This is the 42nd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
A Family Tradition, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 12th January 2012
Word count: 725
Theme: family, brother, father, fight, challenge, nobility, honour, distinguish, responsibility
“It is time, sire,” the page said dropping to one knee to address the king who had stoicly been sat in his throne for three days without rest waiting for this moment.
The king nodded, and broke his vigil to stand, “Fetch my bread, and fetch me wine, then bring my weapons and my armour,” he commanded. The bread and wine were brought first, he ripped a chunk of bread off and dipped it in the wine. He sucked on the wetted bread chunk until all that was left was the crust. “Take the rest, give it someone more deserving, and more in need than I,” he commanded.
Next came the armour, it took three men to carry the armour, and two to carry the sword, a sixth man carried the large daggers. The king was a giant of a man, compared with the people of his kingdom, he was easily a foot taller than their tall men, and he was big and broad. The kingdom respected strength, and they respected their foreign born king for his, and over the years they had learn to respect his wisdom too, he had brought them peace, and prosperity until recently.
The first reports of trouble had been heralded two weeks ago, the word coming from the east was that giants were attacking. The king knew otherwise, and as the reports came closer, he dispatched his army to clear the way, but not to attack. Some had ignored orders to their peril.
As the king strapped on his sword, having put his armour and daggers in place first, he flexed. The old armour was masterfully made, a gift from another king. The leather beneath the panels and studs creaked as they were forced to make way for the still taut muscles of the king.
“I am ready,” the king said to himself quietly.
“Sorry, sire?” his page asked.
“Nothing,” the king said, and then added, “Clear out all of you. Make sure the castle is empty.”
“In the absence of your guard, we will stand and defend you sire,” the page said, the sword and armour bearers did not seem so certain.
“This is not a fight for the kingdom, this is personal,” the king said, “I would not have my people die in my stead.”
The page nodded, and ushered the men out. The castle did not empty though, around the upper floors were balconies that looked down on court, a handful of people were scattered round, eager to be the ones to tell this tale.
The doors to the great hall of the castle opened, and in stepped three men, equal in size to the king, though one was more broad and muscled, one was more wiry, and the third, few could see, but unlike the other two he wore no armour, and carried no weapons.
“Brother,” the broad one boomed, opening his arms in greeting, as if this were nothing more than a family reunion.
“Leave,” the King warned loudly, “Leave and I will forget your tresspass.”
“Is that anyway to treat your family?” the wiry one asked, his voice pitched and nasal.
“We have come for what is ours Brother,” the unarmoured one said stepping in front of the other two. He was the eldest, the most muscled, his biceps bulged beneath his folded arms. “You won this throne by rite of strength, yet you are the younger brother. What is yours rightfully belongs to us, and we are stronger, faster, and smarter, so by rights nothing is yours.”
“I left the family,” the king warned, his gauntleted hand resting upon the pommel of the sword at his waist.
“The family doesn’t leave you,” the broad one said.
“If you want my throne, my kingdom, you will have to fight me,” the King warned, “I’m no longer the young boy you beat and call it practice.”
There were no more words, suddenly the three massive men were charging forwards, the wiry one was quickest, as he pulled his daggers to strike, he was batted to the side by the king who had moved closer to put the well practiced running strike out of position.
Next came the armoured warrior, he swung widely with his sword, but the king dropped low. It was at that point the biggest of the men grabbed the king while he was ducked low and not fully aware of who was grabbing him. The brother heaved him up into the air and threw him clear across the banquet table on the opposite side of the hall.
The king dusted himself off, and jumped on the table. “Dare any of you face me one on one?” he bellowed.
All three volunteered, but the king pointed at the elder with his sword, “Come on then,” he challenged, and then let go of his sword, knowing the man was not carrying weapons. The man clambered onto the great oak table. The king pulled off his helmet and upper body armour, and his gauntlets.
“You are brave to face me without weapons, little brother,” the elder said flexing his arms and getting into a wrestling stance.
“I am stronger than you remember,” the king said getting himself ready.
“Let us see,” the elder said and charged forward, catching the king in the head with a punch.
The king reeled momentarily and then rolled with his own momentum, as he hit the lowest pointed he grabbed the man’s leg, and finished the roll by dragging the elder to the ground. Then the king was on him, punching, twisting and pulling him, breaking and dislocating joints and bones in multiple locations.
“I yield,” finally the elder called.
“I accept,” the king said pushing himself up off the laid out man, “Now leave, and do not return. Drag this carcass back with you,” he pointed at the elder who was strugglign to stand up. “And tell father, I am dead. Make sure he knows,” the king said as he walked away.