The Golden Axe Resource, Death Adder's Castle

Golden Axe Fan Fiction

Five Tragedies

by Dark

Part One:

Uses of sorcery.

“You damn fool boy!!”

He cowered, hands curled into   fists like tiny seashells, his father’s wrath exploding over him in a crimson tide. “Do you know how much they cost!?”

He shook his head meekly,  dark curls mousy and smooth around his face. “--- I’m sorry --- I --- I”

“Responsibility!” The big man spat the word as if it tasted fowl, thick pale hand unconsciously gripping the heavy haft of the axe which jostled for belt space along with the bulging belly in it’s heavy doublet.

“--- what kind of Lord Adder will you make --- eh?” the boy mumbled, wide blue eyes intently studying the assorted dragon and horse dung as if it were some impregnable castle he would be expected to storm.

The broad  beery face of his father clouded and reddened like clotting blood. “ --- red dragons cost! Money! --- a month’s!   tithing! ---“

“I’m --- sorry I --- didn’t mean to leave the gate open --- I --- I ---“

His words stopped, the big heavy fist punctuating his sentence like a  fleshy full stop. There was no sense of his father’s hand even moving, one second he was cowering against the stable door, the next he lay face up,  his ears ringing, a bruise flowering on his pale cheek.

“---  Idiot!!!”

Lord Adder reached down to seize his son’s curls in one  muscular scar-knuckled mitt, dragging his son up from the dirt of the stable yard.

“--- Crying?” the huge stubbly face creased with  suspicion,  bloodshot eyes narrowing like arrows approaching their targets.

“No ---” the boy cried, trying to stand and take the weight off his hair. But he couldn’t lie, he  could never lie. Even as he spoke he felt the familiar pricks at his eyes, the dull aching heat in his head.

“--- You are crying” Lord adder’s voice  was deceptively quiet, but the boy could see the   unshaven chin jutting pugnaciously like the nose of a questing bulldog.

No I’m not. He shook his head, blinking rapidly, curls bobbing like  dark trees in a  sudden gust of wind.

Don’t lie to me! –“

This time he saw it, saw the  thick naked arm with it’s tracery of battle scars and bloated muscles,  whirling through the still summer air, but even though he saw it there was nothing he could do.

Once more he was smashed down  into the sulphurous dirt of the stable yard, but this time on  his face. Quickly the boy scrambled to his hands and knees, his pale face browned with dung, a cut  oozing blood on his temple where a stone had gashed him, and the big purple bruise of his father’s first blow flaming across his cheek like an invading army on a map of campaign.

“Lords!  Don’t! cry!!!”

The boy scrabbled to his feet, his light blue shirt and hoes smeared with mud and dung. “--- I’m --- sorry ---“

“Is that all you can say? Sorry! Sorry! --- why don’t you stand up like a man?”

The boy weighted breathlessly, but Lord adder’s hands  remained  clenched at his sides like  huge menacing stones weighting for the catapult. The big man’s small piggy eyes flicked over the boy,  as if looking for a weakness in an approaching battle line. Finally the huge  shoulders shrugged, muscles moving beneath the heavy cloth of the doublet.

“Get out of my site”

The  boy turned gratefully away, hoping his father wouldn’t see his thin shoulders shaking  beneath his blue shirt. head ringing, his cut and bruised face thick and smarting with pain, he half staggered across the stable yard towards the gate that lead out into the dusty  road that ran up the hill past the main mass of the castle.

“Stavris –“ the voice boomed behind him, like a volcano giving a warning  rumble.   Stavris  turned, his dirty battered face beneath it’s disordered curls filling with fear like a dark liquid --- what had he done now.  “It’s all for your own good you know Stavris”

Yes – sir.

He waited, breath held in thin lungs to see if his towering  father would detect the tremble in his voice, but the volcano remained silent, it’s lava flow capped for now.

Stavris turned and  walked slowly  away from the gate until he was sure that he was out of his father’s site --- then he ran.

