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Short Story Entry - Centaur


TragicNumberOne
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            I’m a horse out of my pasture. If I were a dumber centaur, I would long to go back to training in the legion. But thank the All-father I am not that dumber centaur, because I hated that whorse’s son Gaius Aurelius. He almost took the pride out of joining the Red Brigade. Every day he made into a dishonorable hell, not because the work was hard, but because it was against the interests of the Empire. I would curse Gaius to be consumed by the Hunger, but my wish has already been granted. Gaius Aurelius is dead, abandoned by the gods.

 

                Sam came up next to me. His bow looked ready to crack. “There are aqueducts everywhere. I only ever heard of the feats of the centaur empire. But seeing them myself is quite different.”

 

                I laughed at him. “HA! If you believe petty aqueducts are the pinnacle of the empire, then you will be speechless before our true achievements. Now, human, look closely at the duct. Do you see that seal?”

 

                Sam nodded as I continued, “That is the seal of…” I paused when I realized what I was seeing.

 

                “Whose seal is it?” Sam asked.

 

                “That, human, is the seal of Gaius Aurelius. A most dishonorable member of my people.”

 

                Sam looked closer, as though trying to inscribe into his mind the symbol of my hated rival. The eyes of the seal tauntingly gleamed at me. Perhaps Gaius’s spirit was judging my actions, but I am not beholden to dead Centaurs, much less dishonorable ones. I believed this human needed to know the misdeeds of Gaius Aurelius. “Every time I worked to bring honor to my brigade, my family, and my empire, he either stood in the way, or stole credit when his vile machinations failed.”

 

                My heart pounded. The very thought of Gaius was enough to send me into a rage. However, before his damnable spirit’s judgment, I would not show weakness.

 

                “Ey! 4-legs, come o’er here. Same for the rest ‘o ya’s.” The dwarf gave me a useful distraction.

 

                Our party was strange. There was the ugly dwarf armed with some foreign looking dagger. There was a Giant Woman who insisted that she was a member of the race who call themselves Giants, but she was too short to be one of them, so I believed she was just a freakish human. There was also the Frostweaver. She seemed concerningly delighted to be wandering through the ruins of my people. With Sam and me the party totaled 5 warriors.

 

                No one but Sam had told me their names. I didn’t expect Sam to survive long. He was naive enough to tell me his name. We all followed the god Maeve. She had chosen me for my honor and strength as a warrior. She sent me on a mission to the ruins of an old centaur world with warriors I didn’t know. I did all of this without question. Perhaps that made me naive too.

 

                I was the party’s guide, but other than the dwarf, I didn’t know who had been told the details of our mission. I was to bring us to the world’s governing palace, but for a world like this, it would just be a petty villa. Despite my lack of knowledge of this world, all of the lands of the empire were built to a standard design. I knew we must be close to the villa.

 

                Sam was still next to me when he said, “I see more of Gaius’s symbols around here.”

 

                “I see them too,” I responded. “The little money he had had for gambling, he wasted on the outer territories of the empire.” Gaius did not gamble like weaker centaurs. These investments were his gambling, but Sam need only know that money was put at risk, so thus Gaius gambled.

 

                The Frostweaver joined us. She had shown herself to be a strange creature, disappearing for hours at a time, exploring the ruins, only to come next to me and laugh. I cared little for the lesser races.

 

                This time, though, she did not just laugh. Her words pierced me like the ice she used in battle. “This world is quite the treasure. The stories of the Centaur Empire fail to do justice to it.” I waited for her to continue. Disappointed with my lack of response, she said “The hunger will be very pleased to swallow it all up.”

 

                The Frostweaver was some sort of vile witch, but Maeve wished for me to work with her, so that’s what I did. However, her claims were still ignorant, so I took the opportunity to educate her. “Your eyes deceive you, Frostweaver. The architecture on this world was paid for and constructed by the dishonorable and incompetent Gaius Aurelius. It’s a miracle that the arches support themselves in spite of his poor hand.”

 

                The Frostweaver took great joy in her response. “You lie to yourself, Horse. It is a testament that the arches lasted under the Hunger. Only a master of stonework could have achieved this.” Her contradiction was an insult, but I did not grace it with a response. Sam and the Frostweaver re-joined the freakish human and dwarf behind me as I led them to the villa.

 

                Sam was impressionable, so he got along with me well, but the rest of the party was simple, unable to appreciate the feats of the truly great centaurs. I couldn’t completely trust anyone in my party, even Sam. He spoke with the rest of them as much as he did with me.

