossbow bolts cocked with levers, and axes were removed from the pack horses. Now all was different, all was deadly and earnest. Our voices became hushed, our footsteps careful and silent, like we were predators stalking our prey through the bush.

The plan was simple: we would close and strike rapidly, before most of the orcs would have time to dress in their armour, and grab their clubs, axes, and war messers. We would capture the orcs and execute them. Then we would burn the village. We dared not give mercy to any of them; King Harold had made it abundantly clear how cruel and treacherous the orcs were.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 29 Jan, 2016 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We rushed forward, across the open vale and through the unguarded gate. Someone with long hair who was tending a garden looked up and screamed. It was a feminine scream.

I stared at her. Something was wrong. She had dark hair, and her skin was not the same colour as ours. But she looked like a human. Yes, there could be no doubt: she was a human, and not an orc.

I glanced over at my companions. Their eyes, visible through their open-faced bascinets and kettle hats, registered the same confusion. Where were the orcs?

Other cries of surprise intermingled with fright could be heard from within the village. “Sheath your weapons!” I ordered as a I slid my sword back into its scabbard, advancing towards the center of the village where most of the people had clustered together.

“Do not be afraid! We come in peace” I declared.

The people of the village stared at us warily. Most had been caught completely unaware. One man brandished an iron-tipped shovel, pitiful weapon. The other men looked at us, impotence and fear in their faces. Women gazed at us, a recognition in their eyes and underneath that, anger, fear, and sorrow. Children stared at us, too terrified to move. At that moment, I couldn't help thinking that they were, all of them, like helpless cattle before the slaughter.

“We come in peace!” I repeated. “We mean no harm. Please, pray tell, where are the orcs?”

One old woman came forward. Despite her age, her hair was still long, like the down-turned limbs of a weeping willow, a gray frame to her head and shoulders. Her face etched with lines of age, and yet one could still see traces of the beauty she must have once had as a young woman. Her eyes were brown and unclouded.

“We are your orcs,” she said, staring straight at me.

“But you are human beings,” I protested, suddenly feeling a tightness in my gut and a terrible premonition that something was wrong.

“Yes,” she replied. “Who has told you otherwise?”
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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Posts: 1,265

PostPosted: Sun 31 Jan, 2016 4:25 am    Post subject: Short Story: The Advancement of Civilization         Reply with quote

Your story looks kind of interesting, Craig.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Sun 31 Jan, 2016 4:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice plot twist. Happy I'm interested to see the continuation.
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
Likes: 31 pages

Posts: 659

PostPosted: Sun 31 Jan, 2016 6:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Craig, nice start! The twist is good and maybe that is a lead to where we got the terms Orc and so forth in the first place. It certainly makes it transition from a seemingly matter-of-fact fantasy setting to maybe something a bit more serious with consequences...
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 31 Jan, 2016 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The narrative is finished. What happens next is irrelevant for the purpose of this story: its point has been made.
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
Likes: 31 pages

Posts: 659

PostPosted: Sun 31 Jan, 2016 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well it is a short story then! I'm glad I got the point... Laughing Out Loud

It's certainly an effective cliff-hanger and has made me think about "the advancement of civilization" and while I could go on, it's not necessary for me to blather. Certainly got me invested though.

I did like the detail of the weapons and how that description follows through with the villagers and their feeble defenses. Nice job.
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Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Sun 31 Jan, 2016 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The title and first paragraph have a certain Adam Smith ring to it.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 31 Jan, 2016 8:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Funny that you should mention Smith; I've never read his writing.
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Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2016 7:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Funny that you should mention Smith; I've never read his writing.


Well worth the read if you want to grasp the functioning of pre-industrial economy and city placement, the examples are what make it a bore for some modern day economists but from a historic context they are quite entertaining. Be prepared for the Jane Austen English though.
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Mark T




PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2016 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
The narrative is finished. What happens next is irrelevant for the purpose of this story: its point has been made.


I usually can't stand stories that involve orcs. But I like this one.

Well done, and well-timed, given this morning's news about yet more sabre-rattling (or will that be depleted uranium bombing?) in far-flung lands ...

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

Schallern sind sehr sexy!
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 03 Feb, 2016 12:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark T wrote:


I usually can't stand stories that involve orcs. But I like this one.


Perhaps that's because it involved orci in absentia. Wink
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