Fan fiction:A Stone of Contention/Part 1
Notes: swag: plunder; booty; valuable goods, especially those obtained by means of questionable legality – “The Eres Common Tongue Dictionary”
Part 1: Surprise, surprise![edit source]
The Lord of Swag was pleased.
Resting beneath a tall pine, his sword and shield stacked neatly beside him on the frosty earth, he smiled at his latest find, which he held lightly between his thumb and forefinger. It amused him to see the way it lit up his armor, to see the soft golden glints flitting over the seams and sharp edges of his other gauntleted hand as it moved in a slow circle around it.
But the sparkling nugget was much more than a pretty bauble. The rare mineral contained a magic that was the essential ingredient in all of the finest weapons and armor to be had anywhere in Eres. For this reason smiths prized it, and warriors of all sorts treasured it, battled for it, and would often pay quite handsomely for even the smallest piece. Thus, far more than any aspect of its pleasing appearance, it was the prospect of having more gold in his pouch—considerably more--that brought the dreamy smile to Swaglord’s face.
In the quiet of the early evening—in Merac it seemed always to be on the verge of night—his pony called to him, a soft murmur on the slow breeze, but rapt in the golden light, with images of a heavy bag of gold coin filling his thoughts, he completely missed the note of urgency in the animal’s anxious whinny.
“I know, I know,” he answered, not taking his eye off the stone, “every minute I spend sitting here gazing at this little beauty is one more minute when the swag is not dropping. You are such a nag sometimes. “
But the pony, for once, was not merely scolding him about neglecting his swag-collecting duties, and repeated its warning, this time with a bit more gusto.
He turned his head just in time to see a highland giant coming towards him at a full run, its club held high over one shoulder. Caught totally off-guard, it was all he could do to stash the golden stone in his gauntlet cuff before rolling out of the way of the highlander’s heavy blow. Springing to his feet, he quickly realized that his sword and shield were out of reach. In fact, the club-wielding giant now stood directly between him and them, neatly stacked on the ground next where he had been sitting.
He knew he could probably evade most of the giant’s lumbering blows and eventually circle around to his weapons, but it was risky, especially if there were any more of its kind around that heard the commotion. He could soon find himself facing a small group, which, with or without his weapons, was more than he could easily handle.
But the giant was not quite ready to force the issue. Despite its great size and strength, it took it a moment to pull its enormous club free of the small crater it had left in the ground where Swaglord had been sitting just a moment before. And before it could turn toward the unarmed knight and ready itself to deliver another blow, the small pony, barely knee-high to the tall highlander, took the initiative.
With no warning, it lowered its head and charged like a battering ram into the surprised creature’s thigh. It did no injury to the giant, but it did knock it off-balance for another second, and more importantly, provided just the distraction that the knight needed.
As soon as he saw his pony charge, Swaglord dove toward the giant’s feet, somersaulted once and came up a couple of steps past it, holding his shield in both hands. Spinning once and then again to build up momentum in his heavy shield, he launched himself into the giant’s face and chest just as it turned towards him, stunning it and giving him and his pony the precious seconds they needed.
“Go!” he yelled to his pony, which immediately scampered to a safe distance behind him. While the giant staggered, blind and unaware of the knight’s actions, Swaglord put down his shield and picked up his sword. Taking the hilt in both hands, he aimed a high overhand chop to the handle of the giant’s club, and then another to the straps holding its leather armor together. Then he stood back and slowly and methodically—in an almost business-like fashion—reequipped himself with both sword and shield, as was his fashion.
As the giant came to its senses, Swaglord laid on a series of precise and efficient blows, while staying carefully behind his shield. The creature, with its weapon broken and its armor sundered, had little chance against the fully armed knight. When it fell dead to the ground, Swaglord nodded to his pony as he always did after vanquishing one of the strange monsters of the Merac countryside, expecting the petite charger to scamper up and expertly search the creature for swag. But to his surprise, the pony stood still, staring past him intently and whinnying nervously.
“What is it?”
An unfamiliar voice came from behind him, “Muy bien, hombre.”
Swaglord spun around toward the voice, but this time his reaction was too slow. Before he knew what was happening he felt a gossamer web of silk twine fall over his head and close fast around him. Then he felt his ankles encircled by a rope and pulled out from under him, sending him down hard on the ground, taking his breath away and leaving him helpless on his back staring up into a dreary, indigo sky.
A second later he heard what could only be the sound of his pony’s body slapping the ground hard—captured, he assumed—just like him. The net had him so tightly wrapped up that he could not even turn his head to confirm his pet’s fate. All he could do was lie there, try to get his breath back, and wait for whatever was coming next.
The prospect did not please him at all.
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