Tournament Entry

This for a contest. Please Read!

Chapter 1

Taking a Stand

by: Salocin
The sun was beating down on me, I wiped my hand across my brow. I could win, I know I could. The dragon roared again, fire spewing from his mouth; I brought my shield up just in time. I rolled to the right but the dragon was quick. He stomped on the shield, my arm still in it.

“ARGH!” My arm was completely useless, the bones were shattered; I pried it out of the shield as fast as I could, the dragon was readying his tail for another swing, not something I wanted to experience again, I still had one of the spikes in my right leg.

I dove behind a boulder, the tail imbedding into the ground right were I’d been just a second ago, that was a close call. My vision started blurring, the pain was unbearable, I knew I wasn’t going to last much longer. I started looking around, trying to find some way to escape; if only I could get to that clump of trees behind me, but it was at least 100 feet, I would never make it.

The dragon roared again, he swiped his tail destroying the boulder; that been the last place to hide, pieces of other boulders and a couple trees scattered the land. I stood there, no hope to run, no shield to hide behind, and only a now broken sword to protect myself with. There was no way I was going to live through this.

As the dragon reared back his head for the final strike and I readied my sword, if I was going to die I would do it fighting with my very last breath, I though back to everything that had led me to this very moment.

“Tristan! Don’t go. Please!” Karelia cried running after me. “Stay with me.”

“Oh Kare, I’ll be back soon.” I knelt down in front of her. “I’m just going hunting with the others. I’ll try to bring you back the prettiest feathers, okay.”

“No you can’t go today, something bad’s coming, I’m scared. Don’t leave me, if you have to go take me with you.” She clung to me refusing to let go.

“Karelia, you know I can’t.” I sighed, she was eleven now, too old to be doing this. “And we have to find fresh meat, there’s almost nothing left in the whole village, the Kings men took it all yesterday. You have to look after Asher, he’s only four, he’s still a baby. Mother is helping the other women go through what we have left. Father and Gabriel are helping replace the church that the men burnt down, but Gabriel said he would be by to check on you two around noon okay. I have to go now. I love you I’ll be back before you know it.” I pried her off me and went to join the others that were to be part of the hunting party.

“Please…” Was the last thing I heard before we headed out.

“ So is Karelia seeing things again?” Baerden teased. “Did she tell you what we were going to catch today?”

I saw his father looking so I just ignored him and jogged ahead where I couldn’t hear him anymore. There were only a few men with us, the rest were putting up the church. Everyone else was around my age 14, and wasn’t strong enough tp lift the heavy beams needed but we all knew how to hunt. We’d been walking for two hours before anything was spotted.

“Look, over there,” Tyjain whispered.

We all followed where he was pointing. It was a buck, strong and healthy, the first any of us had seen in several years. The King’s men plundered the land so, that even the animals had begun to wither away and die. One of the men nodded to Tyjain, since he’d been the first to see it he would be the one to try and kill it.

He shook his head, he didn’t want to take it, it was for the best, we all knew he wasn’t very good with a bow. He could sling five birds faster than anyone else could do two though. He pointed to his successor. Me!? Why would he want me? Surely there was a better shot amongst us.

Everyone was nodding and I could see that they would start to get impatient if someone didn’t try for the buck soon. I set my arrow, pulled back, aimed, and let it fly. The buck jumped and started to run.

“Looks like Tyjain should have gone after all, probably would have at least hit it.” Baerden sneered.

“Might be wise to take another look.” His father said. Sure enough the buck had gone down, having run only 30 or so feet before collapsing.

We tied to the cart we were dragging and set out to find more. Three hours later we had 37 pheasants and 14 rabbits to go with the buck. It was going to be dark in a few hours so we set off for home.

Something was wrong.

There was smoke, lots of smoke. The King’s men must have come back! We ran the rest of the way. The village lay in ruins. Houses either crushed or on fire.

“Karelia! Gabriel, Asher!… Mother, Father!” I cried, dropping the feathers I’d had in my hand. I ran towards my house as quick as I could.

“Tristan!" I heard someone yell.

I looked around; it was Gabriel. He ran into me, embracing me as hard as he could.

“I thought I’d lost you too.” He said. He’d been crying. I didn’t understand, Gabriel didn’t cry. And why would he think I was dead. What had happened? This didn’t look like the work of the King’s men.

“Gabriel. Gabriel, what happened?” I asked finally getting his attention. “Where is everyone and why did you think me dead?”

“Dragon. There was a dragon. It came from the north. It destroyed…Everything.” He looked me in the eye. “It was heading in the direction you left. We thought it would go after you all since you were hunting and might have fresh kills with you.”

“It must have changed direction, we didn’t see anything. Now please, where is our family?”

“Dead.” He said unable to look me in the eye anymore. “They’re all dead.”

I recoiled away from him. “You lie! They’re not dead! You just haven’t looked hard enough. I’ll find them, I’ll prove to you they’re still alive.” I took off running.

There was almost nothing left of the house.

“Karelia! Mother, Father! Asher!” They didn’t answer.

I sank down, tears flooding my eyes, in what was once my parents room. There was nothing left standing save for a piece of the fireplace. Gabriel came up behind me and placed a hand on my shoulder.

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to believe it either but I saw them, they were placed with all the others to be buried tomorrow. Except Asher, I never found his body. He was so little though, there probably it’s one.”

