A DIFFERENT STORY
Barrand was at his home, when the Vindavians swept through his nation. He ate his breakfast in solitude; hearing no sounds of his fellow kinsmen. He knew well that the south men had either slaughtered or driven off the people of his village, but as they could not be bothered with the likes of a blind potter; they left him in peace. Now all that remained of the tribe of the Mudeye, were his dog and himself.
He reached down to pat the huge head of the brown beast, sitting beside him; his hand groped uncertainly before finding her.
‘You love me, Hythga; do you not?’ he said; rubbing her floppy ears with both hands.
‘Love.’ He guffawed.
Bards over the centuries had complicated its meaning with florally speech. The concept was really quite simple; love was loyalty. It was a matter of sticking with the other person; no matter what.
The potter stood and began to make his way to the door. A sound nudged his ears just beyond; incurring a growl from beside his leg. Barrand crouched in the open doorway; looping an arm over Hythga’s neck. She struggled against him, threatening to lurch forward, when the potter heard the whisper of a blade leaving its sheath.
‘No!’ he bellowed; pushing the animal back inside and closing the door.
‘A prudent move; Nusallean.’ The voice said, replacing the sword in its home. ‘I would have cleaved the beast’s skull to the teeth.’
‘I hear the “clink” of mail on you and a Vindavian accent.’
‘Keen ears.’ the Vindavian commented. ‘But I am no longer a soldier. Now; I am merely mmm… an opportunist.’
‘A deserter and a looter.’ Barrand sat flatly.
The Vindavian laughed but it was not a sound filled with humor.
‘Now; let us see what treasures your village has left behind.’
‘There is nothing; others like you have been here before. The Mudeye have been pillaged three times before you came.’
‘Then I will take what little compensation I can.’ The deserter said; this time taking the sword from its sheath.
Barrand felt the cold edge of the weapon pressed gently against his temple.
‘As all deserters; you are no more than a coward.’
The blind potter felt the blade being pulled away; sensing the tension in the other man’s shoulders.
‘Wait…! Would you be so brave without your sword and mail?’
‘What foolishness is this?’ the swordsman sneered.
‘I say that if you would strip off your mail shirt and drop your sword; it would be a very different story.’ Barrand stated defiantly, yet visibly trembled.
The laughing returned; mocking laughter, the potter was sure.
‘As you would have it then.’
The potter heard the exertions of the Vindavian divesting himself of the steel garment and the metallic “thud” of it striking the porch by his feet. Barrand felt his hand being taken hold of and pulled forth to feel the hilt of the foreign blade. His hand was then brutally slapped aside, sending the weapon to fall; nudging against the side of his foot. Barrand kicked the sword to what he hoped would be far from either man; when he was taken hold of by the throat. He felt himself shoved backward; to slam heavily against the door of his home.
A grin drifted over the potter’s face. In the moments silence which followed; Barrand could imagine the consternated expression of the Vindavian.
His hand deftly lifted the latch and pushed open the door to the sound of a menacing growl.
‘Did I not warn you that it would be a different story?’
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