The Warrior and the Princess Pt 1

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Author’s note:

This fanciful, self-indulgent tale, began as a joke between myself and a fellow blogger many years ago. It first appeared in its entirety on the original version of Thoughts before it closed. My sole intention back then was to write a one-page story with my namesake as the main protagonist. After I wrote it and, as per usual, the story suddenly blossomed and assumed a life of its own, and before I knew it I had begun on an adventurous medieval fantasy which would end up consisting of 18 chapters. After meticulous review, I have edited some parts which I was not happy with and emended them accordingly, but the core story remains true and unchanged. It is by no means perfect, and quite possibly flawed in parts (you decide), but much enjoyment was had developing the story to its conclusion.

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The warrior stood upon a hill and looked down on a barren landscape, burnt and ragged buildings lay in ruins, all stretching out before him to a misty, foggy vanishing point. Small fires he could see scattered here and there, slowly smouldering from the effects of a previous, great battle. The early morning sun could not be seen, he peered into the depths of the mists trying to make out detail that was hidden by the low light, bodies he could see, fallen comrades and slaughtered enemies heaped atop one another in the bloody aftermath of total carnage.

He stood proud at the crest of the hill; legs apart, standing ever alert with spear in hand. The injury to his shoulder he ignored, he had no time for bleeding or pain, time enough later for tending to his wounds would come, but for now, he knew, he must remain alert and ready to defend the princess, when and if called upon to do so. All was silent down on the battlefield, nothing stirred save the final death throes of the severely maimed, there was little hope for them, he knew.

The air carried promise which was easily betrayed, but he could take nothing for granted. As an imperial guard to the palace, he had seen many things in his time, and thus, he was not easily fooled by the brooding quiet he now sensed around him. One man remained, one man to keep the princess safe from harm and return her to the throne she was now compelled to occupy. The king was dead, killed in the bloody battle.

He heard a sound behind him, a soft stirring followed by a low moan of grief; he swirled round to check the hillside for enemies, there were none. He looked down to the woman who had woken from her slumber, her clothing tattered and torn, she used her hands to prop herself up with, her glazed eyes met with the guard and she managed a kind smile. The guard bowed low.

“Are you well my Princess Pretty?” He asked, looking concerned.

Her mouth began to move, her lips quivered.

“Jules! You’re alive? I thought everyone was dead?” said the Princess, her eyes streaming with thankful tears of painful joy.

“No, my Princess, I would never fail you by death, it would be unforgivable!” he said, bowing again.

“Jules? My father?” she said, pleadingly. Her eyes now wide with fear.

“My king, your father, is slain. I am sorry Princess Pretty. You are now queen of all the lands you see before you.” Answered the guard.

The princess collapsed in grief and despair; she looked up at the guard totally bewildered as what to do? The guard, as if reading her mind, responded.

“My queen, we must get you to safety, we dare not yet return to the imperial palace, it may be overrun with the demonic enemy.”

The princess stared into nothing, her eyes unfocussed as she considered the gravity of their dire situation. She pulled herself together and braved a smile of trust at the guard.

“Where are we to go, Jules?” she asked, looking frightened.

“We must make for Marshtop,” he replied. “We have a garrison there and you will be safe.”

“How far?” the princess asked.

The guard held up his spear and pointed it ahead of him.

“Ten miles, that way, my Queen.” he said grimly.

“Very well, Jules, I think I can make it that far, we should go now.”

“Are you injured my queen. Can you stand?” he enquired.

He walked up to her and offered his hand; she gratefully accepted it and stood up. She brushed her tattered dress down and tried to look dignified through her personal embarrassment.

“Thank you, Jules.” She smiled, slightly blushing.

The guard then led them on through the landscape toward Marsh-top. He had the princess walk in front, for he feared attack from behind. With the princess at the front at least he had a wide panoramic view in which he could see or detect any enemy coming. They had gone a weary two miles, the going was heavy – walking through brush, high trees, and high grass was very tiring, but the princess did not complain at all. As they approached a natural clearing in the woods, a deep, guttural, growling sound was heard. The guard shouted at the princess.

“My Queen! Stand behind me, make no sound!” he said, alarmingly.

She did as he bade, terror in her eyes.

The guard surveyed the area, spear at the ready. Up ahead came the growl again and all of a sudden, a hideous demon sprang out of the air and landed a few short feet in front of the guard.

“You will not have her!” declared the guard, “begone, back to the hell from which you came!”

The long fanged, slobbering beast let its intention known by snarling with its teeth. Cruel, red, blood shot eyes stared coldly out from its distorted head, willing everything that looked upon them to die. Drool now dropped from its open, gaping mouth, and the claws at the end of its arms began to rise in preparation for an attack. The demon now let out a blood curdling screech which made the ground tremble before them, the Princess screamed in absolute mortal terror.

“I warn you demon, begone or die!” commanded the guard.

The demon ignored the guard’s imperative and started to tighten its muscles, bearing back on its legs ready to pounce. The guard let out a battle cry, sat on his haunches and sprang, somersaulting over the surprised demon. He landed behind the monster and thrust his spear violently at the demon’s back. The Princess watched as the shocked demon looked down to see the spear protruding from its chest, its inners dangling at the tip. The demon fell to its knees, holding the spear as if to make sure it was really there. The guard then drew his sword and with a swift swing, cut the head from the demon; it rolled along the ground and came to rest with the same shocked expression still upon its dead face.

The guard breathed hard, adrenalin coursing through his veins. He looked to his future queen and bowed.

“Do not fear my Queen, you are safe.”

The princess ran to the guard in frightened reaction and threw herself against him, her head resting on his chest. She started to cry.

“Oh Jules, I don’t think I can go on like this, I am terrified! I don’t think I will make a good queen?” She said, while staring up to meet his eyes.

The guard gently smiled down on her.

“My Queen, I will be forever in your service. My strength will become your strength. I am sworn to protect your honour and your unparalleled beauty that men would die for another chance to see. Shall we?” he said, while opening his hand to point the way ahead.

“Stay close, Jules, please stay close. Won’t you?” Came her whispering far away voice.

“Always my Queen, always,” he replied.

They walked toward the breaking sunlight, the day now showed promise as they made their purposeful way forward into whatever waited for them.

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