19 Aug Mardeus the Common
So a couple of friends of mine told me that I should write about things that I’m passionate about. I thought about the kinds of posts I had been making and I had to agree with them. My true passion is writing creative stories – primarily novels and TV series’. Therefore, I had thought about it before and when they suggested that I venture into short stories, I decided that was a great idea. I’ve never really written short stories and generally I do a lot more planning when I write, but I wanted to try it out. I thought of a general scene for this story and then just began to write. I developed this story and the characters as I went and found it to be a fun exercise. The story is a medieval-type story of coming from nothing to becoming a hero (somewhat played out, but I like this setting for stories). It’s not as in-depth as I would generally prefer but I had a good time writing it and I hope you all enjoy it.
He rose from the flames as a man reborn. Seagulls picked at the remains strewn across the water while cries of fear and pain echoed across the sea. The air held an ominous fog that pulled life from the scene. A throaty groan left Mardeus as he struggled to his feet with dry tears stuck to his gaunt, beard-covered cheeks. Longsword in one hand and the Cult’s banner in the other, Mardeus screamed to the heavens…
As he ran out of breath, he threw the banner into the water, quietly grabbed his oars and began his trek back into Tazzar.
Born in the slums of Tazzar, a small seafaring village, Mardeus was no stranger to a life without love. The village was under rule of the Castle of Crows, the capital of the kingdom. The citizens of Tazzar were fishing slaves, used to feed the soft, non-working citizens of the Castle. Mardeus knew everything about a harpoon and a net before he was 10 years old, and was the lead fisherman by the time he was 18. Mardeus loved to learn, and through his own efforts became one of the few literate people in all of Tazzar.
The Cult controlled the kingdom. The black banner of the cult had the image of a crow with deep-set red eyes, surrounded by flames. Everything about the cult’s banner spoke of intimidation and horror. The leader, Tevalos, was a ferocious man, born heir to the Castle of Crows. He was older, but stood tall and strong as an ox. His demeanor left nothing to the imagination, he would crush and destroy anyone or anything that opposed his rule. When he heard about the rebellion in Tazzar, he was furious.
Mardeus had slowly become frustrated with the situation in Tazzar. Many of his townsfolk had been killed by their slavery. Either directly by slave owners or through dehydration and starvation. He had read stories of life before the Castle was taken by Tevalos and had started to form an idea. Mardeus had become a leader in his community, he was young, but had proven himself time and time again. A whisper floated through Tazzar, rebellion was in the air. Conflict between slaves and slave owners grew to an almost unmanageable level. Until one day, the Cult’s ships arrived at harbor.
Mardeus had passed the plans to as many people as possible. Around mid-day, all of the fish had been loaded onto the Cult’s ships. The ships had only gone 200 meters out into the bay when Tazzarians began to emerge from the barrels of fish. The slaves battled fiercely with kitchen utensils, harpoons, and simple fish hooks turned to spears. Mardeus jumped from his barrel with a fire in his eyes surpassing any fear he may have felt. The passion drove him to his first kill. He drove a knife deep into the back of an unsuspecting soldier’s neck. As soldiers realized what was happening, more slaves appeared. The battle lasted only an hour as the Tazzarians had taken them by surprise. Mardeus fought like a man possessed, slicing, dicing, and stabbing any Cult soldiers that came his way. As the battle wore down, slaves began to scuttle the ships with their own gunpowder.
This is unbearable, thought Mardeus as the cries became loud as thunder.
The battle was clearly won as most Cult ships had sunk to the bottom of the bay. Many slaves were already retreating back to shore in life boats stolen from the ships. Mardeus stayed until the bitter end, he got into a life boat he had prepared for himself and paddled back to shore. He arrived at the shore, with a new sword, and as tired as he had ever been.
When Mardeus stepped out of the boat onto the dock, he looked up to an incredible scene. The slaves were free. Slave owners had either died or fled in the conflict and his community of Tazzar stood before him, unencumbered by worry. As Mardeus took in the scene of his whole community before him, he realized they were all looking at him.
“Mar-de-us!” one person began to chant repeatedly.
“Mar-de-us, Mar-de-us!” another few people hollered. Until the entire dock shook with the stomping of feet and the roar of his name.
Mardeus put up his hands to silence the crowd, he had not expected anything like this. Everyone knew that Mardeus was the one to plan their rebellion.
“My fellow Tazzarians, I am honored by your praise, but it is you that we must honor. We are not free yet, the Cult’s retribution will be swift and complete. I was afraid today, but when I look upon my people now, I fear nothing. I am your friend, I am your neighbor, and I am your brother.” preached Mardeus.
