Excerpt from, “I Dreamt of Sherwood,” my new short story.

Women weeping in the distance, a thousand smiths pounding on a thousand swords inside his head, visions of strange beasts breathing fire, roaring through the sky, visions of frightful things rolling over the ground, spouting noxious evil smoke from their tails, and a gentle voice, filled with fear, filled with concern pulled Rhobert Guyther out of the darkness filling his mind, into mid-morning light.
He groaned, tried to rub away the aching, struggled to a sitting position, and opened grey-green eyes.  His gaze darted right, left, right, left, and back again. A shadowy form, a form vaguely familiar, filtered through the haze filling his sight.
The fog lightened enough for him to make out the smile of a grey-hired women; a woman of gentle features, a woman with eyes filled with love and anxiety, eyes the color of a morning sky, just before the sun rises.
She pushed gently on his shoulders, “Take your rest longer son. You’ve had a nasty blow to your head. Now you’re safe home, but if it wasn’t for the goodness and strength of your helm, you’d be lying dead, lying dead and cold upon the snow. ”
Grey-green eyes closed and he bent his will on the unclear things hanging on the fringes, hiding in the darkness of his mind, stirring faint memories. He hunted down the stray thoughts, snared them one by one, pushed them together, and examined them in detail until a clear picture of a man dressed in patched dark trousers and a dirty, grey wool shirt carrying half a deer over his shoulder and running, running from three horsemen, with spears at the ready emerged. Blood dripped down the broad back. The man whirled to face his hunters.
Sweat covered the white face of Anwyl of Aldwin villiage, and dripped into dark eyes. He shouted, “Have your damn deer,” and threw the bloody meat at the closest horseman. The grey whinnied twice, reared up on thick hind legs, throwing the knight to the ground.
Rhobert remembered shouting, “Hold there, this man belongs to the house of Guyther.” Remembered drawing his sword, remembered kicking his black hard in the sides and charging into the melee.
He called, “Run Anwyl, I’ll deal with these men.” Swords clashed, flashed in the sunlight. Thrust, parry, wheel away, then back into the fray. Shield hammered onto shield, grunts, groans, curses filled the air. Horse smashed into horse, unseating the riders.
Rhobert gained his feet first, waited for his foe to pick up the sword, grinned and bowed mockingly. A swift slash sliced the plume from gleaming silver helm.
The man laughed, stepped back, yelled, “Is that the best you have boy,” and lunged forward.
Guyther moved to his left, knocked the two handed sword away and thrust his blade at the open visor, thrust hard.
A squeal like that of a boar being pierced through with a lance swirled around him, blood, hot and red spurted out of the man’s right eye. A great sword clattered to the ground. The knight clutched his head, screamed, fell to his knees, fell on his face, rolled to his right,  leaving  a stream of crimson on  the snow, whimpered, “May God curse your soul,” and lay still.
Rhobert felt something hard smash into the side of his helm, struggled to keep his feet, but the blackness, the sharp pain filled him until there was nothing.

 

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