Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Adventures of Lisa and Watt: The troll and The White Hanky of Anti-doom - 3rd chapter

Sorry about missing last week's post. I was dithering on if I should add an epilogue to this very short story or not. I ended up not adding it. I just didn't feel that a three chapter long story needed both a prologue and an epilogue. Today's post will wrap up this story. But not the adventure! Next post will begin a new adventure for our hero and heroine! I'm not going to promise a specific day to post, as I keep missing those. ;)

~ Rebecca

Chapter 3

Sir Cuthbert eyed the young couple curiously as he dismounted from his battle charger. The girl was tucking in tight to her companion's chest, her blonde head resting just below his breast bone and her face hidden completely. Since he could make out no details of her, he studied the unusually large boy instead.
No, not a boy, he realized. A young man of around five and twenty, with short black hair, dark eyes that were already beginning to show crow's feet at the corners, and a full beard growing back after being scraped away, all signs of a man who care more for is hygiene than for vanity, as smooth faces had gone out of fashion with the defeat of the Norman kings. Many fighting men still chose to go shorn for comfort, though, and Sir Cuthbert could see by the man's accouterments that he was a fighting man.
"Good day, sir," the young giant said, his voice calm, showing nothing of his earlier excitement at battling the troll, his diction marking him as a commoner, though a well spoken one. Sir Cuthbert realized belatedly that he had been standing there staring at the pair for several minutes.
"Good day to you," he said, not trying to hide his bemusement. "I have been a knight for these past two score years and the sheriff of these lands for the past five years. I have never seen anyone best a troll quite that easily."
"It was in our way," the young giant rumbled self-consciously.
"The troll?" he asked, his bemusement growing. The man nodded once and the girl peaked out at him for a spit second before burying her face back into her companion's chest. Sir Cuthbert caught an impression of nervous blue eyes in a face that was vaguely familiar.
"And who are you that a troll would be in your way?"
"My apologies, sir. My name is Watt Smith and this is my wife, Lisa. We were on our way to Aimsley in search of work, as there was nothing available in Kampton City. This is the only bridge that is passable and the troll was blocking it, so we needed to deal with it to cross."
"And deal with it you did!" Sir Cuthbert agreed heartily. "I brought a full company of men to do just that, only to find you taking care of the beast with a scrap of fabric!"
"It was my wife's idea, sir. The troll was awoken by allergies. She said it would be easier to cure it's ailments than to try and kill it or lead it away. She laid a simple spell into her handkerchief and had me give it to the troll. It worked pretty well, actually," the man finished with a shrug of his massive shoulders.
"It did, indeed," Sir Cuthbert said, eying the pair more carefully. "You said you were looking for work. Where are you from?"
"From South Umptonshire, sir. My father in the village smith. I do have a reference from the local baron, if you wish to see it."
"Do you, then? Let's see it," Sir Cuthbert said, pleasantly surprised. What had started off as a troll hunt was quickly turning into something much more interesting. He didn't believe for an instant the man's claim that the girl was his wife, she reminded him too strongly of someone he thought he might know even though he had not had a chance to study her face properly. But a reference from a local baron was very good. Whoever the pair were, they were clearly good at thinking their way through sticky situations.
"Excellent," he said after reading through Baron Umpton's writ. The man was who he said he was though the paper made no reference to any wife. "As it so happens, I am in need of an under sheriff. After what I just saw, I feel very comfortable in offering the position to you."
"Un-under sheriff?" the man, Watt, stuttered uncertainly. "But that's a noble position, sir. I am merely a man-at-arms. The youngest son of a smith..."
"That's easily taken care of, lad," Sir Cuthbert said, his gaze studiously not lingering on the girl. "Take a knee."

That is easily taken care of, the knight had said. Take a knee. Watt looked down at the girl in his arms, his mind blanking out in confusion. The knight, this Sir Cuthbert de Grey, couldn't be offering what it sounded like he was offering. Could he? Lisa looked up at him, her eyes as rounded by surprise as he suspect his were. She gave him a quick, tight squeeze and slid out of his arms. She kept her face bowed deeply in apparent fear, though Watt knew it was fear of being recognized. If he accepted this offered position, they would be stuck. He had called her his wife. There wasn't any way for him to be married now and suddenly not be married later. At the same time, no rational man would turn down a knighthood and position.
So he took a knee and became Sir Watt, Under Sheriff of Aimsley Province. Or rather Sir Walter Smith because, as the newly minted Lady Lisa pointed out, Sir Watt sounded like an insane Frenchman delivering an insult. And to think he had joked just that morning about being knighted by year's end! It wasn't until the next day that he realized that Sir Cuthbert, his patron and new overlord, had made no comment about his overly bashful "wife." Considering how Lisa had recognized the sheriff so easily, the chances that the sheriff had not recognized her in return were slim...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Adventures of Lisa and Watt: Late but not forgotten

Happy Saturday! Sorry I missed posting the last two Wednesdays. I was on vacation last week and had family in town. This week, I was pretty much pooped and had no ambition to do anything but veg out. So anyway, here's the next chunk of the story. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * *

As an attack strategy, running out yelling and waving a hankie didn't strike Watt as particularly inspired. What it lacked in elegance, though, it more than made up for with success. The troll saw him immediately and followed, stumbling over it's own large feet and bellowing right back at him. Right, he though as he jumped to the side to avoid another sneeze-born snot ball. All he needed to do was get the smelly bugger back to the side of the bridge, slap the hankie of anti-doom over its face, and then trip it so it fell into the river. This was totally insane!
It quickly became clear that the troll was not only clumsy, it was dumb. No mater how many times Watt ran straight for the river, the troll inevitably had to stop and sneeze, and then it had to stop and look around for him again. It had apparently not dawned on the troll that he had been running toward the river and only stopping his mad dash long enough to make sure he remained in sight. That didn't mean it was easy. For one thing, the troll had taken to grabbing up random items like tree stumps and chucking them at him before bellowing. Only then would the troll start running after him again.
As he ran, yelling and waving his hankie, feeling like a damned fool and being glad there was no one about to see him, he made a point of keeping an eye on the little mage girl. There was more to her than she presented. For one thing, most people knew common names but not so many people ever thought about the formal versions of them. For another thing, she had come up with this foolish plan in the first place. Cure the Troll's hay fever so it would go back to sleep? Not the way most people thought, though he did have to admit that it was a good, workable solution to the problem. This running around like a fool was not a workable execution of that plan, though.
He stopped running. Just stood there, staring down the troll as it threw things at him. Well, he did duck a few times so that the random detritus didn’t hit him, but other than that, he didn’t flinch. And it worked. The troll stopped throwing things. It stood there bellowing at him, a look of disconcerted confusion on its big ugly face. Finally it stopped bellowing, as well. Watt grinned when he realized this was exactly the method his older brother used when it came to shoeing uncooperative horses. Will let them throw their tantrums while showing them that he was not impressed. Eventually, the horse would grow annoyed that it wasn’t succeeding in scaring him and stop the theatrics. His brother would then hobble the beast and get to work. Will wasn’t the oldest, but he hadn’t need to inherit anything. Their father’s lord had all but begged him to come be his personal farrier. Watt figured he might have to tell Will that the technique worked on trolls, as well. What an interesting conversation that would be!
Once the troll had bellowed itself out, he walked up to the creature authoritatively, the hankie clenched tight in one fist. The trolled watched him uncertainly, stumbling back a step once Watt got close. Here goes nothing, Watt thought as he dodged forward, shoving the hankie into its face.
The troll took a deep breath in preparation for another bellow. The bellow never happened, though. It plucked the small square of linen off its face and looked at it myopically. It didn’t sneeze, though. Watt grinned and looked over at the mage girl, who was cautiously stepping out of the deep brush she had been hiding in.
“Worked like a charm, just like you said it would!” he said happily. The sound of applause startled him. He spun around and found a rather large party of men-at-arms, including several knight, lined up on the far side of the river and watching the spectacle of him trying to give the troll an enchanted hankie. Of course, they had watched. It was his lot in life to make a spectacular ass of himself publicly. The Fates had probably summoned this audience specifically to ensure he had someone other than the mage girl to be an ass in front of. He looked back at Lisa and saw that she’d stopped moving, a look of terror on her pretty face. He glanced back at the troll to see what had her so terrified, but it wasn’t doing anything threatening. In fact, it was slowly ambling toward the bridge, inspecting the hankie and sniffing it from time to time.
“What is it?” he asked in a hushed tone.

Lisa stared at the group of mounted warriors, horrified. There were more than a few in that crowd that she knew on sight, including the old knight sitting on a horse closest to Troll Bridge. He was Sir Cuthbert de Grey, the right hand man of Baron Amesbury, a man she had sat at table with several times.
“Lisa?” Watt asked, looking alarmed. He glanced at the troll, who was wandering around almost aimlessly and inspecting her handkerchief as though he’d never seen such a thing before.
“Ignore me!” she hissed as she stepped back into the bracken, trying to hide her presence from the sharp-eyed knight. He was clear across the bridge still, a good several hundred yards away, so maybe he hadn’t noticed her. But then Watt, the big lunk, started walking towards her, his hansom face a mask of concern.
“Is something wrong? Do you know those people?” he asked, speaking very quietly. Lisa shot a look at him before returning her gaze to the mounted troop, who were beginning to cross the bridge now that the troll had squeezed itself back under it. “Are they not good people?” he asked, his smooth baritone voice hardening noticeably.
“No, they are not… bad people. But I am known to them. Sir Cuthbert, the lead knight is a… friend of my father’s. I’m sure to be recognized and be taken back to my father’s household.”
“And that would be bad because…”
“I ran away because my father contracted me to marry a man older than him!” Lisa whispered harshly. “And blast it, you have led Sir Cuthbert right to me!”
Watt turned his head, noted that the elderly knight was indeed right behind him and dismounting. He faced her, his face schooling itself into a look of determination. “Just go along with me, then,” he muttered before tugging her in tight to his side and turning to face he worst night mare.