No one would have thought, seeing the mud streaked battered child in his  thin summer shirt and dung stained hoes that he was the sun of a lord, Lord’s suns didn’t pelt Pell Mel up dust covered highways, feet flying like frantically freed birds. Lord’s sons didn’t  shed  small diamonds of moisture from their wide blue eyes, that left strange lines of pale clean skin in the encrusted dirt on their faces. Lord’s  sons never stumbled, Nor did  lord’s sons fall, face first, down into the rode, sunlight splashing onto their backs in golden floods.

But Stavris did.

He felt the hard packed earth  of the  road gather itself into a  dusty fist and strike him hard in the stomach, knocking the breath from his chest in a gasping tear filled rush.

“Are you alright young man?” The voice was soft,  smooth as honeyed silk. Stavris felt a long adult hand grasp him gently by the shoulder and draw  him  inexorably upwards, like a gardener uprooting a  plant. Stavris stood slowly, and turned to face the  firm hand’s owner.

The first thing Stavris saw was the robe. It was red, a deep rich red like wine,  and though  the dust of the rode  had settled in patches around the hem, the robe seemed strangely clean, almost  sterile.

The  second thing he saw were the man’s hands, resting like patient spiders in his voluminous sleeves,   squat delicate hands, deeply tanned like those of a farm labourer, but smooth as a noblewoman’s.

Then he looked up and saw the man’s face.  Perhaps up until that moment things could have been different,  perhaps until then the tide of fire blood and usurping violence could have been averted, like a roaring river channelled into another bed, but when he looked up into the  travellers face  the wheels of time and fate clicked into place like iron doors closing.

It was a strangely unremarkable face, deeply tanned like the hands, framed in  shoulder length brown hair tipped with  sprinkles of grey, the eyes dark, wise and hooded like an intelligent owl, a moderately handsome middle-aged face. But There was something wrong, something indefinably and horribly wrong. Maybe it was the pattern the deeply  etched lines made in the  smooth tanned skin,  maybe it was the slight hint of  cruelty about the full lips. But whatever it was, it made Stavris feel a strange fascinated fear, as if it were a site so terrible he could not look away.

“You are in a mess.” the voice was gentle and kindly --- like a snake.

“I fell.” Stavris’s voice was defiant, Lord’s sons didn’t  go crying to total strangers, especially ones that were so ---- (wrong)  --- unusual.

Of course ---” the thin lips smiled  like shadows. “--- It must make you feel so angry --- so helpless, --- falling.

Stavris started in spite of himself. Around them the summer fields were totally deserted, small copses and woods ranging the horizon like fences to keep out the sky. “--- who are you?”

Stavris shook himself  as if shaking off sleep,  and shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoes. “--- ah --- I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Horgrim”

Stavris waited politely for the stranger to state his profession or village of origin, Horgrim of Lichfield perhaps, or Horgrim the mage, or Horgrim son of --- but nothing came, just Horgrim.

 “I’m Stavris --- Lord Adder’s son.

“My Lord.” Horgrim bowed, his long red robe sweeping the ground and sending up little puffs of dust like the smoke from tiny fires. The boy’s face broke into a wide smile, his eyes flashing and blazing  like  sapphires. It was good to see someone bowing to him, especially  someone who seemed so “Wrong” – powerful as horgrim.

Stavris skipped quickly across the  road to seat himself on a pile of sun warmed rocks, a Lord should sit, while his  inferiors stood. “What are you doing hear?”

The Man in red  turned to face him, his hands folded respectfully at his waist.  “I am a seeker after  knowledge”

“You’re a mage?”  Stavris felt faintly disappointed, surely someone as (Wrong), strange, as this man would be more than a boring old mage.

Horgrim smiled, raising  both arms so that his heavy red  robe billowed out around him like clouds of smoke.  Then he swept  his hands downwards fingers  pointed like  claws.

On either side of  Horgrim a  warrior appeared,  eclipsing the dusty surface of the rode and the fields  behind like suddenly shut curtains.

One warrior was dressed in thick brown leather, his stubbly unshaven face  sweating and grimacing from beneath his rust splotched helm. In one thick mitt he held a plain dull axe  with a heavy shaft, it’s edge notched and scarred, matching the scars on the warrior’s bared arms.