The tears continued to fall. I couldn’t stop. I was an orphan now, and Asher, he was just a baby, how could he be dead? Karelia, she hadn’t just been my sister, she’d been my best friend. Suddenly I remembered how she didn’t want me to leave her, how she begged me to take her with me. I wept harder, knowing the last thing I said to her was to deny her the one thing that would have saved her life.

I shrugged my brother’s hand off. I didn’t want comfort right now, I didn’t deserve it. He backed away, leaving me to grieve in peace. I lay on the soot covered floor, I don’t know how long I was there for. The sobs kept coming, the house even sounded like it was weeping. I paused. There it was again. Something was under the floorboards. The cellar! There was a trapdoor next to the fireplace. I quickly got to my feet and raced to the door throwing it open. It was too dark. I looked around.

“Gabriel!” I called. He looked up, he was sitting in front of the house next to a fire. “Come here, bring some torches.”

He looked confused but he didn’t question it. He grabbed to sticks from the fire and hurried toward me.

“There’s something down there.” I said as I took one of them.

We headed down the stairs, keeping a watch out for anything that might jump out at us. The sounds I’d heard where louder now, they sounded like…No that wasn’t possible. Was it? I went straight to chest where they coming from.

“Wait, you don’t know what it i-“ Gabriel called after me as I threw open the lid.

I’d been right. There nestled in the bottom, curled in as much as he could get was Asher. He was alive! I reached down and touched his back. He flinched away from me.

“Hey it’s me. You’re safe now. Open your eyes.” I said gently.

I looked back at Gabriel and beckoned him to come closer. As soon as he saw who it was he started crying again, he rushed forward, ready to scoop him up. I held up my hand, stopping him.

“Come on Asher. Open your eyes, it’s just me and Gabriel.

Slowly his little eyes opened and he turned towards us. “Trisen, Gabel?” He looked up at us, his eyes filling with tears. “There was a monster and Kare throwed me down the stairs, she said she had to go help Mama and Papa. I hinded in here. I didn’t want any of the cellar monsters to get me.”

“It’s okay. The monster’s all gone now.” Gabriel said as he lifted him from the chest. Asher clung to him, his knuckles were white. I grabbed the torches and we headed back upstairs.

“Where’s our house?” Asher asked looking around at the very little that was left.

“The monster destroyed it. But don’t worry we’re going to rebuild it, okay.”
Gabriel said. Asher nodded and we went back over to the fire.

We sat in silence, Gabriel still holding Asher who refused to let him go.

“Where’s Kare? And Mama and Papa?”

I jumped a little, I thought he’d been asleep.

“Umm.” Gabriel looked at me, begging for help, I just looked at him widened eyed. How do you tell a four year old that his parents and big sister are dead? He sighed. “They, um, they’re up in heaven now. They’re with God and the angels.”

“Like Scruffy?” Asher asked, referring to our dog that had died a few months ago as he started crying again.

“Yeah just like Scruffy.” He said as he held him tight. They stayed like that for a long time before Asher finally fell into a restless sleep. As I settled down, I saw Gabriel doing the same even though I doubted any of us would sleep very well.

The next morning everyone was busy rebuilding things and burying the dead. After we buried our parents and sister I got my sword and my shield.

“What are you doing?” Gabriel asked when he saw me.

“What does it look like? I’m going to kill the thing the killed our family.”

“You can’t just go there and fight it, it’s a dragon, it will kill you.” Gabriel shouted.

“I’m going and you can’t stop me. Don’t you want revenge? How could you not want to kill it yourself?” Turned from rummaging through the things we’d salvaged to look at him.

“Of course I do! I want nothing more than to go out there and kill that thing. But I can’t, I have responsibilities and so don’t you. Have you thought of what it would do to Asher if you get yourself killed? How could you be that selfish?

“I’m not going to get killed. I can handle a dragon. And Asher would be fine, he would still have you” I said walking away.

“What about what it’d do to me?” Gabriel said but I was too far away.

I headed north since that’s where it’d been seen coming from. After walking nearly five hours I found signs that one lived nearby. Another three hours brought me close to the cave I’d discovered was it’s home. I went a mile away from it and set up camp. It was getting dark and I was tired from all the walking.

The next morning I put everything away and hide it; I’d come back for it after I defeated the dragon.

I took my sword and shield and headed for the cave.

The dragon was there, I could hear it breathing. I shouted, trying to wake it up. It worked. It came roaring out, I drived behind a boulder trying to get the element of surprise. It must have seen me because the next I knew it was gone, my sword was broken, and I had a spike from its tail in my right leg. It smashed two more boulders. I ran as best I could to the few trees that where there. It was too late.

The dragon reigned fire down upon them. I slashed at it, taking off a tip of its wing. The dragon roared again, fire spewing from his mouth; I brought my shield up just in time. I rolled to the right but the dragon was quick. He stomped on the shield, my arm still in it. I dove behind a boulder, he smashed it. And this is where you find me now.

As the dragon reared back his head for the final strike, I readied my sword. I brought it up and jumped at the last second, imbedding it in his eye. He fell back, his tail whipped around, catching me in the chest. I felt the spikes rip through me.

The dragon fell to the earth, finally dead. I’d done it, I’d gotten my revenge. Taking one last breathe I whispered, “That was for you, Karelia. I’ll see you soon.” With that I closed my eyes and drifted away.


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