A Story by Ian Reeve

This was my entry for a short story competition. The story had to feature a leather chair.

I stared in admiration at Tarron’s collection of trophies, each one taken from a vanquished enemy. Each one a reminder of a glorious victory, an insult avenged, a lover won from a rival or, in more than a few cases, nothing more than an afternoon’s entertainment when some unsuspecting passer by had been accused of some trivial or even non existent offence as a relief from the boredom.
One entire wall was covered with swords, each of which had once belonged to a valiant warrior who had met his end on the point of Tarron’s blade. Small stabbing swords barely more than daggers hung alongside gigantic two handed broadswords that looked impossible for even the biggest man to lift, let along wield, and common blades with faded and worn leather pommels hung alongside magnificent jewelled weapons with carved inscriptions running along the length of their blades. The kind of weapon that would once have belonged to a nobleman or a Warleader. Some were intact, save for notches where they had crossed the blades of enemies, while others were broken into two or more pieces, each piece individually hung alongside the others so that the entire sword could be seen, more or less as it had been before its end. All in all, there must have been fifty swords hanging on the wall, making it surely the greatest testament to martial prowess in all Zeilonia. It easily eclipsed my own trophy wall, which contained no more than a dozen swords.

Not all his enemies had fought with swords, of course. One corner of the wall contained weapons of other natures, including a gigantic war hammer, a whip, a spear, a quarterstaff and, most surprising of all, a pair of hands, severed at the wrists, that had once belonged to the warrior Kel-Bron, nicknamed ‘The Beast.’ He had fought bare handed, wrestling with his enemies and crushing their skulls or twisting their heads from their necks, and the position of these hands, at eye level and separated from the other trophies by a clear space all around, spoke of the high regard with which Tarron had held this man, and of the pride with which he held these particular items.

The other walls bore trophies of other natures, signifying that Tarron didn’t consider them worthy enough opponents to merit having their weapon displayed. Mainly items of armour and clothing including helmets, cloaks, boots, gauntlets and a wooden leg, taken from an old sailor whom Tarron had challenged to a duel because the tapping of the peg leg on the wooden boards of a local ale house had annoyed him. The sailor had given an unexpectedly good account of himself, fighting with a fishing net that had had Tarron in a dangerous spot for a moment, but rather than impressing him Tarron had just become even more annoyed, which is why his trophy wasn’t given a space among the weapons.

Lastly there were the trophies taken from love rivals, those whose wives, lovers or sisters had taken Tarron’s eye and besides whom he had taken his pleasure even as their bodies spilled the last of their life’s blood into the dusty ground. The trophies in these cases consisted of mummified manhoods, shrunk to a fraction of their former size so that they retained almost nothing of their former no doubt impressive size and majesty. I counted more than a hundred of them, and I knew that more than a few of their former owners were still alive, those who had displeased Tarron by not putting up enough of a fight.

Tarron sat on his new leather chair, one leg thrown nonchalantly over one arm, watching me as I admired his collection. The chair was the only item of furniture in the room, positioned in the centre so that he could sit there and admire his collection in comfort, replaying in his memory every stroke and blow of the fight in which he had won each particular item. He looked at me with his startlingly pale eyes, eyes that looked like chips of ice, gauging my reaction. Muscles rippled under his tanned and scarred skin as he shifted position slightly to ease the discomfort of old wounds, and he stroked his great grey beard with the fingers of one calloused hand. I hadn’t seen that chair before, I realised. His old chair, the fabric with which it was covered having grown thin with three generations of use, must have finally given up the ghost. A pity. Tarron had let me sit in it myself a couple of times, and it had been very comfortable. That new chair looked as though it would need a few years of wear before it would form itself properly to his muscular frame.

”It is truly a magnificent collection,” I said earnestly, running my eyes across the walls again. “The finest I’ve ever seen or even heard of! Every warrior in the land must fear becoming part of it one day.”

“No doubt,” replied Tarron in his deep, rumbling voice. “And one day I will, no doubt, be part of someone else’s collection. As the years march on and the inevitable day draws closer, I find myself wondering whose collection it will be.” Those pale eyes turned to regard me again. “Perhaps it will be yours.”

