My entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. Visit the link to read more about it; anyone can participate, and it’s a great way to hone one’s writing skills! This week’s word is the verb form of: “Bludgeon.” This story takes place soon after the short story: Clover. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. Enjoy!
One…two… the sword came down in two bludgeoning chops. One… the blade arced left. Two… the blade arced right; then curved into a forward thrust. Each swing of the bludgeoning sword was heavy and hard on his body and stamina. Others more experienced made it look easy, but in reality every impact was jarring and bone rattling when you didn’t yet have the right muscles developed to swing and wield such a weapon.
Fhern practiced the forms the squad’s troop leader showed them. One…two… the blade bludgeoned, repeating the techniques over and over against a heavy, makeshift dummy layered in thick leather and plated armor—a representation of what they would soon be facing: the rampant goblin army.
The muscles of his arms screamed alight with burning fire, and made the weapon feel heavier and heavier. One…two… the blade bludgeoned the dummy. Left arc…right arc… the sword’s bludgeoning force weakened bit by bit. One… he struck again, and the heavy impact forced the hilt out of his hands; the sword flipped down to the grass underfoot. He bent and rested hands on his knees breathing deeply, even as each intake ached bitterly in his lungs. He heard footsteps, and faintly watched as the troop leader made his rounds of the makeshift practice field, observing the troops’ progress as they learned to better use swords and spears—some, like Fhern himself, for the very first time.
“Why, sir?” he asked the troop leader once his rounds drew him near enough. “I’m a better shot with a bow and arrow; a deadly one. It’s something I know, and have practiced growing up in the Forest. Why am I not focusing on being an archer instead of this…?” out of breath he indicated the sword, his forehead knotting.
“Oh?” The troop leader slowed his walk to observe the young man. “The sword is difficult for you new recruits to master within a month’s time; the pressure is great and, frankly, unrealistic. But we’re not expecting you to become an expert swordsman, soldier. This is war. When the enemy clashes into our ranks and is too close for bow and arrows to do any good, what then will you fight with?” Fhern’s mouth closed, and he shifted the sword’s point in the ground. “You will be one of our archers, young man,” the leader said, “But after your usefulness as an archer is over, when goblins are on every side of you closing in, we will need you to swing that sword, and know how to do it properly. Not only for us, but for yourself: It’s the only way you’re going to keep alive on the battlefield. Never limit yourself to nothing more than one weapon, soldier.”
Fhern opened his mouth, but he couldn’t get any words out, and the troop leader continued his round of the practice field. Gritting his teeth, he swung the sword, repeating the movements, memorizing the motions, forcing his body to keep up with his brain. His knees gave out and he fell back.
Sitting there, panting and recuperating energy, he gazed off into the distance beyond the spreading field, beyond where field turned to rolling hills and where the goblin army they were charged with stopping lay camped, just out of sight. He thought about Clover, that carefree and curious little sister who wasn’t so little anymore. In his eyes she was still the same young child; she always would be. He could use her laughs and determined spirit, right now. “I promised I’d come back to you… I have to return; I will survive this, and return. Clover!” With a shout he forced himself back up on sore, stinging feet, and began swinging the sword once more.
The ground trembled underfoot at the sound of a horn blast, the sudden alarm and call to prepare for battle. The practice field was abandoned and people raced to their tents, retrieving weapons and buckling on armor. Fhern sheathed the sword, heavy in his hands, and hurried to do the same.
Soon, he would face the enemy.
Soon, would be his first battle.
Soon, the enemy’s attack force would be bludgeoning upon them like hail flattening stalks of grass.
Would his bow and arrows, and this new sword, be able to retaliate and bludgeon the enemy back…or would he fall? Was this to be his final hours in the world of the living….
Thunder gathered on the horizon racing to battle the sun’s light, just as it did deep within his chest.
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