The other was a huge roaring figure, it’s armour a  vibrant bloody red, it’s hands clutching an axe that looked as though it had been forged  from the sun itself. The blade was gold, but not soft pliable metal, a rich hard gold like burnished steel mixed with diamond. Along the  Axe’s double edged head and across the slim haft, were carved a forest of entwined figures like  serpents  dancing.

The battle was brief. The  leather clad fighter had no chance, sweeping course clumsy blows at his magnificent opponent’s  head and body, which the red  knight seemed to dodge as  lightly as a feather. Then the death blow.

Stavris watched with interest as the gleaming axe blade berried itself in the brown fighter’s thick squashy  belly, his eyes widening in pleasure as blood spurted from the dying man’s mouth in a spluttering red sheet.  The boy’s   battered dirty face grew sharp and hard and full of joy, his lips draw ring back from his teeth in a shark like  snarl, his whole body tense as a bowstring.

After every second of the brown warrior’s bloody death had been played out, Horgrim lowered his hands and the figures vanished slowly into summer air. Stavris leaned back, rubbing his dung  caked hands on his thin muddy shirt.  

That was just an illusion.

Stavris glowered accusingly at Horgrim, --- it had been good but he’d been expecting something ---.  “Yes, an Illusion –do they teach you of Magic, at the castle?”

The question came so suddenly out of the flow of honey that Stavris had answered before he could stop himself. “yes. --- but not real magic. Just illusion, and elements and stuff.

There was that disconcerting smile again, beaming across the air between them like visual poison.

“And what ---“

Horgrim  fixed Stavris with a piercing  stare from his dark hooded eyes.

“--- do you mean by ‘real’ magic my lord?"

Stavris shifted  uncomfortably.

“--- well, --- err --- stuff about death --- and err –“

He raised one podgy childish hand and started counting the points on his grubby fingers. “--- How to make people do what I want, --- and --- err daemons ---"

“--- Daemons!”

Horgrim raised  an eyebrow. “--- Like this one? Erroch!!!”  The creature that settled on Horgrim’s finger was small  winged and  pointy, it’s skin scaly and greenish black like something that  had decayed. It’s wings ware a large fowl shadow in the summer air.

“---that? --- that’s?  ---“

Stavris’s eyes  grew round and sparkling like crystals, a childish smile playing across his face.   “--- yes. Erroch is ---"

Horgrim hesitated, as if seeking for the least offensive term. “--- a walker of the lower path”

“—a walker –"

Stavris repeated,  leaning forward to get a better look at the creature. Horgrim leaned forward too, his dark eyes gazing into the child’s, lips twisted and smiling, his (Wrong) face full of generosity.

“--- You can command him if you like my lord. --- Surely there’s someone  you’d like –“   Horgrim hesitated again, like a merchant making a delicate offer. Around them the summer fields were still in their haze like calm rippling water. “--- Somebody you’d like --- hurt? – some pain you’d like done  to someone"

Stavris reached a hand unconsciously up to his face, feeling the hard warm smarting bruise on his cheek, the oily crust of blood on his forehead, remembering trembling and cowering and  hidden diamonds.

The townspeople agreed, that Lord Adder’s death hadn’t been too soon. True,  he had always  charged taxes that were slightly too high, and true, he did tend to spend more money on  fine hunting dragons and rich food than on bettering his town but  you had to feel sorry for him. All poor lord Adder had had to cope with in the last three years, riding accidents, broken bones, infections and a seemingly constant state of illness, the townspeople agreed  unanimously that  for a man who was plainly so unlucky, death was probably a kindness. True that left poor young Stavris  --- only  eleven, to take over,  but the townspeople felt sure that the boy would  be fine.  After all, he had that nice (Wrong), tutor of his; the one in the red cloak with the dark (wrong), eyes and soft (wrong) voice.

What was his name ----  Horgrim! That was it, a good man they were sure, even if he was a little ---- Wrong).

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