“Never!” I said, speaking what I honestly believed. If I ever spoke purely to flatter him, Tarron would kill me immediately for the insult. Honest men speak honestly, no matter how they thought those words would be received. “I will never be your match in combat, except perhaps many years from now when you finally grow old and infirm, and someone else will have claimed their trophy from your corpse long before then. More likely my sword will one day hang among these, if you deem it worthy of the position.”

“No doubt I will,” replied the giant warrior. “And if that day should ever come, your sword shall have a place of honour on my wall, I promise you.”

His words surprised me to silence, for he wasn’t a man to give out compliments easily. Such words from him were among the greatest testimonials that a man in this world could ever hope to receive. It is true that I have earned honour for myself upon the field of battle on many occasions, but to receive such words from Tarron himself... It was those words that emboldened me to ask the question that had been much on my mind for the past few days, the question that I knew might offend him to the point of making him kill me, and so I turned to face him, standing a few paces away from him in the centre of the room, as honour and custom demanded. He would have space to leap out of the chair and draw his sword without placing himself at a disadvantage before me.

“Prince Feldrew has not been seen for many days,” I said. “Not since he accused you of having obtained the Lady Belliss’s consent before ravishing her. The talk is that you duelled with him and killed him to avenge the insult, but...” I turned back to regard his collection. “I do not see anything of his in this room.”

The implication that he might not have taken a trophy from the man should have infuriated him, but instead of rising to challenge me he simply smiled, revealing rows of teeth filed to sharp points. He shifted in the new leather chair, dropping the leg that he had draped over the arm and lifting his other leg to drape it over the other arm while turning to lean into the corner of the chair. The leather creaked under him as he did so.

I waited a moment to see if he would react further, but he did not. He simply looked at me with those disturbingly pale eyes of his, and the corners of his mouth creased a little with amusement. I felt my face folding into a frown of puzzlement. “Of course, if you did kill the Prince, the King would have no choice but to have you executed, no matter how much he knew you had been provoked. Some people dare to whisper that you killed him secretly, in some deserted spot, and left his corpse there without taking a trophy from it, since that trophy would be proof that you had killed him and the King would have no choice but to act. A body found in a ditch somewhere, on the other hand, could have been killed by anyone. The King would not know whom to punish.”

Still Tarron did not react, simply sitting there and watching me, waiting to see where my words would lead me next. “I know, of course, that if you did kill him you would most certainly take a trophy, no matter what the consequences to yourself. Not a weapon, of course. You would have taken some other item, as a symbol of the contempt with which you held him. Perhaps a part of his body...” I looked at the body parts hanging on the wall, but there was nothing there that hadn’t been present the last time I’d been in this room, two months ago.

Still no reaction from the legendary warrior except for the slightest widening of his grin. Still he said nothing. He leaned back in the chair, making the leather creak again. An idea came to me, and I found myself grinning in return as I realised what he had done, how he had killed the foolish Prince and taken a trophy from him that he could put on display in this room without the King realising, or at least being able to prove, what he had done.

“Mighty Tarron,” I said, taking a step closer in order to get a better look at his new piece of furniture. “Mighty warrior and good friend. May I ask, from what animal did you get the leather for that chair?”
Once again there was no answer. Only a widening on his grin, followed by a great booming laugh that filled the room and that exited through the open windows so that it was heard by the people passing by in the wide and busy street below.

© 2017 Ian Reeve

My Review

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I liked it, definitely not what I expected for the leather chair. In critiquing, I would say that some parts seemed to ramble on and that the way you list things in longer sentences was a little confusing, but the concept is great and I really liked the ending.

Posted 5 Months Ago

Good work, and awesome dialogue. Keep up the great writing!

Posted 11 Months Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on June 28, 2017
Last Updated on June 28, 2017
Tags: Leather chair, fantasy


Ian Reeve
Ian Reeve

Leigh - on - Sea, United Kingdom

I'm a groundsman and greenkeeper for my local council, where I look after two bowling greens and three cricket squares. I also write a bit. more..

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