 

                We came upon the front gate of the villa. It was open. In the yard the risen corpses of my kin awaited us, but like all other abominations, we dealt with them quickly. During the fighting, I judged the prowess of my party. Sam’s damaged bow held, and his arrows flew true. The freakish human, dwarf, and Frostweaver fought skillfully enough as well. However, in my rage, I moved over-aggressively, occasionally leaving their protection. While my prowess alone would have been enough to best these foes, I was still disappointed that my supposed allies made no effort to follow me forward. During one of my attacks a monstrous corpse came upon my unguarded side. I turned to strike the creature before it could rally a strike of its own.

 

                The last abomination fell to the dwarf’s knife. This was to the displeasure of the Frostweaver, who prided herself on achieving both first and last blood. As everyone made sure the fighting was over, I approached the giant woman. “When I struck our third foe, another came up on my flank. You know that I am vulnerable on the flank. Why did you not move forward with me?”

 

                She responded, “Dumb horses die dumb deaths.” The simplicity and arrogance of the response either meant she truly was a giant, or that this human was as dumb as one.

 

                The dwarf interrupted and directed us towards our next goal. “We need to move to the cemetery. Horse, you know where it is?” It was not a question, but rather a command, so I nodded and began to lead them toward the back of the villa where the cemetery traditionally was placed.

 

                Why the cemetery would be important eluded me, but I did not question it. The cemetery was a small fenced zone, which could barely hold one hundred corpses. To my surprise, none of the corpses had been risen. In the center was a mausoleum, where the rulers of the world would have been laid after death.

 

                The giant human spoke first. “So is this where the good horse is?” I did not know who she was referring to. The dwarf only added to my confusion. “Aye, this should be it.” The Frostweaver laughed, and even Sam had a smirk.

 

                “Who is buried here? What are we here for?”

 

                The Frostweaver answered, “Open the stone door. See what’s inside.”

 

                There was no purpose in arguing with them. I moved to the mausoleum, and after a struggle, I forced open the door. The walls were lined with empty alcoves. In the center was a simple stone sarcophagus. The entire party moved into the mausoleum and stood with me around it.

 

                The dwarf said, “This hunk of rock needs to be opened. Horse, giant, the two of ya’s are the strongest. Get on each side and open ‘er up.”

 

                We did as he said. The rest of the party backed away. I began to lift first, but the woman was too dumb to realize it. She then lifted her side after I let my side down. She glared at me as I scoffed at her. This happened three more times. I looked at the dwarf, who seemed indifferent. The Frostweaver smiled and Sam looked bored.

 

                On the fourth attempt the woman finally figured out when to lift her side, and with a grunt we both threw the slab to the side where it broke in two. I was the only one to look inside. There was the corpse of a proud warrior inside. A helm was over its head and the body was mostly intact.

 

                I heard a stretching sound, like that of a bow, but I didn’t care. I reached in to turn the head of this warrior, grabbing it by the beard to gain leverage. It was uncooperative, as though not wishing to be woken from its slumber.

 

                The resistance suddenly broke, and, as if it were alive, the face turned toward me. The Frostweaver laughed. I could have sworn the warrior was Gaius Auralius.

 

                I looked up. Sam’s bow was pointed at me. He released his arrow, but the damaged bow finally snapped. The pressure holding the arrow back drove it into his face. The dwarf and Frostweaver looked shocked, but the giant woman was on me. I shouted for the blessing of the All-father and tried to draw my weapon from my back. The woman threw me against the wall. I fell to the ground. Something was wrong with my leg.

 

                 The Frostweaver was over me, smiling. She talked over Sam’s screams and the giant woman’s boasting of how she finally dealt with “the dumb horse.”

 

                “All of your talk of Gaius Aurelius.” She giggled as though the phrase alone was a joke. “You were a mistake. He was the warrior from the Red Brigade Maeve demanded from the legends.”

 

                My body failed me, but my spirit did not rise. I was no longer Maeve’s champion. I was alone. No one would remember my name.

 

_____________________________

 

Thanks for reading my untitled story.

 

I don't consider myself to be a very good writer, but I decided to enter anyway. For context on who Gaius Aurelius is: http://crowfall.com/...es/legionnaire/

Might I interest you in a low-interest mortgage?

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Interesting turn :)

Let me sing you a song / Of a world that just vanished / Of a story that ended to soon
Let me bring you a cup / Make a toast to the living / And a toast to the legends we share

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