Abridged History of the 10th Age
“Look there, boy, a sprung trap. Hobgoblin, by the looks of it. Filthy things, can barely tie a knot. Here, my reins. My reins, boy!”
Flainn hurried over to the knight and caught the reins. The knight descended with a clank and adjusted his greave. “Hold the reins, boy, I’m going to have a look around.”
The knight took a cautious step up the cliffside path toward the overhang where the collapsed wooden stakes laid, then began weaving his way up, sword drawn.
Flainn watched from the base of the cliff, reins clutched in one hand, and felt his stomach rumble. Two days on the road with naught but water and what little he had stowed away caught up with him, and he shifted under the lead weight of his armor. His hair, though matted with the accumulation of his travels, was black and straight, and his eyes carried the dark cast of Claulan men. His face was boyish and handsome, though ruddy from years spent outdoors.
One hand sought out the belt pouch slung under his stomach, and poked inside for a piece of tack. His fingers brushed over the sharp edge, and he snapped a bit free, drawing it to his mouth to soften as he watched the knight.
His thoughts wandered back to the warm hearth of his family cottage, and his mother telling stories of gentle Eleia as he and his sisters sat entranced, eating their post-supper sweets. She didn’t even like to watch when they butchered chickens – what would she think if she saw the things her son had done and witnessed in service to the throne of Clauren?
They had done noble deeds, truly. His knight and two others had held passes and routed bandits, and Flainn had killed a slew of goblins himself. But he had also seen men impaled, women struck down, and savagery – wicked, black savagery, from Man as often as Orc.
So far, despite his knight’s admonishings and haphazard tutelage there had been little glory, only rain and mud and kicks from his knight’s horse.
“Boy!” the knight shouted again. “Get up here!”
Flainn’s attention snapped back to the cliffside before him, and he quickly looped the reins around a low dead tree.