“And our leader!” yelled a woman from the crowd. Mardeus looked directly into her eyes and nodded solemnly, accepting his role.
“Yesterday we were born in chains, but today – we die free!” screamed Mardeus.
The Tazzarians began harvesting food and water, and smithing weapons with vigor. Within a week, the entire community of 500 was outfitted with food weapons and armor made to the best of their ability. However, as the Cult’s army of 5,000, armed with military-grade weapons and armor, approached the village over the foothills, despair began to creep in. There was no defense other than a wall of fishermen posing as soldiers.
When the Cult marched on the village, there was nobody in sight. Tevalos entered Tazzar without any resistance at all. The Cult searched houses, and businesses, and farms for any sign of the Tazzarians. Three Cult guards entered the main boathouse last when suddenly Mardeus jumped from the rafters. Immediately cutting down one of the men as he jumped down, Mardeus then stood 2 to 1 with these trained soldiers. The first soldier ran to alert the others, as the other looked to engage him. Mardeus flung a harpoon with the precision only a veteran fisherman could, and struck the running soldier directly in the back. The soldier fell at the entrance to the boathouse as the second soldier swung his sword in a downward arc. Mardeus jumped to the right to avoid the first swing, pulled his longsword from its scabbard and dodged backwards from a second horizontal strike. The third strike was a stab to his torso that Mardeus deflected with ease. Mardeus counter-attacked with a punch to the soldier’s face that knocked him to the side, giving him the opening to drive a final blow into his back.
The yells of the two soldiers had alerted the other Cult soldiers and Mardeus could hear the commotion outside. It’s time to carry out the plan, thought Mardeus. He sprinted out of the boathouse and swiftly got into position at a house a couple blocks over. He arrived to a fire in a fireplace and an empty room except for one thing on the floor – a pile of gunpowder.
The Tazzarians had set up a network of strategically placed ‘bombs’ around the city. They had salvaged pounds and pounds of gunpowder from the ships they had destroyed in the rebellion. The Tazzarians had decided to take boats out to see and ambush the Cult, but they needed one person to light the fire. Mardeus instantly volunteered to be the one, he had to lead his people to freedom and happiness.
Mardeus took a stick by the fire and lit the powder. It immediately lit up and started to burn. The flame followed the line of powder much more quickly than Mardeus expected and found himself staring at this never before seen phenomenon. He came to his senses after a few seconds and hustled out of the room. As he ran he heard the first explosion go off. The boom rattled the ground so fiercely that Mardeus fell to his feet. He hopped up and began to sprint away. He dodged in and out of buildings, alleys, and gutters as explosions began to happen more and more frequently, until he finally found himself back in the boathouse he had started in. He had prepared a lifeboat to escape into the ocean, but when he arrived, the lifeboat had caught fire. He quickly decided to swim, but then he heard voices. When he turned around, he saw Tevalos and two of his guards standing 10 feet behind him.
Tevalos and his guards drew their swords and ran at Mardeus. Explosion after explosion spouted debris and flame into the air as the village burned. Tevalos threw his first swing at Mardeus much too high and he ducked to easily avoid the attack while pulling out his own sword. The two other Cult soldiers ran at him, one on the left, one on the right. The right soldier arrived slightly faster and, from a kneeling position, Mardeus found his mark directly in the soldier’s chest. He used the momentum of his own attack to roll and avoid the second soldiers attack. He stole the knife off of the dead soldier’s body and threw it into the other soldier’s neck as the soldier turned for his second attack. Mardeus stood up and made eye contact with Tevalos, the king.
Mardeus ran at Tevalos and swung for his right shoulder. Tevalos easily parried the strike and countered with a strong blow to Mardeus’ back. Mardeus fell down and coughed hard while he lost his breath. Tevalos stabbed at him but Mardeus recovered just in time to roll out of the way. As he stood up, he saw a flame coming in through the corner of the boathouse behind Tevalos. Mardeus thought, the last bomb!
Tevalos swung hard with a horizontal cut to Mardeus’ neck and narrowly missed. Mardeus hopped back and started to run towards the boathouse exit into the bay. Tevalos followed and as Mardeus jumped off of the dock, the boathouse erupted. The flames engulfed the entire room. Mardeus glanced back as he was falling into the river and saw the fire devour Tevalos and quickly gain on him. He felt the heat on his back and suddenly was submerged in the water.
When he came to the surface, he was surrounded by red. The explosion had burnt him much worse than he had thought in the adrenaline-filled moment. He started to get light-headed and found himself losing blood quickly. As his vision began to blur and his thoughts got more confusing, he looked out across the water. He saw a fleet of fishing vessels floating back into the bay. My people are free, he thought. Mardeus smiled and shut his eyes, for one last time.