Wednesday, March 30, 2005

For lack of anything better to do...

Having decided that I haven't a clue what to do with this blog, I've decided to simply use it as a place to put a story that I'm working on. The title? "A Knight Without the Shining Armor". It's not supposed to be particularly clever, or well edited or earth shattering. It's something to keep my muse motivated until I can focus on my more formal works. So, sit back and enjoy!

A Knight Without the Shining Armor
Chapter 1

The wind howled. The view out the window was no more than a white canvas, a blank piece of paper for Julia’s mind to fill with daydreams and nightmares. With the power out and no school, there was nothing else to occupy her active imagination. She began painting on the snowflakes in the dull afternoon light…

There should be a knight on a horse, she thought. However, he should not be riding atop a white horse. It would get lost in the snow. How about a bay. Bay was a pretty horse color. And the knight…well he should be tall (of course) and strong and maybe hurt. Yes! He’s hurt. Maybe the knight needs rescuing! Oh that would be a good way to pass the afternoon, rescuing a knight.

Julia settled back in the oversized wing chair, smiling, and told herself a story.

Jared sagged in the saddle as his sturdy steed, Socrates, picked his slow way through the blizzard. Jared couldn’t remember when the wind wasn’t howling. It had been screaming for an eternity, it seemed. At least since he fell from his saddle. Why had he fell? His aching skull still chased the memory from recall.

The rhythm of Socrates careful walk stopped. Jared peered into the blizzard. He could discern no difference. He nudged Socrates, “Come on, boy. We gotta keep going.”

Socrates shook his head before dropping it. Jared leaned forward, wincing as his sore ribs pulled. “Tired are you?” he asked his four-footed friend. Socrates whuffled, then pawed at something solid just beyond Jared’s sight. The horse waited a moment longer before repeating the odd action.

Jared thought the white whirling mass of snow darkened. He shook his head, trying to clear his sight. And promptly fell off his horse for the second time in his life.

Julia paused before pulling the door of her small cabin closed again. She thought that the banging was the door rattling in the wind. She opened it to slam it, so that she could pack more rugs around the drafty portal. However, she had not been expecting to open the door and see a horse’s face.

She blew out a short breath. “My!” Was that what one said to a horse that knocked on your door in the storm? She wasn’t sure.

The horse nodded at her.

Julia started to pull the door closed, hoping that if she opened it a second time, the odd apparition would vanish. Horses did not appear on one’s doorstep in the middle of a blizzard or a war.

The horse quickly placed a very large, very solid hoof in the doorway, preventing Julia from closing the door. It then looked behind it.

Julia blinked. Was that? Could it be?

The snow was quickly covering a man lying on the ground. He moaned.

“Oh dear.” Julia muttered. This was the first person she had seen in months and she was reduced to monosyllables. But, then again, she thought, what did he care? His horse was doing the introductions.

“I guess there’s nothing for it,” she complained. Leaving the door open, she went to the wardrobe and pulled out her heavy shawl. Wrapping it around herself twice (mother had been a very large woman) she stepped onto her front porch and studied the man in the snow.

The snow dusted a muscular frame larger than any man Julia had ever seen. She thought maybe his stern jaw and hawk like nose would soften when he was awake. But, the chain mail and long sword belied that thought. All she could hope for was that he was a member of the King’s Army, not a lost soldier from the Lady’s Entourage. His surcoat bore no crest and the color was undetermined in the grey afternoon. The horse nudged her shoulder.

“Yes, yes. Inside. I know.” She muttered to nobody in particular. She was not, she thought, talking to a horse.

She grabbed hold of the mystery man’s booted feet and pulled. For naught.

It must be the mail, she thought. Her fingers were already going numb in the vicious storm. She doubted her cabin would ever warm up tonight. A dangling stirrup caught her eye. After some grunting, complaining and wrapping, Julia managed to attach the stranger’s foot to his horse’s stirrup.

She opened the door wide. “Now, if you would just bring him in, we could all get warm,” she invited the horse in.

Her jaw dropped as the horse promptly trotted inside, dragging his rider behind. Then she grimaced as the poor man’s head bumped several times over the rough wood floor. The horse stopped near the only cot and waited, turning his large brown eyes on the tiny woman.

Julia didn’t wait to think about this. She would give more careful consideration to the idea of a horse that understood people tomorrow, after the wind stopped blowing and she could hunt for some food. For now, she just detached the stranger from the saddle and opened the door one last time, “I’m sorry, my handsome horse, but you cannot stay in here tonight. The shed behind the house is open and is well shielded from the worst of the wind.”

The horse appeared to sigh. But wearily walked back into the storm. Julia noted that the horse turned towards the rear of the house.

One strange thing taken care of. Now, she thought, for the strange man with the gruesome weapons….

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