Things Remembered Before Death

The captain, a mac Cargan, was shouting again. Something about how every Wingard man was worth five Tambrians. Urian laughed to himself quietly. They were standing on the lines, nearly five hundred Wingard footmen and fifty Wingard horse against about six hundred foot and thirty horse from Tambria to the east. Urian mac Callen was not a soldier; he was a cowherd. His older brother Uribe stood about three feet away with a pike. Uribe was the fighter in the family. When men from Tambria or Serebrenna would come onto to mac Callen lands to raid villages or steal cattle, Uribe was the one who would gather the men and drive the invaders out. Uribe was the one that the Cargan had asked to lead one hundred foot. Urian thought that was a good choice; though he knew that when it came to battle, both lines would just rush at each other and ignore all orders until one side was beaten. Having his brother and his cousin, Valric mac Callen, nearby made Urian feel a bit optimistic. Uribe and Valric were both nearly six and a half feet tall and had corded muscles from tilling fields and lifting sacks of grain.  They also had more experience than him, Urian had killed a man in a duel and shot arrows into a few raiders but those were fights not battle. Valric was Uribe’s right hand man, there were few better with an axe or a Fain broadsword than Valric.

Uribe stuck Urian in the side with his index finger. He motioned towards the mac Cargan captain who was still droning about how the Wingardish would crush the Tambrians. Urian was pretty sure on the other line; the Tambrian captain was saying something similar. History had proven that men were men; training and discipline mattered but a man was pretty equal to any other. Urian was hoping he didn’t die today. He hoped he was worth five men of Tambria or would at least be lucky enough to be knocked down in the mud where no one would bother stabbing at him. He was no coward, he had killed his first man, a raider from Kerix, when he was 13 with an arrow to the lung. He had killed a few more raiders, Gandians, Altish and other men of the Fain with his bow before his first duel. Urian had always had a reputation for his temper, beating older boys bloody for teasing him as a youth, and his temper hadn’t softened with age. On the 19th anniversary of his name day he had been drinking whiskey and dark ales in the pub with a few other cowherds and Uribe and Valric when he heard chain mail clinking into the room. Fain men rarely wear armor; only the richest and most cowardly men would want it. As it turned out, the armored man was a dandy lordling from House Carpent. Urian had slept with the man’s little sister a few times and every one knew that the mac Callen clan planned to join the two houses in marriage to avoid embarrassment. Alexus Carpent was a big man, broad of shoulder and chest and with thick arms from swinging practice weapons in training. He would be the heir to the lesser branch of House Carpent, with a large keep and substantial income from farms and sheep and village markets. Urian was the second son of the mac Callen clan, Uribe would inherit the great hall and the lands and Urian would inherit his father’s sword. He might build a fort and have a few followers if he was lucky; but there would be no income that he didn’t earn. Alexus had pushed him and called his own sister a whore and Urian had challenged him. Alexus had no choice but to accept but only had the chance to swing his broadsword twice before Urian had split apart his ribs with a long dagger and had drained his heart’s blood.

This time, Valric snapped him out of his daydream. The mac Cargan captain was done shouting and the drums were beating to ready the men for the charge. Urian could see the Cargan’s horsemen kicking their horses and readying their spears. Urian thought about Renna Carpent, his girl back home. She was beautiful with dark brown hair like varnished mahogany and cream colored breasts tipped with pink. He remembered getting lost searching her body while he was supposed to be tending his herd. He remembered getting caught with her after they had spent the night at the tavern where he had killed her brother. He wanted to live so he could marry Renna, so that she could get fat with children and he would get old and his long black hair would go gray and then white and then fall out. Battle was no way to die when you could go in bed with a beautiful woman or as an old man surrounded by babies. Uribe and Valric would protect him from dying, and the three of them would drink sweet malty ales and laugh about how weak the Tambrians were. They would take trophies off their enemy, swords and daggers and old family shields and they would give them to their sons as mementos and name day gifts. He would use the gold he won in battle to buy Renna the biggest shiniest ring he could find; a hunk of gold with a green stone the size of his knucklebone. Urian would find her something so gaudy as to make all the other girls jealous of her. He would return to her alive.

He hadn’t realized he was running. Uribe was dragging him by the collar of his shirt as the lines charged toward each other. Urian raised his little buckler and pointed his long dagger towards the enemy charge. He may not have been worth five Tambrians but Renna was.

He would not die today.

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About Jeff McElroy

After serving for four years as a Power Ranger, Jeff McElroy left the service to pursue a career in the arts. Paintings of cats and unicorns taking naps together earned him international fame and a ridiculous financial nest egg. Retiring at the early age of 23, he spent the next forty years living on the shore of Lake Huron. Mr. McElroy burned through his monumental monetary cache and needed to return to work. This time around, he has decided to pursue writing as a career, which is why he has invested his time and money in the blog you are currently reading.
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